News / Opinion
Did you know that suicide is more common in men than in women worldwide, according to ourworldindata.org research.
Did you also know that 19 November is a day reserved to celebrate International Men’s Day?
In this unequal world that is marred by gender inequalities and most of the unfairness favouring men, through all the patriarchal systems and societal norms, women are always at the receiving end.
It makes it so difficult to want to pause even for a second to appreciate men or remember that they too suffer. Men are dying inside and not all men are affluent. Not all men are living freely. It is for these reasons that we should check on the men in our lives; brothers, uncles, fathers, grandfathers, nephews and male friends.
We also need to recognise the struggles faced by gay men, transgender men and bisexual men. They are subjected to discriminations and many other forms of abuse. Such a day on the international calendar is important because it doesn’t primarily seek praises for men.
Here at home, the South African government hosted the second biennial Men’s Parliament last Thursday. It inspired confidence and revived hopes to see selfless leaders like the president of Not In My Name International, Siyabulela Jentile, as part of the delegates.
Their theme was, “Institutionalising a Responsive Men’s Movement”. Even though their theme was not directly linked to the International Men’s Day 2020 theme that said, “Better health for men and boys”, they were discussing very topical issues.
I suppose their theme was more relevant to the context of the South African social and economic landscape.
Above all, suicide is the silent killer of men of all sexual orientations.
In their book titled, The Boy Crisis, Warren Farrell and John Gray argue that suicides increase as the pressures of the male role and hormones increase.
“Before puberty, the suicide rates among males and females are about equal. However, between 10 and 14, the boys commit suicide at almost twice rate of girls,” they argue.
It shows a disheartening pattern.
They further tell us that between the ages of 15 and 19, boys commit suicide at four times the rate of girls and between 20 and 24, the rate of male suicide is between five and six times more than that of females.
This is a clear indication that there is a connection between masculinity and suicide.
Ideally, we should have celebrated the men in our lives through breakfast, lunch dinner dates. But that cannot happen in a society where men are not only suffering, but are the perpetrators of the most hideous crimes of gender-based violence.
Sadly, unintentionally and regrettably, International Men’s Day goes unappreciated.
However, we need to try our best to celebrate such days, because they are not about how bad men are. They are essentially days to show men that we appreciate the value of positive male role models.
To all men, late as it may be, Happy International Men’s Day.
Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement (YMM), an organisation that focuses on the reconstruction of the socialisation of boys to create a new cohort of men.
Facebook: Kabelo Chabalala
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