Columns, Opinion

American Protest: Movember addresses a problem we do not talk about enough

As a kid I was under the impression that men do not cry — the expression of emotion was reserved for women. 

If I ever saw a man cry, I figured something really bad must have happened. If I saw a woman cry at something not as serious, that was completely normal to me.

I thought that way because the society I grew up in emphasized that to be masculine is to hide your emotions and always seem strong. For some reason, the expression of emotion equates to weakness in our society. It has had dangerous repercussions for the mental health of men, something the ‘Movember’ movement is trying to take on.

Movember is the leading charity for men’s health, taking on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Many people grow mustaches in the month of November to show their support for the cause.

A man dies by suicide every minute and 75 percent of suicides in America are by men, according to Movemeber’s website. These statistics are terrifying proof that men are being left out of the mental health conversation and suffering from it.

The idea that men cannot express themselves emotionally without looking weak is an outdated gender norm that needs to be eliminated because men are dying. Society is emotionally stunting men by denying them the ability to talk about how they feel.

Movember is an incredibly important movement because it is changing the conversation around men’s mental health and showing it is okay to talk about your feelings without compromising your masculinity.

Men are dying because our society has set ridiculous ideas of what it means to be a man and it is an issue every feminist should care about.

I was never once told to not be emotional and expressing how I feel has never been an issue for me. The ability to express emotions is important to one’s mental health because you cannot bottle everything up and expect to be okay.

We tell boys not to show their emotions and then wonder why they cannot express how they feel in later relationships or turn to a violent outburst when they are upset. Even worse, many men turn to suicide because they do not know how to talk about battling mental health issues.

These are deaths that could have been avoided if society had allowed these boys early on to understand their emotions, develop emotional intelligence and talk about it. But we have silenced them.

Movember hopes to reduce the rate of men’s suicide by 25 percent before the year 2030 by focusing on prevention, early intervention and health promotion.

Our society can aid them in this goal by talking to our boys and men. We can show them that expressing their emotions is a good thing and that they do not have to hold everything in to be a true man.

We need to redefine what it means to be a man. It can no longer mean being emotionless and ignoring feelings. It starts with how we raise our boys and the next generation of parents needs to do better than the last.

Depression and mental issues affect everyone no matter their gender and asking for help should be normalized for men and women equally.

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