Monday, 7 May 2007

The Infantilisation of Men

Just spotted this on Iain Dales wonderful site. Quite keen to address some of these "priorities" head on.

Make improving the educational attainment of boys a political priority. Sadly, this has already been done but to negligible effect. Is it an education issue? I think not explicitly. When I was at primary/junior school the head was male and we had several male teachers. Thanks to a number of social pressures, not least the utterly irrational fear of "paedos" these schools are almost utterly devoid of influential male role models. I'm going out with a primary school teacher and she rarely meets male equivalents. We are allowing a whole generation of boys, often already devoid of live-in fathers, to grow up in a uniquely feminised world. Fiona, like almost all other teachers of young pupils is talented, dedicated and wholly committed to what's best for each individual but she is not able to provide a male role model and wouldn't confess to attempt to. My son is in the lucky position at secondary school of having some seriously good male teachers who provide excellent, if slightly un-PC guidance. His PE teacher absolutely adores him and the feeling is mutual but, as they support different rugby teams, has no qualms about calling my boy "scum" when discussing rugby. To some this is beyond the pale and out the other side,I know, because I know my son and his teacher, that this can ONLY happen because of the bond they have. His maths teacher reminds him daily that his nearest rival in being top of the class is a girl; the competition is friendly but intense. There's some good "male" teaching out there but it is inexorably being marginalised. So in essence, yes, let's have political impetus behind male attainment at school but ffs let's not target the schools themselves, this is a societal issue and needs to be addressed on a broad front. We need to understand all the cultural influences on boys and young men, not just legislate about how schools treat boys.

Make the state recognise/support male domestic violence victims. Have not been on the end of this, albeit my recent divorce showed her skills at psychological warfare(!) and am sure it is hell on earth for those victims. I guess that a) it's just an equality in law issue and b)they might suffer in the "role model" stakes.

Improve care and funding for prostate/testicular cancer sufferers. I think we have to change our own male attitudes here first. "Grin and bear it" usually means you'll die these days and far too many men still believe bad things happen to others. Once we have the right attitude to seeking help early, might I humbly suggest death rates might go down? That said it is a societal truism that a female death is somehow worse than a male one.

Support Anonymity for men Accused of Rape, Unless Found Guilty. No beef with this one, the law is skewed and the dramatic increase in malicious accusations suggests a review is needed. personally I would extend this to all but the most trivial (I mean legally) indecent assault cases too.

Improve Care and Support for Men Suffering from Depression. Bingo, spot on, absolutely. I'm there now, this blog helps, so does my doctor who is magnificent. And yet, and yet...... at work it is not seen as an illness at all, I'm a bloke, I should pull myself together c.f. cancer! Medical care and support are therefore not the issue per se, it's once again that societal view that men just have to take it on the chin and get on with life. Let me tell you, depression is massively debilitating and affects all aspects of your life. It's care and support at work that is frankly non-existent. Bearing in mind my profession, that's pretty galling!!

The rest of it is, as others have said, is more a set of demands than a political agenda. To have resonance it needs to be more positive both in outlook and outcome and also less strident in tone. My worry is encapsulated in my title; men have serious problems that they need to address both individually and societally and I empathise with some of them. But for fucks sake, please don't try to turn me into a victim or infantalise the role of men in society. Try that approach oh putative "minister for men" and I will surely hunt you down.

chin up!

No comments: