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: Posts on “Boys’ Issues”

Male Suicide is All the Rage

Writer Sigrid MacDonald

Writer Sigrid MacDonald

I’ve been distracted here in Tampa, Florida for the least few days and unable to get done much in the way of posting. Here’s a post by Sigrid Macdonald, an author based in Ottawa. She always has very insightful commentary, especially on gender. This one in no exception, and it manages to touch on male suicide, health, and fathers issues. Well done. I’m not sure I agree that domestic violence against men is less harmful. True, men are physically stronger, but women make up for that by being more likely to use weapons and plan strategic uses of violence. But with some small exceptions, the following is right on target:

Death of a Salesman — Male Suicide Is All the Rage

Recently I watched a television version of the all-time classic play Death of a Salesman. I was struck by its continued relevance today, in this time of economic uncertainty when so much pressure is still applied on men to be successful providers.

As you may remember, Willy Loman, our anguished hero in Arthur Miller’s tale, was a salesman who covered seven states in the New England territory. He drove for miles, suffered from great loneliness and isolation at times, but always had to approach his clients with a smile on his face. He had to pump himself up every day when he looked in the mirror, telling himself that he was the best, he was going to make it big time; for sure, he would make a million bucks! Except that he didn’t.

In every way, Willy was an ordinary man who tried to convince himself that he was extraordinary because his occupation required him to do so. What he was selling was not so much a product as himself. And if he failed, he couldn’t admit it because that would be admitting weakness when Willy was a typical macho man of the 40s. But how much has that changed?

The main beneficiaries of the gender revolution of the 60s and 70s were women, not men, and rightly so initially because women had to be brought up to par (we’re still not there in terms of pay equity or equal representation in Congress and Parliament, as top CEOs of companies or studying for Ph.D.s in math, science and engineering. But the focus for several decades has been on improving women’s lives by meting out greater penalties for sexual harassment, domestic violence and sexual abuse, and this emphasis has been at the expense of neglecting male issues such as Willy’s.)

When we first encounter Willy, he’s having a nervous breakdown. He keeps crashing the car and his faithful wife Linda discovers a hose in the basement connected to the furnace. She knows that he’s trying to kill himself but she can’t bring herself to talk to him about it because she’s afraid she’ll hurt his ego. And Willy can’t talk to his wife about his fears because it would be emasculating. (Although women suffer depression more often than men, men are far more likely to commit suicide for a variety of complex reasons, starting with the fact that they don’t seek medical help; they don’t confide in others because they need to keep up a sense of bravado; they have higher rates of alcoholism and drug addiction than women [but women are catching up]; and most importantly, they choose more dramatic methods such as hanging and shooting.)

Men are particularly vulnerable to suicide during periods of unemployment. At the age of 63, Willy had been placed on straight commission and his salary had been slashed by a company that he’d worked for for 35 years. When he complained to the new CEO, the son of the original owner — a boy who Willy had known all of his life and even named — Howard shrugged him off. “Just business,” he explained. “Nothing personal.” “Get yourself together!” So much for loyalty, dedication and reward for a lifetime of hard work. Willy was no longer producing, consequently, he was disposable.

One thing that I noticed this time around that had escaped me during previous readings of the play was that Charlie, a mere acquaintance of Willy’s, offered Willy a job but he refused to take it because of his pride. Willy was too good for the $25 a week job. He was a salesman through and through and he was better than that. He needed his old job back for the sake of his self image; anything other than that was simply charity or beneath him.

We all know the ending to this sad story: Willy kills himself so that his family can collect $20,000 in insurance money. His sons, one a full-time Lothario and the other unable to commit to any sort of decent job, view their father’s death differently. One sees it as the end of the American dream and his realization is liberating to him. He will no longer strive to be perfect or extraordinary. He, Biff, will be perfectly happy to be just like everyone else. The other son, Happy (who is anything but), is more resolute than ever to carry on his father’s illusions about life and what it means to be a man in this society.

In these troublesome times, with tens of thousands of layoffs and people literally losing the roof over their heads, how many more company men will decide to make the final exit? In Britain, five times as many males between the ages of 15 and 34 kill themselves as females. This rate drops a bit and then rises dramatically from the age of 65 to 75. According to the World Health Organization, Canada is ahead of the United States in terms of male suicide at 21.5 men per 100,000 people compared to 5.4 for women versus 19.3 men per 100,000 and 4.4 women in the US [http://fathersforlife.org/health/cansuic.htm].

When suicide is the third leading cause of death in Canada, followed only by cancer and heart disease, and men outnumber women four to one, why isn’t this considered a national crisis? We don’t need the deaths of any more salesmen! We need to encourage true sex role equality, where we say that we want men to be open about their feelings, from sorrow to rage, and we mean it and don’t ridicule them behind their backs. We need to reduce the pressure on young men who are trying to find themselves professionally and in the work world, and let them know that they don’t have to be perfect or support entire families without contributions by their mates. We need to stop thinking about men as the ones who are violent and privileged – men as the problem –and realize that the traditional male role is just as confining as the female role, and in some respects, it’s worse.

In his book The Myth of Male Power Warren Farrell argues that only men are drafted in North America; men may well be the greatest perpetrators of violence but they’re also the largest number of victims of violence; men work in many occupations that are physically dangerous like firefighting and construction; and men suffer domestic violence at equal rates to women, although women are far more likely to be seriously injured or hospitalized when a man hits them. And something is dreadfully wrong when our young men, the next generation, our greatest resource, have already decided at 25 that life is too difficult and painful to bear.

Murderous boys who target girls and women

I have criticised many feminists for neglecting to mention the evils that women have committed in the past. So I feel I should say that I condemn in the strongest terms, the massacres that are primarily committed against young girls by boys in school shootings. Unlike many ideologues, I will not try to defend the actions of people in “my group” there is no group here, I am an individualist, not a victim advocate, so I must say that I wish this kid was show as soon as possible, I wish the police had shot him before he could harm a single person. But wishing does not make it so.

The most recent event is, of course, the massacre in Germany. But they go back as well, a notable example was the massacre in Nickel Mines, Pa.

“The predominant pattern in school shootings of the past three decades is that girls are the victims,” says Katherine Newman, a Princeton University sociologist whose recent book examines the roots of “rampage” shootings in rural schools.

Dr. Newman has researched 21 school shootings since the 1970s. Though it’s impossible to know whether girls were randomly victimized in those cases, she says, “in every case in the US since the early 1970s we do note this pattern” of girls being the majority of victims.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1004/p01s01-usgn.html

These guys are losers and scum, they are evil. There are problems that beset the sexes, men are more likely to suffer mental diseases and conditions, men are the causes of most violence. I do not wish to hide from reality behind the veil of faithful belief, reality is there to be seen by those with unburdened eyes.

 

The Myth of Male Power Part 2 with Dr. Warren Farrell – Pendulum Effect Episode 3 Available

The Myth of Male Power, Part 2, with Dr. Warren Farrell

On today’s show we continue a three part interview with Dr. Warren Farrell, men’s movement leader. We’ll focus on fathers rights, the boy crisis, violence against men and women and discrimination in the legal system. First question on the agenda: do children really need their father

Dr. Warren Farrell is roundly regarded as a leading figure in the men’s movement, or better, the gender transition movement. His unique background and expertise give him a perfect vantage point from which to address men’s issues. Dr. Farrell has taught gender issues and psychology at several institutes, including Brooklyn College, Georgetown University, American University and the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Diego.

As a young graduate, Dr. Farrell was a major player in the feminist movement, especially in creating men’s groups across the US, then becoming the only man to be elected three times to the Board of Director of the National Organization for Women in New York City. Farrell was featured in media including the New York Times, the Today Show and the Phil Donahue Show, leading to his authorship of the pro-feminist book The Liberated Man.

As we discuss, in the late 80s, Farrell became increasingly convinced that feminism was rather one sided and that men’s issues were being neglected, leading to deep research on a variety of topics long taken for granted, and the publication of his landmark The Myth of Male Power, which touched on a diverse cross section of issues.

Farrell would go on to research each area in great depth, leading to the publication of 5 more books, including “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say”, a couples communication book to address the rise in divorces, “Father and Child Reunion”, to address the issue of fatherless homes and present the optimal shared parenting solution, “Why Men Earn More” to address the pay gap, and “Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men” which, among other things, called for men’s studies in academia.

You can get the latest show by:

* Subscribing here for free with itunes
* Using this feedburner link in your browser.

Download: mp3 file

If you like the show, please leave us a review on itunes.

Links of Interest

Learn about Dr. Warren Farrell and order his books

The Myth of Male Power, with Dr. Warren Farrell – Pendulum Effect Episode 2 Available

The Myth of Male Power, Part 1, with Dr. Warren Farrell

On today’s show I begin a three part interview with Dr. Warren Farrell mens’ movement leader. Before that, our regular news commentator and pundit Mark defends Denis Prager’s take on the politics of sex in marriage.

My conversation with Dr. Warren Farrell ended up being so engrossing that in order to cover all the topics we wished to explore we decided to go long. The discussion will be released in three parts, on today’s episode 2, episode 3 on January 30 and as one of two interview segments on episode 4. I hope you enjoy them all.

Dr. Warren Farrell is roundly regarded as a leading figure in the men’s movement, or better, the gender transition movement. His unique background and expertise give him a perfect vantage point from which to address men’s issues. Dr. Farrell has taught gender issues and psychology at several institutes, including Brooklyn College, Georgetown University, American University and the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Diego.

As a young graduate, Dr. Farrell was a major player in the feminist movement, especially in creating men’s groups across the US, then becoming the only man to be elected three times to the Board of Director of the National Organization for Women in New York City. Farrell was featured in media including the New York Times, the Today Show and the Phil Donahue Show, leading to his authorship of the pro-feminist book The Liberated Man.

As we discuss, in the late 80s, Farrell became increasingly convinced that feminism was rather one sided and that men’s issues were being neglected, leading to deep research on a variety of topics long taken for granted, and the publication of his landmark The Myth of Male Power, which touched on a diverse cross section of issues.

Farrell would go on to research each area in great depth, leading to the publication of 5 more books, including “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say”, a couples communication book to address the rise in divorces, “Father and Child Reunion”, to address the issue of fatherless homes and present the optimal shared parenting solution, “Why Men Earn More” to address the pay gap, and “Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men” which, among other things, called for men’s studies in academia.

However, I think at this early stage in the production of the Pendulum Effect, since many of our listeners, perhaps being in a similar position to Dr. Farrell prior to his conversion, shall we say, to a more balanced perspective on gender, might appreciate a sort of broad primer to get a feel for the nature of the issues. I’ve therefore asked Dr. Farrell on the show today to speak on his groundbreaking book The Myth of Male Power.

You can get the latest show by:

* Subscribing here for free with itunes
* Using this feedburner link in your browser.

Download: mp3 file

If you like the show, please leave us a review on itunes.

Links of Interest

Learn about Dr. Warren Farrell and order his books