With all the talk of MeToo, male/female income inequality, underrepresentation of women in university STEM program.. it seems like an awful time to be a woman.
But over the weekend, a friend shared a terrifying fact with me. Men commit suicide almost 4 times more frequently than women. Thats right… male suicide rates are almost 400% higher than female suicide. And middle-aged white men are the most likely cohort to attempt suicide.
It begs the question. If aging white men have to so damn good, why are so many so keen to kill themselves?
Men – and boys – are in crisis on western democracies. The world they know if changing rapidly around them and they have no idea how to adapt. In only a generation or two:
- men are no longer the assumed dominant figure in the workplace or at home. As both home and the office have become more egalitarian – and while this is unquestionably a positive things for society as a whole – it has left men struggling with their new roles. Being the boss is easy… being a partner is really, really hard
- men often lack the social skills and infrastructure to adapt to the changing social dynamics in society. We all crave socialization, but the way we socialize is changing. More in done online through social media. And guess who’s not on social media… middle age white men. Of my six closest guy friends, only 3 or us are on social media. Every one of my close female friends is on both Facebook and Insta. This may seem inconsequential, but its not… men are lonely like they’ve never been lonely before.
- men don’t know how to act when they can’t act macho. I’m lucky.. I’ve never been much of a ‘man’s man’. So when when society started to tell me not to be a chauvinistic, harassing douchebag, it was pretty easy. But if you’re used to being a dominating, ass-slapping, sexist-joke-making ‘one of the boys’ – and then all of a sudden you’re told you can’t be – its hard.
To be clear, I think a world where men and women are treated equally is for the better… far better. But we need to have sympathy and accommodation for the men who are blindsided by the shift. We – men and women – are born into an expectation of consistency. That consistency has allowed us to thrive as a species, raising generation after generation of humans well adapted to their environments. So sudden change is really hard.
Men do nto deserve to be vilified at this punctuated moment of change. They need to be helped through the transition.