International Men’s Day is an annual event set up to address the growing problem of men’s mental health and general wellbeing. Historically, men’s uptake of health services is extremely low. This is due to a number of convoluted and interlinking factors, namely many men feel it’s a sign of weakness, they fear the unknown, or that they are scared.
International Men’s Day (IMD) is a global day of observance held every year in more than 60 countries around the globe. It invites every man, woman, girl and boy in the world to come together and celebrate men and boys in all their diversity (https://internationalmensday.com/).
But because of a social onus on masculinity to be performed in a certain manner, and the complexities of masculinites, International Men’s Day often gets ignored, or is treated like a joke: ‘isn’t every day International Men’s Day?’
Male suicide is at an all time high. It is the biggest killer of men under 50. In 2018, 4,903 men took their own lives (13 per day) in the UK at a rate of 17.2 per 100,000, the highest rate since 2013. Men make up three in every four suicides. In 2019, 85% of men slept rough. Of the people in prison 96% of them are men. Sexual assault of young men is also on the increase. Men are also much more likely to ‘act out’ aggressive behaviours as they are unable to deal with feelings of anxiety and depression, because they are seldom encouraged to do so, illustrated by the phrase ‘boy’s don’t cry’.
I began looking into masculinity as an area of research about seven years ago and first began writing and publishing about representations of masculinity in popular culture, especially shifts in power, identity and sexual behaviours. In 2019 I joined a Masculinity Research Group run by Professors at the University of Birmingham. One of the themes they wanted people to research into was Masculinity and National Identity. I am developing a book proposal for Routledge about Welsh Masculinity and the ways in which male oppression is played out through hardness.
My research group, Research into Masculinites has been set up as a transdisciplinary group across the university. The idea is that all the Schools in the university have a perspective on masculinities. This year I have begun supervising a Phd on masculinity with Dan Heggs from Psychology, and I would like to encourage more colleagues to come and work with me and contribute to the group. In the group we currently also have colleagues from around the globe, External Academic Collaborators, who are experts in research on men’s clothing and fashion, men’s body image, young boys and emotion and toxic masculinity. In order to increase visibility of the importance of men sharing their emotions, I have made a video where I asked a range of men what they thought men could do to help each other to express their emotions better.
Dr Ashley Morgan