‘Boys will be boys’ is being recognised as being a damaging phrase for society. On the one hand it allows the behaviour of boys to be dismissed as just something that is expected of them and doesn’t help address what can be damaging behaviour. There has recently been pushback against this phrase and calls for ‘Boys will be accountable for their actions.’ This is definitely important, all human beings are ultimately accountable for the choices they make. However, this ignores that boys have been taught to behave in a particular way by their families, peers and ultimately society. Let’s look at the figures on how toxic masculinity actually affects men and why men are victims of the position society expects them live up to.
- In the UK, 3 times as many men die from suicide than women. Around ¾ of all suicides in the UK are male. Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under the age of 50.
- Men are far more likely than women to experience addiction, substance abuse. Men are 3 times more likely than women to become reliant on alcohol and 3 times more likely to become addicted to illegal substances.
- Men are more likely than women to become homeless – around 87% of rough sleepers are male.
- Men are 1.5 times more likely to be victims of violence than women.
So why don’t we hear about men’s mental health more often, or why isn’t it talked about more openly?
It brings us back to the issue of toxic masculinity and that for a long time the narrative has simply been that it is a sign of weakness for men to talk about mental health or seek help for issues. Not talking can be so detrimental to men’s health and affects their relationships with their peers and families.