Men are struggling in today’s world, with falling employment and education rates, and rising addiction and suicide rates. At the same time we’re being outspokenly cast as dangerous, predatory, and ‘oppressive’, which doesn’t help men find their place or confidence in their identity as men.
So I fully support men’s groups that aim to help men overcome the challenges facing us and thrive as men.
I have noticed that some groups that claim to be helping men tell a different story on their front page. You’ll look at the group, and find something saying that the group aims to help men to not perpetuate violence against women or it helps men in order to bring about gender equality.
It’s certainly true that helping struggling men to become mentally healthier and to be able to support themselves will help the women and children in their lives. And it’s unquestionably a good thing to be against domestic violence, for example. Reducing sexism and violence towards women is a good thing, and helping as many men as possible become better, more effective, more competent men would also obviously reduce that. I have no problem with either statement. But that’s a separate thing from a men’s help group.
I have a problem with forming an organization to help men and then declaring your goal and yardstick to be the well-being of people who aren’t men. The desire to help someone has to be sincere. You have to help someone for their own value in themselves. There’s something deeply ungenuine about basing your effort to help someone on ‘fixing’ them so they don’t bother someone else. After all, men have all sorts of problems not directly related to women – loneliness, education, lack of male spaces, mental health, obesity and addiction, and so on.
Compassionate help starts with concern for the people themselves. To help men only so they don’t bother someone women is a good way to make decisions that superficially women, but aren’t actually that great for the men you claimed to be trying to help. It says you don’t really care about the person you’re helping. It’s the wrong message to send. We need to acknowledge that men have their own lives and their own needs if we’re going to help them. I haven’t named any names in this article because that’s not the point. I’m not trying to call out any one group that is probably doing some good things in the end. But I’m asking us all to keep this in mind. And if you are a man looking for help, or know a man that needs help, be on the lookout for this when looking for resources. Find a group that really cares for the man himself.