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International Men's Day 2023

International Men's Day is a chance to raise awareness of the difficulties men face with our wellbeing. This year's theme is 'zero male suicide.'

It is hard to imagine a world without suicide, regardless of sex, gender, colour, or creed, but we can hope, and a lot can be done with hope.

Men and boys in particular face a unique challenge with emotional health. This is not to further any divide, or to dismiss the difficulties women, girls or anyone else faces, but to highlight what men and boys face when dealing with our emotions.

When we discuss masculinity, it tends to follow the word 'toxic' which in itself is problematic. It creates a narrative that being masculine is toxic. That is not true.

Masculinity is defined as,

'qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men or boys.'

Traditionally, the expectations of men and boys is to be tough, adopting an attitude of resilience and stoicism. These expectations create the problem men and boys face; masculinity is not the issue - the perception of masculinity is.

To be a man you must work manual labour jobs, grow a beard, drink alcohol, and never wear pink. To be a man you must never be told what to do, follow orders, or even dare to talk about how you're feeling. These expectations are toxic, backwards, and they are dangerous.

This International Men's Day, let's embrace masculinity by rebranding it. But in doing so, let's be careful when creating that distinction.

It is manly to wear pink and talk about our feelings. It is also manly to work a manual labour job and not talk about our feelings.

We cannot knock down one man to pick up another. Some men are so suffocated by traditional expectations, the thought of being anything but can cause serious anxiety. The last thing they need is to then be told they are toxic, or they are the problem.

We can be a man by being ourselves, and we can be more of a man by not knocking others down. Let's be patient with others, let's be kind, and more importantly, let's be understanding.

Let's be advocates for healthy masculinity and work together, instead of being divided and conflictual.

Masculinity is important, it is contextual, and it is beautiful.

Happy International Men's Day.

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