THE BLOG

Yes, I Call Myself a Feminist, Because "Meninist" is Quite Frankly a Joke

19/11/2015 11:29 GMT | Updated 18/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Yes, I call myself a feminist, because 'meninist' is quite frankly a joke. However, domestic violence is not. Nor is the suicide of men.

I come from the bell hooks school of feminism, where 'Feminism Is for Everybody' and folks its an idea we all should embracing. Because the obstruction toward any movement addressing such issues, of domestic violence and the suicide of men, is the patriarchal lens that responses are premised, rather than being one of feminism. Patriarchy relies on the assumption that there is entitlement to power and control. That is, in twisted kind of way it demands its own entitlement. For example, a male victim of domestic violence is seen to be no longer in power and control because the entitlement to the provider and protector role, has been disenfranchised. Because patriarchy doesn't acknowledge men without power or control it doesn't see the need for resources for men and as such are limited or practically non-existent.

The tragedy of this scenario is highlighted in a story from a couple of years ago published via the Independent. There are several voices in this piece, one that is particularly breathtaking is from a guy named Dave, who's girlfriend smashed a bottle of Jack Daniels across his head and left him bleeding on the pavement.

In the UK and according to the 2010/11 BCS, 'seven per cent of women and five per cent of men experienced domestic abuse in the last year, equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female and 800,000 male victims.' That's a significant amount of both women and men suffering abuse in a country that is still known to be of a patriarchal society. When it comes to actual deaths from domestic violence, on average, two women are being murdered each week (or 104 per year) as are 30 men per year. Both figures are staggering. However, domestic violence is not just characterised by the physical violence, it also includes sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse.

When it comes to suicide, in 2014, 4,623 males took their own lives compared to 1,391 females. The phenomenon of suicide doesn't allow for a single answer response to the 'question of why' (do people suicide). Therefore, hypothesising a link between domestic violence and suicide isn't unquestionable, as pointed out in the Medscape Journal of Medicine.

Consequently, if domestic violence were to play a role in the high rates of male suicide, it could solely be because of the violence. It is also plausible that other factors in this person's life could compound and contribute to suicide ideation. Like for example unemployment, unresolved psychological distress from childhood sexual abuse, post traumatic stress disorder from serving in the armed forces, or from natural disaster or an act of terrorism. What potentially further compound these factors is the inadequate availability of services for male victims of domestic violence. The numbers may be different now but, in 2013 there were only 33 are dedicated rooms for male victims of domestic violence in UK refuges compared with around 4,000 spaces for women. For the record both Northern Ireland and Scotland had zero for men.

But is that the result of feminism?

I don't believe so. Because, patriarchy doesn't allow for men to be in need of support or help.

What I find frightening is the rejection of feminism by men who call themselves experts or advocates of men and our health. The idea of power and control and the sense of entitlement to it is harming us all. Patriarchy reinforces that.

It is very, very difficult to actually prevent suicide so what we need to do is look at what can be done to to mitigate the circumstances in and around a person's life. To interrupt thoughts and behaviours that lead to suicide.

I'm an advocate of male positive service provision and health services.I am able to do this successfully because I embrace feminism. For me its about men's lives, not men's rights. The two are antonyms.