Male feminism isn't simply an act of solidarity with women. It certainly isn't an act of altruism. It isn't selfless. In fact, male feminism invokes a degree of selfishness. Men are becoming increasingly aware that, while the masculine gender construct remains profoundly deleterious to women, it is also detrimental to men.
Assumptions that men are "hard to reach" or that "men don't talk" are unhelpful and present challenges to services that seek to engage with men and encourage their involvement. There is more to do to develop our understandings in terms of research, policy and practice, and recognition of men's roles in families and as carers might be a key signifier for broader change.
There is a framework showing how men cope with mental health concerns (particularly depression) in ways that escalate - the 'big build'. It is suggested that men initially begin with 'acting in' behaviours, such as 'avoidance' (e.g. overwork), 'numbing it' (through drug or alcohol use) and 'escaping it' (through increased risk-taking behaviours like gambling or having extra-marital affairs).
Labelling events as 'crises' is politically convenient as it deflects responsibility. The absolution of responsibility exists as an absolution of blame and guilt. When considering masculinity (and drawing a parallel to austerity) the discourse of 'crisis' become the focal point of blame. It can be nobody's fault but that of the situation.
In Give Me Your Skin, Oonagh and I are sharing our queerness in hope that no matter how straight you define, no matter how much you see yourself as a cis-gendered man who would like to have only sexual relations with women, that actually by giving in to queering yourself, you will remove those gender pressures...
Some time ago I was given some advice: that because I was nearly 30, it was about time that I sort my life out and man up for once. The term 'man up' has always perplexed me, as I don't really know how one would increase their masculinity levels, and to what standard. For instance, is there a chance that I could man up so much that I became too manly?
What you discover when you make TV programmes about brave, apparently macho men such as the Baghdad Bomb Squad or Yemeni death row convicts or Sunni militants in Lebanon is that they are not the two-dimensional masculine clichés you expect. They have fears, doubts and crises of confidence. They deep down care most about their children, partners and parents. They cry, often quite easily...