When I mention that I am interested in finding ways to give men and boys a voice, one of the first reactions is often, "why do men need a voice? Aren't virtually all powerful and public voices already male?" But in my experience, men are rarely given the opportunity to speak publicly about the issues that affect them as men.
If I am a 'Man' - let alone a HuffPost Man - why do I spend my time playing with toys for a living? Why are two of the three tabs on my browser open to Lego.com? Why do I so enjoy watching cartoons featuring comical dogs and signing up for pointless feats of strength? And why am I holding, as I write this blog, a lime-green NERF SlingFire Anti-Zombie shotgun - in the office?
In 2004 I embarked, somewhat foolishly and naively, on a journey to write a trilogy of books about masculinity. In 2013 the third book was published, I sighed in relief, they had consumed nine years of my life. During the writing hiatuses I would tour a one-man show in which I experimented with concepts and ideas for the books. Those were tough times.
Global rates of suicide are up 60% since World War II. By 2030, depression will outpace cancer, stroke, war and accidents as the world's leading cause of disability and death. Although twice as many women suffer from depression and many more attempt suicide, nearly four times as many men die from suicide every year. Why?
I recently heard a good story from someone about becoming a dad. After his child was delivered the man was handed the tiny baby, as the midwife did so she quickly checked the sex, and proudly said 'here's your big strong boy.' The father wondered if the midwife had delivered a girl whether she would have said 'here's your big strong girl.' Right from the first seconds of being born we are judged and compartmentalized.
This is why the 'Year of the Male' campaign by the CALM charity is so important. It promises to be about men and their issues, while being life affirming.
I have to admit every now and again I turn into a crusty old git, who is very worldy-wise, been there, done it, seen it, got the T-shirt. My close friends would probably raise an eyebrow at such a statement and whisper in my ear, 'when are you not like that?' illustrating what good friends they are by doing so.
Feminists must remember what liberation means - it is not just equal opportunity to be financially independent or to hold positions of authority. Liberation is about much more - it's the freedom to be yourself regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, class or gender. As soon as we assign stereotypes to any identity we create expectations of how individuals should behave...
Towards the end of 2013, and as is the case with the close of every Movember, my husband proudly wore a bold moustache. It's always a point of conversation: I find it so amazing that a strip of facial hair can greatly influence the way people respond to the wearer, particularly at first encounters...