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Why Can't Fathers Cry for Their Babies?

25/02/2016 10:55 GMT | Updated 23/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Trying to explain that sexism towards men is real, is like trying to convince a toddler that Broccoli is a super food, it usually ends up in frustration and Broccoli everywhere. Ok, not a great analogy, but I have a point.

The media, and largely advertisers, would have us believe that men today are dim witted, useless at anything other than watching television, and that they should really just leave the complicated matters to the ladies in their lives.

I sat jaw agape whilst I watched Ben Fogle romp across my screen as a hapless father doing his level best to manage a young child's birthday party, at the end of which he is saved from the calamity by the restorative effects of a nice cup of tea.

There there Ben, it's ok, you're just a man, intoned the advertiser.

I must have missed the memo that said that men should now be treated no better than a housewife in the 1940s.

Casual sexism towards women in this day and age is frowned upon, and rightly so, yet almost every female orientated panel show will feature at least one of the panel members deriding men in some way; which is then roundly applauded by the almost exclusively female audience.

"Man up", is quite often the response from people in general when this topic of male targeted sexism arises, and this is where the danger lies.

How does one man up?

Should I go to the gym? Oh yes, replies GQ.

Perhaps a tan? Definitely says FHM.

Be amazing in bed, at work, at the gym, on the dance floor etc etc? "Prerequisites for courtship old boy", clamour the hordes of websites, blogs and magazines who support the notion that men must be emasculated in order to better serve the wants of their women folk.

My emasculation came at the hands of a women with over two decades in children's cancer care.

She had just told me that my son had less than a week to live, and when asked by my wife to embrace and console me, and to give me the same care that she had just given to her whilst I stood and cried helplessly, all she could manage was to announce:

"Oh him, he's just a big baby!"

After the initial shock I spoke to my wife about my experiences both in and out of hospital, especially with the media, and she was just as disgusted with how men are treated as I was.

Like me, my wife could not fathom how it can be at all positive to put so much pressure on men, and yet expect them to meet ridiculously high ideals.

Mixed messages from society are leading men into a constant state of confusion about how they should act and when, and if we are not careful we will see generations of boys growing up not knowing who they are and what their role is in society.

My advice to men of all ages based on my experience is as follows.

Be true to yourself. By finding out what being a man means to you, you are better placed to feel secure in yourself.

Build a support network both online and in the real world. I found that talking to others like me was nearly impossible because men are not encouraged to share their feelings.

Stay active. Sedentary lifestyles like the one I experienced in hospital, actually made small problems seems much larger. However when my son was having his Bone Marrow transplants, I found that even a brisk walk and plenty of water was enough to keep me upbeat and positive.

And finally;

Learn to love yourself. There is no one else when all is said and done, so once you understand that you must love the person you are, flaws and all, you can begin to build strength from within.

We have a long way to go before we experience true equality between men and women, especially with wage disparity as it is, but if we all commit to agreeing that the status quo needs to change, then we have at least a fighting chance.