THE BLOG

Why Do We Hate Young Men So Much?

24/06/2014 10:06 BST | Updated 23/08/2014 10:59 BST

It's open season on young men - particularly those plying a trade as international footballers (mismatched boots and all) in Brazil.

And it's not just the young footballers who come in for a battering. Their bosses too are in the bear pit of public opinion, being ripped to shreds with clawed words of collective frustration.

We're all at it. Even one of my favourite writers, Tony Parsons, has started foaming at the mouth. "Show some spine against Costa Rica, England," he wrote in The Sun newspaper on Tuesday.

"Remember the men who pulled on those shirts before you. Remember the nation you represent. Show us that England is still the home of the Three Lions. And not merely a nation of fat, neutered pussies."

Take a moment to read that again slowly: "Fat, neutered pussies."

No pressure then, lads. Maybe, it's time to take a long hard look at how we frame success, what we expect of men and how these two interact for the good of society.

Now read this first line (from an article in the Guardian in February) with the same passion: "The male suicide rate in the UK was 3½ times that of women in 2012, the highest ratio between the sexes in more than 30 years."

Set against a background of real world issues, there's something more significant at play than just a game of footy.

Our treatment of young men needs to be questioned. Should we accept it's open season on them? Should we accept using them as a punchbag for an emotional battering? Should we expect them to soak up the pressure and absorb everything we throw at them? If you think we should, why are so many young men not living happy lives as well adjusted individuals ready to cope with loving relationships and fatherhood?

We've all tried and failed loads of times. More often than not the process has made us better people. The thought of being jeered in the street, accused of being bad at our jobs, being a bad person who doesn't care and we should quit our jobs would destroy us all, wouldn't it?

According to the Clare Wyllie, head of policy and research Samaritans "society has this masculine ideal that people are expecting to live up to.

"Lots of that has to do with being a breadwinner. When men don't live up to that it can be quite devastating for them."

Paul Bristow, from the Mental Health Foundation, supports the view that there's something going wrong with men.

"We urgently need to know more about why being male is itself a risk factor in suicide and to do more to help men, especially young men, seek assistance rather than suffer in silence," he has said.

Of course, I'm not saying footballers are a suicide risk, but I strongly feel that for the everyday men, who may not be skilled with the emotional intelligence and support to deal with the pressure associated with being 'a man', then our attitudes, expectations and treatment should be examined.

Ally Fogg, also writing in the Guardian, sums things up well:

"There is the insidious influence of macho conditioning that beseeches to "man up" and demands that "boys don't cry" on pain of mockery and humiliation.

"These values are directly implicated in men's reluctance to seek help and support, whether from friends or professionals, preferring to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs with all the consequences that holds for careers, relationships, social isolation and homelessness, all of which are known to be key risk factors for suicide. "

Sure, we are all let down by the World Cup, but let's take a step back. Losing is not a nice feeling, but there's a lot more to lose by staying on the path we're on.

It would probably be better for all involved if we learned to accept that in Brazil we tried and failed but, at the end of the day, we're just a bit shit at football.