THE BLOG

Introducing HuffPost UK Men

02/11/2014 19:27 GMT | Updated 02/01/2015 10:59 GMT

It's almost impossible to be a man. I doubt I can prove that sweeping (and deliberately inflammatory) statement with science or fancy statistics, but take it from me, it is. And I'm not alone thinking that.

The expectation of what values men should represent in 2014 Britain is in a state of confusion. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but the net result is men have become less empowered. They've become less 'manly'.

A recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research showed that the average British Joe Bloggs is no longer the main bread winner. According to the IPPR two million working mothers are now the biggest earners in their families. That's a rise of 80% in the last 15 years.

The Office for National Statistics reported earlier this year that the number of stay-at-home dads in the UK has doubled in 20 years from 111,000 in 1993 to 229,000. These are remarkable statistics.

Achieving gender equality is without doubt what we should all support and strive for endlessly for. Who wants to live in a society divided along the out-of-date conventions that restricted our parents and grandparents? But the road to this promised land is proving to be a bumpy one and one which risks leaving men by the wayside, forgotten in the wastelands of change.

It's a sad, but sobering fact that in 2012 the UK male suicide rate was 3.5 times higher than for women. The ratio has dramatically increased since figures were first reported in 1981 and while there's agreed reason behind this increase, men are suffering the most.

Paul Bristow, from the Mental Health Foundation, has previously said: "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."

The way men view the world and themselves has also changed. Gone are the lads mags which seemingly satisfied a generation of horny male Britpoppers. Now it seems young men dine on an endless stream of YouPorn, revenge porn, rape-based abuse and overly pumped up expressions of what being a man is thought to be.

Take the bright young sparks at Cardiff University football team who were given a two-week playing ban after delivering a presentation on how to sleep with women who have low self-esteem - to a group of female students. Or the 'leaders of tomorrow' at Cambridge University who were filmed appearing to chant rape songs in the middle of the day while walking down a street. This isn't want being a man should be about.

In June positive body image advocate Jessica Lovejoy wrote for The Huffington Post UK about research she'd conducted for New Look magazine which showed "statistics to back up what we always suspected - men do, in fact, suffer from low self esteem and body image issues".

Lovejoy's work surveyed 2,000 men and discovered that more men are less confident in their bodies than they admit and they suffer from low self-esteem, eating disorders and feel extremely pressured to hit the gym more often than ever.

Her survey found the most common causes of insecurities in men were excess weight (26% of men surveyed,) waistline, height, muscles size and definition and penis size (18%). While a huge amount of work to tackle and resolve these issues for women is taking place, for men the issues are still brushed under the carpet.

The negative way we discuss men is a mainstream issue. I've written previously about how newspapers talk about young men, with particular reference to the England football team. Is it any wonder the next generation of men are facing a crisis?

Who are the role models educating boys about how they become men with values that benefit society? Who are the mentors working with young men on their confidence so they can achieve great things and grow in a positive way? Who in Britain is helping us build better men?

We all need to change the way we talk about men because not only does it benefit how they see themselves, but because it will change how they view women. If we can prevent the problems of the past that men have created for women then both sexes win.

At the HuffPost UK we're going to try and do exactly that. We're going to start a bigger conversation and offer an intelligent look at what men want to read and talk about. We'll cover blogs and in-depth features around bigger issues, as well as profiles with VIP and inspirational men, such as England cricketer Moeen Ali.

We want to to tackle the things that are endemic amongst men that have now led to crisis points such as male suicide, body image, emotional issues and attitudes towards women.

Join us in building better men and making being a real man more possible.