When Men Feel They Can't Ask for Help


I recently had a guy friend tell me, “Life would be easier if I was a woman.”

Wow. Let’s all take a moment and re-read that.

“Life would be easier if I was a woman.”

It’s because he believes if he was a woman, it would be easier to find support for his depression.

Through feminism, women are striving to have the same rights as men. And while we still have a long way to go, my friend taught me there can be benefits to being female that men don’t have either.

I think that’s why feminism gets a bad rep sometimes. Because some feminists have mainly focused on gaining all the benefits of being a man, while they may seem unwilling to share the benefits of being a woman. To me, that’s not true feminism. Feminism means equality.

For instance, feminism, to me, also means I don’t expect a man to pay for me on a date. It means if I see a man I think is attractive at the end of the bar, I’ll buy him a drink instead of just expecting him to approach me. It means if a single father is the better parent, then courts should recognize this. It means not judging a man for making less money than me. It means letting little boys play with dolls, paint their nails or join ballet class if they choose, just like little girls shouldn’t be judged for choosing a toy truck over Barbies.

And most importantly, I feel, feminism means fostering previously deemed “feminine” qualities in boys. It means encouraging them to talk about their feelings, seek help when they need it, and never, ever telling them to “man up” or calling them emasculating names.

For me, I have a close-knit group of female friends who I can talk to about my problems, who will help me feel better and who will let me cry on their shoulders without judging me. If I need any emotional help, I have no problem asking for it. And I think this has saved my life on many occasions.

While some men have this kind of support, others, like my friend, don’t.

Could this be one of the reasons suicide by men is more than three times more prevalent than by women in the United States? According to an article in BC Medical Journal, “Men’s lack of social support, relative to that available to women, has been implicated as a risk factor in male suicide… Few preventive efforts or policies specifically targeting male suicide have been developed or evaluated, which further contributes to its lack of visibility as a major public health problem.”

For me, being a feminist doesn’t mean only fighting for women’s rights. It also means raising awareness of the things that aren’t fair for men. It means talking about this “silent epidemic” and working to increase resources and social support for men, just as we have for women.

Yes, feminism means equal pay for equal work. It means more women being promoted to leadership positions in the workplace. It means not viewing women as sex objects. It means women are strong and independent and don’t need a man to survive. But when men and women truly are equal, which I hope happens sooner rather than later, it won’t just benefit women. It will benefit everyone.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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