The Masculinity Crisis

The Statistics

Male suicides account for 76% of all suicides in the UK. Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 35. Nearly 9 out of 10 people found guilty for indictable offenses are male. Males are 30% more likely to drop out of school than their female counterparts, and they are achieving poorer results in school. They are 5 times more likely to be labelled as having ADHD (with many being medicated).

Arousal addictions are on the rise in young men, whose brains are being rewired for novelty, excitement, and constant arousal. This is compounding the disconnection and bringing them further out of sync with traditional social and educational environments (which are analogue and interactive), and with the skills necessary to form emotional connections (which are gradual and subtle).

By the time a male is 21, on average he has played 10,000 hours of computer games, with two thirds of that time spent in isolation. By the age of 14, 94% of people have viewed sexually explicit material online and 53% of boys under the age of 16 perceive pornography as a realistic depiction of sex.

Male graduates are 60% more likely to be unemployed for the year following graduation. It’s increasingly evident that the nature of work in the UK has been shifting to service, information, and creative. Fruitful participation in the new job market will require intelligence, ability to focus, listening and communication skills, and the ability to operate in a fluid workplace. Skills that as we see are for various reasons not fostered in men. Males are also less likely to retrain or switch professions than their female counterparts.

Despite the evident need for support, men are much less likely to access psychological services than women, representing only 36% of referrals.

The challenges that men are facing have a wider impact. 66% of bullies in school are male. 70% of young people have experienced cyber bullying and 60% of 13 to 18 year olds having been asked for a sexual image or video of themselves. 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence (while an estimated 85% go unreported).

What’s Behind This Crisis?

Patriarchy is the social and cultural organisation that has ruled most of the world for at least the past 4000 years. It runs deeply through every aspect of our daily experience.

Patriarchy is essentially based on fear. On the insecurity that power may be lost if it’s not obtained and retained by any means. What we learn from patriarchy is that actualizing as a man means power, dominance, aggression, and a particular brand of strength that denies vulnerability.

We receive these ideas about masculinity in very subtle ways as well as in clear, explicit ways. For example, we observe it rewarded in our social structures, we see it in our entertainment, and we even receive it from well-intentioned people that we love and trust – through modelling behavior passed on through generations (for example, the stoic provider) or indeed through well worn directives (such as “boys don’t cry” or “you do that like a girl”).

The result is the rejection of that which gives us balance and makes us whole. Disconnection from what we could call our inner feminine energy, from which come traits such as compassion, empathy, nurture, self-care, tolerance, and foundation. This dissociation cuts us off from being able to attain the secure embodiment of our complete masculinity.

Finding a Path Forward

Increasingly there are conscientious men who observe this insecure form of masculinity and who identify it as being essentially abusive.

These men see the harms of patriarchy against women, they see how it has affected the planet, and they see how it traps men. However, in recognising the flaws of patriarchal masculinity – and with the desire to create change – some men push back by alienating themselves from masculinity altogether. In just the same way as when we reject our innate feminine energy, rejecting the innate masculine energy leaves us unable to attain the secure embodiment of our complete masculinity.

Contained within the patriarchy is the slander and wounding of both the masculine and the feminine.

What we need urgently is to look at everything we have received around gender, and to move forward together, with consciousness. Complete, reassured, and empowered. This is the movement to which Brotherhood aims to contribute.