In a bid to redefine feminism, Hollywood actress Emma Watson touched upon gender issues that affect men and never get spoken of. Men, just like women, are bound by an image in the society, which portrays them as a provider and as one who shows no sign of weakness. Depression, sadness and tears are never seen as part of man’s makeup. And if he does exhibit any of those signs, he’s looked down upon by family and friends. Unlike women, who choose to speak out, men do the opposite — they ignore the signs, which result in psychosomatic and mental illnesses, addictions to substances and suicide in a increasing number of cases. Let’s take a look at some of the issues that men are afraid to talk about…
Domestic violence on the rise
In most cases, men have been seen as perpetrators of violence — physical or mental. However, Mumbai-based psychologist, Dr Harish Shetty, says, “I have seen several cases in my three decade long career of men being the affected party. Domestic violence has increased in families.Men are beaten by teenage children and by spouses. They are emotionally bashed at the workplace by their bosses. There are instances where friends of their girlfriend come and bash them when things go bad, but these things go unsaid. They suffer in silence.” This often leads to a vicious cycle of ailments, depression and psychosomatic illnesses like ulcers, heart related diseases and diabetes. “Men don’t seek help when they are depressed, irritable or angry. They either fall prey to addictions or commit suicide,” adds Dr Shetty, who says that more men commit suicide than women.
Depression sets in
A direct cause of the increasing pressures that men face is depression. City-based psychologist Dr Yusuf Matcheswala says that while the occurrence of depression is common in men, they do not realise that they are suffering from it. “Men being men, feel they will be perceived as weak if they seek help from a psychologist and don’t want to accept there is any weakness in them. Even though it’s okay for men to be metrosexual, do manicures, pedicures and wear strawberry lip balm, sadly, seeking help is not,” says Dr Matcheswala. Seeking help can sometimes cause complications. “Men become quieter and lose interest in life; they begin lying about their jobs. They tend to eat more, drink more alcohol and crib about office all the time. They avoid responsibilities and feel worthless and hopeless,” says Dr Shetty, adding that these problems can be avoided if there is enough awareness. “A simple trip to a friendly neighbourhood counsellor can do the trick,” he adds.
An alarming number of young boys find themselves a victim of sexual exploitation. Dr Shetty says that unless those who are exploited seek help and attain closure, the effects of such trauma can be lasting. “I have seen cases where men, who were assaulted when they were young, lose interest in marriage. At times, boys who’ve been abused sexually, grow up with an unhealthy idea of sex.” Such experiences scar a person for life and prevent them from leading a productive life.
The pressures of modern life can take a toll on men and increase if they have a family to support. In a fast-paced city like Mumbai, the struggle and stress starts with the morning commute and continues through the day, with work pressures mounting.With the onus of financial responsibility and upkeep of the family on him, a man has to keep it all together. In Mumbai, members of the Save Our Family Association meet every Sunday to talk about these issues and share their problems. Says a member, Jinesh Zaveri, “We see cases where fathers are denied rights to meet their children after a divorce.We listen to them, console them, and suggest the best possible course of action. These men are so affected that initially, they barely speak and are tight-lipped.