The moment a guy shows any sign of emotional vulnerability, he is often confronted with comments or insults telling him to “man up”, “stop being a girl” or to “stop crying”. It is no surprise then, that from an early age the ways in which guys process stressful and traumatic situations, such as bullying for example, is vastly different to that of a girl. There is an imbalance between the genders and as our recent research with Brandwatch° highlights; the current masculinity construct is toxic and heavily associated with violence and stoicism, encouraging guys to display aggression, sexual deviance and emotional detachment.
The Annual Bullying Survey 2016° finds that half of the males who had experienced bullying never told anybody because they felt like they could deal with it alone or because they were embarrassed to talk about it. As a result, rates of depression, anxiety and self-harm increased. In response to stressful and traumatic situations, such as divorce, abuse and bereavement, guys are the most likely to use negative behaviours; such as bullying as a coping mechanism. Suicide continues to be the biggest killer of men, who are also found to be the most likely to engage in crimes and to become homeless.
Today we are proud to launch our latest campaign #TalkToYourBoys. The campaign is designed to encourage more guys to start talking about their feelings and issues that they are experiencing. As part of the campaign, we are launching a new stream of advice on how to talk to guys about a series of complex issues – not only for people aged 12-25 but for parents too. We will be working with MumsNet to help parents better understand and address the issues and over the long term through a series of live web chats. In addition to this campaign, we continue to work with our brand partner Lynx to challenge the status quo on toxic masculinity at a global level.
Liam Hackett, CEO and founder of Ditch the Label says, “Our research consistently finds that young men are under an immense amount of pressure to conform to a set idea of what it means to be a man – ideas which are incredibly toxic and interlinked with violence and stoicism. Men are more likely than anyone else to bully and less likely to talk about the issues affecting them. This is why males are more likely to engage in crime, sexual violence and suicide – because they are discouraged from talking about issues affecting them with comments like ‘stop being a girl’ and ‘man up’. Encouraging openness is a vital step forward if we want to raise a generation of men who are emotionally articulate and able to process stress and trauma in healthy, positive ways.”
Professor Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology at Sussex University says, “Young men encounter an extensive and often confusing array of messages about what success means, how they should behave towards others, and what is desirable. We also know that a significant proportion of young people have experienced bullying and associated mental health difficulties as they navigate this complex social world. Research shows that the most effective strategies to support young people’s well-being bring everyone together to understand, talk about, and collectively shape the ethos and value system of our institutions and communities.”