Men Commit Suicide Because of Feminism?

mra-4Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) often blame feminists for men’s problems.

Apparently, women are now the advantaged gender. And it’s our fault that they’re committing suicide at a higher rate than we do.

I’m so, so sorry that some people want to end their lives.

But that higher rate is connected to male privilege. So blame patriarchy, not feminism.

It seems counterintuitive, but consider that the rate is higher among white men, not all men. It’s higher among the most privileged of the privileged.

Higher privilege brings higher expectations

Whites and males are both privileged. But advantage brings expectation. And high expectations can be hard to meet — and depressing when you feel you don’t measure up.

Think about our founding father, John Adams, and his family.

John Adams and his eldest son, John Quincy, traveled thru Europe absorbing the culture while meeting high-powered players as they sought support for American independence.

Once the US was formed, John Adams eventually became President. Later, John Quincy enjoyed a distinguished career including Harvard professor, member of Congress, Secretary of State, and US President.

Men blaming women for problems caused by patriarchy

Men blaming women for problems caused by patriarchy

But what about John Quincy’s younger siblings, who’d been left at home — far from the enriching experiences that JQA had gained?

It must be hard to be the son of one President and the brother of another. Charles and Thomas never adequately filled those big shoes. Both died of alcoholism.

Their sister, Abigail (named for her mom) didn’t have a perfect life. But she never faced especially high expectations, either. She married and raised children, as women were expected to do. And she didn’t become a drunkard.

Men must be the big wheel, the sturdy oak… And don’t cry!

Our masculine ideals encourage success and achievement, but leave most men without support when they don’t. Masculine standards have been described this way:

  • The big wheel — be successful
  • The sturdy oak — be independent
  • No sissy stuff — don’t show emotions
  • Give ‘em hell — prove manhood through risk-taking

You must be a big wheel, but when high expectations aren’t met you get depressed. But you can’t talk it over or express your emotions because that’s sissy stuff. And you can’t see a therapist because you must be the sturdy oak.

Some men look back on a life of unmet expectations, and depression can lead to suicide.

Feminism hopes to free men from the dilemma.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 8, 2015, in feminism, men, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. This article makes me so angry. Women have ALWAYS been the privileged sex. Men died in wars, sacrificed for women, deferred in romance, put themselves last to provide for their families, pay more in healthcare, taxes, social services, child support, alimony, the list goes on. Women, in the irrational feminist worldview, have created at world for themselves that revolves around their choices and their benefit at the expense of men. And no one gives a shit. They keep repeating the same lies as fact over and over and over. Women did not have the right to vote, because they did not fight in war. Period. And do not bring up today’s military. A complete joke, when modern warfare does not require the same hand to hand combat, lower physical requirements for women, and less likelihood of sending women to front line warfare, while they collect the same pay. So men run the world? What happened to “behind every powerful man is a more powerful woman.” To the author: your condemnation by God on the Day of Judgment is most deserved. Enjoy your privilege.

    • Ah, you didn’t read it did you?

      The article only talks about how patriarchy hurts men.

      Most everything you described above is an example of how patriarchy hurts men — and how feminism would help men.

      “Men died in wars, sacrificed for women, deferred in romance, put themselves last to provide for their families, pay more in healthcare, taxes, social services, child support, alimony, the list goes on.” ???

      If we had gender equality then men wouldn’t be sacrificing for women and dying in wars more than the other way around. The reason men are usually the ones paying child support and alimony is because women are more likely to sacrifice their career to take care of children, so when judges assign custody as guided by “Best interests of the child” they put the children with the parent who has the strongest relationship with the child. Because mom is more likely to have sacrificed her career for her children (quitting work, downsizing her job, Working part-time) children almost always have a closer relationship with their mothers. If we had equality then men would have equal parenting — and equal custody. And men wouldn’t have to sacrifice to provide for their families. (Women and men both sacrifice, according to traditional gender roles, But in different ways. In equal relationships they would sacrifice in similar ways, Or ways that make most sense for the relationship/ their personalities instead of for gender roles.)

      If men and women were equal then women and men would be equal in romance, With women equally asking men out, paying for dates, etc.

      Men pay more in taxes because they make more money. If women and men made equal money then women and men would pay equal taxes.

      On healthcare women actually pay more. Partly because on average they live longer than men (part biology and part the stresses men take on because of patriarchy — and the accompanying failure to share the stress). And partly they pay more because being the bearers of children involves more bodily functions and extra costs: menstruation, various cancers associated with primary and secondary sex differences (breasts, cervix, uterus, ovaries), the high cost of pregnancy and childbearing and recovery…

      Yes, there are some sex differences that create differences in anatomy. As such, standards shouldn’t be changed for doing jobs. But people shouldn’t be kept from applying for jobs simply because of their sex. Men on average have greater upper body strength because of testosterone creating larger muscles. Women on average have better sensory skills, endurance, balance and live longer partly because of estrogen and partly because on their xx (v xy) Gene combination.

      Turns out, you are a feminist after all.

      Otherwise, most of my blog focuses on how patriarchy harms women, so if you believe women are the privileged sex, read on.

  2. Why are you connecting fedora neckbeards to mens rights activists? Seems like you’re trying to dismiss them as stereotypical internet lowlifes without any evidence.

    Fedora neckbeards seem far more likely to be feminists than mens rights activists from there actions on youtube.

  3. This article is so on point.
    As a kid, I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood in San Jose, comparatively speaking. Much of my childhood was spent playing with girls, which affected the way I viewed people as a whole. However, my parents, who are Christians, are very conservative. As I got to be older (10+), I mingled with this demographic of far right, largely white, Christians, which is where I can totally relate to the masculine driven culture described in this paper. I know now that I am more secure in myself, not even necessarily in manhood, because I was around girls and mixed race kids so much as a kid. Talking to other white males, for example, from very tradition-based white families, I realized they hadn’t had the same experience as me, and while I would certainly describe my parents as classic in the patriarchal sense, I knew very much else as a kid and experienced far less pressure to be masculine. My eldest brother, who is gay, which I was unaware of through my teens, very much influenced my taste in music, fashion, and general style. I always saw him as a masculine influence as a kid and because of that, and once I found out his sexuality, I understood even further that the masculine standards for straight males that some people like to push are completely bogus. I’m straight, and people have questioned my sexuality to my face. The traditional concept of masculinity says that a question like that is supposed to be an insult, but I take it as a compliment.

  4. You make an article designed to attract suicidal men who have grievances with gender pedagogy, blame dismissive attitudes solely on the social conduct of other men, and you lead the whole thing mocking them for their not stifling their whining while “they” control the world? Targeted at the men with the absolute least amount of social agency conceivable? And you claim to have some kind of authority on psychology and Socratic self-awareness?

    In a world this knowingly evil, it’s no wonder so many of us want out.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way. But what you say does not reflect what I wrote, so I wonder if you wrote your comment without reading my piece. The problem isn’t men, the problem is patriarchy. If MRAs keep blaming women for problems that patriarchy creates, nothing will change.

  5. I agree that with greater privilege comes greater responsibilities and with these responsibilities there is a larger amount of pressure placed on the person. In the past men have taken these responsibilities and left the women at home, however, now that the women are taking these, men feel inadequate and this can lead to depression. I personally feel like this comes from how these men were raised and what type of household they grew up in. When young boys see their father running the household, they will try to imitate them when they are older; when he fails this may lead to the son feeling insufficient. However, i believe this feeling will end once our generation has children because of the new view that we have about life. Growing up with women working powerful CEO jobs and men being stay at home dads will help to even out the depression rate.

  6. I found this article interesting and kinda sad because it just goes to show you how MRA’s will find any excuse to blame feminists for their problems. The fact that men have a higher suicide rate is unfortunate, but the blame cannot be placed on feminists; it can only be placed on the white male privilege that is very much alive today.
    I believe that MRA’s just want to find reasons to blame feminists for the problems that they encounter, such as a higher suicide rate. It’s almost like it helps them sleep better at night if they know that they can throw the blame at someone else (in this case, feminists).
    Someone in the comments posted that the blame for higher suicide rates and other problems is societal and I agree completely. Society houses gender roles and forces men and women to fit their set molds to avoid problems. When women are feminists, they’re viewed as “disobeying” the mold set for them and are therefore blamed for the problems that occur for men.
    MRA’s blaming feminists is similar to some radical feminists blaming men for all the problems. It’s necessary for both sides to realize that blaming each other won’t solve anything. If we want to create a society that houses equity and equality for all, working together is the most important thing.

  7. Awesome points, and thanks for the reply and links. I usually like to also point out that the men that grow up to abuse and mistreat women are often raised by women. I wasn’t trying to imply that women did not have problems, but that compared to third world countries, you really don’t. Think of countries that have Sharia law.

    My point usually boils down to it being a societal problem and I try and shift blame from being male or female in nature and more of a joint investment. One side blaming the other will never solve anything and neither will hate.

    I always thought man haters were part of radical feminism? They are the reason a lot of men hate the word feminism.

  8. I think one of the critiques of feminism by men is the women who say they are for equality but still cling to and enjoy benefits awarded them by patriarchy. Men are supposed to initiate romance and usually end up paying for dates among other things. Men usually get stuck with gendered jobs like mowing and vehicle maintenance.

    Some feminists wrongly believe that feminism is about empowering women but it’s actually more in line with gender equality. Part of equality is admitting that you have some of those privileges and that it’s unequal and advocating for change of what it usually called chivalry. Chivalry is not dead, but it should be because that is what equality is about, no one gets special treatment because of what’s between their legs.

    So in that regard I can see their point. You shouldn’t be dismissive of men’s rights groups any more than you should of women’s, because as any woman will tell you in less privileged countries women here have nothing to complain about. So should feminism die because some middle class white women have it good in the US? No. Similarly, men who run the world do so while being handicapped emotionally by patriarchy, and most men never get to enjoy their privilege because they are working and paying the bills.

    • As I wrote in a comment to someone else (Because they brought it up), MRAs risk backfiring on their goals by offending people by acting like they hate women — which is similar to some early feminists who offended people by acting like they hated men.

      Women in America DO have something to complain about. Just a short list here, because I don’t have room for everything:

      Women are still raped and beaten (you don’t find that in cultures that are truly equal), Women are still paid less than men, they are less likely to be offered high-paying & high status jobs, they are perceived to be less competent, they are called bitches and hoes, their reproductive rights are being threatened — in many States in the US Women are dying because they can’t get a legal abortion, many are trying to keep women from getting birth control so that they can disempower women in that way, women are more slut-ashamed — and some even commit suicide because of it, Women are much less likely to enjoy sexuality than men because our sexuality is much more repressed — nearly half of women say they have problems of sexual dysfunction. Again, you don’t find that problem in gender-equal societies. Women still have less say in the home than men… I could go on.

      But of course neither gender should be privileged. And your point about asking people on a date reflects a problem caused by male privilege. Women should be equally able to ask men out on a date. And of course they should be equally responsible for paying for it. (And of course, they should get equal pay to help support equally paying for a date)

      You might find this series interesting:

      Why Women Don’t Ask Guys Out
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/02/03/why-women-dont-ask-guys-out/
      Yeah, I’ve Asked Men Out
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/02/10/yeah-ive-asked-men-out/
      Do Men Want Women To Ask Them Out?
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/02/14/do-men-want-women-to-ask-them-out/

      The guy should always pay?
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/09/17/really-you-have-no-choice/
      Why Dating Resists Gender Equality
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/12/01/why-dating-resists-gender-equality/

  9. I believe that the MRA has one sure thing in common with Feminists, which is the fact that they are (like we once were) aiming the fight for rights towards the wrong direction. Feminists have been given a bad rep in the past, and even now still, due to the belief that we have to hate men in order to want women’s rights. That in order for women to gain their rights, we need to step and topple over men. The MRA is seemingly trying to gain their rights and attempting to stop these high expectations and stereotypes placed on them by hating women. Hating them enough to even commit suicide!

    There is nothing wrong with an organization that fights for male rights when we clearly have an organization that fights for the other sex. Males do have lots of privileged in this world, but there are problems they face in many areas too that should not be overlooked if our true goal is to obtain equality for all. Feminists and the MRA are not enemies, which I hope many people will soon realize, as we should strive to fight against these gender norms and change society to be much more equal and free place.

    Great article that allows readers to see a different perspective tot he MRA! Thanks!

    • You’re welcome.

      And yeah, a few early feminists hated men. That got a lot of attention and totally backfired on the movement.

      This MRA strategy is likely to backfire too.

  10. lopezedith83@gmail.com

    I feel like men always blame women when they feel belittled in any way possible. They should look back through history and notice that patriarchy has embedded these ideas since the beginning of time. It’s not right that women are blamed for a an issue that is as serious as suicide. It’s not surprising that it affects those that are most privileged, honestly. White males have higher standards to live up to in society. It then becomes more of a personal issue where men feel like they have to achieve something great, whereas feminism doesn’t even promote suicide. I think it’s the idea that feminism is even linked to suicide amongst men is preposterous.

  11. “But remember what drives a man; real men do what they have to do to make sure their people are taken care of, clothed, housed, and reasonably satisfied, and if they’re doing anything less than that, they’re not men.”
    ― Steve Harvey, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment

    This is what is causing men problems, for the most part. Not feminism. It is the “the man box” that Mark Greene over at GMP has written about.

    http://goodmenproject.com/author/mark-greene/

    Steve Harvey’s comment puts all of us men in that box, wrongly so I must add.

    With a new global economy AND direct competition in the labor market, White men are being challenged. Many of these men are simply unable to compete. Hence they no longer feel needed…..But, as a man, your entire self worth should not be linked to:

    The big wheel — be successful
    The sturdy oak — be independent
    No sissy stuff — don’t show emotions
    Give ‘em hell — prove manhood through risk-taking

    To make matters worse, the majority of women (even feminist women) still expect men to be these four things. It has all been internalized by men and women alike.

    The good news is that a lot of men are rejecting The Man Box. They are finding new happiness by taking the road less traveled!

    Btw, I enjoyed this piece.

    • Thank you. I agree with your points. And I really appreciate the discussion of the man box. There’s a discussion in a TED Talk that I’ve been planning to blog on sometime. And I agree that even feminists internalize sexism. I know I have. And I’ve even written about it some, recently.

  12. Brittney Putman

    This blog post brings up some interesting and valid points. I believe a big problem with our gender differences is derived from the expectations and beliefs that have been instilled in our heads from the time we were children. Even when the male gender is a child, they are scorned for crying or playing in roles that are considered out of the “norm” for little boys. Before reading this post, as a woman I had never thought about the pressure and expectations that can be put on the male gender. For our society, males are expected to be the protectors, the strength, the supplier, and overall succeed in life. The blog states that white males overall have more privilege, but with privilege comes higher expectations. I had never thought about the high expectations placed on men, and now thinking about it I could see how this could have a strain on the ones that don’t meet these high expectations. If we are able to discredit these stereotypes and expectations, and place men and women on the same playing field, there is a possibility we can lessen this pressure on men, and overall share the opportunities and success.

  13. I seriously see no logical links at all between male suicide and feminism at the cause. That people are out there spouting this stuff leaves me seriously concerned about this mindset. And as usual, blame women for the ills of patriarchy why don’t they.

    • It’s pretty crazy. You go: men have a higher suicide rate than women, so women/feminism must be the problem?

      I guess they think that feminism privileges women, leaving men at a disadvantage. Some seem to say that the fact that men commit more suicide means we just don’t need feminism anymore. Even though feminism would help men to be less likely to commit suicide.

  14. Gemma Navarro

    This blog post immediately caught my eye. The Men’s Rights Advocates blame feminism for the high rate of suicide in men? But this post draws attention to the bigger picture. The blogger argues what the purpose of feminism actually is and how it is intended to help better understand all genders. In a reading from my women’s studies course, we learned about the patriarchy and how it affects women as well as men.
    I really appreciated how the reading helped me to understand this blog a little better. Feminism (all types) and women’s studies are not studies that sprouted with the intention to hurt men or be a “man hating” movement. However, at times, I am sure it can become difficult or we might even forget to address the ways in which our system affects men. We can become occupied with the idea that men have it all and therefore they should not complain.
    The idea that men might have their own hardships and inequalities in our system did not come across my mind until I was in college. Now I have a new found respect for men’s obstacles and challenges. This blog addressed some of that struggle by sharing the story of John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, which I really liked. Just as there are expectations and norms for women to follow in this society, there are also expectations and norms for men.
    As we know, whenever expectations and norms aren’t fulfilled people become seen as “other” or different. This is the kind of pressure that brings people into a depression or lack of self-fulfillment, which can lead to low self esteem which can lead to suicide. To say that feminism is the reason for men committing suicide is an ignorant argument, in my opinion. I have to agree with the blogger’s argument. I believe that all genders deserve better.

    • Yeah, advantage brings expectation. And high expectations can be hard to meet — and depressing when you feel you don’t measure up.

      A big part of the male role is to be successful, But not everyone can be at the top, and there aren’t always a lot of resources to help you get there. And then when you don’t meet expectations the male role deprives men of other types of support, Like the ability to talk about your feelings or see a therapist.

      It’s really important to see how patriarchy harms men.

  15. We have made a strong image for men and we expect every man to stick to it. This sometimes really is hurting…but again it is just the outcome of a patriarchal society… :/

    • Yeah, there are a lot of ways that patriarchy harms men. But because we are so used to patriarchy — we swim in it like a fish in water — it is at the same time kind of invisible so that we don’t always get the problematic effects it has.

  16. Really great read! I have often considered the link between gender stereotypes and unhappiness. I have had countless male friends and family members express to me that it can be quite lonely as a male because you’re not encouraged to talk about things. For example, because men are supposed to abide by the “no sissy stuff” rule you pointed out they often feel that they have no one to talk to. I can’t imagine not being able to share my fears and sometimes the dark underbelly of my emotions with someone else. In my opinion this is probably a contributing factor to high suicide risks. Humans need communities to foster growth and love. If you don’t allow your true self to be put forward due to gender stereotypes you will feel lonely and isolated. This also pertains to women who feel like they must uphold standards put on them by society rather than seeking what truly makes them happy regardless of their sex.

  17. I have acknowleged many times on blogs,to women,friends etc that men have often times treated women unfairly as has the culture and entertainment mediums etc I can own up to that and how these things have been hurtful to women and destructive.BUT

    ALOT of women have routinely slandered men on things like height,income,looks and the size of our effing d!cks

    unequal/unfair sham divorce courts etc.

    • Thanks for acknowledging that sometimes men treat women unfairly.

      But the problem isn’t men so much as patriarchy. And as I discussed on this blog, patriarchy hurts men and women alike.

      AND both men and women, alike, internalize patriarchy, and re-create it.

      In fact, the complaints you make have to do with both sex’s internalized patriarchy:

      “ALOT of women have routinely slandered men on things like height,income,looks and the size of our effing d!cks”

      That’s because patriarchy says men must be taller than women, as a symbol of male superiority. Patriarchy says men must be successful (more successful than their women partners) — hence, the focus on men’s high income. And the focus on the size of men’s d!cks, as you say, comes from male dominance, too. The penis has become a symbol of manhood. And if men are superior, a bigger penis means a bigger man. A more superior man. But it also comes from pornography, which is mostly produced by men.

      The truth is, most women don’t care about the size of a penis. A study in Africa found that the bigger of a man’s penis, The more likely a woman was to have an affair. Because she wanted to have sex without hurting. Big penises hurt about 20% of women. About 20% find a bigger penis more pleasurable. And the rest just don’t care. Women are much more likely to orgasm through outercourse than intercourse, because the clitoris is the most sensitive organ.

      The “looks issue” is more about lookism, which both men and women do, and which feminism criticizes.

      “unequal/unfair sham divorce courts etc.”

      That’s because of patriarchy too. Patriarchy assumes that women are better at caring for children, more natural child carers. Feminism has been critiquing that for years. The children should be with whoever their most bonded to. And feminism encourages men to bond with their children as much as mothers do.

      By the way, you will notice I edited your comment. See my comment policy https://broadblogs.com/comment-policy/

      For instance: You can disagree, but you must be polite.

  18. I guess now everybody should vote for Jeb Bush because if he doesn’t win, he might realize he’s not filling those ‘Bush’ shoes… then he might become depressed, an alcoholic and suicidal.

    • Unlike the sons/brothers of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Jeb was not denied the resources that his brother and father gained. And he has had a successful life (in conventional terms, anyway) whether or not he becomes president. However, their success could put pressure on Jeb — pressure that his sister is less likely to feel.

      But given the catastrophe that was his brother’s presidency, he doesn’t have so much live up to.

      On Jeb’s successes (from wiki):

      Bush attended the University of Texas at Austin. He played on the Texas Longhorns varsity tennis team in 1973. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Texas with a B.A. in Latin American Studies. He completed his coursework in two and a half years.

      Bush went to work in an entry-level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank and was later sent to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, to open a new operation for the bank, where he served as branch manager and vice president.

      Following the 1980 presidential election, Bush and his family moved to Miami-Dade County, Florida. He took a job in real estate with Armando Codina, who eventually made Bush his partner in a new development business, which quickly became one of South Florida’s leading real estate development firms. As a partner, Bush received 40% of the firm’s profits. In 1983, Jeb Bush explained his move from Houston to Miami: “On the personal side, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were already living here”, and on the professional side, “I want to be very wealthy, and I’ll be glad to tell you when I’ve accomplished that goal.”

      He eventually became the governor of Florida.

      He’s currently on several boards of directors and is sought out for political advice and as a guest on political TV shows.

  19. My friend thanks for this. And remember that there are rainbows:

  20. We believe that if we are to combat suicide we have to ensure that all men are aware of the symptoms of depression and feel able to access help without being seen as less of a man for doing so. If boys can’t talk about stuff but girls can then we should tackle this. If men can’t get to their surgery because it’s closed during the working week, then address this. Risk assessments need to reflect gender diversity and women need to be aware of the symptoms of depression in men. We need to challenge the idea that a “strong and silent” man is desirable and challenge the notion that men talking, showing emotion and being “sensitive” is weak.

  1. Pingback: 日本人男性の自殺率が女性のそれより高いのだから男女差別は存在しない(あるいはあっても微小なもの)という言説について | Tiny Timの書庫

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