5.7
September 19, 2016

The Rules Men Live by are Killing them—Here’s how We can Help.

4257441144_72204c0c58_z

Dear Women: Suicide is killing our men.

I have been aware of the statistics for sometime now. In Australia it’s the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. That is a horrifying statistic, almost too much to believe. It tops heart disease, cancer, road accidents, and it brings to light a vital problem in our society:

Men don’t feel like they can talk about their problems and reach out for help. And when they do need help, where do they go? Can you name a men’s resource centre off the top of your head? I know I can’t and I can name many resource centres for women.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that women don’t need this support, but what I’m saying is that it’s clear men do too. Our guys are bearing the brunt of the man rules: take it like a man, man up, boys don’t cry, grow a pair of balls, and the list goes on.

There is an immense amount of pressure on men to act a certain way in society, to not be vulnerable, as vulnerability is seen as weak—and what happens when men appear weak? They lose respect at work and among their family and peers.

It results in them not feeling like much of a man, it makes them feel sh*t, under-valued and many find no support in feeling this way. Many are completely bereft at expressing how they feel at all and end up living in a world of pain with no access to the tools and resources they need. The pressure to always be the providers, to hold their woman, to not cry becomes too much and they end their lives.

The statistic is a ​national crisis and it’s got me contemplating deeply what I can do as a woman to really help this situation. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

There is so much out there in the world of social media among women’s circles about “finding a conscious man,” a man who has “done his work,” a man who is wealthy, emotionally healthy and stable and knows exactly how to hold you. I have my own personal journey with this as my partner, who is a fantastic advocate for men’s work, has been showing me the problems that men face—asking me to see for myself, to step aside from my female lens and take a look at what is going on—and for a long while this has triggered the hell out of me.

What did it mean if a man couldn’t hold me? The emotion that has come up for me around this left me feeling unstable. Our conditioning as women is strong and I’ve realised that even though I am in a relationship committed to growth, personal development and deep love, I have been running deep, unconscious patterns around what it means to be a woman that has been really damaging to myself and my relationship. When I think about the amount of women who probably run these same patterns and stories, collectively this has a huge impact on how we are able to support men through this suicide crisis.

Despite feminist ideas that women can have it all, that we can be afforded all the opportunities that men have, that we are independent, the archetypal damsel in distress and the knight in shining armour are alive in well in the subconscious of women in our society today, and I’m going to say it how it is:

We are confusing the hell out of men.

I know I have been. I have been raising my daughter on my own for eight years, financially independent and not needing the help of any man to do anything. However, as soon as I entered a relationship, I started running the stories that lie in my female subconscious that my man should be able to be strong and hold me.

And if he can’t?

I begin to feel unstable in my relationship. I have thoughts creep in about feeling unsupported. Even shame creeps in that I might be in a relationship where my man doesn’t fulfill the perfect male support role—the way a “good man” should. It makes me shudder. And you know what is so perplexing about this?

My man is extraordinary.

He accepts me, he is an incredible lover, he listens to me, he offers me advice when it’s appropriate. He is committed to both personal growth and the growth of our relationship. I am such a lucky woman to be in relationship with this man, but still, these ingrained ideas about how a man should be creep into my head, and if he is starts talking about the needs of men rather than the needs of women, I’ve been known to feel some instability. This is a story that is running in the feminine collective consciousness and it needs to be rewritten for the sake of all of us.

For eons now, women have been portrayed as the victims in society, the ones who need support, help and holding. Women are taught to seek a man who can hold them, help them, support them. So what happens when they can’t? Well, the statistics say they are killing themselves at three times the rate women are.

So women, I’m here to tell you, against our deep conditioning, that we have a major role to play in #itsokaytotalk. We need to support our men and our brothers and let go of our conditioning that men should always be there to hold us in every way. We need to demonstrate to them that it’s okay to talk, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to express emotion around how living up to the “man rules” can break them. And we need to start with compassion for them, which to a large degree in our culture has flown by the wayside. The statistics can no longer hide how this impacts them.

This movement #itsokaytotalk is about listening more closely to men. Opening to support them in ways that have been triggering for me has called me to a deeper understanding of my femininity. It’s called me to step up and into my feminine side with strength and grace. It has taken nothing of my femininity away from me, as I once initially feared, but on the contrary it has deepened my relationship to my self and my feminine qualities.

Facing this square in the eye has called me into my Queen archetype in a new and powerful way: The Queen archetype “has embodied a number of profound truths: the deepest, most challenging, most essential inner work is to open to what is, as it is; she only suffers when she wants things to be different than they are; there is nothing to fear but her own stories about what is happening.”

Women, we need to cultivate this strength and grace. This is the shift in feminine consciousness that is needed on the planet today—a maturing of the feminine, one that asks us to step more deeply into our power, to not be afraid of what it means to let go of these deep conditioned archetypal stories that a man is weak if he can’t hold you, and what that might mean about you.

It’s time to move into an era of more masculine and feminine balance, and as we are safe as women to express our emotions, our men need our help to do this. By addressing our conditioning within ourselves we can free our men to heal and become more emotionally balanced. I believe this will result in less negative expressions of the unbalanced masculine, less men killing themselves.

It may feel a little—or a lot—uncomfortable at first, a bit like writing with your less dominate hand, but I strongly believe that we are moving into into a new, more balanced, sovereign and mature way of being. It’s a way that supports the growth and evolution of both the masculine and the feminine.

Together we can heal this crisis. Women: Queen is calling you.

 

 

~

Author: S​hae Elise Allen

Image:  Flickr/Bill Strain

Editor: Travis May

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Phil McDonald May 16, 2017 12:26pm

The mankind project!

Shae Elise Sep 23, 2016 10:26pm

Hi Benedict, yes! This is challenging stuff to navigate and we need to start by softening and listening - to ourselves and each other. Thanks for your feedback.

Shae Elise Sep 23, 2016 10:24pm

Thank you, Helen

Matthew Rogers Sep 23, 2016 12:01pm

Yes, men need to support other men, that is completely true and I agree. But we can also use the support that women can give as well, as they do have an impact on how we feel as well. I am not saying that women need to take full responsibility for how we feel and deal with ourselves, we, as men, need to account for ourselves and be able to support each other, but if both sides were to help each other, do better to understand each other and let go of the lenses were were told we could only see through, we would all become better, healthier people.

Benedict Roff-Marsh Sep 23, 2016 7:29am

Thanks so much for writing this. It is so true. As a man it is damn near impossible to know how to talk about things, esp with a woman who you want to see you as a ramantic partner. the damnds on both of us are so great and so greatly silly.

Helen Dowty Sep 22, 2016 12:37pm

Beautiful, thank you.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

S​hae Elise Allen

S​hae Elise Allen is a coach and mentor to women and online educator with a special interest in working with Mothers to reclaim lost balance, reignite desire and rediscover themselves as vibrant sexual beings post children. You can connect with her on her website and on Facebook.