It’s Day 2 of Advocacy week on the Afro Bloggers Winter Challenge (WinterABC) and I’m kicking off with the word “whataboutism”, have you heard about it? Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is defined as an attempt to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument. A deflection sort off, by bringing up another issue without disproving the importance of the issue at hand. Whataboutism has been used by politicians and misogynists.
This is often what men’s issues have been reduced to. They’re often just a statement of whataboutism. Only used to counter arguments supporting women’s issues but quickly forgotten once the argument is done. Someone will say the mental health of women suffers in most relationships and quickly this will be refuted with the mental health of men suffers too, but there’s no genuine care behind these words.
The issue of how men suffer mentally has been trivialised by people on both sides and often it’s only talked about when women’s issues are being advocated for. But what if we actually cared? What if we took the time to look out for each other and it was more than a fleeting conversation but a genuine seed for change.
As the numbers stand over 60% of suicides are men, over 80% of homeless individuals are men, 60% of homicide victims are men… Percentages might not paint the clearest picture so I’ll tell you this, if it takes you 4 minutes to read this post then by the time you’re done reading 6 people would’ve died from suicide and 4 of them would most likely be men. Yet somehow so many of us still subscribe to the notion that men should just man up. An illusion that somehow giving in to the primal nature of testosterone will somehow make everything alright.
Zimbabwe has often been reported to have a higher share of death’s by suicide than most countries in the region. And the high rate of suicide among men in the country often comes back to the structure of patriarchy and an economy in shambles. It’s too long the identity of being a man has been tied to providing and this identity crumbles when the means to provide are none existent. What can we do change this? We can start the right conversations, we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we can admit when we’re overwhelmed and we can ask or help.
Friendship Bench offers free mental health resources and all you have to do is send them text on WhatsApp. You should never be ashamed of the state of your mental well being. Our identity as men remains the same no matter what we face. Our lives matter even when we’re struggling to play the role of provider.