By: Megan Graves, Columnist
Not that long ago, Emma Watson spoke at the United Nations about the campaign He for She. It is a campaign sponsored by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, which aims to get men on the side of feminism and show them that when women are equal, humanity can progress as a whole. However, He for She also acknowledges that men, too, deal with harmful stereotypes just like women.
Watson’s UN speech was absolutely flawless. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend searching for it on Google in between figuring out how to log on to MyMathLab and skimming through that philosophy book you just know you should be reading thoroughly. One of the main stigmas she addresses is the idea that men aren’t allowed to cry or show emotion, that these things show weakness and make you less of a man. From a very young age, men are told to “man up,” “throw some dirt on it,” and above all, “quit acting like a girl.”
This is incredibly harmful and problematic. First, it perpetuates the idea that femininity and weakness are synonymous, which they aren’t. Did you see Nicki Minaj call out Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s? Are you going to tell me she’s weak/doesn’t terrify you?
Anyway, on a more serious note, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that from 1981-2013, the suicide rate in men has been about four times as high in men than as in women. In 2013 alone, those who committed suicide were 77.9 percent male and 22.1 percent female. Now, I don’t claim to be a psychologist. But maybe, just maybe, these rates could be attributed, in part, to the fact that society expects men to bottle up all of their emotions inside of them and never ask for help in dealing with them. The thing is, everyone cries sometimes. It can be therapeutic.
Sometimes one of the best ways to deal with stress is to get yourself some cheese fries and watch Grey’s Anatomy because believe me, you will cry. Letting your emotions out offers you clarity on where those emotions are coming from and how to best handle them. I’m not saying you should cry every time you stub your toe, but every now and then, when you’re really overwhelmed, just cry. You are not weak. You are not less of a man or more of a woman. You are a human, and young adulthood is potentially the most stressful chapter in your life.
During this stressful chapter of your life, one of the best things you can do for yourself is talk to someone, even if something is only slightly bothering you. Surround yourself with peers who understand how life threatening it can be to hide your emotions, or talk to someone professionally.
A lot of people find going to a doctor to talk about their thoughts and emotions embarrassing, but they shouldn’t. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You need some check-ups every now and then to make sure everything’s okay.
Above all, the most important thing you can do is listen. If someone needs to unleash their emotional storm onto you, let them. Don’t shame them for it. Don’t call them weak. You never know how much listening and caring can save someone’s life.