I truly, and I mean truly despise the phrase “man up!” since I realized it perpetuates misogyny, I no longer say it nor do I like hearing it.
We have to pay attention to the negative impact of gendered language we use on a daily basis without realizing it. For example, calling someone a “pussy” when you are implying that they are weak. Frankly, as a mother, I can tell you that there is nothing weak about a pussy, particularly when we’re able to carry babies in our bodies and deliver them into this world. Using our body parts to imply weakness does not coincide with what I know about a pussies strength.
“Man up” may seem like a harmless way to tell a man to step up to his responsibilities, to be strong, or to show less emotion, but the phrase itself implies that doing any of these things is gender specific. Not only that, it implies that one can be more or less of a man if he is not being strong or showing emotion. It’s a phrase that is washed and I am committed to never uttering those two words to my son or using them in reference to anyone else.
Instead of saying "man up" say "grow up"
Instead of calling a man a pussy or telling him to man up, we should be communicating what we need, what our boundaries are, and how we feel when others act a particular way. Talking about our thoughts and feelings is far from comfortable, especially when others may not be receptive to what we have to say. Feelings might get hurt, but conflicts might also get resolved. We don’t need to tell the men in our lives to “man up.” We need to tell them that we value and require honesty in our relationships, communicate about what is and is not respectful behavior, and be clear about our own expectations and boundaries. We don’t need men to be less emotional, but we do need them to communicate more effectively about their emotions (with an emphasis on emotions rather than anger). We don’t need to tell men that they should be stepping it up with money; we should tell them that we expect them to be equal and responsible partners, and we should do the same.
While we could replace the phrase with “grow up” and still communicate our frustration and disgust, it would be more effective if we replaced “man up” with more direct communication. This isn’t about being politically correct, it's about acknowledging that equality can’t be achieved as long as we’re still using outdated language that implies strength or weakness based solely on gender and/or anatomy. We don’t really need men to “man up” or “grow up” as much as we need people willing to communicate and to create healthy boundaries, right?
So, in honor of Men's Mental health month, lets look into the facts, you guys know I love facts!
Did you know that more than 6 million men live with depression each year and men are almost 4 times as likely to die from suicide? It’s even worse for men who identify with groups that have been historically marginalized. LGBTQI men are more likely to develop mental health disorders than heterosexual men. Despite all these facts I just laid out, men are less likely than women to seek help for depression, substance use and stressful life events. Why? Stigma and cultural norms of what it means to be a man.
The moment we define a man is the moment we limit that man! - Mecca Imani
Society, I blame you!
Now, Lets break down more facts - bullet proof style
Serious mental illness (SMI) rose among all ages of Black and African American people between 2008 and 2018.
Illicit drug use and prescription pain reliever misuse are more frequent among Black and African American adults with mental illnesses.
Suicide is ranked the THIRD leading cause of death in black men ages 15-24
The death rate from suicide for black or African American men was four times greater than for African American women, in 2018.
Poverty level affects mental health status. Black or African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress.
Black and African American hold beliefs related to stigma, psychological openness, and help-seeking, which in turn affects their coping behaviors.
Black and African American people are more often diagnosed with schizophrenia and less often diagnosed with mood disorders compared to white people with the same symptoms. Additionally, they are offered medication or therapy at the lower rates than the general population.
Because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black or African American, practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat our specific issues.
Exposure to mental illness, and increased knowledge of mental illness are factors that could potentially change beliefs about symptoms of mental illness.
Seriously guys, I could go all day! Instead of putting expectations on our men, telling them to "man up," lets try communicating our needs.
Men: Talk to someone; if you feel something, say something! Feel free to contact me via email if you would like help finding a virtual or in-person therapist. I would be happy to help you.