The Forum, like many organisations and indeed many men, has been speaking out against male violence against women. This is a moment of change for men. We're urging all visitors to our website to make the White Ribbon promise to stand up against male violence
We make no apology for that. In a country where a woman is killed by a man every couple of days, all of us should be doing it.
But has it really got anything specifically to do with the Men’s Health Forum? Is it a men’s health issue? The answer is a very loud and very clear ‘yes’. Everybody loses when there’s violence: the people on the receiving end and the people dishing it out. I’ve never yet met a happy violent man (or woman for that matter) and I never will. Most violent people know what they’re doing is bad for them as well as their victims and the minority who don’t are usually mentally-ill.
Symptom of an unequal society
Male violence is a symptom of an unequal society and an unequal society is bad for everybody’s health - especially men’s. It may seem counter-intuitive but the truth is, guys, we are are actually happier and healthier in societies where men and women are more equal.
The research has shown this time and again. The World Health Organisation put it very well. Their 2018 report into the health and wellbeing of men in Europe said: ‘Living in a gender-equal country means twice the chance of reporting high well-being, half the chance of being depressed, and about 40% less risk of violent death for adult men.’ They go on: ‘Higher levels of gender equality are also related to lower divorce rates and lower male suicide compared to female suicide.’ They cite 2014 research from Norway including dozens of European countries and the USA.
Research published in the UK in 2005 shows a direct link across 51 countries between high female homicide rates and high mortality rates. In other words, in countries where more women are murdered, men live shorter lives. When MP Jess Phillips stands up in parliament and reads out the names, as she did last week, of all the women who have died at the hands of a man, it’s not just women’s health and safety she’s thinking about. It’s all of us.
The researchers talk of ‘a substantial and significant association between nations’ levels of patriarchy and men’s higher mortality.’ They write : ‘The same practices that represent men’s capacity to oppress women and promote their interest in doing so are also systematically harming men.’
Boys will benefit the most
A more detailed 2017 study of individuals (174,703 of them) across 50 states in the USA looked at nine variables by which inequality could be measured including work, education, wealth and reproductive rights. The states with higher levels of inequality between men and women were the states with the highest male mortality. They conclude: ‘The results of this study suggest that gender inequity may increase the risk of mortality for men.’
So men standing up against violence and against inequality are not just helping women, they’re helping themselves.
Future generations stand to benefit the most. The WHO report says boys in more gender-equal societies have higher life satisfaction, fewer psychosomatic complaints, lower mortality rates and are more likely to use contraceptives. These effects exist irrespective of national wealth and income inequality levels.
Make the White Ribbon promise never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women. Violence is not a sign of strength. It is self-defeating in every way. Bad for the person committing it, bad for the society in which he lives. Speaking out against it is good for those who do it, good for men and good for boys.
- Forum's statement on male violence: A moment of change for men.