By Maureen Lowndes
The macho patriarchal system was very damaging in society and damaged both men and women down through the generations. We forget that men suffered too, working class men in cruel, hard, physical, mundane, boring low paid employment suffered down through the years. They were expected to be the sole provider for the family and often their wages was not enough to run the household and they often had nothing left for themselves. This gender division and the traditional model of the household was not a good healthy model. And not a good example for children either. Children need to know that all adults have to work to provide for themselves and their families.
In my opinion everything should be shared. Working class women of my generation stayed home and did housework. It was not a healthy situation to be stuck in a house all day, doing the same thing over and over again. It was not healthy to expect the husband to be the sole provider. Men and women need to be equal partners in both providing for the household and sharing the household chores. There is dignity in paid work and everyone should work. But some people may be unemployed through no fault of their own and the government should do everything possible to make sure that there is work for all according to their capabilities. And our government needs to provide better and more affordable child care services so that all mothers can partake in paid employment.
The macho patriarchal system was so indoctrinated into Irish society that many men still feel that it is weak to talk about their problems and their worries and it is weak to cry. It is not weak at all but rather it is the sign of a mature and wise person. Also the so-called Celtic Tiger caused fierce damage and led to very high expectations for unnecessary style and grandeur. And now many men are dealing with large financial pressures often leading to depression and suicide.
Men who are depressed, are very anxious or feel overwhelmed with problems should talk to someone and seek medical help too. Men should never be afraid to cry and talk about their pain and make an appointment to see their doctor. Men sometimes become angry when in mental pain or trying to deal with problems and worries. but there is no shame in talking about how they feel and there is no shame in crying. Crying is very healthy and a great release and helps the body get rid of dangerous toxins as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry explains in this brilliant article.
This poem is inspired by a young man I met on the train who told me that he is in grief because his partner walked away and took their baby boy with her.
Men don't cry.
What should he do, what should he do On this awful day, this dark, dark day He should cry, he should cry But men don’t cry
She has left him, left him Is it real, is it real He shouts up to the sky That he doesn’t know why
Thinking of his little boy, his little boy He misses them both He wishes he could cry But men don’t cry
Now he watches them all As they all pass by Butcher, baker and delivery boy He smiles and waves
But he fights back a tear, a stinging tear Bubbling behind his eye, his burning eye Oh how he wishes he could cry But men don’t cry
He longs for help, begs for help You are not the first, they say Get over yourself, they yell But they refuse to see, refuse to hear
The night is black, a hard hard black A cruel deep black, deep deep black The sky is black, the clouds are black But men don’t cry, men don’t cry