Are we allowed to say that men are human?
Are men allowed to be human?
Most of all, are men allowed to be human all the time, out loud, in public, regardless of whether it’s convenient for the people around them?
Tuesday on HBR News, Brian, the two Mikes, and I discussed another case in the heartbreaking phenomenon of fathers who have committed suicide after being forcibly evicted from their children’s lives by the mother’s choice. Thirty-six year old Jamie Bull hanged himself after his ex-wife barred him from seeing their 3 children at Christmas. According to his girlfriend Stephanie Clayton, his ex-wife had weaponized the fact that he had sought mental health treatment, a complaint that she had only made a custody issue after he’d begun seeing Miss Clayton.
In discussion, I got the case mixed up with another which had recently been discussed on Twitter, that of Dr. Amir Saeed, whose last words to his children were shared in a gut-wrenching video, which I had seen after it was highlighted by Fathers4Justice on twitter, in which his valiant effort to sound bright and cheerful for his children cannot cover his pain, especially when, as the short clip progresses, he chokes up. Fighting tears. Dr. Saeed, gently but frantically reminded his children that he would never stop loving them. He reminded them to be good… even reminded them to be good “for mummy.” His suicide, a response to being denied contact with his children, shocked his academic community, and his family, and was widly discussed on social media as an avoidable tragedy resulting from the court’s egregious act of barring him from seeing his children.
My mistake was in remembering the similarity in details of the cases, and not expecting two cases like this to make the news so close together. I should have known better. According to Matt O’Connor of Fathers4Justice, speaking to the Daily Mail in the wake of Mr. Bull’s suicide, "We know that suicide in fathers being prevented from seeing their kids is a real issue. We hear of four a month but that's just the tip of the iceberg.”
Both of these cases involved fathers desperately trying to preserve their relationships with their children, who, upon defeat, committed suicide, and both suicides were attributed to mental health issues - the first, as reported in the news, and the second, by feminists responding to the news.
For most, it’s easy to recognize the potentially deadly impact of removing from the life of a parent that which is his or her most important and valued condition: One’s relationship with one’s children. Parental dedication is not just an attitude or a passion. It is an identity-determining factor. This is true whether one is a mother, or a father, a fact that is obvious to most of society, but not to intersectional feminists. Their response to discussion of Dr. Saeed’s suicide was atrocious. Among those who offered the suggestion that mental health treatment should be substituted for custody reform in such cases was a male feminist whose initial comment on the video was callous gloating that the professor had just ensured he’d never see his kids again, as if a court ruling that he couldn’t see them hadn’t done that already.
When confronted about his flippant indifference to this man’s suffering, our critic parroted the usual intersectional feminist arguments about toxic masculinity and mental health care. These boil down to promoting the use of therapy to teach men to live with this kind of abuse rather than reforming the law and policies that create the conditions that are leading to their suicides.
From there, he engaged in Olympic level mental gymnastics to avoid discussing the incident, the issue, or any of his movement’s dogma in terms that allow for recognition of men’s vulnerability to the psychological impact of adversity. Yes, men’s feelings matter, but not now. Not in this circumstance. In this circumstance, the man’s feelings are invalid, and the conditions that led to them have to be entirely his fault.
It couldn’t be that his pain was a result of actions taken against him, because a man is not allowed to object when such actions are taken by, or on behalf of, a woman. He is allowed no mental anguish over consequences he suffers as a result of woman’s choices. The stoicism and silence that intersectional feminists condemn as “toxic masculinity” become requirements the moment his complaints pit his self-interest against hers. He can’t have a profound attachment to anything she wants to take away from him, because if she wants it, any suggestion that she can’t have it is misogyny. Any pain he experiences over the loss must be caused by a flaw in him. Clearly, this man was possessed of toxic masculinity, a demon which can only be exorcised by the tender ministrations of a therapist armed with intersectional feminist dogma and rhetoric. That’d solve the problem, right?
Well, I’d suggest you ask Jamie Bull about that.
Except, uh… you can’t, because his ex-wife used his mental health helpseeking as an excuse to keep him away from his children, the very thing our mentally superior critic suggested would have solved Dr. Saeed’s problem, and that led to Mr. Bull’s suicide.
But why would the court allow that? If he was getting help instead of ignoring his symptoms, shouldn’t that have been evidence in his favor?
Not according to feminists. While they promote mental health treatment as a solution for everything, they’ve also put a lot of energy into demonizing men with mental health conditions, portraying them as bombs waiting to go off, regardless of whether the condition in question merits that narrative. This attitude only increases if a man’s condition is situational depression over unapproved causes, like social isolation, loss of a relationship, or financial hardship resulting from obligations imposed as part of a divorce.
To feminists, if social isolation hurts a man, it’s not because he has the same need for human contact that women have. He can’t just be lonely. It’s because he is a sexist predator who feels entitled to women’s attention. If he gets depressed over that, he’s dangerous, and that justifies further isolating him.
Similarly, they can’t accept a man’s grief over the loss of a relationship. Men - the same men feminists claim aren’t talking enough about their feelings - are supposed to protect and provide for the women and children in their lives without developing any degree of emotional attachment to them that could potentially make separation painful. A guy who gets depressed over that loss has boundary issues, and that’s a perfect excuse to cut off more of his relationships, including his ability to parent his children.
And god forbid he be overwhelmed by the financial obligation to support two households following the severance those relationships, right? He certainly can’t want time to parent his children because he wants to parent his children, and he certainly can’t want financial responsibility for them to be equal because there are limits to what he can achieve for them under his life circumstances. Feminists will complain that the mother needs his support because she can’t work due to a lack of childcare, while defending her choice to avoid a custody arrangement that would allow the father, as the other parent, to make childcare largely unnecessary. If the father wants such a custody arrangement, along with a more reasonably egalitarian financial arrangement, feminists label him a deadbeat. They would never admit their positions on child custody are largely about money, but they have no problem ignoring a father’s human experiences, needs, and limitations while they portray his position as such.
The feminist mentality seems to have a lot of rules for men, and how they need to learn to cope with their welfare taking a backseat to women’s preferences. Men are supposed to talk about their feelings, but not when their feelings are evidence that women’s choices impose consequences on the people around them. Men are supposed to care about their families, but not when that care is inconvenient for the women who no longer care about them. Men are supposed to show vulnerability, but not when that vulnerability betrays even the slightest hint of self-interest. If that self-interest is in conflict with a woman’s self-interest, he’d better report to the nearest reprogramming station for “mental health treatment,” pronto!
What they fail to understand is that men are not the programmable social fillers and servants that feminists want.
Men are human.
Their humanity is not subject to feminist approval, or feminist control.
It’s not something that can be put on hold, stifled, silenced, or ignored. That only leads to a buildup of psychological pressure that will eventually have to be released.
It cannot be programmed or punished out of them. Attempts to do so have led to an epidemic of suicide and other forms self-destruction among men and boys.
That phenomenon isn’t going to be eliminated by teaching men to accept denial of their humanity. This problem can only be solved by a change in public attitude, beginning with that one, simple recognition:
Men are human.
We’re going to continue to say that, whether we’re allowed, or not.