A few days ago a male journalist read a piece published on Villainesse and asked whether he had to “start a complementary website for boys”. I pondered on this. You could say that I really applied my lady-brain to the conundrum of Villainesse presenting media that often focuses on subjects relevant to women to a largely (but not exclusively) female audience.
I wondered whether young comedian Alice Brine, when talking about the personal experiences she had as a teenager, should have mentioned male suicide. I questioned whether I was remiss as an editor to have published her interview without a mention of male suicide. Male suicide is a very serious and sad issue. Perhaps all interviews with comedians should discuss it.
I mean, I’m all for talking about it. And for talking about how gender roles and hyper-masculinity can have a devastating effect on men who feel they have to be tough and struggle to reach out when they need help. It’s not okay. And dudes, in complete seriousness, please reach out and tell someone if you’re not feeling good. There are awesome people at Lifeline (call 0800 543 354), Youthline (call 0800 376 633 and the Depression Helpline (call 0800 111 757). Depression is not a weakness. I've had it, as have many others. You are not alone.
But I was stumped as to whether the journalist in question should have to start a “complementary website for boys”. There could be some possible reasons for doing something like this. Like if:
- Men’s voices were grossly underrepresented in the media. Like if no man helmed their own primetime show in New Zealand – if Mike Hosking, Paul Henry, John Campbell and Duncan Garner were women, for example.
- Such a website was going to highlight the views and voices of young men. Or, as the journalist described them, “boys”.
- Male writers received the lion’s share of online abuse.
- People like Mike King, Kyle MacDonald, Malcolm Falconer, and Dr David Codyre didn’t exist.
But seeing as none of these conditions are currently met, I think I’d instead suggest that the journalist uses his considerable platforms within the mainstream media to highlight the issue of male suicide, and to speak to men about reaching out and getting help. Rather than wondering whether the existence of an independent website focused on a female perspective means that men’s voices and issues are not being represented.
I’d also suggest that he heads along to Alice Brine’s show next month. And that he asks himself whether women should perhaps be allowed a space to talk about their own personal, lived experiences, in their own words and within their own context, without always having to reference the experiences of men.