When your life is committed to helping the world work for everyone – men and boys included – it’s easy to forget that most people don’t see the inequality and discrimination that men and boys face on a daily basis.
So to help us spread the word about the desperate need to help men and boys live longer, happier, healthier lives we are developing a list of THE THIRTEEN WAYS THE WORLD DOESN’T WORK FOR MEN AND BOYS and welcome your feeback on the first draft of this document which we will be developing over the coming weeks and months
1. LIFE EXPECTANCY
From the moment they are born, boys all over the world are destined to live shorter lives, most notably boys in Swaziland who, at 31 years old, have a life expectancy 56 years shorter than girls born in Japan who will live to 87.
In our City of Brighton & Hove in England, boys from the poorest neighbourhoods die THIRTEEN YEARS SOONER than girls from the richest areas and yet women’s projects still receive THIRTEEN TIMES MORE FUNDING THAN MEN’S PROJECTS
Amazingly, girls in Iraq (71.3), India (72.6) and Indonesia (73.4) now live longer than a boy born in East Brighton (70.9 years).
Boys now underperform girls at every stage of education, are less likely to attend university and FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE PERMANENTLY EXCLUDED FROM SCHOOL – an issue which is particularly troublesome for boys as 90% of boys aged 15-18 in prison were excluded from school (compared with 40% of girls) and excluded boys and girls are 19 times more likely to commit suicide.
Interestingly, while boys make up 80% of excluded pupil the Coalition Government only highlights the higher rate of exclusions of African Caribbean boys ignoring the plight of poor white boys failing in schools.
In general men do more paid work than women. They work longer hours, take less time off sick, throw less sickies and when they are out of work, men are three times more likely to be on Job Seekers Allowance and looking for work.
Men are 50% more likely to work full-time, three times more likely to be self employed and when they have children, mums are four times more likely to not be working than dads. Overall 79% of UK men work compared to 70% of women.
At the same time, research shows that men do more than their fair share of household and domestic chores. Amongst young people not in education, employment and training (NEETS), young men are twice as likely to be a NEET with no identifiable barrier to education, employment and training.
And while men on average are pulling their weight at home and putting more hours in at work, women (20%) are twice as likely to be economically inactive and are more likely to be being taken care of financially by a partner, an ex partner or the state. In contrast, when you consider who is economically inactive, men are three times more likely to be actively looking for work (ie on Job Seekers Allowance).
4. SOCIAL DIVIDE
There has been a great deal of focus on the need for the UK workforce to reflect the diversity of the population it serves in recent years. The logic is that the public sector cannot be effective in helping the communities it serves if it does not reflect the diversity of those communities.
As a result we have seen positive action to recruit more people from across the six equalities groups – ethnicity, sexuality, disability, religions, age and gender.
But when it comes to gender, while more men than women work and are looking for work the gender focus in the public sector where men are massively under-represented has been placed firmly on women.
Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of education, health and social care staff are female – while the majority of people who do badly in education, die young and end up in care are men and boys.
The logic of the diversity argument which suggests that a public sector that is under-representative of one group (in this case men) – is less capable of serving men and boys, seems to be borne out in this case.
This is a particularly worrying state of affairs for boys who are far less likely than girls to grow up around same sex role models and mentors. One in four children now grow up in fatherless families and are nine times more likely to commit crimes than children living with their mum and dad.
In addition, 98% of childcare workers are women, one in four primary schools have no male teachers and boys under 12 are seven times more likely to be taught by a woman teacher than a male teacher. Within this context, boys grow into men with low male social capital.
According to the Office for National Statistics General Household Survey, 2000/01, a person with low social capital is typically male and will be poorly edudcated, under 30, single, unemployed or on a low income and living in rented accommodation in a deprived neighbourhood
It seems the lack of male role models in families and communities is helping produce a lost generation of young men with worrying impacts with recent research showing that Fatherless boys are three times more likely to be suicidal and boys with a male role model are three times more likely to be depressed.
And according to the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC), while a third of boys growing up with lone mothers have less than 1 hour a day of contact with a man, two-thirds of single mums say they would welcome a man being involved in the care and development of their young children.
5. WORK LIFE CHOICES
There is a growing acceptance that men have a narrower selection of work life choices than women, driven by emerging research challenging conventional thinking on the gender pay gap which challenges conventional thinking on the pay gap championed in the Equal Pay: Where Next? report promoted by The Equality and Human Rights Commission, The Fawcett Society, The TUC and Unison.
New research in the US suggests that the pay gap is a healthy sign that women have more opportunities to choose family-friendly, flexible jobs.
It’s important to note that male graduates are now 50% more likely to be unemployed, women now earn more than men in the UK in their twenties and that the big difference in men and women’s average earnings kicks in when they become parents and prioritise their children with one parent (usually mum) working less while the other parent (usually dad) works more.
Research from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the UK reveals that 53% of fathers and 52% of mothers with children under 1 year old say dads spend too little time with their children.
The same research shows that dads are twice as likely as mums to feel that they spend too little time with their children.
Meanwhile, a new report called Work Life Balance: Working For Fathers? report by the charity Working Families and Dr Caroline Gatrell at Lancaster University supports the theory that being the main breadwinner is no fun for men with 82% of fathers saying they want to spend more time with their families.
Men and boys are twice as likely to be victims of violence than women and girls. Internationally two thirds of the 1.6 million people who die violent deaths every year are men and boys – and yet the United Nations PR coverage on violent deaths fails to mention that men are the biggest victims and its subsequent poster campaign on ending violent deaths men – who are two thirds of victims – by choosing 4 images of women and just two of a man. (NB: Since we first highlighted this issue in January 2011, WHO has updated the two pages referenced above to include men, though the primary focus of the poster campaign is still on violence against women – August 2011)
Locally the situation is the same with the British Crime Survey for 2001 revealing that twice as many young men in Brighton & Hove experience violence as any other group but there being no international campaign to stop violence against men and boys.
Locally (as well as nationally) there is stubborn resistance to acknowledging and dealing with the fact that 40% of domestic violence victims are male, part of the problem being that the issue is still tackled strategically within the national Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
Locally, while there is a well established service for female victims and an officer dedicated to supporting LGBT victims, there is no service for male victims and an “intelligent commissioning” review of services conducted in 2010 saw 53 women invited to take part in focus groups but no men – no straight men, no GBT men, no BME men, no disabled men, no old men, no young men, no boys, no male perpetrators, no male victims, no men in mutually violent relationships – just women.
It is perhaps not surprising than 41% of male tell no-one about the abuse they experience and are twice as likely to keep it to themselves as women.
This one-side approach to the issue has been picked elsewhere in the world by campaigns such as the excellent 1 in 3 domestic violence campaign in Australia.
The fact that men are the majority of all violence victims is often overlooked. In 2008/2009 in the UK 71% of murder victims were male. Men are also three times more likely to be be killed by a stranger.
Despite this the worrying trend in early intervention work has been to focus on changing boys attitude towards violence against women and girls when research on attitudes of young people towards domestic violence shows that girls and more tolerant of violence against men and boys – being 11x more likely to say it is okay for a woman to hit her partner for nagging or arguing (when compared to their attitude to men hitting women for the same reason)
Sadly, boys seem to growing up with an attitude that it’s ok for them to be hit by their partner – being 15x more likely than girls to think it is okay for their partner to hit him if he was nagging or wouldn’t stop arguing.
Meanwhile, the focus on early intervention work in schools remains on addressing boys and girls attitudes to violence against women and girls – and is not equally addressing our societal tolerance of violence against men and boys.
7. AVOIDABLE DEATH
Men are more likely to die from all manner of avoidable deaths being three times more likely to commit suicide, being more likely to be suffering with a serious undiagnosed illness and accounting for over 95% of employees who killed at work every year.
More men are killed at work (more than 3 a week 2007/2008) than women killed at home in domestic violence incidents (less than 2 a week) – and this doesn’t include the hundreds of predominantly male workers in the armed forces killed in conflicts such as Afghanistan.
Young men are particularly vulnerable with teenage boys and young men age 15-24 in England & Wales are two and a half times as likely to die young than women and girls of the same age according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundations Poverty Site.
More than fifty 15-24 year olds die young in England & Wales every week and the majority (71.5%) are boys and men – according to the statistics on premature male death.
8. FATHERS’ RIGHTS
The lack of fathers’ rights in the UK and Internationally has a broad range of impacts but is perhaps seen most starkly in the fact that according to the UK Fatherhood Institute’s family fairness index just 1 in 9 UK dads having the opportunity to continue sharing the parenting of their children after separation (compared to 1 in 3 dads in Sweden).
Around 15% of fathers are not living with partner when their child is born (Kiernan, K. (2003) Unmarried parenthood: new insights from the Millennium Cohort Study. Population Trends)
Children living apart from their dads in lone parent families are twice as likely to live in poverty than children living with both parents – though the risk of poverty is reduced seven-to-eight-fold when mum is working full time.
There is a widespread failure of services to engage with of non-resident fathers – for example 31% of the non-resident fathers who have contact with their children go into their schools, compared with 75% of fathers who live at home (Nord et al, 1998) – and this may be contributing to school failure in this group.
According to the DWP what happens then is around a third (33%) of children have contact with their non-resident parent at least once a week, a third (35%) see dad less than once a week and a third (32%) have no contact at all.
Interestingly, children in lone parent families and nearly twice as likely to see their real dad regularly than children in step families seeing their non-resident parent on a more regular basis than re-partnered couple families (35% on a weekly basis compared to 18%), although the proportions that never saw their non-resident parent were similar (32% against 30% respectively).
In 2010 Harry Benson, of the Bristol Community Family Trust, undertook analysis of cenusus data using census data and found that 60 per cent of families remain intact until their children are 15 – 97 per cent of these are married.
The broad impacts of Fatherlessness in all areas of life were highlighted by the Think Tank Civitas in a 2002 report called Experiments In Living: The Fatherless Family – and the costs of Fatherlessness are now thought to be as high as £100bn and have been linked to youth offending with children with separated parents nine times more likely to commit crime.
9. MENTAL HEALTH
The UK’s mental health charity Mind has described the lack of national mental health strategy for men in the UK – when there is a strategy in place for women and children – a major health inequality . Meanwhile, while men and women experience depression in equal numbers, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed for depression as men.
The experience of mentally ill men in prison is also a major concern with the Government’s jails watchdog recently warning that mentally ill men are being kept in conditions as bad as “Victorian lunatic asylums”.
10. DRINK AND DRUGS
In the absence of good access to mental health support men appear to self medicate and are twice as likely to be problem drinkers. Men in Brighton & Hove are also four times as likely to die of a drug related death with the city being Britain’s drug death capital with one death per week in 2009.
11. SEXUAL HEALTH
A report by The Men’s Health Forum revealed that the National Chlamydia Screening Programme screened fourteen times more women as men — yet it is known that men and women carry the chlamydia infection in equal numbers and that most women are infected by sexual contact with men.
Our national attitudes on sex have led us to suspect that all men are potential paedophiles and sex criminals with British Airways refusing to allow children to sit next to men incase they abuse the child and a Labour MP for Bristol calling for every man in her city to be DNA tested to find the killer of Joanna Yeates, when it turned out the suspected killer live next door.
Men and boys are also victims of men and women’s sexual abuse – an issue we highlight in our blog post Six Top Sex Abuse Taboos We Must Smash.
As a result of these taboos female victims of rape are twice as likely to report as male victims and the potential number of victims of female sexual remain unheard and unhelped was hinted at when the television programme This Morning opened up a hotline for callers to talk about abuse by women. In the course of one day, they had over 1000 telephone calls. Ninety per cent of the callers had never told anyone about their abuse.
Anyone who is challenged by this important taboo should read Dr Michele Eliot’s 7 page report on women who sexually abuse children here and this article tackling the notion that it’s ok for women to have sex with underage boys in the wake of a case of a mother and daughter abusing a teenage family member in the US.
Men are more likely to die of cancers, less likely to be screened and more likely to be living with undiagnosed cancer. Men are 1.5 times more likely to have undiagnosed bowel cancer for example and this failure to diagnose men is repeated across other health problems such as men being twice as likely to have undiagnosed diabetes.
Organisations like Cancer Research UK, spend four times more money on women’s cancer than men’s cancer – and yet its own research shows that showing that when you factor out sex-specific cancers men are 60 per cent more likely to get cancer than women, and 70 per cent more likely to die from it
According to Prostate Cancer Charity’s research on male cancer inequalities, men with prostate cancer consistently report a significantly worse patient experience than people with other common cancers.
• Fewer men with prostate cancer receive information on side effects or how their treatment had gone
• Fewer men fully understood the explanation of how their treatment had gone
• Fewer men have a named nurse in charge of their care
• Fewer men were given information about self-help groups
• More men were likely to have to wait longer for their treatment
13. OLD AGE
Until recently in the UK men and women’s retirement age was not equal – with women retiring 5 years younger than men despite living longer – cause championed by the UK charity for equal rights for men – Parity
While the retirement age has been equalised, men are still twice as likely to be working over 60 and have a shorter life expectancy. Older men also experience a retirement gap – having 7 years less than women on average to enjoy their retirement.
When you look at all the people over 65 in the UK today, twice as many of the women will still be alive at 100.
According to research by Age Concern – now Age UK – there is an increasing body of research evidence pointing out that the specific needs of older men are largely ignored in current services for older people,
The research shows that older men are more likely than older women to be excluded from wider social relationships, especially men who are divorced or never married.
Divorced and never married men are particularly susceptible to social isolation, poor health, risk behaviours (e.g. smoking and drinking) and material disadvantage than married older men.
IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS ON ANY OF THE ISSUES HIGHLIGHTED IN THIS POST PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT. THANK YOU.