Let’s make 2019 the year we stop letting men off the hook. Let’s stop congratulating them for doing the bare minimum. Let’s stop elevating them above women when they enter female-dominated professions. Let’s stop giving them a pass for sexist rhetoric because “that’s the way they are”.
In Canada, women’s mental health is not taken seriously. We often hear the statistics that men are more likely to commit suicide than women. What we rarely get to hear are the statistics involving attempted suicide. For every death by suicide, there are 20 attempts, and as per Canadian data in 2011, women are 3-4 times more likely to attempt suicide than men. Men’s suicide rates in Canada have been decreasing steadily over the last 20 years, while women’s rates have stabilized and remain consistent. As a country, we are not doing enough.
Women’s mental health is a secondary aspect to our judicial system. Women have been considered inferior to men for centuries, and to put the blame for these ideologies where they deserve to be placed, Europe is where our history of this in Canada originated. Indigenous cultures throughout North America have always had a very equal way of looking at the men and women of their communities. So much so, that many languages do not discern male and female pronouns. Such neutral language cannot be considered for us now.
When we think of intergenerational violence and domestic abuse, we think of the physical scars, bruises, and broken bones. We imagine a woman with a black eye and a broken wrist telling the emergency room nurses that she fell down the stairs. We don’t think or discuss the long-term mental illnesses that follow these women long after the bones have healed and the bruises have vanished. We don’t consider the children growing up under the tension of fear, anger, and unexpressed violence. We just don’t think about psychological warfare as a viable weapon for men to use against women.
Canada’s judicial system does not consider our changing times, and our changing world. It does not consider the level of technology we have available today, and the degree of isolation that can be more easily achieved using this technology. One would think the two would not be related, but with cellphones so fused to our hands, we become masters at presenting certain online personas. We can hide behind whatever impression we send out into the world, and isolate ourselves further. We can play tricks with happy couple photos, and sweet sentiments written out on a screen, while in the background reality is far from perfect. Our police forces are not trained to consider what could be subtle psychological red flags from online appearances, which are now far more visible than our true appearance and presentation. Our judicial system is an old, lumbering dinosaur compared with how quickly our world is shifting.
The mental health of a victim of domestic violence and abuse is the most crucial thing to be able to identify for our friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers. Damage to mental health should be considered as criminal as physical violence in our judicial system. We need to be more aware of the uses that our technology is being put to, whether it is to stalk, harass, or find further victims. We need to see the suicide rates of women decreasing in the same levels as that of men.
The only way to accomplish all of this is to make 2019 the year that men do not get a free pass. It is time to call out and isolate those men that share woman-hating rhetoric without fear of consequences in our social circles. We need friends and family to be more protective and aware of the children and wives of these men. We need a more alert public to the subtleties of broken mental health in the families of these men. We must consider domestic violence as encompassing more than physical violence alone. We need to take the mental health of Canadians more seriously.
Thank you to statcan.gc.ca for their research into suicide rates in Canada.