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The ECBC Book Club: Robert Webb’s How Not to be A Boy

Toxic masculinity is a topic that thankfully is being addressed more and more in today’s society. Male suicide is a concerning issue, and books like this help raise awareness that we have taught men from an early age that they are not allowed to feel anything other than angry.

Often men crying are seen as weaker, expressing emotion is not a thing that happens and forget talking about issues, men are told to keep everything in.

‘I like it here. There are no men, and there are no other boys. I don’t seem to be very good at being a boy and I’m afraid of men.’

Robert Webb addresses this topic beautifully with a mix of humour and a total WHAM of honesty. Webb discusses his past in a range of environments and situations that will make you laugh, cringe and cry.

Nowadays we are becoming more aware of this toxic masculinity and how it is effecting mental health. Webb discusses his complicated relationship with his father, the loss of his mother and introduces us to the term ‘minty’ (another term to describe when someone is acting like a SEE-YOU-NEXT-TUESDAY).

‘I express anger when what I’m actually feeling is shame.’

Stats obtained from Samaritans show that:

  • In the UK men remain three times as likely to take their own lives than women, and in the Republic of Ireland four times more likely.
  • The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 45-49.

‘We are at risk of suicide because the alternative is to ask for help, something we have been repeatedly told is in unmanly… Suddently we’re surrounded by well-meaning people encouraging us to talk about our feelings. The problem is, talking about our feelings is something we’ve been specifically trained not to do.’

We need to stop pushing this idea of ‘masculinity’ – as Webb rightly says, how are men supposed to talk about their feelings if they have been trained to do the exact opposite for most of their lives? It’s time to start encouraging the idea that we are all different, therefore we shouldn’t be expected to all act under the same social ‘rules’.

Let’s stop the shaming, allow the crying and promote a safer society where everyone and anyone can feel like they can ask for help.

Emma x

P.S. Read the book it’s well good.

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