Recent TradeMutt Radio guests like Rob Godwin and Jo Mason, have meant that domestic violence, consent and the concept of gender roles more broadly have been popular topics of conversation in the TradeMutt office lately.
On the surface, these issues might sound like they are niche or only partly relevant to our mission. However, the more conversations we have about these issues the clearer it becomes that all of us are being held back in some way by misogyny and gender norms.
Traditional sex roles promote the idea that people must act in a way that society deems “in keeping” with their gender. These concepts normally revolve around men having to be the tough, domineering breadwinners of the family while women are expected to be meek, submissive caregivers.
When it comes to mental health and what we do at TradeMutt, it is these ideals that reinforce the toxic attitudes that we are working to change. It is this culture that tells men that they are weak for seeking help from medical professionals and dismisses women as simply too sensitive if they feel the need to seek psychological advice.
Clearly, we are not the only ones noticing this link. In fact, statistics show that in environments where there are more damaging, misogynistic attitudes and beliefs, there are also more mental health issues. On the other hand, research also shows that when work, home and cultural environments are considered to be more equal, all sexes sleep better and report better mental health.
We cannot fix one issue without fixing the other and if you are interested in helping to create a culture that doesn’t use outdated gender norms to create barriers to people getting help with mental health, finding ways to establish a positive and inclusive work environment.
Calling someone out on their behaviour can be difficult but it is important to frame it as education rather than as an attack, so that you don’t add to a toxic culture more. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting someone about their comments or behaviour, you can choose to simply not engage in conversations or activities that condone this behaviour. Often it takes just one person to create a safe space for others to join them in stopping inappropriate or offensive behaviour.
Asking for help is something that everyone finds difficult, for men it often comes down to a fear of being laughed at or embarrassed, while for women asking for help comes with the fear of being told they are less competent. So, whether someone needs help carrying something heavy or just someone to chat to, it is important to encourage everyone we work with to know that it is okay to ask for help and that they won’t be punished for doing so.
Words like “bossy”, “emotional” and “bitch” are often used to describe women, while “toughen up”, “boys will be boys” and “boys don’t cry” are phrases used against men.
The reality is that these words are often used as weapons to put people in their place and remind them of the misogynistic standards that they are expected to adhere to. So, make an effort to stop using words that pigeonhole people because of their gender and actually take note of why they might be acting a certain way and respond to that instead.
If you are struggling with sexism, gender identity issues, bullying, domestic violence or you just need a yarn, text or call TIACS on 0488 846 988 to chat to a qualified psychologist.