By Guglielmo Schinina
Men don’t cry. Men are not afraid. And yet, men also face wars and conflicts.We often tend to overlook the distress faced by some men at times of crisis. But let us not forget that if women hold up half the sky, as a Chinese proverb says, the other half is held by men.
Apart from leading to enormous financial and social difficulties, crises push men to face emotional challenges that they usually don’t dare talking about, often thinking they are the only one to feel this way. Why should we even discuss it then? That is when the vicious circle starts. But in reality Yes, feeling angry is a normal reaction to the abnormality of the situation; yes, you have the right to be afraid and feel sad. And no, you are not responsible for this.
Often, the roots of the distress are that men cannot assume the same responsibilities that they did previously in their communities. Not only is losing their jobs a source of a shame, but it often leads to reverse roles, which increases feelings of guilt and loss of pride. Men will often end up spending more time at home, while some women will manage to find work.
It is fundamental to convey the message that men also face challenges in the migration context, and that men also are vulnerable. Our mission is to destigmatize the stereotypes, and to remind people that to lose their job or their home, should not decrease their self-worth or make them underestimate themselves. To feel insecure and guilty for not being able to protect and take care of their loved ones is a widespread feeling among men during times of crisis but it does not make them less of a man.
The harsh living circumstances might constitute an opportunity to spend more time with their families and children. Families constitute an important social support network and being with them makes men and fathers feel safe; by looking after their children and mentoring their education and growth, men can help their families cope with distress. A survey showed that for instance some men in Syria and the neighboring countries have expressed their satisfaction because the crisis has brought them to be more accepting of the opinions of their wives, children, siblings, and relatives’ conditions. Moreover, to be displaced in a new camp can lead to helping others and asking for help in return. This valuable coping mechanism can build an atmosphere of trust among communities and family members as well as prevent feelings of isolation.
At times of crises, the loss of job, properties and loved ones, the feelings of anger and fear, the surrounding violence and in some cases the family separation may cause people to question their old beliefs, and their confidence wavers. By accepting the normality in the abnormality of the situation, not only will they alleviate stress, but they will also rise above life challenges.
(Illustrations: Rasha Adnan- Mahmoud)