Why it’s damaging to tell men to ‘man up’

·Freelance Writer
Ant McPartlin, one half of television duo Ant and Dec, has taken time out from his television commitments to return to rehab [Photo: Getty]

Ant McPartlin has been told that he needs to ‘man up’ by Carl Fogarty in an interview which heavily criticises the television presenter’s decision to return to rehab.

Fogarty – who met McPartlin while competing on ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here’ in 2014 – told the Daily Star that he doesn’t think the 42-year-old should seek professional help.

Despite the fact that the television star apologised after appearing in court, where he was fined £86,000 and banned from driving for 20 months, Fogarty showed no sympathy.

Ant McPartlin made a public statement outside of Wimbledon Magistrates Court on April 16 [Photo: Getty]

He told the tabloid: “Grow up, sort yourself out and take responsibility. Don’t go running off to rehab every five minutes when something goes wrong. He got into a car [drunk], don’t do it, it’s not right.”

The 54-year-old added, “You don’t need to go to rehab to be told to sort that out. He needs telling straight, he needs to sort himself out and man up.”

But Fogarty’s controversial comments only further stress that we still have a long way to go in terms of breaking down fixed gender stereotypes, as social media users took to Twitter to call out the former motorcycle racer.

Whether it was their parents, a colleague or a close friend; it’s highly likely that a large majority of men have been told to ‘man up’ in their past. And although the phrase may be dished out in a friendly gesture, it’s packed with connotations of hyper-masculinity which can prove toxic for both men and boys.

‘Man’, itself draws connotations to power and strength, deeming males to feel inadequate if don’ve live up to society expectations of them. For instance, if a man was to express emotional vulnerability or, in McPartlin’s case, seek help then they run the risk of appearing unmasculine.

And there is no denying the notion that Fogarty’s latest comments are damaging to society. Three quarters of all suicides are male and although recent campaigns such as #project84 which involved 84 sculptures on ITV buildings across London to represent the 84 British men who take their lives every week – are urging men to speak out about depression, it’s still a largely taboo topic.

Eytan Alexander, Founder of UKAT, the UK’s largest addiction treatment firm told Yahoo Style UK: “When you leave treatment, imagine an iceberg. Everyone thinks they can see what the problem is but it’s buried away. And people can’t see it, like Forgarty.”

“The truth is, I’m in recovery. I’m not saying this from a book, this is personal. If you don’t continue to work on recovery then you get back to that same place and people can have a stiff upper lip or say, ‘man up’ but ultimately this is an illness. If you had cancer you’d be banging on the door saying, ‘help me, help me I’m dying!’ but when people tell you to ‘man up’ then you think, ‘oh, I must be OK’.”

Alexander added: “It’s important to have a support network and feel comfortable to say ‘You know what, today I’m feeling low, I just need to talk to somebody’. You need to be around likeminded people who truly understand where you are and to have a network who can just say, hi. That can be the massive difference between picking up a drink or taking a drug.”

Prior to the highly-publicised hearing, McPartlin stepped down from his television commitments. After previously spending two months in rehab back in 2017 for an addiction to alcohol abuse and prescription drugs, the ITV presenter will now return to rehab for further treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues or addiction, make sure to check out UKAT’s website or head over to Mind for further help and support.

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