Its #ManWeek in Australia thanks to TripleJ and ReachOut and I was tagged by Gavin Heaton to write a post about my experiences. However being a fairly typical Aussie male who rarely shows emotion or talks about personal issues, I thought I’d deflect attention by writing about media and how males are represented.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s Australian males were presented a homogenised and stereotypical version of the Aussie male. TV characters were knock-about, stoic, courageous blokes. Our movie heroes were Crocodile Dundee, smart but naive, Mad Max, stoically seeking revenge, or the Bryan Brown-style blue collar mumbler.
Our sportsmen were of a similar ilk. Solid, hairy and dependable. Think Ray Price playing league, Dennis Lillee hurtling down the cricket pitch and Pat Cash on the tennis court. Tough, hard-working heroes.
This was the role model for guys growing up in Australia and what we were regularly exposed to in the media. Its a lot to live up to. And clearly for many Australian men, it was too much to live up to. Australia became a world leader in male suicide and depression.
These days, however, a fragmented and hungry media delves into every nook and cranny of modern life. Our role models and heroes lives are laid open for all to see. No news is off limits.
Now I must explain to my two young sons why Andrew Johns takes drugs, or what the hell his brother was up to in New Zealand. That’s not easy. I also have to explain why a guy called Bruno is mincing around with a new form of stereotyping. A leading TV character today is not the tough Aussie bloke, but a confused and creepy school teacher called Mr G.
The hope is that this warts and all exposure of the male species, while confronting and unavoidable, may lead to a generation of males more at ease with themselves. It hopefully leads to guys being able to open up about their problems and being able to reach out to someone. Hopefully it means that young men today will be less prone to succumbing to the pressures of living up to the simpler stereotypes of yesteryear.