Boys Cry Too – why I painted this series

Quite rightly there has been much advancement in women’s place in society and there is still so much to do. However, in all this, men are often forgotten except in terms of the aggressors and perpetrators of women’s disadvantages. As the mother of two young men I see the confusing, contradictory and complex societal expectations they are struggling to navigate and the intense emotional pressures they can suffer as a result. One of my sons attempted suicide in his early teens, the other has been deeply affected by the suicide at 22, of his old school friend. It is this struggle I am seeking to portray in my paintings.

The majority of young men agree there are social pressures on them to behave or act in a certain way because of their gender. For example, they must be strong and powerful, both physically and mentally. They are the victims of body shaming and insecurity over their physical image in much the same way as women. They are expected to look well-groomed but ridiculed if they spend too much time on how they look. They are encouraged to suppress their emotions which is believed to be a major factor in the high levels of suicide in young men, and to always appear confident and self-reliant for fear of showing weakness and being rejected. Millennial men are increasingly expected to share in parenting but face career-ending stigmas when it comes to taking time off for family obligations, and seen as wanting if they are not major providers for their family. They are extremely vulnerable to life-damaging accusations of sexual harassment, or sexually inappropriate behaviour whilst expected to be interested in and ready for sex, at all times.

From the Suicide Prevention & Awareness Group on Facebook:
Boys get cheated on
Boys get used for sex
Boys get led on
Boys get hurt
Boys get heartbroken
Boys are self-conscious
Boys get bullied
Boys get called fat
Boys get called ugly
Boys get judged
Boys get hit/abused by girls
Boys feel alone
Boys suffer with depression
Boys cry themselves to sleep
Boys self-harm
Boys get eating disorders
Boys get suicidal
Boys commit suicide
Boys feel pain.