This next topic may be a little close to home and bring up some difficult emotions. Yet it being difficult is the actually the point of writing this.
What do you think of when you think of a bloke?
Male, easy going, together, masculine, a good guy, a loyal friend, a fair dinkum partner, and an all round legend with absolutely not a care in the world.
According to Wikipedia the term Bloke is a unique masculine archetype of Australia’s national identity and it has been portrayed in important works of art and famous Australian men.
As we all know a vast majority of the first Australian settlers we forced to try and make it work in a terribly harsh environment. They were criminals, I would say some allegedly, of swindlers, thieves and murderers. They were people forced to pick themselves up, suck it in and try and make the most of the life they were forced to lead.
Ted Eagan’s song The Drovers boy still gives me a lump in my throat and chills down my spine. The story is about loosing someone, secrets, swallowing your emotions and ‘getting on with the job.’ It is another example that through our history it has been a learned custom for men to be encouraged not to express.
John Williamson does the most chilling rendition here:
The 2008 film “Australia” by Baz Luhrmann, I feel, accurately portrays the iconic bloke that Australians have instinctively recognised for generations. Hugh Jackman plays “The Drover” who during the movie is faced with opportunities to express his emotions and simply ‘open up’. Instead we see The Drover ‘shut down’, ‘bottle up’ and run, to avoid any moment of emotional expression and having to feel. There are even some references that lean towards song just mentioned 'The Drover's Boy.'
The “Bloke” has created an idealistic ‘bench mark’ for our male population that is frankly dangerously unattainable. The conversation around the ‘bloke’ in recent years has raised some very important issues around the pressure that this long iconic Australian word places on our males. The first conversation about being a ‘bloke’ actually first started during WWI in the 1915 works of C. J. Dennis “Songs of the Sentimental Bloke.” It was a story about a typical bloke named Bill who moved to the city and chose a life of love and domesticity. It sold more than 100,000 copies in 4 years, became a hit film in 1918 and is considered one of the most important works of that generation labelled the ‘silent era.’
It has now taken us close to 100 years to properly begin to fuel the conversation. It takes courage for anyone especially Australian men to communicate how they are feeling and what they are going through. The current leading cause of death of Australian men in ages 15-44 is suicide. Senses 2014-2016.
Giving men the courage and support that it is ok to ask for help is the first step in helping the identity of the ‘bloke’ change. Further support in helping people learn how to express and open up is a huge gift and quite possibly a life saving one.
I have chosen to write this as I am gifted in my life with my own versions of the Australian bloke. Some of you reading this will have your own version of blokes in your lives too. My father’s family grew up working the land and most still do. In my family these blokes do not share their fears, challenges or their emotions easily. It is of course that we want to help all ‘blokes’ and in our most pressing thoughts at the moment are our precious farmers. Little by little with support and conversation we can change the statistics and have ALL people living life to its greatest capacity and speaking up when they need help.
The nature of the 'bloke' mentality is a big conversation and an important one. If this has raised any issues for you please seek help with your local health care provider or contact Headspace.
Headspace provides a confidential, open environment, to discuss how you are feeling. Please get in touch with your local headspace office.