Feminist campaigner, Chidera Eggerue, better known by pen name, The Slumflower, has recently sparked outrage on social media following a series of tweets [that have since been deleted] which dismissed the need to help men with mental health issues.
The blogger faced backlash from her 74,000 Twitter followers after writing on the platform, "I don’t have time to think about the reasons why the system you created at my expense to benefit you is now choking you. If men are committing suicide because they can’t cry, how’s it my concern?"
Eggerue is known for her Sunday Times Bestseller, What a Time to be Alone: The Slumflower's Guide to Why You Are Already Enough, and was featured on the BBC's 100 Women list last year. Alongside this, in 2018, she started the #SaggyBoobsMatter movement to encourage body positivity among women.
The writer and campaigner wrote on Twitter following a talk she had given, after which a woman came to her in tears, saying, while she agreed with her views, "some young men have it so hard."
Source: The Daily Mail
In tweets posted over the next 19 hours, the blogger said it wasn't her job to care about men killing themselves because, "My feminism prioritises women and femmes. I DO NOT CARE to better the lives of people who aren't smart enough to leverage the patriarchy to better their own lives."
She continued, "I can't stress enough about how much I don't care about dedicating my life to designing a world that is safer to my oppressor, when I could just direct that energy across to women and femmes who are vulnerable as a result of existing with people who don't know how to cry."
Many people took offence to the comments, noting that some strains of feminism fight for the equality of the sexes and asking how could she define herself as a feminist while making such gendered statements? One Twitter user responded: "'I'm an anti-domestic abuse activist and work with vulnerable women. I know my priorities. But the rate of male suicides shouldn't be ignored. We can acknowledge both terrifying DV rates and terrifying suicide rates at the same time."
In response to the backlash she recieved, Eggerue told The Independent that her intention was to highlight female oppression, a cause she is passionate about, rather than addressing mental health, which is not her focus. She said that she is just "one woman's voice" and that her remarks were not directed at those affected by the "tragedy of male suicide."
Eggerue then went on to request the readers of The Independent to start a "dialogue about the bigger issue of the patriarchy."
However, her response to the controversy defeats the point. In light of the recent deaths of The Prodigy's Keith Flint and Love Island's Mike Thalissitis, alongside statistics which show suicide to be the biggest cause of death in men under 45 in the UK, we must all do more to combat men's mental health problems and promote mental wellbeing, regardless of our genders or so-called 'priorities'.
The roots of feminism lie in the demand for equality of the sexes. While women have undeniably faced worse punishment at the hands of the patriarchy, men too are suffering under society's expectation for them to surpress their emotions and 'man up'.
Chidera Eggerue, you say men committing suicide is not your concern but how can you expect your feminist views to be heard and respected when you so easily dismiss the needs of others under the guise that they are less important and valid than your own? As the saying goes, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all so, if the epidemic of male suicide is not your concern, in the future, perhaps you should just keep your mouth shut.