What’s in a name!
Man Up to MUUK: Now what seems like another life time ago, we decided to spread our wings from the Whitesands Challenge to Ras Dewi Sant and thought, we need a name and a website. This was discussed with a few, but no name stood out and then a former work colleague and pretty decent marathon runner himself came forward to say, “what about Man-Up, it seems to be the in saying for endurance sport these days?”
Now I can’t say I’d used this saying or thought much of it, So I googled it as you do, and the definition came back as
“To overcome your fears in the face of adversity”
I thought, I like that. But Man-Up as a stand alone domain wasn’t available so we added on “UK” and the job was a good one. The years that followed was not a problem. One close friend did ask me in the early days.
“Do you think you’re alienating 50% of the population”
I said, well Man stands for “mankind” and I don’t think we should get to hung up on words after all there are some big brands out there with “Man” in their name. Plus we do have a lot of females take part in events and more than males in some.
But as our social media accounts grew from the 50 to 60 (all people I knew) into the 1000’s and with the opening of the shop and an increased footfall. We attracted more attention and had a wider audience.
This lead to a few (A very few) comments about the term being sexist. But as these comments where few and far between and from people hiding behind a keyboard and never likely to do an event, it didn’t really bother us and we were happy to bat them off as we were/are not and the context of the man is not to be single gender.
We were also happy in the fact that we had a wide and diverse number of people doing the events and indeed working for us. Over the past couple of years I’ve spoken to many females, some of which are battling inequality in the sporting world and their views were.
It’s not words and terminology of everyday speak that needs changing, This is just to make people feel better about themselves and have a cause to fight. it’s more about the actions that result in actual meaningful equality that need addressing. These ladies actually advised us not to change the name!
However a couple of years ago something else started happening in society. People started waking up to the fact Mental Health was a real issue and that the stigma around it needed addressing. The fact that Male suicide was and is far to high it’s actually the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. The awareness of these facts started to lead people to ask why is this?
Now I don’t think you need to have the psychology insight of Sigmund Freud to know. Men aren’t great with emotions and showing weakness. Yes they may whinge and make a meal out of a cold (Man-Flu) a bad back or the old knee injury.
But when it comes to what’s inside their head, their inner feelings and emotions. Speaking out about these things have for many a year been taboo and wrongly seen as a sign of weakness.
If you work in he agricultural environment, you are the bread winner, the grafter, the person who works in isolation, worrying day in day out about your livestock, crops, prices, the weather and wouldn’t dream of offloading this worry onto your family. If you work in the emergency services or high powered business a sign of speaking out about your inner demons and showing signs of being mentally weak will almost certainly effect your aspirations to specialise or be promoted when it comes to climbing the ladder or getting the sought after jobs. They say it won’t but we have our doubts!
The sad thing about the 5000 plus suicides in 2017 is how many could have been prevented by “talking” and realising you are not alone and things are never as bad as you think.
Now what we have seen over the past 2 years or so is numerous campaigns to address these issues. With the majority being centred around “talking” it has also being highlighted that telling a Man to Man-Up is not the correct message and can have a massive detrimental effect.
For us as a company, we have watched this unfold with great interest. We have discussed the name amongst ourselves, with our business partners and within our circles and debated the message it sends out.
This has been met with a mixed response and personally I think it is your own personal experiences and knowledge of Mental Health that effects opinions on such a matter.
Some thought we were pandering to the “Snowflake Generation” that are offended by everything. Whilst others could see the point of view that we were making and thought “its a shame, as its all about context and the name does not refer to Mental Health issues”All though this is correct.
The name has never been about playing down or trivialising someone’s emotional feeling’s. Its been about overcoming adversity on your chosen sporting of physical challenge. The fact is that it has become associated with a negative saying that we are not comfortable with and therefore feel it is time to evolve.
Now we also know that this is a gamble and could upset some of our very loyal followers who have been with us from the start, who might feel we have sold out to the vocal few.
All we can say is, this is not the case. We are not doing this to jump on a bandwagon or follow some media trend. I personally have seen the absolute worst effects of Mental Health on Men and Woman far to many times from far to many angles and can honestly say we are doing this for the right reasons and our own reasons. In fact seeing large corporate companies and organisations put out adverts about MH sometimes annoy, because I think they are merely doing the issues a lip service. But I suppose any awareness is a good thing.
But yes context should always be used, in the words that people use but this is not a skill we are all blessed with. Obviously if a man was struggling with his emotions and fighting his inner battle for years, before he plunks up the courage to open up and try to explain these emotions. And then his chosen shoulder to lean on has the sensitivity of an MP and tells him to “man-up for Christ sake” This is of course inappropriate and extremely damaging.
However if you are rounding Green Scar on the Green Monster Swim and the swell is building, And you start to doubt yourself and go a little bit into panic mode. You do need to have a word with yourself, be confident, rely on your training and push through this physical and mental challenge – in these circumstances telling yourself to man-up might not be totally inappropriate!
The name we have chosen. Now this was a difficult one, we came up with loads of weird, wonderful and catchy ideas. But none felt right. So we decided that, we did not want to go away from our logos and the fact that we were once Man-Up UK is nothing to hide away from, it’s not like we’re members of SPECTRE or anything. So we have gone for the initials option -“MUUK-ADVENTURES.COM
And Finally a true story
4 years ago I was working in the shop in St Davids. Just prior to shutting for the day a guy came in. I could see straight away he had crazy eyes, ones I’d seen before (in the mirror) and he was talking a hundred miles an hour. Basically saying, “Man up, that’s what I need to do” “I saw the name of the shop and I thought, that’s me, its like a sign”
I shut the shop and spoke to him for about two hours. The details of his story are irrelevant and private. But he’d had some unexpected but unfortunately not uncommon news that had sent him over the edge. He Jumped in his car and drove 7 hours to St Davids. A location he had not been to for 30 odd years since his childhood, And had happy memories of that summer holiday and had no idea why he was here.
All these things are massive warning signs and the way the conversation was going, I was super concerned. After a good chat, we left it with him promising to come and see me in the morning. He did (thank god) and from there we worked out a route and plan of things to see and do on the West Coast of Wales. Before he headed back home.
Two years later the same guy turned up with his children for a Coasteering session. (he said he’d be back) At first I didn’t recognises him. His face was almost completely different. He’d lost that frantic look and was so chilled out, If not a little bit nervous when he said to me. “Do you remember me” I said “Yes of course” he nodded smiled and we cracked on, not to be mentioned again.
I also had an old woman open the door and shout abuse at me in regards to the name once!! but less not dwell on the negative people in the world.