‘Mouthpiece for men’: German city introduces country’s first ‘men’s officer’

© Ralph Orlowski
Men in the German city of Nuremberg suffering from post-divorce trauma, bullying at work or domestic violence now officially have a shoulder to cry on: The city has introduced the country’s first ‘men’s officer’.

The officer’s name is Matthias Becker, who  himself in an interview to the German media outlet Bayerische Rundfunk (BR) as a “mouthpiece for men.”

“There are also discrimination forms affecting men. At certain points they are being mobbed at their jobs, whether by male or female bosses,” Becker added.

The “men’s officer” project has been established under the eyes of the City of Nuremberg's Human Rights Office and is free of charge for those seeking help. It was set up in May as part of a year-long trial, with authorities later deciding whether to implement it on a more permanent basis.

Since the post is only temporary the office of the “men’s commissioner” is currently housed in the “Women's Rights” department of the City of Nuremberg. That sometimes naturally causes “some misunderstanding” when the men first try to contact him, Becker admitted.

Domestic violence appears to be quite a significant concern that men share with Becker. According to Zeit Online in some 20 percent of cases in 2015, men were the ones being attacked and even severely beaten.

“If you go to the police and say I would like to file a complaint against my wife, she beats me at home. What do you think would happen?” Becker says, adding that quite a few men would “dare to address the issue.”

The commissioner himself is reassured that there is a clear need for his job. The post was “long desired and wanted,” Becker told BR.

He said within the three months past, a rising number of males took advantage of the service. The problems he is also dealing with vary from “being bullied in the job” to “family issues.” One of the most frequent situations Becker is consulting his clients on is paternity leave.

“Meantime the employers are very interested in keeping their staff and are ready to make certain offers,” Becker said.

“Fears of losing a job” are also an issue plaguing many of the men seeking advice by Becker. Talking to Focus, Becker said that one of the key issues in his job is to make sure the men won’t get stuck in their traditional roles, that of being a “strong” person who “does not show emotions.”

“I wish that the typical behavior roles would change, because they only do more damage than really help,” the ‘men’s officer’ admitted.