the crisis of maleness
May 8, 2003 11:20 AM

Eheu.

So, when I commented the other day about the cancer & weight study, I didn't expect to see this follow so quickly: being male is now a health crisis.

It's funny. But not completely insane, either. The solutions presented to this supposed crisis (improved education, for one) aren't completely spurious. Of course, no one proposes that we reassign everyone a female gender. And this is where it differs from the solution to the "obesity crisis" - few studies look at employment rates, doctor visits or stress levels for fat people and how to improve these; instead, we talk about eliminating fatness.

Does anyone get this? That would be exactly like suggesting we eliminate the crisis of maleness. Exactly. Yes, fatness can be stopped via radical, occasionally surgical measures. But hey, so can maleness!

The article I linked, surprisingly enough, touches on some of the ways men are injured by "the patriarchy", particularly by the cultural system of defining masculinity and femininity.

The study also links the disparity to cultural definitions of what it means to be masculine, hindering men from projecting any sense of vulnerability including seeking health-protective behaviors. Men are less likely see a doctor or follow medical advice.

It sounds innocuous, but if part of the proscribed course of acceptable "manly" attitudes is not seeking help when you need it (even if, as most fat people know, doctors' advice sometimes amount to little more than speculation), that could be a pretty big problem. It's not the only way we're culturally unfair to men (that same role division tends to keep men more distant from family and defines violent responses to stressors as "manly", for instance).

One of the things feminists are frequently accused of is hating men by opposing a patriarchal system. But gender role divisions are a key part of that system, and feminism's fight there isn't just for women. It's for men, trannies, whoever. None of us benefit from an environment that eliminates choice.

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