Some argue that this is in part because men are “allowed” to be overweight. The media may present a man who is chunky as still being very masculine and even attractive (John Belushi, etc). The behaviors and greater awareness of healthy behaviors women exhibit are due in part to the societal value of their appearance and their body. If a woman is overweight, she is considered to be less feminine. Women place greater emphasis on taking care of their bodies which leads them to exhibit healthier behaviors.
It is a debated subject but many scientists believe that behavior is the most important factor influencing health and that changes in behavior is the most effective way to prevent disease. Some behaviors associated with hegemonic masculinity include ambition and success-oriented mentality, independence and acting invulnerable, emotional stoicism, aggression, and taking risks. These are accepted behaviors and character traits for men but if they are taken to the extreme, they can be linked to behavior patterns that are unhealthy.
Men are significantly less likely to visit their physicians to receive preventive health care examinations. Men make 134.5 million less physician visits than American women each year - making only 40.8% of all physician visits. A quarter of the men who are 45 to 60 do not have a personal physician. Men fail to make advised annual heart checkups. Men between 25 and 65 are four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than women. Men are more likely to be diagnosed in a later stage of a terminal illness because of their reluctance to go to the doctor. This may also be due to a tendency of men not to notice symptoms as quickly as women do. Jerry Kaiser, a healthcare consultant believes that, "Men… [are] still basically hunters and warriors… They tend to not pay attention to things that are invisible and internal. If there is no clear external stimulus, there's no response."
The reasons men give for not having annual physicals and not visiting their physician include fear, denial, embarrassment, and avoidance of an experience in which they are not in control. These are feelings that result from their ideas of being masculine, specifically being independent, in control, and invulnerable.
In 1987, Eisler and Skidmore did studies on masculinity stress level. They found five mechanisms of masculinity that accompany masculine gender role stress. They include:
a) the emphasis on prevailing in situations requiring fitness and strength b) contact with women who have a perception of superiority, either in athletics or economic earnings c) being perceived as emotional and thereby feminine d) the need to feel conquering in regard to sexual matters and work e) the need to repress tender emotions such as showing emotions restricted according to traditional masculine customs
Men are also four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Often, the family and friends have no idea that something was wrong. Rather than seeking the help of a professional or even talking to their friends, men often try to deal with depression on their own, many times resulting in death.
Men, significantly more so than women, tend to drink and drive, not to wear a seatbelt, to be aggressive and fight, to drive fast and dangerously. Men are also more likely to be involved in a homicide, to be involved in a motor vehicle accident and other accidents. Men are in fact three times more likely to die of accidents than females. Men make up 93% of workplace deaths. While many argue that this is because dangerous jobs liking mining are dominated by men, others argue that at least part of the difference is due to masculine risk-taking behavior.
Men generally take more risks with their health than women. All these behaviors are acceptable for men and are to some extent deemed masculine. Men are twice as likely to die from cancer than women are. Men are more likely to smoke, not wear sunscreen, eat unhealthy, and not exercise.
The reasons for this willingness to take risks are widely debated. Some argue that the behavior is mostly or completely caused by social expectations and acceptance of risky behavior in males. Others believe that men, especially young men, are genetically predisposed to be less risk-averse than women because, in terms of a group's reproductive capacity, the loss of a young man is much less damaging than the loss of a young woman, which would seem to present evolutionary pressures towards men being more predisposed to risk and danger. Some also cite how widespread and culture-independent certain aspects of masculine identity are, implying that if masculinity was purely learned, different societies in different times would have completely different ideas about the masculine gender role, which has historically remained relatively consistent.
Because of this media portrayal and “strong man” attitude, men consume more alcohol than females. Men drink three times as much as women. They engage in risky behavior such as binge drinking. According to a study done by Rorabaugh, college men are among the heaviest drinkers in American society. It is conceptualized that college men are seeking adventure. From early in their college experience, men are immersed in drinking. According to Green, drinking games are “an important factor in the socialization of new students into heavy use". Drinking is seen as an adventure in itself as well as for the fact that it frees men to experience sex, violence, and other adventurous behaviors. In exchange for taking the risk presented, college men receive acceptance from their peers. Not only is alcohol in itself a risk in these men’s lives, but some college rituals and traditions expect men to mix danger while they have consumed alcohol. In American colleges, young men view their manhood as developing in a moment that is socially dominated by alcohol.
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Kaufman, Michael “The Construction of Masculinity and the Triad of Men’s Violence”. Men’s Lives Kimmel, Michael S. and Messner, Michael A. ed. Allyn and Bacon. Boston, London: 2001
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www.menshealth.com This is the site for the magazine, Men’s Health. It has information on how to take care of yourself and improve your overall well being. It covers fitness, sex, health, guy wisdom, weight loss, nutrition, and style. In the health section you can find information on illnesses and how to fight them, in addition to information about cholesterol, back pain, heart disease, and stress management.
This website provides articles on health issues and studies that provide statistics and facts. Information on self-help through diet and lifestyle changes as well as information on mental health is highlighted.
This website talks about men and their depression and how to get help.