For some peculiar reason, whenever I address a health issue and my male friends are present, the discussion is quickly redirected to another subject as they try to avoid the discussion. I recently encountered the same phenomenon and one of my friends responded that men are feeling guilty of making mistakes when it comes to their health. From forgetting to eat their daily fruit and veggies indulging in a hamburger of French fries, to scheduling an appointment with the doctor only when the symptoms they have been experiencing for weeks intensify, men feel guilty for not taking care of their health and try to avoid any type of discussion that reminds them of that fact.
If you are familiar with the old story that men do not need to ask for street advice, as they can always find their way, they also generally tend not to seek out help when it comes to their health as they are always capable of surpassing the problem they have been facing and heal themselves. In fact, statistics reveal that women worry more about their health status than men do, and they take more preventative measures to protect it. After conducting my own focus group with some of my male friends, I discovered that this is totally true. Most of them avoid going for their regular check-ups, especially younger men, and decide to pay a visit to the doctor’s office only when something is broken, usually because a woman is present and insists that this is serious and should not be left to chance. Then it is only logical that men have, on average, a shorter life expectancy than women by six years.
But although this can be partly explained due to societal standards that portray men to be strong and touch, this potentially life-threatening health negligence cannot be justified. Enduring pain and being able to overcome any type of problem they face does not seem as an adequate explanation for this type of problematic behavior. The truth is that men tend to view doctor’s visits as uncomfortable and involving potentially painful procedures and in general men are not capable of handling or enduring pain. While women are biologically capable of handling the pains of a pregnancy they are also more open to discuss health issues and educated themselves regarding the threats associated with their health.
If one only considers the fact that the magazine’s and website’s focus is not on men’s health compared to the women’s health issues discussed, it is only logical to conclude that men’s health does not seem to be a priority either for men or for society. It is not that men do not get sick or are not experiencing signs of weakness from time to time; it is rather that their social role does not permit them to look or express that weakness.