Monday, 13 June 2011

The Reality of Male Health

Men have no idea what health means. Health, beauty and fitness have been completely co-opted by the false mainstream female orientated health media. The idea of looking after your health scares men, and it scares society to see its men behave in health conscious ways. The reason is this: that to consider your health is to consider your vulnerabilities and your frailties.

This is unacceptable to society. It is unacceptable to women to see their men be openly vulnerable. It is unacceptable for your male peers to be open about your weaknesses. Because masculinity has come to represent a denial of life, a denial of the reality of death and decay.

What is traditionally masculine is usually a set of properties that involve the resistance to death and fear. It has become synonymous with being a man to be fearless, invulnerable and fully capable. This is the core of the abuse inflicted on men. We are not allowed to be vulnerable, and when we do, we experience rejection from the tribe.

There comes a choice. We embrace our ill-health, our weaknesses and our fears, and therefore become unmanly in the eyes of our women and our elders. Or, we suppress our vulnerabilities, turn to alcohol to numb the pain of our hopelessness, and end up inflicting physical violence on those who we love, because we resent them so much for not allowing us to be true to the nature of our human condition.

Health is a broad subject. It is not just about being fit. It is not about having good abs. It is not about eating certain things as opposed to others. The foundations of our health are in the ideas we have about ourselves. It is our ideas, our cultural heritage that determine our capacity for happiness and fulfillment.

The sad fact is that men are handed down archaic and half-baked ideas about themselves and their gender identities. The impact that this has on society is nothing less than destructive. But no one wants to go there, because to do so means facing up to the primal fears embedded in our psychologies. It means tearing down the institutions of repression which Freud himself said were forces for the good.
Masculine repression is the very fabric of our society itself.

When we start to examine what it means to be a healthy man, we are standing as an affront to the society in which we live and function. To examine your health means to examine your humanity. To examine your humanity means to face the reality of death without compromise. It means having the courage to face horror, but unlike Captain Kurtz, we must evolve past that moral terror.

For men to be truly healthy they will have to dismantle the cultural ideas of what it means to be a man. Women will also have to accept this. We will only be prepared to accept the idea of male health when we have created the space for such a dialogue to exist without shame and humiliation.

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