Although a government study found that men’s health was much worse than women s health or the health of any minority group, headlines around the country read: "Minorities Face Large Health Care Gap."69 They did not say: "Men Face Large Health Care Gap." Why? Because we associate the sacrifice of men’s lives with the saving of the rest of us, and this association leads us to carry in our unconscious an incentive not to care about men living longer When that changes, the government will be initiating searches for our POWs, not stonewalling searches. But nothing will really change until we effea a disassociation.
If we care enough to start an Office of Men’s Health, will it really make any difference? Yes. An Office of Men’s Health can introduce us to men’s problems we haven’t even heard of Remember the boy in grammar school or high school with enlarged breasts and speech problems? In my school, the kids called a boy like this "Blubber" and "Baby Huey." But if he had Klinefelter’s disease, he had a chromosomal condition (47 chromosomes instead of 46) that affects only boys (1 out of every 400) and that also made him sterile. If this boy had Klinefelter’s, his parents probably didn’t know it; neither did his teachers; neither did he He needed those who loved him to know bow to love him, not to tell him to eat less or speak more clearly. He needed a support group giving him love, not a peer group calling him "Blubber ’’ I am sure he was left with a lifetime of psychological damage that each of us could have helped him avoid. An Office of Men’s Health could have helped us help him.
A good education program could keep more men from dying of prostate cancer each year than were killed each year in the Vietnam War.70 And good research can help us know to what degree the vaseaomies that are linked to prostate cancer in mice are also linked to prostate cancer in men 71
Although cancer of the testes is about ten times more likely to develop among men whose testes descended into the scrotum after age 6,1 have yet to meet a man who know’s at what age his testes had descended into his scrotum. Few men know that it is relevant to know. And few mothers or fathers know enough to let their sons know. An Office of Men’s Health could provide this type of education, but not without asking a few questions – such as, "Why do we show on TV a real woman’s breasts and not even a pencil outline of a man’s penis and testicles?’’
An Office of Men’s Health could pioneer suicide crisis hotlines nation – w«de, create support networks for elderly men who are 1350 percent more likely to commit suicide than women their age, and education programs for high school guidance counselors on the connections between adolescent male stress and adolescent male suicide.
An Office of Men’s Health could educate men about why men are seven times more likely than women to be arrested for drunk driving72 while only three times more likely than women to be hospitalized for alcoholism 75
We often interpret women’s increased drinking and smoking as reflections of women’s increased stress level (which it often is) but rarely interpret the facts that men are three times more likely to be alcoholics and more likely to die of lung cancer as reflections of men’s continuing higher stress level. In brief, we keep ourselves open to new ways of understanding (and helping) women, which is wonderful, but fail to use the same mind set to better understand (and help) men.
We have a choice. We can continue socializing our sons to fight our fires and be amazed when they fight their feelings. Or we can reach out to counter boys’ socialization and the socialization of girls to love the boys who pay, perform, and pursue, to stop subsidizing male child abuse in the form of football and calling it education, to develop programs to prevent men from being 95 percent of the prisoners and 85 percent of the homeless; to do for men what we would be doing for women if women used to live one year less but now live seven years less, used to be equal victims of the fifteen major causes of death and were suddenly the first victims of every one of the fifteen major causes of death.