Today is International Men’s Day, a day designed to promote ‘a focus on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models.’ In Ireland, it would seem that the former concern about men’s health is a significant one. The average life expectancy of Irish men is five years less than that of Irish women, and Ireland has the highest rate of prostate cancer in Europe. The National Men’s Health Policy report for 2008-2013 makes for uneasy reading. Apparently ‘men have tended to be more reticent in terms of advocating or speaking out about their own health.’ Not only are men apparently less willing to face their own mortality, but ‘the burden of ill health and mortality is borne, in particular, by men from the lower socio-economic groups’.
Some progressive measures have been introduced to try and combat male apathy towards their own health. One exceptionally successful initiative has been ‘Movember’. This organisation, independent from International Men’s Day, encourages people to raise money for charity by getting sponsored for their moustache growth. A cursory glance at your Facebook feed will likely bring the shocking sight of many of your male friends sporting dashing ‘stashes, and indeed women doing their part with assorted brushes/combs. The novel manner with which the organisation has tackled men’s reticence to address their own health seems to have found an inroad to apparent male squeamishness. The sacrifice of one month’s appearance (depending on growth ability) is apparently a price many are willing to pay to support those who suffer from many of the debilitating cancers in Ireland.