In an effort to raise awareness of men’s health issues, men are being encouraged to grow moustaches during the current month of ‘Movember’, coinciding with International Men’s Day on the 19th of the month.
In addition to specifically male medical conditions, this charity event also addresses the issues of men tending both to adopt poor health behaviours, and to avoid seeking medical care, in comparison with women.
From a social constructionist perspective, such activities can be seen as a way of doing ‘being masculine’, since they are ‘known’ to be bound to the ‘male’ gender category.
By dismissing their health care needs, men are constructing gender. When a man brags, ”I haven’t been to a doctor in years”, he is simultaneously describing a health practice and situating himself in a masculine arena. Similarly, men are demonstrating dominant norms of masculinity when they refuse to take sick leave from work, when they insist that they need little sleep, and when they boast that drinking does not impair their driving.
This contrasts with the more traditional psychological view that these behaviours are inevitable since they are driven by some internal factor related to biological sex.
Official ‘Movember’ website
Official International Men’s Day website
Lyon, A. C. (2009). Masculinities, Femininities, Behaviour and Health
Courtenay, W. H. (2000). Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men’s well-being: a theory of gender and health. Social Science & Medicine, 50(10), 1385-1401