Men Are Not Okay (Either)

Date: June 8th, 2017
By:

Bob Reeg

I recently attended a conference of progressives that included a segment on identity. The populations that speakers represented and whose concerns were addressed included Latinx immigrants, people who identify or express as transgender, and American Muslims. I have no complaints with the selection of these identity groups as populations of focus at an identity conference. After all, they are the subgroups of the “Americans group” who are most marginalized culturally and politically at present, but also who are most ascendant currently in expressing their rightful demands for equality.

Nevertheless, the composition of this conference’s identity segment did have me thinking of who else was left off the agenda. People with disabilities. People of African-American race. Elders. Youth. People of the First Nations. People of White race. People of low socio-economic status. Christians. Jews. Women. Men.

Wait, Men? Which conference organizer, in this “era of Trump” where economic disenfranchisement of the White working class and White identity (which are constructs implicitly associated with white men, even though people of all genders can be White) are ascendant, would have the temerity to include a panel on men in a conference on identity?

I, for one, wouldn’t have objected.

For sure, men as an identity group have a lot going for us. Some of our privileges are explicit, such as higher wages then women in equal positions generally. Many others are implicit, such as (faulty) assumptions that men are inherently better leaders. I’m sure you can come up with your own “man-positive” list.

On the other hand, men are not entirely whistling merrily along Easy Street either. Here’s just a few examples from the health subject area (June is Men’s Health Month) that all is not well for men. In most parts of the world, health outcomes among boys and men continue to be substantially worse than among girls and women.[1] In the United States, a higher percentage of men (14 percent) than women (11 percent) aged 19 through 64 lack health insurance coverage of any type.[2] Men accounted for 76 percent of all adults and adolescents living with HIV infection at the end of 2010 in the United States.[3] How about this shocking inequity—in the U.S. men take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of women and represent 77.9 percent of all suicides.[4]  (I could continue and also fully appreciate that one could easily create a comparison list of statistics demonstrating that women fare more poorly than men on other health factors.)

I’m concerned for men. How about you? Maybe we should include men more fully in frameworks, conversations, and action taking related to identity. What do you think? If you had to construct a session on men for a conference focused on identity, what approach would you take for including them in the conversation?

[1] Baker, P., Dworkin, S., Tong, S. et al. (2014). The men’s health gap: Men must be included in the global health equity agenda. Bulletin of the world health organization: 2014; 92:618–620. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.13.132795.
[2] The Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts. Data Source: Kaiser Family Foundation estimates based on the Census Bureau’s March Current Population Survey (CPS: Annual Social and Economic Supplements), 2014-2016.
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (n.d.). HIV among men in the United States. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/men/index.html.
[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Suicide: Facts at a glance, 2015. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf.

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About the Author

Bob Reeg, MPA, CVA, Program Development and Public Policy Consultant, is an accomplished nonprofit organization program director & public policy analyst and advocate, and an emerging social purpose entrepreneur.

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