The op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times was contributed by a physician who studies what she calls "gender-specific medicine." Although she takes more pains to describe what her specialty isn't than what it is, I'm assuming that she studies diseases and pathologies specific to each of the sexes.
The doctor goes on to describe how men are actually "the weaker sex." I've read most of this before: miscarriages befall male fetuses more often than female; more little boys in our modern, industrialized society are afflicted with autism and dyslexia. And I've read about how we, the female of the species --femina sapiens, I suppose we could call ourselves-- are endowed with more of what it takes to survive. As the good doctor says, "girls learn language earlier, develop richer vocabularies and even hear better than boys...Twice as many men as women die of coronary artery disease, which manifests itself a decade earlier in men than women...Women also have more vigorous immune systems than men." In addition, while the numbers of women diagnosed with depression are higher than those of men, this has actually been credited to our greater willingess to ask for help.
The doctor builds to a stunning crescendo:
"Considering the relative fragility of men, it's clearly counterintuitive for us to urge them, from boyhood on, to cope bravely with adversity, to ignore discomfort, to persevere in spite of pain and to accept without question the most dangerous jobs and tasks we have to offer."
To accept without question the most dangerous jobs and tasks we have to offer.Like going off to war to come back dead or traumatized, perchance? (factoid: Over 2,500 American service personnel have died in Iraq, almost every one of them male.)
Military might ... recruiters walking the hallways of our high schools... male peace activists ridiculed as "girly men"... Cindy Sheehan called a cry-baby because she dares protest the death of her son in a war of aggression...9/11 widows treated with contempt for daring to say that war will not bring back their husbands... keeping the public in a constant state of fear...the either-or, he-man posturing of the House Majority Leader on Friday,"Will we fight or will we retreat? That's the question that's posed to us." No, Mr. Boehner, those are not the only two possibilities. But an easy one to advance when neither you nor your sons will be the ones fighting.
The good doctor calls for an increase of NIH funding for health studies related to men's health problems.
I think there's another problem worth studying too if the "stronger sex" wants the "weaker sex" to survive to father our children.
Fathers' Day, 2006