My coal mining friend told me a story one day that still sends shivers down my spine. He was working many kilometres underground under the mountains that make up the Wollongong escarpment with his friend a fellow miner. He and his friend had completed a long shift extracting coal from the depths of the mine.
They were travelling in a group in a coal train from the coalface back to the surface. His friend had his legs dangling over the edge of the rail car. On one of the bends the coal trains carriages leaned over that bit extra and his friends’ legs were crushed between the rock and the side of the unforgiving steel rail car. Even his steel capped boots could not save his feet from being terribly mangled.
His friend did not say a word or make a sound. He simply shrugged it off. The terrible damage he had sustained many kilometres under the mine surface was not realised by the others on the rail car. The men continued to joke and talk all the way back to the surface. It was not until his friend miner took off his boots, now filled with blood that they all realised how dreadful his wounds were. His injuries were very serious and an ambulance was called. He spent time in hospital and it was months before he got back on his feet.
In many ways the state of Men’s Health in Australia is much the same as the miner with the mangled feet and the shoes full of blood. Our government and the compliant media are in self-denial about the crisis in men’s health and the problems men face. So are we, the men who face them. As Pogo said famously, “I have met the enemy and the enemy he is us”.
As Dr Tim O’Neill GP, medical adviser to the Dads4Kids said in his speech introducing a report from Dads4Kids to the Senate Select Committee on Men’s Health on 7 April 2009.
Putting it simply, as I see a steady stream of men pass through my office, many men are hurting and hurting badly. As Henry Thoreau once said, ‘Most men live lives of quiet desperation.’. . .
The harm done to the emerging Australian male through the absence or under-performance of fathers and the lack of fathering skill being passed on to sons, is now shaping Australian men’s health more than any other single factor. . .
Is it any wonder that quiet desperation stalks the minds of an increasing number of Australian men and their lost voice?
What shall be the government’s response? The answers sought by men for this growing despair are multifactorial: spiritual, social, psychological and physical. They are not quick-fix answers. No government can effectively work in this area without a considered response and such a response must outlast the term of any one parliament. More than a decade ago, the Office of the Status of Women championed the cause of suffering women.
It is now time for an Office for the Status of Men and Fathers to be formed to serve and advise the current and future governments in this critical task.
Dr O’Neill has spoken well on behalf of Australian men as well as men the world over. After almost 50 years of militant feminism, with the enduring theme that all men are bastards and masculinity is toxic, men are struggling in their health much more than women are.
The main stream media, with few exceptions, has been highly feminised and is only too willing to fall behind the militant feminist ideology of toxic masculinity. This, combined with the epidemic of fatherlessness sweeping the western world and male apathy (quiet desperation), has resulted in a disaster for men’s health of epic proportions.
Men are living longer but dying faster than ever before. Our children are feeling the pain.
Men are living lives of quiet desperation and the continuing 4 year mortality gap between men and women, a common figure in most western countries, is a silent testimony to the pain within. The shocking suicide statistic that 3 men kill themselves for every one woman also demands a speedy response from government.
That speedy response from Government has been a long time coming. Way back on 25 June 2003 a liberal government minister, along with Mark Latham, a then Labor MP, helped Dads4Kids launch the The 12pt Plan.
What Dads4Kids was asking for back in 2003 was an Office for the Status of Men and Fathers and seemed radical at the time, but today it is needed more than ever. Many media elites laughed at our audacity to release a document such as The 12pt Plan to strengthen and support men and fathers. The sad truth is, it could have been written yesterday because it is still desperately needed.
Point 11 of The 12pt Plan says:
Being male is associated with a number of health disadvantages. For males, this results in higher rates of:
- Hospital admissions for most injuries and illnesses
- Premature death by unnatural causes such as suicides and accidents
- Undiagnosed mental illnesses
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Addictive anti-social behaviours
- Addictive gambling problems
The National Fathering Forum seeks to promote fathers’ health and well-being and to reduce the health disadvantage of being male. This needs the assistance of the Government through increased government-funded initiatives.
Point 12 says:
The National Fathering Forum emphasised that a large number of deaths, injuries and illnesses that men experience are preventable. In addition, the health and well-being disadvantages of men and fathers is closely associated with social and economic disadvantage such as unemployment. Men of Aboriginal and Torres Strait descent are particularly vulnerable to these health disadvantages. These issues require an urgent response from both the government and non-government sectors.
The urgent response has certainly been slow coming, but there are promising signs none the less. Men’s Health Week from 11-17 June 2018 is a case in point. It began at the second World Congress on Men’s Health in Vienna, Austria in October 2002 with Australian inspiration. This was the same year Dads4Kids was founded.
Several key delegates to the World Congress on Men’s Health resolved to work together to launch International Men’s Health Week (IMHW). Their aim was to increase awareness of male health issues on a global level and to encourage inter- and intra-national institutions to develop health policies and services that meet men’s specific needs.
From small beginnings big things grow. Men’s Health Week is now an international institution and there is no telling how many men’s lives Men’s Health Week has saved internationally. Looking at this from a global perspective we are talking about tens of millions of men saved from premature death over the last 16 years. The wheels of change move very slowly but thankfully they are moving nonetheless.
We plead with you to reject the idea of silence or ‘quite desperation’. Don’t be like the miner with mangled feet who did not tell anyone of his dire need. His silence almost killed him. If you don’t speak up for yourself and for other men, who will? We encourage you to do something for men’s health this week and register your event at the Mens Health Website.
Check out these words from Johnny Farnham’s hit song for inspiration. “You’re the voice, try and understand it…Make a noise and make it clear… We’re not gonna sit in silence…We’re not gonna live with fear”
Celebrate your health with your children and your wife or do something with a group of friends. No matter how big or small it is register at the website. It all adds to the week activities because Men’s Health Week is all about you.
Yours for speaking up