Is Men’s Health Ignored By Policy Makers?

First Posted: May 24, 2019 11:44 AM EDT

Is Men's Health Ignored By Policy Makers?

The rise of global women's movements like #MeToo have led many to take note of the immense discrimination women everywhere face in their daily lives for the first time. Amidst all of this social change and controversy, however, some have begun to argue that men's health is being ignored by policy makers who are focusing too much on protestors and not enough on medical realities. Is there any truth to the notion that men's health is being ignored in the halls of power?

Any honest analysis of the Western policymaking process elucidates how biased it is - towards women. Here's why men's health isn't being ignored by policy makers, though some key areas are sorely in need of additional funding and focus when it comes to public health.

The field of medicine is historically biased against women

It goes without saying that historically, the field of medicine has been sorely biased against women; not only that, however, but other areas of crucial policy making have historically totally ignored females. This shouldn't be surprising; after all, men hold most of the positions of power in today's society despite gender equity movements, and historically women have been totally denied access to financial wealth, legislative positions, or positions of respect in society where they can move public policy in a favorable direction.

For evidence of this flabbergasting discrimination, look no further than the United States Congress, regularly hailed as the greatest deliberative body in the world and the central source of policy for the Western world. The recently elected 116th Congress is the most diverse in the country's history, featuring substantially more women than ever before - and it's still almost entirely male dominated. Despite making up a majority of the American population, women compose only 25 percent of the U.S. Senate and a pitiful 21 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives, a body which claims to be representative of the population in its very name!

Those who would deny the fact that a nearly all-male legislature is clearly going to be biased in favor of pro-male health policies are living in a fantasy world. This doesn't mean that men have it made when it comes to public health policies, however, especially since males frequently compose the majority of the workforce in industries that are particularly dangerous or threatening to your life. Many men die on the job compared to women, for instance, but many people don't seem to care about this issue.

The important point to remember here is that men and women alike face discrimination in their pursuit of sound public policy that will bolster the wellbeing of everyone. While women are overwhelmingly discriminated against in the halls of power and have been historically denied any role in the policy making process, men are still frequently suffering in silence without reprieve. The key to fixing gender disparities in healthcare and society isn't to devolve into bickering, gender-based arguments but rather to focus on the most important areas of public health and discrimination in policy making.

Women of color are particularly threatened

Those who are seriously committed to improving public health should devote the majority of their attention to the most vulnerable populations that have been historically ignored by the halls of power. Women of color, for instance, enjoy insufferably low healthcare quality standards across America that have been reinforced by literally generations of barbaric healthcare practices towards women and people of color in particular. America's Black mothers are dying in droves in childbirth, for instance, demonstrating that disparities in healthcare policy don't just exist on gendered lines but on racial ones, too.

Much in the same way that women of color in America's urban centers are being ignored, certain groups of men are also being shunned by society, much to the detriment of their health. Returning veterans, for instance, are a group of people that society owes an outstanding debt to yet frequently dismisses and refuses to honor. The vast majority of returning veterans are men, and they frequently suffer from above-average rates of depression and suicide. The shocking suicide epidemic impacting men around the world is illustrative of the fact that biases in the halls of power can still produce lackluster policy solutions for some males.

Those who are interested in bolstering public health should join together and fight for better public policymaking when it comes to addressing the unique needs of men and women. Society must get better at allowing men to express emotion, sadness, and vulnerability in their lives; our expectations that men must carry the toughest burdens and never express any pain is literally leading to countless deaths. Similarly, policies that support women's health and make up for the countless generations of public discrimination they faced in policy making is needed to ensure young girls get the treatments they need regardless of gender inequities.

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