Like many people, I’m fascinated by the conflict between myth and reality. Yes, I’m the person who e-mails Snopes.com links back to people who forward messages about nefarious corporations, sappy inspirational stories involving children and dogs, and ridiculous claims regarding financial gain. If you truly believe that Bill Gates is going to send you thousands of dollars for forwarding an e-mail message, then I have some money in a Nigerian bank that I would much need your help to be transferring.
More interesting are deeper cultural myths, and one of the classics is the stronger/weaker male/female dynamic. It’s obvious where it comes from, when one considers things like average physical strength and size. But what is interesting is noting where the notion that boys are stronger than girls tends to fall apart, at least when it comes to issues of health. We’ve already mentioned things like the higher suicide rates among boys and higher prevalence of learning and behavioral disorders. Though, admittedly, one can theorize that some of those statistics are influenced by biases in diagnosis of boy behavior or lack of understanding of depression in men and boys. But even when it comes down the strictest health issues, boys start at a disadvantaqge–consider the recent study from the University of Pennsylvania and USC that finds that–even in developed nations–male infants have a higher mortality rate than female infants. Medical advances, like NICUs and c-sections have helped to close the gap, but boys remain at higher risk even from the first moments of life.
Just a little something to think on when people ask why boys and men deserve greater health and medical outreach.