Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Medical Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists
Primary Theme: Health
Secondary Theme: Identity and Equity
Across the globe, health outcomes for men and boys continue to be significantly worse than for women and girls, yet these gender-based disparities in disease and well-being have received scant attention from social scientists, global health policy-makers and health-care providers (Baker et al. 2014). Resulting in an excess burden of morbidity and mortality, this “men’s health gap” is particularly acute among men who are marginalized due to the intersectionality of their gender identities with racial, ethnic, sexual and socioeconomic positionalities. It is significant that men’s comparatively higher statuses and positionalities, which often afford them greater access to power, privilege and opportunity, do not translate into more robust health outcomes.
Following anthropological research which has critically engaged reductivist representations of men and masculinity, we mark that masculinity is a fluid, context-dependent, contradictory, relational and continually negotiated set of cultural practices and social performances (Hodgson 2004, Gutmann 1997). Masculinities are products of particular cultural milieus, spanning a complex range from normative and dominant to marginalized and contested. We seek to complicate narratives that associate men exclusively with aggression, dominance, and heteronormativity to understand the multifaceted dynamics of masculinity, particularly as they relate to health. Indeed, such essentialist ways of viewing men has often resulted negative stereotypes of men in health care, for example health care providers perceiving men as oppressors instead of complex subjects whose behaviors are influenced by societal norms and expectations (Barker et al. 2010). As such, our papers mark heterogeneities and contradictions in the nexus of masculinity and health as we also seek to understand gender normativities in their historical and cultural contexts.
This panel addresses the 2018 Annual Meeting theme, as we engage ongoing “changes to the anthropological imagination” by means of the dialectic of masculinities and health. We advance anthropological inquiry in this domain by addressing the following questions: How are diverse masculinities negotiated and contested in the face of decisions about health and well-being? How are health risk perceptions constructed in relation to understandings of multi-faceted masculinities? How do men’s work lives, particularly their greater exposures to occupational physical and toxic hazards, shape their health outcomes? What is the relationship of health behavior paradigms to the complex array of lived masculinities? What is the relationship among masculinities, agency and structural violence, particularly as they promote or hinder well-being? How is the body a site for constructing, reproducing and resisting masculinity?