A recent Vicks Nyquil commercial has a typical scenario for an advertisement set in a workplace. A clearly sick man — coughing, runny nose, the whole works — opens what looks like an office door a crack, pops his head in, and delivers the one line of the commercial: “Dave, I’m sorry to interrupt. I gotta take a sick day tomorrow.” While this might seem like a very traditional depiction of masculinity, a guy at the office asking his male boss for a day off, the ad subverts this narrative by revealing an adorable toddler standing up in his crib. The tagline of the ad — “Dads don’t take sick days. Dads take Nyquil” — makes the ad’s argument clear. A real man is one who is so dedicated to his real job — fatherhood — that he continues to parent through his colds and flus. While the idea of moms’ total and complete dedication to their roles as mothers has of course been part of our cultural understanding of motherhood for, well, forever, the shift in the past decade or so of depicting fathers as equal-opportunity martyrs, devoted to the care of their children, strikes many modern viewers as something new.
It strikes me as odd that having identified a crisis of masculinity in our young boys that anyone would suggest these same boys should be raised more like ‘warriors’ than they otherwise would have been. And yet, Maggie Dent, a former high school teacher and counsellor, suggested at the beginning of this year that many of the social ills facing young men today—from Sydney’s king-hit culture to lacklustre personal and academic performance—are related to a broader societal problem of strangling the masculinity out of the boy.
-Hunky history: the male nude.
-The man who forgot everything.
-The Victorian version of the GIF.
-Baseball’s forgotten experiment.
-Ancient grills: gem-studded teeth.
-Campy photos of Communist spies.
How do we convince people of the need to donate blood? It can be scary and uncomfortable, and I’ll be the first to admit, as someone who does not regularly donate, that it all seems like a lot of work. The answer, according to one comedian writing in a Sydney commuter magazine recently (which has unfortunately been lost to me and, to the best of my knowledge, is not reproduced online), at least in part, was to provoke people (especially men) into volunteering to roll up their sleeves. Rather than the softly-softly approach, the tugging on heart strings or outright begging, it suggested that we should try a more competitive approach: tell these people to drink their cup of concrete.
I was initially motivated to write this piece as a response to the controversy over an anonymous post on a Facebook page, “UW Crushes,” associated with students at the University of Wyoming that read “I want to hatefuck ___ so hard. That chick runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think it’s hot and it makes me angry. One night with me and she’s going to be a good Republican bitch.” While the outcome of this storm has been problematic due to legitimacy concerns over who posted the offending comment, the story prompted me to visit the current debate over “LAD” culture in British and Northern Irish universities.
In the past few decades, women’s health issues have risen to the forefront of public awareness campaigns. Most people recognize the pink ribbon as a symbol of the fight against breast cancer, for example. Due to increased public health campaigns, more women now visit their doctors for routine Pap smears to detect cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer, reducing the number of women who die from cervical cancer by fifty percent over the past forty years. Various programs seek to provide women with everything from emotional support for survivors of gender-based violence to prenatal care. But what about men’s health?
The bromance has surged in popular culture in recent years to such an extent that you could be forgiven for thinking this a relatively recent concept. Although Wikipedia dates the term ‘bromance’ (only) to the early 90s, Urban Dictionary’s oldest definition is from 2004. The ‘bromantic comedy’ genre (think I Love You, Man, Superbad, or I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) seems to be the latest incarnation of this trend capturing enormous audience interest. Although the word might be new, however, the concept certainly isn’t.
With the beginning of 2013, many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health, happiness, or wealth. We make these commitments and hope for a better future. As an activist, I have a long list of resolutions and goals for the upcoming year, but, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I hope others will participate in a necessary conscious raising effort involving the dangerous link between masculinity and guns.
Hands up if you’ve heard of The Second Sexism?
For those, like me, whose spidey-senses may be tingling at a mention of the title, but draw a blank regarding its substance, The Second Sexism is a book released earlier this year by philosopher David Benatar concerning what he sees as the disadvantage and discrimination faced by boys and men as a result of their sex. Benatar’s contention is that there exists a second form of sexism affecting males which is not only under theorised but remains largely undiscussed. The importance of this conversation, he contends, is that only through an awareness of the operation of all forms of sexism can we, as a society, begin to overcome it.
While a quick Google search (the first port of call for any accomplished scholar) confirms that I seem to have arrived at this party a little late, thankfully the notion of a second sexism is incredibly interesting and while the book lays down some serious gender talk, it also offers some food for thought as to the unique skills inherent in the historical discipline.
Welcome to our new regular feature, “Adventures in the Archives!”
In this reoccurring series, Nursing Clio bloggers will share interesting finds in the archives and ask our readers for feedback, ideas, and analysis. It’s just like you’re sitting in the dusty archives with us!
Earlier this summer I was enjoying a productive day in the archives of the Dittrick Medical History Center in Cleveland, Ohio. After lunch, I decided to take a break from the materials I was focusing on (the institutional records of Women’s General Hospital, 1878-1984) and spend a little time skimming through an interesting journal titled “Record of Operations, Woman’s Hospital, September 1, 1920.” The volume looked like an old-fashioned hotel registration book. But the lines of each page were not filled with sloppy signatures and addresses. Instead, someone with very neat handwriting had been tasked with keeping a detailed accounting of every surgical procedure performed by the hospital’s staff.