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"You can't fight windmills": how older men do health, ill health and masculinities.

By Chris McVittie and Joyce Willock


Many health researchers have reported higher mortality and morbidity rates for men than for women. Various writers have argued that such differences reflect men's delay in seeking help when required and that reluctance to seek help reflects prevailing constructions of hegemonic masculinity. The authors report findings from an interview study of 12 older men's understandings of health and ill health. In describing health, participants constructed identities consistent with prevailing notions of hegemonic masculinity. When discussing ill health, they aligned themselves with less powerful identities that were inconsistent with the "ideal" hegemonic masculinity. Participants used a "time will tell" discursive formulation to negotiate transitions between hegemonic and subordinate identities. Delay in seeking help, accordingly, can be viewed as reflecting transitions in identity rather than hegemonic masculinity itself. These constructions are consistent with those found in other contexts and act to disadvantage men both in health terms and in identity terms

Publisher: Sage
Year: 2006
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