Machismo reduces the life expectancy of men in the Americas. One in five men dies before their 50th birthday in the Americas, and many of their leading causes of death – including violent acts and cardiac pathologies – are related to macho behaviors.
The report of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) ‘Masculinities and health in the region of the Americas’ has revealed that men living in this area of the world have a life expectancy 5.8 years lower than that of women , and attributes it to the risky behaviors of these men linked to machismo in response to social expectations about how they should behave.
The document refers to toxic masculinity to describe behaviors that affect the health and well-being of men and directly affect their longevity. These include that they are considered providers of their families and that they are expected to be sexually dominant, adopt risky behaviors, and avoid talking about their emotions and are less likely to take care of their health and seek psychological help when they need it.
Higher rates of suicide, homicide, and addictions in men
All these factors contribute to men presenting higher rates of suicide, homicide, addictions and traffic accidents, and being more likely to develop noncommunicable diseases. In fact, the study notes that one in five men dies before their 50th birthday and that many of the leading causes of death in the Americas – including interpersonal violence, heart disease, and traffic accidents – are directly related to sexist behaviors socially established.
This does not mean that women are not subjected to another series of risks that are associated with their feminine condition, as explained by Anna Coates, head of the Office of Equity, Gender and Cultural Diversity of said organization, but according to this expert the socialization of men make them prone to a wide variety of health disorders that can only be solved by establishing political measures such as health programs and services specifically designed to meet their needs.
Main causes of death associated with toxic masculinity
Among the main causes of death of men in the Americas there are three that are associated with the exercise of masculinity and that make a notable difference with women, which are homicides (seven men are killed for each woman), the injuries caused by traffic accidents (three men die for each woman) and cirrhosis associated with alcohol consumption , which affects twice as many men as women.
Machismo poses a great risk for women and children, since it is the origin of physical, psychological and sexual violence towards them, and increases the number of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, and is one of the causes of the absence of the father or lack of involvement in household chores and childcare.
These data were already known, but the novelty shown by the PAHO report is those sexist behaviors also increase physical and psychological health problems among men themselves. Therefore, the document urges to ensure gender equality in health, facilitating both sexes access to medical services that take into account their particularities.