Most men know that they, on average, will live shorter lives than women. What is less well known is the fact that accidents and violence are one of the major contributors to early deaths and disabilities.
Young men in particular are over represented in the deaths and accidents statistics, probably because they are most likely to participate in risky behaviors. Boys are twice as likely to to die as girls in play-related accidents or by falling out of windows. As adults, men are three times as likely to die from injuries as women. Evidence from several countries shows that men are between two and five times as likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of injuries.
- Men are significantly more likely to sustain bone fractures due to bicycling and sporting accidents.
- Men are 3-4 times more likely to suffer spinal cord injuries leading to greater levels of disability.
- Men suffer up 11 times as many work-related burns as women.
- Men are several times more likely to be injured by machinery.
Men are no more clumsy than women but they are disproportionately represented in occupations and leisure activities that carry risk. Despite assertions that men are biologically predisposed to behave carelessly and to risk death, it is far more likely that socialization from an early age is the more potent force.
To date much of the analysis of male behavior has assumed that males are 'hardwired' to be reckless or foolish and that this is part of being male. There is evidence that testosterone levels influence aggression, but this does not explain behavior in young boys or the choices men make when it comes to occupations.
Relatively little attention has focused on the powerful influence of social pressure and gender expectation when it comes to being male. Contrast this with women where social influences on young women have become highly focused (e.g. body shape and eating disorders). Perhaps it is time to position young men as much as the victims of social forces as it is women?