For a long time, when I was a boy, Saturday mornings were cinema time – the chance to watch at least one film. leaving aside all the cartoons and stuff, which were fun, my favourites were probably the Westerns. These were films that laid it all out plain and simple. There were the good guys and the bad guys, but even the bad guys were admirable.
These films sold an idea of masculinity that probably wouldn’t be considered very PC today. However, that’s the diet on which we grew up. These were tough, stoical men – rugged men who lived dangerous and challenging lives, but never showed a hint of fear, self pity or negativity. They just got on with things. These were the kinds of men who would rise at dawn, ride a horse all day in the sweltering sun and dust, drink neat bourbon (often from the bottle), wolf down a plate of beans (no meat, two veg and gravy with all the trimming for these guys).
Maybe, once in a while they’d get shot in the leg or get bashed around a bit in a bar room brawl, but that didn’t really seem to bother them very much. Then, they’d probably just lie down under a rough blanket on the dirt beside the dying embers of their fire and go to sleep. Even if their sleep got disturbed by a native raiding party or wild animals, no matter, they’d still be up at dawn to get back on their horse and do it all again.
No question, these were manly mem, in the true sense of the word.
And, there lies a problem for the generation that grew up watching these films and fed on this diet of macho solidity and grit. Did you ever see them worry about their health? Ever? Did they catch colds, feel run down? Even when they did go to the doctor it was for something manly like having a bullet removed from their leg – which was generally done with a pair of unsterilised pliers, after dousing the wound with neat bourbon and taking a swig or two as a painkiller.
Do these guys have something to answer for with regard to today’s issues in men’s health? I think they do. If men of our generation are guilty of neglecting our health, of being reluctant to get the right check-ups done at the right times etc. or to ignore signs that something might not be right, at least to some extent we can blame those gun-slinging cowboys of our youth. Wrongly, they made us believe that caring about your health was somehow unmanly – beliefs we have to get past if we are to avoid senseless suffering and loss of life.
So, when Movember comes around, to me it seems fitting that the ‘Mo I grow’ should be something approximating to those sported by those cowboys when I was a boy. It’s not about vanity. In fact it’s absolutely not about vanity. I know the thing doesn’t suit me. Not for nothing did a Class 4 pupil just a couple of days ago tell me, “Sir, you look funny with that thing,” and “How long have you got to grow it for?”
But, every day this hideous thing sits on my face, tickling, irritating my top lip, catching food (I think soup is the worst) I’m reminded of why we do this every November/ Movember. I’m reminded that male health issues are very real issues and if a bit of fun and silliness gets us talking about them, changing the macho mindset to actually care about the state of our health, then it’s all good in my book.
Even better, I get to raise some money and play my part in contributing to vital research that will, in time, increase the survival rates for the worst of male health problems. So, if you’d like to pay a little respect to my Mo, please follow this link and make a contribution – every little helps to make a difference.
My Movember Fund Raising Page
To all the MoBros and MoSistas (yes, women care about men’s health too), we just crossed the half way mark. Time to trim, nurture and nurse those Mos so that they flourish before the blade sees them off for another year.
Here’s the Mo in all its glory:
Filed under: Life | Tagged: cowboys, men's health, Mo, Movember, prostate cancer, Sam Elliott, testicular cancer | Leave a comment »