Now and then we wonder

Sometimes a statistic causes one to really question assumptions and to ask why? The winter edition of Horizons (RAC member magazine) has data on road fatalities. What was staggering is that 80% of fatalities were male.

This seems very disproportionate and the immediate question is why? Do men spend more time in vehicles? Does this reflect a rural versus metro effect? Are men worse drivers? Nobody knows. And here is the kicker – it would appear (and I am happy to stand corrected) that nobody cares or feels any need to investigate reasons. Call me whatever but if 80% of fatalities were female there would be a myriad of government initiatives designed to address it.

Dr Joe Kosterich, Clinical Editor

Where else are there gender gaps that we never hear about?

AIHW data shows that in 2022, 75% of suicides were men. This pattern is consistent from 1910! Some 73% of homicide victims are male. Again this is a consistent number. Industrial injuries and deaths are predominately in males. All this contributes to the fact that males have a lower life expectancy.

Having gone down the rabbit hole there are other remarkable statistics – this time from the US, although likely similar here. Fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 80% of rapists, 71% of high school dropouts and 75% of those admitted to drug abuse centres.

What’s a man now?
What’s a man mean?
Is he rough or is he rugged?
Is he cultural and clean?
Now it’s all changed, it’s got to change more
‘Cause we think it’s getting better
But nobody’s really sure
– Singer-songwriter Joe Jackson, 1982

The dominant narrative has become ‘toxic’ masculinity and, yes, this is a problem. But it does not apply to 50% of the world’s population. In no other circumstance is it deemed that an entire group of people who share an immutable characteristic with the perpetrator of a crime are all equally culpable.

But it is not PC to either talk about it and certainly not to do anything about it. I am generally disposed to proposing solutions rather than just highlight problems. On this occasion the best I can suggest is that we need to re-examine societal attitudes to males and masculinity. Throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater is not working.

In 2024, we remain unsure what a man is and we don’t really seem to care. We need to!