Blokeology is my effort, in my own little corner of the internet, to live a decent, healthy life using evidence around men’s health to inform that. I’m a doctor so that involves stuff like physiology and psychology. And all the ‘ologies’ of medicine. Cardiology, neurology and neuropsychology. Gastroenterology. Urology. That’s a big one for blokes and their prostate. It also includes epidemiology and sociology. That’s a lot of science and ‘ologies’ across a whole lot of disciplines. They are others we can chuck in too: behavioural economics, gender studies. The list is huge.
And blokeology is about using that understanding to help men, just like me and just like you, live a little better.
You can be a blokeologist for selfish reasons. And you should. There is plenty to gain. Most of us want to squeeze out the crappy habits in our life and be happier. Sometimes it might be the mundane stuff that everyone wrestles with, like losing a little weight or getting a bit more exercise. Other times it might be altogether more serious and big and scary. Like understanding about prostate cancer or managing your mental health so you don’t end up as another male suicide statistic.
You can also be into blokeology for magnificent altruistic, generous reasons. Because you want your sisters, your girlfriends, your girl friends, and your mothers and daughters to be safer and happier too. In fact, I’d go further. I’d argue that if you care about the women in your life then being part of the solution is essential.
I want my daughters to live in a world where they do not have to be fearful of men.
Because when men get it wrong, when they are unhappy and ill, then the consequences for the rest of society are severe. Yes, men hurt themselves. That’s a serious and worrying problem. Male suicide is the most obvious manifestation of that. Often, when things get violent, then men hurt other men but, just as importantly, women and girls bear the brunt of it. You only have to take the briefest of glances at the figures for domestic violence, homicides, and sexual assaults.
I want my daughters to live in a world where they do not have to be fearful of men. I’m not under any illusions that will happen soon but I do believe helping men with their own health can push in that direction.
And I want to improve inequalities in health and society. As a doctor, as a person, as a bloke, it’s the one core value I keep coming back to. That means I support progressive polices. I try to look through a health equity lens when assessing any intervention to improve health. And, by improving men’s health, I am certain that will, indirectly, improve women’s health. And that will reduce inequalities.
We can’t do that unless we improve a whole lot of health concerns around men. For normal men and regular blokes.
What blokeology isn’t?
Blokes will be fitter, healthier and happier. And we can turn down the dial on the elements of toxic masculinity that disrupt lives.
Blokeology is not, in any shape or form, some kind of push back against women. This is not the Men’s Right Activists. The suggestion that somehow, as a white middle-aged male doctor living in the UK I am, in any shape or form, anything other than utterly privileged is complete bollocks. On the contrary. As far as I am concerned blokeology is an effort that is in complete solidarity with women’s rights. If we can get it right, then it is, in my view, a win-win situation. Blokes will be fitter, healthier and happier. And we can turn down the dial on the elements of toxic masculinity that disrupt lives.
I do think much more can be done to improve men’s health and wellbeing. And without falling into the same cultural traps around unobtainable body images and unrealistic expectations. Take a look at the cover of any men’s magazine. When was the last time you saw a ‘normal’ body shape? When was the last time a magazine had a regular bloke rather than some ludicrous aspirational, and more often than not, unobtainable mega bod?
I hope women will also read about blokeology. Partly because many of the messages around health and wellbeing will be just as relevant to them. But also because they almost certainly have men in their life, sons they are bringing up, who they want to be the best version of themselves.
My definition of wellbeing is wide. It’s not just going to be stuff about running, diets and sleep. Productivity and living well are just as important. How we spend the time, the products we buy, the causes we support, are all just as important to our wellbeing.
Blokeology is just normal life
All of this sounds rather heavy. But, actually learning about new stuff is fun. And doing it with the benefit of science is exciting and satisfying.
As I said, most of what blokeology is about is the day-to-day stuff with which we all wrestle. How can I squeeze the right amount of exercise into my life? How can I run faster and get fitter? Is the latest exercise fad any good? What’s the evidence for diets? What’s the best way to keep my weight under control? How can I feel a bit happier and less stressed?
Just the usual stuff.
See you out there.