Men's Health

Guys, look no further for real talk about real issues that college men are facing these days. Read below to find information about real problems such as violence, masculinity, sexual consent, and vulnerability from Auburn University graduate, Blake Marble.  Blake has shared his thoughts about some of the most important health and wellness issues facing college guys at Auburn.  Blake was a member of a fraternity at Auburn and was heavily involved in other organizations on campus.

Risk and Violence

Masculinity (and Sexual Consent)

Concealing Vulnerability

Risk and Violence

Guys, think about this: up to a certain point you hold your destiny in your own two hands. What does that mean to you? Does this mean that we can determine how long we will live? Well, in a way, maybe…

For the college male, injury, disease, and even death are MUCH greater than for college women. Men have been known to take on more risks, be more violent, and are more careless of their actions. However, most of these can be prevented.

Here are some facts for the college male to think about:

  • For all fifteen leading causes of death, men have a higher death rate. This is true at every age. However, the largest gap occurs at college-aged individuals. 
  • Three out of every 4 college-age deaths are males.
  • Eight out of 10 of the deaths are PREVENTABLE, because they are due to risky behaviors and personal choices that we make.
  • Men account for 9 of 10 college-aged deaths due to HIV infection.
  • Every day 14 college males die by homicide.

Young men take many more risks than young women.  Here we will focus on two of the most common risks that college age men open themselves up to.

One of the most common risky behaviors that men involve themselves in is promiscuous sexual activity. Men tend to become sexually active far sooner than women. Men are 2 times more likely than women to have had more than 10 sexual partners. When it comes to the consequences of the careless actions of men, they account for 9 out of 10 college-aged deaths due to HIV infection. 

A study on a select group of college males has shown that men who drink are also at a much higher risk for HIV and other STDs. Why? Because men only have one thing on their mind, right?

Think about it, drinking impairs your judgment, and it may sometimes be hard to make a good judgment call when you are under the influence, which may end up leaving you at risk for making a decision that may affect your health for the rest of your life. This leads to another great point, don’t drink to the point where you can’t make smart decisions, have some self control and always practice safe sex.

On another note, a great deal of men’s risky behavior occurs behind the wheel of your car. Men wear seatbelts less, drive faster, pass more cars illegally, and unfortunately, drive under the influence more than women.  Perhaps this is because we do not want to be told: “You drive like a girl.”  But maybe it is best that we do drive like a girl due to the fact that 3 times more men than women die in car accidents.

Now, think about the beginning statement “you may be in control of your own destiny”… every single topic and fact that was discussed in this post is PREVENTABLE.

So why do so many males fall victim to these issues?

Some may think it is the social norm for males to behave more dangerously, because that’s what makes us men. Others may feel it’s because of the “male-male competition.” That one male must out do the other.

Whatever the reason may be, males on the college campus need to realize that we are not invincible and negative things CAN and WILL happen if we continue to put ourselves in these situations.

Please, Be Smart and THINK BEFORE YOU ACT.

Masculinity (and Sexual Consent)

Masculinity is about feeling like a man. True masculinity is found within our deepest inner feelings, needs, and desires. We sometimes suppress these feelings due to the pressure from social masculinity roles. In other words, we sometimes put aside our true feelings and act off of what is happening around us.

Some view the overall traditional approach to manhood as sometimes to be associated with behaviors that have negative affects on our health such as drinking, tobacco use, high risk sexual activity, drugs, etc. Guys tend to behave in this way because they do not want to "act like a girl", and they want to do things that the other guys do, or talk about doing.

Please keep in mind, just because one of your friends talks about doing something he thinks is "cool" such as drugs and numerous high risk sexual practices does not mean that he actually does these things. Guys tend to exaggerate in great lengths in trying to make themselves sounds like “the man’s man”.

Freshman, you are at high risk of these types of situations. As a new student in a new city, some of you are just trying to fit in and make friends, which is great, if you do it with the right attitude and morals. Find a group of friends that have the same beliefs and character as you do. There are thousands of different types of people on Auburn’s campus. I guarantee you can find a clique that you can relate to.

Don’t just try to fit in with the “cool crowd” and indulge in certain behaviors just because some guys might think it is cool. Be your own man, do what you do, and you will be just fine.

But What is Being Your Own Man?

Don’t follow others just because that is what everyone else is doing. If you make bad decisions just because others chose that way, remember that you are responsible for the actions that you take and must accept the consequences that follow. It would be smart to make your own choices based on what you believe in and what you believe is right. You will be a much happier person when you learn to be honest with yourself and do what you believe is right for you. 

It takes more of a man to say no, than it does to say yes.

“Being a Man”

What do you believe “being a man” means? Here are some views to think about.

A man IS :

  • Someone who stands up for something they believe in, even when they are fearful
  • Someone who creates a new path
  • Someone who is open-minded
  • Someone who makes decisions and lives with the consequences
  • Someone who doesn’t go back on his word

A man IS NOT :

  • Selfish
  • Someone who runs from his responsibilities
  • Someone who makes excuses
  • Someone who strikes, talks down to, or mistreats a woman
  • Someone who blames others for his misfortunes

These traits could go on and on. What defines a man is really based on your own personal beliefs. Deep down we all know the difference between right and wrong, it’s just making the best decision that may sometime be difficult.

I challenge you to make a list of 5 things that you believe defines a man, then decide how many of those 5 things describe you. How does it add up?

Masculinity and Sexual Consent

Sexual assault and violence is increasing on today’s college campuses. The main reason for this is the fact that not many people understand sexual violence, and what the definition of sexual violence is.

Sexual assault and violence is defined as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, against a person without getting their consent.

What is Sexual Consent and how does it apply to men?

Sexual Consent means that at the time of the act, there are actual words indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. Obtaining consent is an ongoing process of mutual communication as sex progresses, regardless of who initiates it.

Some of the most important words in that definition are “…obtaining consent is an ongoing process…” Why are these important? Consent may be revoked at ANY TIME throughout the process of any sexual activity.

Consent occurs continuously, and moment to moment. You could call it “ongoing communication.” Being involved sexually requires a great deal of clear communication skills. Each person involved is responsible for both clearly giving consent and RECEIVING consent.

Complicating Factors in Sexual Situations

A major factor that may play a role in this discussion is the involvement of alcohol.  It is important, as males, to be a man and do what is right in certain situations. Body language can mean something totally different than what a girl is really thinking or meaning. This can be a tricky situation because as males we always tend to think females mean what we want them to mean…which is not always the case.

If she is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, and you commit a sexual act, you are committing rape.

When in doubt about whether consent has been given, it is ALWAYS best to refrain from doing anything that may put you in jeopardy. One night isn’t worth ruining your entire life… sexual violence is a real crime with real punishment.


Concealing Vulnerability

As I was doing some readings on some of the main problems that men face today on college campuses, one thing really stood out to me; Men don’t talk about their problems.

This is a very true statement, men and the fact that they conceal their problems and illnesses, and try to ignore them or deal with them internally. With so many resources provided to college students now days, it is crazy not to use these professional resources to cope with the troubles in our lives, but for some reason men are much less likely, them women, to seek help from professionals.

Why is this? Is it not “manly” to go see a counselor? Not even just a counselor, but why do we not go to the doctor when we suspect illness?

Men are twice less likely to go to the doctor when certain signs of illness, including STDs, occur. This is a fact that really stood out to me; this is our health we are talking about, if we don’t have our health what do we have?

Concealing Vulnerability may lead to drastic events. Did you know that out of every 7 suicides that occur on a college campus, 6 of those 7 are MALES? Every single day, 11 college males will take their own life, and for white college males, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death.

Why are so many males taking their own life? Maybe it is because they conceal their problems and do not share anything with anyone, eventually reaching a breaking point. Almost every single time you hear of someone committing suicide, his or her friends and family are in “complete shock”.  Maybe they are in shock because the person never showed any signs of problems, or never spoke to anyone about the struggles he is having. Males simply do not seek the help and counseling in the same manner than females tend to do. We are even hesitant to talk to our close friends and family about our problems and personal issues.

Let me tell you, everyone has issues, everyone has problems, don’t keep putting it off, talk to someone before you reach your breaking point or its too late. If you find yourself struggling with personal issues, you will feel so much better to talk to someone, you can even talk to someone anonymous, counselors are on campus for a reason.

Also, if you are aware of a friend or someone that is close to you that has certain issues, or dealing with his/her issues in ways that are detrimental to their health (drugs, alcohol, etc.), please, talk to them and don’t want until its too late.