“We’ve acted as though men and women were essentially identical except for the differences in their reproductive function. In fact, information we’ve been gathering over the past ten years tells us that this is anything but true and that everywhere we look, the two sexes are startingly and unexpectedly different not only in their normal function but in the ways they experience illness.”
In part 3, I will explore the evolutionary basis of our differences and describe our Moonshot for Mankind mission to improve the lives of men and the families who love them.
The Evolution of Males and Females: Warriors and Worriers
Joyce Benenson is a lecturer of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. In her ground-breaking book, Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes, Dr. Benenson, who considers herself a human primatologist, presents a new theory of sex differences, based on thirty years of research with young children and primates from around the world. Her innovative theory focuses on how men and women stay alive.
“Men and women have evolved to specialize in preventing death from different causes,”
“That way, their children had two parents who could cover more forms of danger and thus be able to keep them alive.”
One of the world’s leading experts evolution, biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson called Warriors and Worriers,
“brave, thoroughly documented, and written with unusual clarity. It explains more about the fundamentals of gender differences—and the meaning of human nature—than a library of conventional social science.”
Dr. Benenson calls the primary, evolutionary-based role of males, to be warriors, while the complementary role for women is to be worriers. These two words summarize and simplify very complex, evolutionary successful survival strategies. For the maximum benefit of all, women and men assume different roles. Women’s first job is to take care of themselves. If they die, their children are likely to die. Then, they must take care of the children. Hence, it is good if they think of all possible dangers to their health and well-being. In other words, they worry about everything.
Men must protect the women and children against attack from other groups of men. They must always be on guard and be willing to be prepared to fight. From an early age, males practice being warriors.
“We are not conscious of being warriors or worriers. Rather being a warrior or a worrier is like having a special program continually running in the background of our mind.”
She makes clear that we are not prisoners of our evolutionary past. War is not inevitable, and societies can learn more peaceful ways to solve problems. But in order to change, to reduce male violence in the world, we have to understand the evolutionary drives that operate, often in our subconscious minds.
Men’s True Strength and Resilience Begins With Accepting and Having Compassion for Our Weaknesses
Too many men who feel weak and powerless inside, act out their fear and vulnerability by becoming aggressive and dominating. In her powerful and important book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, internationally acclaimed historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat lays bare the blue-print that authoritarian leaders have followed over the past hundred years and empowers us to recognize, resist, and prevent their disastrous rule in the future.
She details the rule of leaders from the past including Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler as well as modern authoritarian leaders including Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Donald J. Trump in the United States.
“For ours is the age of authoritarian rulers,”
“self-proclaimed saviors of the nation who evade accountability while robbing their people of truth, treasure, and the protections of democracy.”
I’ve learned that men’s real strength and power comes from accepting our weakness. The fear many of us have if I accepted my weakness I would be dominated by others. The truth is that accepting ourselves for who we are is our real superpower and this begins with accepting our biological weakness.
Sex and Gender, Nature and Nurture: They Can Never Be Separated
In our complex world we all look for ways to understand and simplify things. When I was in college there was a running debate about whether we were most influenced by our biology or our environment. More recently there is great confusion about whether the differences between men and women can best be understood as biologically based sex differences or more environmentally determined social differences.
In an article titled, “Nature or Nurture, Sex and Gender,” Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, helps clarify these important issues.
“In recent years, both sides have capitulated to what seems like an obvious compromise: It’s both. Our genes and our environment play leading roles in shaping who we are. But to Siddhartha Mukherjee, physician and author of The Gene, this compromise is ‘an armistice between fools.’ The answer — nature or nurture — depends on the question.”
Dr. Minor goes on to discuss Dr. Mukherjee’s understanding of sex and gender issues. The genes that govern gender identity are hierarchically organized, Mukherjee argues. At the top, nature acts alone. A variation in a single chromosome determines whether our sex is male or female.
Gender, on the other hand, is determined lower in Mukherjee’s hierarchy. There, genes interact continually with the forces of history, society and culture, making gender and gender identity not an either/or, but a spectrum based on an infinite number of influences and interactions. Being clear about what questions we are trying to answer can help us best understand sex and gender issues.
Our Moonshot Mission for Mankind
Although I have been focused on healing men and their families since 1972 when I launched MenAlive, my work took a new turn twenty years ago when I read a research study by Randolph Nesse, MD and Daniel Kruger, PhD who examined premature deaths among men in 20 countries. They found that in every country, men died sooner and lived sicker than women and their shortened health and lifespan harmed the men and their families.
Their conclusions were a call to action for me:
- “Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death.”
- “Over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the U.S. alone if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.”
- “If male mortality rates could be reduced to those for females, this would eliminate over one-third of all male deaths below age 50 and help men of all ages.”
- “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”
At MenAlive I developed new programs that address issues including male suicide, violence, irritability, depression, and loneliness—all issues that we know if treated can improve the health and well-being of men and their families. After doing clinical research for many years, Dr. Marianne Legato wrote the book, Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan. She concluded,
“The premature death of men is the most important—and neglected—health issue of our time.”
In 2021 I invited a group of colleagues who have been doing ground-breaking work in addressing men’s health issues and together we launched our Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity. My forthcoming book, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity, describes our work in more detail. We believe that “hurt men, hurt themselves, women, and the world” and “healed men, help themselves, women, and the world.” Together we can change the world for the better.
The MenAlive Academy of Gender-Specific Healthcare
I estimate there are 1,000 organizations that are doing important work in the area of gender-specific medicine and men’s healthcare. There are millions of men and their families who need help and support. I will be partnering with Ubiquity University to offer a complete training program for individuals who want to improve their own health as well as support men they know and love. We will also educate practitioners who want to develop their skills in this emerging and important field of health care.
There will be four levels of study that we will be offering:
- Foundational Level—Before we can help others, we have to help ourselves. Everyone must start with the basics. You will learn why men are the way they are and how to improve men’s health. You will be able to take your own life experience and learn how to better understand yourself and others by looking at your health successes as well as your health problems through the various classes that will focus on physical, emotional, and relational health of men.
- Intermediate Level—For those who would like to increase your knowledge and skills so that you can help others professionally, you will gain additional skills. If you are already in the helping professions, you will develop the added skills you need to expand your practice to include men’s mental, emotional, and relational health. If you come to this work from other professions, it will help you integrate your previous work with new skills in the area of gender specific practices that focus on men’s health.
- Advanced Level—This level is for those who want to advance in the field, increase your reach and effectiveness, and specialize in working with certain specific populations such as young men and boys, mid-life men, or older men. It is also for those who want to focus on more specific issues like male anger or depression.
- Master Level—For those who want to reach the pinnacle of this emerging new field of sex and gender-specific health care, this will help you focus your skills and practice to help more and more people. You may want to write a book or consult, teach, or train. I believe the world will need more and more experts at this level and will be reward both in satisfaction of helping many more people and also in the monetary compensation that goes with mastery at the highest level.
The programs with Ubiquity will allow you to receive certification at the various levels and for those interested, also opportunities to receive college degrees at bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels for those want their training to go beyond certification in sex and gender-specific healing to include bachelors, masters, or doctoral level degrees. If you would like more information, please drop me an email to Jed@MenAlive.com and put “MenAlive Academy of Gender-Specific Healthcare” in the subject line and I will send you more details.