Should lads mags carry health messages?
'YES. Why should shagging kill you?'
Jack O'Sullivan, co-founder of Fathers Direct:
I feel sad that most of the male relatives in my parents' generation died prematurely from preventable diseases. I would like to have known them better or, in some cases, at all. There are several I would have liked to have asked for advice on career, growing up, who knows, maybe even women.
But they were gone by the time I needed them for that stuff. Smoking took several of them, either through lung cancer or heart disease. You could put it down to the ignorance of a generation that did not understand the dangers of smoking until they were hooked and it was too late. But the problem was bigger than that.
One uncle died simply because he didn't pay enough attention to a relatively minor condition that grew more serious and then fatal.
He should have known better: he was a celebrated surgeon. He left nine children of school and under-school age. I'm named after him, but sadly never knew him. Jack's problem was not ignorance. It was a male culture that does not sufficiently value attention to personal health.
His brother, my father, has the same problem. A GP, he's been puffing away for decades. When will I lose him?
We all have these hidden histories of loss and, of course, it's not just the important men in our lives. It's women as well. But men have particular problems around healthy living. The figures for male attendance at the doctor's are known to be poor and this has an impact on life expectancy and quality of life.
I see masculinity in a more modern way. For me, it is about being free and powerful.
I want to know what makes me sick, what gets in the way of me being able to do what I like to do. And it's surely not too much to expect men's magazines, publications expressly aimed at people like me, to keep me in touch with the best advice.
There is no reason why the traditional quota of tits and bums shouldn't also have a serious message at times about sexual health. Why should shagging kill you? It doesn't have to.
Staying alive is not just about me. I've got my kids to think of. They are eight and three, and I want to be around for them for a long time yet. I find myself worrying about this quite a lot these days. Uncle Jack died when he was about my age. I know his children and of their continuing loss. It was so unfair.
So come on ladsâ€š and men's magazines. Get the message across, so we don't miss out on really living life.
Page created on November 1st, 2005
Page updated on December 21st, 2009