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African-American Machismo Puts Health at Risk

A lean and fit African-American world leader may or may not improve the health of other African-American men.

A new research effort suggests African-American men could be putting their health at risk by avoiding disease screening, in the belief that the results might threaten their masculinity.

Because they prove their masculinity through their sexuality and sexual performance, seeking medical advice including HIV/AIDS testing goes against their notion of masculinity.

Waverly Duck, a postdoctoral associate from the Department of Sociology at Yale University argues that current leading theories of gender and masculinity and health behavior models are not relevant enough to African-American men and their distinctive notion of masculinity.

His results are published online in Springer’s Journal of African American Studies.

Duck studied how African-American men conceptualize masculinity and how it relates to their health behaviors. Through a combination of focus groups and in-depth interviews, he asked African-American men about their own understanding of their gender identity and examined how that identity, as well as how it is achieved and maintained, relates to their health.

The study found that being sexually active is an important component of African-American men’s notion of masculinity. Two-thirds of the participants described masculinity based on patriarchy, heterosexuality, subordination of others, economic security and physical dominance — also known as hegemonic masculinity — as the standard.

However, when they are economically marginalized, sexuality and sexual performance become the means by which they prove their masculinity.

Health seeking behaviors, including going to the doctor and HIV/AIDS testing, go against their notion of masculinity by potentially interfering with the freedom of their sexual activities. However, they considered it acceptable to get screened for health conditions they perceived as curable, if the cure allowed them to resume normal sexual relations.

Dr. Waverly Duck’s work challenges conventional approaches to black masculinity and attempts to lay the foundation for a more nuanced way of looking at it. He argues that a new health behavior model for black men should be developed – one that explores the link between their history and how it affects health promoting and health avoidance behaviors.

He concludes: “If men use avoiding going to the doctor to exhibit masculinity, then new strategies of health intervention should be promoted to this population. Voluntary health screening procedures for conditions such as prostate cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS tests should be available and conducted in hospital emergency rooms, settings where African American men frequently have contact with the medical profession.”

Source: Springer

African-American Machismo Puts Health at Risk

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). African-American Machismo Puts Health at Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 11, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/22/african-american-machismo-puts-health-at-risk/7264.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.