I love men.
I love a strong man, both physically and spiritually. A man who can take charge, make a decision and get things done will always have a fan in me.
Men who are tough are legendary. The Bear Bryant and the John Wayne models of masculinity define much of the American male. They take a bullet in the butt and keep on walking, they break an arm and want to “shake it off.”
Those are the hallmarks of the strong, silent type that women adore and other men want to be. It’s a version of manhood that is based on a warrior ethic — man as hunter, provider and elder.
In days of old, when a man had to build a house, till the back 40, and fight a bear for wild salmon, it made sense. Men had roles to play, women had roles to play and life was full of immense hardship. Men had to be strong and they didn’t have support groups, and cigar nights to share their feelings. Hell, most of them didn’t have feelings.
But today it’s different.
Today, men sip their lattes over lightly toasted bagels and Nova lox, while they discuss the virtues of soy milk over low-fat milk. They have their eyebrows waxed and their hair gelled into the perfect fauxhawk.
It’s a world that has me confused on many levels. I’m constantly thinking a guy is gay when he’s “just being metrosexual.” It makes me crazy because hitting on a guy is scary enough and when he has all the hallmarks of being gay, but is straight, I feel even more embarrassed. But that’s a different column.
Today, the topic is prostate cancer and awareness. Last May I wrote a column about the “unsexy cancer.” The Prostate Cancer Foundation is located here in Santa Monica and I had some correspondence with a couple of people over there and then we fell out of touch. My column was about how frustrated I was that while one in eight women will face breast cancer, one in six men will face prostate cancer and there is almost no awareness campaign about that.
A man is 35 percent more likely to face prostate cancer than a woman is facing breast cancer. Yet no one talks about it. I think it comes down to the fact that men are squeamish about their bodies. We don’t really like to discuss bodies, our own or someone else’s, unless it is to brag, or make fun of, some attribute. Most men have this fear of letting another man touch them unless it is a punch. They fear physical contact from another man in most forms, lest it betray some hidden homosexual desires.
So the traditional test for prostate cancer, which takes 30 seconds at most, is the subject of much fear, humor and anxiety for men. It’s a scary process for men to be so vulnerable to another man, to willingly allow another man to be so intimate, and God forbid a female doctor should be involved.
Men need to be screened and tested more often and they have to get over their fears. But they can’t, and won’t, get over them until we start to talk about, and address the fears.
These days the initial test is part of a whole series of screening protocols that are done with a simple blood draw. So, while the doctor is having your cholesterol levels checked, they can have a test done to look for a prostate specific antigen.
Being tested is not a sign of weakness. Allowing another man to touch you does not mean you are suddenly going to have an intuitive understanding of color and textures.
The problem with prostate cancer awareness is that it’s not an easy sell and the “movement” has been slow to get going. I just this month heard a radio ad on mobile giving.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (www.PCF.org) has an ad on GoCountry (105.1 FM) where you can donate $10 by texting 4DAD to 20222. The money goes to the foundation for research and education.
I want to applaud the good people at PCF for taking this step, but I also want to encourage them to work harder, be louder, and to confront the fears that men have head on. By talking about our fears, we can relieve them.
Also, women have everything pink these days. Let’s make things blue for the boys. I want to support the PCF when I go shopping. I can buy a can of soup that has a pink ribbon on it, I should be able to buy that same can of soup and support PCF. If I can buy paper towels that have a faint pink ribbon on the package, I want to buy paper towels that have a blue ribbon for the men.
I want to attend regional Blue Balls — events that are designed around activities we men want, from marathons to bike rides, to dance contests, there’s no limit.
Let’s go, guys! We need to get our acts in gear. The playbook is already written, and it’s not that difficult to get men to do things. Just put it on their “Honey Do …” lists as one more thing to get done. That might even be the campaign theme.
Prostate cancer is deadly, it can go undetected for years, and men can and do ignore the warning signs. If you have a man in your life that you love, have him get tested, because the only ones who can’t get prostate cancer, are women.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.