Risk-taking, violence and criminality
Chapter 2 indicated that men have a shorter life expectancy than do women, and pointed to differences in health behaviours and health service use which might go some way to explaining this difference. It is, however, notable that the major sex differences in death rates are not in the most common causes of death, coronary heart disease and cancer, but in accidents and violence. This chapter explores the ways in which hegemonic models of masculinity encourage men to take physical risks and to expose themselves to danger in everyday life, in occupational choice, in transport choices and in sporting activities. The social prescription that young men must 'prove themselves' by taking unnecessary risks, and the positioning of caution and concern for safety as feminine and inferior, lead young men to behave in self-destructive ways.
The chapter also explores the gendered nature of crime. Men are many times more likely than women to be both perpetrators and victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and it has been hypothesized that violence and criminality are strategies by which men can enact hegemonic gender roles when other strategies are unavailable to them. The growing proportion of men who are unable to share the benefits of patriarchy are those who are most likely to turn to violence and criminal strategies for expressing traditional masculinity.
Injuries represent one of the leading causes of death and disability throughout the world. They constitute a significant public health problem, at least in part because they affect people in their young and middle years (Krug et al. 2000). However, their impact has tended to be underestimated, and the study of accidental injury from an epidemiological perspective has been