Investigation into the relationship between men and their genitals
The image of man is not a new phenomena but something that has been depicted for thousands of years. Through the ages, emerging from early cave paintings, images depict man as a strong, heroic provider and protector, where at the forefront of this stands the male genitalia. The penis, probing and protruding, has been the general focus of the genitals within these images, portrayed in varying sizes, indicating how ‘much of a man’ the subject is. Behind, hiding in the shadows of this phallic symbol of masculinity sits two important parts of the genitalia, the testicles. The testes are adorned with a variety of affectionate names, including crown jewels, gonads, nuts and balls, to name but a few and “to have balls,” is a saying that describes courage within an image of maleness which identifies the testicles as an important factor within masculinity and reproduction. During puberty the journey taking place from boy to man their is significant focus on the balls dropping, the saying “have your balls dropped’ referring to the deepening of a boys voice and therefore starting his transition into manhood, developing his masculinity. This acquisition of new found maleness can come into question during development and a good example of questioning ones masculinity is to comment on a male’s testes, a song from during the war and still sung to this day that epitomises this is
Hitler has only got one ball,
Goering has two, but very small;
Himmler is very sim’lar,
And Goebbels has no balls at all.
The image of masculinity therefore would appear reliant, not only on the size of ones penis but the possession of testicles and to “have balls”.
The demand of this qualification is apparent within the depiction of maleness especially through the aspirational masculinity, the hegemonic one. Hegemonic masculinity is briefly defined as white, heterosexual and middle class and through this research project I aim to uncover its relevance within society and how this masculinity, that aims to shape the male population requires that you ‘have balls’. Alongside this gallant display of bravery and courage we are presented with a variety of other hegemonic characteristics such as aggression, competition, heterosexism, homophobia, misogyny and stoicism. These masculine features are generally to ensure the marginalisation and subordination of other masculinities and femininity although the one trait that seems to damage itself is stoicism. Through this research project, I aim to understand how stoicism, roughly translated as long suffering, has an adverse effect on health and masculinity itself.
Whilst it is understood that masculinity is produced by the testicles which secrete the steroid hormone, testosterone, which in turn is responsible for genetic masculinity, testicular cancer has increased dramatically over the last twenty years, and continues to increase accounting for
“13% of deaths of the age group between 20 and 34”, could stoicism, a masculine trait be responsible for the rise?
With this imminent threat to masculinity I hope to unearth through this research project the relationship between masculinity and the testes and understand whether, masculinity is created by the testes or manufactured by society and why men tend to overlook their ‘balls’ and create a successful campaign to highlight the affects of testicular cancer, creating awareness of this disease.
Aims and Objectives
Through this research project, I aim to
- Understand the functionality of the testes and their importance in
- The construction of masculinity
- Their significance in bravery and stoicism
- In addition to this I also aim to:
- Determine the masculine role and how it develops.
- Understand hegemonic masculinity and its necessity in modern culture.
- Research stoicism and establish how it shapes masculinity.
- Understand what testicular cancer is and its effects on masculinity.
- Create an effective campaign highlighting the issue of testicular cancer.
What’s in the sac?
Foetal development is an ambiguous beginning, where for the first six weeks the foetus has no determined sex. Therefore the journey into becoming male is an arduous task which begins in the sixth week of conception where the gonads, special sex cells which are set aside from other cells, bombard the foetus with androgens. The major androgen in the male foetus is testosterone, a steroid hormone which is key to the development of a male foetus. Although both sexes produce testosterone the male sex is determined by the production of 6 to 8 mg, compared to 0.5 mg in the female. This secretion from the gonads ensures the development of the male genitalia, the future reproductive organs, which foresees the asexual gonads develop into testes, making the testes central to the development of the male gender. Comparatively the gonads transform into the ovaries in a female.
Developing within the abdominal cavity, the testes are two egg shaped glands that continue to secrete 95% of the steroid, testosterone, the other 5% is generated by the adrenal cortex. The primary role of testosterone is the responsibility for the initial sex characteristics, genitalia, which at week nine of foetal development is identifiable as the phallus and labiscrotal area. Through the continuing influence of testosterone, the labiscrotal area fuses to form the scrotum, the sac where the testes will eventually take their place. The phallus continues to develop and enlarge, evolving into the penis and during the eighth or ninth month of development, usually prior to birth the testes descend from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum. This descent is crucial to the future health of the male as if this does not take place, known as cryptorchidism, which accounts for 1 percent of all male births, there may be a greater chance that the subject would become infertile or inherit testicular cancer. To prevent these illnesses the child would undergo an operation called Orchiopexy, between the age of 6 to 12 months, where two incisions are made to bring the testes down into the scrotum as they need to be kept cooler than the body temperature to function properly. Testosterone continues to produce for a short while after birth into early childhood where it nearly ceases yet the development into becoming masculine starts a new phase, social imprinting.
The development into becoming masculine continues from birth and as Carver discusses the roles of men and women she states how “men are not born, they are made”. This said, although the testicles are at the centre of genetic masculinity and determine the sex and masculine characteristics, it is not their sole responsibility for the development into this gender identity. We have to look outside this natural process into the more influential nurturing process. This initial process is the relationship between the infant and his parents and through considering Freud’s theories I aim to understand the effects of nurture. Sigmund Freud, regarded “as one of the most influential and authoritative thinkers of the twentieth century”, also known as the father of psychoanalysis, was born in Frieberg, Moravia in 1856 although is generally associated with the city of Vienna where from the age of 4 he spent the majority of his life. Along with this infamous title, Freud was also a physiologist, medical doctor and psychologist, although he is most famous for his liberal views and psychoanalysis regarding infantile psychosexual analysis for which he believed to be the cause of hysteria in patients later in adult life. The Oedipus complex is probably the most controversial theory focusing on the sexual desire of an infant for which Freud was ridiculed. This theory analyses how the infant, driven by nature is moulded through the nurture of the parents ensuring acceptability within society.
Inspired by the play written by Sophocles, ‘Oedipus Rex’, is the story of Oedipus, who according to prophecy was destined to sleep with his mother and kill his father. The son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, Oedipus, was exiled from Thebes and left to die on a mountain, after his parents learned of the Oracle of Delphi’s prediction. Oedipus was found by a shepherd and taken to Corinth where he was adopted by the king and queen. Oedipus grew into a princely young man only in later years to hear the resounding oracle’s prophecy. Not knowing he was adopted and fearing his fate, he left his loving family and ventured out into the world. Arriving at a crossroads faced with the directions Delphi, Daulis or Thebes, Oedipus chose Thebes. Confronted on his journey by the king Laius (his father) and his entourage they argue and Oedipus kills Laius, continuing his journey to Thebes. Arriving there, Oedipus is congratulated for ending the curse predicted by the oracle and was subsequently crowned king and married Jocasta (his mother). Oedipus then learns that while attempting through a variety of methods to dispel the prophecy and escape his fate he has unwittingly fulfilled his predicted destiny in the process. Oedipus, horrified by his actions blinds himself, stabbing his eyes with Jocasta’s, (his wife’s, mother’s) brooch, exiling himself from Thebes as punishment for killing his father.
Oedipus’ fate was predetermined and although all attempts were made to avoid this, nature took its course and Freud cleverly uses this analogy and Sophocles’ play to explain the Oedipus complex, through five stages of infantile psychosexual behaviour which are key to the development of a child’s sexual development and social integration. Each stage is not without consequence and can affect the individual greatly in adult life if not successfully transcended or the child becomes fixated within any of the stages.
The first stage of a child’s personality is called the Id which seeks only to receive pleasure and avoid pain., based on the pleasure principal, it is called the Oral phase where the new born infant explores through the sucking and placing things in its mouth. Through this sensation of oral gratification the child forms its first attachment with its mother where his desire is to seek his mothers affection, sucking on her breast continually without the knowledge of what his body requires, such as sustenance and nutrients. This somewhat exhausting behaviour is done only for pleasure spurred by the natural desire of gratification as when the breast is removed the child continues to seek pleasure from his thumb a pastime that many foeti partook during development in the womb. This is clearly a pleasurable act seeking gratification as the child has not been exposed to the breast and so is naturally acting out the pleasure principle within the womb. Some parents see it unfit for a child to be in possession of a dummy or to suck their thumb and deny their child such pleasure. Consequences of fixating on this phase in later life can be identified through people who are dependent, smokers, nail biters and people who overly indulge in oral sex.
From the age of around 2 to 4 years the child goes into what Freud refers to as the Anal phase and he interprets the anus as a displaced mouth. During this period the child, through defecation, either in the form of retention or expulsion, gains pleasure from the fact they have created something. Undergoing toilet training during this age the child must learn that it is not acceptable to let their bowel movements control them. This is a difficult task to get the child to accept responsibility for their actions from which they must learn the consequences and that it is not socially acceptable to continue to defecate inside ones nappy and they enter the reality principal. Fixating on this phase the child can become anally retentive becoming tight with money, overly tidy and organised, being subservient to authority or the other extreme, anally expulsive, where the adult is messy in nature, hopeless with finances, disorganised and hostile. During this period the child also learns the art of scopophilia, understanding that not only can pleasure be derived from the active looking but also from the passive, being looked at. This can be translated into adult form as “masculine voyeurism and feminine exhibitionism.”
The third stage, occurring through the age of 4 and 7 the child enters the Phallic phase where gratification is now achieved through the retention and expulsion of urine. Between the age of 5 and 6 boys are particularly interested in bodily functions and they indulge in childish masturbation. Fuelled by the desire for the the mother, the primary source of sexual pleasure and fixation, who has nursed them and ensured toilet training during the Oral and Anal phases, as such the boy can become fearful of his desires to replace the father and possess his mother. This is where the child has an increase in self perception, which Freud calls the Ego and Leah explains it as “the primal human desire for sexual and violent gratification” which are character traits ingrained within masculinity. This is the key stage of the Oedipus complex as the anxiety is aggravated by “the threats and discipline he incurs when caught masturbating by his parents.” Noticing his mother (nor women) does not have a penis the boy fears the threat of castration from his father. The castration complex according to Freud is something a boy fears from his father from early childhood. This image of emasculation instils fear throughout infancy and into his adult life and realising that the child cannot possess his mother as his father does the child identifies with the father on whom he models himself, becoming as much like him as possible, preparing himself for his later sexual role. Another way of the child to deal with this complex issue is for the boy to adopt a female persona where he becomes attracted to the father thus forming a homosexual desire to replace the mother.
The Latency stage which takes place during the years, 7 and 12, sees the acquisition of a heavyweight conscience where the child learns of what Freud describes as the Super Ego which Leah explains as “society-imposed morality”. During this period, which is heavily influenced by school life, should the boy resolve the Oedipus complex, as he is no longer driven by sexual needs. This is the time where the child learns how to love and also the consequence of what it is to suffer loss and this is made apparent through friendships made and broken during the time at school. It is during this period that more social, competitive activities are prevalent and the boy can acquire same sex friends as he is not spurred by sexual desires as these feelings lay dormant at this time only to be rekindled in the final phase.
Entering the teenage years and the final chapter in Freud’s psychosexual theory is the Genital stage. It is this phase where we see the completion of natures desire to procreate. We must also realise that alongside Freud’s theory, the re-emergence of the steroid hormone testosterone enters into its secondary role. The testes begin to secrete the primary androgen and during this phase in puberty we see that the boy acquires more masculine features as the bodies natural injection of the steroid hormone, testosterone increases skeletal growth and muscle mass. The boys voice becomes deeper owing to the enlargement of the larynx creating what is more commonly known as the ‘Adam’s apple’. This obvious transformation from boy to man is subject to jovial taunts with the usual question, “have your balls dropped?” questioning the boys journey into maleness. This is in essence a myth, as established earlier the testes descend within the eighth or ninth month into the scrotum. The body also starts to grow hair and definite development in size of the genitals, combined with increased sexual drive. It is safe to say that the testosterone, produced by the testes is central to the development of masculinity and its features.
Alongside the secretion of testosterone the testes begin to produce sperm, an essential part of human development and essential for procreation. The genitals are now complete, they have evolved into the reproductive organs able to ensure the future of the human race.
Entering back into Freud’s theory, sexual desire and libido is rekindled by puberty and the boy seeks out a sexual partner for mutual sexual pleasure and the natural desire of the human species to procreate. This phase is crucial to personal development as if the child has successfully reached this point without fixating on any previous stage he can break away from the relationship with his parents and is able to form new relationships outside of the family. If fixated, the child will suffer with his development and be troubled by repression especially if the Oedipus conflict is left unresolved.
Transferring Freud’s 19th century analysis into modern day is successfully achieved through Erik Erikson’s recognised interpretation of Freud’s psychosexual into psychosocial. The stages have been broken down into the following layman’s terms.
- Oral trust versus mistrust
- Anal autonomy versus shame/doubt
- Phallic initiative versus guilt
- Latency industry versus inferiority
- Genital identity versus role confusion
As in Freud’s day, culture was unable to deal with the suggestion that a child was a sexual being, which still rings true today as stated within my previous research, “Identity” which discusses the portrayal of children as sexual objects, Erikson’s theory however concentrates on the feelings of the child in a social sense rather than the sexual negotiation of the Oedipal complex.
Alongside these analyses it is necessary to consider the archetypal theories of Freud’s associate and protégé Carl Jung.
Carl Gustav Jung, born July 26, 1875 in Kessewil, Switzerland initially trained in the field of archaeology. Progressing into medicine, Jung began to work under supervision of famous neurologist, Krafft-Ebing. Inspired by this interest Jung embarked on a career in psychiatry, specialising in schizophrenia. Jung met Freud in Vienna in 1907 where as according to Boeree
“that after they met, Freud cancelled all his appointments for the day, and they talked for 13 hours straight, such was the impact of the meeting of these two great minds! Freud eventually came to see Jung as the crown prince of psychoanalysis and his heir apparent.”
Jung’s theories divide the psyche, the human mind, into three parts, namely the Ego, Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious. The Ego, unlike Freud’s Ego, is what Jung refers to as the conscious mind, readily accessible. Personal Unconscious is closely related to the conscious mind yet its contents are not as readily available. These are usually in the form of memories or have been purposely suppressed for some psychological reason. It is this final part, the Collective Unconscious which differentiates Jung’s work from that of any other. This area of the psyche hosts the knowledge of what we as a species are born with yet as human beings we are never directly in contact with it. It is this area that Jung’s archetypes take shape.
There are a variety of archetypes which manifest in the Collective Unconscious. The Shadow is comparative with Freud’s Ego, and is a dark place where life’s primeval instincts are kept. This represents the human beings animal behaviour which seeks only to survive and procreate. It is an innocent archetype that is reflective of the human before they became self conscious. The Persona reflects the presented image, whose name is Latin for mask. This is the projected idea to usually create a good impression, although this manipulative behaviour can have a negative response as this does not show a persons true character. The key archetypes relevant to this research project are the Anima, the female collective conscious of the man which is usually represented by the spontaneous, intuitive character of a young girl and the male consciousness of woman, the Animus, which is usually depicted as the image of a wise old man, being rational, logical having a tendency to argue. According to Boeree, Freud, Adler and Jung and many others “felt that we are all really bisexual in nature” as we are without sex during the first six weeks of conception he also states “when we begin our social lives as infants, we are neither male nor female in the social sense.”
“From their early childhood, boys are aware of their genitals. They are told their penis and testicles are what makes them a boy, and eventually a man. Their genitals are at the centre of their masculinity.”
Understanding then that the Freudian and Jungian theories explain our species natural development, that is conditioned by the societised parental role, to nurture the child into social acceptance, we must acknowledge the further impact on masculinity, namely social integration. Nakagawa highlights this when he states that “boys are not necessarily “masculine” when they are born but they will (…) grow to be “real men” in the process of learning “masculinity” which is determined by the society.” My research into this gender identity uncovered that half of the men questioned believed they were born masculine and grew to be a man which is predetermined genetically, yet Gill’s research into masculinity found that it was a “process of osmosis” which is defined as the gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, this infers that men unknowingly absorb their masculine identity through social engagements yet the majority of my respondents, 71 per cent, have knowledge of this or rather they accept that this is the case, although 29 per cent believe they were taught and this information is reflected in the Research Data and Analysis section,
Schoenberg emphasises the positive and negative aspects of this when he states “In each developmental state the individual has to learn, as well as to process. A complication is that one can learn without understanding the process, and conversely one can experience the process and not learn.”
The imprinting then, of masculinity as a gender identity begins initially through clothing and the acceptance that boys wear blue and girls, pink. Here begins the cultural acceptance of a child into society. Stets and Burke explain that masculinity and femininity “are rooted in the social (one’s gender) rather than the biological (one’s sex)” and Connell defines that it “ is simultaneously a place in gender relations, the practices through which men and women engage that place in gender, and the effects of these practices in bodily experience, personality and culture”. This said the term masculinity is given to a male although is not exclusively ‘male’ as this gender identity can be adopted by females too as so can femininity in men.
Masculinity however is said to be in a crisis and Philips discusses that “modern and postmodern scholars are addressing the crisis in masculinity by questioning the meaning of masculinity and by rethinking masculinity, male development, gender, and identity.” It is thought that masculinity had a firm identity two decades ago with a shared view, something to aspire to, yet recent developments within culture have created conflict within this agreed definition. Determining then that masculinity manifests itself over many levels and being multifaceted it would be impossible to pinpoint the vast array of male difference, however my research project aims to understand the basics of masculinity and the stereotypical traits of this gender identity. Considine discusses the crisis within masculinity, referring to the current media images of wimps, geeks, unintelligence, weak, subordinate men, compared with the masculine images of over a decade ago with the super hero style Milk Tray man and the rugged Marlboro man.
The image of masculinity has now become a fashion statement, a trend, a packaged identity that is predicted and promoted by advertising agencies like J. Walter Thompson, the “modern world’s oldest advertising agency and 4th largest” who forecast the rise of the “metrosexual”.
Coined by “Mark Simpson in 1994” the “metrosexual” is an image that blurs the boundaries of masculinity and femininity. Possessing a narcissistic personality, the metrosexual has a disposable income which is used to ensure he looks good. Investing in face creams and hair straighteners this image of masculinity conflicts the normative heterosexual image of man. A prime example of this image is David Beckham, described by Oliffe as “the peroxide pony-tailed, athletic, (…) is conceivably a contemporary exemplar of hegemonic masculinity for many young men. He is successful, powerful and self-reliant; as a player and celebrity he threatens to be bigger than the game of soccer itself.” thus confirming the conflicting image within this crisis.
Understanding then there are many masculinities, as there are types of man, is it necessary to have a singular monolithic image of masculinity? The masculinity accepted above all, used as a measuring tool to determine just how masculine, is “hegemonic masculinity”.
As with masculinity, hegemonic masculinity too manifests itself on various levels, and is contrary to the dominant ideology of the time to be able to justify and defend the current social system ensuring men hold the power and from which, women are excluded. Changing over time, as so does society and popular belief, the general accepted idea within Western culture is that, hegemonic masculinity refers to the white middle / upper class heterosexual male, Phillips refers to “Erik Erikson’s model of psychosocial human development for its historical and cultural embeddedness in discourses constructing a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle class masculinity norm.” It is this constructed image of masculinity that reaps the rewards, compared to other deviant masculinities and femininity ensuring the dominant position of the normative male.
As this image of masculinity is deemed more acceptable than its counterparts, this constructed identity is used as a measure to determine just how masculine one is through as Jewitt describes “hegemonic masculinity prescribes endless and exacting requirements on men.” Chafetz describes seven traits of masculinity
- Physical–virile, athletic, strong, brave. Unconcerned about appearance and ageing;
- Functional–breadwinner, provider;
- Sexual–sexually aggressive, experienced. Single status acceptable;
- Emotional–unemotional, stoic;
- Intellectual–logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical,
- Interpersonal–leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, individualistic (applies to western societies);
- Other Personal Characteristics–success-orientated, ambitious; proud, egotistical, moral, trustworthy; decisive, competitive, uninhibited, adventurous.
Wall and Kristjanson in their research determine these following characteristics are stereotypical of hegemonic masculinity.
- Restricted experience and expression of emotion
- No emotional sensitivity
- Toughness and violence
- Powerful and successful
- Self-sufficient (no needs)
- Being a stud (heterosexism)
Contrasting the traits between these somewhat similar identities, the hegemonic masculinity pays no reference to the inclusion of women or provision for a family. Although these characters possess a lack of emotion and dependency they both seek out success and power through domination and violence.
Culturally these ideas of masculinity are set out and Schoenberg infers that the “rules are more rigid” for men and boys which are transmitted by “institutions such as religion or the educational system”, according to Stets and Burke. Primarily the major aspect of masculine socialisation for a male, is school where normative masculinity has been institutionalised. It is here where they begin to establish their culturally assigned role alongside their peers. Within western civilisation it is accepted that males should traditionally be brave, unemotional, strong, dominant, athletic, rational, ambitious, competitive, aggressive and violent and it is in the playground these traits are acted out through races, fighting, bullying, sports, especially football and re-enacting fight scenes or such like and an interest in gore. It is this jungle, males find their roles through trying out these attitudes and behaviours although not all conform to this typified ideal. The non conformists would be identified as wimps or homosexual for not being macho. Their role is identified as a subordinate, deviant masculinity. My previous research into aspects of bullying uncover these playground games and taunts and whilst fitting into that role myself, I recall being taken aside and into the headmaster’s office to discuss the problem of being bullied. To resolve the problem he instructed me to walk slower, larger strides, not small, fast steps as I needed to look more masculine in order not to be bullied and as I had not learned, I needed to be ‘educated’ how to behave. Another aspect of not appearing to be masculine, is being good at ones studies, which ended in another approach where I had to be put on ‘report’. This was to suggest the appearance I had been ‘naughty’ as naughty boys were seen to be more masculine.
Duncan highlights this when referring to ”Mac An Ghaill’s “macho lads” who rejoiced in a stereotypical hegemonic masculinity that rejected academia in favour of being tough, which involved “fighting, fucking (females) and football”. Understanding the structure of school life it appears that hegemonic masculinity is rife and these violent, sexual, competitive traits are widely accepted and somewhat encouraged.
Subconsciously then, if adhered to all the rules set out by society, the journey into becoming an adult male could see his masculine role develop even further. His character traits expand to cover the normative heterosexual masculine roles such as sexually aggressive, single, virile, success driven, or the more family orientated bread winner, provider, disciplinarian, male, a superhuman who must be a rock and appear invincible, never ill or phased by anything.
I’m not ill!
Appearing invincible and superhuman is a façade that has stood the test of time. Entering the days of Greek philosophy we can find its historical roots and its placement within society through the teachings of Stoicism.
Stoicism, a way of life that was created by Zeno of Citium (335–263BC) during the third century BC in Athens, acquired its name from the stoic pile, a painted collonade or porch, from where it was delivered. Initially a Greek way of life the doctrine made its way to Rome in the first century BC continuing into the first century AD where it became a manual for the bourgeois and upper classes of the Roman Empire. Stoicism was as Blackburn describes a “unified logical, physical, and moral philosophy”. This philosophy was based on the ‘Logos’ a view that Livingstone states as “a form of materialistic pantheism” that identifies God with the universe. Understanding then that the ‘Logos’ is at the centre of everything, the Stoics lived within the harmony of nature. Using this as their inspiration, these philosophers believed that nature, according to King who quotes the Roman Stoic, Cicero,
“Nature, (…) has constructed the body so that the most honourable parts are the most visible. Sane people mirror Nature’s wisdom in keeping out of sight the parts Nature has hidden away, and in performing bodily functions in private. Moving too slowly is seen as effeminate: hurrying around makes someone out of breath, thus distorting the face. Anger, pleasure, and fear equally transform the faces, voices, and gestures of those experiencing them: the ideal is to control the body, avoid excessive gestures, and follow a moderate way of life.”
Stoics then conducted themselves in such a manner that refused the importance of bodily functions. This was also true of emotions making the Stoic a ‘super human’ who appeared to have no faults and as Blackburn describes, “It is an ethic of self-sufficient, benevolent calm, with the virtuous peace of the wise man rendering him indifferent to poverty, pain, and death, so resembling the spiritual peace of God.” Virtue was said to be the only thing required by a Stoic as a virtuous man is considered to be morally good reflecting the ‘Logos’. This way of life was as again King quotes Cicero “that both the mind and the body should be trained from childhood into moderate and appropriate behaviour, and this should be expressed through every action — there being a seemly way to stand, walk, or sit.” This affirms that, as Carver states, “men are not born, they are made”.
The Stoic philosophy died out in the first century AD but the use of the word ‘Logos’ didn’t and was used by John the Apostle in his account of Jesus.
“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men … And the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from The Father.” (John 1:1-4,14 RSV)
This passage describes Jesus as the centre of everything which as we know is the foundation of Christianity. Within the bible are various accounts which make reference to the ‘virtuous man’. Virtue was seen as the only requirement for a Stoic, and the bible describes
“a virtuous man is a man of great moral strength, in whom wickedness is not found. He is a godly, God-fearing man.” As Christianity has dominated western culture since its initial conception, projecting the institutionalised hegemonic image, it would infer that virtue has been adopted and transferred into the required, expected behaviour within masculinity along with the Stoical denial of bodily functions and emotions.
This stoical image of masculinity in modern culture can be translated as the acquisition of the ‘stiff upper lip’, suppressing the display of any emotion Furnham explains “the denial and suppression of emotion is at the heart of the modern concept of stoicism and fortitude”. This behaviour is transferred from the father to the son, as Cicero did, by stern unemotional delivery of lectures such as “boys don’t cry” or “don’t be such a big girl’s blouse” insinuating that to show emotion is to be seen as feminine, an undesirable quality reaffirming the hegemonic ideology of misogyny (hatred of women) and homophobia (femininity in men). Research performed by Dr Patricia McGrath of the Child Health Research Institute in London uncovered that children gauge how to deal with pain and suffering through the response of their parents. McGrath states
“Children look to their parents for how to respond to bumps and scrapes, the more a child is taught not to show pain, the less likely they are to show it”. It is this stoic transference that can manifest itself, causing physical and psychological problems throughout life. Unable to express their emotions and denying their body becomes ill, from the ingrained psychological effects from childhood, men become long suffering and endure the illness or problem behind this stoical front, the expected image of masculinity.
Evidencing this Dobson states “Masculinity, already said to be in crisis, has now been classed as a disease.” His article discusses the findings of academics from universities in Leeds, Vienna, and Ottawa and the World Health Organisation who spent a year looking at data on nearly 200 million men in 17 countries across the developed world, including the UK. Extracting the information Dobson quotes
“Men are twice as likely to die early as women, are more prone to cancer and are more liable to be killed by heart disease, strokes, infections and congenital conditions. Men are also more at risk of mental illness, skin, blood and digestive diseases; and more likely to be killed in accidents and car crashes, and to die by suicide.”
It is the masculine traits, such as risk taking, competitiveness and the inability to display emotion through childhood conditioning that men suffer in this way. The report also discusses that ethnographically the amount of single men or who live alone has risen, owing to an increase in divorce and separations in comparison to those with a partner. This suggests unbiasedly that women care for men better than men do themselves. Hicks confirms this when he states
“Some men leave it to their partners to take the responsibility.“ Another concern highlighted in the report is that men “delay in seeking help” .
This delay was also reflected in a study carried out by the Men’s Health Forum . Focusing on around 400 men, the report found the attitude to illness was to ”tough it out’” as being seen to be ill equated to weakness, conflicting with the image of masculinity. Work was also given priority over health with which there was a definite inability within men to discuss problems with their colleagues. Chapple and Zeibland found that men “hid the fact that they were ill from their colleagues at work” this reaffirms that men cannot be seen as weak or ill in order to retain their super human image. All these aspects validate the stoic façade seemingly required by the masculine image. Messner clarifies this view when he states, “Men tend to pay heavy costs — in the form of shallow relationships, poor health, and early death — for conformity with the narrow definitions of masculinity that promise to bring them status and privilege.”
Quoting Dr Alan White, Dobson writes “Being a man is like having a terminal disease that will prematurely end your life, (…) fifty per cent of men are dead by the time they are 75, (…) but we should not see it as being hopeless. We need to make sure that there are changes so that men’s health improves.”
A change that needs to be improved is the relationship between men and their testicles as this project aims to uncover the reasons why men delay, ignore or blatantly don’t check their testicles for signs of infection.
There are currently over 200 cancers because, according to Cancer Research UK, there are the same amount of differing types of body cells and over 60 different organs where this killer takes place. One organ, or rather two, where suffering seems to be on the rise, according to
“Everyman”, is testicular cancer, which has increased by a staggering 400 percent in the last 50 years, “the reasons for this are not yet known”. This type accounts for 1 percent of all male cancers and with this rate of increase it is set to become a more predominant form. There are currently a reported new 1900 cases a year in the UK, of which England has 1541. Occurring from birth at any age, although rare above the age of 55, accounting for 8 per cent of all cases, the cancer then is more predominant between the ages of 15 to 45 and half of all occurrences are below the age of 35. It is around this age group that the illness has its most sufferers around what most people would see as their prime.
Cancer is a disease created by the abnormal functioning of cells. These cells reproduce and the uncontrollable development creates a lump, generally referred to as a tumour.
Testicular cancer manifests itself in two different forms seminomas and non-seminomas. A third of all testicular cancers are seminomas which emerge from immature germ cells and commonly effect the 25 to 55 age group. The remainder are non-seminomas which develop from mature germ cells and effect the 15 to 35 age group. Germ cells are created in the testes and ovaries and during foetal development these germ cells are left around other parts of the body. These cells are invariably harmless but may become cancerous and are usually diagnosed around the mediastinum, the area between the lungs and heart. Theses cells when cancerous are still known to be testicular or ovarian cancer even though they have spread to other major organs and a common occurrence with fourth stage testicular cancer is the appearance of cancer within the lung.
The disease is foremost apparent in white, Caucasian males, especially, according to Cancer Research UK, “those from higher-income backgrounds,are more likely to develop testicular cancer than black or Asian men.” This said, “Black men have a 50 percent greater chance of getting prostate cancer than whites and are twice as likely to die from it.”
Cryptochidism, undescended testicles, as discussed in ‘What’s in the sac?’ increase the risk of contracting the disease between 5 and 10 per cent and research confirms that 10 per cent of testicular cancer sufferers were born with this condition. This leaves 90 per cent unexplained although family history is also a strong element as brothers, or fathers who have suffered with this form of cancer, the risks of contracting are increased by 10 fold. This suggests that testicular cancer is genetic, contracted through inherent factors. Although doctors are currently unable to detect the causes of testicular cancer and are currently unaware, researchers
“are looking for additional tumour markers that may be present in abnormal amounts in the blood or urine of a person with very early testicular cancer.” This is in the hope of detecting the disease before any symptoms take place. Other than the corrective surgery Orchiopexy, to bring down the testicles, there is currently nothing people can do to prevent testicular cancer, recommendations for regular exercise and a healthy diet are suggested to prevent although this is suggested across the board to prevent a variety of disease and is clearly not testicular cancer-specific.
Prevention and diagnosis
Although there is no real way to prevent the illness, men are recommended to check their testicles at least once a month, this procedure should begin at puberty in order to establish what is ‘normal’. The process is to examine the testes after a warm bath or shower when the scrotum is relaxed, holding the sac in the palm, the testicles should be examined between the thumb and fingers. Exploring the centre of genetic masculinity, it should be normal to find that one testicle is slightly larger than the other and hangs slightly lower, which is usually the left, as McManus states is depicted in most Greek sculptures. Alongside this normality the epididymis should also seem apparent. This is where sperm is stored and should not be confused for a lump. Comparing testicles, recognising their natural status each should seem pretty similar. In around 90 per cent of testicular cancer cases, their is a recognisable lump, a tumour, this only appears in one testicle and very rare to appear in both, so a comparison can be drawn assuming both testicles are present. There are other symptoms that occur with this disease. An unnatural enlargement of the testicle, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, growth or tenderness of the upper chest, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. This last example is sometimes confused with the
“blue balls of love”, which is where sexual intercourse has climaxed without ejaculation and semen has built up. This is usually remedied by masturbation although any of these signs should be carefully considered and if unsure, immediate visit to the general practitioner (GP) is urged.
As discussed earlier in ‘I’m not ill’, men have real issues with displaying emotion, signs of weakness and appearing to be ill in order to appear to be masculine. It is also known that men visit the doctors as, Jones states “simply because his female partner has noticed a new and abnormal swelling on a testicle that otherwise he might not have bothered about.” Knowing then that there is an increasing amount of single men who are becoming ever more self reliant and diagnose their own illnesses they are unlikely to discuss testicular cancer with friends, according to a report by Mintel, Men’s Changing Lifestyles – UK – June 2005, it would seem their very essence of masculinity is at risk, A great deal of research has been produced regarding men’s lack of attendance at the doctor’s surgery and it has been found by Chapple et al “that the presence of symptoms is not always sufficient for people to define themselves as sick”. The research also establishes that men delayed the visit to their GP as they did not want to seem like a hypochondriac, comparing themselves to Freud’s discovery of hysteria in women, and that it was important to retain their masculine image and continue by quoting the men “in their words, ‘men don’t cry’” reaffirming the stoic masculine message imprinted from a young child. Another reason for men to delay their visit within the report was the fear of exposing their penis, men were worried that the size of their manhood was not up to scratch. Men’s relationship with their testicles can also have an effect as it is quite a distant one and that the penis is presumed more important. This is because the testicles hang in the shadow of the penis, the object which men pay more attention to, gaining pleasure from, a reality which we are initially programmed to receive as Freud explains during the Id period where the body seeks pleasure and avoids pain, and the testicles are often associated with pain through sports injury or being hit in the scrotum. Another factor is fear of the outcome, and on discussion with a
22 year old who found a lump, delayed contacting a medical professional for over a year. Scoring 17 on the masculinity questionnaire in ‘Data Collection and Analysis’ the young male describes how he felt his masculinity was affected at the time, and how he hoped the lump would go away. This fear was also described by another respondent who said if he found a lump he would prolong the visit to the doctors “till scared”.
This risk in delay prevents diagnosis by the doctor preventing early access to treatment. Once at the surgery the doctor will examine the scrotum to determine the size of the swelling and its tenderness. It is generally very difficult for the doctor to determine whether the lump is cancerous according to Cancer Research UK. It is also understood through their research findings that less than 4 out of 100 testicular lumps are found to be cancerous. In most cases the lumps turn out to be a cyst which the doctor identifies by trying to shine a light through. Owing to these other testicular ailments the doctor may suggest an ultrasound, necessary for seminomas, which is a harmless process. Chapple et al’s research indicated that this referral also created a delay in treatment as these “examinations can take weeks or even months” as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that particular symptoms should be referred and seen by a specialist within two weeks.
“Swelling or lump in the testicle is the only symptom that the recent NICE guidelines have outlined as needing urgent referral for possible testicular cancer.” The specialist would take a blood sample in order to identify any markers. Markers are proteins found only in non-seminomas which are helpful in the diagnosis,
“these are alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadtrophin (HCG and lactic dehydrogenase (LDH).” From the results the specialist will be able to determine whether testicular cancer is present if there is any abnormal readings and determine if any the stage of the cancer. Specialists will not perform a biopsy in fear that if the tumour is malignant the cancer may spread. Understanding this the sooner detected the less chance of morbidity and prevention of the cancer developing further.
Testicular cancer is staged in four parts
Stage 1. Cancer contained in testicle.
Stage 2. Cancer has spread from the testicle to the body to the epididymis and may have spread to the inner layer of the membrane surrounding the testicle and a small tumour. The cancer may have been present in another part of the body, but not a major organ.
Stage 3. Cancer is anywhere within the testicle, spermatic cord, or scrotum; and has spread to a major organ i.e. liver, brain, and kidney.
Stage 4. The cancer is anywhere within the testicle, spermatic cord, or scrotum and has spread to the lungs.
The treatment for testicular cancer is usually orchidectomy, the surgical removal of a testicle, as the specialist or surgeon cannot determine cancer from a biopsy, this will be followed by a course of chemotherapy. Depending on the stage of the cancer, there may be the need to remove the spermatic cord which will leave the sac feeling quite empty. If the cancer has spread to major organs, usually the lungs, the cancer will still be known as testicular cancer owing to the connective germ cells and will be treated similarly with a course of chemotherapy or radiology. The success rate of treatment at stage one is 90 per cent decreasing to 80 per cent for stage three and 50 per cent at stage four.
A question most men after treatment for this disease is “
Will I lose my masculinity?” this concern is like closing the stable door when the horse has already bolted, as established the testicles are at the centre of genetic masculinity, producing the primary androgen, testosterone, responsible for masculinity, it would seem men believe they are born masculine rather than made. It is possible however for one testicle to produce enough testosterone to ensure masculinity and enough sperm to procreate. In severe cases the remaining testicle may suffer damage which will require replacement testosterone therapy to maintain masculinity, Giroux discusses the complications of this which is represented in the film, Fight Club. His article discusses male violence and patriarchy, and draws upon the representation of ‘Bob’ a character who has suffered from testicular cancer who embarks on hormone therapy. It is within a scene constructed in a testicular cancer support group called
“Remaining Men Together” that the character comes into play, where we are introduced to the image of a once masculine body builder who has suffered complications with hormone therapy and has grown breasts.
“Bob becomes a not too subtle symbol in the film, personifying how masculinity is both degraded (he has breasts like a woman) and used in a culture that relies upon the “feminine” qualities of support and empathy rather than ‘masculine’ attributes of strength and virility to bring men together.”
Another concern after orchidectomy is body image as the scrotum can seem empty and the offer of a prosthesis can be offered to relieve psychological issues. Chapple and McPherson’s research into prosthesis found that men were upset that they weren’t consulted about size and shape. Their report also uncovered that men in a stable relationship were less concerned about their appearance than single men, who felt it could be a problem for future relationships, yet my investigation uncovered that men 21 per cent of the respondents, who were in stable relationships were inclined to undergo the operation to have a prosthesis fitted and 36 per cent who were all single would refuse the operation, this result somewhat contradicts their findings and although my research is valid it is not the opinion of sufferers from testicular cancer and can only be approached from a “what if?” point of view.
Chapple and Ziebland found that younger men were unconcerned about the effects of testicular cancer on their masculinity, which my research confirms, and in a recent conversation with a 23 year old male who postponed his visit to the doctors for a year whilst finding a lump, knew he was able to reproduce with one testicle and was unconcerned about the imminent loss, which also reaffirms their findings.
They also discovered that men “were able to perform their male roles” and it is thought that “men who had been treated for testicular cancer could resume sexual activities once they had recovered from surgery or chemotherapy, and treatment left no long-term visible traces.” but research performed by Pool discovered that initially 10 per cent of men suffered from sexual dysfunction which lead to 40 per cent in the long term and that men suffered from ejaculation problems after chemotherapy which established long term psychological effects testicular cancer had on its sufferers as it “threatens body image and fertility, and may trigger feelings of sexual vulnerability, offence and confusion,” Pool recommends that surgeons consider the psychological effects and offer psychological treatment.
The prognosis for testicular cancer is incredibly good as discussed previously if the cancer is found early enough there is a 90 per cent survival rate and 4 out of a 100 lumps are diagnosed as testicular cancer, could this positive aspect of good prognosis and incidence be contributing to men’s inability or lack of concern to check their testicles or self diagnose? Men seemingly realise the consequence of testicular cancer as my own research has established, yet the increase of the disease is becoming ever more apparent.
Chapple and Ziebland found that “several men said that they decided to seek help after they had read about testicular cancer in magazines, newspapers or practice leaflets, or after they or their wives had seen television programmes about testicular cancer.” It is through this research project I aim to establish information to underpin a successful awareness campaign highlighting this ever increasing disease.
In order to produce an effective campaign it is necessary to review what has previously occurred, and over the last seven years there has been three high profile testicular cancer awareness campaigns.
Launched in June 1999, everyman male cancer awareness month, a 50 second advert by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, featuring pop star Robbie Williams, was donated to the Institute of Cancer Research to create awareness of testicular cancer. “The commercial uses one of men’s most obvious interests – women – to get the message across.” Shot from the eyes of a holiday maker’s video camera, the ad follows the video capture of his friend’s first time on a jet ski. Becoming distracted with the women on the beach, the footage is drawn more towards bikinis and breasts which have become more interesting to the amateur film maker.
Suddenly, an odd-looking pair of naked breasts comes into view – they’re false. As the camera pulls back, the breasts are strapped onto Robbie Williams who points at the camera: “Hey you know, if you men paid more attention to these (grabbing his crotch) instead of these (pointing to the false breasts) then maybe fewer of us would be dying of testicular cancer. So go and check ’em out.”
This campaign illustrates the risk taking masculine trait alongside the active masculine act of scopophilia where the male gaze seeks out pleasure from the bikini-clad women. The cameraman is the voyeur whose interest becomes sexually aggressive. This viewpoint identifies with the typical hegemonic idea of men’s interest in women, yet this marginalises at least 6 per cent of the male population who are homosexual in nature as established within my previous research into Bullying. Robbie Williams appears to be grabbing his penis far more than his testicles and as discussed within the introduction, many men and boys are rearranging their genitals or fiddling around with them as a pass time and does not mean they are inspecting them for health reasons. This campaign clearly identifies with the macho stereotype.
During March 2002 the national campaign ‘Keep Your Eye on the Ball’, www.keepyoureyeontheball.org, was launched by The Football Association and The Professional Footballers’ Associations aimed at raising awareness of testicular cancer alongside the Institute of Cancer Research’s everyman campaign and Cancer Research UK’s Dad’s and Lad’s campaign to ensure that all footballers and their supporters are aware of the symptoms of testicular cancer. The campaign was in direct response to the discovery that players Neil Harris, Alan Stubbs, Craig Forrest and Jason Cundy all had testicular cancer who have successfully resumed playing after fighting the disease.
The campaign featured a variety of premiership football players posing with footballs that had a strange lump as do testicles with the disease.
This campaign uses the macho image of football, again a stereotypic image of hegemonic masculinity. Undoubtedly football is an interest of some men and the use of the ball communicates the symptom of testicular cancer yet this method is identifiable only to the niche market of football fans, marginalising again the somewhat deviant masculinities who do not identify with sport. The campaign however unified cancer research groups and football clubs nation wide.
These campaigns both promote the hegemonic ideal of masculinity through the competitiveness of sport and the sexual aggression associated with the most accepted masculinity. This acceptance is all well and good in theory but the acknowledgement that masculinity is manifested on various levels should also be taken into consideration so not to marginalise and alienate other men from the message communicated through the campaign.
Launched this year on 6 July, by everyman, featuring patron Dermot O’Leary. Created by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and kindly donated to everyman. The advert is controversial in its nature as it is the first everyman campaign to feature testicles while approaching the topic, testicular cancer, and can be seen at www.noticeyournuts.com. Featuring ‘normal’ men in everyday situations such as a group of men doing Tai Chi, a gardener strimming foliage in a park, mechanics in a garage, office workers in a lift and a man at a bus stop wearing a pair of giant testicles around their waists. The strap line ‘make your balls a bigger part of your life’, recommends me pay more attention to their testicles rather than letting them hang around in the background.
This campaign as described places a variety of men in everyday situations and focuses more on the matter at hand, testicles. This seems to be the more successful of the three mentioned as it covers various types of masculinity. It does not however place men in more ‘feminine’ roles or show occupations such as hairdressers although it does communicate to both the working class man and the executive and creates an air of manliness that it is all right to check your testicles. There is seemingly a shortage of young men within the sequence, and the fact that the disease occurs primarily between the ages 15 to 45 of which the majority of cases are apparent below 35, there seems a lack of identification with late teens and early twenties, a problem I hope to rectify within my campaign.
There are also various forms of printed material currently available demonstrating how a man should check himself for signs of testicular cancer which is not necessarily the most effective. It usually comprises of an illustration, depicting the genital area, generally a cross section and then a crude illustration of some hands checking the testicles. These images are usually lacking in detail, but one wonders that this measure is taken owing to men’s ‘heterosexual’, normative, hegemonic masculine attitude which will not allow them to view a pair of testicles, ‘in the flesh’ so to speak in case that would be seen as being ‘gay’? Jewitt understands that the use of diagrams “promote normative heterosexual sex” and continues by explaining that “there is some evidence (…) to suggest that men’s sexual and reproductive organs are represented in the diagrams as more simple and straightforward than women’s.” This can clearly be visible by the diagram below featured in the Cancer Research leaflet.
The campaigns are all very good in theory and create awareness of the disease but there are other factors that prevent men from dealing with the disease or actually having a relationship with their testicles. In their study Chapple and Ziebland highlighted the fact that “well informed men may still delay. As our study and other studies have shown, many complex factors influence illness behaviour for men with testicular cancer.” This is evidenced within my research as the oldest respondent would consider waiting 3 months before visiting his GP and one of the youngest would wait a month, both knowing the consequences of testicular cancer.
Establishing then through the research the indication that testicles are central to masculinity and are key to the development of becoming male and their importance ensuring the survival of the human race, it seems evident that although the socially accepted belief that hegemonic masculinity is beneficial in developing real men, the evidence is clear that this behaviour seeks only to destroy itself through long suffering, restricted expression of emotion, violence, sexual promiscuity and poor relationships through arrogant independence and self sufficiency. Understanding that masculinity is in crisis it would be necessary to communicate to a larger audience than the typical man who likes football, women’s breasts and beer which I hope to achieve through my campaign.
Application of theory
I decided to explore the various references to testicles and how they could be communicated on various levels without appearing graphic. Initially I decided to use the reference to balls as representative of testes and communicate to the various age groups and masculinities through the use of:
Marbles, communicating to the youth sector.
Tennis, evoking a response from the competitive, sporty type masculinity.
Stress balls, identifying with the executive.
Roulette, which the risk taking males would associate with.
Within these four categories I felt I may well be marginalising and alienating some men and boys from the campaign so I decided to look at other references to testicles. I uncovered that nuts and crown jewels were also used as popular phrases and investigated possible imagery that could be used within the campaign. Understanding that masculinity was in crisis and manifests itself over many levels I found that there were many forms of nut, edible and mechanical that could be used to represent the genitalia. After purchasing and photographing as many types of nut as I could find, I came to the conclusion that this was not necessarily as successful as I had initially thought until I started to eat one of the monkey nuts. The monkey nut in its original form is reminiscent of the scrotum and contained within lies two nuts. This would be the flagship image of the campaign, referring to the whole scrotum, revealing two nuts, ending in the tragic removal of one of the nuts, representing the consequence of testicular cancer, orchidectomy.
From the establishment my idea blossomed into the creation of a campaign that would appear over a period of a month, comprising of not only the monkey nut, but the other references to testes, marbles, stress balls, tennis balls and roulette and crown jewels.
Exploring the other types of nut I discovered that a whole walnut looked incredibly like a pair of lungs, and that fourth stage testicular cancer manifests itself within the lungs, owing to germ cells that are found usually between the heart and lungs after foetal development, I found that this avenue had a great deal of potential. It was my aim to communicate the fatal risks of undetected testicular cancer, as most men, young men are unconcerned with its effects I felt it was necessary to convey the fatal aspects of the disease
Week one of the campaign would start with the range of images that represent the different references,
The following week would show the next stage, the monkey nut open, revealing the nut with a lump, enlarged tennis ball, communicating the symptom, along with enlarged marble, stress ball reflecting a stormy sky, broken walnut and crown jewels with lump.
Progressing into the third week the images display only the healthy image. This builds up a familiarity with the general public as the campaign progresses. Into week four the previous weeks images are combined with the strap line “GET A GRIP” along with a subsequent strap line highlighting the facts of testicular cancer.
Week four also sees the launch of the moving image pieces that coincide with the billboards. These approximately 20 second infomercials would be shown on television and in schools. A Cancer Research or healthcare professional would visit schools nation wide disseminating the flagship image leaflet which highlights the consequences of testicular cancer and holding an assembling to explain the facts.
The leaflet would also be placed in pubs and bars across the nation, placed on the bar along with a bowl of monkey nuts where drinkers could experience the actual experience of opening the nut along with the visual aspect of the campaign, ensuring the message gets across.
Casino houses would also be place for disseminating the leaflet as roulette is one of the themes of the video pieces. This moving image communicates the risks of testicular cancer and the occurrence of the disease. The casino house would offer a single bet 55 credits on the number 35, the age of the highest amounts of sufferers to on the last night of the campaign.
The campaign progresses into the bigger picture of testicular cancer over the month and through this development it aims to convey the severity of the disease and highlight men’s inability to:-
Check their testicles
Visit their general practitioner
Understand they are not invincible
Understand the consequences
Masculinity, although initially constructed by the testes, is really a learned gender identity, and although the impending consequence of testicular cancer, is an orchidectomy, removal of the testicle, the initial element of genetic masculinity, young men seem unaffected by this, as it would be difficult for them to forget how to be masculine as the process of osmosis will continue. Testicular cancer then, does not affect masculinity, as one testicle can produce enough testosterone and sperm to continue to function and procreate as a virile male. The requirement then to have balls for bravery is seemingly unnecessary as men believe they are not necessary for this masculine trait, which again is an absorbed idea.
Masculinity then, as uncovered, is not predetermined genetically, it is the social construction, how to walk and how to appear that over the last two millennia, indicated by the virtuous persona, which has been a façade masking the real man inside. This construction combined with the primeval aspects of human nature, violence, protection and survival, will continue to be the requirement, that man should typify the hegemonic masculine stereotype.
For this to change, culture would need to alter its view on masculinity, and as culture is patriarchal, male dominated, it would be difficult for this transformation to take place as it is deemed necessary to have this ideal image of a man as not only a measure, but a goal.
Man however, could alter, removing the more negative traits, of the stoical façade and realise the body is not invincible and that illness is not weakness. It is through my campaign that I highlight not only the symptoms but also the consequences which I hope strikes fear into the men, stimulating them into taking better care of their testicles.
Are you a man between 12-50*
Or a spouse, boyfriend, son, father, brother or best friend of a man who is?
During 2006 there will be 8,980 young men diagnosed and over 360 young men will die because they didn’t find it in time. That is more deaths than women in this age group who will die of breast cancer. “Get a grip!”
* It is recommended that all men do a monthly testicular self-exam from puberty to the mid 40’s. Testicular cancer is rare in men over 50.
“Get a grip!” is a pastime many a man is involved in. You will generally find males rearranging their genitals into a more comfortable position or as the current trend stands within the ‘chav’ and ‘scally’ subcultures that they hold the ’crown jewels’ constantly during conversation and general interaction. This intimacy with ones ‘balls’ is not necessarily where the male examines his testes but where he exerts his maleness, his masculinity.
Chart 1 Attitudes towards health and lifestyle – men, 2004 Base: 498 men aged 15+
Chart 2 Sources of health advice and information–men, June 2004 Base: 498 men aged 15+
The above charts, from a report by Mintel, Men’s Changing Lifestyles – UK – June 2005, depict the attitudes of men with regards to their health and within the report there seems a great deal of stoicism. In chat 1, questions 5,7 and 8 uncover just how stoic and stubborn the male population is many are generally unwilling to change their ways and are incredibly self reliant. Chart 2 identifies how men tend to self diagnose their own problems, this is clearly and attempt not to look weak as displayed in questions 3, 5 and 6. Question 4 The report also uncovered that men were less likely to discuss with their friends that they had found a lump on their testicle. The interaction between a male and his testicles may not offer the insight of a strange lump and if he found one he would generally tend to it himself or quietly suffer.
Through these displays of stoicism, based on hegemonic masculinity, can man allow such a threat to his maleness as testicular cancer to take a grip on him and threaten his masculinity? For what is a man without his ‘balls’? Does he lose his masculinity? Which takes me back to the original question, is masculinity created by the testes or manufactured by society?
Through the initial stages of the Masters program I have undertaken sociological issues regarding personal development and growth. These topics have a great significance for, not only understanding myself, but other people for which I hope to transfer into a design context.
During this research project I highlighted the issues of growing as a child and being the recipient of homophobic bullying whilst subjected to the taunts of developing hegemonic masculine boys. I determined how this form of attack was used to reduce another’s masculinity therefore increasing ones own.
Through the interviewing and observation of various teenagers I discovered that even though the subculture members, defied hegemonic ideology during their transitional stage into adulthood, they did however take on masculine and feminine roles which are clearly defined within culture. The group dynamics were formed and there within were clear dominant and subordinate masculinities and subordinate, maternal feminine figures.
Through a great deal of research into Greek philosophy, Freudian and Jungian theories I hope to uncover the various archetypes of masculinity.
Combining a series of primary and secondary research methods I aim to establish the importance of masculinity.
I hope to interview a sufferer of testicular cancer to determine the effects of this illness from a first hand source. I shall also be reviewing other reports regarding this illness.
Through a series of questionnaires I aim to uncover whether men examine their testicles as described in various campaigns and their thoughts of how it would affect them.
Data Collection and Analysis
Primary research was undertaken using the questionnaire below as a reference to determine how masculine the respondents are, combined with the following questions to understand their knowledge of their gender identity and the relationship with their testicles with regards to their importance and that of the ever increasing disease, testicular cancer and its effects. It is through these responses that I hope to unearth what aspects of masculinity, if any, are constructed or whether they are a natural phenomena.
Trait 7 – MASCULINITY/FEMININITY
Each question scores either one, half or zero points:
If you checked Yes or No (i.e. with * ) then allot one point.
If you checked Maybe then allot half a point.
If you checked Yes or No (i.e. without * ) then allot zero points.
Enter your score after each question, then add up the total for that Trait.
Do you like to engage in rough physical activity?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
At school did you prefer English literature over general science?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you enjoy reading romantic stories?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Are you very sensitive to beauty in your surroundings?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you enjoy shopping?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you feel like crying if you see a sad film?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Are you afraid of snakes, worms or spiders?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Does computer technology interest you more than the psychology of personal
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Do you sometimes have sadistic fantasies?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Do you like going to dances?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you like aggressive scenes of sex and violence at the movies?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Would the sight of a great deal of blood make you feint?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Are you “turned off” by crude and vulgar jokes?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you rely on intuition as to whether or not a person is trustworthy?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you occasionally break down and cry?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you enjoy watching competitive physical sports such as boxing and football?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Are you somewhat frightened of the dark?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Are you interested in science fiction?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Do you find it difficult to resist picking up and cuddling small furry animals?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you often think about falling in love?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you startle easily if someone appears suddenly and unexpectedly?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Would you consider taking part in an orgy?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Would you enjoy singing in a choir?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Are you curious about the workings of engines or other mechanical devices?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Do you like war stories and films?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Would you enjoy painting pictures of children?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Do you feel upset if you see a bird with a broken wing?
Yes | Maybe | No* || Score:
Would you rather be an air pilot than a dress designer?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
As a child, did you enjoy playing with guns?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Does it make you cringe to see men cry or hug each other?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Do you find flowers extremely beautiful?
Yes* | Maybe | No || Score:
Those with high scores are definitely living up to the macho masculine stereotype.
They are tolerant of – and may even enjoy – violence, obscenity and swearing; they are disinclined to show weakness or sentimentality of any kind, e.g. by crying or expressing love, and they rely on reason rather than intuition to come to decisions.
Those with low scores are easily upset by another’s misfortune, by blood, bugs, brutality, etc. and are fascinated by delicate matters such as romance, children, fine arts, flowers and clothes. Obviously men score much higher on average than women but there is a great deal of variation within each sex and the cultural conditioning of gender stereotypes is under increasing scrutiny.
How do you compare?
The norm on this trait is between 13-14 points (a statistical approximation). This may be represented on the following scale:
Masculinity 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 || 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Femininity
Do you think you were born masculine? 50%
Were you taught how to be masculine? 71% no
Did you learn how to be masculine? 71% yes
Does masculinity come from the “balls” (testicles)? 50%
To have “balls” means to be brave? 71% yes
Are balls important? 79% yes
Do balls make you a man and hence masculine? 57% no
Is the penis more important? 64% yes
Do you check your balls for lumps? 79% yes
If so how regular?
If you found a lump would you get it checked out immediately? 79% yes
If no how long would you wait?
Are you aware of the consequences of testicular cancer? 93% yes
If you had to have a testicle removed would it affect your masculinity? 14% yes 7% not sure
Do you think you would still function as a man? 100% yes
Would you be happy with the one remaining testicle? 29% no
Would you have a prosthesis (false one) put in place of the removed so it looked like you still had two? 36% no
The research questionnaires were disseminated by email and through communication by bulletin at www.myspace.com. A total of 50 emails were posted of which, 28 per cent responded, totalling 14 participants. The age range was between 18 to 37 and the average was 24 / 25. Answering the Masculinity / Femininity questionnaire the lowest score was 11 and the highest, 29. Half, 50 per cent of the respondents scored around the 16 / 17 mark and the average was 18.5. 21 per cent of the men interviewed were gay, scoring above the normal trait of masculinity, between 16 and 19 in the test and the remainder identify as heterosexual of which 21 per cent scored below 13. 5, 13 to 14 being identified as normal masculinity. The remaining heterosexuals, 58 per cent scored above 16. Combining the sexualities a total of 79 per cent scored above 16 identifying with the “macho masculine stereotype” indicating then that masculinity is not typically a heterosexual trait. The next step was to determine how masculinity was established.
Half the respondents thought they were born masculine, whilst 29 per cent thought they had been taught, 71 per cent had learned how to become masculine. 21 per cent thought that they were born masculine and that they were also taught and learned this gender identity yet one respondent answered no to all three questions and elaborated by saying “I just am” indicating he has no knowledge of becoming masculine and scoring 19 in the questionnaire he typifies the macho image. Half thought that masculinity came from the testicles but 57 per cent didn’t believe that testicles made them a man and hence masculine. 79 per cent of the men thought that testicles were important but 64 per cent thought the penis was more so.
The area of testicular cancer was then queried of which nearly all, 93 per cent were aware of the consequences although a total of only 79 per cent checked their testicles for lumps. One man scoring 12.5 checked his testicles yearly, and when asked about if how long he would wait if finding a lump, he said, “till scared” this confirms that fear is a factor and scoring below the normal masculine figure of between 13 / 14 he would be classed as more feminine, yet heterosexual.
Knowing that an orchidectomy would take place if the disease occurred 14 per cent said that it would affect their masculinity one respondent who answered no added the comment, “unless it affects my body from a physical point, i.e lack of hormones”, scoring 16.5 he understands that masculinity was a learned identity not a genetic one. Although all respondents said they would still function as a man one continued stating “but i wouldn’t be the same man, due to hormone changes and psychological factors to do with disfigurement”
When asked if they would be happy with the remaining testicle 71 per cent said yes, two of the higher scoring masculine males elaborated one scoring 23 said “yes i wouldn’t get angry and fall out with it, we’re friends forever” and another scoring 29, “yes, Id love it like a brother” which signifies men’s use of humour whilst dealing with sensitive issues. Enquiring whether the men would have a prosthesis 64 per cent said yes
My primary research somewhat contradicts my main body of academic research, yet there are flaws within my results owing to such a small study. This said I believe that academic research, studies and writings that have been published outweigh these findings and my main boresearch project stands as fact. My research has however shed a positive light that men’s attention may well be increasing towards their health.
Qualifications and Restrictions
The predictable restrictions could be men’s ability or inability to discuss factors regarding health and image. The common traits within the hegemonic masculine personality will prevent an honest, emotional response unless the questionnaire and research is undertaken anonymously.
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, Mystifying increase in male cancer
BRITISH cancer specialists are puzzled by an increase in the number of men contracting cancer of the testicles. British and American doctors report an increase of up to 70 per cent in the past 10 years and the figures are continuing to rise.
Cancer of the testicles is the most common form of cancer in men aged between 20 and 34 and accounts for 13 per cent of all deaths in this age group.
But it is still rare when compared with the incidence of breast cancer in women.
The disease is most common among white, middle-class males in higher-income groups. In particular, it has been associated with tall, thin men and one study suggested university educated men were four times more likely to contract the disease. Researchers have ruled out venereal disease as cause of the rise but some researchers think there could be a link with congenital abnormality which goes unrecognised until the cancer is diagnosed.
More patients with testicular cancer have such abnormalities as previously undetected double kidneys or ureters than do other cancer patients.
Other researchers scoff at these theories. A Scandinavian team is investigating if tight underpants contribute to the rise by increasing the skin temperature in the genital area.
Like breast cancer in women, testicular cancer is curable, if diagnosed in the early stages. The overall cure rate is 75 to 80 per cent.
Because of this, health workers in Britain and the United States are beginning a public education campaign.
SUELLEN O’GRADY THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN August 1-2 1981
 “The term ‘hegemonic masculinity’ refers to a particular idealised image of masculinity in relation to which images of femininity and other masculinities are marginalised and subordinated. The hegemonic ideal of masculinity in current Western culture is a man who is independent, risk-taking, aggressive, heterosexual and rational.” (Barrett 2001, 79)
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 Mac An Ghaill, M. (1994) The Making of Men: Masculinities, Sexualities, and Schooling. Open University Press: Milton Keynes. Cited in Partners An update to tackling homophobia.PDF
 [Conversation started on 21 Jul 2006 19:02:19]
[19:04:23] Ford : well i am currently doing my next masters project
[19:04:35] Ford : on the relationship between men and their testicles
[19:04:55] markhusak : ooh er mrs
[19:04:57] Ford : producing an awareness campaign for testicular cancer
[19:05:04] markhusak : good cause
[19:05:11] markhusak : i once got checked out
[19:05:15] Ford : did you now
[19:05:25] markhusak : n they shoved a thing down my jap’s eye
[19:05:34] Ford : for testicle cancer or a uti?
[19:05:45] markhusak : n then they made he have a piss afterwards n it proper killed
[19:05:57] markhusak : i had a lump on my ball
[19:06:04] markhusak : but they said it was a cist
[19:06:19] markhusak : they said it would go away but it aint
[19:06:24] Ford : has it not
[19:06:43] markhusak : no
[19:06:46] markhusak : its still there
[19:07:07] Ford : how did you feel when you found it
[19:07:36] markhusak : dunno
[19:07:40] markhusak : i wasnt that worried
[19:07:44] markhusak : or maybe i was
[19:07:57] markhusak : it took me a year before i went to get it checked out
[19:08:01] markhusak : maybe i was scared
[19:08:18] Ford : so you had it for a year before you went to the docs
[19:08:24] markhusak : yes
[19:08:30] markhusak : i went to st lukes
[19:08:41] markhusak : n they asked me loads akward questions like
[19:08:43] Ford : why did you wait so long
[19:09:00] markhusak : when was the last time u had sex, n is that ur girlfriend outside
[19:09:06] markhusak : like i was a junkie or sommat
[19:09:27] markhusak : i dont know, i think i was hoping that it would go away but it didnt so i thought i better check it out
[19:10:05] Ford : do you think it would have affected your masculinity
[19:11:26] markhusak : nah
[19:11:30] markhusak : maybe at the time
[19:11:36] markhusak : i dont think it matters
[19:11:41] markhusak : one ball, two balls
[19:11:45] markhusak : its all the same to me
[19:11:51] Ford : really?
[19:12:04] markhusak : yes really
[19:12:21] markhusak : im sure it would av been scary but if u loose a ball its better than dying
[19:12:36] Ford : well yes i suppose
[19:12:53] Ford : so you think you would be able to function with just 1
[19:13:06] markhusak : i dunno, u can cant ya
[19:13:12] Ford : yes you can
[19:13:13] markhusak : u can still have kids i think
[19:13:24] Ford : you can
[19:13:26] markhusak : thats the main thing
[19:13:45] Ford : so if you were to find another lump now what would you do?
[19:14:25] markhusak : probably get it checked straight away
[19:14:41] Ford : you wouldn’t self diagnose then and think it was a cyst
[19:15:08] markhusak : dunno. i guess its better b safe than sorry
[19:15:36] markhusak : any how im off for my tea so ill see ya later
[19:15:43] Ford : see you
[19:16:11] markhusak : stay safe
[19:16:11] markhusak : cya dude
[19:16:15] Ford : you too
[19:16:17] Ford : bye
[You have closed the window on 21 Jul 2006 19:16:22]