Women as "Vessels of Reproduction"

These aren’t my words. Listen to John R. Beard, who runs the Department of Ageing and Life Course for the World Health Organization:

“To some extent, we treat women as vessels of reproduction, and once they’ve done that we don’t pay much attention to them.”

That’s from Don McNeil's Times article about women’s life expectancy:

Life expectancy for women who live to age 50 is going up around the world, but poor and middle-income countries could easily make greater gains, according to a new World Health Organization report.

Heart disease, stroke and cancer kill most women over 50, said Dr. John R. Beard, director of the W.H.O.’s department of aging, so countries should focus on lowering blood pressure with inexpensive drugs and screening for cervical and breast cancer. Those diseases can be prevented or treated, said Dr. Beard, who was also an author of the study, which was published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

Related (if barely): Ronald Coase has died at age 102.


SanderM

I think what all of these studies ignore is that the "we" are men in positions of power. Women don't necessarily have the same world as men and are we really don't want those men to have anything to do with our world. There is a struggle among women to want women's issues to gain political attention and to keep the woman's world separate, as it has been for much of the last century. Women have historically kept their issues among themselves and taught their girls to be as invisible and non-confrontational as possible, as being noticed can be a dangerous thing for a girl and the cost of direct confrontations with men can be very high.

Colin

This is all very politically correct, but the facts are that mortality rates for men over 50 remain higher than those for women in the same age group. Heart disease, blood pressure, testicular and prostate cancer are preventable or treatable, and all present at higher rates than the equivalent women's health issues.

So if we are going to prioritise our attention, it should be on improving men's health.

Melissa Belvadi

There is also research showing that men neglect their own health more than women - they don't go for regular checkups, they fail to comply with doctor's instructions once they do go, etc. I agree that more should be done to improve men's health, but we need to be clear that the "more" to be done isn't medical research per se, but outreach and education.

James

We could with equal validity say that we treat men as mobile wallets, and once they pass age 40-50 we don't pay much attention to them unless they have lots of money.

Ben

Funny how the who says we should focus on middle aged womens health when life expectancy for women is higher then men's in almost every single country.

(Similar paradox applies to the whole 'stop the violence against women' campaigning. Why not stop violence regardless of gender? Or is violence against men somewhat more okay?)

Julien Couvreur

This Freakonomics article disappoints me, as the source cited offers not argument or evidence in support of the provocative soundbite. Is that the level of reflection that you seek for your readers, catchy headlines?

James

According to this site http://www.idph.state.il.us/menshealth/healththreats.htm heart disease and cancer are the top two killers of men over 50. Stroke is fourth, after accidents. So how exactly is treating these conditions in women all that much different than treating them in men?

Chad

Well for one thing, the amount of $$ going to breast cancer is far larger than that going to prostate cancer, even though we are farther along with breast cancer research, and breast cancer affects fewer women than does prostate cancer men. Someone will follow on with hard stats, I'm sure. ""Cancer"" is certainly not one disease.

Melissa

Breast cancer is 1 out of 8 women, prostate cancer is 1 out of 6 men (in the US) but the survival rates for prostate cancer are much higher than for breast cancer, which I think justifies more money going to breast cancer research. In other words, we already know how to effectively treat prostate cancer - the main issue there is just getting men to see their doctors. But there's still more to be done to improve treatment of breast cancer. I don't know how you can claim "we are farther along with breast cancer research" given the comparative survival rates.
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-survival-by-stage
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-survival-rates

david

Oh boo hoo. It's so tough to be a woman where you live 8 years longer than the average male. For sure we are so neglecting our women.

Amanda

Has John R. Beard seen "Harold and Maude?" Clearly in that film at least a very much older woman is a vessel of delight. While it's not my favorite film, different things are differently erotic to various individuals. I don't think older women have that much trouble being erotocized, maybe it's hard to contemplate but I'm sure there are not that many difficulties.

mumblesorgrumbles.blogspot.com

Sarah

Women live longer than men on average of eight years and yet we're paid 10K - 15K LESS for having the same qualifications for the exact same jobs. The discrimination against women demonstrated by this sexist old man is typical. I went to a doctor for a health problem and explained in detail what was going on. His solution was that I was not in a position to diagnose myself. I never did diagnose myself at all and just made a list of symptoms for him to review.
He just wanted to give me drugs to treat the symptoms and send me on my way. I ended up walking out of the office after telling him off.
I then when to a woman doctor who actually LISTENED, reviewed my symptoms and solved the health problem instead of just trying to drug me and treat the symptoms. This I would say is a huge part of the problem. Women need to speak up, demand action and stop simply putting up with stupid old men and with religion. When it comes to the hatred of the opposite sex I find repeatedly that women are objects that men can take their frustration out on. If we really want to level the playing field I would say that old man needs to be fired and told that kind of language and behavior is inexcusable in the description of women. "Doctors" who claim women need to "pray for their health" should have their medical license taken away. If they won't bother to address the issue, listen to the patient, or actually do their job then we need to get rid of bad doctors the way we need to get rid of bad teachers. If they aren't doing their jobs then they need to go.
I'd say Mr. Beard needs to go. Women today just don't need to breed like dogs and have better things to do than wait on a man hand and foot. His antiquated world view is infuriating. I really hope that pig isn't married.

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Chad

WTF are you talking about? Maybe read the study before you go off on a tangent about your hatred of men!

El Conquistador

Life expectancy for women who live to age 50 is going up around the world, but poor and middle-income countries could easily make greater gains, according to a new World Health Organization report.

Okay, the above quote can be applied to pretty much any health issue. Here my first try:

Life expectancy for People Living with HIV Virus is going up around the world, but poor and middle-income countries could easily make greater gains, according to a new World Health Organization report.

Maybe this one works too:

Life expectancy for Older Men with Diabetes is going up around the world, but poor and middle-income countries could easily make greater gains, according to a new World Health Organization report.

Now, your turn:

Life expectancy for ____________ is going up around the world, but poor and middle-income countries could easily make greater gains, according to a new World Health Organization report.

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