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Why is Annette King like Sadam Hussein ?

(Open Letter)

© Peter Zohrab 2003

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To: Hon. Annette King, New Zealand Minister of Health

Dear Annette King,

Thank you for your letter of 18 Feb 2003 and for the information contained in it on the NZ Guideline Group's ongoing review of evidence on screening for prostate cancer. That letter was a response to my accusation of (not necessarily deliberate) anti-male gendercide. I say "not necessarily", because of the existence of views such as those expressed in the "Society for Cutting Up Men Manifesto" on the page: http://www.ai.mit.edu/~shivers/rants/scum.html . I don't know how many Lesbians in the Ministry of Health have such views, and neither do you -- unless you consort with them.

The comparison with Sadam Hussein is apt. The UN has for years been putting pressure on Sadam Hussein to reveal details about all current and past weapons of mass destruction, and Sadam Hussein responds by delaying, ignoring some issues, making a show of complying, and giving partial responses. I would not accuse you of delaying, but I think the other comparisons fit.

Healthcare is a weapon of mass destruction, when it is withheld from certain parts of the population. Abortion is one area where a section of the population is not only denied healthcare -- unborn infants are actually killed by the health system at taxpayer expense, if this happens to be convenient to the mother alone. The father is not officially consulted -- he just has to support the child or pay child support if the mother decides not to abort the infant.

The position of men in New Zealand is better than the position of the fetus -- but not much better. I will mention just two health-related issues here: wartime military service and healthcare. Since women got the vote in New Zealand, they have comprised a majority of the electorate. This electorate has voted in governments that have declared wars in which conscription or social pressure has caused large numbers of conscripted or volunteering men (and no women) to endure battle, to kill people they had no grudge against, to feel massive fear and boredom, to suffer minor and major injuries, including amputations and other permanent harm -- and death.

The New Zealand Equality Education Foundation is grateful for your statement that information is being prepared that will inform men about the PSA test for prostate cancer. That is certainly a step in the right direction. What we are asking for, however, is an across-the board focus on men's health in general, including information, research, prevention and treatment. Even the Men's Health slots on television (which seem to have stopped, anyway) seemed to focus on erectile disfunction -- which is arguably more a problem for women than a problem for men, anyway !

You write:

"There are few men-specific programmes because most of men's major health afflictions are non-reproductive and affect women as well."

I disagree with this on two grounds:

1. As the page http://www.spine-health.com/topics/cd/osteoporosis/osteopor04.html makes clear, women's hormone-mix is involved in osteoporosis, although osteoporosis is not a reproductive affliction, as such. Similarly, one would expect men's hormone-mix (which differs substantially from women's hormone-mix) to have health consequences outside the purely reproductive sphere as well -- but for these to be discovered, publicised and dealt to, there would have to be a non-Feminist culture willing to devote funds to this end. Feminism (the state ideology of New Zealand) requires that women be thought of and treated as victims of male oppression, and so is incompatible with efforts to improve any aspect of life for men -- lest this confuse the ideological picture;

2. It is largely because many of men's health afflictions also affect women that any funds at all are thrown in their direction. We simply do not know how many health afflictions men have that do not affect women, because people like yourself dominate the Health sector internationally and prevent any focus being placed on Men's Health. The medical specialisations of Gynecology and Obstetrics are a standard part of the medical landscape, but even the word "Andrology" (see: http://www.andrology.com/) would not even be recognised by most people as meaning "The science of diseases of the male sex." Male Health problems, when they are studied, are usually hidden away in Urology, which also covers women's "plumbing".

We are grateful that you agree that it is a major concern that men visit primary healthcare services less frequently than women. However we resent the fact that you should find it necessary to add the words "especially Maori and Pacific Island men". That betrays a refusal to focus on men as a group, and an aversion to considering the needs of men other than Maori and Pacific Island men. It is obvious that (as we stated in our letter) if men visit primary healthcare services less frequently than women, and if this causes extra costs to the taxpayer in terms of greater male than female hospital admissions, as well as the premature death of many men, then the solution, in terms of your own Primary Healthcare Strategy, is to target men for special attention.

Your reply to us ignored the issue of research funding. This is a crucial issue, because you cannot have much hope of finding what you don't actually look for. Unless funds are targeted at research into male health, people like you will be able to continue to belittle the problem and to blame men for their bad health.

The New Zealand Equality Education Foundation calls on the Government to establish chairs of Andrology at all New Zealand's university medical faculties, and a department of Andrology at at least one major hospital.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Zohrab,
Acting President,
NZ Equality Education Foundation

18 Feb 2003

Minister of Health's letter of 18 Feb 2003, p. 1

Minister of Health's letter of 18 Feb 2003, p. 2


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Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

16 June 2017