If men are cars, why can't they get MOTs?

Suzanne Moore

Last updated at 15:39 13 August 2006

A cheery bit of news in a bad week. Single men between 19 and 44 are twice as likely as their married/ co-habiting counterparts to die before the age of 50.

OK, so it's not that cheery, half of all single men being culled by their 'toxic bachelor' lifestyles.

But at least it wasn't a piece of health advice that was aimed at me!

As a toxic female, I am told almost daily that most of what I do - work, eat, drink, breathe - is virtually a form of self-harm.

If it is not actually killing me, or causing the 'appearance of fine lines' as they say in those ads, then it is doubtless damaging my children in some way or another. Luckily, I already have children otherwise I would certainly be compromising my fertility by the stress of, er, being alive.

By a process of osmosis, women absorb all this information about health just as even women who claim not to care know the carb/ calorie value of every pistachio they pop into their mouths.

Each week one friend or other gives up or adds something to her diet in an effort just to feel better. Cereal, blueberries, dairy, whatever. Women talk to each other about bloating, how old their eggs are, the shape of their moles, in ways that may be too much information for men. But at least it is an exchange of information.

The male body, it appears, remains a foreign country even to its owner. It is at most a machine that runs well until - for no reason at all - it breaks down.

Magazines aimed at men are limited to advice on acquiring the abdominal muscles of a homosexual porn star, some fantastic insights - such as cooking may involve more than microwaving - cursory advice to check 'down below' and lots of ads for new things to wash with. That's it. All else is too gay for words.

The female body, though presented as an eternal mystery, is actually much less of one to those lucky enough to have one. You can't go through puberty, pregnancy and childbirth without having been poked and prodded a few times. If something is going wrong we make an appointment with the GP. For men, holding out against doctors and dentists is a sign of resilient masculinity not persistent stupidity.

Every time somebody points out that although men die from prostate and testicular cancer, breast cancer gets far more publicity I want to scream: 'Yes that's because women talk about it much more.'

THE reasons so-called toxic bachelors don't make it to 50 is because of 'risky behaviour'. T When younger it means Aids and accidents, when older it means cardiovascular disease. Living with a woman cuts risks because she is less likely to think a bucket of KFC is a balanced meal.

But the greatest risk is that men don't go to the doctor when they need to unless a woman nags or cajoles them into it.

Why is men's health still women's responsibility? Surely men are more self-conscious than ever, waxing and moisturising and exfoliating themselves all over the place? Why does this not extend to looking after themselves in other ways?

One problem is that men apparently think of themselves as cars. This is slightly autistic but, even so, can't they get themselves an MOT?

Perhaps, though, this really is the evolutionary dynamic at play. Men who cannot get themselves partnered up are more likely to head towards an early grave.

As ever, the survival of the fittest depends on the female of the species.

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