Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Healthy masculinities and the wellbeing of young men and boys

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 23 February 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p385

Rapid Response:

Re: Healthy masculinities and the wellbeing of young men and boys

Dear Editor

This topic is a tree in a very large wood. The importance of the entire wood ought not to be overlooked.

Whereas there is much with which to concur and little with which to take exception here, I feel that the basic Darwinian biology of the genders is too often discounted or disregarded.

The physical, psychological and social endowments of our evolutionary journey have everything to do with the inescapable drives for survival and reproduction and will not soon be eclipsed by any of the transitory overlays of our culture.

Our contemporary discourse is apt to occur in echo chambers which predispose to emulous group think - often degenerating into vituperatively partisan positions being taken.

A psychiatrist, now with something of a public profile, who had a significant influence upon me at med school opined: 'Anyone who claims to know the mind of another is a fool.' How much more is this true than when taken across the gender divide.

I offer the view that 'toxic masculinity' is no more prevalent than 'toxic femininity'. The latter exemplified by the excesses and pressures that our society imposes upon women - the wildly distorted body images, the relentless pressure to conform, the vapid bizarreries of coiffure, maquillage and couture...

We've all got problems - let's recall the parable of the mote and the beam.

Yours sincerely

Steve Ford

Competing interests: No competing interests

25 March 2023
Steven Ford
Retired GP
Haydon Bridge