Japanese Men Drink, Eat Fatty Food, Have Fun and Die
Ikeda A, Kawachi I, Iso H, Inoue M, Tsugane S, & JPHC Study Group (2011). Gender difference in the association between social support and metabolic syndrome in Japan: the ‘enkai’ effect? Journal of epidemiology and community health, 65 (1), 71-7 PMID: 19933686
‘Social support, in particular emotional support, has been linked to reduced cardiovascular incidence as well as improved survival following established disease’ (2011, p.71)’…
The assumption is that social support is good for your health and well-being, right? Men hanging out together is always a preferable practice to men bottling up their shite and ultimately exploding, vaporising or whatever. That is where the ‘men’s shed‘ movement sprung from, an earnest attempt by some good-hearted people to recreate a time and place where men would sit around and yack about anything, so long as it completely lacked substance. The gain, as such, comes through ‘safe’ intimacy with others.
However, Ikeda et al. (2011) question this assumption, noting that ‘the pattern of association between social support and health outcomes’ (p.76) is not only gender but also ‘culturally contingent’ (p.76). What might be true for men in the United States, just say, might not necessarily be true for men, as here in this study (2011), in Japan. In fact, the authors (2011) found that many men in Japan who engage in the after-work ritual called ‘enkai’ (p.71) or ‘drinking meeting’ (p.71), were indeed less stressed than their go straight home counterparts…
‘The cultural context where socialising takes place for Japanese men is the ‘enkai,’ which take place after work, and are a means for both strengthening social cohesion (among men) in the same work place, as well as letting off steam and emoting to each other about their problems’ (2011, p.74).
These men were also much more inclined to get pissed as farts and eat fatty food until their clogged arteries strained, ‘no more!’ (2011, p.74). Hence, the question has to be asked: do the pros outweigh the cons in this highly entertaining form of social support? Ikeda et al.(2011, p.74) seem to tilt toward the harm trounces the benefit argument, contextualising enkai within a workplace culture that demands suck arse servility, even long after the whistle has blown.
So, social support can be toxic to men’s health and well-being…
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