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Illness Is Bad Luck

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Submitted By JessaLeQ
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‘Illness is simply a matter of bad luck, bad judgement, or bad genetics’ is a statement that expressed how health can be affected by the ‘luck’ of the environment that an individual is born into. The aforementioned statement expressed how health can be affected through a bad judgement of misdiagnoses made by health practitioners. The statement then declared how having bad genes allows an individual to become more susceptible to specific disease (Marvell, 2012). This statement focused on how health is influenced by psychological (bad judgement) and biomedical (bad genes) determinants, for example, being overweight is seen has having bad genes however, sociocultural factors such as gender, media and age can also largely affect an individuals’ health status.
In 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) released the Madrid Statement, saying: "to achieve the highest standard of health, health policies have to recognize that women and men, owing to their biological differences and their gender roles, have different needs, obstacles and opportunities." Meaning that the needs and barriers of both women and men (for example, women are more likely to develop breast cancer than males) are a major influence on the health of the individual and if the Government wants to achieve high national health, knowing the needs and overcoming the barriers must be addressed. A bad luck obstacle males have to face is the expectancy to participate in labour intensive jobs such as being a constructor and undergo high risk taking activities such as speeding whilst driving, which is seen as bad judgement according to the statement; this is due to society’s portrayal of masculinity (Guerreo, 2009). Being exposed to these environments increases the likelihood of physical injury and the development of skin and/or lung cancer depending on the particular environments that they have to adhere to.
Hypermasculinity has a major effect on a male’s health; it can have a negative influence on social relationships as well as their mental health. According to Mosher and Sirkin (1984, cited in Guerreo, 2009) men who hold a strong sexual attitude, are considered violent, and who are considered high risk taking are deemed as being hypermasculine. The mental health of males is negatively affected by the expectations of males to be masculine as males are more likely to suffer depression due to this excess stress if they are unable to accomplish a certain degree of masculinity (Guerreo, 2009). Guerreo (2009) articulates how ‘bad judgement’ in relation to alcoholism affects males health. Alcohol is heavily relied upon when males are in a depressed state as it produces a temporary relaxed state of mind although at the same time further affecting their physical health. Having poor mental health can be seen as having ‘bad luck’ as its believed to be in the individuals control to become masculine or not (Guerreo,2009).
Whilst men are most likely to perpetrate a violent act, women are in some areas of assault most likely to be the victim. Females are seen has having bad luck as they have continuously been victims of rape as well as being thought of as a minority group (Keddie, 2011). Women are more vulnerable to discrimination and violence from ‘hypermasculine’ males, this violence can lead to mental illnesses in females (Marvell, 2012).Women’s Safety Survey (cited in Germov, 2005) discovered that 338, 700 women were victims of physical violence, with 180, 400 of these assaults being committed by the women’s partner or former partner. This is more than three times as many as being attacked by strangers (67, 300). Since it is majority of the females’ partners, being attacked by their partners is portrayed as bad judgement as ultimately the females’ choice of who they date. Some cultures have restrictions in regards to what women can and cannot do and therefore can inhibit them from achieving better health. In the Muslim culture, women are not allowed to partake in sporting activities that do not promote self-defence values. Sports such as basketball are seen as too manly to be involved in (Walseth, 2006). This is seen as bad luck, as the individual has no control of the religious environment that they are born into.
Normalisation is characterised by an increase in positive attitudes and awareness among young people towards illicit drugs which coincides with a rapid increase in the availability of illicit drugs (Wilson, Bryant, Holt, & Treloar, 2010). In order to understand of the relationship between ‘youth culture’ and drug use as the exertion of ‘peer pressure’, it is vital that the normalisation of drug choices among young people is recognized with taking into perspective the importance of the local and socio-economic context of drug use (Wilson, Bryant, Holt, & Treloar, 2010). Music festivals are becoming abundant in Australia, and are primarily targeted to young adults. Experience of illicit drug use is common among festival patrons compared with similar aged peers in the general community (De Wit, Treloar, & Wilson, 2009; Lim, Hellard, Hocking & Aitken, 2008, 2009). However, it is unclear whether illicit drugs are a 'normal' and accepted part of the leisure time of young people attending festivals, or whether illicit drug use remains stigmatised and limited to particular groups of festival attendees (Marvell, 2012). It is difficult to conclude if young adults taking drugs is bad judgement or just bad luck, as many young adults go to music festivals (usually more than one a year) this can be seen as bad luck as it is the environment where young adults are going to experiment. On the other hand, it can be seen as bad judgement has it is the individuals ultimate decision to take the drug.
Ageism can be defined as a ‘prejudice against older people collectively stereotyped as a section of the population disqualified by reason of their chronological age from making a full contribution to society’ (Hepworth, 1995, cited in Germov, 2005, p. 250). This means that there is discrimination against people based on their age which can deprive them of power and influence. An example of this is the mandatory retirement for males at 65 years and 60 years for women. ‘Age-related stereotypes operate to blame the group as a whole for problems, while effectively concealing the underlying explanation for problems’ (Peterson, 1994, p. 64). An example of this is how old people are portrayed in the media (adverts/films/television) as weak and living in retirement villages. According to the aforementioned statement, ageism is simply a matter of bad luck due to the stereotype of society excludes the elderly from the working environment and confines them to be seen as living in the hospital or in a retirement home and being a social burden to the community. The elderly are seen as a social burden as there is expanding group of unproductive people with an increasing demand for health care expenditure which means the elderly are putting less money into the community but needing more in order to take care of them (Marvell, 2012).
Females experience greater social pressure to be thin than do males (Polce-Lynch, Myers, Kilmartin, Forssmann-Falck, & Kliewer, 1998, as cited in Choate, 2005). According to the statement, it suggests that it is ‘bad luck’ to the individual for being born into a contemporary Western society where being thin is the core aspect of beauty for women (Mussell, Binford, & Fulkerson, 2000, as cited in Choate, 2005). In order to classify themselves as ‘beautiful’ a women must possess the characteristics of ‘ideal femininity’; white, young, tall, firm but not excessively muscular, and simultaneously curvaceous, full-breasted, and extremely thin (Barber, 1998; Levine & Smolak, 2002, as cited in Choate, 2005). This ideal femininity is a result of having ‘good genes’, however, majority of women do not acquire majority of the things listed, and therefore seen as having ‘bad genes’ . The images that are seen in television advertisements and within magazines are seen as persuasive in regards that they convince women that they only achieve happiness through unrealistic gift of having good genes (Levine & Smolak, 2002; Thomsen, Weber, & Brown, 2001; Tiggeman, 2002, as cited in Choate, 2005). According to Levine and Smolak (2002, cited in Choate, 2005) the girls who heavily relied on magazines and television advertisements for information about the latest way to lose weight or the latest beauty products were those who possessed the worst body image.
In conclusion, through the use of sociocultural determinants, the statement that ‘illness is simply a matter of bad luck, bad judgement, or bad genetics’ is strongly supported throughout the essay. By having bad genes, an individual can be seen as ‘ugly’ due to the media’s impact on the ideal femininity. Bad judgement influences drug usage for young adults, and bad luck is seen through females being victims of sexual abuse from their partners.

Barber, N. (1998). The slender ideal and eating disorders: An interdisciplinary “telescope” model. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 23, 295–307.
De Wit, J., Treloar, C., and Wilson, H., (Eds.) (2009) HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual report of trends in behaviour. National Centre in HIV Social Research, The University of New South Wales: Sydney.
Germov, J. (2010) (Ed). Second opinion: An introduction to health sociology (4th ed). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press
Guerrero, D. A. V. (2009). Hypermasculinity, intimate partner violence, sexual aggression, social support, and child maltreatment risk in urban, heterosexual fathers taking parenting classes. Child Welfare, 88(4), 135-155.
Levine, M. P., & Smolak, L. (2002). Body image development in adolescence. In T. F. Cash & T. Pruzinsky (Eds.), Body image (pp. 74–82). New York: Guilford Press.
Lim, M., Hellard, M., Hocking, J., & Aitken, C., (2008) 'A cross-sectional survey of young people attending a music festival: Associations between drug use and musical preference.' Drug and Alcohol Review 27:439-441.
Lim, M., Hellard, M., Hocking, J., Spelman, T., & Aitken, C., (2009) 'Surveillance of drug use among young people attending a music festival in Australia, 2005-2008' Drug and Alcohol Review 29(2):150-156.
Marvell, C. (2012). HL117 Sociological perspectives of health: Course notes. Sydney Olympic Park: Australian College of Physical Education.
Mosher, D. L., & Sirkin, M. (1984). Measuring a macho personality constellation. Journal of Research in Personality, 18, 150–163
Mussell, M. P., Binford, R. B., & Fulkerson, J. A. (2000). Eating disorders: Summary of risk factors, prevention programming, and prevention research. The Counselling Psychologist, 28, 764–796
Petersen, A.R. (1994). Chapter 4: age, ageing and health’, In a Critical Condition: Health and Power Relations in Australia, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW
Polce-Lynch, M., Myers, B. J., Kilmartin, C. T., Forssmann-Falck, R., & Kliewer, W. (1998). Gender and age patterns in emotional expression, body image, and self-esteem: A qualitative analysis. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 38, 1025–1049
Thomsen, S. R., Weber, M. M., & Brown, L. B. (2001). The relationship between health and fitness magazine reading and eating disordered weight-loss methods among high school girls. American Journal of Health Education, 32, 133–138
Walseth, K. (2006). Young Muslim women and sport: The impact of identity work. Leisure Studies, 25(1), 75-94
Wilson, H., Bryant, J., Holt, M., & Treloar, C. (2010). Normalisation of recreational drug use among young people: Evidence about accessibility, use and contact with other drug users. Health Sociology Review, 19(2), 164-175.

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