How Is A Man Supposed To Be A Man?

Review by Guild member Mary-Claire Mason

‘I want to have your baby you’ll be a great Dad.’

I have heard these words on relatively few occasions in my life but each time my heart has either lifted with joy or plummeted with fear. As I approach sixty-two years of age the words I hear now are ‘you would have made a great Dad’.

These are the words Robin Hadley uses to introduce his new academic book 2021 HOW IS A MAN SUPPOSED TO BE A MAN? Male Childlessness – a Life Course Disrupted’ a doctoral thesis which grew out of his own experience of not having children, the silence surrounding  the subject (so much is written about women’s experiences but what are men’s). He talks about his broodiness, feelings of loss, loneliness, grief and exclusion  from the world of fathers.

Based on interviews with 14 men it’s a groundbreaking book shining the light on men and their experiences,  how men may  feel when they don’t end up having children for one reason or another e.g. not meeting the right person, infertility.

It is a forensic examination of the literature on men which shows so often they are sidelined and ignored when it comes to matters of conception fertility pregnancy and fatherhood. What happens to them long-term re their health and wellbeing as they get older are vital issues discussed here.

male infertility book cover

MALE INFERTILITY – MEN TALKING my book, published in 1993 also came out of my experience – I wanted to find out what men felt about a diagnosis of infertility so I interviewed 22 men about this.

The attached picture shows their sense of exclusion from fertility investigations which I think still often happens to this day and their feelings of being onlookers in the whole process not properly included.

One thing that emerged was men often knew little about their fertility, how to protect it and what warning signs to look out for. Fertility investigations now are still dominated by gynaecologists, men not properly checked, a sperm test is not sufficient which may explain why so little is still understood about the subject.

One eminent urologist says IVF which is so often turned to  is a solution not a treatment for male infertility, men need to be properly investigated, have a physical examination and a series of hormone tests. And they needed to be treated with care and support.

Mary-Claire Mason’s Blog –