I just happened to be blowing my nose, sitting there in the waiting-room of my car's service department, phone in hand scrolling through news articles, when I found the CBC article "Canadian doctor says there's evidence the 'man flu' is actually real."
Of course, probably because I had suffered my old cold with no downtime just last week, I clicked through.
For the few who haven't heard of the phenomenon of the man-cold, it's just like a woman's cold, except men actually lie in bed, seeming to think that they're dying. The man-cold has become a meme in today's society. Heck, even commercials make fun of it. But this doc says that his testing on mice could suggest that women have a better immune response than men.
Scientifically very interesting. But then he went here:
"The whole point of doing this article is to prove that men are not wimps," he said in an interview. "Actually, we are suffering from something we have no control over ... [We] should be given the benefit of the doubt rather than being criticized for not functioning well during the flu or the common cold."
Wait, I thought. Did he just go there? Oh hell no he didn't.
(Yes, he did.)
I'm willing to concede ground on the man cold, even though I, and every woman, has had extremely bad colds and flus that would lay us up - except for the fact that someone still has to get shit done. No joke: once I was told to come into work, sick as a dog, because there was a meeting and nobody else knew how to run reports from our CRM. That my (male) boss cancelled meetings when he was sick and stayed home for four days at a time was not a fact that was lost on me. The world doesn't just stop working when people are sick; the kid still has to get to school, people still have to be fed, tasks around the house still have to get done, and these are still things that fall very much in the women's domain still, even though women are just as likely to be employed as well.
And we get stuff done regardless of how we personally feel about it, which is why - for the most part - women shit on the idea of the man cold. BUT as I said, I'll cut men some slack. Stranger things have happened in medical science than certain types of people reacting worse to illnesses.
Let's go back to the part where they want leeway for something that they have no control over: Nope. You're not going to get it. You know why? Because equality is a bitch, and so is karma.
For years and years and YEARS and years women have been shit upon by men for things that they have no control over. I could bring up at least a half a dozen examples, but let's go to the main biological difference for the sake of expediency: the uterus.
Here are some of the MAJOR things that women have been financially or emotionally punished for... that they have no control over... that are only in the realm of the uterus:
- Menstruation - Women in Canada had to fight a major battle with the federal government to remove the "LUXURY TAX" on tampons, pads, and menstrual cups that we only JUST changed. In 2016. Yes, feminine hygiene products were subject to GST, but not food, clothing, or contact lenses. And don't EVEN get me started on vending machines in public areas - boy you sure did get more than you bargained for on that tampon debacle, Calgary airport, eh? But even though I'm not being frigging LUXURY TAXED anymore, it's still something I and most every woman will have to pay for for like thirty damn years of our lives. (As if we were welcome to make the choice to walk around free-bleeding everyplace.) It's like paying a $3,600 lifetime membership fee for wildly inconvenient natural phenomena because of being female. Women in third world countries have it even worse (still) because people have such religious and cultural issues with MYSTERIOUS FEMALE BLEEDING.
- Pain - People still don't take women's pain seriously, did you know? There's women who are seriously sick with hormones and pain every month, and yet there's been surprisingly little research into PMS and cramping, and a lot of doctors are pretty dismissive about it. And not just pms/crampy pain, either. I tore delivering my son, which resulted in a fair bit of scar tissue on some of my nether regions. When I complained about it to my gynecologist and asked what my options were, I got the answer: "Drink a glass of wine before sex and relax." (I am not even kidding, and yes, the doc was a guy.)
- Hormones - You know that little birth control pill? It's prescribed to women for a whole host of reasons that have NOTHING to do with pregnancy, including the treatment of endometriosis, acne, dysmenorrhea, anemia, amenorrhea, cysts, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. And yet our neighbours to the south are getting denied access to BCPs by their pharmacists and drug plans because they think this is this 1600s and anything that isn't a leech that has the possibility of being used to prevent pregnancy is a sin.
- Childbearing - Well, I mean I could write a frigging thesis on this one. As above, not only women are getting denied access to the pill - as well as many other forms of birth control - there's a lot of people are getting all sorts of involved in women's bodies and what they should be used for, many of whom aren't women at all. If we get pregnant, a large chunk of society says it's our fault - even if we've been denied or can't afford birth control (which isn't free). If you're low-income and are pregnant or have children, a good chunk of society wants to punish you and your kids more, because SURELY you've done it just for the government cheque (and though there are likely some women who actually do this, there's ACTUALLY a sense to it BECAUSE having a child and a job at the same time is financially punitive even to middle-income families). And even if you do procreate in all the respectable ways, you're punished in your career and job - it's been argued that women deserve that pay gap because they're off missing so much work because they're having kids. Well, I guess so, especially if you're living in the US and have 6 weeks of maternity recovery time if you're lucky. A lot of women aren't. But even here in Ontario, where we get our choice to up to 18 months off... daycare isn't free, so no wonder they have to make the crushing choice to stay home, especially if they have two kids and are looking at something like $50-60 bucks a day in daycare.
Sorry you feel like shit with your man-cold, guys. But you can't seriously ask for recognition of your suffering a "serious illness" yet.
Call us in a few hundred years, or whenever you decide to level the playing field and recognize that women are still suffering things that they have had no control over, and you help make it right for us too.
Then we'll talk.
IMAGE SOURCE: ATNOYDUR VIA GETTY IMAGES