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Trigger warning: evolutionary psychology and the benefit of the doubt
I saw these two images posted on my Facebook feed and although I’ve seen them before, this particular trope always pisses me off, so today I am go to ramble out a theory that I admittedly have not thought about really carefully, but I want to demonstrate how my thought process works and how I am influenced by a positive view of men and masculinity. I generally begin with the assumption that there is always a good reason for why men act the way they do. I don’t start from a position of mocking or derision or just plain disrespect.
Manflu is a thing in my house, absolutely. What feels to me like an irritation hits my husband like a fullblown episode of pneumonia and the plague combined. I take an Advil and keep going, and he is in bed feverish and moaning. At no point do I think he is exploiting me or pretending or weak or being childish – he is sick.
So here is my pet theory for why illnesses hit men and women very differently. For most of human history, we have not had skyscrapers and bullet trains and smart phones. Life was, as Thomas Hobbes puts it, “nasty, brutish and short”. Women, for the most part, stuck close to home tending to domestic work, and the dangerous work like hunting or building or extracting resources or manufacturing was left to men. Both of these roles are vitally important. When a woman gets hits with a cold or flu virus, her work is necessary, but not particularly demanding. Cooking, cleaning, keeping the baby fed and warm and watching the older children – it can all be done under the duress of a fever and bodily weakness. It won’t be done up to usual snuff, because she is sick and weak and feeling like shit, so don’t expect gourmet meals and a floor you can eat off of, but her work still gets done, as it must.
That is how it works in my house to this day. I get through these little bouts of illness without a huge amount of fuss or stress.
But when men get hit with the same virus, that bodily weakness has much bigger implications. Men generally do the rough work as part of a team – hunting, barn raising, collecting giant rocks to make the foundation of a house. A man who is weakened in any way puts the whole team at risk. His body is programmed to react much more dramatically to that weakness and to send him to bed where he can recover without putting anyone else at risk.
There is no risk in the modern world, for the most part, but our brains still react as if we are back on the savannah, avoiding lions and patching up our grass huts.
Is any of this plausible? I think so, but then again, I have just come up with this idea now.
My point, which I know all the trolls will miss entirely, is that when you like men and care about them and don’t think of them as assholes avoiding their responsibility, it is not that hard to explain their actions and behaviours in a positive way. You can let men be men and still be able to empathize with how they experience the world, without in any way disparaging or taking something away from women.
That seems to be the main conversation that has shifted in our culture. Men and women are different, and it’s really not that big of a deal. Those differences complement each other and turning the experience of a virus into a competition is just a shitty, mean-spirited, asshole thing to do.
So to the women who posted those manflu photos? Stop being such assholes and go take care of your man. He’s not doing anything wrong.
Stop being such a bitch about it.
Lots of love,
This article originally appeared at feministing.com.
I’ve made a few corrections, based on the very simple idea that losing a fight you started doesn’t make you a victim. The truth is that men rarely hit women, unless you hit them first.
Here’s a sure-fire way to know that you hate men: when an incident of intimate partner violence in which a woman beats a man with a nine iron gains national attention and every question or comment you think to make has to do with his behavior, you really hate men. Like, despise.
There is no other explanation. There is no “I need all the facts.” There is no excuse. You hate men. Own it.
Now, you probably don’t believe you hate men. You probably honestly think you’re being an objective observer whose only interest is the truth. You are delusional.
We have this problem in our discourse around the most important challenges we face where we feel we have to be “fair to both sides.” But sometimes, one of those sides is subjugation and oppression. If you’re OK with legitimizing that side in the interest of “fairness,” you’re essentially saying you’re OK with oppression as a part of the human condition. That’s some hateful shit.
Violence against men doesn’t deserve a “fair” hearing. There should be no justifications offered, no rationalizing, no equivocating. Violence against men should be intolerable. But every time we are called upon to collectively denounce that violence, there’s a section of the choir that starts singing from a different set of sheet music.
“Well, I don’t believe she should have hit him, but he also shouldn’t have…”
“Hitting men is wrong, but …”
“He has a responsibility to his family…”
“He stayed with her, so obviously he’s condoning that behavior…”
“It’s none of our business what happens between…”
“What did he expect?”
Hate. It’s all hate. Because if you can look at the history of men being beaten and battered into silence and second-class citizenship, their lives thrown away in wars women are protected from, and still ask if they are at all to blame for the violence visited upon them, there’s nothing else to call that.
There is a tendency to judge the actions of those with the least amount of power the same as those with more power and then ask, “Isn’t that what equality means?” It’s a clever rhetorical evasion of the issue. Equality is the goal, but to pretend that we actually exist as equals right now is to ignore reality. Like it or not, we all carry history with us in our personal interactions. The history of violence against men is one where men’s bodies are a battleground in a struggle for power. Punches, kicks, weapons, and the threat of death have been used to assert dominance and deny men autonomy, at home and out in the rest of the world.
How are men denied autonomy? How are their bodies used? The most common way is to deny them the right to choose parenthood. Their money, their lives, their bodies are nothing but instruments to be used at the sole discretion of women. And just to remind men of how disposable their bodies are, every single one of them, upon turning 18, is required to sign a document acknowledging that they can be discarded like trash at the whim of the government. Women have never been required to acknowledge their bodies or their lives as something that can be disposed of in service to a greater good.
If you think violence against men is funny, or not worthy of consideration or somehow less important than violence against women, you hate men.
It’s that simple.
There, feministing. I fixed your stupid piece of shit writing about hate for you.
Lots of love,