(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)
A recent near-death experience brought me too close to what many men deal with at this time of the year but find too shameful to discuss.
Societal gender norms still run deep. I fear women often simply have no idea how dangerously close to the edge their men get sometimes.
I was in that grave, precarious and lonely hell just days ago.
I … I had a man-cold.
Now, for the man who read that last sentence, I need say no more. He’s already holding back a tear, triggered by memories of his own personal horrors with head colds. Like that D-Day veteran visiting the gravesites on Omaha Beach, he’s mumbling, “How many more good men?”
But for the female reader, I can see the eye-roll. And therein lies the issue.
After male-pattern baldness, the man-cold has the highest fatality rate of any disease, ever, that according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Tragic.
The man-cold is 20 times more painful than natural childbirth, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Heartrending.
The man-cold prevents the ability of even simple motor skills such as doing the dishes, laundry or getting the kids to school, according to The Journal of the Rhode Island Institute of Bartending. Catastrophic and haunting.
But the truly devastating aspect of man-cold is the denial of its overwhelming scientific proof by a surprising percentage of the female American population. Man-cold science deniers are likely Fox News viewers.
When the man in your life has a runny nose, cough, scratchy throat and says, “I think I’m dying,” only YOU can save his life with constant attention, affection, empathy, endless kisses to his forehead and whispers of “my poor baby.”
But this is where the callous double-standard of sexism usually rears its ugly head instead.
As research has proven, and there is a clear consensus among scientists on this (Maxim magazine, July 2021), though rare it is possible for a woman to contract a head cold, also known as a “common cold” when a chick gets it.
But due to their different physiology, a common cold is barely perceptible to a woman, thus doesn’t interfere with her normal routines. Sadly, women mistakenly, and pitilessly, assume it is also not a big deal for a man. The presumption!
This ugly misandry must end.
Listen: I was there for the births of my three children. Though I never have given birth personally, I am willing to concede the process seems, perhaps, mildly uncomfortable. And I was fine giving the mother of my children lots of attention, affection and empathy during it.
And we men aren’t looking to overplay man-cold the way you ladies do with birthing. I mean really, all those people running around YOU like YOU’RE the center of the universe? “How often are YOUR contractions?” “Are YOU comfortable?” “Do YOU want an epidural?” I was holding her hand, and no one even offered me a beer.
But the point is I was there, along with what I remember as 200 other people, $58 million worth of medical gear and a hospital bed that later starred in a Transformers movie. Yet even though there was no way I could verify or experience the “pain” she was having, I believed her.
Given how much more intense a man-cold is to simple childbirth (again, it’s settled science, can’t be argued, there’s a consensus, U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on it, we’ve all moved on, well past the time for debate, blah, blah), how cruel and heartless is it that men have to suffer afraid, ashamed, weakened, red-nosed and oh-so-alone on an uncomfortable couch, empty Kleenex box, orange juice out of arm’s reach?
While fighting to just stay alive, some oppressed man-cold sufferers have the added indignity of science deniers mocking and bullying them. My own daughter chortled, “Oh, look who has the man-fluenza.” Man-cold shaming.
How many more times will 911 have to be called to find a missing TV remote because some selfish woman went to work and left a man-cold victim alone and unsupervised!
Let’s build a society where tales of this kind of abuse are left to Stephen King novels.
All man-colds should be believed.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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