Modern Maiden

20:35, Sep 27 2012

I love being a woman. I wear ribbons in my hair, enjoy romantic walks on the beach, and most importantly I can't catch that serious and life threatening illness known as "man flu."

Widely recognised as fiercely attacking the immune system of males, this epidemic is sending men everywhere to bed. Beware my fellow Modern Maidens, if it hasn't happened to you yet, it won't be long before a male woefully calls on you to bring him cups of tea, Vicks VapoDrops and lashings of TLC.

My flatmate was sick this week and the dreaded lurgy turned this strong, beer-drinking, independent man into a coughing and sighing puddle on the couch.

Of course, being the hilarious female that I am, I took sadistic pleasure in pointing out that I was so glad I was immune to the terrible disease known as man flu, and that I was sure the pharmacy would help him find some concrete pills, so he could harden up.

Then the universe rained on my parade, sending me whimpering to my room to watch re-runs of Friends and create a cemetery of used tissues around my bed. If there was ever a woman who was unfortunate enough to get close to experiencing the man flu, it was me, and it was terrible.

Men would have you believe this antibiotic-resistant strain of the flu directly attacks the Y chromosome, leaving them barely able to reach for the remote. However, in my feverish and snot-infested state, it was clear to me. "Man flu" is less about the differences between men and women and more about the loss of one's strength.

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The contrast between how strong many men like to present themselves to be, and how like a crying and coughing toddler they can become when ill, makes it easy for women to assume that men were born with the hypochondria gene. Hence the term man flu.

As an independent woman who was suddenly landed in bed, a strange and unfamiliar sense of understanding began to encroach on me.

Like many men I appear strong. I do everything myself, for myself, including fixing that broken heel on my favourite pair of shoes. I pour my own wine, I assert my independence and I raise an eyebrow when someone assumes I don't know how to use a drill. Yet when it comes to being sick, my cries for mummy are just as self-pitying as those from once strong men now sobbing into their lemon drinks.

Feeling like I could finally offer some empathy to my still suffering flatmate, I trudged through the cemetery of tissues and headed to the lounge to share my Strepsils with him.

There he was on the couch, wrapped in a dressing gown with boxes of cold and flu tablets strewn on the coffee table. He looked at me with sheer envy in his eyes and crocked, "you women are so lucky you can't get man flu, it's hell."

Ladies, it looks like this epidemic is here to stay. Brothers, fathers, sons and husbands will call on your for your womanly wisdom. My suggestion: turn on Top Gear for them, pour yourself a glass of wine and celebrate our superior immune system in style. Here's to being a woman!

Taranaki Daily News