A Cold Doesn’t Make Me Less Of A Man — But Thanks For The Jokes

Photo: thatsinappropriate.com
man cold men marriage

Why do "man colds" make women so angry?

I’m a married man and I get sick sometimes. Which, if you enjoy mommy blogger internet memes or hacky 1980s sitcoms, means that I must act like a big wussy baby whenever I get a cold.

Yes, according to the Internet, illness completely emasculates men. 

Particularly an insidious little disease known as “The Man Cold”.

I’ve had a Cold before, as a man, and I didn’t think it was that bad. But if you search for information about "The Man Cold” online, you will find women telling you that it’s the worst thing that’s happened to men since cargo shorts.

Recently, Meredith Masony created a video for her blog, That's Inappropriate, mocking the behavior of her husband (and, presumably, all men) when he gets sick. It went viral, inspiring over 22 million views on Facebook and over 380,000 comments. (Wow.)

So, people obviously feel strongly about the topic, particularly women.

Masony’s video is funny-ish. At parts, it feels an out-take from a forgettable episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.

But what really distinguishes it are the little moments of seething resentment underneath the broad comedy.

The character Masony is playing — the wife and mother — isn’t kidding her husband about being sick. She’s pissed. It’s an angry video, and when the self-righteous wife/mother character offers to check her purse for her husband’s balls, you start to wonder why she’s still married to someone she can’t stand.

There’s a lot of “Man Cold” humor floating around the interwebs (because it obviously strikes a chord with many people), but here are 5 things I think we should all keep in mind before you call your boyfriend or husband a wuss because he’s taking a sick day:

Stereotypes suck, even when they're about men.
Photo: deepfocusreview.com

If women get to embrace the stereotype of the emasculating “Man Cold,” do men get to keep using the dumb “women are terrible drivers” stereotype? And, before you say “Well, my husband is a baby when he gets sick,” remember that lots of men have girlfriends who are legitimately horrible drivers. That doesn’t mean we should be throwing around the “All [BLANKS] are horrible” generalizations at each other, does it?

Because stereotypes aren’t just hurtful, they’re also lame and boring. If a man tried to publicly mock a woman for being on her period, he would get smacked down ASAP. Not just because he’s being awful, but also because it’s just such a dumb cliché. It’s the kind of joke that someone’s old racist grandfather would make in public.

Yes, I know there are still many (terrible) men who make PMS jokes, but, ladies, do you really want to be THAT guy?

There's NOTHING wrong with being sick.
Photo: YouTube

Why is it so terrible to shutdown completely when we’re sick? That’s a bad thing? Everyone feels like crap when we get sick, so it is really that noble to push those feelings aside and try to win a gold medal for “how much we got accomplished while sick”? Maybe we should all give ourselves some time to FEEL sick sometimes. Why are we labeling that as weakness?

Men should be allowed to be vulnerable without becoming the butt of everyone's jokes.
Photo: YouTube

Think about this — thanks to that dumb “man cold” stereotype, there are men who have been raised to think that completely falling apart when they get sick is what men are supposed to do. They were raised to think that being sick is the ONE time they’re allowed to be completely vulnerable. So, if you know a man who never cries, but rolls into the fetal position when he gets the flu, just keep in mind that maybe that’s the ONLY time he was allowed to not be a tough guy when he was a kid.

You don't actually know how sick your man is.
Photo: monologuedb.com

It’s crazy to try to compare one person’s cold to another. There are a million different variables — in viruses and the human body — that make colds and flus unique for every single person.

In an article on the “Man Cold” phenomenon, Dr. William Schaffner confirmed that some colds ARE worse than others, saying "There are many hundreds of different common cold viruses. If you get infected by one with which you've had past experience, your immune system can fend it off and you'll only have a mild illness. But, if this is your first encounter with this particular virus, you likely will get a very bad cold."

So, saying “I didn’t feel that bad when I was sick” is a meaningless statement. You literally have no idea if your man has the exact same cold virus as you, and you have no idea how it might be affecting your bodies differently.

The problem might not be your husband's cold ... it might be your relationship.
Photo: Glamour

I’m not saying that every woman should pamper her man when he’s sick. NOT AT ALL. If he wants you to care for him, that has to be a two-way street. But if your man expects you to wait on him 24/7 when he’s ill and he doesn’t return the favor when you’re sick — that’s not a problem with “man colds.” That means you BOTH have some relationship issues.

If there’s such disparity in your relationship and it’s making you that angry, it’s not normal. And it’s not an “all men” thing. Because all men don’t do that.

So, if your husband or brother or boyfriend acts like total whiner when they have a cold, that sucks. It really does.

But that’s not a “man cold” problem. It’s a “you have a whiny husband or brother or boyfriend” problem.

If we keep telling the world that “men turn into helpless babies when they get sick,” we’re just going to keep perpetuating that myth. We’re going to tell overprotective parents to allow their boys to turn to mush when they get ill. We’re going to tell men that they can never, ever show signs of weakness or fatigue, lest they end up in on the receiving end of mommy blogger spite.

And we’re going to tell women that, when they’re sick, they can never rest or rely on someone else, because… eww, that’s what men do. And men are icky.

For the good of both genders, let’s retire the hacky “man cold” hate and stop being pissed off just because someone dares sicker than you are.