If my husband were a tree, I’m not sure he’d be an oak – a veritable Wyatt Earp or Paul Bunyan. He’s actually able to express his feelings. Oh he’s manly and owns power tools so he’s definitely not a squishy wood like pine or hemlock, but I’d say he’s more of a mahogany or cherry - highly valued hardwood, with a touch of softness that’s pressed into service easily. You see, the oaks of this world are the strong silent types – nothing moves them, or at least nothing **seems** to move them. Nothing seems to disturb them. They get the Man-Cold and still cut down 40 trees, save 25 kittens from high trees and swim 18 laps in the pool before breakfast. They don’t need anyone or anything – they’re fine - always. But all the other ‘trees’ (and everyone surrounding them) suffer when the dreaded Man-Cold hits.
Now I know women who have truly been at death’s door with double pneumonia or the black death who were still able to orchestrate entire weeks for 9 children of various ages from their sick bed. Every child was squirreled away somewhere so that mom could have an hour of rest before having to get up and feed someone again. I mean, women are still multi-tasking, organizing, finding the better, cleaner, more refined way of doing things even in a world of hurt, and studies have proven, over and over, that these traits are part of the feminine genius. But….from our vantage point, we get the unfortunate impression that men are selfish, dumb oafs incapable of doing more than breathing sometimes and requiring the care of a totally dedicated Italian Mama in the death throes of a stuffy nose.
Where does that thought even come from? Just because the Feminine Gifts SEEM to dominate the Masculine Gifts in this instance doesn’t mean they actually do in the grand scheme of things. But I think our society tells us otherwise. For years men in the media have been portrayed, for the most part, as bumbling idiots, not just when they’re sick, but all the time. Don’t believe me? Behold exhibits A through F. Pick a few or watch them all, but watch carefully.
This is just a small slice of what we’ve been taking in over the last 15 to 20 years of prime time television – a steady diet of whiny, sniveling, male-buffoonery that’s been spoon-fed to us generation X and Y-ers. Oh sure, they get ‘a laugh’ here and there, but there's more to it than just that. These shows have shaped a generation, have molded young minds with the foundational idea that anything masculine = stupid, ridiculous and utterly laughable. I can see the typical scene now, played out over and over with few changes…the man thinks he’s being “smart” hiding something from his wife. His wife is fully aware of what is going on but enjoys letting him squiggle and squirm and lie while she confronts and verbally emasculates him. Funny, right? I think it’s disgusting. I have witnessed women tearing strips off their men out in public - in the grocery store or at church (of all places). I don’t find it funny.
And really, what is it about masculinity that is so stupid and awful? Is it that they’re focused? Studies have shown that men have this uncanny ability to concentrate on a very few things at a time. My husband had his hearing tested a while back thinking that he wasn’t hearing me when I spoke to him. As it turns out his hearing is perfect and the audiologist informed us that there is a real condition called “Selective Hearing” that guys typically have. He explained that the brain tunes out sounds and noises when a person is focused in an attempt to minimize distractions, which is an amazing feat, when you think about it. It helps a man intensely concentrate on and complete single, arduous tasks like saving a person from a burning building or solving complex mathematical equations or finding a chemical cure to cancer. This type of tunnel-vision-focus also comes in handy within the sphere of love and relationships – allowing a man to focus all of his creative energies to please and take better care of his wife and family. But I suppose in this day and age doing more is better – therefore women who can multi-task and accomplish more things in a shorter amount of time, are “far superior”.
Or maybe it’s because men enjoy simple pleasures. Women have literally hundreds of hormones coursing through their veins at any given time, whereas men have relatively few, helping to make them generally less complex in their needs and wants, and generally more clear-headed in knowing themselves. (I am generalizing here) We women might mistake this simplicity as feeble-mindedness or stupidity, rather than what it is – literally uncomplicated wants and needs.
Or perhaps it’s that women and men are just plain annoyed by one another, and mock what they don’t understand?
Our last bout with the Man-Cold lasted a couple of weeks, and while my patience began to wear thin with every passing day, I had to remind myself that strengths and weaknesses go hand in hand. My husband has this amazing ability to centre all of his attention on something, and when he is sick, he focuses on himself and healing...which incidentally, is the right and proper thing to do in that moment, isn't it? Sure he might get a little bit needy during this time, but who doesn’t when they are sick? Everyone needs to be taken care of sometimes and why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to serve him? Because I’m selfish, that’s why. If I've learned anything from my hubby's last illness it's that men are awesome. They've got skills - different from ours, but skills nonetheless. And no matter what others say, there's always something more the sexes can learn from each other if they're open and honest.