Men Behaving Badly (UKTV)


Infantilising men doesn't do anyone – male or female – any favours 

Acting like men are great big babies who get man-flu and need man-creches hurts us all, says Robyn Wilder

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By Robyn Wilder on

Where’s Bob? Off sick again? Probably man-flu. Poor love. They always have it worse, don’t they, the men? I bet he’s holed up in his man-cave with some beer and a Netflix bromance, feeling sorry for himself. Men, LOL!

I’ve heard this conversation, or a variant of it, at every office I’ve ever worked in. Now, I’m all for calling out people who say they’ve got the flu when it’s clearly a cold (for future reference: with a cold, your head’s a goldfish bowl full of liquid snot; with the flu your throat is studded with razor blades, and you bow out of reality for three days).

But if I struggled back to work after *any* sort of illness only to have a male colleague accuse me of “woman-flu”, I would be *incensed*. I would take to Twitter in outrage, a hashtag would spring up, and someone somewhere would organise some sort of awareness walk.

Somehow, though, it’s now accepted wisdom that women get colds and men get man-flu. Women take sick days for Real And Important Reasons, men just get high on Night Nurse and watch porn. 

We infantilise men, we act like they’re great big idiots. Just take the pub sign that Telegraph writer Bryony Gordon photographed this weekend and puplished on Twitter.

It’s funny because it’s true! All women DO enjoy shopping! All men, without exception, LOVE the rugby! Because women are rational and civilised, and men are just knuckle-dragging cretins who are always mansplaining everything, putting bros before hoes, and generally getting under our Louboutins while we’re trying to get on with the serious business of adulthood. 

This perception is clearly bullshit, otherwise Oprah would be running the UN and we’d all be feverishly trying to coax Obama down from the pinnacle of the free world in case he sneezes too hard during peak man-flu season and inadvertently launches all the nukes.  

But we’re still being bombarded with this idiot-male stereotype from all corners of pop culture. Homer Simpson is a bumbling fool, Robin Thicke doesn’t know what rhymes with “hug me”, and once a year Judd Apatow takes his actor friends on a giant obnoxious man-child bender, and calls it a movie – and we’re all okay with that because we’re in on the joke. 

However, my eight-month-old son isn’t in on the joke. To him, this will be what the world says: men are lovable boneheads who are relegated to the garage with their beers and their football leagues while their female counterparts raise the children and run the house.

My eight-month-old son isn’t in on the joke. To him, the world is saying: men are lovable boneheads

That pub sign says it all, really – it’s aimed at the well-meaning but slightly boring Marge Simpsons of the world; the shrill, uptight-wife character in a Vince Vaughn movie who has no sense of humour but a really precise day planner and great hair. The control-freaky, man-hating career-witches that men’s rights groups are always banging on about. 

These ironic caricatures of women don’t exist in reality any more than the modern Neanderthal stereotype, but they’re so common now that they’re the norm. 

So please, let’s stop pretending men are stupid, or that they don’t have real illnesses, or that they require some sort of gender specific cave. It’s a spurious notion, and it doesn’t help anyone – male, female, or other.

If I can use this article to convince you to do two things, here they are:

1.  Stop adding the prefix “man-” to words for weak comedic effect. You’re better than that.

2.  Someone please change that pub sign to something more inclusive. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m a woman and I’d much rather spend a little restorative time in a beer creche than go shopping.


Men Behaving Badly (UKTV)
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