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Compassion or assuming weakness?
by MARK GRAY & DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY
Apr 07, 2012 | 1017 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARK: The women at our dinner party were all in agreement. Women, they say, are short-changed by their husbands.

“Sometimes we want to feel weak and receive some cuddling care and sympathy,” they said. “There are times when we feel ill or stressed or depleted. The response of our husbands is to ignore us or assume we can buck up and soldier on. Why can’t we feel pitiful at times?”

I couldn’t speak for all the husbands, but I assume we are being blamed for something the Women’s Movements encouraged. In the late 1960s, feminists complained that women should not be coddled by the menfolk. Women, they said, should show independence and drive with none of the nonsense about the “weaker sex.”

And it came to fruition. Today, women are more likely to graduate from a university with a Bachelor’s degree than a man. During the recession, women were less likely to lose their jobs than men, and in recent years, their wage gains have outdistanced males as well. You see strong leaders like Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and admiration, not pity, comes to mind.

Men are not always the best communicators when it comes to emotion. Commiserating with a wife can be slippery. If I say, “Shall I call up and tell your boss you’re sick and won’t be in today?”, my wife might retort, “Don’t you think I can handle my job with a few sniffles?”

A man cannot always take a woman’s emotional temperature. It’s always easier to say, “You’re strong, you can do it.” We mean it as a compliment, not as an uncaring and thoughtless comment.

But if the women are right, we men will have to change our outlook – and I’ll have to relearn how to heat up the chicken soup.

DAWN: Before we get all “see what Women’s Lib hath wrought”, keep in mind that women are still earning only 82 cents to every dollar earned by men. Women’s health issues have been secondary to men for generations. Case in point, the famous scene in Pearl S. Buck’s A Good Earth, when the heroine gives birth in the rice paddies, puts the newborn on her back, and finishes the day’s work.

It might not be as blatant today, but statistics bear out that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed with a heart attack than men. Men presenting with the same symptoms are treated more aggressively as well. How else to explain that 75 per cent of men survive their first heart attack, but only a 62 per cent survival rate among women.

Most women I know don’t want the world to stop when we are feeling under the weather. We do pride ourselves on being sturdy and capable, but an occasional day of guilt-free pampering doesn’t hurt equality.

I will admit that I wear strength like a badge of honor; most women do. Why else would we endure natural childbirth? We also buy into the media’s glorification of women who run marathons two weeks after giving birth, already in their pre-pregnancy running shorts. Women compare and bemoan when we don’t measure up to the myth of the Super Woman.

This doesn’t mean we want to be treated by our loved ones as hard core soldiers – and this isn’t just a “woman thing.” Men and women alike want to get a little TLC when they are under the weather or the stress level is boiling over. It’s called being loved.

I am capable of making my own sick call, but don’t think you are being sensitive if you tell your wife she can skip the gym when she is coughing her lungs up and shivering under the covers.

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