In the so-called “battle of the sexes”, one skirmish often invoked with an eye roll is the phenomenon known as “man flu.”
Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a cold or minor ailment experienced by a man who is accused of exaggerating symptoms, it’s a term many women are quick to use when dismissing the perceived theatrics of “unwell” men.
However, Jenna Hope, a seasoned nutritionist with clients from major corporations, argues that perhaps it’s time to reconsider our stance on this age-old debate.
According to Hope, who has observed and assisted numerous burnt-out or stressed male workers, man flu might just be more than a punchline.
Prone to different things
The term “man flu” often raises a smile, yet Jenna Hope, armed with her experiences as a nutritionist catering to male clients, insists that it’s a real thing. She argues that the two sexes are prone to different afflictions, even in terms of behaviour, which ties in with research that men are more likely to have a bet in an online casino or drink that extra drink.
The argument goes that men tend to be more hedonistic than women, a trait of what is traditionally considered to be ‘macho’. This includes acting impulsively and showing off their risk-taking in front of friends.
Cultural factors also play a part. Men are more likely to be interested in sport, which is saturated with gambling advertising that’s very effective at persuading its viewers to have a bet.
Then, there’s the biological argument. Testosterone is very good at causing people to act in impulsive ways and it’s a fact that men generally have more of it than women.
While these theories generalize a very complex subject – there are many female gamblers and sports lovers, after all – it’s thought to be the closest explanation we have as to why the two sexes have such different experiences when it comes to certain issues.
Why Man Flu?
When it comes to the infamous affliction of “Man Flu”, Hope believes it may be the biological differences that play the biggest part.
“When we look at the evidence, we find that the female immune system is actually stronger than the male immune system,” she told UK newspaper The Times.
“Women have higher levels of progesterone and oestrogen, which tend to support the immune system, while men have higher levels of testosterone, which suppresses immunity.”
This would prove the popular theory that women have a higher pain threshold than men. Indeed, many laugh at the idea of a man going through period pain or childbirth. Studies have shown that men can’t tolerate the discomfort that menstrual cramps bring, for example, whereas most women are able to live a normal life in spite of them.
As above, cultural factors may also play a part. In the past, it’s often men who have publicly complained about issues, be they political or societal. Society still deems it more acceptable for them to make their disquiet know, even about something as minor as a cold, while “moany” women tend to get more criticism. This might explain why we hear more about “Man Flu” than the common flu.
Is there a cure to Man Flu?
As for the burning question of whether there’s a cure for the notorious “Man Flu,” Jenna Hope sheds light on the matter.
She suggests that while there may not be a magical remedy, understanding the biological and cultural factors contributing to this phenomenon is a crucial step – for both sexes.
Men who have a logical explanation for the suffering they’re going through may quieten down and understand that it’s likely to pass soon.
Women, on the other hand, may not think that men are play-acting so much and soften their approach when dealing with them – although sympathy may still be in short supply considering the monthly ordeal they must go through.
Instead of dismissing it outright, these findings may lead to a more nuanced understanding of this age-old debate, from both men and women.