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A man flu???

Posted on 10 Dec, 2013 in Culture | 8 comments

A man flu

In French-speaking Québec, even the common flu takes on a different accent, becoming contested ground in the battle between the sexes. When Quebecers start to sniffle and sneeze, you will hear a term that would seem to mean both one thing and its opposite at the same time. The term: une grippe d’homme – a man flu!

To my English-thinking mind, a man flu would be a severe flu, a flu that has the stereotypically masculine qualities of strength, virulence, and endurance. And that is what it means…sometimes. With that definition, this recent newspaper article in the Journal de Québec informs its readers on how to tell the difference between a simple cold and a real flu. A cold is a mere inconvenience, the article tells us, whereas the flu will put you out of commission for several days.

Ask a Québec woman though, and you will get an entirely different definition. Your inquiry into the veritable meaning of this expression will invite a lecture on the inability of the male sex to endure pain and discomfort. The slightest congestion, she will say, causes a man to put on his pajamas and huddle up in bed in an unproductive and noisy pile of self-pity. Une grippe d’homme, in this case, is thus an insignificant flu, one that women work through uncomplainingly every day, one that stops men in their tracks.

Sniff…I think I’m coming down with something…

8 Comments

  1. This is an interesting part of our culture you’re depicting here. As a matter of fact I don’t see how male could act different in a sense whichever country they are living in. Feminist could argue men are seeking narcissistic mother attention when they are afflicted with flu. My understanding is that men want to bring their female counterpart attention to the fact they are temporally disabled and they deserve care to be reset into service. So happy flu Neil.

  2. I believe that this expression is more a cultural “residue” than a pure and simple feminism. I compare this situation with the “ease” of many women in a workshopof mechanics or in a hardware store.So, in fact, what it is necessary to retain concerning the flu, it is that it is possible to prevent it by the vaccination or by avoiding the contacts moved closer with the stiff people… an excellente idea to having fun all long during the Christmas Time. Merry Christmas … without flu !!!
    Michèle

  3. Effectivement je n’avais jamais fait attention mais les feministes ont fait du mal aux hommes meme dans la maladie !!

    Actually I had never paid attention but feminists have hurt the men in sickness!

    I’m sorry for them !

  4. May be I need to be somewhat more specific here. My intention was to treat this event with a good sense on humor along the lines it was presented by Neil. I never intended to induce hard feelings here and I am sorry if I did. Should it be the case please read my text once more and take the last sentence as the only true argument. I understand shall be more careful using potentially alarm triggering words. Sniff !

    • No worries, Roland. I think your comment is understood in the spirit in which you meant it.

  5. For myself, I think this expression finds its source in traditional roles. Traditionally, women worked at home and men outside. So, it was the role of the mother taking care of her children and… husband. Even if she had a bad flu, there was nobody to take care of her; she was the mother who has to take care of her family and not about herself. In 70-80, the presence of women on the labor market was more marked but the old roles survived. In fact in those years a man flu require the care of the wife and if the wife has one she should not complain too much about herself because the influence of the traditional roles of women and men (I did that in the beginning of my couple’s life and when I was a new mom). This old expression inherited from the past has held tenacious. And it is true that for the new generations, it tends to change because now more men participate to the sharing of household chores and fortunately roles change too. Finally, I don’t think it’s the fault of the «féministes» but the fruit of old stereotyped patterns that stay in the imagination in particular of the old ones.

  6. I heard a news reporting at Les années lumière (a radio scientific program at Radio Canada) last sunday (January 19th).
    That puts light on the famous man flu. A scientific study shows that testosterone is the cause of men’s immune deficiency facing flu. So man with high level of testoterone can feel worse than other men and women. Interesting!
    Go at
    http://www.radio-canada.ca/widgets/mediaconsole/medianet/7000531
    Click on Deuxième Partie and go at 2:06

    • Does that mean that one should be able to recognize men with high testosterone levels by how poorly they endure the flu?

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