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"Why Men Rule": The Joys of Sexism in Everyday Life

May. 29th, 2008 | 02:10 pm

So, a friend of mine was in the hospital (btw--why do we Americans stick that 'the' in there? as if there is only one in the whole country?) last month off and on, with some serious health problems. Her kids--i.e., her DAUGHTER (she also has two sons)--set up a "Care Page" for her--offered by a persistently perky, "health-care industry PR" type blog-like site (complete with online gift shop!).  You probably have seen these sites; they're to help keep people keep their circles of friends and families up to date when someone is seriously ill...while, in the good old USofA, they also, of course, get the eyes of all concerned flashing on ads for health-related goods and services ("target[ed] by ailment"!

I admit that I was glad to be able to find out how my friend was doing and send a brief electronic note, with an electronic frog, which I feel guilty for, since normally I would try to make a card for a friend, old-school, you know, with no advertising for ailment-specific goods, and have not done so yet. I blame the ease of the on-site e-card.

Anyway, today, I received a spammy sort of newsletter from them with the header Care Pages: Why Men Rule. I thought, "Great, I'm a feminist, and I really want to get to the bottom of this patriarchy question, and I'm sure this perky little site will give me just what I need!"

You can imagine how shocked and disappointed I was to see that we did not get an in-depth feminist analysis of the way masculinity functions today. However, I did learn about about how "machismo scores big during a crisis" (always! I know I really love having a macho blowhard around when I'm in a crisis!) because a crisis allows men to just "[be] the warriors they were born to be." Or they CAN be just as helpful, it's implied, if women would just stop expecting them to be "Mr. Moms" and "get all gushy." We also just need to see that, even if it seems like these warrior dudes are just sitting back and letting women do all the caregiving work, they might just be doing things "differently."

In fact, the article reminds us, "Men play just as important a role as women in providing support when someone gets sick." Ignore all those pesky, reality-based statistics to the contrary! (Indeed, their own statistics show that 83% of the people who read these care-update pages are, guess what: women!. In fact, the title of their "mission" page directed to potential advertisers puts it bluntly: "Advertise to Women with Health Interests"). Meanwhile, in the article, they say that more than 40% of the people involved in elder care are men--not cited, of course, so God knows what that means, exactly. But, who cares! We got rid of that kind of empirical evidence stuff in 2002, at least, remember?!*

In fact, really, we all just need to ask ourselves, "why can't a woman be more like a man?" I know it seems sexist to say that, but, frankly, as long as I admit that this is a pretty "generalizing" way of approaching things, and I'm a man running this site that's all about the ladies who aren't really actually doing much for sick people (and if they are they're doing it wrong), well, then I'm helping right? Right?

Would it be tacky to note that this family started this lucrative little line of work when their son was sick I mean "struggling with a health care event" (yes they actually use that phrase on the same page that they promote themselves as "the definitive source for what to say and what to do" during such a...umm...circumstance of health care eventitude...)..and, as a result, in the classic American "life/lemons-->lemonade" mode, they turned it into a financial opportunity? Would that be tacky?  Probably.  

*The stats I've found, from 2001 & 2002 in the US, suggest that a) women do 59-75% of the caregiving and that b) when men are sharing the load, women often spend about 50% more time doing the caregiving as men do. 

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