Men’s health is a feminist issue

Men generally behave in a more disgusting manner than women.  They fart (we don’t), they poop huge (we envy), they beer bong (we shotgun).  “Manly” food is steak, butter, eggs, oil; “womanly” food is oxygen, tempered by eau de chocolat.

In all seriousness, though, I’d argue that men tend to be bigger slobs, if for no other reason than that they face less societal pressure to look a certain way.  In your 20s and 30s, this means that a dude’s girlfriend is usually more svelte and attractive than he; later in life, it means high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, obesity, lung cancer, skin cancer, alcoholism, and, in America, an average life expectancy over five years fewer than women’s.  What do these afflictions have in common?  All of them are highly preventable.

(Although one’s genes may make one more susceptible to alcoholism, we could say the same about skin cancer.  “Susceptible” certainly doesn’t mean “inevitable.”  You’d think that a man who has alcoholism running through both sides of his family might think twice before drinking.  Or, maybe he just thinks twice, and then chugs twice?)

Anyway, that all’s not the point.  The point is, when a man eventually renders himself decrepit and dependent in their twilight years, who the hell do you think takes care of him?

a. the state
b. a nursing home
c.  his wife
d. his daughter
e. his sister
f. his granddaughter
g. his daughter-in-law
h. himself

I’ll give you a hint…NOT H!

That’s right, ladies: look forward to spending the penultimate 5-10 years of your life wiping your husband’s ass (AFTER you’ve spent your middle years wiping your mom’s), and then spending your last five alone.  I can’t fuckin’ wait.

Now, I do happen to have some first-hand experience in this department.  As you may know, my dad was 69 (snicker away) when I was born.  He was AWESOME.  Seriously awesome.  I love my dad more than words can express, and I definitely am my father’s daughter.  That said, when I was 13, he had a heart attack, followed by an emergency quintuple bypass to prevent future heart attacks, which then led to five strokes and a two-week coma.  Sweet.

My dad lived another seven years — enough to almost make it to my college graduation — but from that moment on, he was never truly independent.  The first year consisted of a lot of rehab, when he got his left side to do what he wanted.  The following couple of years were stable enough that he could come to my concerts, drive around with me, and attend my high school graduation, but not so stable that my mom could get a full-time job — she’d be with him during the day, I during the afternoon and evening, and a county nurse and social worker would stop by every once in a while.

Those seven years consisted of progress and regress, with humankind’s uninspiring fate always lurking in the background.  A good day consisted of walking around the neighborhood on his own; a bad, childish tantrums and sullen silence.

Regardless, my mother now has a seven-year hole in her resume during the recession, because employers don’t seem to value all the managerial and operational skills that come with caregiving (another example of society devaluing “women’s work” — a post for another day…fuck it, go google it).  Meanwhile, I’ve been waitlisted at the #4 and #7 law schools in the country and am most likely headed to #14 (Go Hoyas!), thanks to the pathetic 3.1 GPA I earned my last year of college.  You know, that one during which I drove between San Diego and the Bay Area every other weekend to visit my dying dad.  Oh, my bad.  So, thanks to good ol’ caregiving, my mom and I both get the economic shaft.

My intention here is not to whine about the hand I’ve been dealt, or to have you pity me.  On the contrary!  I love my life and wouldn’t have it any other way.  That said, this particular aspect has made me intimately familiar with the realities of caretaking for the non-affluent, which happens to rest quite heavily on most women’s shoulders, eventually.

To finally come back to the title of this post, I’ll have to pick on my poor boyfriend, as usual.  Boyfriend is great, boyfriend is fairly fit, boyfriend exercises, boyfriend is on organized sports teams, boyfriend is definitely thinner than I.  Boyfriend drinks three liters of Diet Coke each day, boyfriend salts his food for five seconds (even prepared and restaurant food!), boyfriend is PALE and refuses to wear the fancy, smell- and stick-free sunscreen I bought him, boyfriend drinks seven beers in a go, boyfriend smokes, boyfriend secondhand-smokes me and gets annoyed when I put my foot down, boyfriend definitely thirdhand-smokes me, boyfriend doesn’t permit leftovers, boyfriend’s Ben and Jerry’s serving size is one pint, boyfriend (attempts to) drive(s) drunk, boyfriend abstains from male contraception, boyfriend gets angry at neighbor, student, professor, driver, friend, friend’s wife, girlfriend.  Boyfriend wants to lock me down for eternity!?!!?!!!

These offenses are mostly minor when considered separately, and a bit annoying as a whole.  However, when said offenses are coupled with the boyfriend’s marriage intentions, I balk.  Pardon me for looking into my crystal ball and being less-than-thrilled with sacrificing the penultimate 10 years of my life taking care of his stupid preventable diseases.

The worst thing is that I’ve explained to him my reasoning on a few specific issues (oversalting, smoking, six pack-ing, buzzed driving).  His response?  I’m NAGGING.*

Anyway, the fact of the matter is, since he expects me to be with him for the rest of his life and, presumably, care for his incontinent urethra and pallid ass when I’m old enough to be feared (Nancy Pelosi) or mocked (pretty much every other woman her age, and Nancy Pelosi), IT IS MY CONCERN.

So, ladies, if your man thinks he’s got you locked down, remind him that his stupid choices are fucking up YOUR LIFE.  Probably not his.  When’s he’s face-down in his own blood, clutching his chest and begging for aspirin, curiously missing all sensation from one side of his body, or spitting bile into one of those jelly bean-shaped, dust-pink containers, you’re going to be the one left cleaning up his mess.  His unhealthy behaviors might be his responsibility, but we probably shouldn’t expect that he’ll take responsibility for their repercussions.

*”Nagging” is the word men and children use when they don’t want to admit that their partners’/parents’ grievances are legitimate and personal.  It’s an auto-defense — “Quiet, woman; you’re being hysterical and girly.”  It’s a word used to shut down your opponent while destroying her credibility and legitimacy.

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