Editorial: Hard road to find a real Kiwi man ...

By Annemarie Quill


As the cold and flu season is upon us, working mothers have more stress than usual. When the kids get sick, it means extra cost in childcare, or lost days at work.

But as I always say to my childless colleagues, if I was an employer I would definitely choose working mums as employees. They tend to be a hardy bunch, taking sick days only for their kids, and rallying for work even when they are feeling a bit under the weather. When you are used to managing a full-time job, house and kids - a sniffle is child's play.

Not so for my fellow male colleagues who, when they catch a cold, sit moaning, dog-eyed, looking for sympathy.

"Man flu" is alive and unwell, according to a survey this week of 922 Kiwis, which found 76 per cent believe "man flu" - in which males suffer flu-like symptoms to a greater degree than women - may exist.

The belief is stronger in women, of whom 80 per cent accept the possibility of such an affliction, with symptoms most commonly reported by women as "increased moaning, complaining and in need of more attention", followed by a burning need to lie on a couch watching television.

An overwhelming majority of women - 98 per cent - believed men expected more sympathy than they did when they got sick.

What is happening to the tough Kiwi male? I cringed reading Julia Proverbs' story in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend about "manzilians" becoming more popular in the Bay. If you are like me, you will have not heard of the word - basically, it is a Brazilian for men. Wax on, wax off.

I don't have a problem with men taking pride in their appearance. I like a man to keep well-groomed, clean, and stylishly dressed. But an excessive interest in female beauty regimes is just not attractive. I am sure I speak for many women when I say that if a man wants to share your moisturiser, you are less likely to want to share more profound things with him. It's just not manly.

So where are all the real men? Look no further than the wonderful John Kirwan, who has single handedly done more for male mental health than any other marketing campaign. This week, he was rightfully rewarded with a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours. He has destigmatised the notion of men talking about and facing depression, in a way that is real and appealing both to men, women and young people.

You could not imagine him moaning about his runny nose or having a penchant for hot wax strips. But he has shown it to be acceptable that, when there is a good reason, men can cry and that doesn't make you any less of a man. Now that for me is a real Kiwi man.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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