When Dana Jennings was being treated for prostate cancer last winter, he was put on a six-month course of hormone therapy. The shots suppressed his testosterone…good for treating cancer, bad for everything else, apparently.
At least that’s how it seems after reading his recent essay about the experience, "My Brief Life as a Woman," in The New York Times. Some of the womanly changes Jennings experienced during his months aboard “the Good Ship Menopause”:
Hot flashes. “In midwinter I’d walk our miniature poodle, Bijou, wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
Food cravings. “I lusted after Cheetos and Peanut Butter M&M’s, maple-walnut milkshakes, and spaghetti and meatballs buried in a blizzard of Parmesan. Isn’t it funny how cravings very rarely involve tofu, bean curd or omega-3 oils?”
Weight gain. During his six months on Lupron, Jennings put on 25 pounds as a result of giving into the aforementioned milkshake-flavored cravings plus the hormonal changes happening in his body. “And I hated it, hated it, hated it. I had never had to worry about my weight, and I began to understand why media aimed at women and girls obsess over weight so much. It was strange and unsettling not to be able to tell my body, ‘No,’ when it wanted to wolf down a fistful of Doritos slathered with scallion cream cheese.”
Emotional rollercoasters. “The tears would usually pour down when I got ambushed by some old tune: ‘Sweet Baby James’ and ‘Fire and Rain’ by James Taylor, ‘That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be’ by Carly Simon and, yes, ‘It’s My Party’ by Lesley Gore. Not only was I temporarily menopausal, but it appeared that I was also turning into a teenage girl from the early 1970s.”
The final straw for Jennings’ son, Owen: When his dad started drinking Diet Coke for the first time in his life, his boy asked, “Dad, are you turning into a chick?”
I applaud Jennings for stepping forward and owning up to the fact that most men, short of injecting themselves with female hormones, will never be able to even come close to understanding what life is like for us. They think our mood swings are just made-up excuses to be bitchy? F@*& them! They think we cry “PMS” so we can binge on cake batter ice cream free from quilt? Come here and let me cram this pint of Ben & Jerry’s down your skinny little throat, Sir.
Some other uniquely-female experiences I wish men could all go through, just once:
Being cat-called in an especially obnoxious manner.
Being patronized, spoken down to, patted on the head or ass, or passed over for a promotion in the workplace.
Far-away beautification practices that “make women more attractive,” like foot-binding and neck-lengthening.
Bras, Spanx, skinny jeans and high heels.
Care to add any?