Status anxiety

My hormones are all over the place. It must be the manopause

27 September 2014

8:00 AM

27 September 2014

8:00 AM

Women spend ten days a year in a grumpy mood, according to the Daily Mail. The top triggers include being overweight, feeling undervalued, having a bad hair day, breaking a nail and the wrong time of the month.

The standard reaction to this among the men I know was to question the number of days. More like 100, surely? My reaction was slightly different. I’m not convinced there’s any such thing as a ‘grumpy day’ for most women, any more than there is a ‘happy day’. Rather, all days contain peaks and troughs and the variation isn’t between good days and bad days so much as days on which their mood swings are violent and frequent and days on which they’re relatively stable.

OK — I’m being provocative. Trolling politically correct feminists is such easy sport it’s difficult to resist, but the truth is I recognised more of myself in this Daily Mail article than my wife.

Caroline is occasionally grumpy, but not as often as I am, as our children can attest. I find almost everything they do irritating, from dropping crumbs on the kitchen floor to listening to Capital Radio. And the ingratitude! The little Chinese Emperors take everything for granted. I spend the hours before bedtime trailing round after them picking up their socks and pants, folding up their trousers and shirts, helping them into their pyjamas, putting toothpaste on their toothbrushes… It’s like a scene from Downton Abbey in which I’m butler, housemaid and valet rolled into one.

I know, I know. If I want them to do these things for themselves I should leave them to their own devices, but I can’t face the nuclear meltdown that would result. I just want to get them into bed as quickly as possible so I can go downstairs and join my wife in front of the TV before she finishes the bottle of wine she uncorked when she handed the kids over to me at 6.30 p.m.

All the ‘triggers’ that account for women’s grumpy moods apply to me, too. Take weight gain. Caroline has hovered around the eight-and-a-half stone mark since the day we got married, but I yo-yo between 160lbs and 180lbs, depending on where I am in my dieting cycle. Sure enough, if my weekly weigh-in reveals I’ve put on a couple of pounds, I sink into a depression that lasts for the rest of the day. Bad hair days have less of an impact — every day is a bad hair day when you’re a middle-aged man — but I definitely have a wrong time of the month. It’s the day the £2,500 mortgage payment leaves my bank account.

One of the things that accounts for women’s grumpy moods is the menopause, according to the Mail, and I think the same applies to me — only in my case it’s the ‘manopause’. This condition, caused by ever-declining levels of testosterone, has a number of delightful symptoms including shrinking testicles, man boobs and a tendency suddenly to talk in a high-pitched voice. At the age of 14 I dressed up as a woman in order to get into an X-rated film and, I’m happy to say, fooled almost no one. Now-adays, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelid.

The truth is, I’m much more moody than Caroline. I used to pride myself on being able to withstand extreme levels of anxiety, soaking it up and remaining focused on the task in hand, such as having to write 1,000 words about a breaking news story in 45 minutes. Not any more. Since turning 50, stupid little things have begun to stress me out, like not being able to get dressed as quickly as I’d like. Poor Caroline has to stand there every morning while my six-year-old son and I both have tantrums because we can’t do our top buttons up. She often jokes that being married to me is like having a fifth child, but the difference is that they’re all going to grow up while I’m going to become more and more infantile.

The article in the Daily Mail was based on a survey by a vitamin company, but I already stuff myself full of vitamins and it makes little difference. The remedies preferred by women, apparently, are exercise, eating chocolate and spending time on their own. But I don’t want to increase my chocolate consumption because if I did I’d have to exercise to lose the weight, and spending time on my own isn’t an option with four kids. I think the only solution is testosterone replacement therapy.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • Guest

    Well, what about the male menopause? do they not become grumpy. overly sensitive
    lie around on sofa’s in fact they become sofa’s or vintage port. Do they not chase fragrant much younger women just to make themselves feel as if they are in their
    salad days again when in reality they’re in the autumn of their years.

  • rtj1211

    I’m amazed your great christian friend, Ed West, hasn’t come up with a convincing answer as to why God designed men this way….

    Something to do with ‘your children inhabit the world of tomorrow, which you can never live in’…….which tells you that if God intended you to shag your son’s girlfriend, he wouldn’t have designed the manopause, would he??

    Oops, that quote was from a Lebanese, so it’s quite likely he was from the world of Islam, not Moses.

    And taking advice from that bunch of murdering savages would never do, would it?!

  • Gerschwin

    Thanks for that.

  • Liz

    Testosterone, not progesterone is the unstable hormone. It gives men their wafer thin egos, their arrogance, their anger, their violence, their dangerous driving, their delusions of divine grandeur, their financial impropriety. It’s men, not women who most frequently suffer from mental illness, set themselves up as gods and prophets, riot, build monstrous carbuncles, commit crime and suicide.

    • Jeff Milton

      You don’t like us much, do you?

      • Rik

        Oops you noticed

      • Liz

        I simply react to provocation. The Spectator puts out a stream of woman hating crap and is edited by two chauvinists.

        • Freedom

          Well I don’t know about the pimple on a puddin’, but Fraser Nelson is quite nice.

      • Freedom

        No she doesn’t: a feature I don’t share. But she has a point. Men do seem to be the Favoured Ones, and historically, they did seem blithely unaware that this should result in more kindness on their part, not more contempt for the nature-burdened women. On the other hand, one can’t point to men’s misbehaviour and say ‘see how bad they are’ without also pointing to men’s derring-do and discovery that has clearly benefitted the whole of mankind. If testosterone is part of what makes men go too far, it’s also what makes them go.

  • Liz

    How do we account for the Internet misogynist hoard? They all on their period?

  • Liz

    Women being the more emotional of the sexes is one of those myths like women talking more than men that one suspects originates from the fact that men are more risky to challenge and have blanket coverage of all the communication channels.

    • Freedom

      Yes: I’ve never met a man that didn’t like to talk. Also, it was more fair according to behaviour and yet less fair according to justice to poke at women’s ’emotionalism’ when they didn’t have the education in problem-solving and reasoning that males were given. If I felt totally powerless and subject to half the human race just because they had flesh dangling in their underpants, I’d be very ’emotional’ too. (More like: angry. But Father Nature gives most of the advantages of our species to men, the bastard.)

  • Liz

    “Trolling politically correct feminists is such easy sport it’s difficult to resist”

    That’s how it feels to swim with the tide. Counter culture it ain’t, Tobes.

  • Liz

    “Trolling politically correct feminists is such easy sport it’s difficult to resist”

    That explains 75% of Spectator articles and accompanying images. I’m heartened to realise it’s not through obliviousness.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Hours is an overstatement surely. Abut half an hour I should have thought. Or are you obsessiveky tidy? Fight it, Toby. Untidiness is the thing. God is untidy.

  • Trivial. What a yawn.

  • Freedom

    Oh darling, exercise won’t lose you the weight. Resistance training might help — heavy weights, involving lots of muscle groups at one time — here’s one of my fave free routines for fat-burning muscle work (see link below) — but what you need to do is lower the carbs as a proportion of your daily feed. Oh, and cut down the drink. For me that is the hardest part because I agree that the evening loses its lustre without the fermented part of civiilzation.

  • WimsThePhoenix

    Toby put weight on because he is one of the unfortunates wedded to carbohydrates due to government nutrition lies regarding saturated fats.

    Toby, give up grain-based foods, stick to 1800 calories divided by 75% fats, 15% protein and 10% carbs, and you will be back to marriage weight in no time.

  • Jasmine(MirandaThinksI’mKitty)