Take it like a man, Madam

Years ago, as a disaffected undergrad at City College in Harlem, I enrolled in a course in the Women’s Studies department.   This was around 1979 and I was the only male in the small seminar course.  The professor was a brilliant woman named Joan Kelly-Gadol.   I remember her referring to a movie or a book by the title above.  The clever and evocative phrase stuck with me, apparently.  

As a side note, Joan Kelly (who, Wikipedia informs us, began teaching at CCNY in 1956, the year of my birth) died young, of cancer while I was still a student at City College.  She was a historian and the college instituted a prize named for her, to be given annually for best research paper by an undergrad in an elective history course.  I may have been the school’s first Joan Kelly Prize recipient when my history professor, the equally brilliant Walter Struve, submitted my paper on The Nazis vs. Degenerate Art on my behalf.  I realize now I was probably the first winner, since the prize was awarded in 1982, the year of her untimely death, and my last year at City College.

“Take it like a man, Madam,” says the overbearing person doing something that should not be done.    

Should is not a word one should use,” stresses the overbearing person. “What you should do instead of sanctimoniously invoking morals and ethics, those two amorphous, infinitely flexible man-made constructs, is shut the fuck up and take it like a man, Madam.”  

Words to the wise:  take it like a man, madam, whatever it is.  Whimpering only makes it more humiliating.  If you have lived in this world any significant length of time, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.


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