Every week I tune in to watch Hugh Laurie in House, and I embrace his guts, his brilliance, and even his obnoxious attitude. Gregory House is your typical asocial curmudgeon, but we love him anyway, sometimes against our own will, because he is the kind of person we all wish we could be. He is smart, rude, arrogant, and he says what everyone wishes they had the guts to say. In short, this character has no filter and is not ruled by political correctness. At times I cringe at his rudeness — I even hate his reliance on hookers — but I put all this aside because there is a part inside me that wants to be him — be like him.
Someone dreamed him up — and the reason his character is so successful and has become a household name is because he is the alter ego we suppress. As a woman, I envy his ambition, his drive, his ability to break down diseases and people in order to get inside them, understand them, and in turn understand himself – how they work and what motivates them to self-destruct, self-protect. As a woman taught early on to speak only when I had something nice to say, to give my power to others so that they could feel better about themselves, to hold my tongue and my big personality in check so as not to turn off others, to serve and help and teach others, to be humble, selfless and self-deprecating when all I want to be is in your face, honest, selfish and yes, even cruel to those who are cruel to me, Gregory House is my hero. And because I know that there are more women like me out there hiding behind courtesy, political correctness, feminine niceties, and maternal selflessness prescribed by our gender, society, and parents — I think that there are great lessons we can acquire from the likes of House — the Doctor and the man. Here are some worth mentioning:
Unapologetic: House never says I’m sorry to anyone,and yet he is respected, promoted, and one of the top diagnosticians in his field. Don’t you find that you say those words all the time? Women are quite often inclined to say I’m sorry — whether they are or not, and most of the time just to be the peace keepers — the balance coordinators — trying to keep all the pieces of their lives and families in line. What would our lives be like if we didn’t apologize for our choices, our mistakes, our ambitions and desires? How much more respect would we get?
Confidence: Confidence is something all boys learn at a young age — and it is embodied by House’s character. His confidence sways women to date him, co-workers to rely on him, and patients to put their lives at risk in order to be healed by him. His confidence comes from knowledge, experience, and instinct. I don’t know about you, but I could use some of that.
Say What You Will: House has no filter — he says what he wants, when he wants to, and oh, how I wish I did the same. His ability to put people in their place with words, with honest and unreserved observations is uncanny. Yes, this can be construed as rudeness, but isn’t it better to be yourself at all times than hiding behind veneers of pleasantries? I wish people — women, really, were more honest with themselves and with others. We would get more respect if we were.
Ruthlessness: House will override his superiors, co-workers, patients and even parents of his patients to get what he wants — because he knows he’s right. He is ruthless in love, in work, in healing, and in dealing with people — and this ruthlessness originates from his arrogance, his intuitive intelligence. When it comes to men and women, there is a double standard in terms of ruthlessness. Men are taught to value this trait — it makes them powerful, gives them courage and power. Women are not so ruthless; it seems to be an unbecoming trait for us.
Uncompromising: As women, we are taught early on to be flexible, to give in, to bend when we feel resistance, but House is rooted and untenable. He sticks to his guns, his theories, his traits with irreversible stubbornness. He doesn’t change for anyone — not even for the love of his life, Dr. Cuddy. And why should he? She loves him in spite of all his flaws — because of them, perhaps. We should be just as uncompromising, inflexible, and unmanageable. We should be just as hard and rigidly defined — and we would find that those closest to us would love us just as much — and if they didn’t – the hell with them, House would say.
Everyone Lies: A common House motto is that everyone lies — the patients lie about the reasons they are in the hospital, or what drugs they take, or how well-behaved they are with their loved ones — and these lies often to lead to the demise of their health. With the philosophy that everyone lacks veracity and decency, House usually discovers the lie and is able to prescribe the proper treatment to bring his patients back to health. Women should be driven by this philosophy — we wouldn’t trust as easily as we do, revealing our wounds, struggles, and deep secrets to people who are seemingly decent and good. We are all liars to some extent — if we don’t lie to one another, then we most certainly lie to ourselves — and wouldn’t it be interesting to see how we would behave if we all walked around knowing that every single one of us lies? It would definitely change our approach to how we make nice and even how we make friends.
Selflessness is for the Weak:Girls are taught that they are inherently nurturing and selfless — there to provide for the needs of others — as soon as they are wrapped in a pink blanket at the hospital. And when we are given dolls to play with, to feed and nurture and bathe and care for like little mommies, we grow up to be maternal entities with everyone in our lives — our kids, pets, husbands, friends, co-workers, bosses, and so on. Nurturance and selflessness becomes part of the frail fabric of our femininity. We give up careers for our men and our kids, we move to other parts of the world for them, we work for them, clean up after them, and we even learn to anticipate their needs before we can identify our own. Nothing good has ever come from anyone giving up their needs for the needs of others — all I see are miserable, needy, and angry women overwhelmed by the need to be seen, validated, and appreciated by those they care for.
House, perhaps because he is a man, does not possess a selfless bone in his body — and I’m not so sure this is a bad thing. Men aren’t selfless — they want something, they get it. They need something, they demand it, or get it for themselves without asking for it. A selfish woman is an aberration, an unnatural mother and wife, an unnatural woman. But why can’t women be more like men — made from the same mold of Gregory House, MD? There is so much that can be learned from him — and if we had been born men — more women would be respected for having these strong personality “flaws” that make House so successful, confident, infallible, and well-respected.
What about you? Can you think of a Gregory House trait that you wish you possessed?
Copyright© 2011 by Marina DelVecchio. All Rights Reserved.