A woman in China, identified only as Ms. Chen, recently developed a form of hearing loss that prevents her from hearing the voices of men. Reverse-slope hearing loss, also known as low-frequency hearing loss, prevents sufferers from hearing low-frequency tones such as men’s voices.
Chen reported ringing in her ears and nausea the night before she experienced the hearing loss, but she thought that a good night’s sleep would resolve them. The Daily Mail reported that Chen awoke the next morning to discover that she could no longer hear her boyfriend’s voice.
She rushed to nearby Qianpu Hospital for evaluation and was seen by ENT (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) Dr. Lin Xiaoqing. During the examination, Ms. Chen had no problem hearing Dr. Xiaoqing, who is a woman.
Dr. Xiaoqing said:
“She was able to hear me when I spoke to her, but when a young male patient walked in, she couldn’t hear him at all.”
Reverse-slope hearing loss affects a person’s ability to hear low-frequency sounds, such as the sound of an idling car, a running refrigerator, and most men’s voices. This is the opposite of typical hearing loss, in which people lose the ability to hear high-frequency sounds first.
As reverse-slope hearing loss is so rare, it can often be difficult to diagnose. Many doctors and patients are unaware that it exists.
Dr. Xiaoqing suspects that stress played a part in her condition, as Ms. Chen had recently been working long hours and not getting enough sleep. She expects Ms. Chen to make a full recovery, as it was caught and treated promptly.
While this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on her daily life, the news found many people largely envious.
Prachi Gupta, who covered the story for Jezebel, said:
“While wishing Chen a full recovery, in the meantime I hope that she can find some reprieve from listening to men and delight in her newfound ability to mute cat-callers, annoying co-workers, and asshole politicians.”
Twitter had plenty to say on the subject as well:
“The doctor in unsure of the cause, but believes the condition was brought on by stress.”
Men have become a disease.
— Impeach the MFer! (@num1_fan) January 11, 2019
Some wanted to know how to go about making this their reality.
Is this contagious? Asking for a friend.
— Ines Helene (@inihelene) January 11, 2019
— JL (@mmjenneral) January 11, 2019
You misspelled “super power”
— Brennan Full (@Brennan_Full) January 11, 2019
Omg how do you give yourself reverse-slope hearing loss please? https://t.co/edMXwPE4ze
— Mikela (@MikelaMarine) January 11, 2019
It’s hard seeing other people live your dream 😔
— 🍊🍋🍓🍒🍌 (@fruitysweetblog) January 11, 2019
One Twitter user had a different perspective, though:
I feel very badly for this woman. Everyone in this thread spins this as something to be grateful for, but to limit your human experience to half the population sounds terribly lonely. Fingers crossed she recovers!
— Josie Haertzen (@Josie_Haertzen) January 11, 2019
Others who have reverse-slope hearing loss weighed in on the issue.
I know, I know, feminist killjoy tweet, but I struggle to hear men (low frequencies) and it’s not “a blessing” and I’m sure it wasn’t to this woman either. https://t.co/NwnWG245Z4
— Anna Pulley (@annapulley) January 11, 2019
I have this. Its called reverse slope hearing loss. Men aren’t the only thing I can’t hear, it’s ALL low-tones. I’d love to be able to know when it’s thundering outside… when I’m outside. https://t.co/52YpeOqXzS
— Alyssa Menzo (@alyssa_menz0) January 11, 2019
It seems it may not be all bad, though.
I’m one of the 3,000 people in North America who suffer from reverse slope. It’s really, reeeally helpful at truck stops. https://t.co/64p9KcVGrZ
— Jess (@JezebelTheGreat) January 11, 2019
While it would certainly be nice not to have to deal with catcallers and mansplainers, maybe one should consider the whole experience of hearing loss before expressing envy.