In praise of the inane
Psychologist Averil Leimon told the BBC’s Today programme that men bond with each other by quoting from films, whereas women start revealing intimate details to each other.
"Quoting lines from a film is a quick and quite clever shorthand way for men to bond with people without achieving any intimacy at all,” she said. "But it's also quite a clever personality test. You suss out who is part of your tribe.”
I think it’s true – at least that men bond by doing what might superficially seem mundane, stupid. Ah yes, those adolescent sessions reciting Monty Python’s parrot sketch, those pub evenings putting together lists of top ten movie deaths, those annual golf gatherings repeating jokes you’ve told every year.
It’s refreshing to hear men’s natural propensity for triviality, inanity and gaining pleasure from simple things not being actively mocked (though there’s plenty of room for that too). We do things – and important things like bonding, resolving problems, dealing with stress – very differently than women. Understanding the way we approach problems, rather than comparing it unfavourably with the way women do things, is a good way forward when it comes to health issues.
Studies are always finding out that women are better at disclosing how they feel about their health, and more likely to visit the doctor. And in response, doctors are constantly urging men to be more like women.
It’s not going to happen. Some men are okay with baring their souls and talking openly to GPs but many are not. If you want to help all men lead happier, healthier lives, you have to work from that starting point and not “if only” world. If you do, you might find that being blithe and inane has many benefits.
Or as I always say: “I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay. I sleep all night and I work all day. I cut down trees. I skip and jump. I like to press wild flowers. I put on women's clothing. And hang around in bars.”