One of the most healed of recent dramas, Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”, is based on Piper Kerwin’s memoir of a 15-month sentence inside a federal women’s prison. The author often notes the female bonding that occurred inside the prison and the common courtesies and gestures between inmates. I doubt that male inmates would be as generous.
Are women inherently nicer and friendlier than men? While men often refer to women being “catty”, I observe women having more friends and social interactions than men.
It’s a question for sociologists, but I suspect it stems from a previous generation in which men worked an eight-hour shift while women stayed home, raised children, and nurtured friendships among other women in the neighborhood. Outside of a television sitcom where men would leave their factory shift and hoist a beer at the local tavern, men didn’t have time to create friendships. They had duties at home, lawns to mow, repairs to be made.
That’s not a realistic portrait of today’s marriages. There are almost as many women working outside the home as men. Yet I still see women socializing in groups far more often than I see men “getting together”. During dinner at a prime Salt Lake restaurant, I noticed four different tables seated with women; there were no all-male tables. Similarly, evening book clubs, yoga classes, and Friday cocktail socials attract far more female friend groups than males.
Could it be that women are better at sharing their feelings than men? Are women simply better at verbal socializing? I’m hoping my wife has an answer. She should because she has a lot more friends that I have buddies.
Before my father’s passing, I vividly remember the two of us sitting on a restaurant patio, discussing how times had changed. He looked around and mused, “In my day, you never saw women going out to dinner with other women.”
By DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY
It’s true that women socialize more, and are more inclusive in their socialization. Most women don’t require a shared love of sport, hobby, or political agreement to find joy in getting together with other women. Age is no barrier to friendship either. My best friends are ones I inherited from my daughter after she left home.
In my opinion there are two reasons women cultivate friendships. The first is that women aren’t “fixers.” Tell a man your problems and generally he will try and fix things. This isn’t a criticism. In many ways, it’s a reasonable response. However, most women just want to vent. No judgment, just commiseration. Most of the time there isn’t an easy fix anyway.
Secondly, women are more willing to look foolish. Men have a macho image to protect. My own dear husband is hesitant to take a risk, try something new, or voice an opinion that isn’t completely well thought-out. Ask a woman if she wants to try yoga, paddle-boarding, or a new restaurant and she will most likely say yes. What’s she got to lose? After learning how to walk in heels or getting one bad perm, she knows that she has nothing to fear or be embarrassed of! My daughter led a group of high school students to Nicaragua this summer. It was overwhelming female. The group leaders told her this was typical. Young men, they said, are less willing to venture out of their comfort zone.
Men enjoy being friends with women for the very same reasons that women are friends with other women. Two close friends of mine are men. They appreciate that I’m up for adventures and will listen and offer only empathy, not solutions. I love these two guys, but when I want to enjoy a Saturday brunch and talk about life, it’s my girlfriends I want sharing the table.