Monday 24 October 2016

The plight of lonely women has been ignored for far too long

Published 30/06/2014 | 02:30

Picture posed. Thinkstock Images
Picture posed. Thinkstock Images

MEN and women think in different ways when it comes to problem solving. This is a broad generalisation. There isn't time to go through the phonebook and pick and interview the million of you. So if you are a woman who thinks like a man or vice versa well then that's you but I haven't the space here to go through every individual story.

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I'm not sure where this next bit is coming from as today we are writing within the range of our headlights without any great idea of the map of the journey. This story of thwarted adolescent longing has nothing much to do with the difference between the thinking apps of men and women and more to do with the many and varied applications to which phone books can be applied.

It was back in the time when the church ruled Ireland and I was on the bus travelling to see the sights of the west Kerry Gaeltacht. There is no part of the world more beautiful but if the bus driver called out 'next stop The Taj Mahal', I would have stayed put. There was this pretty girl on the summer Irish learning course and she was sitting on my lap. I can still remember her name and the scent of the apple shampoo from her long ringlets comes to mind every time I drink a pint of cider.

There is always someone who will spoil your fun. The bus driver pulled in about 200 yards away from a series of deep potholes just outside the Ventry Ceili Hall

He pulled in to the side of the road and came down in a fierce hurry to the back of the overcrowded bus. The driver went on his knees, searching under the back seat. There was a telephone book in his hand. A thick one, that recorded every name and number in Munster.

"Seas suas," he ordered the girl with the cidery hair. She stood up. The bus driver placed the Munster phone directory on my lap. "You can sit on his lap now," he said to my girl, who was mortified. I hadn't thought of that story for years and years until just now. It had to come out though and I suppose there is a moral.

Those in charge always have an agenda.

But back to where we were with the differences in the thinking processes between men and women.

I have observed women in shops to buy a specific item such as a coat but their journey does not go straight to the coat rack – there are several detours to different parts of the shop with lots of touching of the material of clothes they are never going to buy. A man will walk straight to the coat rack, pick one out and buy it. Again this might not be you.

Last week we wrote of the plight of single women from mid- 30s up who cannot get a date. The response was overwhelming . The problem is much worse than I thought. There are so many decent and beautiful women who are left without a mate or even male company.

It's as if they've been condemned to isolation and loneliness by reason of age. We cannot ignore the situation whereby thousands of Irish women are denied the basic human right to love and be loved. There's more, in that many women would like to have kids but there are no dads available.

So if you think like a man, as I do, my immediate reaction would be to tell the isolated lady to dress up and go out to the pub or club even if she has to go on her own. Join a dating agency, get a makeover, check out old boyfriends to see if they're back on the market, go on a holiday to a place where there is no shortage of men, ask your friends to be on the look-out, or pray.

I am sure there are women who think the same way but it is more likely that the majority will take it more slowly. Women need to talk things through. For them part of the solution is to identify the problem and to express their needs, fears, desires and dreams. We men tend to lose patience when the process is repeated.

The men's approach is definitely better for short-term benefits but the women take a more layered and holistic approach that may in the long term prove the more beneficial. Solutions can and must be teased out.

So it is then that men and women must work together to help our friends who are in such an unfair and at times desperate predicament.

I haven't read a single word from women's groups on the issue nor have I read or heard a single word from the HSE, or any other body charged with our well being.

Like the gaeltacht bus driver, our state agencies are more likely to see policy as stifling rather than enabling.

There are so many powerful women in this country who have stayed silent on what is effectively a sentence of loneliness. It could be that our powerful women are unaware of the scale of the problem or that they simply do not know what to do.

Billy Keane

Irish Independent

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