"If men read so little fiction, and so little of what they do read is written by women, does this account for some of what so many of us women see as emotional ignorance, and men's inability to express their feelings or to attempt to understand ours?
The men whom I most appreciate have high levels of emotional intelligence and sensibility, they listen, contribute and empathise, they embrace difference and are prepared for their own vulnerability. And they all read fiction written by and about women.
It's well known that in old age women fare better than men, and single women fare very much better than men who, either by choice or bereavement, live alone. Men suffer higher rates of depression, are more socially isolated, less able to ask for and accept help. Henry David Thoreau's observation that ''most men live lives of quiet desperation'' is never more true than in relation to ageing men.
As we age our individual circumstances affect the quality of our lives: health, wealth or the lack of it, housing, mobility and family background all play a part. But, as the recently released Australian study of ageing so clearly demonstrates, attitude is everything and so often men's social and emotional lives are paralysed in age while women's flourish.
So, could men benefit from reading women's fiction? I'd say without a doubt that men's relationships with women would benefit profoundly. And would they live more sociable, contented and emotionally rewarding lives in old age? I don't know the answer to that but I think it's a fascinating question."
Presidents are chosen, but not elected. The Black Vault. www.SPYWRITER.com