A long time ago, British researcher Gerald Lincoln announced that he suspected that men might be subject to a medical condition known as ‘irritable male syndrome.’
I suspect we haven’t heard much about this since because I’m betting Lincoln was buried in a pile of 23,576,654 emails from women around the world that said: ‘No kidding, Sherlock.’
Another 14,357,542 emails probably politely suggested that Lincoln rename the condition to ‘irritating male syndrome,’ as that would be more accurate.
Lincoln based his theory on his studies of animals, including Indian elephants, reindeer, red deer, and mouflon (sheep). He found that as their testosterone levels fell, male animals became moody and withdrawn, striking out irrationally.
Now, to be fair, it could be that these creatures were irritable because some bloke in a lab coat kept running in to check their testosterone level. Because this is a family publication, I won’t discuss how Lincoln measured testosterone, but let’s just say it might explain why he studied sheep more often than large, easily enraged elephants.
However, let’s assume Lincoln was on to something. Are there similarities between irritable men and irritable rams? We’ll compare:
Rams: When angry, will do something irrational like run headfirst into a tree.
Men: When angry, will do something irrational like punch a wall.
Rams: Will signal their displeasure by bleating angrily.
Men: Will signal their displeasure by calling the referee on TV nasty names.
Ram: When in a bad mood, will go sulk in a corner of the pasture. When a ewe comes over to ask what’s wrong, he’ll avoid eye contact and say nothing.
Men: When in a bad mood, will retreat to the garage. When his wife comes out to ask what’s wrong, he’ll avoid eye contact and say: ‘Nothing.’
Rams: Wooly all over.
Men: Hairy all over.
So, it appears that Lincoln’s theory stands up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. I’m curious as to why we haven’t heard very much about this potential issue.
Actually, no, I’m not curious. I know why it hasn’t gotten a lot of press: Because what this implies is, men can be governed by their hormones.
Men have tried to claim this about women this for centuries, probably as far back as the cave days:
MRS. UGH: Argle! You have left your underfur all over the cave again. How many times I got to clean it up? You drive me crazy!
MR. UGH: Oh oh. You angry. Must be dat time of month again huh?
MRS. UGH: No! I’m just sick and tired of …
MR. UGH: There, there [patting her head]. Look, I just go over to visit Bargle. Be back in, um… few days.
Things had not improved much by the 20th century:
MAN 1: Give women the vote? Good lord, what a horrible idea. Women are far too emotional to make any sort of decisions. And can you imagine what sort of dither they’d be in if an election happened to land on their special day?’
MAN 2: Indeed. Next thing you know, they’ll want to run for public office.
MAN 1: [Shudder]. Perish the thought. We’d have prime ministers going around bombing other countries just because they were in a bad mood or something.
The ultimate irony here is that Lincoln’s theory about hormones has come full circle to bite men in their wooly regions. If both men and women are supposedly hormonal, at least women can claim to be predictably so, whereas a man can be irrational and crabby at any time, without warning. This is why lots of women wear t-shirts that say: ‘Sometimes I wake up grumpy, and sometimes I let him sleep in.’
Of course, we could do something radical like take mental health issues for both men and women seriously and devote some serious time and money into investigating and treating them. In fact, I’d say this is our second biggest issue of the 21st century, right behind climate change.
Why do I think that, you ask?
I mean, have you seen the comments on social media lately?
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