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James Grant has set the bar high for those who aspire to be ‘real men’. He’s a New Zealand doctor who was attacked by a shark while spearfishing with friends. He stabbed the shark with a knife that he had in his hand, climbed onto some nearby rocks and took off his wetsuit to find he had 5cm bites on his leg. He stitched up his own wounds using a first aid kit he kept in his vehicle for his other hobby of pig-hunting. And he then went to the pub for a beer with his mates until he was told to go to hospital because he was dripping blood on the floor. It’s a great story that plays into all our stereotypes of men being tough, fierce, impervious to pain, self-sufficient and unafraid. Inevitably social media exploded with references to him being a #realman like that above. But is this really the behaviour that we should expect from half the world’s population?

What if, actually, James is typical of a far smaller group of people? You may remember Venn diagrams from Maths at school, which show the intersections of sets of things. If I knew how I would create a nice diagram for you. It seems to me that far from being typical of all men, James is in the intersection of the sets of:

people who are medics

and people who love surfing

and people who swim in shark infested waters

and people who have a first aid kit in their car that includes needles and sutures

and people who like beer.

And maybe in that tiny subset of all the people in the world who do all those things, some of them might just be women. Sorry James, I don’t think you’re a typical man. I think you might just be a typical adventurous, beer-loving, surfing medic who likes a laugh and has a high pain threshold. The rest of the men in the world can give yourselves a break – you’re fine as you are.

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