Re Tim Dowling’s gentle lament about the state of heterosexual men’s friendships (Men, guard your friendships – heed the warning of the Banshees of Inisherin, 23 January), The Banshees of Inisherin is hardly an isolated cultural representation of male bonding and its troubles: the BBC’s recent adaptation of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel Mayflies and the film of Graham Swift’s Last Orders spring to mind. There is also a whole genre of Hollywood films – the buddy movie – that explores this territory, in the register of either comedy or pathos. Who is Butch without Sundance?
From The Odd Couple to Fight Club, men’s influence on and attachment to each other is central to the narrative. In fact, women interrupting these bromantic “homosocial” connections might even be described as a cliche.
The downside of male loyalty, for women, can be locker-room banter and quasi-military organisations where misogyny flourishes in a single-sex environment – see the Metropolitan police. But while men-only spaces can provide a cover for disturbing attitudes to women, I too think it’s important that men don’t just rely on women for intimacy.