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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category


Waxing? Egads!

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Last Thursday, as they do every almost every Thursday, my daughter and her husband and my son and his wife came over for dinner and a movie. His wife somehow managed to miss an incredible number of classics, like Meatballs and Ghostbusters, but that’s a subject for another day.

For most of the day, Martha did what women do when company is expected – she cleaned the already clean house whilst I slaved away at the keyboard. Or maybe it wasn’t already clean. I can never tell. To me, if nothing impedes my progress from point A to point B, and there are no insects in residence, the house is clean. Thankfully, Martha has somewhat higher standards. But I digress.

As the hour of their arrival drew near, it was time for us to get ready. So, having just showered, I was standing at the sink shaving when a word I won’t repeat here slipped out. You should know that I hate shaving. For twenty years, I sported a full beard, not because I thought it was fashionable or I thought I looked especially good, but only so I would not have to shave. It came off as a temporary gift to my lovely bride, who always hated it, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, and when everyone started remarking that I looked ten years younger, I figured she’d endured prickly kisses long enough. But I digress again.

So the word slips out and through the shower curtain she asks what’s wrong.



“I really hate shaving.”

“You should wax it. Then it would take a long time to grow back.”

“Yah, right. That little patch on my leg I did that time when Cathy used to do it hurt quite enough, thank you. No way I’m doing that to my face.”

“Oh, it doesn’t hurt that much and only for a few seconds. Women get bikini waxes all the time. If they can stand it down there you should be able to stand it on your face.”

“But you’re forgetting one thing.”


“Women are crazy. They’ll do almost anything if someone tells them it makes them look better.”

Let’s just say the conversation deteriorated from there until kids and spouses arrived. But my point was a valid one, despite Martha’s protestations to the contrary.

What women will do to impress other women goes beyond all reason. And it is mostly to impress other women.

Sure, we guys appreciate it when you slip into that silky black dress with the spaghetti straps. And we appreciate it even more when you slip out of it, if we get to be in the vicinity. But we’d have appreciated jeans and a t-shirt just as much. Which brings me to my point.

Ladies, guys really don’t care what you wear. We don’t care if the jeans make your butt look too big. Or too small. Or too flat. We don’t care if your shoes match your handbag. We don’t care if you even wear shoes. We don’t care what color stones or metal you stick through your ears or hang around your neck. We don’t care if you spend hours layering on makeup so it looks like you’re not wearing any. Save yourself the hours and don’t wear any! We won’t even notice.

As for bikini waxes, just thinking about it causes our analogous area to recoil in horror.

The truth is, all we really care about is that you’re willing to be seen with us in public and that you don’t run screaming from the bedroom when you wake up next to us in the morning. After that ladies, it’s all gravy for us.



Truth in Toons: Women and Men Edition

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?










Unspoken Communication: Girls vs. Guys

Monday, June 4th, 2012

When this was first published four or five years ago, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen about the basic emotional and social difference between men and women.

I came across it on my hard drive yesterday and have not changed my mind.

What do you think?

Does it or does it not say everything that needs to be said on the subject?



What boobs!

Monday, May 14th, 2012

A Monday rerun

Some folks in New Zealand are upset because a judge overturned a city council decision banning some women from parading through town on their motorcycles. Topless. The Mayor claimed the council received 1000 emails and 150 “submissions” opposing the event. On the other hand, 80,000 people turned out to enjoy the last such parade. Hmmm…1150 against, 80,000 for. Seems pretty clear the judge did the correct thing, especially since New Zealand law permits both men and women to be topless in public.

My question is – what’s the big deal? They’re breasts. We all know what breasts look like. Many of us became attached to them shortly after birth. So why do we get all worked up about the sight of milk glands?

Why is it okay for him to
be bare-chested in
public, but not her?

I’ve never understood it. In fact, the women I know well enough to ask about it don’t understand why men find breasts so interesting. To many of them, their  breasts are just these lumps that have to be restrained,  often get in the way, and are frequently the cause of back pain and shoulder grooves.

Frankly, I think America should take a lesson from New Zealand and pass the same law. Given all the blather about “equal protection under the law” it would seem to be required.

I know men with boobs that are bigger than their wife’s. Why is it okay for them to doff their shirt on a hot, muggy day, but not okay for the wife to do the same? Seems like a clear-cut case of discrimination to me.

Are we afraid of inciting young boys to frenzies of uncontrollable lust? I think the sight of a few topless women is far more likely to incite them to uncontrollable giggles.

The simple fact is, if women started going topless, after a few weeks, nobody but the terminally juvenile would even notice.

Men cast sly glances and openly stare at women’s breasts all the time now, primarily because they’re wondering what they really look like under all that fabric. If they were right out there, they’d know. Then they’d be able to look a woman in the eyes when they’re talking to her without having to force their eyes not to drop to her chest.

I think the folks who are making a big deal out of this parade are boobs, but not the soft, pretty kind. All their bleating and moaning is providing the parade with far more publicity than it would ever have otherwise received.

Mrs. Blogger has been hinting about a vacation next year. I’m thinking New Zealand.

What do you say?

Ladies, would you go topless if were not illegal? Should it even be illegal?

And guys, do you think breasts would lose their allure if they were “out there” everywhere, all the time?


Do you speak Womanish?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

A Monday rerun from 2008

What’s in a word?

Have you ever sat for fifteen minutes watching the digital clock creep from 2:30 to 2:45? What does that have to do with words? Nothing, really. I was just wondering.

So what’s in a word? Why, everything!

Take love for instance. Or hate. Or flugelhorn. They all mean something. Sometimes, words can mean several things, especially in English, as do love and hate. But flugelhorn means flugelhorn and not a trumpet or any other brass instrument.

I bring this up because when people say things to me, I usually take them at their word, meaning I listen and then parse based on what words mean.

For example, if  I was sitting at my kitchen table reading the newspaper and dear Mrs. Blogger walked in and said “we’re getting low on laundry detergent,” you might assume I’m being told we’re getting low on laundry detergent.

But you’d be wrong.

You see, women use language differently than do men. While men hear the actual words spoken and process those, we seem to lack the organ or brain structure that would permit us to hear the words women actually mean. In this case, through many years of trial and error, I’ve learned that we’re getting low on laundry detergent really means something akin to get off your butt and drive me to the grocery store.

It’s always an adventure trying to figure out what women actually mean when they say something.

I really have no idea why this stuff comes into my head when I can’t sleep, but it does.

Guys, have you managed to learn Womanish?

Do you think maybe Rosetta Stone offers a course?



Ladies, we love you, but sometimes guys just want to be guys

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Sue Reynolds.


What is so wrong about men wanting to hang out with other men? Why do so many women take offense at the idea of guys not wanting them around all day, every day, everywhere?

An annual reminder of their outrage occurred last week when the Augusta National Golf Club hosted the Masters Tournament as it does every year. For you non-golfers, Augusta National is an unapologetic men-only club into which women have been trying, and failing, to gain entry for a long time. Every year, a plethora of media outlets and women’s groups bleat about how misogynistic it is of the club to exclude the female half of the race. Why-oh-why won’t those nasty boys let the girls play?

This year, columnist Jeff Jacoby offered an answer.

Freedom of association, even for Augusta National

NOW THAT the 2012 Masters tournament is over, the hounds of political correctness have stopped baying at Augusta National Golf Club over its membership policies. The gender-grievance industry is moving on, looking for a new target to harangue.

Yet as the Augusta National brouhaha recedes, there are some things I wonder about.

Click Here to read the rest of the column.

I freely admit that I often prefer to hang out with women. Not only are they nicer to look at, they’re generally more interesting to talk to. They’re much less inhibited once they realize you’re not there to judge them and what they have to say and — guys, pay attention — if you really listen to them, whether or not you agree with or even care about what they’re saying, you will gain great insight into the gender and the individuals, insight that will pay large dividends in your relationships, and I do not just mean sexually. Also, I very much enjoy verbal sparring and have great fun pitting my logic against what my dear wife calls “women’s logic.” It truly makes for some entertaining and, from my point of view, sometimes hilarious discussions.

But there are other times when I just want to relax and hang out with the guys. Not only can I have conversations where I don’t have to try to interpret “women’s logic,” I can tell or listen to dirty jokes, not have to excuse myself if gas is a problem, and not even care who might be looking if certain parts need adjustment or scratching. I can just “be a guy” without having to worry about anything that phrase means.

Many women, social beings most of them are, don’t seem to understand “the guy thing.” And that’s okay. The truth is, we don’t much understand them, either, even after listening as instructed above. And that’s okay, too.

God or nature made us two genders with different bodies, different brain structures, different wants, different needs — different most things — for a reason.

Isn’t it time we stopped fighting against reality and simply accept it?

What do you say?


It’s Leap-Day, ladies. Your once-in-every-four-years chance to propose.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

It’s Leap Day, Ladies. And you know what that means. It’s your chance — a chance that comes but once in every four years — to get down on bended knee and propose marriage to your man.

Now, some of your suddenly nervous intendeds may express skepticism about this tradition so they can continue to avoid tying the noose…err, knot. They might even claim you’re making it all up. So I did a bit or research and found the following, which you are welcome to use.


According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.

In some places, Leap Day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.

Wikipedia has a section about it as does Snopes.

And if you are wondering how Leap Day proposals turn out, here is one example from last Sunday’s Boston Globe Magazine.

Proposing on February 29

At a recent dinner party, the hosts introduced their twentysomething nephew and his fiancee, newly engaged before Christmas. Immediately, we married ladies grilled the fiancee: “How’d you meet?” “Let’s see the ring!” “How’d he propose?”

“Let’s tell all of our stories!” another friend suggested, pointing to each of us, married anywhere from 10 to 20 years. My husband rolled his eyes. He knew what was coming.

“So, Kathy, how’d you and Joe meet?”

“She can’t tell it in less time than it takes to sing ‘Alice’s Restaurant,’ ” my husband quipped. Everyone laughed. Succinctness isn’t my strong suit. But after almost 16 years married, I’ve fine-tuned a retort to beat Arlo Guthrie’s famously long song.

“Yes, I can. At  . . .  a  . . .  BBQ,” I said. People laughed. Then the next question. “How’d he propose?” We shot each other a look. “He didn’t propose. I did!” I blurted out our story. How we were both “old” – I was 34, he was 43, neither ever married – when we met. And how, after dating and waiting 2½ years, I popped the question to him on leap day 1996. Leap day, February 29, according to an Irish myth from the Middle Ages, is the one day every four years that women are “allowed” to propose to men.

My plan, I told them, was to propose as I’d hoped he would to me – quietly, over dinner, at the restaurant where we had our first date. But writer friends suggested I grab a byline, too. So I wrote my proposal, weaving in a story about the history of leap day, and mailed it to the op-ed editor at the Boston Herald, who agreed to publish it.

That was when my stomach tightened. Would Joe, a private man, be OK with my popping the question in such a public way?

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Had I known about this tradition thirty-three years ago, I might have decided to wait a decade or so to give Martha a couple of chances to propose to me. But I didn’t and so far, it’s worked out well, though I fully expect she’ll one day come to her senses and  dump my sorry butt at the curb.

How about you folks?

Are there any women out there who proposed on Leap Day or any other day? Any men who were proposed to? If so, how did it turn out?

And are there any men or women who intend to propose on this Leap Day?


Isn’t it time we got over our aversion to talking about sex?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

I was disturbed, this morning, by a small item in the newspaper, so I checked online for the full story.

CDC: Many teen moms didn’t think it could happen

ATLANTA (AP) — A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant.

In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third who didn’t use birth control said the reason was they didn’t believe they could pregnant.

Why they thought that isn’t clear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey didn’t ask teens to explain.

But other researchers have talked to teen moms who believed they couldn’t get pregnant the first time they had sex, didn’t think they could get pregnant at that time of the month or thought they were sterile.

“This report underscores how much misperception, ambivalence and magical thinking put teens at risk for unintended pregnancy,” said Bill Albert, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

How is it possible that in twenty-first century America, so many girls and young women do not fully and completely understand their bodies and worse, that sex can always lead to pregnancy?

We live in a culture that bombards our children with sexual images, music lyrics, advertisements — is there any product or service that does not use sex to sell itself? Yet so many of us cling to a puritanical aversion to even acknowledging sex exists, much less that we have it and, hopefully, enjoy it.

We would never think of sending our children out into the world without teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street, to be wary of certain kinds of strangers, to brush their teeth and take a shower every day so they won’t stink. Yet we turn them loose with little or no information about something that could change their lives forever and produce a new life that, studies show, will likely suffer significant disadvantages. And all because we’re too embarrassed to talk about our body parts and what they are used for?

Approximately 400,000 teens aged 15–19 years give birth every year in the United States, and the teen birth rate remains the highest in the developed world according to the Center for Disease Control report on which the news story above is based. 400,000 girls who may never achieve their full potential because they didn’t think they could get pregnant the first time they had sex, or because they thought withdrawal was a good contraceptive choice, or any of the myriad other misconceptions that result in conception.

Isn’t it time we learned to say the words — penis and vagina — and even the earthier euphemisms, outside the bedroom, to our children even?

I’m not suggesting we tell our kids to run out and have sex whenever they want. Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that we arm them with the facts, with the truth, with foreknowledge of how their young bodies will respond to kissing and petting so they can better resist the biological urges until, ideally, they someday find themselves in a loving, committed relationship.

That said, like it or not, most of our children will not wait until they’re married to have sex. I know my two did not. But both my son and my daughter were well armed with as much information as we could feed them, despite their embarrassment at having to listen to mom and dad talk about sex, and their even greater embarrassment at being forced to think about mom and dad actually doing it. At least twice!

Isn’t it time we got over our aversion to talking about sex?

What do you think?

Am I crazy for wanting sex to be just another subject for families to talk about at the dinner table?

Did your parents have “the talk” with you? At what age? Was it comfortable or embarrassing?

If you have children, have you had “the talk” with them? At what age? Did you follow up with more information as they got older?

And what can we do, as parents, aunts, uncles, and as a society, to ensure each and every boy and girl fully understands what they will be facing once the hormones kick in?


Truth in Toons: Found on Facebook Edition

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Yes, these are not all cartoons.
But the truth is there anyway.
Which are your favorites?










Do victims sometimes deserve some, most, or even all of the blame?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Scenario #1 – I visit a city for the first time. When I check into my hotel, the desk person hands me a map of the city and points out an area bounded in red with an X overlaying it. She explains it is an area where crime and gangs are out of control and tells me if I pass through that area on foot, there’s a very good chance I will be assaulted and robbed, or worse. But I’m not afraid and am feeling lucky, so I stroll through the section with my head held high and end up beaten and robbed.

Scenario #2 – For weeks now, a new designer party drug has been in the news. Great high, non-addictive, no hangover. But every ad and news report stresses there is a small chance that if I take it, I will have a bad reaction and end up with my legs paralyzed. All my friends are singing its praises and urging me to try it. So I do and end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

Both of the foregoing scenarios are far-fetched, since I’m not stupid and have never had a death wish.  But they’re meant to make a point. In each, who is to blame for what happened to me?

In the first scenario, some would argue everyone has the right to walk where they please and so my trip to the hospital and loss of money and credit cards is entirely the fault of the gang-bangers who beat me and took it.

In the second scenario, some would argue those who made and/or sold the drug I took are responsible for what happened.

But I think it’s clear to most folks that the only person responsible for what happened in both cases was me.

Regardless of the reason — pride, perhaps in the first instance and peer pressure in the second — I alone made each bad decision. I alone was responsible for what happened to me. Yes, someone took advantage of me in the first instance but could not have done so had I not disregarded the warning. Same with the drug. I was clearly and repeatedly warned, yet I gambled and lost.

Even if you think some of the blame lay elsewhere, would you, would anyone argue that the warnings were inappropriate? That they were blaming the victim for the bad thing that might happen and should not be shown or published?

If you just thought something like “Of course not. The warnings were good. You were the dumb-ass who didn’t listen,” consider this next scenario.

Scenario #3 – I am magically transformed into a young woman. (Yes, that is a scary thought, but go with it anyway). I know that getting drunk is dangerous because drunk people control of reason and say and do stupid things. I’ve seen ads and posters warning me, but I’m young and invincible and go out with my girlfriends one night and get happily wasted on margaritas. I’ve been flirting with this really cute guy who’s almost as drunk as I am and as we’ve been slow dancing, both of us have been getting turned on. So we end up in one of the bathrooms making out. Then my panties are on the floor and you can imagine the rest. I hadn’t intended it to go that far, but he was insistent and I because I was so drunk, I couldn’t say no and let it happen.

An Associated Press story, reproduced it in it’s entirety, below,  is what got me thinking about all this.

Before you read it, please think about these three questions related to Scenario #3:

1. Was I raped?

2. Whether I was or was not, do I bear any responsibility for what happened and if so, how much?

3. Would an ad that showed a girl’s legs on the floor in a bathroom with her panties around her ankles and warning about the dangers of drinking be “blaming the victim” or a good and appropriate warning?

My answers follow the story.

Pa. liquor board pulls ad on heavy drinking, rape

PITTSBURGH (AP) — An ad meant to warn young adults about the links between heavy drinking and rape has been pulled by Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board.

Critics said it was another example of suggesting victims are to blame for rape.

The ad featured an image of a woman’s legs on a bathroom floor with her underwear pulled down to her ankles, and the words: “She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no.”

This undated image shows a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board ad meant to warn young adults about the links between heavy drinking and rape. A spokeswoman for the Liquor Control Board says the ad was pulled Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 after complaints that the ad blamed women for being victims. Click on the Photo to read a larger version in a new browser window.

Stacey Witalec, a spokeswoman for the Liquor Control Board, said the online ad was part of a broader campaign that began a few months ago on the website She said there was both criticism and support for the ad, but the board decided to pull it Wednesday evening.

Witalec said the campaign was trying to bring attention to a serious problem, not suggest rape victims are to blame.

“On an annual basis more than 97,000 people between the ages of 18 and 24 are the victims of alcohol-fueled sexual assaults,” Witalec said, “and those statistics are staggering.”

One expert defended the ad.

Jennifer Storm, Executive Director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program in Harrisburg, noted that one sequence in the interactive ad stated very clearly that rape isn’t the victim’s fault.

“I feel strongly that we need to be having very frank conversations about prevention. Otherwise, all we’re doing is intervening after the fact,” Storm said.

“Alcohol is the number one drug used to facilitate rape. You lose your capacity to make sound decisions,” Storm said, adding that “we need to empower people with every tool and piece of knowledge we have.”

One blogger on the website Jezebel didn’t agree.

“Rape is not just a bad thing that happens to someone after drinking too much,” wrote Erin Gloria Ryan. “It’s a deliberate act on the part of the rapist, a violation of another person committed solely because the rapist wanted to rape. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we’ll be rid of stupid, finger wagging ads like these.”

Ryan also said that the portion of the ad reading “See what could happen when your friends drink too much” was “just shifting blame away from the rapist and onto the victim and, oddly, the victim’s friends.”

Several other ads in the campaign warning about the dangers of heavy drinking are still being used. Those subjects include excessive drinking and alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, and drunken arguments.

I think you can guess my answers to the three questions from what I said about the first two scenarios, but here here they are:

1- No, I was not raped.
2- Yes, most if not all of the blame is mine.
3- The ad would be both good and appropriate and I can’t imagine the mental gymnastics needed to equate the truth in the ad with blaming the victim.

I know those answers are going to upset some folks, especially those who believe men should get verbal permission for every step forward in the lovemaking process. (May I hug you? May I kiss you? May I rub your back? May I stroke your hair? May I slip my hand under your shirt? etc.) But I reached those conclusions by looking at what happened without emotion.

A- I willingly, even eagerly put myself in harm’s way.
B- I never said no
C- I let it happen.

Maybe if I’d seen the ad above, I might have thought twice about drinking so much or making out with a guy in the bathroom of a bar.

Obviously, this is one, manufactured scenario. Real life is seldom so cut and dry. But those who throw caution to the wind, whether by texting while driving, flashing a large amount of cash in a dicey area, or anything else, cannot absolve themselves from at least some of the blame if something bad happens as a result.

Now it’s your turn.

What are your answers to the three questions?

Did any change after you read the news story and messages on the poster?

And if you believe my answers are misguided or flat-out wrong, convince me. But give me facts and logic, not feelings.



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