Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

A Man Day

Regardless of your gender, do you consider yourself more masculine….

….or feminine?

I fall centerline.  Hanging out with the LADIES is fun, but I don’t do bake sales or pilgrimages to the mall.  Being with the MEN FOLK is awesome, until the conversation turns into a debate about some ridiculous man-topic…like how to free yourself from a seatbelt with one arm if your Ford flips over on the highway.

Sports-talk is another area where I don’t quite click with the guys.  So, when I told my husband that I had an interest in going to a football game, he almost didn’t believe me.

MAN DAY began with a walk over the Roberto Clemente Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh, with about 60,000 other people wearing matching outfits.


There was man-stuff everywhere!

IMG_2581 IMG_2580

Finally, after a long journey though the urban jungle…


…we entered through the iron gates of man heaven….


 …and saw a bright light.


And the men where happy.


Very, very happy.


Are you more comfortable around women or men?

#2 – Go Out on a Date

On Saturday night, Mr. Backbone fulfilled his promise to take me out on a date. 

It almost didn’t happen because I got sick…on date night.  Urg!!  I pulled myself together by popping 2 aspirin, stuffing Kleenex into my evening bag, and sticking to the plan. 

Most of the husbands I know are clueless about how to prepare for a fancy date with their wife, so here are some tips…

Step One – Plan ahead and extend an invitation for the date.  Give  enough advance warning so that she can secretly try on every outfit in her closet.  We do that.


Step Two – A few hours before the date, leave the house or remove yourself entirely from her “getting ready area.”  Privacy is the golden rule in these critical pre-date hours, especially in the bathroom.  Nothing special is happening in there that you need to know about. 

We go in looking like this…


(in five seconds, this image will self-destruct)

…and POOF!


…after a few short seconds minutes hours…we’re ready to go.

Step Three – While she’s in the process of the magical in-bathroom transformation, practice your best “you look amazing” facial expression.  We want to see this look on your face the second we appear in front of you.  If you don’t successfully accomplish the glassy-eyed look of being mesmerized by our beauty, we might disappear back into the bathroom for a few more seconds minutes hours and start over.

Step Four – Be a gentleman.  Open car doors, pull out chairs, say please and thank you, and don’t abandon your date to catch the sports report on TV.  Don’t call for the waiter by saying “hey buddy, over here.”  Ask questions and pay attention to what we have to say.  Use your napkin for its intended use…which does not include waving it over your head like a lasso on the dance floor.  Most importantly, make sure that you are within the legal limits to drive us home.   Oh, and if along the way you see a kitten stuck in a tree, pull over and save it.

Funny Flirting Ecard: I'm not comfortable dating someone who isn't perfect.

Thanks to my man for being a terrific date and for suggesting the #2 idea for Beating the Feeling of UnGo Out on a Date.

When was the last time you did something fancy?  How long does it take you to get ready?  Do you think women set their expectations too high?

If you liked this post, you may also like Oh Deer…What’s She Wearing Now.

Solving Sexism the Chameleon’s Way

I was inspired by the insightful comments you all had on Monday’s post.   My company is considered small by Corporate America standards, so I’m not bombarded with big company BS and internal politics on a daily basis.  Regardless, I agree with most of your comments…sexism (as well as other “isms”) is still an ongoing battle in the workplace.

We have a saying at my office….

Don’t come to me with a problem.  Come with a problem and a suggested solution.

I like that saying and adopted it from (gasp) a bully of a man.  Regardless, it works to get collaboration going on problem-solving. 

So, what are we going to do about this battle of the sexes?  Here are my suggested solutions:

Solution #1.  Revenge!  Let’s put out a worldwide call to female executives.  From this point forward, they may only hire assistants with these qualifications…


My apologies to the guys…us girls needed needed a little visual pick-me-up.

Solution #2.  Throw in the Towel.  All the men can work, contribute 75% of their incomes into a new government-run program called “Feed and Pamper the Women” and all the ladies will sit back at the expensive spas, hire man-servants to clean our houses and watch our kids, and….errrr……no.  Next.

Solution #3.  Be a Chameleon.  Let’s face it. Men and women are different creatures.  Physically, the differences are obvious.  More importantly, the way we show ourselves to the world is different.  From early childhood, stereotypical ways of acting are reinforced in boys and girls. 

Girls – be polite, speak softly, don’t fight.

Boys – toughen up, get in the game, don’t cry.

When these stereotypical ways of projecting ourselves are brought into a competitive environment (workplace, politics, buying a car, negotiating a deal…whatever), who do you think is going to play that game better?

To be viewed with absolute equality in the workplace, I think women need to Chameleon and better adapt to the environmentWe need to project more confidence, speak louder, be more assertive, and act like leaders.  And while doing this, not completely check our femininity at the door.  Books

The Brown Paper Bag Girl expressed it well in her comment “…a significant aspect of equality is women believing and acting like they are equal. After all, you get what you put out there.”

Being chameleon-like doesn’t always come easy.  My bookshelf is filled with books like these…because we’re all in this together.


What other suggestions do you have to bring more equality to the sexes?

We’re moving on to a different topic on Monday.  Be sure to check back! 

If you liked this post, you may also like Lookism.

What Say You, IWD?

Tuesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD).   I’ve never heard of this “day” before.   Have you?

IWD is an official holiday in 27 countries.  It’s a day for men to honor women.  So, if you were born with the anatomical parts to pee standing up without getting your shoes wet, March 8 is not your day.  Sorry guys.  You’ll just need to go out and honor the ladies.  We take cash, checks, chocolate, and sincere compliments.

Personally, I feel like I should have done something awesome to earn the praise.  But, no.  It’s all due to a slow-moving X spermatozoa that got lost during a freestyle swim in the 1970s…and made a girl.

©Molly Ashford

I’m all for feminism and women’s rights, especially in developing countries.  But…what I don’t get is when feminist groups in America say that equality hasn’t come far enough because women aren’t represented in equal number in corporate boardrooms…in politics…and in certain professions. 

Come on!  Of course we aren’t…and we won’t be …probably ever…for the simple fact that women have the parts to give birth and the estrogen levels to mother. 

Women have the right to stand toe-to-toe with men on every level.  I firmly believe that, in part because I stand there, toe-to-toe, every Monday – Friday.  However,  just because women have the right and opportunity to stand there, doesn’t mean we have to choose to exercise that right in order to be respected as equals.  If I had a family and quit my job to raise children…I would still be just as smart…just as motivated…and just as successful…and just as equal as I am today.  I’d just be applying my self and using my BACKBONE in different ways. 

A woman can choose the house…

and/or the Senate.

 Back to IWD.  Apparently, there will be IWD events in hundreds of cities across the globe where men and women alike are to show support for women by going outside and…

standing on a bridge. 

It’s true.  Check out this site where you can find a bridge to stand on.  I’m sure it’s metaphorical for bridging gender gaps.  But, still.  Really?  I don’t see how standing on a bridge is going to help the cause.  I know more than enough couples who’d like to push their significant other over the railing for…let’s just say…irreconcilable differences.


Do you think there is still a need to promote gender equality in industrialized countries, or has that battle already been fought and won?

Have you ever experienced gender discrimination?

If you liked this post, you may also like The Man Mall and The Trouble with American Women.

Negotiating in Business-Land

The Boss-E side of my personality is making a major appearance this week.  I’m in Southern California at my corporate office for meeting after meeting after meeting.  Actually, I’m typing this on the airplane….wishing the mild gut-wrenching turbulence would stop.  For my own safety and the safety of those around me, I better remain seated.  After all, I don’t want to spill this plastic cup of Minute Maid on the nice man beside me, causing widespread panic like Snakes on a Plane. 

For most of the week, my company will be updating its Business Plan and Business Model.

  • Business Model = spreadsheet that shows a company’s budget and cash flow.
  • Business Plan =  how a company operates in its field (marketing, staffing, production, sales, etc.).

For my entire career, I’ve always been at the negotiating table with men.  I’ve worked hard to get where I am, but I still think they need me there to balance out the testosterone levels.  All I can say is, it’s been both interesting and frustrating. 

If most women are like me, we simply don’t approach negotiations the same way.  For men, it’s a battle to be won…against the economy…against the competition…against the forces of nature.  If my business partner shows up to the meeting tomorrow in a suit of armor, I wouldn’t be surprised.  Women, on the other hand, don’t come bearing armor.  Plus, it’s not very fashionable in this century.

If you think about it, a lot of situations require negotiation…

Man:  I want barbecue ribs for dinner.

Wife:  I’d rather have baked chicken.  I have a new dress on today and ribs are too messy.

Man:  I said I want ribs.

Wife:  Well, I said I don’t.

Man:  Then I guess you won’t be eating, because I’m making the damn ribs.

A lump forms in your throat.  Tears well up behind your eyes.  Your man doesn’t care about you or your new Ann Taylor halter-dress.  He didn’t even notice that you spent half the day doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen.  Your face feels hot.  You can’t hold it back…and….

Wife:  Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Man:  Okay, we’ll have the chicken.

The thing about us girls is that it’s hard for us to take the sappy emotion out of an argument or heated negotiation.  We want peace.   We want to find the middle-ground.  The guys can get in each others’ faces, name-call, and still be best buds when it’s  all said and done.  I can’t even imagine crying at a business meeting, but it’s still hard for me to be an emotionless shell just because I’m in a conference room talking arguing about budgets.  Come to think of it, maybe the armor would help.  At least no one would see my mascara running behind the face shield.

How do you react when your opinion is challenged?  Are you are good negotiator? 

Show and Tell

My week thus far has consisted of work and more work.  Kind of boring for a Show and Tell unless you’re dying to see photos of my office.  So…. back we go to Sunday.

Having a rare two hours of free time, I headed to the mall.  If you’re not a football fan, let me just tell ya that the absolute best time to go shopping is during the Sunday afternoon game when the hometown team is on TV.  The advantages are…

  • husbands don’t notice you’re gone;
  • no traffic on the roads;
  • plenty of parking by the door;
  • no waiting in line at the register; and
  • open tables in the food court.

 A quick trip to the mall was exactly what the doctor ordered.  My weekends are always emotionally rough, since I spend most of them at my parents’ house helping them through hard times.  My mom’s health is getting worse and each visit tugs at the heartstrings. 

So, as I was browsing around in Ladies, someone said my name.  What??!  Isn’t the entire world as we know it watching football?  I turned and saw a classmate from high school.  She’s a super sweet, genuine person and Facebook friend, but we’ve only seen each other a few times in the past 20 years. 

Out came the standard “Hi!  How are you?”  At this point, two options flashed through my mind about how to respond:

  1. Great!  How are you?  How are the kids?  or….
  2. I’m doing okay.  My parents are ill.  I’m tired, emotionally drained, sad, but hanging in there, blah, blah, blah.

In a typical situation like this, I usually put on a #1 happy face.  This time, I was caught off guard.  The shopping trip hadn’t cleared my mind.  I spilled out the #2 blah blah blah.  It was out there.  I couldn’t take it back.  Help!  Get me out of Ladies, and quick!! 

Up the escalator I fled, which put me in Electronics.  And, smack dab into the middle of a crowd of men.  Time for another What??!  There they stood.  In the isles.  In front of the display TVs.  Watching the big game.  Some were even wearing the team jersey. 

  • Did their wives force them to go shopping? 
  • Did they journey to Mecca Electronics on purpose? 
  • Have their TVs at home been taken by the repo man?
  • Are the sports bars at capacity?
  • Is there beer here? 
  • Is it a coincidence that the Lazy Boy display is in full testing mode? 

For what it’s worth, the ridiculous scene broke my stress and allowed me to carry on with a happier day.  As to my high-school classmate, she sent me a very nice note by e-mail the next day.  Words of encouragement.  Offers to lend a hand.  Had I fibbed in response to the how are you question, this exchange of human kindness would not have occurred.  It showed me that it’s okay to be raw and honest in the real life game of Show and Tell.  It’s okay to reveal your BACKBONE and allow someone else to show you theirs. 

Do you typically hide your emotions or let them show?  Does it depend on who is on the receiving end?

 If you liked this post, you may also like The Man Mall and When Roles Reverse.

The Man Mall

I’m all for equality among the sexes.  But, I certainly don’t need to be knocked on the head with the inequality stick to know that “equal” is not synonymous with “same.”  Before this weekend, if anyone would have asked me if men and women are the same I would have burst into laughter and asked if they were serious.  Have you ever tried to go shopping together?  Nope…definitely not the same.

But then…this happened…

Saturday night, my husband and I went out with another couple to a cool little tapas place.  We drove together …boys in the front…girls in the back.  Peering over the headrest I see Chris pull a piece of paper from his shirt pocket.  He reads from the page to Mr. Backbone.   I wonder what man-thing it could be about…

  • News?
  • Sports? 
  • Directions to the bar?
  • Instructions on how to fix our leaky toilet?

So, we get there and grab a table outside.  Once we got settled, it was time for beer selection.  From the wall-to-wall beer cooler, I grabbed one with an interesting label.  I usually pick beer by its label.  This one seemed so introspective that it just had to be good! 


My pick-system worked.  It was fabulous.  A robust, creamy Belgian with a cherry on top.

Next, the men went inside for their picks.  They were gone for a long……long time.  What’s up with that?  Did they fall into the urinal?  Were their eyeballs attached to the flat screen?  Was there a cute blonde leaning over the bar? 

Nope.  There they were, along with about 10 other men…staring glassy eyed into the beer cooler.  They all looked so serious considering the monumental decision they were about to make.  And there stood Chris with his paper from the car…a Men’s Health magazine article “Healthy Beer.”  Is there really such a thing?  Pla-ease.   


Alas!  Men and women are not so different after all!  I had finally found the place where men like to shop, much the same as women shop at Prime Outlets.  They had done their research, scanned the isles, read the labels, looked at the prices…and were overwhelmed by the number of selections.  All the sizes, and colors, and new arrivals, and labeling!  The wall-to-wall beer cooler is….(cue the Beethoven…dunt, dunt, dunt, duhhhh…) THE MAN MALL.

Its isles look like this…

Not this…

Ladies, even though we may have found some similarities here, I still don’t recommend that you take your man shopping unless his closet starts to scream for mercy.  And when you do, don’t make him feel less of a man by insisting that you buy him holiday underwear.  You know, like these Monkey-Headed Skeleton Briefs for the upcoming Halloween season.  Sorry honey – they were just too cute to pass up.


When it comes to day-to-day decision-making, in what ways do you think men and women are most different?

The Trouble with American Women

We’re not really trouble, are we?  Sometimes we act silly and drink too much wine, but trouble?  Nahh..


By now, you know my age.  There is exactly one month left until my 40th birthday.  One Month!  About a year ago I started to think about 40 as being “mid-life.”  What I mean is that about half of the women in America will be younger than me and the other half, older.  Statistically, I passed that point about 5 months ago, but who’s counting.     

Being in the middle, I have friend of all ages.  Regardless of the age group, all women I spend time with seem to have some sort of mysterious and unspoken bond.  Sort of like, I know you’re secret and it’s safe with me.    

© Ioana Grecu

What’s the secret?  I want to know.  Don’t you?

Where better to turn for advice on American women than (cue the drum roll, please…da-da-da-da-da-da-dum!)….Cosmo.  After all, this month’s issue proudly states that “Cosmopolitan is the lifestylist for millions of fun fearless females who want to be the best they can be in every area of their lives….”     

I don’t read Cosmo, but since I am feeling fun and fearless, I decided to give it a shot.  There’s gotta be some unspoken secret that’s bonding American women together, from the very young to the most wise, including ladies as old as my grandma.  This month’s issue didn’t do much to help.  I looked up the headlines.  My grandma wouldn’t be interested in:    

  • Having a sexy hair day.
  • Breaking a toxic love pattern,
  • Where all the hot single men are, or
  • Non-bitchy ways to say no.

I dare not give a copy to Grandma – she’d be shocked…or, perhaps she’d show up to the next family dinner with seductive, smudge proof eyes.     

Cosmo has been around since 1886, so Grandma must have seen it on the shelves in her younger days. What did it say back then?  I had to know.   Probably no articles on implants, self tanning cream, or how to fight cellulite.  After some research, I found a 1921 Comso article called The Trouble with American Women.  What it said amazed me…    

This is the age of the body.  All interests are centered around the body, its wants, its feelings, its preservation, its covering, its emotions.  No one is interested in the spirit at all.    

eBay  Image 1 Harrison Fisher cover - 1920 Cosmopolitan magazineSource    

The 1920s were a period of great dissatisfaction and unrest.  I think American women are coming to another age of unrest.  At least it seems to be so in conversations I have with my friends.  After more than 90 years, isn’t it about time we start focusing on the spirit again?  The real us that Cosmo can’t cover with clothes and cosmetics.  After pondering this for a while, it might just be the unspoken secret among women – we know that our spirits are hidden under many layers, and they’re ready to come out.    

Are you hiding your true spirit?  Has it changed as you’ve aged, or stayed the same?      

This weekend, do something to show your spirit to the world.