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July 21, 2005

Girls in Their Summer Dresses, and Skirts -- and Thongs

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

How have you found women's fashions this summer? They've struck me as very enjoyable: sexy, relaxed, and even a little elegant, at least by today's hysterical standards. Nostalgia-inducing too, for those of us d'un certain age: The '60s and '70s seem back in a big way, what with the cowboy boots, the flower-power blouses, and the always-welcome denim miniskirt making strong comebacks. I've had girlwatching moments when I could almost hear The Byrds singing "Turn Turn Turn."

I've been delighted as well by the vogue for low-slung, flowing skirts. They have a beautiful rhythm and sway. The patterns are loose and sinuous. They're very Gauguin; women walk real nice in 'em. And the newfangled, twinkly materials that are often woven into the traditional fabrics do a sharp job of refreshing the style. What with the sandals and the toe-rings, the effect is cyber-Hindu, or maybe Bali-goes-Silicon-Valley. Very flattering, and very female.

Of course it's always fun taking note of the outrages too. The lower-belly and buttcrack exhibitionism seems less aggressive this summer than it was last summer. But this season I've noticed a lot of attention-grabbing, dumbass t-shirts. One shapely woman walked by me recently wearing a tight t-shirt with a legend on it reading: "These boobs are real." Was I meant to give them a squeeze just to make sure?

Another gasp-inducer involved a tall, curvy blonde outside Whole Foods. There she stood, yakking on the inevitable cellphone, dressed in a skimpy top and in a spectacularly barely-there bottom: a pink micro mini of the kind a spring break sorority girl might slip on over her Wicked Weasels in order to go get an ice cream cone. Around her hips, in other words, this blonde was wearing no more than eight inches of stretchy almost-nothingness. If she'd bent over just the slightest bit, I'm sure that I would have seen some tanned (and, I'm sure, very smooth) pubic curves. But by then -- like every other straight man in the vicinity -- I'd already tripped over myself and slammed into a telephone pole. Oooh, was I ever outraged!

Small historical question: When did it become OK for women to go out in the general public arena wearing what's basically boudoir or beach clothing? Was it Madonna who kicked this trend off?

A pleasant development that I may be late in noticing has been lots and lots of semi-transparency. Have you taken note as well? Most of it seems to be part of a peekaboo-layering strategy: hip wraps, see-through blouses worn over spaghetti-strap tops, that kind of thing. Flirty! Fun! Fabulous!

Thinking about semi-transparency, I find myself transported back to the late '70s ... Yup, there she is, floating before me once again: Naomi, a dark, voluptuous, moody beauty and fellow officeworker. We lusty young officedudes used to refer to Naomi as the "sexy Israeli army sergeant" -- we pictured her spending mornings cracking down on Palestinians, and afternoons oiling up her olive-skinned toplessness on a Mediterranean beach.

Naomi was the queen of transparent clothing. At least once a week she showed up wearing something that was semi-see-through. Naomi (bless her) favored black-tinted see-thru blouses, with very expensive black-tinted see-thru bras worn underneath. (The generous peasant knockers were a big attraction too, as I suspect you've guessed.) You couldn't help imagining the fancy sheer materials moving back and forth against each other, drawing you into an Old World universe of mystery, warmth, perfume, and fleshy swellings ... Yeah, mama!!!

Embroidery played a big role in the enticing results, guiding the admiring eye this way and -- oohlala! -- that way too. Could the edge of a nipple maybe be spotted? It never could be, of course, but you certainly never tired of making sure. And Naomi never tired of making sure you were making sure. One thing was certain: We officedudes got to know the contents of Naomi's lingerie drawer -- or at least its fancier contents -- pretty darned well.

Strangely, no one -- male or female -- ever complained about Naomi's sophisticated/risque ways with clothing. But that was a different era, one when Human Resources had better things to do than play Bad Cop; when the prospect of flirting at the office was the main reason you bothered showing up at all; and when office affairs weren't just tolerated but enthusiastically pursued. And, ahhhh: the annual crop of summer interns, always so fresh and eager ...

Well, different times.

These days, the most crucial of all semi-transparency questions seems to me to be the one having to do with white pants and white skirts: If we can put a rover on Mars, shouldn't we be able to manufacture opaque white items of women's clothing? Given the number of dimly-visible black thongs I've been witness to in the last couple of months, I'm guessing that the answer is "no."

But -- given the mysteries of Woman -- I could well be wrong. As an eternally clueless guy, I can't help suspecting that women may in fact relish these effects. For instance, does a gal look at her white pants hanging in the closet and think, "Hmm, which black thong should I wear underneath these? After all, I know the guys will be looking, and I wouldn't want to disappoint ... "? My guess is that gals don't think this way. (But I could be wrong!) I'd guess instead that these effects just magically happen, and -- teeheehee -- well, there you have it.

A particular challenge this season is the flowing, ripply, 3/4-length white skirt that's all the rage. I think of these things as hippie-gone-St.-Tropez wraps, or maybe Elke-Sommer-skirts. (Ooops: Elke isn't wearing a skirt in that photo. I'm so darned outraged!) I find these skirts very pretty, although they're so ever-present I'm starting to numb out to their beauty.

What keeps me interested is the question: How thin should the white fabric of these skirts be? After all, during a hot summer a girl wants to feel as cool as possible. But how clearly does a girl want the bottom half of her body to be visible?

The most startling response to this question that I've run across occurred over the past weekend, on an especially hot and sticky day. I was trudging along the sidewalk on 5th Avenue in the 20s, lost in an audiobook, when I half-consciously registered a white-skirt/black-thong combo passing by. Worldly dude that I am, I shrugged the sight off -- then did a doubletake and zero'd right back in.

What I saw amazed me. I wasn't glimpsing the usual: the outline of a butt, and a dark whale-tail shape (thanks, Peter!) hinting at "thong." I looked closer. No, that wasn't it at all. I really was seeing the woman's thong. I really was seeing her butt. That line there wasn't the mere imprint of her buttcrack, it really was her buttcrack.

I felt like I was getting to know this young stranger awfully well. Those cute, doubled-up smile lines underneath a woman's buttcheeks? Hers were right there for all the world to see, provided only that they look hard enough, as I was certainly doing. Hi there, smile lines!

Thank heavens her butt and thighs more than merited the close inspection her clothing was demanding. This woman's ripply white hippie-gone-St.-Tropez skirt was set at -- to use Photoshop terminology -- at least 50% transparency. It was the most see-thru skirt I have ever witnessed outside of a bellydance show. It was as though she'd taken two layers of gauzy curtain -- the kind that doesn't block but merely filters the light -- and wrapped them around her waist.

A question? Did this woman know that her ass was on full public display?



UPDATE: Shouting Thomas gives tailbone tattoos some well-deserved scrutiny.

posted by Michael at July 21, 2005


Clearly, you weren't a good student of French literature (what ever you studied in Paris?), or you've known the answer to your question (or fake your astounishment a bit more convincingly).

Victor Hugo, "The Hunchback&": merits of transparent clothes vs. stripping.

Studied with utmost attention when I was 10.
Worth rereading.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 21, 2005 4:54 PM

So you aren't buying my mock-naive act this time around? Dang!

I think I remember skipping the Victor Hugo sessions when I was in France ... Sounds like he was onto something important. Time to go back and look closer, I guess.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 21, 2005 5:34 PM

"For instance, does a gal look at her white pants hanging in the closet and think, "Hmm, which black thong should I wear underneath these? After all, I know the guys will be looking, and I wouldn't want to disappoint ... "? My guess is that gals don't think this way. (But I could be wrong!)"

You're wrong Michael :-)

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on July 21, 2005 6:50 PM

Yes, she knew. But why didn't she know that leaving something to the imagination is sexier still?

Posted by: ricpic on July 21, 2005 6:52 PM

Ric, I totally blame Literature departments of American HS's.
Damn those abridged versions of Hugo!

Posted by: Tatyana on July 21, 2005 7:35 PM


Why do you say Michael is wrong? My guess is that she's thinking what Michael thought she was thinking...and a whole lot else besides. Woman seem to be able to think every kind of thought that can be thought about everything from a tiny snippet of conversation to food to, well, white pants hanging in a closet.

Michael would only be wrong, IMO, if he thought that was *all* she was thinking.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 21, 2005 7:41 PM

Except for the White House, I think women should wear flip flops more. I love women's feet! Dont they realize how sexy a nice, clean, well manicured set of female feet are? Perhaps I will one day find something more appealing than kissing and cuddling a soft, scubbed set of lady feet, but I doubt it.

Posted by: frank on July 21, 2005 7:55 PM

As someone who's lived both in New York City and Los Angeles, I better understand women's skimpier summer dress in L.A., mostly because of the car culture. Maybe I'm being a little "Felix Unger"-ish here, but don't you women get all filthy wearing short skirts and thongs in places like the subway?

(after a moment's pause) What's wrong with me? I can't believe I'm actually questioning women who want to wear short skirts and thongs in public. I'm turning into my own mother!

Posted by: Neil on July 21, 2005 9:44 PM

I too was visiting New York, two weeks ago and saw semi transparent floral skirts which I thought were very cool, they definately make you want to look again... And then I saw the transparency set to 50 pants walk across the street...(my girlfriend asked me why I just had a sudden case of whiplash).

I just want to know who is the genius who decides that hey we need to see alot more women's asses/thongs/skin, and then makes it happen!

Posted by: azad on July 21, 2005 10:24 PM

I never read Victor Hugo, but I do know that in the regency period, women wore semitransparent white muslin dresses over very little in the way of undergarments. Young women often fell victim to "muslin disease" because they would wet down their gowns to increase the transparency, a sort of a prelude to the wet t-shirt. So you see we women have always been exhibitionists.

Posted by: Rachel on July 22, 2005 9:19 AM

Why do men seem to be wearing the same old thing?

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 10:41 AM

Hey, a question for the ladies? Would you find life more entertaining/pleasing/sexy/etc if American guys spent more time on the physical upkeep and self-presentation? I mean, you gals (many of you, anyway) put a lot of time and effort into keeping us guys entertained and allured. I know you aren't quite the slaves of visual stimuli in the way we are -- you have all that relationship/feeling stuff going on that we're clueless about. But still, visuals count, no? So would it be fun for you if we freshed up our dressing style every season or two? Or would that make us wussy and metrosexual?

Funny how American guys have semi-settled on a sharp line between the "real guys" (don't care about looks, keeping in shape is for the ladies, etc), and the suspect guys (metrosexuals, probably queer, why are they so vain, etc). It's as though the real men are too ... gruff or something to pitch in. What a real man wants to do is push machinery around, make money, and drink beer, and everything else is for gays and gals.

There's a theory behind this, which is that in America, guys have always tried to cut loose from "civilization" --- usually thought of as being the woman's domain. Back in Europe, there's the class system, there's art, there's manners, there's dressing well, there's etc etc. How oppressive to our maleness. Over here, whenever things get too claustrophobic, we light out for the wilderness, where we can be who we fancy ourselves to be. Which, in practice, often seems to mean that we never grow up. We get fat, we make money, we drink beer, we let the broads take care of the "aesthetic" parts of life, we die of heart attacks wondering what it was all about. I sometimes wonder if technology (and extreme free-marketism) represents the wilderness to American guys.

Anyway: would the ladies find it nice if American guys took a little more care in making themselves visually appetizing? And what kind of care would be most appreciated?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 22, 2005 11:44 AM

MB: for answer to your question check the latest @Outer life.
As to the "free marketism represent wilderness" to Americans - funny, I always thought, on the contrary, free marketism an all-around civilizing factor. Example - French fashions/salons/gourmet appreciation &c became wide-spred thru crude and rude Europe thanks to free trade, not separate and simultaneous grassroot developements. Or am I reading you wrong?

Rachel, when you think that Regency fashions (you mean British Regency, right? I.e., Directoire and Empire than, in my "periodic table") - adapted what they thought Classic Greek Attire - the history of seductively transparent clothes becomes even lengthier.
Of course, Peloponnese climate is a wee bit different from Albion, hence the "muslin desease" &c. But when the spider veins prevented a woman from putting on blahniks?

And so today, to salut all of you guys, I'm wearing layers with vintage [40% transparent] crepe-georgette top. Not because I'm an exhibiotionist - I just like the sound of whistles..

Posted by: Tatyana on July 22, 2005 12:10 PM

I for one sure would!! Looks most certainly DO count, although men seem to keep telling themselves they don't. But..please notice...Cindy Crawford's two husbands have both been great looking. Ditto for both of Michelle Pfeiffer's. Alec Baldwin (who married Kim Basinger) is very good looking. When guys say looks don't count for them...I don't think they are entirely noticing the scene.

Guys who dress well are always appreciated, and who watch their weight and shape. Manicures are too much! See-through pants and thong underwear would be just fine!

I also think it should be much more acceptable for women to talk loudly about it. It always cracks me up and appalls me when a bunch of overweight balding guys are sitting there talking about how good (or not good, in their opinion) Kim Basinger (or whomever) looked in a recent photo. I always want to remind them that she probably wouldn't leave the bar with ANY of them---who are they kidding? Privately, I'm thinking---gee, I bet Kim's just heartbroken that YOU don't think she's pretty enough! And, maybe they wouldn't be quite so quick to comment if they actually had to put a little effort in themselves, and be judged on it! I mean, it would make more sense if the men who were commenting were somewhere in her league. would make it more fun for us girls!

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 12:20 PM

Tatyana: Yes English regency, but I think Josephine started the wetting part (those French, always so fashion forward) but it was adopted in England, too. And yes, I'm thinking of gowns with "empire" waists in see-through muslin.

MB: I like a man to be well cared for and well groomed but not fussy, if that makes any sense. And, this may cause an uproar, emphatically NOT FAT.

Also, I love those flowing skirts you described MB and have bought a ton of them this year. Likewise (semi) gauzy and things with twinkly stuff. I love the feel of the swirly skirt on my legs as I walk and also enjoy looking down at my sandal-shod feet with a perfect manicure.

We don't just dress for you guys, ya know.

Posted by: Rachel on July 22, 2005 12:27 PM

All this talk about swirly, twinkly, semitransparent things, and pretty feet, and about women feeling their sensations and their feelings and having strong prefs themselves makes me want to say one thing, and one thing only: Woof! I don't know what it is about a woman feeling good about herself (but not in too smug a way!) that's so sweet and sexy, but it sure is. (Anxiety: not sexy. Hyper-aggressiveness: not sexy, at least not usually. Ease in the flesh, pleasure in physicality and being, glow: v. sexy.) Whoever the Great Couturier it was who designed life in this way sure knew what he (he was probably gay) was doing.

Don't you think, btw, that women ought to be a little more assertive about wanting their men to do a little better, appearance-wise? Why keep it to yourselves? Or, at least, why be subtle about it? You know we guys need to have things stated loudly and very clearly, and preferably many times over. It's actually kinda nice to be ordered by our gals to get things a little more shipshape. We grumble and all, but it's really kind of nice. I'm going to lose my membership in the real-man society, but I think that, deepdown, most guys kind of like (most of the time) pleasing their gals. So why be so meek about what pleases you?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 22, 2005 12:48 PM

I think women do. I once heard a woman say that know that now that she's going out with so-and-so she can buy him a new wardrobe, which I thought was a bit much. One tries to nudge, not dictate. But my sister has managed to occasionally steer her husband away from his uniform (shorts and a Dodgers t-shirt--he owns hundreds)into some decent looking clothes. Men look so nice when they dress up a bit.

Posted by: Rachel on July 22, 2005 1:13 PM

"Stated loudly and clearly and many times over"? Gee, I was led to believe in real-man society it's called "nagging".
On the other hand, I am informed my ex had subscribed to a local gym - after only 10 years of clear and loud explanations and 3 yrs too late...

Posted by: Tatyana on July 22, 2005 1:13 PM

Of course, just because a woman happens to dress in a revealing manner in public does not mean that men are allowed to look at her, unless you happen to be the sort of man in whom she's interested.

Posted by: Peter on July 22, 2005 2:08 PM

Oh gosh no, Peter---women who dress revealingly in public want everyone looking. But wanting a man to look and wanting a man to actually SAY anything to her...two different things! Part of dealing with women who dress revealingly in public! Flowing skirts and sandals are just lovely. I wear them. I guess the "see-through" fabric is nice for men who look, too, but I think a little more fabric, or a just a little more underwear, is just seemly. I certainly do not want to see her rear and there's as many women on the street as men.

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 3:13 PM

I vote that Annette and Rachel start giving "How guys ought to behave" and "How best to appreciate women" classes. I'd sign up.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 22, 2005 3:54 PM

I love to see a man dressed up a little, and it always irks that no matter how out of shape a man may be, you put him in a tux and he looks pretty damn good.

Having made a recent foray into online dating (and oh boy, did I find a good one), I have to confess to being amused at the number of men who say they want a woman who's "slender, athletic and toned" even when they are clearly far off that mark themselves. And yet the worst they will describe themselves is "a few pounds over." Men must have strong self-images!

Posted by: missgrundy on July 22, 2005 4:41 PM

Well, how very sweet, unless that's somehow tongue-in-cheek. NOTE: Tongue in cheek is nice! :)

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 4:42 PM

I meant Michael's comment, not missgrundy's! Losers with "strong self-images" are not sweet! Oh dear--more "behavioral advice."

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 4:44 PM

You flatter me. But really, given these comments, it's no wonder books like Men are from Mars... become bestsellers.
Peter: I think MB's girl in a transparent dress wants everyone to look. Or she's naive to the point of insanity or just plain barking mad. But you never can tell. Speaking of online dating (missgrundy) last week I saw this new show, Hooking Up, in which they follow women around as they meet these online dates. One of them met a guy while wearing a low-cut bra in which you could see that she had a tattoo between her breasts. She decided that she didn't want to see him again because, among other things, he was staring at her chest!!!!

Myself, I don't believe in walking around looking like I could be used as a demonstration for a female anatomy class. Or an underwear model. Sexy isn't just about baring all.

Posted by: Rachel on July 22, 2005 5:03 PM

Guys' egos are pretty amazing things. (Tatyana's very funny on the subject.) The management, care, and bossing-around of your man's ego -- another good bestseller topic.

Actually, one of the startling things about going around the city these days are all these couples, where the girl is toned, tall, confident, and the guy's a flabby slob. (I don't know where all the buff guys I see at the gym go when they leave the gym. Maybe back to Chelsea.) Is this a sign that girls really do rule these days? Or is it a sign that life only gets ever-more-demanding for chicks, and meanwhile the guys just get to kick back and watch the girls pole-dance for their attentions?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 22, 2005 5:09 PM

Guy slobbiness is a bit weird. I think guys would like to see slobbiness as a way of being themselves, as a way of avoiding an identity as an 'organization man' and of asserting that they're such a manly man that they can make it outside social hierarchies. (In today's society, it also announces that they're probably heterosexual, but that's a fairly minor point.) In practice, however, slobbiness in dressing mostly announces that men are conformists unwilling or unable to assert a high place in the social order, that they're just "one of the boys."

Contrary to this,I've noticed, many women like guys who are able and willing to assert their high status in the social order.

My formula for any guy who wants to improve his social life--(1) get in good shape, (2) dress like you've got high social status or intend to have it one day, and (3) make it clear you like girls.

This worked rather dramatically, if accidentally, for me (to my vast surprise) in my early 30s and I bet it'll work for most guys, too.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 22, 2005 5:33 PM

OK, I think it's time for a visual.

This is a "happy birthday, hubby!" post by admiring wife (Russian-American LJ-user from Boston).
The guy:
1. has degrees in philosophy, gaming strategy (whatever that means) and MBA in finance.
2. runs 12 miles min every Sun and goes to gym at least 5 times a week
3. has 1 daughter from one marriage and 2 boys from the second - full participation
4. indulges his wife whims - f.ex., ballroom dancing
&c, &c.

Yeah, ladies, I wouldn't believe such species exist myself, if not the photographic evidence...

Posted by: Tatyana on July 22, 2005 5:34 PM

Oh, I forgot to say:
it's a "Happy 40th birthday"!

Posted by: Tatyana on July 22, 2005 5:36 PM

I would prefer to think all the buff guys are with nice smart lovely girls who don't wear see-through skirts on the street!!

PS--FvB's advice is excellent. Actually being interesting to talk to is good, too.

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 5:38 PM

Well...but...third marriage? Forty years old? Did he indulge the ex-wives' whims, too...until he didn't? How long to number four?

Posted by: annette on July 22, 2005 5:42 PM

No, Annette, it's his second (and last) marriage. No info on first wife.
He looks very good in a business suit, too...

Posted by: Tatyana on July 22, 2005 6:48 PM

"... all these couples, where the girl is toned, tall, confident, and the guy's a flabby slob ..."

It'$ not hard to a$$ume how $omething of that $ort happen$

Posted by: Peter on July 22, 2005 10:04 PM

Re: The Russian guy

I don't see anything particularly unusual about his physique. The exceptionality, I think, lies in the education. I see guys all the time with far better physiques walking the streets, but it doesn't really impress me when they're benching five times their IQ.

As far as "slobbiness" goes-- What exactly are we talking about here? New York guys are generally upscale from what I've seen. Are we referring to stereotypical wife-beater Redneck slobbiness, or some middle ground. If so, what is that middle ground we call "slobbiness", jeans and a t-shirt?

Granted, I think guys generally carry themselves less well than women, impacting perceptions, the jeans and t-shirt casual attire is not unusual at all for men or women. It's true that women can wear attention-grabbing items such as the flowy-transparent-etc which prompted this post, I'm curious as to what the possible (theoretically)stylish-yet-pragmatically-comfortable options present themselves to men. The Lord Byron Romantic poets' shirt? The scottish kilt? A revival of the 80s' MC Hammer parachute pants?

Anyway, some more observations: While I know exactly the fashions you're talking about, it's primarily a high urban phenomenon. Those styles are primarily the wares of the hipster subculture, which, quite frankly, I've only encountered in or around NYC. While I'm sure major West Coast cities have it too, I doubt very much its prevalence outside of major urban areas, or any place south of D.C.

On the guys' side of that subculture coin, disheveledness is a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: . on July 22, 2005 11:51 PM

Slobbiness is not necessary related to the type of clothing one is wearing. You can look terrible in a $2,000 suit if it's wrinkled and fits poorly, and very neat in clean, well-fitting jeans and T-shirt.

Posted by: Peter on July 23, 2005 12:01 AM

Sorry, but I got waylaid by that "peasant knockers" bit.

Can you go into this subject in greater detail?

When I was younger and more innocent, I thought that Eastern European Jewish women were the sexiest, and most mysterious being in the universe. Is this what we're talking about here?

Posted by: Stephen on July 23, 2005 8:37 AM

"'I don't know whether it's something special with me or whether every man has the same feeling inside him, but I feel as though I'm on a picnic in this city. I like to sit near the women in the theaters, the famous beauties who've taken six hours to get ready and look it. And the young girls at the football games, with the red cheeks, and when the warm weather comes, the girls in their summer dresses...' He finished his drink. 'That's the story. You asked for it, remember. I can't help but look at them. I can't help but want them.'"
Irwin Shaw, "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses," 1938

Literature has few universal truths put down as faithfully as that. Can't help but wonder what the summer of 2005 version would be.

Posted by: Michael Bierut on July 23, 2005 8:42 AM

Stephen, Eastern European? This is more likely; look closely at 2001'Queen, 18 yo Ilanit Levy - Israeli Army soldier. You could just picture her with Uzi and high-laced boots...

".", I think I did a bad job describing my example. The point I was trying to make (without going into specifics) is this: it is possible to be an all-around achiever, mind body and soul. I left out his personal history and many more amazing qualities his wife praised in her post, only to focus on what applies to this discussion.

More along the lines Annette talked about: if for man's attention a woman has to perfect not only her career, her housekeeping and child-rearing skills, her cultural awareness and her diplomatic abilities, but to be a well-toned, tastefully made-up flowy skirt-twinkly sandals-wearing godess, isn't it only right for her to expect similar achivements from her partner?

Posted by: Tatyana on July 23, 2005 11:23 AM

Stephen -- I'm not going to discourage you from drawing the conclusions you seem to be drawing ...

Tatyana -- What a link, thanks for that. You write: "isn't it only right for her to expect similar achivements from her partner?" I'd certainly say yes. So why do so few women seem to do so? I mean, they nag and coax and stuff, often without end. But few of them seem able to saything directly, as in, "Hey, baby, whaddya say to getting rid of some of that gut and classing up the wardrobe and personal-grooming some? After all, I'm putting a lot of effort into making myself appealing, and fair's fair"? Guys sometimes need to be hit with superclarity, if not actual ultimata, after all. If resistance is met? My tip is to threaten to let your own standards go -- threaten to get fat, stop working out, let the eyebrows grow in, start wearing ugly underwear, etc. It's so important to a guy that his gal be appealing that I swear 3 out of 4 of 'em would snap to. Make 'em earn it, girls! But in a way that gives both of you pleasure, of course.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 23, 2005 11:34 AM

"More along the lines Annette talked about: if for man's attention a woman has to perfect not only her career, her housekeeping and child-rearing skills, her cultural awareness and her diplomatic abilities, but to be a well-toned, tastefully made-up flowy skirt-twinkly sandals-wearing godess, isn't it only right for her to expect similar achivements from her partner?"

I'm skeptical. I think this has more to do with self-imposed expectations than a legitimate complaint. Physical attractiveness is overwhelmingly the most important characteristic that men identify in women.

I don't think housekeeping is even on the radar, and child-rearing is only to a very specialized segment of men. I don't know what you mean by diplomatic abilities, presumably something about knowing basic etiquette towards other human beings. And, well, cultural awareness seems to me to be a compatibility trait: it might help a relationship, but is unlikely to make or break it.

I don't think I'm incorrect in saying that men have low expectations for women. In fact I suspect that if every woman in the world were somehow zapped down to 80 IQ but with a doubling in physical attractiveness, the great majority of the male population would be overjoyed.

Posted by: . on July 23, 2005 10:00 PM

This has become a boring subject.

Posted by: annette on July 26, 2005 10:07 AM

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