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Fay's Beach Buzz

If You Have a
Brain in Your Headů

By Fay Jacobs


Fay Jacobs

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that a study from the Stockholm Brain Institute ("Come have your head examined with us!") says that lesbian brains react differently to certain sex hormones than heterosexual women's brains, thereby adding to the evidence that homosexuality has a physical basis rather than being "caused" by learned behavior. That's good.

But the bad news is that our brains react similarly to straight men. Ouch!!!!

Well, not quite the same, and that's a good thing because these days many straight men are reverting to cavemen when it comes to their behavior. And I for one don't want to be associated with it.

Naturally, I'm not talking about all straight men, anymore than Mary Cheney represents all gay women (Not! More about her later) but I've noticed a disturbing trend whereby straight men are once again being congratulated for being boorish, sexist and homophobic.

The Creep of Creeps
I'm talking about the subtle creep of creeps into commercials, TV shows and everyday life. In a single prime-time hour I saw a man proudly trick his wife into staying home with the kids while he went fishing , a restaurant advertise a huddle of men grunting "Beef!" and that icky Dodge commercial with the silly little fairy. In it, a big hairy guy throws a fairy (a literal one, with wings) against a wall and the fairy's wand turns the macho guy into a lithe little fellow in strange socks, walking a tiny Chihuahua. We get the point.

In fact, after seeing a Yellow Book ad with women, no, girls prancing around in outfits previously only seen in darkened lap dance emporiums, it prompts the question 'what do streetwalkers wear these days to stand out from the herd?'

Then I picked up a magazine and found t-shirts being marketed to teens with slogans like "I'm a Virgin...this is a very old t-shirt" or "Porn Star" on them. Click!

Are you seasoned enough to remember the old Ms. Magazine "Click" campaign? For years, the last page of Ms. Magazine featured advertisements, sent in by readers, that are insulting or degrading to women. The magazine used to print them with "click!" as a caption, hoping that people would hear that click in their heads when confronted with other sexist stimuli.

Watching TV last night I heard the click so often I thought the room was infested with crickets. Or was that poor Betty Friedan flipping in her final resting place?

What's Wrong With Feminism?
The media is bad enough, but recently, a friend, introducing herself to colleagues in a professional class, told the group she was a feminist—and was met by the sucking of air and groans.

What's that about???? Are we so far into post-feminism that feminism becomes the F-word? Is sisterhood less about powerful women helping women and more about the tabloids following two anorexic women fighting over loutish Charlie Sheen?

Everyone knows that sixties and seventies-era feminism paved the way for more women legislators, doctors, lawyers and CEOs than ever before. But does the present generation of young professionals know how that happened?

Have they been told that their grandmothers advised their mothers to go to teachers college or nursing school "to have something to fall back on." Now god bless our fabulous teachers and nurses—I would not be up to either job, but nobody's grandmother told them to get an MBA in case they didn't get their MRS. Instead, mothers told daughters not to worry about dropping out of college to get married because heck, they wouldn't be using their expensive educations anyway.

Mortified as I am to admit this, when my own mother gave me the line about having something to fall back on, I bought it. Not only did I go to college thinking that finding a husband was more important than finding a major, but I wore hose, heels and, I swear it, false eyelashes every day to class. I know, I can't believe it either.

To digress, one night, I parked my gluey eyelashes on the wall in my dorm room and the next morning as I staggered out of bed I saw two huge spiders on the wall and smashed the hell out of my Long and Lush Max Factor lashes.

Fortunately, by October of freshwoman year, I'd been introduced to books by Gloria Steinem, bell-bottomed Levis and Sgt. Pepper. I failed to tell Mom that the only thing I wound up falling back on were pillows on the floor of apartments lit by lava lamps and some pretty groovy secondhand smoke.

Are We Going Backwards?
While I had no interest in this free love era (duh...took me another decade to figure that one out), I tossed out my make-up, kicked off my heels, fell in love with Joni Mitchell, happenings, flower power, consciousness raising, protests and the burgeoning feeling that women mattered and we could achieve whatever we set out to do.

And by golly, that turned out to be true.

But my lesbian brain (the one that does not react like a straight man, thank you very much), is worried.

Are self-avowed feminists really being mocked? Is advertising once again celebrating women as sex objects? Is it okay for Jay Leno to make Brokeback Mountain jokes night after night? It would be hell to go backwards. I don't think I'd survive having to wear hosiery and heels to the Super G like my mother did.

And while we're talking about going backwards, there's Mary Cheney. Boy did she get it backwards. She couldn't come out and denounce her father's party, cronies and compatriots when they were campaigning to get elected. Noooo, she kept quiet like the good little woman, facilitating their election so they could trample gay rights, threaten the first amendment, kick privacy rights to the curb and gleefully plan to etch discrimination into the Constitution. And NOW she's cashing in by talking about being gay in America. Not to help the cause, mind you, but to help her sell her self-serving book. Too little, too late, too selfish.

Meanwhile back at that Scandinavian brain facility, ("Good morning. Brain Institute, Press One for Lobotomies") scientists held sniffing contests, with men and women, gay and straight inhaling male and female pheromones—those pesky little love aromas. The good doctors deduced that heterosexual women found the male and female pheromones about equally pleasant, while straight men and lesbians liked the female pheromone more than the male one. Men and lesbians also found the male hormone more irritating than the female one.

That's nice. Frankly, I'm just plain irritated.

If we don't stop those alphabet generations from undoing the gains women achieved almost 40 years ago, we aging baby boomers are liable to have to pick up protest signs ("not too heavy, I've got rotator cuff problems"), take to the streets (grab those Rockport walkers with the arch supports) and start singing protest songs. Nobody wants that.

So I'm making an appeal to our youngsters. Guys, don't be oafs. Gals, don't be objectified. Everybody, don't let feminism become a dirty word. And whatever you do, don't listen to Mary (Benedict Arnold) Cheney.

Because you really don't want to see me climbing the Capitol steps (hand me the oxygen, dear) waving a NOW poster and singing "I Am Woman Hear Me Roar."

Save yourselves. Stand up for feminism.
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.
Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her writing is also included in the 1998 Alyson Publications' anthology Beginnings. Her columns are collected in the recently issued book, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach memoir.
She and Bonnie, her partner of 22 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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