Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
Got a problem? E-mail Amy at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
When Harry Met Hairy
My girlfriend of six months just stopped shaving her legs and armpits. I think she is so sexy — except for this. Recently, I asked her whether she'd shave again, and she snapped that shaving is time-consuming and the idea that women should remove their body hair comes from anti-feminist propaganda. I don't know about that. I just like seeing female legs and armpits without a bunch of dark furry hair cover. Do I get to ask again?
— In The Thick Of It
It's great when your girlfriend reminds you of somebody exotic out of the movies — when that somebody is Mila Kunis or Eva Mendes, not Chewbacca.
As for your girlfriend's notion that the defurred look traces to "anti-feminist propaganda," way back before there was Cosmo, there was Ovid, the Roman poet, advising women looking for love: "Let no rude goat find his way beneath your arms" (don't let your underarms get stanky like a goat), "and let not your legs be rough with bristling hair." Archeological evidence (including hair-scraping stones and an impressive set of Bronze Age tweezers) suggests that women — and often men — have been shaving, depilating, and yanking out body hair since at least 7,000 B.C. In the early 1500s, Michelangelo sculpted David (who would have been a hairy Middle Eastern dude, looking more Borat than baby's bottom), making him look like he was too busy spending three weeks at the waxer to slay Goliath. And these days, male bodybuilders also remove their body hair, lest their admirers have to peer through the hair sweater to find the pecs and abs.
You, likewise, would just like to see your girlfriend's legs without having to send your eyeballs off on a search party through Furwood Forest. (You must look back fondly on the days when you could picture her naked without first giving her a mental bath in a vat of Nair.) Is there a double standard at play here? Sure there is — if you'd shave a Fidel Castro beard to be more attractive to her but she refuses to shave her Fidel Castro legs.
Let her know that you aren't looking to turn her into a razor slave of the patriarchy — you're just trying to keep your sex life (and, in turn, your relationship) alive — and ask whether there's anything you could do to be more manhunky for her. This is just what you're supposed to do in a relationship — make that extra effort to please your partner, even if it takes, oh, five minutes every few days to run a razor over your legs and pits. She can still rebel against the patriarchy in other ways, like by going around in snarky T-shirts and blogging about how leg shaving is an obvious plot to keep women in the shower and out of the House of Representatives. The bottom line, for you and many other men, is that it's really sexy to run your hand through a woman's hair — just not the hair on her ankles.
Dial Another Day
Is it really that inappropriate to give a girl your number instead of asking for hers? I met a cool girl at the gym. We really seemed to hit it off, and I asked whether we could get a drink sometime. She said yes, and I said, "Here, I'll give you my number." She said, "Um, don't you want my number?" Well, I just offered her mine because she had her phone with her and mine was in the locker room, but apparently she was offended. Really? Who cares?
— Hung Up On An Issue
Giving this woman your number and expecting her to call you is like the lion saying to the gazelle, "Would you mind coming over here and killing yourself, and then I'll eat you?" For millions of years, there's been a natural order of things and it involves men chasing women, and it hasn't heard of Gloria Steinem and doesn't care that your phone is in the locker room. Sure, women these days may sometimes pursue men, but when you want a woman, do you really want to walk away without her phone number and hope she'll call — which most women won't do? Also, chances are, expecting a woman to call you comes off a little insulting — telling her you're interested in her, just not interested enough to lift a finger and touch it to phone buttons 10 times. In other words, the thing to do was to toddle off and get a writing implement and a scrap of paper so you could take down this woman's number and call her, not try to rewrite male and female psychology and dating practices for your convenience: "Great meeting you! I'll just be sitting home painting my toenails and waiting for the phone to ring."
It's Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio — "Nerd your way to a better life!" with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).
Advice Goddess Radio: Science writer and psychologist Dr. Maria Konnikova on how to think like Sherlock Holmes.
(c)2014, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon
Read Amy Alkon's book: "I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman's battle to beat some manners into impolite society" (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).