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December 12, 2009

Is Oversharing a Female Trait?

The WSJ has an excellent (and discomfiting) essay on oversharing:

Pity the man whose wife writes a memoir.

Consider Elizabeth Weil's husband, Dan. On Sunday, in the New York Times Magazine, Ms. Weil previewed a memoir she is writing about their effort to improve their marriage. She doesn't stint on the frisky bits—or rather, what she proclaims to be the insufficiently frisky bits. The conjugal part of their equation is apparently "not terribly inventive." Ms. Weil derides their "safe, narrow little bowling alley of a sex life" and tells us that she and her husband "hadn't been talking to each other while having sex. And not making eye contact either." One thing's for sure: If that hesitation to make eye contact suggested a certain reticence, Ms. Weil has overcome it.

Dan's wife is just one of the legion of women scribblers eager to divulge the intimate details of their marriages. The hot new genre is the tell-all of sexual disappointment written by women having their Peggy Lee moment: "Is That All There Is?" Male writers are well behind this curve, retaining some vestigial hesitation to expose their wives in print. This reflects a basic social norm: No husband I know speaks out of school about his wife. You wouldn't trust any man who did. Say what you will about the male half of the species—famous for its promiscuous and predatory proclivities—but they can be remarkably discreet about the intimate aspect of marriage. Whether this is stoicism or a residual chivalry, it is a core part of the male code. Consider Tiger Woods's alleged transgressions: Perhaps the most appalling of them is the report that he prattled on to one of his cookies about how she connected with him in a way his wife did not. As if cheating weren't bad form enough.

Women, by contrast, seem to be at somewhat greater liberty to share private matters. This can be reflected in trivial indiscretions. DoubleX, a blog on Slate, asked its contributors for their Christmas wish lists. First up was Rachael Larimore, who proclaimed "All I want for Christmas is for my hubby to get a vasectomy. And he is!" I'm sure that made his day. Still, that's nothing compared to what gets aired in coffee klatches, where, according to writers such as Sandra Tsing Loh, the ladies get together to talk about how their husbands haven't touched them in years.

Ms. Loh, who published a memoir about mommyhood last year, is one of those writers whose husbands you have to pity. In her 2008 book, "Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting!," she laments that her "salt of the earth" spouse, Mike, is too even-keeled and practical to give her the steamy loving she craves. You can guess where that was heading. This summer Ms. Loh began chronicling her divorce in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly, sharing with all and sundry that, after the thrill of a hot and heavy extramarital affair, she decided not to go to all the trouble—the "arduous home- and self-improvement project"—of falling back in love with her boring old spouse. "I would not be able to replace the romantic memory of my fellow transgressor with the more suitable image of my husband," she wrote. Poor Mike. One would think that having a wife cat around would be enough of an assault on his manhood. But just to twist the blade she has to explain to anyone willing to pick up a magazine that his marriage failed because he couldn't cut it in the passion department.

A few thoughts. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that women share more - and more personal - details of their lives than men do. This phenomenon is not limited to print media. In every day life, women are more likely to discuss relationships with husbands, children, co-workers and friends. We do this for several reasons: this kind of sharing is part of the way women get to know each other and bond. And we do it in order to share knowledge and insights we can use to improve our lives. We do it because women draw the boundaries between public and private information differently than men do. Often we think, "If I wouldn't object to someone knowing this about me, it's not private." We do it, sometimes, because we can't talk to the men in our lives. The male tolerance for endlessly dissecting the nuts and bolts of personal relationships is, after all, a finite commodity with a very short shelf life. But female interest in these subjects - not to mention our need for talk and intimacy - doesn't go away simply because it isn't shared to the same degree by the men in our lives.

The problem, as the author notes, is that it's one thing to share your own feelings and thoughts and quite another to divulge private information about one's spouse. The betrayal is only compounded when, rather than sharing your bedroom issues with a close and trusted confidant, one chooses to share them with a half million faceless readers.

But is it only women who do this, or even primarily women? Is there a male equivalent of online oversharing? The author makes it sound as though men would never do something as inconsiderate and tawdry as humiliating a spouse through the revelation of matters best left private.

Obviously he hasn't stopped to consider the truly alarming number of boyfriends, ex husbands, ex lover, and even married men who freely distribute sex tapes or nude photos of their women. The idea that posting, emailing, or sharing visual images of a woman without her knowledge and consent isn't a betrayal and isn't oversharing is just stunning.

And it may be stunning, but it's also extremely common.

Men will look at online images of a woman without stopping to consider for one moment the strong possibility that the woman wasn't a willing participant. She is every bit as much a hostage to male indiscretion as the husband whose wife feels it necessary to write long, rambling puff pieces for the NY Times detailing her sexual boredom or the man who goes on and on in public about how hot other women are or how frigid his wife is (both pretty common occurrences in today's world). For me at least, it's hard to separate the women who blabs all from the man who tells everyone around him that his wife can't satisfy his raging sex drive.

Neither one, it seems, stopped to think about their partner's feelings. And that's a cringe-worthy thought for anyone who writes online: is that me? The answer, in all too many cases, appears to be "yes". And that's not a comforting thought, nor one likely to result in untroubled sleep.

Posted by Cassandra at December 12, 2009 08:27 AM

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Comments

Oversharing? You mean more garrulous in general and particularly vocal in their monstrous self-absorption and self-obsession?

This is news? It has been well known for millennia.

Females often grouse about men failing to "open themselves up". This is one of the chief reasons men do not do this. Females do not know when to keep their traps shut. Not "inside relationships" and, more disastrously, outside of them.

What you call a need for "talk and intimacy" is generally a desire to have solipsism, vanity, self-delusion and narcissism indulged by their "partner" (as if that was some sort of "partnership") and illusions maintained. To the male sex, who after all must live, fight and die in the real world outside of their own reflections and abstractions, it is not really all that interesting, and it has little to do with "the truth" of "relationships".

Women constantly ask that men "share their feelings". Well the truth is that should men turn as one and actually do this we would promptly hear "Never, ever, do that again!" from the fairer sex.

Everyone is pretty much nailed to the deck--that is the fact of the matter. Women ought to figure this out and get used to that if we are to have them as "equals" in "relationships".

Once upon a time, this was known as marriage, and it was pretty rough going, as everyone knew, but there was little alternative, and, given the human condition, that was altogether a good thing. After romance and youth faded marriage mostly was about a structure to assure maintenance and survival. That was the "relationship". But then again back then we did not imagine that every little thing that flashed across female brain-pans was worth listening too. Quite the opposite in fact. As Political Correctness and the false and artificial culture of the Left finally implodes our once great and prosperous society and nation, I imagine we will get back to this regard of the female soon enough.

As they (once) said in Maryland, and no doubt will oncemore say again:

Fatti maschii, parole femine.


Posted by: hattip at December 12, 2009 09:57 AM

"But then again back then we did not imagine that every little thing that flashed across female brain-pans was worth listening too."

You know, I think I'm going to spend the morning sandbagging my position. :)

Posted by: Grim at December 12, 2009 10:00 AM

Yeah, I hear the garage calling...

Posted by: bthun at December 12, 2009 10:05 AM

I'm sure hattip feels much better now that he's (?) gotten all that off his chest :p

Too funny.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 10:05 AM

I'd be more inclined to take hattip seriously if he understood the quotation he cites.

He seems to be under the impression it means something like "Men act, women talk" or the strictly literal interpretation, "Manly deeds, womanly words".

But a more true interpretation is, "Strong deeds, gentle words". Or, act like a man but speak as a woman does: gently, and with tact.

There's a big old joke in there, but being a woman (and generally gentle) I'll leave it to you all to figure out.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 10:32 AM

It reminds me of the joke about the gay bar where everyone had to have a code name before they could be served. "Secret," says the cowboy who wandered in by mistake...

In any event, I would like to add something. It is indeed wrong for a man to post sex tapes of his girlfriend, wife, etc. without her express permission (and indeed, probably even with it).

However, the kind of man who does that is a low sort of fellow who is unlikely to enjoy the respect of his peers. What we're talking about here is upper or upper-middle class women, whose essays are published in the Atlantic, the New York Times magazine, or some similar journal.

So, whereas the bad male behavior is recognized as bad and unfit, the women's behavior is -- apparently -- lauded by society. Or, at least, "society."

Posted by: Grim at December 12, 2009 11:09 AM

... whereas the bad male behavior is recognized as bad and unfit, the women's behavior is -- apparently -- lauded by society. Or, at least, "society."

Well, I think that decent people condemn both behaviors.

I'm also not sure that women who write such articles do so without their partners' knowledge and consent. I'm thinking of that other article in the NY Times where the woman felt the need to tell us how she handled her husband's midlife crisis.

She made a point of telling her readers that her husband had actually encouraged her to tell others about that troubled time in the hopes that someone else might learn from it. Whether or not that's true, I was troubled by the article.

And I've been utterly amazed to read several articles by male bloggers about how wrong it is to share nude pics or sex tapes... yet they say, "Sure, I looked."

[thud]

If it's so obviously wrong, WHY THE HECK DID YOU LOOK?

I don't get it, but participating in that kind of betrayal doesn't exactly smack of a true belief that it is wrong. I think the situations are slightly different. Tsing Loh's article was truly nauseating. I had to stop reading when I realized she was blabbing about intimate details of her sex life. I felt like I was seeing something I wasn't meant to see, so I stopped reading as soon as I saw what was going on.

I guess that's why I find that behavior hard to understand.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 12:44 PM

Thoughtless and selfish. It is one thing for women to talk to one another with the idea that at least some of the conversation will be private or armed with the idea that Yes, You Can Connect With Your Spouse Even if He/She is a Clueless Blob of Protoplasm, but quite another to tell the world of your failure or your spouse's efforts in that regard.

Aside from the ridicule one heaps upon one's head, there is this thing called 'courtesy.' It is how we used to treat one another.

We were watching an old John Wayne movie the other night: "McClintock". A knee-slapper of a comedy. But there is one scene between John Wayne and Stephanie Powers where she is asking him about the rift between him and her mother, Maureen O'Hara. He quite politely, but bluntly tells her it is none of her business, and then, defends his wife's behavior to his daughter.

He then tells her he isn't leaving her his fortune; just enough land to get them started; he didn't want to deprive her and her husband of what he had; that in the building of their lives together, they would have something far more precious than wealth.

I think we have lost that somewhere. That it is not considered bad form to betray a spouse in any way, shape or form. Infidelity would almost be kind compared to tattling.

But then, what would the tabloids do if men and women didn't tattle? I am sick to death of 'Brangelina' and 'Jen' and whatever passes for reality among the Hollyweird crowd.

Posted by: Cricket at December 12, 2009 12:50 PM

I agree that we have lost something in this regard, Cricket.

And I think the instinct to protect one's spouse ought to be shared by both sexes. That's why it puzzles me to hear so many men blather on and on about the good old days when men and women respected each other... as they proceed to tell us that women have been selfish, immature, narcissistic jerks for millennia (presumably long before feminists ruined the world) :p

Or they smoothly segue into publicly airing their private problems with their wives, even though we all know men never do those things.

*snort*

Respect doesn't work too well as a one way street, and the obligation to behave well isn't erased by the supposed bad behavior of the other sex or by those evil feminists. If you want to tell me that men and women should respect each other (or that they used to) I'm unlikely to be convinced by a diatribe about how all men know women have been terrible human beings since the dawn of time.

Try practicing what you preach.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 01:05 PM

Someone need to brush up on their Latin. It is quite clear and unambiguous just what the motto means, and it is ridiculous to maintain otherwise. It requires no interpretation whatsoever, at least not for the the honest and the competent who happen to live in the real world.

In fact, one does not have to be honest, competent or have much grip on reality at all to understand this: The local PC, feminist crowd evidently understand what you do not for they are constantly trying to have the motto struck down.

It is also quite clear what the good people of Maryland intended years ago. It is a common sentiment through out all of history. They were real people in the real world about real things--understanding their intent hardly requires "input" from the likes of you. You merely push a rather bizarre and self serving reading of this in order to maintain a notion of the sexes that most certainly did not obtain in the 19th and 20th centuries, or even in the 20th century in any mainstream sense until after the 1960's. And what a ridiculous notion it is.

How preposterous of you. How female.

By using this dodge to support this bit of narcissistic self-delusion (and the comically sniffy little fit of self-importance which accompanies it) you merely illustrate and reinforce my point: You are a case in point. I do not know your actually gender, but in term of character and comportment it is quite clear what side of the gender divide you are on.

Seems I have struck a nerve. Good.

As for this nonsense about "take me seriously", again, you miss the point, and hilariously so. It is rather you how are not being taken seriously, and that would be by the vast majority of the male sex the world over, and that would be the case no matter what your gender actually may happen to be. You are evidently either too young or too obtuse to understand this, but it is most certainly true. Wait a few years, you'll catch on. You will not like it much when you figure, I'd wager, but it is, of course, quite true.

What I report is what the real men out in the real world say, think and know about the female sex. and often remark upon to one another. Thus it has been for most of history (the real history, not the inverted, psuedo-history of the Feminist, PC crowd).

The strange and perverse politically correct world that we live in is unnatural and false, and such decadence cannot long endure. Few things could be more obvious. After it crumbles we soon will return to the verities.

We will have little choice.

Posted by: hattip at December 12, 2009 01:56 PM

Gee, I seem to recall recently having said something related to this.

Posted by: Ilíon at December 12, 2009 02:22 PM

Gee, bub, you seem to have a real gift for playing the horse's ass. Is it natural, or do you work at it?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 12, 2009 02:35 PM

Keep flailing away, hattip :p

Eventually maybe you'll hit something.

In fact, one does not have to be honest, competent or have much grip on reality at all to understand this: The local PC, feminist crowd evidently understand what you do not for they are constantly trying to have the motto struck down.

That's because, like you, they are humorless drones who have no respect or liking for the opposite sex :p Hatred tends to warp one's perspective on life. Let's contemplate your wise words once more:

Oversharing? You mean more garrulous in general and particularly vocal in their monstrous self-absorption and self-obsession? This is news? It has been well known for millennia.

What you call a need for "talk and intimacy" is generally a desire to have solipsism, vanity, self-delusion and narcissism indulged by their "partner"

... back then we did not imagine that every little thing that flashed across female brain-pans was worth listening too. Quite the opposite in fact.

So charming. You must be a real hit with the ladies :p

Ilion, you probably did. I frequently (not always, but very often) agree with my readers, most of whom are male. However, I do have to say that I find hattip's bile tiresome.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 02:43 PM

SHHHHHH, Don!

Remember, real men secretly despise women. They're just not brave enough to say it to our faces most of the time.

Hattip hath spoken :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 02:44 PM

Someone need to brush up on their Latin. It is quite clear and unambiguous just what the motto means, and it is ridiculous to maintain otherwise. It requires no interpretation whatsoever, at least not for the the honest and the competent who happen to live in the real world.

Well, if that motto were written in Latin, I might agree with you. However, it happens to be Italian :p

This is something you'd know if you were a regular reader because I've written about it before.

I wasn't going to rub your nose in your mistake, but you don't seem like the type to get subtle hints so here we go:

Fatti maschii, parole femine is the state motto of Maryland. Sometimes mistaken for Latin, the language of many state mottos, it is actually Italian, although the proper spelling of the phrase is "Fatti maschi, parole femmine", making Maryland the only state with a motto in that language. The saying has been translated several ways, the literal and most common being "Manly deeds, womanly words." This presumably conveys the same message as Theodore Roosevelt's famous "speak softly and carry a big stick," and some argue that this meaning is better conveyed by translating the motto as "strong words, gentle deeds." Also, but rarely, offered as a translation is "Facts are male, words are female."

On the "obvious" unambiguity of the translation:

A sampling of translations are listed below:

* "Deeds are men, words are women" (Lord Calvert's day, 1622)
* "A woman for words and a man for deeds" (Maryland Manual, 1905)
* "Womanly (Courteous), words and manly deeds" (Maryland Manual, 1905)
* Strictly, "Deeds are males, words, females" (Maryland Manual, 1939)
* "Deeds are manly, words are womanly" (Unnamed State Archivist, 1969)
* "Manly deeds, womanly words" (State Legislature, 1975)
* "Strong deeds, gentle words" (Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, 1993)

We have offered Dr. Papenfuse's translation above, "Strong deeds, gentle words", even though the legal translation remains "...loosely translated, 'Manly deeds, womanly words'."

Yep. So clear and unambiguous that for over 100 years people haven't been able to agree on it!

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2009 03:15 PM

On the intertubes, it's like the man said... There's a lot of that on the intertubes, or what Don said.

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 12, 2009 03:31 PM

ROFL.

Cassandra, where DO you find these people..?

Posted by: FbL at December 12, 2009 11:15 PM

As to the actual subject of this post, I agree. I have cringed at the articles you linked to, and felt so terribly bad for the authors' husbands...

Posted by: FbL at December 12, 2009 11:18 PM

I could never publicly divulge those sorts of intimate deals. Not that I've got those sorts of details to divulge, but that's a different issues (see previous post...)

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 13, 2009 04:22 AM

Cassandra, where DO you find these people..?

She leaves the door open.

A lot.

Posted by: BillT at December 13, 2009 04:56 AM

I see the problem as much more than just "sharing details." It's seems to be a kind of contempt for someone for whom you've literally sworn to love, cherish, etc...

I'll never forget in college stumbling across a short book written by an Orthodox Rabbi. One part that particularly stuck with me was a chapter on marriage. It said that part of the loving marital obligation was to protect one's partner from the public embarrassment of having their weaknesses or errors publicly displayed--for example, not trying to prove them wrong in public discussion, etc (he wasn't talking about an enabling/co-dependent situation, but everyday challenges and conflicts/weaknesses). I thought that was so wise, and the older I've gotten the more I've understood how beautiful and loving such an idea is. It stands in such stark contrast to the kinds of tell-alls those women have written.

So sad...

Posted by: FbL at December 13, 2009 09:54 AM

I think it's natural to feel protective of one's spouse, though there definitely is a bit of a double standard when it comes to male sexual frustration in a marriage (acceptable, sometimes even expected--and the topic of much locker-room banter) vs. female frustration (the sensibility being that a woman who admits to that is "outing" her husband).

And so in this particular arena, a woman is more likely to be in a double bind, because of the macho paradox about how truly masculine men know instinctively how to satisfy women, but truly masculine men don't ever ask how to do anything, and truly masculine men don't let women tell them what to do, and . . . well, it's easy for things to spiral out of control that way, and lead to sexual apathy, estrangement, and other bad things like Not Bringing One's Spouse Their Coffee in Bed. (My theory being that coffee in bed and tickle fights are the most important elements in long-term marital happiness.)

Posted by: Little Miss Attila at December 13, 2009 06:01 PM

Good grief. It seems to me that real men and real women who are blessed enough to be married to each other would do their utmost to build and support one another, not tear each other down by 'naughty exposes of the fiddly bits' (the Armorer of Argghhh!) in their relationships.

Posted by: Cricket at December 13, 2009 08:56 PM

The bringing of coffee is an awesome and powerful act :p

That is one of the little things my husband has done for me voluntarily for years. Sometimes he even puts whipped cream on top. It is such a small thing but when he does it, he makes me feel so cherished - like a princess.

I think men often think women want these grand gestures. I know I neither want nor expect that, though. It is the small, kind things a man does that win a lady's heart.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 13, 2009 09:14 PM

What a charming article! I love your writing style and smiled through the entire thing. Yes, we women do tend to divulge the more intimate details of our relationships, much to our partners' dismay. I believe it's partly because we are seeking out validation that we're not the only ones lacking in sexual excitement. We feel better if someone else's relationship is less than perfect too. Plus, it's fun to discuss ways to make improvements.

Posted by: Paula S at December 13, 2009 11:08 PM

She leaves the door open.

It truly is amazing how an open door seems to attract houseflies.

Posted by: MikeD at December 14, 2009 10:01 AM

I would try to debate hattip, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it is he is trying to say besides "I'm angry".


As for the "revenge p*&n" v/s "Oversharing".

"Revenge p*&n" is exactly that. It is meant as an attack. It's not meant to share, to learn from, to understand things from a different perspective, or to ensure that you're "normal" and not alone in your experiences.

It's sexual assualt, pure and simple.

As such it's far and away the worse of the two.

Legally, it would be almost impossible to ascertain whether a given picture/clip was put online without consent or just regreted after the fact (the internet is forever) since I highly doubt that consent forms are common except for professional outlets like Playboy.

But legality and morality are not the same thing. The inability of the former does not excuse the latter. But, at least societally, p*&n is still a somewhat underground phenomena (though becoming less and less so over time).

The NYTimes, by contrast, is about as "over"ground as it gets. And while the betrayal is orders of magnitude "less" that ought not make it societally acceptable. And yet, it appears that it has become so. At least society has the good graces to be embarrased by "revenge p*&n" publicly, even if not privately (What, you mean people don't always behave privately they way they say they should in public? I'm shocked :-) ).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 14, 2009 10:42 AM

In the past, I have been horrified by similar articles (the last one I remember before this was http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200907/divorce). I cannot for the life of me, figure out how these women are not publicly shamed, shunned and outcast. I know how the men who post private videotapes are not... they tend (I would assume) to post them anonymously. That's an assumption, but what I DO know, is that these "oversharing" authoresses are certainly NOT anonymous.

Assuming we're not dealing with illegal activity (like the video of that ESPN reporter), the best we can do to folks who behave shamelessly (best term I can come up with here) is to treat them as such. Public shunning, while completely voluntary, is also pretty effective. I know I certainly would want nothing more to do with someone who treated their spouse (ex or otherwise) with this level of contempt. Why anyone else does is beyond me.

Posted by: MikeD at December 14, 2009 11:24 AM

"Public shunning, while completely voluntary, is also pretty effective. I know I certainly would want nothing more to do with someone who treated their spouse (ex or otherwise) with this level of contempt. Why anyone else does is beyond me."
Agreed Mike...

But it seems to me that the problem with expecting the public to shun the despicable curs and others whose behaviors were once considered to be unacceptable, is that the PC party line, which has been broadcast far and wide for the past, what, 30-40 years, has been that one should not be judgmental. It's all relative, the poor perp as victim, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

Now it seems that one can not look into any corner of society, be it the news, sports, entertainment, the neighborhood, or the workplace without finding a Jerry Springer episode being played out for all to see.

But then I like the idea of stocks in front of the county courthouse.

Posted by: bt_of-the-dragged-knuckles-clan_hun at December 14, 2009 11:50 AM

That's an assumption, but what I DO know, is that these "oversharing" authoresses are certainly NOT anonymous.

I would actually, be a little less disappointed if they did do so anonymously. At least then, one could discuss the underlying issues instead of "I cheated because my husband, Bob Smith, SSN XXX-XX-XXX, currently residing at 123 Main Street, Yourtown is bad in the sack.

We may still feel pity for whomever the poor soul is who is married to this woman, but at least we wouldn't know who the poor soul actually is when we saw him at church on Sunday.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 14, 2009 11:52 AM

I know I certainly would want nothing more to do with someone who treated their spouse (ex or otherwise) with this level of contempt. Why anyone else does is beyond me.

Exactly! I wouldn't trust a woman who could betray her spouse like that--I'd be afraid that our own interactions would be broadcast around the world, too.

And Yu-Ain, I think doing it anonymously is much more preferable. At least that way the woman is embarrassing only herself.

Posted by: FbL at December 14, 2009 01:25 PM

But I fear the point of the articles in question are not, and never have been, about 'helping others who are going through something similar'. Instead, they seem to be about "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!" Similar to how small children will equate ANY attention (good or bad) as being superior to no attention, these women (and to be fair, any cads who behave in any similar manner) are more interested in being looked at than ignored. And if they can get a small revenge swipe in as well ("It's not MY fault I cheated on him... he was no good in bed!"), well all the better.

I long for the day when anyone engaging in this behavior would simply find no one willing to give them the time of day, much less any kind of positive feedback.

Posted by: MikeD at December 14, 2009 04:24 PM

Well, if that motto were written in Latin, I might agree with you. However, it happens to be Italian

Most unsporting, Cassandra. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

I asked my Italian teacher about this last night. It's actually a kind of play on words because the noun "fatto" (plural "fatti") is a masculine noun while "parola" (plural "parole") is a feminine noun. So this says literally that the Italian word for "deeds" is a masculine noun while the Italian word for "words" is a feminine noun.

As for meaning beyond that, my teacher agrees that it's open to interpretation. Based on my progress so far in learning Italian, I'd say the "open to interpretation" label applies to most of the language. Any language that uses the same word for "bed" and for the past participle of "read" is going to need a lot of interpretation. Especially when you encounter the word in a joke about newlyweds.

Posted by: Elise at December 15, 2009 12:13 PM

Especially when you encounter the word in a joke about newlyweds.

It ought to be pretty simple, if you are reading on your honeymoon, ur doin it wrong.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 15, 2009 01:00 PM

S'pose it depends on what she's reading...
Could be the label on a can of whipped cream.
Or a recipe for egg salad.
Or directions for repairing a disco ball.
Or.....
0>:~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 15, 2009 03:25 PM

Sounds like a failure of preperation to me :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 15, 2009 03:54 PM

I wonder if there's an *app* for that....
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at December 15, 2009 06:50 PM

Thanks, Elise. I used to love translation. I took 4 languages in school: French, German, Spanish and Russian.

Some people translate word for word. I hate that b/c you almost always lose a lot of meaning and often (especially when you're dealing with idiomatic expressions) it ends up making no sense.

When I was in college, I wanted to be either an analyst for the CIA or a translator for the UN. Instead, I ended up being a wife and mom :)

Funny where we end up, no?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 15, 2009 07:09 PM

During undergraduate, and then through five years of graduate school, I was the big brother of a sorority. Once the sisters figured out that I was not going to try and hound dog my way through the sorority, and that they could trust me to keep my mouth shut, you'd be surprised the things they told me about each other. (Or being a woman maybe you wouldn't be surprised.)

Call me brother confessor.

As a result, I occasionally can divine "what a woman wants". It also means I'll never tell a woman anything that I wouldn't want spread over town.

My wife comes home and tells me the personal business of all her co-workers in her female dominated workplace (nursing). It, of course, leaves me to wonder what she's saying about me.

I once mentioned that I had said something innocuous about her in my male-dominated workplace (engineering). She was incensed. I then repeated to her all the dirt she had dished on her co-workers and asked if she'd been sitting on the sidelines the whole time saying nothing.

Cold stony silence.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at December 16, 2009 08:09 AM

Come now, sir! If you "really loved her", you'd understand why it's different when she does it :p

/sarcasm

Seriously, I really don't think men and women do inconsiderate things to each other on purpose most of the time. I think that more often, they only consider an issue from their point of view. What you did is similar to an object lesson - which is often an excellent way of saying "how would you feel if someone did this to you?" without saying a word.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 16, 2009 08:17 AM

A couple of other observations.

Protestations to the contrary, women don't actually like it when you can figure out what they want because they'd much rather keep you guessing.

Protestations to the contrary, women don't actually like it when you pay attention to what they say and are able to repeat it back to them at some future date. They figure that's their department.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at December 16, 2009 08:36 AM

Thanks, Elise. I used to love translation. I took 4 languages in school: French, German, Spanish and Russian.

I never knew this, Cass! I had five years German and two years Russian in high school, followed by two semesters of Russian in college, then enlisted and the Army made me an Arabic linguist. I've always loved studying language as well (and at one time thought I'd be a translator "when I grew up"). Ends up, I got a degree in Computer Science. When it comes down to it, programming is just another language which has the strictest grammar rules of all.

Posted by: MikeD at December 16, 2009 08:49 AM

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