Monday, April 24, 2006

Ask Ginger

Hello dear readers, and welcome to the premiere of my brand spanking new advice column! Many friends of mine have been at me to start one of these for months, and I'm finally acquiescing. Apparently some people think that dispensing sage advice is one of my better skills; how very flattering! I like to keep my readers happy, so let me try this out and see how she flies. If I get a positive response, I'll try to publish one column every month. Before we get started, here are my ground rules:

1. Know that I am not a professional psychologist or counselor. This column exists as much for entertainment as it does for actual advice-giving.
2. If you email me a question, and you'd like to remain anonymous, please give me a pseudonym to use. I will not reveal your identity to anybody, except to specify your gender.
3. Think my opinions are crap? Air your grievances in the comments section.
4. You can ask me about any topic whatsoever, as long as the question isn't vile.
5. I decide what's vile.

That should be simple enough for everybody, right? Okay then, here I go!

Q: Dear Ginger,
Since ALL men cheat, or think about cheating in their relationships, wouldn't it be easier for women to just set up the rules around it? That way, he doesn't have to sneak around, and you control when and where it happens, and everybody is happy.
PS - Men do have sex without happens.

Here Entertaining A Theory Encompassing Relationships (male)

A: Dear Entertaining,
Wow, that's an extremely bleak picture of your own gender you're painting! Not all men cheat, and while there may be plenty that do, it's not fair to paint all guys with the same brush. I will admit that the numbers don't look good; one study that I read suggested that 50% of husbands cheat on their wives. That's pretty startling, but I have some sobering news for you; female infidelity is on the rise, with about 40% of wives cheating, and the the gap is closing. Women are so often painted as paragons of fidelity, creatures who can only have sex when in love, who must therefore take it upon themselves regulate the insatiable male sex drive. Let's put the smackdown on that nonsense right now. We're right behind you guys in the cheating stats, and we are, from what I've seen, far less likely to get caught sneaking around. I had a friend who cheated on every single guy she had ever been with; she decided to get married to her first husband when she realized that she had managed to date him for a year without screwing around. A year after they married, she cheated - and he had no knowledge of the affair until she left him. She also racked up $20,000 in credit card debt. Obviously, they are now divorced.

I'm sure that infidelity rates are even worse among single and cohabitating people, but let's face it - if you love and respect your partner, you won't stray, because you won't want to risk losing them for a quick cheap thrill. I've never cheated on a partner (no, really!), so I'm no expert, but from what I have seen, men tend to stray out of insecurity, women out of boredom or for revenge. In the end, it isn't as much fun as it looks, and just makes a mess. To answer your question, no, I am not a fan of the "Sex Police" approach to relationships. Having one gender set up the "rules" to regulate the other's sexual activity is dehumanizing for both. It is not one party's responsibility to constantly monitor the other's behavior. If you're over the age of, say, 20 (I'm being very generous here), where you put your genitalia is all on you, as are all emotional and physical consequences that follow. Setting up "rules" that "allow" your partner to be with other people may give you a vague feeling of control, but come on. If you have to put a handcuff on somebody to keep them next to you, you have to wear the other handcuff at all times. Doesn't that make you a prisoner too?

Now, some people just aren't suited to monogamy, and that's fine, as long as they're up front about it. In any kind of relationship, you'll have the fewest problems with partners who want the same things you do. Of course, if you like the idea of having a stable of partners, you might want to move to Utah and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior. They'll give you as many as you like, if you're a man. Personally, I don't think polygyny is ok unless we accept polyandry too. Women are the ones who have multiple orgasms and babies; we're the gender that's most likely to appreciate the convenience of multiple partners!

P.S. Women do have sex without happens. All. The. Time. We call this "maintenance sex". If I had a dollar for every woman I know who at one time kept a man around just to keep Ye Olde Feminine Pipes lubricated, I'd be a very rich, very retired woman.

Q: Dear Ginger,
Is is appropriate for a woman in a happily committed relationship to flirt with other men? Why or why not?

I Just Like To Be Friendly (female)

A: Well Friendly, I personally think that flirting is healthy and fabulous. I see that you made a point of saying that you're "happily committed", which speaks volumes. You're faithful, not dead, and certainly not blind; the world is at least half populated by men, and a good portion of them are damned attractive. Noticing this won't dull your affection for your beloved. In fact, enjoying the sight of other cute guys can put an extra spring in your step, especially if they look back. Enjoying your own sexuality, and some friendly attention from the opposite sex, tends to boost one's confidence. Your partner will notice, you'll seem even more attractive to him, and you'll probably get frisky more often. So it benefits you both, as long as you look but don't touch.

With strangers, eye contact and a smile will usually get a positive response, and should be enough if you're in a relationship. With coworkers and acquaintances, you can add occasional compliments (these should be genuine, and don't pile them on). Open body language makes you approachable; don't cross your arms across your chest. If you're sitting, cross your legs towards the person you're speaking to. Flirting is mostly nonverbal and non-physical (body language yes, touching no). I say "no touching" because mixed signals can be a problem, and turn a good conversation very bad very fast. On one hand, a man is socialized to see the world in very sexual terms, so touching could look like a come-on, and cause him to move in on you when that wasn't your intention at all. On the other hand, high rates of sexual violence in our culture can make a woman rightfully cautious, so if a man touches her, she might freeze up or become defensive, when he didn't mean anything by it. If the person you're flirting with is also in a committed relationship, they'll probably have some physical boundaries that should be respected, although most people are comfortable with hello and goodbye hugs. Use discretion; unless the person knows you well, and knows that you're solid with your partner, keep your hands to yourself. If the person you're flirting with ever seems uncomfortable, gracefully back off with a smile and a parting sentiment such as "It was so nice to talk to you! Take care." It's called the "art" of flirting for a reason; it should be lighthearted and fun! So go forth and flirt!

Q: Dear Ginger,
Are you a natural red-head? If so, can you prove it?

One Of Your Future Freak Dates (male)

A: Aaah, the old "carpet and drapes" question. If that's how you introduce yourself to a lady, we won't be meeting up anytime soon. Sorry, but I'm going to have to stay mum on this one; the true color of my pubes is known only to my - ahem - "intimates", close friends, and family. What I will tell you is that I'm Irish, my mother had red hair, and the color suits me perfectly. But you'd have to be a lot closer to me to know for sure!

Q: Dear Ginger,
I went to a wedding where I had to fly across the country to get to it. I paid for my hotel room, and it wasn't in the most inexpensive city as well. When I got there, it was made very clear to me that the bride did not like my haircut, and that I should get it cut "normal". By the way, I wasn't in the wedding, I was a guest. Should I have cut my hair?

My Own Hair Always Wins Kudos (male)

A: Dear Kudos,
I'm very sorry to say, you were a victim of "Bridezilla Syndrome". This sometimes happens in a culture that inexplicably takes a normal woman and turns her into a "Princess For A Day". It's HER DAY, dammit, and she wants everything JUST SO! IS THAT A NICK IN THE ICE SCULPTURE??? THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!! SHE WILL HAVE EVERYTHING JUST SO! OR ELSE!!! AAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Whew! Brides like that are exhausting, and there seems to be no pleasing them, but I do believe that they're in the minority. Kudos, I have to tell you that I have been a bridesmaid several times, and thankfully have never personally dealt with a Bridezilla. I've seen a few in action, though, and it's not pretty. I think that Bridezilla Syndrome is born from a culture that puts too much emphasis on a woman's marital status. Many women are raised almost from birth to believe that they're not "complete" until they've found The One. When The Coveted Engagement finally comes, the urge to make The Big Day perfect can overwhelm one little tulle-and-satin-clad woman, which may result in a kind of fit-throwing, unreasonable-demand-making temporary insanity. Interesting how our culture puts so much energy into that one day. It's an important day, no question, but what about the marriage that comes after it? We seem to spend a lot less time preparing ourselves for the following 50 years, which might help to explain our soaring divorce rate.

I digress. Anyway, I'm sure that the bride in question is back to normal now. You were absolutely right to leave your hair alone. Personal style is just that - personal. Even if you had been in the wedding party, you would not have been obliged to cut your hair "normal" just so that she could be more satisfied with her pictures. That's insulting. What is "normal", anyway? Besides, you were her guest, and that is simply not the way to treat a guest, especially one who has done you the courtesy of travelling long and far to see you. Kudos to you for keeping your cut!

Hope you enjoyed the column! Got a question? Hit me up!



Blogger YGPunked said...

Ginger, Ginger, oh so fair, when do I get to see your fiery hair? Soon I hope, as I am a freak (lol). Anywho, did you even take a moment to see the benefits of an open relationship in the year 2006, or did you just get right to the cons.... I think you jumped right to the "speech." I hope you can at least attempt to view the other side before you slam it with your own... although I'm sure very lovely... opinions. Congrats on your advice col. doll. YGP

10:36 AM  
Blogger YGPunked said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Hey YGP, you're opinion is very valid, but I'm not slamming anybody with my opinion; I'm just calling it the way I have seen it (besides, which, I am having fun as well as answering seriously!).

I do make a point of saying that there's nothing wrong with an open relationship, as long as your partner wants that too. The question didn't address the possibility of a truly "open" partnership, with equal comings and goings for each partner; it basically states that male infidelity is a given, so women should accept it and police it as best they can. I call bullshit on that.

"Cheating" and an "open relationship" are two different things; I addressed the former, because that was the question. I do think that the idea of open relationships is an interesting one. I'll save my opinions on that issue for another column!

10:50 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

ygpunked - If you want an open relationship, so sex w/others isn't cheating, you should be the one to propose the new rules for the relationship. Why make your partner do the hard work of figuring out how to make it work when this is something you want?

Also, if my relationaship was open, I wouldn't want my partner to be the one to decide when, where & with whom I'd fuck and I wouldn't want to do that for her. I'd give her veto power if she hated someone I liked, but that's about as far as I'd go.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Linnaeus said...

Why am I not surprised that this would become a feature of your blog?

Welcome back, Ginger. I've missed you. :)

10:30 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Well thanks Linnaeus! I had some family stuff and work stuff to deal with this past week (all good stuff, but life tends to get away from me sometimes!). It's good to be back!

12:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer R said...

Hah, that final letter about the Bridezilla reminds me of a website I was reading today. A mom was writing a tribute page for her daughter's 40th birthday. Daughter is very successful in her chosen profession, all sounds peachy, BUT... Mom mentions that the ONE thing she wanted for her daughter has finally come true- she's got a man!

Now, I even KNOW the mom IRL and know she's not (in person, anyway) That Kind Of Mother, but it totally rubbed me the wrong way. No bloody wonder single chicks are screwed up with these kinds of attitudes, man. Anyway, that's a danged good analysis of why Bridezilla Syndrome exists!

3:35 PM  
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