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On European women.

by Dear Jon
September 28, 2001

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84th Sort_Dear Jon-On European women. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Just what is it you have against European women?

European Woman


Dear Woman,

If the author of this actual letter really is a European Woman, I will eat a half-dozen gingersnaps in two minutes. I hate gingersnaps.

But so what? Anonymity is the beauty of an advice column, so I might as well take the bait.

As you are aware, media experts and school teachers rely on a device which helps them to answer questions and get their point across without bogging down. This device is called "generalization." Through "generalization," a school teacher can say that Adolph Hitler seduced the German public and, if not wildly popular, at least was willingly obeyed, without needing to apologize for all those special cases of German citizens opposed to Hitler who hid Jews in their wine-cellars and so on, because those exceptions really serve to prove the rule. Media experts talk about "Soccer Moms" as being Clinton's support-base in 1992 and 1996: these were white suburban women who cared as much about the economy as they cared about their personal rights. Not all Soccer Moms voted Democrat, but it served to paint a "Gender Gap" picture among suburban voters.

It is similar to the device used by the FBI, called "profiling." Through "profiling," the FBI proceeds in an investigation through hunches that are borne out statistically. For example, serial killers tend to target their own race. So if 12 white victims have been strangled the same way, than through "profiling" the FBI shrinks their suspect list to about 175 million "white people."

We should distinguish "profiling" and "generalizing," which are necessary for communication, from "stereotyping," which is always wrong to do. In that sense, "racial profiling" is wrong because it is stereotyping: the basis of suspicion becomes a person's color, even if there is nothing specific to be suspected.

I have nothing against European Women. The cultures are diverse and rich with history. Speaking very generally, one area of cultural distinction surrounds the issues of personal hygiene and standards of beauty.

The cultures of Europe stress the "I'm a human being," aspect of womanhood. Women, like men, are permitted to sweat, and are free to wear clothes and shoes for warmth and comfort rather than appearance and style. As in the United States, no distinction is made between men and women in Europe over the frequency with which one bathes. It just happens to be, very generally, that European men and women bathe (or shower) less frequently than Americans, very very generally.

The culture of the United States, however, stresses the "I'm the Cinderella Madonna Virgin Sex Goddess Look At Me Wrong and I'll Sue" aspect of womanhood. This means that women, very generally, have to shave their legs and their armpits, shower frequently, and wear clothes designed by demented fetishists.

Being encultured in this, men naturally expect women to dress and smell this way. This is not men's fault. We are encultured. It also gives American women an "out" in a relationship. If they want to stop seeing a guy and don't know how to break up, they could just postpone showering a couple days.

Not that women care what men think, ultimately: Women put themselves through this torture because they do not want other women to think meanly of them. Plus, American women do a fantastic job of critiquing other women with all the tact of a princess and all the sensitivity of a crocodile.

Maybe this should all change. I don't have much hope or imagination for that, though, not until 50 million working women throw any shoes with more than a half-inch heel out their windows and into the streets, to be driven over by their minivans, station wagons and SUVs.

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