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The Goddess Speaks

By Stephanie Kendrick

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Men aren’t the
only hot topic

Warning: Column contains logical inconsistencies. It's tough to write about the fact that women often pursue topics of conversation that have nothing to do with men, without writing about men. But I long ago learned to love life's little ironies.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting my brother's relatively new girlfriend.

We spent a couple of hours chatting on the beach one afternoon, just the two of us. We talked about all sorts of things: how she chose her career (dentistry), how I chose mine, what it's like to be a twin (she and her sister are identical), college, books, etc.

When my brother rejoined us his first concern was whether we'd given each other ammunition with which to torture him.

She and I looked at each other and I turned back to him and told him he had, in fact, played a nearly nonexistent role in our conversation. A brief, but real, wounded look replaced his mock concern.

It only occurred to me when I thought back on this that it's happened before. Often, when I'm introduced to a woman by a man I'm close to, any moments she and I spend alone together are viewed with suspicion. And typically the other woman and I blithely pursue topics of discussion that have nothing to do with the guy in question.

After all, when you're getting to know someone, doesn't it make sense that you'd ask questions about them?

I further realized I have never once wondered whether my brother and my husband, who've know each other for years now, talk about me. In fact, I can see them spending and entire day enjoying each other's company without talking at all.

But that's a stereotype too; men, the silent non-communicators.

So where does this stuff come from?

Well, certainly all sorts of media, from greeting cards to movies to -- dare I confess -- newspapers, portray women as a guy-obsessed whiners and men as monosyllabic couch potatoes.

And we've all known people who reinforce the stereotype.

The man whose defensive silence is painfully punctuated by mass-produced observations. The woman who is madly in love one week (for the 478th time), and the next insists all men are the antiChrist.

What a fun couple.

Thankfully, the people in my life tend to be more complex.

But with all this on my mind, I asked my husband what he and my brother talk about when they're alone.

"Power tools," he said.

He let me stare at him for a second, then laughed.

Not that he was entirely kidding, they are both big fans of power tools. But he finally said they talk about the same things they talk about when we're all together. Which is, basically, everything.

Well, maybe not earrings.

And I've yet to meet the woman who would be fascinated by a discussion of collectible comic books.

But the point is the genders have more interests and concerns in common than not.

Fortunately the men I know tend to have pretty good taste in women and I've gotten to meet a whole host of them who are capable of having fascinating conversations without once mentioning men.

And bruised egos aside, I think that's a good thing, perhaps especially for the guys in our lives.

Stephanie Kendrick is the Star-Bulletin's
assistant features editor.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and
send it to: The Goddess Speaks, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O.
Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802, or send e-mail

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