Ottawa Citizen
Thursday 8 February 2001

Gender war takes an unfunny detour

Dave Brown
The Ottawa Citizen

There's growing danger in the gender war because the out-of-sight officers running it take things too seriously, and humour is out of the mix.

As a result we see situations like this: On a remote dark stretch of Anderson Road recently, a handy man in a truck saw a car had spun out and was stuck in the snow.

He stopped to help and as he approached the car, he heard the power door locks activate. The lone woman held up a cellphone. She was obviously frightened and the sign language said keep away or she would make a call.

He went back to his truck, got a rope, crawled under the back of the car, secured it and, using his truck, pulled the car back onto the road. Knowing the woman was afraid, he kept a distance, expecting a window to run down so a thank-you could be shouted. It didn't happen, he says. She just drove away.

He identifies himself, but asks for anonymity. He says he's afraid he may have done something wrong by pulling the car out when he was clearly told to stay away. Now he's worried. He's a married man, and afraid his wife may be in need of similar help some day, and men will drive by without offering assistance.

What makes him think so is because that may be his reaction the next time he sees a woman in need of help.

Electronic Gender

The following probably isn't new to persons who use computers and see this kind of material zipping around. But a search of records shows it hasn't appeared in this newspaper, and this is a newspaper column.

A French class was struggling with the problem that nouns in that language have gender. Was it le computer or la computer? The teacher divided the class by gender, and told them to come up with suggestions.

The men decided computers should definitely be feminine because: No one but their creator understands their internal logic; the language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible; and even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval. As soon as one makes a commitment to one, one starts losing half his paycheque to buying accessories.

Women believed computers should be masculine because: In order to get their attention, they have to be turned on; they have a lot of data but they are clueless; they are supposed to help solve problems, but half the time they are the problem. As soon as you commit to one, you realize if you'd waited just a bit you could have gotten a better model.

For those wondering, the correct answer is masculine.

Lines From the Front

Gender-oriented quotable quotes from the famous:

Robin Williams: "Divorce. From the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet. ... The problem is God gives men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time."

Roseanne: "Women complain about premenstrual syndrome but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself."

Billy Crystal: "Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place."

Rod Stewart: "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."

Bill Cosby: "I am not the boss of my house. I don't know how I lost it. I don't know when I lost it. I don't think I ever had it. But I've seen the boss's job and I don't want it."

Elaine Boosler: "We have women in the military but they don't put us on the front lines. They don't know if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is say: 'You see the enemy over there? They say you look fat in those uniforms!'"

Bottom Line

The latest collection of one-liners from Graeme Fraser has good advice for those in the trenches of the gender war:

Never miss a good chance to shut up ... Husbands have to learn to stay calm, cool and corrected ... Love is grand. Divorce is a hundred grand.

Dave Brown is the Citizen's senior editor. Send e-mail to Read previous columns by Dave Brown at

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.