inspired by jen. :-)

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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46 Responses to 534

  1. janetp says:

    Jon, that’s brilliant! Took me a couple of read-throughs to get the Gray reference properly but I love it :)

  2. janetp says:

    PS While it is generally true that men have penises (‘nature’), you are making a gross assumption that women wear bras (‘nurture’) ;)

  3. Rich says:

    it’s quite a small censored sign…

  4. Rich says:

    is it true that having a penis makes for a very different kind of person… inevitably leading to social, psychological differences between the genders…?

  5. janetp says:

    “it’s quite a small censored sign… ”

    Yes, but look at the size of her bra … !

  6. AND it’s a black and red bra, probably really scratchy too…wonder if a man bought it????

  7. Carole says:

    Rich – the beast is probably just sleeping…or are you trying to tell us something…? ;)

  8. Francie says:

    Botticelli Woman –

    He probably did. Usually the men with the smallest censored sign would want the his female to have the biggest red & black bra.

  9. jody says:

    ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha

    this is fabulous – as is the bra, I quite like lacy pretty stuff, although I also have a line in chewing-gum white underwear….nice… point being, sometimes women do buy their own black and red bras (or is that just sad?)

    in answer to Rich, I reckon that the differences get more as children become engendered – my son liked dressing up in his big sister’s mermaid outfit, until he went to nursery and discovered that boys don’t do that, then he would hide behind the sofa and dress up, he doesn’t do it at all now (of course I may come home one day when he’s 18 and get a big shock :-) )

  10. Sophie says:

    caught the last 5 minutes of a talk at greenbelt that said apparently there are very few differences between men and women. or at least, not as many as we might think.

  11. Sophie says:

    also, sometimes (often) women do buy their own pretty bras, surely not all single girls only ever wear plain ones coz they dont have a man to buy other ones?!

  12. Carole says:

    I tend to buy practical undergarments in black and white these days. But surely it is a question of fitness for purpose. If I were planning a night of unbridled passion (spontaneous is my middle name!), I might appeal to my man’s fantasies by wearing something appropriate, maybe in red (Liverpool kit, maybe?) I wouldn’t want a man to buy underwear for me – if he wants to get me something, he can stick to book tokens or a compost bin or something equally practical, maybe perfume on my recommendation.

    I think women can get as much out of sexy underwear as men. I remember when Ann Summers tended to be party plan in the early 90s. A group of recently divorced women I knew invited me to one. I went along to be sociable. I thought some of the underwear was quite nice and not too extreme. But I remember this particular woman who had recently had a boob job who couldn’t wait to get her kit off and prance up and down in front of a load of other women showing off her recent purchases er, I mean model some of the range. We were supposed to have been ‘warmed up’ to all of this by playing some ‘fun games’ at the start of the evening. Our hostess provided chocolate penises for our delectation. I was disgusted – they weren’t even Cadbury’s chocolate! And then it was on to the product presentation. I don’t care what you say once you’ve handled one lump of quivering plastic, they’re all the same…though the one that groaned “O-o-o-h, yeah, ba-a-aby” had a certain novelty value… There was a similar product aimed at the man in your life… it moaned…”And when are you going to paint that ceiling?”

    Sorry…I’m lowering the lofty intellectual tone again… ;)

  13. Carole says:

    I suppose the whole gender role thing is tied up in custom and practice, too. I remember having a male midwife assist me with breastfeeding when my youngest was born. I’m sure he was very good at his job, but it felt really weird having a strange man involved with this intimate act. But there is no real reason that a woman should be better equipped for this job, I suppose.

    As for women in church leadership…I’m a Catholic so I am not going to see it in my lifetime. But I know a woman who is currently being ‘rev’d’ up in the C of E. She is the secretary in her home church and has virtually run the place for years. She will do as good a job as any man.

    Here’s a thought…I have seen useless men in leadership roles in the church. But I have also seen the gaggles of women, ready to tend to their every need. Would they do the same for a woman? Would men be as keen to support a woman? Maybe. But maybe sometimes women can be an obstacle to other women in leadership.

  14. LOL.. shame on me for being so flippant…most of my bras are black, I bought them all myself too; come to think of it one is VERY scratchy….what was that about gender roles?

  15. Will says:

    john gray – please explain!

  16. sarah says:

    to the toon..

    Most of them do, and most of them do

    but the heart is where it’s at.

  17. jonbirch says:

    hey will… john gray wrote ‘men are from mars, women are from venus.’
    looking forward to your greenbelt return. :-)

  18. iheartbrad says:


  19. Jen says:

    Carole said ‘But maybe sometimes women can be an obstacle to other women in leadership.’

    Sadly this is absolutely true, both inside the church and outside. I was looking at the Daily Mail website yesterday (and I feel I should at this point explain that it’s not something I do regularly, but they had a report on research about women leaving the church!) and the way that women writers were laying into women ‘celebrities’ was just vicious. I was honestly shocked. What happened to sisterhood?

    By the way I did the talk at Greenbelt, and yes, there are far fewer differences between men and women than soundbite headlines would have us believe.

  20. dennis says:

    carole you just had me pissing my sides laughing!! we went into a card shop once where they were selling chocolate willies and my daughter was 7 and asked me why so I sent her to the shop owner to ask her, guess what…? she did and the owner just died on the spot!

    Anyway, I missed the ASBO session as I was ccoking for my group of hungry teenagers and I turned up late! when I approached the pub it was so FULL i couldnt even see the bar so I gave up and had a cup of earl grey instead.

    Jon my daughter Jess thought you were “pretty cool” but wants to know why you smoke? ha ha.

    As far as gender issues go Im a bit scared to say this incase I get blasted by the church but I have always thought there isnt a lot of difference when it comes to male and female I think the difference is in our genes (or is it?)

    Ive never understood the why men wear MAN clothes and women wear WOMAN clothes, there was this guy at greenbelt who wore a skirt!! but he was all MAN well at least he looked it HE was MASSIVE (in his height) I mean WHO decided that men wore pants and girls wore skirts? it seems a bit daft to me. It cant be just a practical thing as some girls get ridiculed for not wearing a bra when it looks like they need one! what about me? Ive got to the age where its possible I need a bra too, infact Im off to ann summers today to find a none scratchy pink one, actually I might go to La Senza instead becuase it looks more like my kind of shop.

    Does anyone mind if I carry on?…. I work for YFC (youth for christ) and every year we have a national conference when they have this particular session for all the MEN and I went one year and put my bloody foot in it! They asked the question what does it mean to be a MAN? some of the answers where obvious and yawnful like “football” and doing “man things” I mean what the hell are man things? Anyway I dared to say “being intouch with your feminine side” It was like one of those cowboy film moments where a ball of thistles would blow by and everything went silent! someone coffed nervously and they moved on, I havnt been back since as they continued to talk about swinging swords and playing football together would remind them that they were real MEN, I mean I really struggled with that because I am probably just as hard as them if not harder and I am a good scrapper and if it came to a sword fight then I would probably win! BUT does that make me a MAN? That I play football? the game where MEN cry and touch oneanother and hug and kiss in public and fight over it!?

    I am not even sure if having a penis makes me a man any more than wearing farrah trousers in the 80’s does!

    Incidently I did ask the question that if I were to call myself a MAN then I should start treating women like women and my wife like my wife and again I was treated with silence!

    So today I am confused because I have breasts and a penis, what does that make me? I think I am happier being slightly confused.

  21. jody says:

    absolutely dennis, and don’t get me started on segregated ministries in church where the guys get to go paintballing and quadbiking and the women get to do craft and knitting.

    actually, I’ve never actually seen the knitting thing – but I’m sure it happens!

    incidentally there is nothing wrong per se with knitting and craft or paintballing and quadbiking, it’s just when they become the personification of the ‘Good Christian Man’ and the ‘Good Christian Woman’.

    maybe I’m just sore because I never fitted the stereotype.

    nope, it’s not that…it’s just a crap stereotype.

    oh look, I did get started, sorry…

  22. jonbirch says:

    hi dennis… tell jess i smoke because i’m broken.
    i think you make some important points dennis. clearly a penis does not make you a man necessarily or else why would people need to change their sex? a man must feel like a woman and a woman must feel like a man to even consider doing this. it must cause heartache. there are those who are born with both female and male parts, i cannot comprehend how one begins to deal with this… clearly, sexuality is complex and stereotypes just make things worse because they hem people in.
    btw, nice to meet you at gb… good to know you were looking after da yoof! :-)

    carole… hilarious. i find ann summers embarrassing. i did once buy clare 15 pairs of nice undies for christmas (not from ann summers)… i actually enjoyed the shopping experience once i got over the initial feelings of discomfort… i struck up lots of nice chats with women who were more than happy to help me and not at all troubled to have me rifling through their undies. :-)

    jody… here’s to you and to everyone who doesn’t fit the stereotype! :-)

  23. Carole says:

    15 is a very large and exact number, John.

  24. Carole says:

    Aaargh, sorry, I gave you a superfluous ‘h’. How can you ever forgive me?

  25. Carole says:

    At this point I have to make a confession (well, it’s part of my upbringing!). I may be the victim of conditioning but like a man to have certain stereotypically masculine characteristics (only some, mind, competitive farting is not very attractive). There are lots of pretty boys about at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty boys, as long as they are naturally pretty. Guy liner and straightened hair are a big turn off. My biggest bugbear at the moment is plucked eyebrows as best demonstrated by Ryanair cabin crew. As a woman with asymmetrical eyebrows, I find it profoundly irritating that blokes in their twenties can both pluck AND be symmetrical.

    We were at a party a few weeks back and were with Phil’s workmate and his girlfriend. He is a blokey bloke – likes fast motorbikes, women, weight-training (the blokier equivalent to ‘working out at the gym’). His girlfriend playfully plucked at his chest and laughed some little private joke to him. She then explained to me that she was skitting the little stray hair which was growing through and that he was due his body wax. My jaw dropped to the floor. Of course I knew that this kind of thing went on but didn’t think he was the ‘type’. I’ve gone right off him now…And it is catching – apparently another ‘bloke’ in the workplace is considering having a wax because a grey hair has come through. When I met my Phil he was nobbut a lad and the arrival of a chest hair was a cause for celebration. What is happening to ‘men’?

    The feminisation of men is manifest in the proliferation of en-suite shower rooms – the only solution to a man and a woman fighting for time and shelf space in the bathroom. Suppose I’m just old-fashioned…

  26. Pingback: Take that Hagee « A Cup of Coffee

  27. jonbirch says:

    horses for courses i reckon carole. i never find vanity particularly attractive… that’s not to say i don’t care how i look, and i do feel i need to get rid of the odd fuse wire nasal hair. of course in much of the animal world it is the male who is all fancied up, like the guys in regency britain, all wigs and powder. :-)
    i guess we all look the way that we think makes us look best. clare could never persuade me to grow my hair or shave my head. i choose, just like she does, what i do with myself.

  28. jonbirch says:

    btw… i think we are all, to some degree, victims of our conditioning.

    no probs re the superfluous ‘h’… thanks for noticing. :-) you’re forgiven carol… oops, i mean ‘carole’! ;-)

  29. janetp says:

    Hi Carole. Perhaps the trend for male waxing is precisely to prove how tough they really are? I’m told it hurts like hell. Haven’t been brave enough to try it myself …

    Dennis (20): sorry I missed you at Greenbelt – it would have been good to put a face to the name.

    “Ive never understood the why men wear MAN clothes and women wear WOMAN clothes”. This is my shameful secret too. It seems to me a matter of utmost practicality to have MEN in skirt-type outfits (to allow their dangly bits to dangle as nature intended, rather than spend their waking hours looking round corners) and WOMEN to wear trousers (because not only are we anatomically designed for them but, in my experience, they’re by far the most practical clothing for chasing round after small, speedy children which I think is still predominantly done by women)

    There. I’ve said it! :)

  30. Linus says:

    so if gender is not all down to bits, and it sure as hell isn’t whether you play football or not (field hockey every time, personally)…. well what is it?

    Jon is right: Sexuality is complex. I think it’s easy to get damaged and it’s easy to be confused because of its complexity. There’s nothing wrong with being confused. Failing to acknowledge confusion is very unhealthy, on the other hand. I think a person’s gender does make a difference to who they are, but so do lots of other things. I agree with Jody that some of the stereotypes are very crap. I think we should try to resist pressure to fit them.

    but… I’m gonna stick my head over the parapet a bit here and say that i think (though i may well be wrong) that there is something that fundamentally makes men feel like men and women feel like women (but maybe not everyone experiences it, or some people don’t strongly… i think its definitely a spectrum), and that this basic (equal but) difference is meant to be complementary, and its unhealthy to deny that it exists. Wouldn’t want to try to define it though… sorry that’s all a bit stream of conciousness-esque. My thinking is very up in the air at the mo, but i hope that it made some kind of sense.

    Carole, Dennis, thanks for making me laugh! laughter is liberating, and often transformative too =]

  31. robin says:

    Generally feel like i’m equal but different to anyone i meet – gender is just another characteristic of differentiation – could just as easily be hair colour, musical taste or politics.

    Personally i find the choice of bra colour/design overwhelming and am constantly frustrated by the lack of interesting “mens” clothes.

  32. jonbirch says:

    hi robin. i generally wait for the sales, go into the cool teenager shops and buy really cheaply the stuff they don’t want. you’re right though, generally shops don’t do interesting stuff for blokes. :-( i like your differentiation point, so long as it doesn’t come with assumptions or ill founded expectations… beards are clearly more often a male characteristic which can help us tell each other apart. as linus said though, it is quite a spectrum.

    doesn’t sound too confused linus… sounds like thinking out loud to me… some thoughtful thoughts they are too. :-) i’m different to you, may even be that i am complimentary to you, wouldn’t make me a woman. what about people who we may see as men, who genetically or psychologically feel very much more like women, or the other way around? just some more questions.

  33. jonbirch says:

    janetp… are you saying men are lazy? :-)

  34. Carole says:

    Janetp – in my limited experience of waxing (lyrical aside) – which extends to lower leg, armpits and bikini line – (only once when I had a surplus of cash), it’s not really painful if it is done by a skilled person. What was far worse was when, slightly uncomfortable about having a stranger dabbling with my nether regions, I took myself off to Boots to buy a home kit. This was not especially successful as I was too squeamish to rip the wax off quickly enough to actually remove any hair. After several frustrating attempts I summoned up the courage to do it properly. It was a couple of days before the bruising had subsided sufficiently to enable me to wear a bikini. :-?

    Leg waxing is good in that it frees you up from shaving…the downside is that you then have to let the hair grow before you get it done again. But why can’t we just be natural? Personally I love Winter because I can wear trousers all the time and I can just concentrate on being rather than how much stubble I may or may not have on my shins.

    Linus – interesting point you make about ‘feeling’ to be a man or woman. Sometimes I do feel incredibly womanly. Sometimes I don’t feel myself to be any gender at all. I have sometimes worried about why I often get along so well with (some) men but often find the company of (some) other women dull – before dismissing it as a lack of common interest/humour. In the midst of teenage angst this worried me…but now I think I’ve accepted me as me. :)

  35. amywatson says:

    just picking up your reference to Ann Summers Jon, the one in Colchester is next to Starbucks, and it’s a nightmare if you’re waiting outside for a friend for a coffee….
    although it is highly amusing watching people walking into the shop with embarassment all over their faces.

    back to the topic – i find that generally commentary on differences between men and women can be helpful but it’s all too easily to revert to stereotype. I struggle being told what I’m meant to be like as a girl, and can find myself trying to be something i’m not, or analysing a situation according to the thought pattern I’m meant to have as a woman.

  36. janetp says:

    Carole, I’ll take your word for it about the waxing (!), but I agree about trousers in winter – so much less hassle :)

    And I know what you mean about the whole not-feeling-any-gender and how-I-relate-to-men-and-women thing. It’s worried me on occasions because I’ve thought of myself as ‘not normal’, but I’m getting better at seeing my difference as not only ok but a good thing.

    Linus, I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head.

  37. Ros says:

    Some of us women wear bras because nature gave us breasts that need support! ;)

  38. sarah says:

    Linus, you’re right.

  39. Will says:

    jon i like what you were saying about complimenting another bloke. There are a couple of men in my life (you are one) with whom i feel a whole person. I feel complemented. (I also feel this with Esther my wife). I can’t explain it just to say there is an understanding, acceptance, humor, and so many other things that make the relationship whole.

    I can hear the voices of other mates ringing in my ear right now. “You soft s£*t, are you a girl or something, next you’ll be saying you love him”

    Well up yours mates ‘cos i do! Does this make me a girl………..?

  40. Carole says:

    Will, what a lovely start you’ve given my day. You’ve got me reaching for the Kleenex. Phil and I were talking about this the other day, how with some people you just feel ‘right’ and with others, nice as they may be, you just can’t establish that same sense of relationship and completeness. I’ve a couple of mates that I love and haven’t seen for ages. You’ve inspired me to do something about it. Thanks, mate!

  41. jonbirch says:

    will… what a lovely thing to say! :-) :-) :-) moved?… me?… yep!

  42. jonbirch says:

    ros… cool! :-)

  43. janetp says:

    Will, you’re right. It’s such a shame that men aren’t allowed to admit to caring for other blokes unless they’re gay (which is a whole different minefield!). We should all celebrate those ‘special’ relationships without feeling the need to ‘do them down’ just so we can fit into comfortable stereotypes.

    Personally, I think it takes MORE of a man (or woman, but it’s perhaps slightly more socially acceptable for women) to say what you have, not less. Perhaps you should ask your mates what they’re afraid of …. :)

  44. subo says:

    aah, have been asleep, and missed all your tales of Anne Summers parties, great stuff, I love choci willis, and gazing at crazy stuff in AS – have you seen those prices! only went to one party, but loved it, also remember taking a catalogue home to my house share, and watching my house mate burn the toast while she gawped.

    guess i do think men and women are different, but the actual difference is hard to pin down, and it’s nothing to do with the frostiness that stifles church circles and generates a tightly hierarchical mens social scene – not surprised people might want to ‘put their foot in it,’ it’s plain bullying

    I think the same of J Grey, – who says men need little caves to hide in? let it all hang out I say, dump the shame, build a warm, sharing connection with the key women in your life, and she’ll appreciate you more than you’d ever imagined possible – but no one wants you to know this – it’s almost as though we can’t cope with feelings in church

  45. Paul says:

    I think you guys are great!

    Now I’d better get back to my cave before anyone notices :-)

  46. Robb says:

    <ithe way that women writers were laying into women ‘celebrities’ was just vicious.

    This is one of the dangerous things that women can offer. it is commonplace within a school setting. Girls can be horrific towards each other. Tonnes of research into the fact that the bullying that goes on between teenage girls is much worse that that of boys. If this imaturity is carried on into adult hood and working life it can be just as horrific. Unfortunatly society is lifting it up as the height of sophistication. Turn on your tv in an hour and a half and turn to ITV. Watch a gaggle of loose women gather around a cauldron to rip anyone and everyone to pieces as though they are desposable.


    And the reason I can say that damning stuff is because….

    The same applies to boys but in different ways. Again, this immature behaviour can be carried into adult life. Look at Joey Barton or wayne rooney to see who is valued within society. £75,000 a week anyone? Does this sort of immature male bahaviour play out in the work place? Hell yes. The staff room in any secondary school will prove that there are as many adult bullies as there are teenagers in any school.

    Do both of these play out in church. Hell yes!!

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