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I’m having dinner at Chin Chin, a Chinese restaurant in L.A. I’m sitting next to an exuberant crowd of 20-or-something-year-old guys wearing baseball caps, and T-shirts; their arms are covered in tattoo sleeves. They are laughing raucously. But not as raucously as the one woman who is sitting with them. Her bursts of laughter are loud. I mean really really LOUD.

I feel badly for her. She’s quite pretty. Nice hair, nice figure, dressed appropriately…. I’d say almost demurely. No torpedo breasts. Not even ripped jeans. But her voice screams: “Notice me. I count.”

Sometimes when women laugh loudly their higher pitched voices sound shrill and piercing, cutting into your eardrums. But her voice is anything but shrill. It’s low and husky. She might have a pleasant voice… at a decent level. But she’s just pushing out those decibels. And yet here’s the really sad part, I don’t think any of those men notice or even hear her approving laughter, let alone what she’s saying.

And then I realize her problem; she’s speaking while not having a penis.

I would have thought that things had changed. Sure, in the past maybe women had to struggle for the floor. In the dark ages of the 50’s and 60’s there were almost no women in politics – only the widows of politicians and they were merely warming the seat for a more acceptable (read, man) candidate.

And then I thought about Elizabeth Warren. Just recently when she tried to read Coretta King’s letter in the US Congress she was shut down for trying “persistently” to have her voice heard. Now, Elizabeth Warren is a Senator. There aren’t that many of them, just two a state. So she’s a pretty damn important person. But wait. The corker is that after her, five male Senators read the same speech and were allowed to read it without interruption.

Many theories were posited for this. She was a Democrat. But so were the male Senators. When the real answer was so simple. She was speaking while not having a penis.

For years I thought it was vocal cords that did the talking. But then I thought people all wanted to hear my opinion on…well, everything, which was wrong and for so many reasons. The first being most people don’t want anybody else’s opinion on anything, unless of course it’s a Kardashian.

I shouldn’t complain. I recently did an interview for my new book, Turning Points, on Lyca Dilsa a radio station in London and the interviewer, Deep Raja, and his audience seemed to listen to me. But in much of life, it mostly goes like this:

Let’s say, I notice that a light bulb that’s too high for me to reach has burned out. My husband (who is a hell of a lot taller than I am) comes home and I say: “Hey, Honey, a light bulb in the hall has burned out and I can’t reach it.”

It’s inevitable. There is no way Honey can resist turning that light switch on and off… just to make sure.

I’ve repeatedly pointed out that knowing whether a light bulb was dead was actually within my area of expertise. He knows that it’s true. But if I leave the room I know he will have to try the switch. And if I stand there, I can see him positively itching to try that light switch…you know, just in case.

And he’s a relatively new man. Most of the men you meet in life who are doing a service for you are definitely not.

I’ll give you some examples. Let’s just say you try repeatedly to get your cable fixed. Still the repairman won’t believe your diagnosis of the problem. Your doctor thinks your symptoms are…Oh, this is my favourite… all in your mind. Your bank or phone company will not change your plan.

Or how about this? Try to get a drink at a crowded bar. Shouting your order won’t help. I suppose flashing a pair of DD’s might work. But I wear an A cup and am of “a certain age,” so no hope there.

Why does this happen? Because, silly us, we have vaginas, and clearly having a vagina affects our ability to reason.

I’ve given some thought to the problem. I protest like hell. But after a while when I hear that condescending voice or see that even when I’m waving my credit card under the bartender’s nose, there is no hope, I give up and call in the penis.

There’s always one around. Maybe next door or down the street. In my case I have a penis at home. I know in the beginning my husband thought that he just knew how to talk to a company, change a delivery date or a plan, order a drink. I’m sure he thought that he just knew how to explain a thing. Or it was his refined British accent. But finally I think even he is starting to realize that his real charm lies zipped between his legs.

Magically when he orders the same damn thing I’ve been trying to order for days, action just happens. So in the end I’ll throw in the towel. Am I letting my sex down by giving in? Or just using the best tool available, so to speak? I don’t know.

Anyway, I watch the table next to me as one of the men calls for the bill. The woman takes out her wallet and I hear her offer to chip in. Oh yes, this they hear all right. One of the guys adds up the check – because as everyone knows women are just no good at math. And silly girl, she throws her share onto the table.

As they leave one of the men puts his arm around her and leans over to give her a kiss. And I’m sad to say she lets him. Because he has a penis.

TURNING POINTS from Crowd-Writing

a book by Shelley Katz

Out Now

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