Tag Archives: Women

10 Great Questions to Ask on a First Date


by Jake McMillan

First Date 1st Date (5)

First dates can be nerve-wracking and awkward at times and even if conversation is free-flowing, it is always good to have some questions in your back pocket just in case there is a stutter in conversation and/or you want to get to know the person a bit better. Internet searches on this subject will bring back a lot of questions to use that are, in reality, not very good as they are trying to be too clever, too relationship-focused or just too lame (e.g. what is your star sign?).

A good question to ask on a first date is one that helps you get to know the other person better in a relaxed manner as well as keeping conversation flowing in an interesting and fun way.

So here are some suggestions of good questions to ask your date:
(note: you don’t need to use all of them, or in any particular order, but do ask them at relevant moments and be ready to answer the question yourself too)

1. What movies do you hate?
Don’t be cynical, asking about movies is really good as it doesn’t seem like a personal question, but actually the movies we love and hate reveal a lot about us. The characters and stories we are drawn to or repulsed by are often quite insightful to our own personalities, our aspirations and our morals. However, if you ask someone what their favourite movie is, they will be put under pressure to say something acceptable and will often say a film they like a lot that is generally perceived to be cool and interesting rather than their actual favourite which is usually a more personal choice.

Asking someone what movies they hate is a much easier and more fun question to answer and can lead very comfortably conversation-wise to movies they enjoy or have seen recently. For example, my answer to this question is ‘Mamma Mia’ and this often leads to great discussion and banter.

2. Who do you admire or look up to?
This seems like a question about someone else, but actually it reveals a lot about the person by highlighting the attributes they have or would like to have themselves. Warning, do not throw this question in willy nilly, make sure it is appropriate/relevant to your conversation or it will seem too obvious you are probing and put the person under pressure.

3. What is your favourite swear word?
I think the more general question of ‘what is your favourite word?’ is a good question, but perhaps more appropriate with friends. On a date, you want to make things interesting, fun and maybe a little bit provocative now and again. How someone answers this question can also be very revealing. Someone more straight-laced may struggle with it, but someone fun and free will get stuck into this question.

My answer to this question is ‘bollocks’, there is just something great about how you can say it. If you have been having flirty conversation, you might answer, for example, by saying that you like a nice ‘fuck’ now and again. Use of the c-bomb should be cautioned, however.

First Date

4. Are your friends with mostly men or women?
This is a good lead into them talking about their friends and the people that are important to them. Also, it can lead to the person talking about how their own gender perceives them. You can follow up with, ‘Who is your best friend?’, ‘Can men and women every really be friends?’. Yes, is the answer to the latter.

5. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
This does seem like a very average mundane/lame question to ask, but it can be a great conversation starter. Their answer actually doesn’t really matter as if you have different views then you can have a fun discussion about why which animal is best. If someone doesn’t like either, then this again reveals something about them. If they do have a preference, then this will lead them onto talking about a favourite pet and this is a good positive emotion to bring out.

6. Do you have a favourite birthday?
This is another positive emotion type question that can really open up a conversation. It will inevitably lead them to describe the birthday and why it was so good (revealing about themselves) as well as leaving lots of great opportunities for follow up questions.

7. Do you remember your first kiss?
This is a good question as I have not come across anyone who does not remember their first kiss and also introduces the thought of the act of kissing in a completely inoffensive way. The first kiss, regardless or whether it was good or bad, is normally a fun and nice memory to talk about and will open the door to related topics.

First Date

8. Do you have bendy ears?
I know, I know, this seems like a mad question, but try it and see it what happens. Some people have more bendy ears (as in they can be folded) as the cartilage in the ear is not as rigid. This is a fun thing to ask and get them to do as if you do it right, then you will get them to feel your ear and/or you feeling them. This is a fun and non-sexual way of introducing bodily contact. It also often leads to demonstrations of other odd things people can do with their bodies.

9. Who do you take after most, your mum or your dad?
This is a good lead into finding out about their family, but also will inadvertently get them to reveal the traits about themselves. If they say a bit of both (which is common) then ask them which traits they get from which.

10. Do you say either (pronounced ‘e-tha’) or either (‘i-tha’)?
This is actually a silly joke question as whatever answer they say, you will answer, ‘but which one?’ If they look confused, follow up with ‘do you say neither (‘knee-tha’) or neither (‘ny-tha’)?’ Although a silly question, how the person responds will show what sort of sense of humour they have.

Related Posts
10 Things Not To Do On A First Date
Internet First Dates
Bad Things To Say On A First Date (personal experiences)
A New Low In Ridiculous Things To Say On A First Date
Getting The Girl To Pay For Dinner


The Solution for Feminism?


by Jake McMillan

Disclaimer: There will be some generalisations below in order to keep this post succinct so whenever you see one please assume I don’t mean it for all people or situations, I am aware that there are exceptions, that not everything is an accepted fact and there are different points of view. 

I write this post with great trepidation as for a man to write or talk about feminism is like walking through a field you know is almost completely full of mines. It is not an easy topic for women to talk about either, but when men do it, it often has an inflammatory effect. Sometimes this is because what men say is stupid or offensive and sometimes this is because it is just a man talking about issues which concern and effect women. You will have your own view which end of the spectrum I am being.

Although I will be critical of feminism in places below, the aim of this is to be constructive and offer in a positive way my humble views that may help feminism achieve its aims. I am not a professional expert on this topic, I do not believe I know all the answers, but this a considered view based on experience and some research.

“Come on, just get on with what you are going to say!”. I will, I will, I promise, please forgive me, but previous experience in discussing this topic with female feminists has pushed me into making disclaimers and caveats first.

Feminism and feminists have changed the world we live in. Comparing today’s Western society with that of a 100 years ago, I don’t think anyone would argue that we do not live in far more equal society. Is the job completed? No, far from it, but a great deal has been achieved. However, in recent years feminism has been less effective than in the past, with many people seeing it as losing its way, becoming fragmented and confused? There are different points of view on how true this is, but it is true that there are many people who support feminism and its aims but would not dream of saying they were a feminist. There has become a stigma in saying that you are a feminist as many will have a perception about you, the stereotype of being angry, militant and man-hating.

Looking at it solely from a marketing and PR perspective, to have people who support the cause but would not dare say they are a feminist, is an absolute disaster. Something has gone wrong along the way. Feminism is still very relevant today, with sexism against women still apparent in the media and the workplace, to name but a few, so why are not more people standing up and proudly saying they are feminists?

I think it is wrong to say modern feminism is failing, but you could argue that is not very successful at the moment. There are, however, great efforts to try and change this with a lot going on campaigning-wise, the No More Page 3 petition (almost 60,000 votes at the time of writing), for example, is very visible at the moment and there is a lot of research and lobbying looking at sexism against women in the media. Feminists such as Caitlin Moran seem to be connecting and providing a voice for women in today’s society.

The fact I’ve taken the time to write this post is an example of feminism being talked about and that it is relevant, however, a lot of discussion in forums and comments on articles are not very constructive and does not seem to be helping the cause. Rather than discussing sexism and equality, many debates seem to degenerate into men versus women type arguments. Some of these campaigns seem or appear to polarise people through preaching to the converted and pushing away further those who disagree. They have been good though for getting people talking about the issues so should not be dismissed. For feminism to be successful it needs to reach people who disagree or are not sure about or familiar with, the issues and feminist aims and convince them.

My view is that the solution for feminism is to widen the focus and not let it be just about women fighting issues that effect women.I believe they should involve men and I also believe they should look at the wider issues of sexism, i.e. both genders.

[pause]

I can almost hear the blood boiling of some female feminists as they are ready to rant at me why they would not want this and/or do not want a man telling them how to solve their problems! Please hear me out.

Historical feminism has closed the equality gap a long way (people will argue the extent of this), but to get to a society where men and women are treated equally and that your gender does not determine your path in life, I believe we need to have a different approach to progress significantly.

Let’s imagine we are in the future and we have reached a place in society where there is no sexism and there is equality across the genders. In this future society how should we address sexism when it appears from time to time? My hope and wish is that all members of society will feel responsible to eliminate it, not just men  looking after sexism against men nor just women tackling sexism against women. Both genders working together for the good of society and ending sexism.

We should not wait for the end of sexism to start operating like this, I think we should start working like this now as this sets the standard as well as being  the most effective way of reaching this goal.

The approach of a lot of feminist campaigns that are used today seems to me to have a divisive effect and I have been appalled at some of the sexist comments that have been made on recent blogs and articles. However, feminists are not blameless either.

On a feminist blog earlier in the year, I was trying to put forward some suggestions as a discussion point along this idea of widening the focus of feminism and I was told:

Men’s problems are not down to sexism. And women don’t need you or any other man to tell us how best we should go about ending it. If you want to support feminism, shut up and listen to the people on the receiving end of sexism instead of perpetuating male dominance by telling us what to do and what we should be addressing.”

Also

Men telling women how they should be doing feminism in order to get men to like us more is one of the best arguments I’ve ever heard for women-centred organising.

Even if you thought (or still do) the suggestions of men about feminism were ridiculous, this approach or reaction to male involvement does not help the end goal. For feminism to be successful, you need both genders (i.e. men too) to buy into it and agree with it. It’s only logical. Perhaps, just perhaps, excuse some men of their views and misunderstandings, welcome them into the fold and educate them rather than alienate them? This approach would not assert male dominance or lead to men telling female feminists what to do, it would help men who have been rejected and turned away from feminism to better understand it and then in turn better support the issues and causes.

Language has a big impact here and a lot of articles and blogs about feminism, whether it is tackling sexism, domestic violence and rape, do contain latent sexism in their language. There is a link to a Guardian article above (and here) about sexism in the media and I found it very interesting and informative. The one small but important issue I noticed is that throughout the article it talks about sexism in the media and it assumes that the only sexism in the media is about women? I have been in conversations with people about domestic violence and rape and again it is assumed these terrible things only happen to women. They happen to men too.

The point is that there are many many issues that effect both men and women. Sexism effects both men and women. Yes, if you were to add all these issues together and prioritise them, the majority of issues effect women much worse overall than they effect men. Nevertheless, having a joined up inclusive approach would be more efficient and effective for both genders.

Many female feminists are very sceptical and put down issues that men face as they either see them as being far less significant compared to issues women face and/or this is a product of male dominance in society giving men privileges and advantages over women that outweigh any issues they might encounter. Even if this is true, this kind of analysis is not helpful as it polarises men and women, pitting them against each other and all debates and conversations seem to ultimately end up with female feminists saying they don’t need men to help them and so men do not get involved in or supporting feminism.

Modern society has progressed to the stage that a feminist approach of just women fighting issues that effect women has limited effectiveness. Not all female feminists reject male involvement, of course, and it has actually been refreshing to hear one very recently saying don’t just be a “nay sayer” and would not just want support under set terms only (as suggested to me above) but would actually welcome my ideas and would have no objection to me or other men helping to lead feminism to reach its goals. This is very encouraging as you can tell by the disclaimers and caveats I have felt the need to make, it is not an easy thing for me or other men to talk about.

So, I hope you will take this in the spirit of what is intended to be? I am not demanding or telling feminists what they should do, this is merely my humble suggestion of an approach that I think will lead to a society without sexism and gender inequality. This is something I want and I support any initiatives (regardless of the  “ism”) that help achieve this.

If you are feminist who hasn’t been too enraged by this post, you might wonder if a logical conclusion of my suggestion would mean feminists should stop what they are doing and do something else? No, my approach would mean feminists should carry on tackling the issues of sexism and gender inequality as they have been, but take a wider and more inclusive approach to include all sexism or gender inequality of the issues they are confronting. This approach also actively encourages the involvement of men, even if at first they appear like they don’t get it or have odd views (not sexist ones hopefully) or you are suspicious they are trying to assert male dominance, give them some time, you may be surprised by the results.

I have no hidden agenda for male dominance. As a society we need to end sexism and gender inequality and I simply feel both men and women working together to tackle all issues of sexism and gender inequality is not only the best method to achieve this goal, but will act as a blueprint for a society where sexism no longer exists.

Related content:
No More Page 3 (Facebook page)
The F Word (Contemporary UK Feminism)
Who Needs Feminism?


How to do a Good Selfie


by Jake McMillan

I recently blogged about the rise of the ‘selfie’ in recent years and how people, particularly women, need to know how to do this as part of the skills required to being a 21st century woman. Celebrities such as Heidi Klum, Jodie Marsh, Miley Cyrus and Coco Austin are not helping this cause and in the last year or so there has been in an increase in the practice of body surfing. Whether or not you agree or actively participate in doing self photos, being able to do a good one is something useful to know.

Through my discussions with women of all ages across the world, I spoke to a few who are experts at doing the self photo and they were kind enough to impart some of their wisdom. Many thanks goes to Nora, Noelle and Risa in particular.

Here are their tips:

1. Super Arm Extension & Angle Carefully
You really need to get the camera as far away from you as possible and learn to angle it. Amateurs can be spotted by how much of their own arm is in the photo, try to balance how much is visible with the other arm. You may need to angle up or down depending on if you want to capture whatever is in the background.

2. Get to Know the Photo Apps
There are lots upon loads of photo apps that have interesting features you can use: filters, framing, montage and timer, etc. 

3. How to get Your Whole Outfit in the Shot
As Nora demonstrates below, try taking it from above and tilt your head.

4. The Kiss Photo
This is usually best executed through holding the camera with both hands in front of you.

5. Mirrors
Use of mirrors can make an interesting selfie.

6. Taking a Selfie of your Butt!
The best butt self-photo is taken from below looking up:

7. Have Some Fun
You may like your face a lot, but try having some fun in the self photo and make it more of a self-portrait by adding an artistic or humorous element to the photo. For inspiration, try checking out: Rosie HardyBrooke ShadenBrian Wagner and Inge Hooker.

Photo courtesy of Rolfe Markham Photography

8. What NOT To Do
Here are some things not to do:

See any photo at AntiDuckface – ‘because no really, you look stupid

Look carefully at the following and try not to do the same:


The Selfie


by Jake McMillan

Thanks to the progress in digital photography, mobile phones and the growth of social networking sites, there has been a massive rise in recent years of the “selfie”, in particular, by women. Not that men don’t do it too (my current Facebook profile pic is a self photo), but for women it is extremely common and seemingly a skill modern women need to know as much as being able to do their make up.

The use of it seems to vary considerably and I have been talking to women of all ages across the world about the self-photo, from some who would never do it, to some who do it all the time. It’s been interesting to hear the different views on the subject as well as receive some tips on how to do it well.

An attractive friend of mine from Amsterdam, typifies the view of women who would rarely, if ever, do the ‘self-photo’, “I think it’s a bit exhibitionist to put self-snapped pictures online everywhere, especially the ones where you look sensually into the camera. yuck”. She explained she has better things to do with her time and prefers to keep it real.

This is in stark contrast to my friend Noelle from Singapore who is a self-confessed camwhore and the “Queen of Pout” who takes many many photos of herself. This is partly because, she explained to me, she knows which angles of her face work. Sometimes people will offer to take a photo for her and she will reject it because she knows the arm placement that best works for her. She also has 24(!) photo apps and knows which one has the filter she wants, which one have the frames she wants, montage features and a recent favourite of hers is the timer app.

My partner in crime from the Bounce Off dating blog, Risa (who is from the USA), has a similar view to Noelle, ‘I like to self-photo sometimes more than asking someone else to do it (especially a stranger), you risk the chance that the person will do a shitty job – like not framing the picture properly, getting the lighting wrong, cutting off parts of the landmark, not capturing the important things, etc. Then it feels awkward to ask them to take it again and again until they get it right so why not just self-photo?’

                                   
(some examples of Noelle’s self-photos)

From my many discussions with women about this subject I knew that there are judgemental views on women who do lots of self photos so I asked Noelle about this and why she took so many photos of herself? I first have to say that Noelle is not a narcissistic loon and that is because I promised her I would not make her come across that way and also, most importantly, it is not true. She is a very genuine and straight-talking person.

“Why photos of myself? Cos I’m hot. hahaha! Well, it’s almost like twitter isn’t it? Just a pictorial version of my life, what I’m wearing, where I go, etc. like a visual diary.” Some will be taken in front of her computer, using Photo Booth and many others are using her iPhone. She freely states that selfies are pure narcissism and doesn’t care if her sister or friends see her posing as the minute she wants to take a self-photo with them in it, they are all smiles too.

“I like make-up, dressing up, going out, so I feel the need to chronicle that while I’m still attractive”, she told me. I then asked whether the self-photos will stop when she gets a bit older and wrinklier? She joked, “LOL who wants to see that shit? then I’ll put some scenery up … but at least I can look back and go, damn, I was pretty hot. HAHAHA narcissistic AND shameless.”

Being serious, she put forward the notion that there are different kinds of women. “It’s an extreme narcissism that comes with the self photo and usually stems from having been living in public life for a while.” Noelle has been blogging for almost 10 years and she has complete strangers who come up to her in Singapore to say they read her blog.

Nora, half-Swedish/Spanish lady currently living in Los Angeles, is someone I would describe as being a little crazy, but in a good way, and uses social media to show her working out, walking her dog, eating nice food and wearing nice things. “I love the way I look and it’s fun, like if I’m bored I just take some pics of myself”, she explained to me as well as completely ignoring anyone who judges her for it, “haha don’t hate and enjoy yourself. Relax and have fun.”

            

    

(some of Nora’s self photos)

I think the key to making self photos interesting and not just narcissistic is to have fun with them. Inge, a 24 year old photographer from Tennessee, is a big fan of what she would refer to as a self-portrait.  This is not a straight forward look into the camera lens but takes an artistic and often fun approach. For her, ‘it is just a form of self-expression, like painting a picture, dancing or cooking a good meal. It is my form of stress relief.’

She explained to me she is not a camera-whore, ‘I am an admitted actress at times, but it is usually because I like to entertain people not because I want to say “look at me! Look at me!” … I prefer to be part of a joke or to take funny, entertaining pictures any day of the week rather than a normal pretty one – much to the dismay of my friends, boyfriend and family.’ See a few of her own examples: Jump! Baby Bird, Jump!; Nervous Energy; or Some Days. She also recommended looking at Rosie Hardy, Brooke Shaden and Brian Wagner.

Hanna, a 19 year old student from Finland, often uses the mix of the straight forward selfie as well as taking the artistic or more fun approach of a self portrait. Like many, she is not a fan of people who pout a lot and put up ten new duckface photos on Facebook everyday.

Although self-photos may not seem ‘real’ or a genuine to some, in the 21st century we have to be aware of our image in social media whether we like it or not. Just like when we get dressed up for a night out on the town, we are choosing to present the best representation of ourselves, which may be quite different to how we appear normally. Women wear make up, high-heeled shoes and push-up bras on a night out and so there is nothing wrong with women (or men) wanting to be in a similar level of control about their photo on social media sites, especially, of course, internet dating sites.

However, be aware that excessive use of the selfie will inevitably cause judgement by others … it is only human nature.

Tips and Advice on How To Do a Good Selfie >>>

(A massive thank you to all those who gave me their thoughts and opinions and especially to Noelle and Nora who let me use their photographs)


What’s Wrong With My List?


My flatmates and I are all single 30-somethings who are young at heart and sometimes young at brain too. The other evening, over a glass of wine or three, we were discussing the suitable traits of people we’d want to be with. One flatmate asked me for a ‘briefing document’ of my criteria so she would have an idea of people she knew who might fit. On my iPhone I put together the quick list shown above and fired it off to them to laugh at and scrutinize.

The following day I put it up on Facebook so others could share in the joke and join in with criticising my list and have a bit of fun at my expense, for example, one friend put that I should give myself a fighting chance and just focus on the top two points! Most took it in the manner with which it was posted (i.e. I wasn’t actually using this list to draw in potential suitors), but I was surprised by the serious reaction of some. Can you guess which bit of the list some objected to most?

No, it wasn’t the bush grooming comment.

No, it wasn’t that she needs to be alive.

No, it wasn’t that she needs to be slimmer than me.

What several people objected to (all women) was that I had put 19 as the bottom end of the age range?! They seem to be genuinely outraged like I was acting like some sort of paedophile! In truth, I had not really given much thought about the age range, I had in the moment of writing the list thought of a good target age as being 29 and simply added and subtracted 10 years to this.

As a 30-something I am not actually looking for a 19-year old as the age difference would suggest different levels of maturity and life experience for a relationship to work. However, that said, if I met a 19-year old who was mature and fit my other criteria and seemed to like me, why would I discount an opportunity because of an ageist prejudice about the maturity of 19 year olds?

It’s an extremely unlikely scenario for me to encounter as, let’s face it, 30-somethings seem ancient to young adults, but I was curious as to why some had reacted so strongly? My responding to their complaints, ‘Would being with two 19 year olds make the situation any better?’ (that’s a combined 38 years of experience) did not help for some reason? 

In the United Kingdom and many other modern societies, 19 year olds are legally considered adults and free to do anything like any other adults in society. So what is the problem? In the last 12 months, an 18 year old Harry Styles from boy band One Direction was dating 32 year old presenter Caroline Flack and this caused a massive uproar, but why? If it’s two consenting adults being together and no one is being exploited or coerced, who are we to judge and say whether people should be in a relationship together or not?

by Jake McMillan

Related Posts:
How Low Do You Go?
The One?
Women Asking Men Out?
Bad Pick-up Lines


Overcoming Women’s Height Prejudices


by Jake McMillan

Through the relationship blog Bounce Off, that I co-write, we are currently running a poll on the differing views of men and women when it comes to their preferred height of their partner. As I write this, the voting has only just started but I expect the results to show that women are far more particular than men about the height of the person they are seeing.

It’s not just as simple as women wanting to go out with someone taller than them. Women want to go out with someone who is taller than them whilst wearing heels! The situation is getting worse as the trend at the moment seems to be that heels are getting even taller with platforms on the front part of the shoe. Only a woman can artificially raise her height and then judge a man from it.

Men, on the other hand, are less picky in this regard. So, what are men who are average height or below meant to do? If you are a man of average height (roughly 5ft 8 inches/173cm) then the women you should be aiming at relationship-wise will be a maximum of 5ft 5inches or less, to take account of her heels.

This seems a little unfair doesn’t it? The options are:

A) Change the perception of women across the world

B) Just accept this unfair situation

C) Find something practical to address the situation

Considering how difficult it is to change the perception of just one woman, I think option A is out of the question. Option B is a last resort, so that leaves option C, what could be done practically to resolve this? You could destroy all the heeled shoes in the world, but they would just keep making more.

If you can’t beat them, join them! I’ve come to the conclusion that to resolve the situation men should artificially raise their height too. Maybe not with high-heeled shoes though, but with shoes that have discreet platforms and/or lifts that raise the height of men by at least a couple of inches. This means a 5ft8 man becomes 5ft10 and all of sudden has the possibility of pulling women between 5ft 6-7inches tall that he wasn’t able to before.

Related Posts:
The 3 Types of Girlfriend
The Dating Milestones
Women Asking Men Out
10 Things NOT to do on a First Date
How Low do You Go?
The Relationship Evaluation Sketch
Getting the Girl to Pay for Dinner


The 3 Types of Girlfriend


by Jake McMillan [tongue firmly in cheek]

Since the moment god invented boobs, men have come up with many different ways of categorising women and different types of girlfriend. This ongoing futile activity takes place due to man’s ever optimistic hope of trying to understand women. If you can categorise them, then you can begin to understand them and find strategies for an easy life.

In the history of relationships, no man has yet discovered the sacred path to the promised land where day after day he can happily go about his day without fear of criticism or dealing with emotional outbursts, discussions about what he is thinking, having to apologise for something he apparently did or didn’t do and generally having to work hard to keep the woman from going nuclear.

One common example of categorisation that men in their limited wisdom have proffered, in a number of variations, is around sanity, with women falling into one of the four following types:

1) Insane

2) Very Insane

c) In a mental institution

4) Should be in a mental institution or has escaped from one

Although accurate, this categorisation has not helped in our quest to understand the female human. Regular readers of this blog will already know that I have a fascination with all things toilet related and have privately discussed with other male humans the differences in the way girlfriends and fecund (yeah, it’s a proper word and everything) humans I frequent with approach their toilet visits.

It is at this juncture I would like to present American Robbie Sherrard, who has independently come up with a well observed and analysed categorisation of girlfriends based on their bathroom habits. He has defined three clear different types of girlfriend which he explains articulately and eloquently, although in American, in the video below.

I would like to thank Robbie for this analysis, as if I were to draw a table with the three types, I would be able to very easily put all the non-males I know into their appropriate category. Do you know which category your girlfriend/partner fits into? Are you a girlfriend (not necessarily one of mine) reading this? If so, do you know which category your are?

Now, the next step is for us men to use this analysis to help understand the woman. The quest continues.

Related Articles
Do You Talk About Poo A Lot Too?
Folding Vs Scrunching
The Dating Milestones
Relationship Deal-breakers
Robbie Sherrard’s Website