Written in Ink

Dorothy Parker Was Wrong!

As a male bespectacled-American, I always disliked Dorothy Parker's "News Item" which reads "Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses." (1928) The traditional way to read that is that glasses-wearing women are too ugly to be hit on. That is undeniably false. Take a look at the woman on the left, one Tina Fey, who is arguably more attractive with the glasses than without.


Or take a look at Parker. She's beautiful, but think of how her beauty would be enhanced if she wore spectacles.

What I'm getting at is that maybe we've been reading the poem wrong all these years. Parker doesn't mean that men think women with glasses are ugly. Just the opposite: they're too beautiful, made so by the eyewear, that men are too intimidated to make a pass. That aligns more with common reality. We, as the expected assertive gender (why is that?), are also dazzled by great beauty into shyness.

If Parker didn't mean that, and if she meant what we all thought she meant all this time, she was just wrong. Very wrong.

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