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by Abigail Van Buren

Tolerance for Nudity Depends on Which Gender Is Exposed

DEAR ABBY: "Mrs. R.B. in Santa Clarita, Calif." was bothered that the neighbor woman sunbathes in the nude, because her 11-year-old son can climb trees in her yard to peek, which no doubt he will now that he knows what goes on next door. Also, because the woman and her female friend did not object to his coming over to pick up the ball, she fears he may intentionally hit balls over the fence as an excuse to go over and get an eyeful.

You wrote: "Your neighbor has the right to sunbathe in the nude in the privacy of her fenced back yard. Better to tell your son to refrain from climbing the tree in his yard to get an eyeful."

Both you and she concerned yourselves only about the son getting an eyeful.

Imagine a gender reversal (which is so instructive in these gender-mad times!). Suppose the nude sunbathers had been men, and Mrs. B. had had a 11-year-old daughter. Would you have merely said she should restrict the 11-year-old girl from climbing trees to get an eyeful? Would she have simply expressed worry the daughter would get an eyeful, which a curious 11-year-old of either sex might do? Or would she have called the cops and tried to have the men arrested for exposing themselves to the 11-year-old girl?

Our different responses when the gender is reversed in this story reveal the differences between how we regard female sexuality and female nudity, and how we regard male sexuality and male nudity.

It reveals that we are a long way from treating males and females equally. -- JERRY A. BOGGS, WESTLAND, MICH.

DEAR MR. BOGGS: You make an interesting point. I don't know what Mrs. R.B. would have done -- but had it been my daughter, I would have first chopped down that tree, then warned the unsuspecting men next door that they'd better be on the lookout for newly drilled holes in the fence.

DEAR ABBY: "Ignored Mother" asked for words of wisdom to comfort her for not being acknowledged on Mother's Day. And she's afraid if she reminds them, then future remembrances will be done only out of a sense of duty. Are holidays a test? She needs to stop seeing herself as the hapless victim and take her happiness into her own hands. If she isn't called on Mother's Day, she should call her kids up and tell them, "It's Mother's Day, and I want to thank you for making me a mother."

If you want a birthday present from your husband, put a sign on the refrigerator weeks in advance saying, "Three weeks till the Big Day." He'll be happy and you'll be happy. And there's nothing wrong with mothers prompting their children.

I run a company and meet with new employees on the first day. I tell them that when they work here, they will need to take initiative. Everyone will be glad to help, but we are busy and might not think about stopping in to ask if they need anything.

Sometimes I forget holidays. Sometimes my kids (or my husband) forget. Who cares? I love them and they love me. Holidays are not a test. -- RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN HAPPINESS, MADISON, WIS.

DEAR RESPONSIBLE: You are to be applauded for your healthy attitude.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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