YOU'VE PROBABLY NOTICED that women's rights are back in the news. The latest issue is this: Should women reporters be allowed access to men's locker rooms? In other words, should women be allowed to interview naked men? This has become an issue of national importance. It has pushed Saddam Hussein off the front page.
Apparently, what happened in the latest episodes of the long-running Battle of the Sexes is this: Several members of the New England Patriots bared more than their souls to a female reporter, after which a certain electric shaver salesman - who also happens to own the team - called her a name that polite people normally reserve for a certain gender of dog. Then on Monday night, Sam Wyche, the Cincinnati Bengals coach, barred a woman reporter from entering his locker room on the grounds that his players didn't want her in there while they were naked.This has caused a national furor.
It has become apparent that the current rules governing locker room access and behavior are not working, so what to do? Should women reporters be allowed in men's locker rooms? Should men be allowed in women's locker rooms? Can they bring their cousins, aunts and next-door neighbors with them? Should everyone - male and female reporters, coaches, players, trainers - be required to wear nothing more than towels in the locker room? For that matter, should anyone be allowed to enter a locker room at all? Given the New England Patriots' recent behavior, does anyone really want to enter a locker room?
What is proper and prudent here? What does the future hold?
Hmmm, sounds like a case for Mister Manners. Here he comes now.
QUESTION: Oh, Mr. Manners, in your opinion why haven't men tried to get into women's locker rooms, other than in teen movies such as Porky's.
MISTER MANNERS: Say, that's not a bad idea.
QUESTION: What do you think would happen if male reporters ever did gain access to women's locker rooms?
MISTER MANNERS: Half of the male student body in the United States would change majors within a week. Whole new journalism schools would blossom overnight.
QUESTION: Which sports would this affect most?
MISTER MANNERS: Tennis, gymnastics, the ice follies, mud wrestling.
QUESTION: But some of those aren't even considered sports.
MISTER MANNERS: They would be now.
QUESTION: What is the proper etiquette when interviewing a naked person?
MISTER MANNERS: Keep eyes up at all times. It helps if you're tall.
QUESTION: Do you think the latest fuss over locker room access might eventually lead to unisex bathrooms?
MISTER MANNERS: No, because then it would be the men not getting equal access.
QUESTION: What do you think the NFL investigations will turn up in these latest two incidents?
MISTER MANNERS: I expect there will be a coverup.
QUESTION: Why do you think Sam Wyche blocked the woman reporter from entering the locker room?
MISTER MANNERS: The Bengals had a rough game. It was the first time they successfully blocked anyone all night.
QUESTION: While dining out, is it proper to cut a steak with my left hand and eat it with my right hand?
MISTER MANNERS: It would be more acceptable to use a knife and fork.
QUESTION: Do you think women athletes would ever be surly or rude toward men reporters?
MISTER MANNERS: Only if they lost.
QUESTION: How did this business of interviewing players in the locker room ever start anyway?
MISTER MANNERS: It began when a sports writer wandered into a locker room by mistake one day and heard the following: "We gave it 110 percent,"
"There's no `I' in team,"
"We've gotta take it one game at a time," and "You've gotta give the other team credit." After that, he just had to go back for more.
QUESTION: What do you think the ultimate solution to this extremely important journalistic question is?
MISTER MANNERS: Robes.