I have been quite busy this past week, so not much time to do anything photo/blog/computer related. However, I woke up this morning and looked out at the grey sky and made a pot of coffee. I am on my second pot at the moment and I was catching up on a bit of processing and sorting and was suddenly struck by the photo above – I’d processed it late at night the other day, but, at the time, must have been on auto-pilot because, when it appeared on my screen, I instantly thought of the famous quote: “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”.
For some reason, I had always thought that Dorothy Parker said that (and it is certainly a Parker-esque quote) – maybe because reading Parker quotes always cracks me up, or maybe because it had been incorrectly attributed to her somewhere else and I had neglected to check the source. (As an aside, some of my favourite Parker quotes include: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.” “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
Anyway, a quick search suggests that most people attribute the quote to Gloria Steinem, but a bit more searching and it seems Steinem did not say it:
‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’
This slogan is often attributed to Gloria Steinem. Other claims for origination point to Flo (Florynce) Kennedy, or to an anonymous author who painted the slogan on a wall at University of Wisconsin in 1969.
Gloria Steinem had this to say in a letter she wrote to Time magazine in autumn 2000:
“In your note on my new and happy marital partnership with David Bale, you credit me with the witticism ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ In fact, Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist and politician, coined the phrase back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, ‘Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.’ Dunn deserves credit for creating such a popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.”
Irina Dunn later confirmed Steinem’s version of events, in January 2002:
“Yes, indeed, I am the one Gloria referred to. I was paraphrasing from a phrase I read in a philosophical text I was reading for my Honours year in English Literature and Language in 1970. It was ‘A man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle’. My inspiration arose from being involved in the renascent women’s movement at the time, and from being a bit if a smart-arse. I scribbled the phrase on the backs of two toilet doors, would you believe, one at Sydney University where I was a student, and the other at Soren’s Wine Bar at Woolloomooloo, a seedy suburb in south Sydney. The doors, I have to add, were already favoured graffiti sites.”
And there is always U2 using it in Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World from the album Achtung Baby:
Nothin’ much to say I guess
Just the same as all the rest
Been trying to throw your arms around the world
And a woman needs a man
Like a fish needs a bicycle
When you’re tryin’ to throw your arms around the world