April 19, 2012

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”


“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
Irina Dunn
       Australian writer, filmmaker and political activist
       Feminist slogan
said to have been coined by Dunn in 1970
       This modern humorous saying, suggesting that women can get along fine without men, was often attributed to American feminist leader and writer Gloria Steinem until Steinem set the record straight
in a letter to the editor she sent to TIME magazine in 2000. Steinem credited Dunn with coining the phrase and Dunn later confirmed Steinem’s attribution. As noted on many websites, Dunn said: “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.”
       Some sources, such as THE YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, say that Dunn was probably referring to a quote by U.S. Psychologist Charles S. Harris. In a 1955 introduction to one of his philosophy classes at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College, Harris wrote
“A man without faith is like a fish without a bicycle.” His line was used in an early rock musical performed at Swarthmore in 1957 and reprinted in the April 8, 1958 issue of the Swarthmore College Phoenix, in a humor column Harris wrote for that campus publication. 
       Many posts on the Internet identify a similar quote — “Man needs religion like a fish needs a bicycle” — as “Vique’s Law.” No sources I have found clearly identify who Vique was, what he said the line in or when he said it. So, that quotation remains elusive and may be phony. However, there is proof in old news clips that quips using the “...like [some animal] needs a bicycle” formulation have been around almost as long as bicycles. For example, the excellent, always well-researched
Phrase Finder website notes an example in a December 1898 edition of The Hartford Courant newspaper, in which a writer opined that Aragon, Spain “didn’t need an American consul any more than a cow needs a bicycle; for it had no trade with America, and no American tourist ever dreamed of stopping there.”


David Cohen
       American editorial cartoonist and musician 
       Bumper sticker slogan shown in a Cohen cartoon included in a recent issue of
FUNNY TIMES. The cartoon was Cohen’s comic jab at a Republican and male-dominated Congressional committee that decided to prevent any women from testifying in favor of the Obama administration's rule requiring health insurers to cover birth control, at a so-called hearing on February 16, 2012. The morning panel of “experts” who testified consisted entirely of men from conservative religious organizations that opposed the rule.


“A man with a woman is like a fish with a bicycle. He doesn't really need it and the maintenance is a bit of a drag, but what the hell, at least he has something to ride if the mood takes him.”
       An enlightening comment by “Memnoch”
       In the “Jokes & Humour > Words of Wisdom” section of
the BC Forums site“The forum that lets you SPEAK YOUR MIND! AND lets you play unlimited arcade games.”


“I have to admit now I sure need my husband a whole lot more than a fish needs a bicycle. In my case, maybe I could change the analogy to ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs that little snail that eats all the crud off the walls of the tank and makes the place a little less lonely.’ But the spirit of sisterhood the original statement implies is still something I believe in…probably now more than ever. A woman needs her girlfriends.”
       From a post by the unnamed woman author of the
“Are You Finished Yet?” blog


“It has been said that a woman with a man is like a fish without a bicycle. So it must be said that roses are red and violets are blue and I'm a schizophrenic — and so am I.”
Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)
       Canadian actor and comic genius (who I sorely miss)
       In his funny golf instruction video Bad Golf My Way (1994)

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