(Editor's note: Ask a Caveman is an occasional column in which Terry Sullivan answers your questions about love and life from a man's perspective.)

Dear Caveman,

I am a competitive woman who likes to workout in the gym and play golf. In both places I am typically out numbered by the guys. Some are cool about 'accepting a woman into their athletic space. Others, well, not so much. I try not to act the 'B' word when these guys act rudely as it usually only makes things worse. Can you help me to understand what men are thinking when we try to share gym space or a turn on the tee box? I just want to workout and have fun playing golf without undue drama.


Title IX

Dear Niner,

Not all guys want exclusive rights to the gym and some guys actually prefer golfing with ladies. But, most men you find in either of these arenas are probably full of testosterone and highly competitive - even if they suck at golf and can't bench press their own weight. If they are heterosexual, their first thought may be 'hey, she's cute,' or 'u-hoh here comes Bertha.' Beware, some may actually express this thought out loud. That is your cue to wait until the next tee time or hit the aerobics floor instead.

After sizing up your womanhood, they will then size up your manhood - that is to assess if you are better or worse, weaker or stronger, than they are. If you can outdrive them they will either be pissed and it will screw up their game due to over swinging or they will be humbled and it will screw up their game due to over swinging.

If they are a 'player' they may like a woman coming into their homecourt and may be nice to you until they figure out you're not there for their kind of game. At this point prepare for competition because there's no way you going to beat a real man at anything if they can help it.

If you're there to get a great workout or shoot even par, treat them like other guys might treat them - act entitled to your space, encourage them nicely with butt pats and 'attaboys,' then quietly grit your teeth and compete with them. Don't laugh out loud when you outdrive them and, whatever you do, don't offer them advice about how to properly curl or execute the Nicklaus fade.

For those macho beasts who believe you should be barefoot and pregnant and can't believe you have the huevos to step into their world, the best thing you can do is stay focused on your workout or game and demonstrate to them you aren't some light in your loafers lady cluelessly feeding yourself to the lions. In any event, once you establish your turf, most guys will back off and show respect for either your performance or the effort you have made to be good at something they value. But one word of warning, dress the part. It will take much longer for a guy to take a scantily clad lady seriously on his turf, especially during mating season. And for men every season is . . . well you get my point.


West Linn resident Terry Sullivan is a consultant, writer and well-behaved husband. Questions about life, work, marriage, or other topics that could use a man's perspective can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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