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* Slate is all over the sex & gender beat this week! First, Jack Shafer debunks the New York Times Sunday Styles “dudes love cats” trend piece:

How to write a bogus trend story: Start with something you wish were on the rise. State that rise as a fact. Allow that there are no facts, surveys, or test results to support such a fact. Use and reuse the word seems. Collect anecdotes and sprinkle liberally. Drift from your original point as far as you can to collect other data points. Add liberally. Finish with an upbeat quotation like “My cat takes priority over the new relationship. Realistically, unless there’s something absolutely amazing about [the woman I’m dating], he wins.”

* Then, Explainer explains how to tell whether your 13-year-old kid actually wants a circumcision—-or whether you could be pressuring him to have one. Is it so wrong to ask kid owners to err on the side of “foreskin intact”?

* And the XX Factor‘s Melinda Henneberger probably doesn’t want your flowers. Henneberger lays out the rules for flora-purchasing significant others:

– A dozen for no reason: You shouldn’t have!
– A bouquet on an actual occasion: No, really, you shouldn’t have.

Speaking from my estimable position as “local blogger who sleeps on a mattress on the floor of a group house flanked by two squatter-occupied abandoned properties and counts among her possessions a bunch of old newspapers stacked in milk-crates recovered from darkened alleyways”—-I, too, may never understand women.

Photo by Robyn Gallagher