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Ann Landers On: The Male Earring

Ann Landers

Certain questions regarding matters of gentlemanly style and grace have repeated themselves for decades. Case in point: on three separate occasions—once in 1966 and twice in 1984—Ann Landers was asked for her advice on the subject of male earrings. Given Morgan Freeman’s bizarre determination to keep the fad alive in 2012, we felt it was as good a time as any to revisit the 50-year-old issue. To that end, in unauthorized collaboration with “Ask Ann Landers” circa 1943-2002, Kempt presents the first in a series of 2012 answers to questions posed by the style-seekers of yesteryear.

Ann Landers (and Kempt) on the male earring...

From “Ear Ye” (November 1966): Dear Ann Landers: [My husband] wants to have his ears pierced. He says he has always liked the looks of swashbuckling pirates with earrings and Spanish dancers too. ... Is there a law against men piercing their ears? I hope so. [via the St. Petersburg Times, “He Likes Looks of Pirates,” Nov. 29, 1966]

Ann Landers (1966): Dear Ear: Of course there is no law prohibiting men from piercing their ears. But I don’t think your husband needs two more holes in his head. If he were a pirate, or a Spanish dancer ... his desire for earrings would fit in with the culture. But for here and now he’d better forget it—unless, of course, he likes to fight.

Kempt (2012): Ms. Ye, the reasons your husband wanted to wear an earring in 1966 are pretty much the same reasons why he should not wear an earring in 2012: which is to say, it likely makes him look either feminine or foolish or both.

From “Waterloo, Iowa” (August 1984): Dear Ann Landers: Please explain the significance of men wearing a single earring. Also, what does it mean when the earring is worn in the left ear? Or the right? I have seen a lot of this sort of thing recently and figure it must have some special meaning to those who are in the know. [via the Lewiston Journal, “Single Earrings Are Just a Fad,” August 15, 1984]

Ann Landers (1984): Dear Loo: When a man is straight, whether the earring is in the left ear or the right ear, it has no special significance. With gay males, however, I am told there is a specific meaning. An earring worn in the left ear signifies the wish to be the dominant party in a relationship. When the earring is worn in the right ear the male is making it known he prefers to play the submissive role. I am told that this code is said to be understood by homosexuals all over the world.

Kempt (2012): [awkward silence]

From “Diamond Joe From Kokomo” (November 1984): Dear Ann Landers: That is just plain garbage. ... In our present-day culture males wear rings, watches, bracelets, earrings and neck chains just like females. Look at Mr. T. He walks around with about $100,000 worth of gold on him. [via The Dispatch, “Males Who Wear Earrings?” November 3, 1984]

From “Frankfort, Ky.” (1984): Dear Ann Landers: I wear an earring in my right ear and have since 1967. It is a secret code started by those of us who were opposed to the war in Vietnam. Since the trouble started in Central America several of us have had a second piercing in the same ear and wear two earrings to signify our resentment of this senseless involvement.

Kempt (2012): With all due respect, Frank, exactly zero people have noticed.

From “An Umpire In The Empire State” (1984): Dear Ann Landers: In all states east of the Hudson an earring in the right ear of a male means he is divorced and “looking.” I am surprised that a gal as hip as you didn’t know this.

From “Vallejo Reader” (1984): In California, ... an earring in the left ear means, “I am a Democrat.” An earring in the right ear means, “I am a Republican.” You are some kind of dummy.

Kempt (2012): Watch your mouth, Vallejo.

Ann Landers (1984): Dear Vall: And a safety pin worn through the nose means, “I am anti-establishment.” Thank you for writing.

John Travolta