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Men `blab,' but women `share' - whatever!

Even if Bill Clinton comes out of the Monica Lewinsky mess all right, men won't.

Typical male, women will say. They're all alley cats. No honor when it comes to sex.Subtext: Unlike women, of course.

They may have a point. When you read about a notable fooling around, it's usually a man. But I think there's a reason for that besides men doing it more.

Women tell.

Whatever went on between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, it clearly needed to stay secret. You'd put this one in the take-to-your-grave category. Lewinsky didn't quite make it that far.

She started blabbing pretty quickly, in particular to Linda Tripp. I can almost hear Monica saying to her, "But you can't tell anyone." No doubt, Tripp vowed she'd tell no one. Then she pushed the record button. And told. She told her literary agent, the special prosecutor, and I'd bet Tripp's hair stylist knows a few things, too.

Maybe men do have tawdry dalliances more than women.

But who do you think does more kissing and telling?

You don't see many men pull a Gennifer Flowers, telling the world about sleeping with a prominent woman. All right, what's-his-name the riding teacher who had a supposed affair with Princess Diana. But ask most men what they think of him, and they'll call the guy slime for betraying a woman's confidence.

But ask women about Gennifer Flowers or Monica Lewinsky, and the reaction is mixed. Clinton should have known he was taking his chances. Why should they cover for the cad?

I've heard the same said about Judith Exner, who said she bedded John Kennedy. Then there were Elizabeth Ray and Fannie Foxe, who talked about sleeping with congressmen. Those were messy situations; the men deserved it.

But the women sure enjoyed giving public interviews about the sex part. Then they posed for Playboy. So did Paula Jones, by the way. In their nude photo spreads, they talk about how painful it's been to go public, but it's the only way they can defend their reputation.

There is a belief that when it comes to sex, men are the boasters. It's males who like to rush out of the bedroom and tell their buddies. It's men who flaunt their conquests.

Up to a point. But I'm beginning to think that what men tell is minor league compared to what many women do.

Linda Tripp taped 20 hours of Monica Lewinsky talking about what she and the president supposedly did. When women read that, they probably thought, "What a scandal."

Men thought the same thing, but also this: "How can anyone talk so much?"

When men tell, it's usually brief, and starts with a buddy asking, "So what'd you two do this weekend?"

"None of your darned business."

"You dog."

And that's it. That would run four seconds on tape. Can you imagine the details women must offer up to fill another 19 hours, 59 minutes and 56 seconds?

Women usually convey to men that the private side of romance is a sacred thing, just between the two of you. They're right. Then they gossip about it to their friends until midnight. Or to press conferences sponsored by the National Enquirer.

Some might say women aren't boasting when they tell, they're sharing.

Maybe. But in an article I saw about why woman tell, a woman named Irma Kurtz had an interesting thought. She was described as England's "Agony Aunt," which I think means advice columnist.

"Half of telling is boasting," she said. "How could you sit on a secret like that? Any big shot who thinks his woman hasn't told anyone is out of his mind."

If such men feel victimized, that's tough. They hardly behaved with honor themselves. Women stress this when they talk - and talk and talk - about what the big jerk did. They want their friends, or the world, to know these guys are no gentlemen.

And the more they talk, the more they end up stressing something else.

They aren't either.

Mark Patinkin is a columnist for the Providence Journal-Bulletin.