Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hooray for all the Girl Stuff

I stayed up last night until 2:30 a.m. in the morning. I know 2:30 a.m. in the morning is redundant, but I am using redundancy for emphasis because I cannot remember the last time I was up so late! And why, you might be asking, was I up so late? Was it existential-dread-induced insomnia that so many are suffering from?  It was not. As yet, I am an excellent sleeper and would likely take gold if that were ever to become an Olympic event. Which it should.

I stayed up so late because I started (finally) watching One Mississippi on Amazon and I could not stop. One Mississippi is so wonderful, you guys. I had to stay up to see it through because I was entirely charmed, enraptured, entertained and moved.

Earlier that lazy day after Thanksgiving I was trying to think of what I wanted to watch. The Friday after Thanksgiving is built for binging something on Netflix in sweatpants while eating leftovers. This is as the Pilgrims intended.

I tried with Netflix's Mindhunter, which came highly recommended by a friend with good taste. In the opening scene, a man in the throes of a profound psychotic break literally blows his own head off, following which a hostage negotiator is tortured by his failure to stop the suicide. It looked really good! But, you know what? It was a guy show. And I'm just not in the headspace for guy stuff these days.

There's nothing wrong with guy things! All my life I've liked guy things - Mel Brooks, Monty Python, things written from a male point-of-view, for masculine sensibilities. I adore Monty Python and Mel Brooks (but have always thought that Madeline Kahn was the best part of any of his movies (probably because she was)).

And, since this blog has turned so confessional of late, I might as well admit that I probably got into adoring all these guy things because I wanted guys to think I was cool. In the 80s and 90s, there was no quicker way to Cool Girl than being a cute girl who quoted Blazing Saddles. But confess a passion for, say, Madonna or Bridget Jones Diary, and you were just another silly girl. And Madonna was great! Bridget Jones' Diary was great!

These days. the landscape is chockablock with stories told by women and for women. One Mississippi and Better Things are a couple of examples of shows that can make me howl with a laugh one second and then make my eyes fill up a second later (side note: fuck Louis C.K. and fuck him for getting any credit for either of those shows). I can't wait for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to come out on Amazon next week (!!!!!!) and Crazy Ex Girlfriend is fucking genius.

This is a shitty year. But at least, finally, there are women's voices out there making art, telling our stories and telling them so well. But even better, and maybe the best part of this terrible year: if some guy thinks you're a silly girl because you like to fall asleep to Gilmore Girls or you've already made your way through G.L.O.W. twice? Eh, who cares. You're too busy watching Call the Midwife to care about impressing some dumbass who liked Batman vs Superman more than Wonder Woman.

At long last the presumed universality, or, at least, supremacy of the male point-of-view is going away. And to that, we can all give a hearty:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Some Things I Will Tell You

My own sins:

When I was 25, a Chicago Congressman was found having a sexual relationship with a 16 year old girl. I said, "Oh, she is 16 going on 45" and brushed it off. If you'd suggested that my surmise was maybe racist (after all I didn't know that girl at all), I'd have said, "But Mel Reynolds is black!" and remained totally unconcerned with one of the more toxic ways of racism informs rape culture: Black girls are treated as grown, sexualized women when they are still children.

I used to tell this joke: "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?" "Nothing she hasn't already been told twice!"


How about all the times I questioned some girl's motives? Assumed she was a slut? Assumed she was taking unfair advantage of her own attractiveness?

How about all the times I assumed the man had more credibility? Assumed his authority as sacrosanct and hers was poached?

How about the sins done to me?

The first time I got cat-called I was 11 and I felt so ashamed to have let myself be seen outside in shorts. There was the time I was walking to school (7th or 8th grade) and the man gestured to me from a car, asking for directions, and then showed me his gross hard penis under his flabby belly and I felt like an idiot for walking over there.

What about all the times men wondered within my earshot about the color of my pubic hair, and I felt like a cheat for having dyed my hair blonde?

How about all the times a boy told me I was being cruel for saying no, and I believed I was cruel. Worse - how about the hands holding my head down and it never occurred to me that I was allowed to spit or bite or punch. How about when I really didn't want to but it wasn't rape because that only happens when it's a stranger and you haven't had anything to drink.

The men yelling at me from cars, looming over me to in line to make sure I knew they were stronger. Being a woman is being scared a lot of the time. Or, maybe, it was?

Look, it was all fucked up. I have said this many times, but it bears repeating: I am knocking at fucking 50 and it's just now occurring to me that assault and harassment aren't just the cost of doing business as a woman. My failure to recognize this doesn't make me a doe-eyed victim. Or it doesn't make me just a victim; I am also a huge fucking super complicit dumbass as I have been game for making other women feel bad for the way they are women.

It's all tied up and mired in a rape culture that we're just now, finally, having a reckoning for and, lord, it is a painful reckoning. Still, as we pick through the gross, slimy, toxic icks beneath the rape culture rock we've turned over, I can't help but insist that we find a way to be OK with admitting that some things are worse than others. We just have to. Because if we can't, we are going to throw the baby out with the bathwater and that baby has potential to grow up as, like, Channing Tatum or Terry Crews or some other stalwart, shining excellent example of doing man well.

It is worse to groom and stalk a 14 year old than it is to grab an ass at a State Fair. It's not NBD to grab an ass at a State Fair. It's gross and disgusting and these things need to be brought to light. The ass-grabber should feel embarrassed and ashamed and he should apologize and he should fucking mean it.

But it's not as bad as grooming and assaulting a 14 year old.

Especially when the ass grabber is all "I am ashamed and you should investigate me" and the child molester is all "LIBRUL CONSPIRACY!"

Especially when the ass grabber will continue to advocate on behalf of women and use his legislative might to make sure we retain control over our own bodies and the child molester will say "Jesus wants me to put all the Muslims in prison."

Ideally, we could rid ourselves of all the ass grabbers; of all the people who've trucked in the notion that women's bodies are public property or that male hegemony is the natural order. But, the problem with that is that I think we're talking about getting rid of about 70% of the people who were born before 2000.

We're just going to have to learn to stop separating people into Good and Bad (Millennials, I don't shit on you guys a lot, but you are TERRIBLE about that). We're going to have to be better about saying "He is bad but also he does good and so let's call him on the bad and keep him honest about doing good" or "He is bad and wants more power to be worse so let's not give him that power."

To wit: Joe Biden will stare at your boobs. That's bad. He blocked Anita Hill from a fair hearing and gave us Justice Pubic Hair on a Coke Can. That's worse. He is a Catholic man who is staunchly pro-choice. That's good. He wrote and agitated for the Violence Against Women Act, which he got passed. That's better. Everything I just wrote in this paragraph is true. And we have got to see all of it.

Also, at the risk of being totally cliche: vote for women. More women in government. Women, especially women of color, at higher and higher and the highest positions in government. Men, I'm not throwing you out - but you haven't been exactly kicking moral ass over the past few hundred years.

Step aside.

And, Jaysus, stop grabbing ass! It's not yours!

It's so sad how long it took so many of us to realize that.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

I'm So Tired, but I Just ...

I knew this would happen. I took three days off around the weekend to burn up some PTO and then, despite a truly lackluster effort, failed to get the eff out of town as I had intended.  As expected during this stayfree minibreak (holla if you get the ref!), I have spent my time on a crushing series of household tasks and now most of my body hurts and it's 7:45 pm on a Saturday and I am ready for bed! Note to self: next time, get the eff out of town. Prepare to wear makeup and the cute shoes and step out for a nice meal in some suburb or something where the Shit That Needs Doing can't get done because I am not there.

That said, despite this weariness (which has roughly quadrupled due to the note-taking on how very many household tasks remain to be done), I've had this thing on my mind for the past few days and so I am fighting through this wave of fatigue and Taking To My Blog like the damn she-ro I am.

So, two things happened a year ago. A brilliant, highly qualified, passionate woman with clearly articulated plans on how she would aid and improve the lives of her fellow Americans lost an election. Excuse me; that should have read "lost" an election. A dumb, racist, sexist narcissist with zero qualifications for the job, a ridiculous combover and an obvious deeply realized sociopathy won it. Excuse me; that is to say "won" it.

Sometime following that, a bunch of powerful men started falling from grace due to their sexual crimes, ranging from rape to harassment to general piggishness, coming to light.

I believe (as likely do very many wannabe think piecers like me) that the former begat the latter.

Because, here's the thing: this election queered the deal that we women have tacitly agreed to for lo what is basically the sum total of This American Experience. We'll tolerate a lot of your shit, men. We'll agree that your discomfort at being called out for your piggishness is more uncomfortable than being subjected to it. But you have got to, menfolks, stand a little bit back as we progress. You have got to agree that it's OK for your daughters to get a skosh closer to equality than their mothers.

And then that goddamn abortion of an election happened and American women were like:

and then:

And that's when the powerful pigs began falling from the lofty positions, which they'd assumed after coasting by on all the privileges masculinity affords.


While I was overjoyed at seeing the Weiners and Weinsteins crumble down, a little part of me still pitied the piggish pigs (if not the harassers and the rapists). The men who've been feathering their fragile egos with awkward smiles following inappropriate flirtations. The pig who might not be aware of that deal we women made. Sure, he hasn't questioned it too deeply. But on some level he knows that while some philosophers might tell you that the unexamined life isn't worth living, there's a fellow out there named Oedipus that is all:

And they carried blithely on.

Earlier this week, a friend told me about hanging out at a hotel bar where some 50 year old man in the pickle business was talking to some 30 year old woman in the pickle business (this is a real thing that happened) while making jokes about showing her his pickle.

I thought, shit, that old dinosaur of a pig probably has no idea that he is gross and inappropriate and stupid and is either making the woman on the other end of his skeevy jokes roll her eyes or feel like she has to double-bolt her hotel room door that night. Pity his vanishing relevance in the culture.

But then I thought, wait! He doesn't give a shit about how she feels, only about how she makes him feel. In my clever (stolen, I think, but I can't remember from whom) Oedipus reference above, Jocasta is left out of the equation all together. Why am I defaulting to worrying about his feelings while assuming hers count less, hurt less, are less?

And with that insight, any pity I might have felt for his disappearing relevance was gone and all I thought was, you know, Pickle Man:

I don't really enjoy other people's pain (except maybe Weiner and Weinstein because fuck those fucking fuckers). But we women really do need to liberate ourselves from the entrenched, abiding feeling that female discomfort matters less than male and tell men to cut the shit when they act like that. The way the world is going (finally!) he might actually hear it.

And if he doesn't?

Monday, October 30, 2017

I Fear Silence... Can I Get a Grade on this Assignment?

Circa 1996, I was having a conversation with my dear old friend, Val, in which I said totally matter of factly, "I fear silence." And I do, dear reader. I cannot tolerate a lull in conversation. What is certainly a workaday banality for most of all the other people in the world is, to me, as though someone is pounding a nail into my head with a violent hammer of awkward silence.

And so, over the course of 40ish years, I've mastered the art of conversation. You understand, of course, that by "mastered", I mean "capable of filling the briefest conversational lull with desperate, panicked chit chat."

I am far more exhausted by this than exhausting.

I think.

Tonight I had a work dinner with some folks I don't know who work for the company that acquired us and I had hoped to be professionally impressive. I wore lipstick, for Christ's sake! I put product into my hair! As I walked in to the restaurant, I noticed that everyone was sitting around the table in unbearable silence, which was probably only because they stopped the conversation as I walked in to greet me and had been chatting comfortably up until then. But I couldn't risk it! I had to start GABBING AT EVERYONE!!!

Chat chat "and how did you end up in this town?" chat chat "how old are your kids?" chat chat "what a dreadful commute" chat chat chatterly chat chat chat chattity chat chat chat fucking chat.

I have no idea if the folks I work with are glad to have me around because I'll bear more than my fair share of the conversational load or if they are thinking "dear god, would she just shut the everloving fuck up?!"

Maybe both?

If I weren't so terrified of awkward silence, then I could sit there and take the temperature of the dinner table. But then it would be quiet and everyone would be looking around and, dear god, why don't we all just put a goddamn bullet in our heads! SOMEONE HAS TO TALK NOW!!!

I'm so tired.

Did I talk too much tonight?

By the way, I'm great in text. Why can't we all just text?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Getting Woke F'n Sucks, You Guys

First of all, I think we can all agree that the expression "woke" had jumped the shark almost as hard as the phrase "jumped the shark" has jumped the shark. But it's been a busy weekend and I'm trying to get some stuff done before Outlander o'clock (the sexiest hour of the week!) and one of those things is that I'm trying real hard to do is to update this silly blog more as I have all of the thoughts and none of the energy and I must needs get the thoughts out of the head.

So. I was driving down the street a few days ago and Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love" came on and I was jamming out and singing along when it occurred to me that this song was written by Muddy Waters. Led Zeppelin fans would probably say this was more homage than rip off, but how much classic rock was just white guys ripping off black artists? How much did classic rock profit off music that didn't belong to its artists? How much did classic rock fail to give credit where it belonged?

And let's not even get started on Elvis. Or how very many people really think that Rapture by Blondie was the first rap song.

This is really apropos of nothing - I just think she's so fabulous even if she didn't, sigh, invent rap

Another thing: I was, as I am prone to, fondly remembering a moment with my dear, departed father. My brother and I were in high school (Nolan may have been in the early days of college) and my dad told us this story about an econ class he took in college where the professor talked about how women controlled 43% of the wealth in the country. And then my dad laughed and said "but they control 100% of the pussy."

When I was 16 or so I thought it was hilarious. There was my dad saying "pussy" and engaging us in some adult humor.

But 32 years later it occurs to me that my wonderful father, my dear, sweet hilarious father was wasn't at all sexist and who always encouraged me in the same way he did my brother and who was so far ahead of his time in so many ways, was still OK with looking at "pussy" as a commodity separate from the woman it's attached to.

And I know - it was a joke. And I know, Robert Plant revered Muddy Waters. I know! I know! I know!

But then I start to think of all the movies from my teenage years. How many girls my own age got raped on film and I laughed and laughed?

What do we do with all this wokeness (I hate myself for the phrase, I really do). Do we have to throw away all the things we loved? Do I need to castigate my father from beyond the grave for his minor infractions?

The answer: no. Of course not. That's dumb.

The answer: you acknowledge the foibles and sins of the past, admit that "it was a different time" is inadequate. And then keep your eyes and ears open, listen to people and believe their experiences,  and always try to be better.

I pretty much think the purpose of life is to always be trying to be better. And to be woke.

Seriously, you guys, what is a less obnoxious word? Help me out...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quick Lunchtime Bloggity

It's been a while since I did one of these, but I just had the strangest experience out walking Ginger so I'm gonna tell you about it.

I walked past this fellow in a tight white tee-shirt and a bald head looking pretty much like the poster child for the Aryan Nation.  He was staring at his phone waiting for someone to let him into a building. Ginger barked at him.

He responded "fuck you!"

I had just started a laughing apology and then he said "fuck you!" so I decided best to walk on.

Here's the thing, though: he wasn't saying "fuck you" to me. He was saying "fuck you" to Ginger, who is a 20 pound beagle who knows only the following words in English: Ginger, hungry, walkies, go pee, and no. So Ginger didn't care. "Fuck you" is not in her vernacular (although, if I'm being honest "Goddammit, Ginger!" may be) She was focused on the post-poop treat coming her way ("Treat" is another word she knows. She may be a genius!)

And it wasn't even like he got mad and then said "fuck you." He just kind of .... sneezed it.  He was startled and his instant reaction to being startled was "fuck you."

It may be that Ginger, who is not prone to barking at strangers on the sidewalk, is just a really good job of character and Breitbart fan there knew she had his number. Hence: "fuck you."

Far more likely, though, he's just a guy with a passel of "fuck you"s rattling around in his psyche; "fuck you"s he deploys carelessly, without regard for the target, utterly unbothered by the offense.

Does anyone know of an island where we can send all the unreasonably angry white men? They are really fucking things up these days.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I Don't Want to Do This Either

I was listening to the Pod Save guys recently and they were talking about the blowback to NFL players taking a knee. They remarked that, of course, these players would rather just play football. It blew their minds how many people failed to understand that had any NFL player their druthers, black men wouldn't be so vulnerable to police violence and then they could just play some football (that's a lot of hyperlinks there, right? Do you see why they're kneeling?)

We'd all really rather just go on about our lives, wouldn't we? Calling people on their shit is a lot harder, a lot less fun, than just ignoring it or, magically, living in a place where you're not subjected to other people's shit.

Which is all to say: I don't want to do this either. I don't want to be the one telling you to stop calling the grown-ass women you work with "girls." I don't want to do that. I really wish you'd just, you know, not. But you do. And so many of you not only don't bother to interrogate how inherently demeaning this is, you get your feelings hurt when you get called on it.

(oh those delicate male feelings... you guys... ovary up!)

And I don't want to tell you that Hugh Hefner's death hasn't earned anyone's lachrymose lamentation. He was a bad man who did bad things. I don't want to interrupt your enjoyment of a tasteful nude or two. But you look away from the women he turned into things and talk about the good stuff he did for men and it's shitty and gross and you need to stop.

I don't want to police all the ways you casually allow and excuse misogyny. It's exhausting. Oooh... gif time:

But ignoring it and moving past it? Guys, this how we ended up with Donald Fucking Trump and Mike Fucking Pence who are two very different men, joined in their virulent (if differently expressed) loathing of women.

Today Ezra Klein, whom I'd count as one of the good guys, tweeted this:

Guys, there's not a woman alive who's even mildly surprised by this story. Of course Weinstein was a pig. The upper echelons of American society are comprised almost exclusively of pigs.

Ezra, poor guy, took it on the Twitter chin today for that post. I felt a little bad for him because he's not a sexist. But it's just so frustrating how many men live in easy, willful obtuseness about how much shitty shitty shit there is out there for women.

So, ladies, we have to continue being exhausted and being exhausting. We have to keep pointing out the constant, casual, cavalier sexism that is our everyday life.  Most men are good men. They're just a little ignorant (maybe on purpose?), having been inculcated in a system that rewards and excuses misogyny. If we make them see this (which is so exhausting), then they'll get better.

And, men, join us. Listen to the women in your life. Don't make excuses based on male intentionality: your intentions don't exist in a vacuum. And, men, I've been saying this for years, when you're in the motherfucking metaphorical locker room, don't keep your trap shut when the real hateful shits spew their real hateful shit. You might think they just talk that way, but I'll guaran-damn-tee you they do some violence on the women around them. When men talk about women like that, they treat them like that too - just not in front of anyone they're afraid of or want to impress.

In short, we all have to be exhausting and exhausted.  These are exhausting times. God I'm tired.

This is a good idea. I'm gonna go watch Parks and Rec and then go to sleep. And tomorrow? I'll fight another day.