Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Menses and the Modern Gal

I know I've written about this before... but you know that episode of The Cosby Show where Rudy gets her first period and has "Woman's Day" with Clair?  Remember?  Rudy came home with her sweatshirt tied around her waist and then her Mom took her for ice cream and they watched Gone With the Wind at Rudy's behest (weird choice, Rudy, that movie is sooooper racist).  I planned at that moment in 1986 that if I ever had a daughter, I'd do the same (minus the racist movie).

But when it happened in real life, I found myself leaning away from Clair's lesson (and not just because all things Cosby are a little suspect) and leaning into my own: it became important for me to tell my daughter that periods make you strong.

Once a month, for years and years, girls and women go out into the world feeling not quite like ourselves.  We'll likely be in some degree of physical discomfort, if not outright pain.  Our emotional balance is a little off-keel.  And no one, outside of maybe your immediate family, will accept this as an excuse for not performing as per usual.   You're gonna have to go to that class, or sit in the meeting, or finish that project, or fly that plane, or swim in that Olympic meet, no matter how you're feeling because it can't be an excuse.  It can't be an excuse because it makes men uncomfortable. It can't be an excuse because it pisses other women off when you try to make it one.

This is a way in which women are inherently stronger than men.  Monthly we just deal with it and men have no idea how heavy that burden can be.

Donald Trump would take to his 2000 thread count sheets at the top of Trump Tower with a hot water bottle and a fucking binky, whining through that weird butthole mouth of his if he'd ever had to deal with the mildest of periods because Donald Trump is the weakest, tenderest set of dangling old man balls the world has ever seen.  He can take nothing.  He is insubstantial.

His veneer of machismo is so thin, so obvious a cover for a massive, trembly core of male fragility.

And yet the media obsesses over Hillary Clinton's health. They excuse Donald Trump any weakness (mental or physical) and accept his claims of power and mightiness because he's rich and has a penis (I assume.  Ew). But strong women don't fit neatly into our western narrative, which is just historically fucking lousy with "don't worry your pretty little head over it."  Somehow, as a society, we've decided we have to expose Hillary's weakness because women are weak.  QED.

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia.  She doesn't have consumption.  She doesn't have fucking pleurisy.  She has an illness treatable with fluids and a couple of days rest.  But because she is not allowed any sign of physical weakness, she tried to power through it and after 90 minutes in a 80+ degree weather, in a suit over Kevlar, she got woozy and the whole world said "SEE LOOK THERE!  WEAK LADY IS WEAK!"

Had Donald Trump gotten a case of the sniffles he'd be snuggled up in his aforementioned 2000 threadcount sheets, tweeting.


Hillary is a BAMF.  She is tough as hell.  She is a 68 year old woman who made a career for herself at a time when the world was viciously hostile to women having careers in the law.  She has birthed a child (which is way harder than laying your gross seed, Trump).  She has stood up to 30 years of focused attack by a press more interested in gossip than news. She's been accused of sneaky lesbianism; been called "castrating" (FYI, gentlemen, when you refer to a woman who is not Lorena Bobbitt as "castrating," that says more about you than her).  She's had her character assassinated by political enemies and lazy reporters.  And she spent 30+ years bleeding out of her wherever once a month without ever letting that get in the way of her life because that's what women do.  

Hillary Clinton is a tough broad. She has a brilliant policy mind.  She is a kind and decent person. She will be a great president.

Get on board.  And quit pretending that bombastic, trembling, gelatinous male fragility incarnate even deserves to be in the same room as her.  

He doesn't.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lessons Gleaned from Dick Van Dyke

I know.  These are dark days  Parlous times.  We have a guy with a real (if slim) chance to become President who is such a huge racist that it almost... almost...obscures what a vile misogynist he is.  Fortunately, the hateful motherfucker umbrella is a big one and there's room to offend just about every class of people under it.

I swear I came up with that hateful umbrella metaphor all on my own, but when I did a Google images search for a funny gif to go with it, this turned up:


There is no new idea under the sun.

Except maybe this one.  I present to you that as shitty as things seem now, they are, in fact better than they have ever been before here in these United States of America. And for evidence, I'm going to tell you about an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show that I recently saw, called "The Lady, The Tiger, and the Lawyer."

The premise of this episode: a suave, handsome single man named (IIRC) Ted moves in next door to the Petrie's charming New Rochelle manse.  Laura decides she needs to set him up with someone because you know how women are!  Women be matchmaking!   But when Rob suggests perpetually single lovelorn Sally Rogers as a potential match, Laura demurs.  Sally is a little too... too... you know?  She thinks her single cousin, Donna, is a better choice.

Rob and Laura engage in marital hijinks (not that kind!  Babies still came via stork in 1965) and decide that the Superior Matchmaker component of the ongoing game, Marriage, has begun.  Dinners for Handsome Ted are arranged for the next two nights.

First Ted and Donna hit it off swimmingly.  They like all the same things, one of which is rocks (I don't know).  Rob is ready to throw in the Sally Rogers-shaped towel, but Laura insists he go through with it for the Honor of the Competition.  Whaddya know, Ted and Sally hit it off just as well.  Ted gets Sally.  He thinks she's hilarious. (She is hilarious, but maybe a little exhausting, right?  Same with Buddy.  Maybe just once stop with the jokes?  Just a little?).  The question of who is currently winning Marriage remains undecided.

By night three, Ted hasn't called either "girl" and Laura and Rob are just all kinds of twitterpated about this because Marriage demands a winner! As Rob and Laura begin to work through their scheme database to come up with  good way to find out which "girl" Ted has chosen, Ted knocks on the door!  

Ted wants to explain to Rob and Laura (noteworthily: not Donna or Sally) why he isn't going to call either "girl".

Are you guys ready for this?  Are you?


Turns our Ted's under psychiatric care and is only allowed to see a "girl" once. Because, you see, he's been married three or four times before and he has this problem.  He has a terrible temper and this unfortunate habit of hitting his wives.

Hilarious, right?  


It all worked out and neither Rob nor Laura lose Marriage, because it's all  down to Ted's little wife-beating habit!


Now, look, I know what you're thinking. I'm being a ridiculous anachronistic strident feminist killjoy because it was a different time.


But that's just my point.  


The endless navel-gazing of the Internet and social media in particular can be exhausting.  The constant interrogation of humor for sexism, racism, classism, etc may seem to suck the joy out of comedy. Donald Trump is VERY opposed to political correctness.  But there's no such thing as "political correctness."  We've just taken away asshole carte blanche from white, straight cis-men.  And this makes us better. It makes the world bigger and more open and funnier.

So when you find yourself descending into Trumpian despair, ask yourself this: if I could live at any point in history, but with no control over gender,  race,  able-bodiedness, or sexual orientation, when would you live? The answer is either now or GTFO.   
  
(The Dick Van Dyke Show was still pretty good, y'all.  And I love Laura's capri pants.)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Seriously, You Guys, Where is the Damn Carrot Peeler?

I always return from vacation cheerfully replete with good intentions.  You know how it is - you're all refreshed and relaxed and also you've just spent several days eating and drinking to vast excess?  (Right? That's not just me, right?) So I went to the store to buy some healthy food because a woman cannot survive on alcohol, sugar and fried foods alone.  I shopped with the full intention to embrace virtue, you know, gastronomically.

In the immediate present, though, I find myself sitting here in front of my laptop with a damn cut on my damn right wrist which I got scavenging through my damn kitchen drawers looking for the damn carrot peeler and I cannot, dammit, find it anywhere! Where is the carrot peeler, you guys?  Where did I put it?


I do not believe it is possible to become a woman who will put the carrot peeler back where it belongs. I know this because I wrote this exact same damn blogpost two years ago about tweezers rather than carrot peelers.

One of my post-holiday good intentions was to try and write more.  I had some plans to bloggily sort through my complicated feelings about the demise of Gawker.  I had a post in mind about how I think that while Donald Trump is an absolute joke he still may manage to foment terrorism from within the Crazy Motherfucker rank and file (Not all Donald Trump fans are Crazy Motherfuckers - but, man, a whooooole lot of them are and I am kinda low-key worried about the Crazy Motherfucker surfeit in America these days). I had a bloggy idea about familial competition (within my little family, we are weirdly competitive about who's getting the best cell service).  I had ideas is what I'm saying.

But they've been buried underneath a mountain of frustration because I cannot find the goddamn carrot peeler and I have no one to cast this annoyance unto but my own damn self.


Seriously, though, do you guys know where my damn carrot peeler is?  And if you do not know this (and why would you) can you recommend some sort of blog or something?  Not to learn how to be more organized (I will never be more organized), but with some advice on how to accept that it is OK to be a little disorganized and that, as it is possible to get a new carrot peeler for under $5, I should just, Jesus, you know, relax about it a little?  Because I remain all goddammity.


Sigh. I'm just going to have a beer and some cheese or something.




Friday, July 22, 2016

A Quick Hillary Anecdote

Back in 2008 I hated Hillary Clinton.  I couldn't understand how anyone could like her when Barack Obama was an option.  I still love Barack Obama.  I can't regret my vote, but I think now that I was pretty unfair to Hillary Clinton.

Here's a quick late-night anecdote about Hillary.  To be fair, this is only based on my recollections and were it not after 11:00 pm, I'd probably do a little more work to dig up the clips.  But it's late, I'm old, and I'm confident my recollections here are correct.

During the '08 democratic primary, Jon Stewart ran a little clip about how the two democratic candidates managed the grueling process of campaigning for president.  Barack Obama said that he stayed sharp by working out every morning and playing basketball.  He was young and sharp and ready to take all comers.  Hillary answered the same question by saying "hot sauce."

I thought, "God, she's so lame!" which was the response intended by The Daily Show producers.

Up here in 2016, Hillary was being interviewed on a black radio program and was asked about something she kept in her purse all the time and she said "hot sauce.'  The interviewers weren't having it and asked if she were pandering.  Hillary joked "is it working?"

I ask you: do you really think Hillary knew that Beyonce had recently taken the world by storm with "hot sauce in my bag. Swag."  Really?  The 68 yr old lady was hip enough to know current Beyonce lyrics?

I don't think so - she does like hot sauce for a wake up.  She said so in 2008. And the "is it working" was a dumb joke. All her jokes should come from writers. Hillary is much better at doing a job than she is in running for one.  You know who'd agree with that assessment?  Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But this is how it is for Hillary.  Whatever she says is interpreted in its most nefarious light because, obvy, it's Hillary who's just "LIAR (FART NOISE) PANDER BEAR ASSHOLE LIAR WALL STREET LIAR POOP!"

I gave Hillary a little money tonight which is probably more meaningful than this dumb blogpost.  But, as one of her supporters (and there are lots and lots of us, no matter what Michael Moore and all those Berners on Twitter would have you believe) that she's still standing after that such a long history where everything she says and does is interpreted in the narrowest, least generous way possible, we are reminded us of how tough and resilient she is.

This is the person I want running the ship: someone who can take a punch without losing focus. She is, to use a phrase from the last decade, a goddamn BAMF.  And if you're still sitting there, so intractably attached to your idea of who she is that you're willing to throw your vote to a candidate who is no more than an orange meatsack of ego and misplaced rage, then I just don't even know what to say to you.

Except this blogpost and more like them.  I'm trying to convince you.  Don't risk an apocalypse.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Some Thoughts and Some Gene Wilder (I miss him)

So, what had happened was I chimed in on a pro-Jill Stein post and (figuratively) pooped on it and then was roundly scolded.  To be fair, my scolding was probably called for.  I'm not super into the dank memes, but I've always felt appropriately judged by this one:


This is a true statement - I don't actually have to tell people that I think they're wrong.  It's obnoxious. So I'll stop posting on people's Jill Stein posts. Instead, I shall take to my blog.

To wit: I can't with Jill Stein.  I just cannot.  The more people tell me why they hate HRC, the more convinced I become that to her haters she is what they've decided she is more than she is what she is (that was a deep statement.  I am a deep person).  In various exchanges on social media, I have been assured that HRC is a war criminal and that she is corrupt and soon to be indicted any day now. She is not a war criminal and people have got to stop throwing that term around so liberally. Furthermore, the Republican party has dedicated their considerable resources for over 25 years now, with laser-like focus, to indict or charge her in some way.  They've been unsuccessful because she is fundamentally honest.  Hillary Clinton listens to people and adapts and changes when she is convinced to do so. She is brilliant and she is open-minded. She has changed positions, just as we all have.  The fact that she does not remain entrenched, eternally convinced of her own correctitude, is a feature not a bug.  Hillary Clinton is good at working with people.  She is good at getting shit done.

But even more that that  - even if you think I'm fundamentally wrong and that a vote for Hillary Clinton is nothing more than a vote for a status quo that will make the rich richer and the poor poorer -  y'all, we have Done This Dance Before.

In the year 2000, I had many friends and colleagues who refused to vote for Al Gore because they were not, by god, going to play into this lesser-of-two-evils, neoliberal bullshit anymore!  And, yes, I know that there is a case to be made that the ensuing eight years were not the fault of the Nader voters, that the election was actually stolen (unlike, not for nothing, the 2016 democratic primary vote), and that Al Gore should have fought harder.

But the Nader voters didn't help.  Had they cast their votes for Al Gore, he would have won. Imagine now where we'd be now.  Imagine what the world would be like without Cheney's Excellent Adventures in Iraq.  Think of where we could be now if we hadn't lost eight years on Climate Change.  Think about that.

And now think about this: Donald Trump is so much worse than George W. Bush.  Even outside of his vile racism and vile misogyny, this is a man who is radically unconcerned with anything outside of his own enormous (yuge!) ego.  You would risk - and Jill Stein would have you risk - putting the nuclear codes into the tiny hands of Donald Trump.

Remember this?



Even if you think we're standing in an open grave (and I do not think this is a valid assessment of America), let's not invite the rain in on top.  Shit, let's not invite the ground to open up and swallow us into a sea of combovered effluvia and self-tanner.  Also nuclear winter.

Do you believe that you can maintain the purity of your vote and we'll still end up without President Trump?  Is that it?  If so, I have some friends over in Great Britain you might want to talk to.

If you think the democratic party is insufficiently liberal and you want a third party, then, for the love of god, work on this at the municipal and state level.  Look to your politically opposite (if, I'm just gonna say it, dispositionally similar) pals from the tea party.  They didn't get their political power by putting someone in the White House.  They got it by putting lots of someones in lots of city, state and congressional seats and now they're driving the clown car.

Do not, for the love of the entire Mel Brooks oeuvre, help to make Donald Trump our Commander-in-Chief.

This is, perhaps, an apt metaphor:


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Quick Herstorical Bloggity

Laney is unimpressed that a woman is on top of a major party ticket for the first time in American history. But she is 12 and has always lived in a world were girls could do anything boys could do. I'm glad about this.  I'm glad my little #socialjusticewarrior feels confident in her girlhood.

But for those of us a little longer in the tooth?  For those of us who've had our whole value assessed based on fuckability?

Those of us who've been talked down to, or over?  Who've been on the wrong end of impatient, irritated glances in meetings where you've said the least?  Who've been condescended to?  Well, actually-ed at?

Those of us who've been ordered to smile and then called "bitch" when we didn't do it fast enough?

Those of us who've been followed by men who did it because they knew it scared us?  Who yelled foul things at us from car windows and then drove away?

Those of us assumed less capable or competent based on bra-size?

Those of us called too fat, too ugly or too old to matter?  Those of us who've internalized that our worth begins and ends with the male gaze?

To see that boss-ass bitch.  That woman who's been on the end of more sexist invective than anyone?  That woman who's been smeared, and gossiped and lied about?  That woman who's outlasted a 30 year discrediting campaign - a campaign so successful there's a whole host of Americans who'd believe, without even bothering a cursory google,  that Hillary Clinton eats puppies for breakfast because she's been commanded to by the president of Wells Fargo?  That woman who's been called a murderer? Who's been made responsible for her husband's infidelity?  Who's been called shrill, and castrating and oldfatandugly?  That woman is not just still standing.  She's winning.

She won.

Damn, y'all. I hope you'll pardon the term but it feels gangsta. It feels amazing.

So if you're choking down vomit at the polls in November, I'm sorry for you.  But I'm going to be casting my ballot with tears of joy in my eye.  I'm going full on Leslie Knope.  You're my girl, Hillary.  And I cannot wait to vote for you in November.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Woman Card

On Friday, a friend of mine posted, sigh, a 35 minute clip of Bernie Sanders with the text "If he were a woman, you would be all in!  I know it!  LOL!"

I know he was just joshing.  I know it was just a joke.  But I suspect he was, as Al Franken used to say, "kidding on the square."  In other words, framing what he felt to be true as a joke to keep it light or to maintain pliable deniability.  And I, I'm sorry to say, lost my shit a little.  My reaction was a bit like:


When I really should have been aiming for:


But, I confess, after ... how long has this primary season been going on?  Since the dawn of time? It feels like since the dawn of time.  So, since the dawn of time, I've found myself growing increasingly frustrated when I, the female voter, and Hillary, the female candidate, are endlessly called upon to defend against gender bias; while the male voter and the male candidate are just, you know, default and unremarkable.

This is not to say that I think any of my Bernie friends are voting for Bernie because he's a man.  I know this because they're all super eager to tell me how much they love Elizabeth Warren.  But they do not seem interested in interrogating whether there's a gender bias in play at how Bernie is treated - if Bernie (or any male candidate) has a leg up simply because their gender card is just the "normal" one.

So let me answer the question as directly as possible: would I be so passionate about Hillary Clinton if she were a man?  No.  Because if she were a man, she wouldn't be Hillary Freaking Clinton.

The politician she is has been forged in a smithy of sexism for over 30 years.  The mountain of shit she's had to defend against has played a role in her becoming a politician I deeply admire.  It frustrates me so much that I'm supposed to believe that her female-ness doesn't matter.  Lookit: male/female isn't some facile binary that you can just wish away from significance.  The fact that she is a woman, a female politician, informs her in ways far weightier than symbolism. Stop asking me to ignore it.

Way back when in the campaign of 2008,  I was as passionate an anti-Clintite as anyone out there today.  I thought she was a corporate shill, power-mad, an entitled political elite. And I believed all of that because that's what people had been saying about her for pretty much my entire adult life.  But then I saw her sit through eleven hours of obstructionist, Republican, Benghazi nonsense-mongering.  And she was a goddamn rockstar. It was like a switch flipped for me and I decided to stop believing the 30 year long marketing campaign designed to discredit her and pay actual attention to who she is.

And who is she?  She is someone who is really good at politics.  She is temperamentally suited to the job.  She is a good, solid progressive.  She will Get Shit Done. If the past eight years of effective presidenting have taught me anything it's that inspirational speechifying makes for inspirational inspiring, but the sausage gets made the same way it always has.  And I mean since the dawn of this great nation: good politicians politick their way to change.  And if that seems dirty to you, I'd recommend you go check out this rather brilliant blogpost from my good pal, Paul.

I am passionate about Hillary Clinton - about the politician she is and what I believe she can do.  I believe she is a better candidate and will be a better president than Bernie Sanders.   And if one more person says "if she were a man..." my head will explode.  I'd say this would be one less vote for Hillary, but, I already voted for her and she's already won and she's going to be the person running against Donald Trump.  So, let's try to keep my head intact, shall we?  Stop trying to throw the "woman card" at me: there is no such thing.