In Celebration of Women

Hello, I am still alive. Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. Now that the world is falling apart in a new and exciting way every single day, I’ve returned to write about my feelings.

Recently, I got broken up with in the kindest and gentlest way anyone has ever been broken up with. There was rosé involved. But despite the care used to deliver the final blow, or maybe because of it, I was devastated. I am devastated. So I find myself in a world where men in suits are working hard everyday to ignorantly or spitefully take away rights from women and minorities, struggling with the feelings I have for one man. The worst storyline in a dystopian novel.

The best storyline of course, is the women. The women I know, who I have angrily and tearfully turned to so many times in my life but especially since November 9, have kept me together this month. Each one urging me to take my time, feel my feelings, offering curses and ire that weren’t necessary except in their offering. Day drinking with me and reminding me that grief is human and normal and that even though I loathe being human and normal, it’s ok. They enveloped me in an estrogen-bound coven until I was ready to be a human on my own again.

There have of course been wonderful men too, but as someone very wise once told me, it’s ok for things to just be in celebration of women. A march can just be about reproductive rights and equal pay and the anger of men living their lives after committing atrocities against bodies they don’t value as human. A benefit can just be for women. We share a quiet rage that we struggle to express for fear of being called irrational or laughed at. We are bonded because we are not believed. But we believe each other. And today I am humbled and grateful for that belief and validation.

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A Functional but Ornamental Race

We all know that women aren’t people, right guys? Like, people’s rights are very important and people should be believed when they say a crime has been committed against them and people shouldn’t have to worry so much about their looks. And then there are women.

Christian blogger Veronica Partridge’s post about yoga pants recently went viral when she admitted that the good Lord, in the middle of a conversation she had with fellow Christians about yoga pants, changed her heart. One, real nice that God is spending so much time working on Veronica Partridge’s yoga pants conundrum instead of focusing on gun violence or pediatric AIDS or victims of Boko Haram. Two, this lady is being lauded and celebrated for making a choice about her body as seen by men for another man. She is not asking her husband not to wear those khakis that are too thin but also too loose so that when he sits in them I can see the outline of his entire package on the train. Because she and we don’t think of men as objects. That’s what women are for. And she and we don’t think of men’s bodies as possessions. That’s also what women are for.

As a New Yorker, this next point disappoints me the most. Likely presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, spent six and a half years working at Fox News here in New York City and I swear to God if I find out which women did this, I will speak with them personally. Huckabee breaks his traumatized silence on Mickelson in the Morning, an Iowa-based radio show, to say that people were dropping the F bomb in professional business meetings. Including women. Huckabee mentions that this is typical locker room talk, so I guess fine when it’s all men, but when a woman swears, a Southerner would call that trashy. Mike Huckabee, Southerner, is not calling these foul-mouthed women trashy. But in the South, someone might. Super Pacs Support groups are forming for former Arkansas Governor Huckabee to massage his hands out of their claw-like shape when he recovers enough to unclutch his pearls. Governor Huckabee, never let those awful cunts who think they can act the same as men change you.

Lastly, The Nightly Show premiered last Monday. This show is great. The writing is insightful. Larry Wilmore is funny and likeable. Breaking with the Daily Show / Colbert Report model of having one guest star, Wilmore joins a four guest panel on every show. The panels are full of funny, interesting people. And they have included exactly one woman per panel in the five episodes that have aired so far. Larry, I appreciate your longtime readership of this blog and as a feminist, I am so into how you called Cosby to the carpet. But come on. You make a point of highlighting minorities and yet over 50% of the population is only allowed 20% representation on your show every night? This show gives a voice to a lot of people, but not a lot of women.

Your girl Bao Bao doing it for her damn self.

Your girl Bao Bao doing it for her damn self.

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty

My parents’ cats, Bernie and Nigel, are rescue kitties. They came from a shelter to live in a nice house with food and literally more snuggles than they know what to do with. These cats have more advantages than most cats in the world and yet I’ll tell you that neither of them gives a shit about animal rights.

Not one fuck to give between them.

Not one fuck to give between them.

Even though they benefitted from being rescued by a no-kill shelter. Even though since their adoption, my dad has officially become a “cat person”. Even though they are the first cats in my family to be allowed to sleep on the dining room table. You might say that not being activists in the face of all that privilege makes them horrible monsters. But you’d be wrong, because they are cats. Nigel sometimes thinks his reflection is a second cat. Bernie is afraid of the crinkle of tin foil. They aren’t capable of nuanced discussion about how to make life better for other cats and dogs who haven’t had as many advantages as they have.

Bernie in bed

Bernie in the lap of luxury.

The female protagonist on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory”, Kaley Cuoco, is the highest paid actress in television. She netted $11 million in 2013 from her role on “Big Bang” and the approximately one million times a day it airs in syndication and from playing William Shatner’s daughter on Priceline commercials and shilling for Toyota. This woman has more autonomy than most women in the world and yet I’ll tell you that Kaley Cuoco is not a feminist. Even though she has the ability to work and be a wife. Even though she has free agency over her own body including the right to get breast implants and cut and dye her hair whenever she wants. Even though she played a witch on “Charmed” and wasn’t burned at the stake.

You might say that not officially taking a stand that women deserve to be treated equally in the face of all that privilege makes Kaley Cuoco a horrible monster. But guys, Kaley Cuoco can’t grasp that her right to choose to make dinner for her husband every night and feel that that’s a special thing is part of feminism. Kaley Cuoco can’t understand that having parents who prioritized her career and education even though she is an XX chromosome-haver is an incredibly lucky life. Kaley Cuoco doesn’t understand what the word “context” means. So let’s not jump all over Kaley Cuoco. No one is abandoning feminism because she crinkles her nose adorably at it any more than animal rights activists are abandoning the cause because Bernie and Nigel would rather chase a laser on the floor than go to one goddamn rally, even if you ask them really nicely.

B&N

The Fly in the Ointment

We all know that Bill Cosby is a rapist now, right? Like, twenty public accusers into this thing, I assume that we know all that it’s happening. But there are people who still blindly defend him and many of those people, maddeningly but unsurprisingly, are women. Since the Bill Cosby story broke there have been so many baffling variations of, “Well, how do we know these women aren’t just looking for [fame/money/attention/twitter followers/cake]?” I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that women who knew neither Cosby nor his accusers could be so sure that the women were lying. Recently clarity appeared on the subject from an unexpected place.

Last week, someone posted in an online forum that a teacher at a school where I take classes behaved inappropriately towards his students*. A woman posted in the comments section that the initial poster was brave because “no one wants to be that woman,” meaning (I think) the one who can’t be cool when people are just joking around, the one who always thinks that dudes want her, the one who ruins a good guy’s reputation by being an uptight bitch. “That woman” doesn’t get invited to parties. She is a person we can all universally hate, ladies included! She thinks she’s hot shit or she wants attention regardless of what collateral damage it might cause the victim of her inability to just roll with things. She can’t laugh at a joke or appreciate that attention is meant to be a compliment.

The impulse to not be labeled “that woman” is infinitely relatable. You hear a bunch of co-workers make a shitty joke about the war against women or your boyfriend’s friend says a bunch of shitty sexist crap about the cheerleaders during a football game or a shitty guy on a date calls you “sweetie” when you ask a question about current events. And you say nothing. It’s the same impulse that makes you smile when some asshole on the street tells you to as you walk by. We’re cool and please don’t single us out as anything else because God forbid we say something and someone doesn’t like it.

This isn’t a paranoid delusion of neurotic ladies. Women are ostracized daily for standing up to a man or a system because he or it mistreated her. It happens all over the world to every race, class, and creed. And the quickest way to avoid this exile is to show that you would never betray that man or that system by rocking the boat. The fear of being considered “that woman” keeps real victims from coming forward and allows predators to be seen as victims. It even obfuscates the vision of people who judge where they should only empathize.

*I don’t know what’s being done, but it’s nice to study at a school where a teacher being a dick to his students is a big deal both to the school and to the male and female members of the community around said school.

One More Disaster I Can Add to My Generous Supply

No Good Deed, a movie starring Idris Elba as a man who continually abuses and murders women (strangers and girlfriends alike) and Taraji P. Henson as a woman who is brutally stalked and terrified in her own home while caring for two young children, made $24.5 million at the box office this weekend and sixty percent of ticket buyers were women.

Great. Perfection.

No Good Deed

I know that after a long, stressful week of the NFL’s lies, Ray Rice’s horrific video. Oscar Pistorius’ essential acquittal, Rhianna’s pulled performance (domestic violence victims are such an unpleasant distraction from the game) and countless other stressors, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do more than watch a giant man terrorize and brutalize a woman in her own home. I need me time or I just can’t function and I know for me, being reminded that women are all just helpless sexy marks in the face of monstrous sexy psychos is a great way to settle down.

After a week of being slapped repeatedly in the face with images, videos, and press releases reminding me that women get brutalized all the time, I can’t think of any better way to chill right out than to sit through eighty four minutes of a sexy film about violence against women.

Thank goodness that Sony had the good sense to cancel all press screenings of No Good Deed in advance of the film’s opening. I’m really glad it didn’t have the opportunity to spark advance discussions of why we glorify violence against women. That would have been a heady bummer on a weekend treat. I’m so glad that Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson decided to star in this film, since they are talented, charismatic actors who could draw audiences to literally anything, even I bet, a steaming pile of shit if they were in it. I’m delighted that Sony chose to make this film, since high production values are key in nabbing a large audience. I’m thrilled to see a movie perpetuating the idea that men who abuse are sick but the women who allow themselves to be treated badly are just stupid. And I am so grateful that so many women turned out to see No Good Deed because it’s important that studios know exactly how we feel about these issues and how willing we are to stand up for where we fit into society.

No Good Deed 2

I hope you feel as great as I do about this, because movies like this help preserve a status quo where nothing changes, which is clearly was $24.5 million worth of people want. Unfortunately, not everyone can appreciate when we all need to unwind and just focus on a fun thing. CBS Sports anchor, James Brown, participated in an hour-long discussion before the Ravens – Steelers game and had this to say about domestic violence:

“…this problem is bigger than football. There has been, appropriately so, intense and widespread outrage following the release of the video showing what happened inside the elevator at the casino. But wouldn’t it be productive if this collective outrage, as my colleagues have said, could be channeled to truly hear and address the long-suffering cries for help by so many women? And as they said, do something about it? Like an on-going education of men about what healthy, respectful manhood is all about.

And it starts with how we view women. Our language is important. For instance, when a guy says, ‘you throw the ball like a girl’ or ‘you’re a little sissy,’ it reflects an attitude that devalues women and attitudes will eventually manifest in some fashion. Women have been at the forefront in the domestic violence awareness and prevention arena. And whether Janay Rice considers herself a victim or not, millions of women in this country are.

Consider this: According to domestic violence experts, more than three women per day lose their lives at the hands of their partners. That means that since the night February 15th in Atlantic City [when the elevator incident occurred] more than 600 women have died.”

Fortunately, Sony doesn’t have to worry about those women because way more than 600 showed up to the opening weekend of No Good Deed.

Life is Disappointing, No?

Goddammit you guys. Everything is the worst. Picture it: A nice girl lives in Brooklyn off the G train. The G train goes out of commission for the entire month of August. This girl has to take three trains to work. She has to be patient with extra wait times and crowded trains and getting up early and getting home late. It’s fine, she tells herself. Come September, all will be resolved. The girl takes the G through its full route on September 2nd to find MTA workers handing out fliers promising the girl that the G train was new and improved, never to return to its previous inefficiency.

"The G Train is Back". Hah.

“The G is Back”. Hah.

Trouble is, the girl is me. And me waited for the fucking G train for 25 minutes this morning. No explanations, no excuses. The conductor just kept yelling at us to stand clear of the closing doors. Some of us were clear, sir. Some of us were clear.

But, unlike the G train, there were several opportunities to quickly jump on disappointment today. Guys, Nev from MTV’s Catfish is a piece of shit. Who could have imagined that someone who makes a living following the emotionally delicate journeys of people who are willingly fooled on the Internet would turn out to be a total craphole? Who could have foreseen that someone on reality TV wasn’t as genuine as he appeared. Nev, second cutest host in a set of two, posted a hilarious and/or poignant photo of himself in an “abuse free” elevator onto the Twitter today. Fun fact about Nev, he punched a girl in the face in college. At Sarah Lawrence University. She was trying to get him to stop taking photos of her kissing her partner. Fuuuucckkkkk. Next thing you’ll tell me Roger Goodell had plenty of opportunities to see that video.

But all of this is just disappointment Funfetti on a disappointment cupcake. Guys, Taylor Swift is fighting with Katy Perry. And Taylor promised us it wasn’t even about a guy! And I, sucker for the ages, believed her. I figured they had professional beef, which I totally understand. There was this bitch at my old restaurant who never mise en place-d properly and I would have loved the opportunity to shade her in Rolling Stone. Women fighting over business in the media is the next step in kicking through the glass ceiling, right? Nope, wrong.

Tense cheekbones of rage.

Tense cheekbones of rage.

Not only are Taylor Swift and Katy Perry* fighting over a guy, they are fighting over human wet sneeze, John Mayer. Of all the men in all the corners unnecessarily playing guitar in the world, they are fighting over John “David Duke dick” Mayer. Taylor, it wasn’t supposed to be about a guy, and it’s about the guy.

G train, Nev, Katy and Taylor most of all, I can’t with you, so I’ll hand the mic to Tyra:

*My mom mentioned Katy Perry three times this weekend. This cannot be a coincidence.

#NotAllComissioners

I am the worst liar. I just don’t have the facial control. Fortunately, I’m awesome at spotting disgusting, cowardly liars, which is why I so appreciate the National Football League and the Baltimore Ravens’ honesty.

The non-profit organization and it’s Maryland branch bravely expelled worker Ray Rice just 30 weeks after Rice knocked his fiancé unconscious in an elevator and then dragged her body out of it. Commissioner, and natural blonde, Roger Goodell initially suspended Rice for two games and people were outraged. Fortunately, Goodell’s flippancy about a league player’s displaying such public and brutal domestic violence has been explained: Roger Goodell, everyone at the NFL, and everyone at the Balitmore Ravens’ offices simply hadn’t seen the 30 weeks old video.

Roger Goodell’s assistant must be in really hot water. Goodell is out there doing God and George Washington’s work, comissing the league, and it’s like, can’t someone just please take a look at his inbox or twitter feed or watch goddamn Sports Center or check his Facebook or texts or do a quick Google search on the people he’s in charge of disciplining or something? Don’t even get me started on the administrative staff of the Baltimore Ravens.

Ravens, NFL, I have a full time job, but I’d be happy to volunteer my time to help you guys clean up your voicemail and Outlook system. Simply using categories and filters could really be helpful. If you guys aren’t more careful something really damning could have happened, like mistakenly sending the message  that the National Football League doesn’t give a single fuck about anything but the bottom line and that it puts such low value on human life that it assumes that no one else will give a single fuck about a vicious assault and might certainly be complicit in covering it up in the interest of touchdowns and ratings.

I sincerely hope that an oversight like this won’t reflect badly on an organization that has time and time again displayed an unprecedented value for human life and especially the lives of the women attached to its players. And I sincerely hope there will be no adverse consequences for Roger Goodell, head Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh, assistant head coach Jerry Rosburg, or anyone else who I’m sure was trying his very best.

 

I Love Lamp

Not to brag, but I own a lot of objects. At this moment, my apartment floor is covered with them. I have feelings about these objects. My Papa Smurf plush action figure is special to me because my dad bought him before I was born. My copy of Shakespeare’s works (Riverside, duh) reminds me of a time in life when I exclusively pursued art. My yoga mat makes me feel guilty for never doing yoga. If something happened to those things, I would be the person most immediately affected.

This week, President Obama, a hero for his work on healthcare and women’s rights, released an anti-rape PSA which puts the onus on men to not sexually assault rather than on women not be sexually assaulted. Great. But the PSA missteps in falling back on the old trope, “You shouldn’t rape someone because that woman could be someone’s mother/daughter/sister/cousin/barista/dream-girl-next-door.”

Just….goddammit.

Until society stops seeing women only as supporting players, characters who exist through the lives of the men who love them, women will always be victims. Who fucking cares if a woman is someone’s daughter? Women are raped because we’re seen as objects that someone has a right to take. We can’t not be raped because we’re objects that just happen to belong to someone else. We shouldn’t be raped because it’s wrong to rape, because raping a person is a terrible thing to do to that person.

This same week, someone I only know professionally couldn’t stop talking about this “hot girl who used to be his subordinate” he was going to lunch with. This man is married and ostensibly not interested in cheating on his wife. It wasn’t about going on a date with a hot girl, a situation where physical attractiveness is relevant. It was about reducing a human being with feelings and intelligence and a career to a status symbol. He diminished a woman to an expensive bottle of wine; a way to impress other people in public. It also implied that no way in hell would this guy be interested dining with a woman who’d been his subordinate if she wasn’t hot, which is the same shit women in the workplace have dealt with since we dared to enter it. After all, if a toy isn’t shiny, who would ever want to play with it?

I keep researching other relevant current events to try and find a way to tie this post together, but there are too few and too many all at once: How when a female celebrity is photographed in yoga pants, the media depicts her as “flaunting her body”. Websites dedicated to “hot” up-skirt shots taken unbeknownst to the skirt owner. Half of Howard Stern’s show. Joe Francis.

When you rob a woman of her individuality as an autonomous human, it diminishes that woman and is hurtful to human rights, no matter what your intentions.

It’s a Party

Guys, though my frail human form has been hobbled by an illness I fondly refer to as Head Cold: The Reckoning, it was a mere week ago I found myself in a Body Pump class. Body Pump is an awesome weightlifting class designed by human muscle Les Mills where people scream out things like “Plyometrics!” and “JUST EIGHT MORE!!!!”.  It’s way fun all on its own, but on this particular Saturday class, one of my fellow pumpers brought in something a little extra whimsical: rape culture.

My fun friend brought society’s ice cream cake to the aerobic party in a simple way. His t-shirt, well worn, clearly much beloved, read, “I Traded My Girlfriend for a Coors Light. It Was The Best Deal I Ever Made.” Whoop! What’s great about that shirt, aside from how sweet a worn in tee looks on anyone, is that it reminded me, as well as all the other women in the class, and in the gym, and all the other places where I hope this guy shares his hilarity and indelible taste for puns, that we ladies are the lesser item in a barter consisting of a beer which costs a max of four dollars in a New York City bar all the way down to perhaps thirty cents if we’re talking about a beer that’s been pumped from a keg. It’s also so fun because one could assume given even a moment’s thought (FYI, during the squats track in a Body Pump class, one takes all available mental vacations) that a traded girlfriend would be expected to perform sexual favors. So, this guy, like a travelling minstrel from the days of Arthur’s court, told a tale, sponsored by a major corporation, of human sex trafficking for the sweet, delicious taste of the Rockies at a robust 4.2% ABV. I won’t lie and say it didn’t add a little something extra special to my Saturday morning.

Though I was too shy to talk to the human embodiment of a party after my class, he gave me a lot of food for thought. He was not only a hoot but also helpful because in America in 2014, women can do anything men can do. We are CEOs, doctors, lawyers, teachers, vets, Vets, directors, parents, partners, comedians, and grifters. Sometimes we’re so busy doing all of these things that we forget that a significant percentage of the population still sees us as just orifices only just slightly below the delicious mouth of a freshly cracked Coors Light.