Bye Bill, Bye.

20 Apr

Yesterday afternoon at work a message from The New York Times appeared on my phone. It read:

Bill O’Reilly Out at Fox After Harassment Allegations

I threw my hands up in the air and hissed a quiet “yes!” to myself. Then I looked around the bar to see who I could share this moment of sheer glory with. The only other person behind the bar was a dude who I have not been overly impressed by. But, I thought to myself, perhaps I have been a little judgmental. If you know me it will come as no surprise that I have a tendency to be slow to forgive the poor behavior of new men that I meet. I am even slower to forgive the poor behavior of new white men. It’s my belief that they more often than not get the benefit of the doubt by default and are therefore allowed to get away with bullshit other people cannot. Not only can they get away with it, but they oftentimes benefit from it. However in this particular moment I decided, selfishly if I’m being honest, to set my pre-conceived notions aside and invite him to join in my celebration of the demise of one of cable news’ biggest pieces of shit. (And that’s saying something.)

So I walked over, still grinning from ear to ear, and told him about the news.

Bill O’Reilly got fired by Fox!

He looked at me, cocking his head slightly to the side.

Oh? For what?

I let out a slight exhale of annoyance. But I calmed myself. It’s okay, I thought, not everyone is up on the news. Not even HUGE news that is being written about almost constantly. Some people just like to live their lives and surround themselves by the things that matter to them and that’s totally cool. I surround myself by gymnastics, current affairs and institutional sexism and racism. That’s not everyone’s thang though.

Allegations of sexual harassment. Fox has settled for like $13 million with 5 different women and I imagine that is only the tip of the iceberg. Dude is a piece of shit.

He smiled.

Well, that’s good. Although I thought it would be something bad.

He thought it would be something bad. I stared at him, realizing that my suspension of previous judgements was clearly a mistake. The times he talked down to me and snapped at me for no reason. The time he scolded me for stirring rather than shaking a vodka martini by sneering

You’re stirring vodka? Shake vodka; stir gin.

And then walked away and joked with one of the male bartenders, leaving me stewing and feeling tiny in the corner. Because that’s what happens sometimes. Sometimes you end up working in a boys club. Where (white) dude after (white) dude talks down to you and scolds you meanwhile your male coworkers do the exact same things as you and they get a slap on the back. And so of course he wouldn’t think that sexual assault allegations dating back decades against the highest grossing cable news anchor in history is that bad. Of course not. Because treating women poorly is just part of life. It’s just the way things are.

Sometimes I want to look at someone like him, some doughy faced boy, and just tell him about himself. I want him to know I am smarter than him, better informed, kinder and more responsible. But that doesn’t really matter because he can go out and get hammered and not worry about getting raped on his way home and he can routinely show up to work 2 hours late, still drunk from the night before, and be up for a promotion. Meanwhile Bill O’Reilly has gotten far, really far, my mistreating women and the only thing that actually got him ousted was Fox’s bottom line. And no, not the $13 million, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what O’Reilly brings in. It was because of the loss of advertisement dollars. It was because O’Reilly had to start doing 8 more minutes of show daily to make up for the shortening of commercial segments. And everyone can say that this is a win for the idea of corporate social responsibility, that this is capitalism at work, that large companies do in fact care but the fact of the matter is they care about where the money is. Meanwhile the true heroes are the women who are strong enough to take on one of the biggest men who works for perhaps the most misogynistic company in media today. That shit takes ovaries. Big fucking ovaries. Because you better believe that the die-hard O’Reilly fans are taking to the internet to harass, shame and threaten these women for bringing their idol crashing down. No matter that he did it to himself. And no matter that, although he won’t be returning to Fox News, he will be fine. These men are always fine. Look no further than Tucker Carlson who just took O’Reilly’s spot. He might not have racked up sexual harassment allegations but he is no stranger to treating women like garbage.

I had that moment of happiness, and although I am still happy about it I no longer see this as a win. Sure, O’Reilly is gone (for now) but what will replace him? Will the culture change? Will Fox, and the people who watch Fox, start asking themselves the tough questions about their behavior and their privilege and their opinions that are founded in ignorance rather than fact? Or will they just turn an angry eye to the accusers and the liberal scum who support them and retreat deeper into their hole? Because the truth is that O’Reilly might have lost advertisers but he did not lose many fans. And that is a problem. And it’s a problem that runs super deep because as offensive as my co-worker’s statement was, it was an accurate reflection of a normalized viewpoint. Sexual harassment against women isn’t that bad. Misogyny isn’t that bad. Rape isn’t that bad. The patriarchy isn’t that bad. And for those of us who believe the opposite, it is like living in an alternate universe. And it makes it hard to even celebrate the demise of one of the most hated men. It is hard to relish in his downfall. Because this is all a distraction from the bigger conversation. Bill O’Reilly’s ouster does not change the culture; he is just another scape goat for it. He will find himself another microphone. We have not seen the last of him. And in ways it feels as though we are no better off today than we were yesterday.

That Time a Lady Told me to Smile

7 Apr

I had a weird moment last night at work. It was this response to an interaction with this woman where I was like

Wow, Rebekah, you’ve changed!

but then at the same time

Ew, lady, aren’t we supposed to be on the same team here?

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to recount the story and then I am going to go ahead and address these two simultaneous reactions that I had to it. Ready? Break!

Part One: The Story

It is French Quarter Fest here in New Orleans. Anyone who has been here for any sort of fest at all knows that shit is cray. There are people everywhere. There is confusion. Costumes. Glitter. Music. Tourists. More zombies* than normal. It’s a whole thing. Not a bad thing, but a thing. To add to the drama let me inform you that I work in the French Quarter which, if your powers of deductive reasoning are on point, means that I work in the exact area where the French Quarter Fest is occurring. That means that my bar is busy busy busy.

I walked in last night at 5pm to a busier-than-average Thursday night. And the thing about a busier-than-average night in my place is that we have “steps of service.” The steps of service at the spot I worked at in Brooklyn basically involved getting drinks out as quickly as possible while avoiding the limes and clipboards that miffed customers could potentially hurl at your head. No joke. At this place the steps are more involved and less potentially dangerous. I am telling you all this just so that you know that getting people food and drinks at the spot I work at now is something of a process.

Alright so now imagine this. There we are during dinner on a busier-than-average Thursday night and all of a sudden me and one of my coworkers realize

Hey, why hasn’t any of the food we ordered come out? It’s been a minute.

And by a minute we meant like 45. We then come to find out that the printer in the kitchen has stopped working and they didn’t get any of the tickets. So this might lead one to ask ones self

Self, there is a full restaurant out there and yet there are no tickets coming through the printer. Has this city declared a moratorium on food or is something amiss?

But I don’t think anyone asked themselves that. Or maybe they did, I don’t know. But either way they didn’t keep the bar in the loop and we had two ladies on a 45 minute wait for a salad and some shrimp. Anyway, I was in the midst of discussing this fiasco with my manager when I heard from the other side of the bar a very curt and impatient

Hell-loooooooo.

I looked over to see a blonde lady staring at me with what I can only describe as crazy eyes. You know the eyes.

Me: Hi.
Lady: Gesticulates wildly to the space in front of her.
Me: What can I do for you?
Lady: Well, we just got here and….. (gives me a meaningful look that invited me to read her mind but really just made her look even crazier.)
Me: Here’s a drink menu. Would you like food also?
The lady looks at her husband and they share a communal huff and make moves to get up. I shrug my shoulders and take the menu back and go back to the conversation about the broken ticket printer in the kitchen which I was in the middle of having when she sassed me in the first place.
Lady: Smile.
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Lady: Smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile. You would make a lot more money if you smiled. Mo-ney. Smiiii-llleee. (All the while she is using her hands to demonstrate what a smile the size of Texas might look like and staring at me as if I had somehow committed the largest offense ever.)

They then left. But not after telling me that they live in the city and would never be back to this restaurant ever again if their life depended on it. I shed a silent tear. And then I went back to doing my job. Meanwhile, all the people around this couple were shocked and could not understand what had just happened. I told them I also couldn’t understand it. They said they thought I was nice. I agreed. One guy said he thought they came in with a bad attitude. I said he was probably right. We all laughed and laughed. And then we carried on with our evenings, largely unaffected by the bad attitude cloud that had momentarily descended on the bar.

Part Two: I’ve Changed!

Have you ever had some big experience and then afterwards noticed a large change in yourself? This is totally stupid but when I came back from my year abroad I noticed that, as a result of the countless hours spent in various modes of transportation, sometimes for hours and hours longer than expected, I was completely unfazed by being stuck in traffic or being on long car rides. This is still the case all these years later. I used to get a little impatient but now I’m like

Eh. Whatever. I’m sitting here.

In the grand scheme of things that isn’t such a big thing but it certainly does make the amount of traveling I do significantly easier. AND I think it makes me a better car partner. So anyway, in the past if I had an experience like the one with the lady, I would have gone down this whole rabbit hole of emotion. I would have analyzed every single second of our interaction and tried to figure out what exactly I had done to cause her to behave like such an asshole. But sometimes, people are just assholes. Or, they behave like assholes in a specific moment for no real reason. And sometimes there is nothing you do to cause it and nothing you can do to prevent it and so your only solution is to shrug your shoulders and be like

Alright cool what’s next.

And that’s just what I did. I sort of figured if they wanted to be Bad Attitude Bears all around town that was on them and I certainly didn’t need to let it effect the rest of my night or the service I provided to other people. So, fuck ’em. I hope they went home and stewed in their own unhappiness rather than raining it down upon the rest of us people just out trying to have a good time or make a buck.

Part Three: Teammates? No?

I should have learned this already following the presidential election but a lot of white women suck. And beyond that, all us women are not on the same team. Okay, fine. But here’s the thing. Men tell me to smile a lot. A LOT. I’ll be walking down the street and hear some dude be all

C’mon, honey, it’s not that bad. Smile.

Or

You’d look a lot better if you’d smile.

I find that super offensive. It very well might be that bad. And maybe I don’t feel like smiling. But either way shut the fuck up my face is not your concern. Basically every woman I have ever spoken to about it also finds it offensive. The thing about it is I know a lot of women and none of them, not a single one, goes about life with a smile plastered on her face at all times. And I get it, work is different, especially when you work in service. You have to smile more. It makes people feel welcome and people who feel welcome have a better time and tip better. Yadda yadda yadda. The funny thing about it is that I smile at work a lot. I smile so much that some of the dudes in the kitchen call me sunshine. I smile so much that when the barback heard that some lady told me to smile he looked at me and said,

You? Jesus. I think you should smile less.

And so, yeah, I know we all don’t see life the same way but, come on lady! Get a clue! It’s like, I expect men to be condescending assholes and tell me how to live my life down to my every facial expression. I don’t like it but I expect it. I do not, however, expect it to come from a woman who has most likely had a similar experience and felt disempowered or spoken down to or whatever. It’s like, way to drink the koolaid, bitch. Way to just swallow, full stop, normalized sexism and misogyny and throw it in the face of someone 15 years younger than you because you didn’t get a menu and a glowing smile the very second your ass hit the barstool. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t willing to ignore your impatience and rudeness and discern exactly what you needed at that exact moment. I’m pretty good at my job but I am not a magician.

***

And with that, I must away. another 3 days of French Quarter Fest await and I have to do my facial exercises, you know, so I can smile more.

* Zombies, New Orleans style (n): zom-bie
(1) a. a will-less and speechless human (as in West Indian voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have drank too much on Bourbon Street and been supernaturally reanimated
b. the supernatural power of the Hurricane or Hand Grenade that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body

My Name is Rebekah and I Exhaust Myself

22 Mar

This past May while wandering through the streets of New Orleans I decided I was going to move for a while. It was a weird sort of calm and assuredness that I had about the decision, something that is not normal for me. I constantly second-guess my choices, paralyzing myself through the fear that maybe the plan I have hatched for myself isn’t right, that I will miss out on some opportunity. Every once in awhile though something just comes into my mind that seems so right, so perfect, that I just dive in and hope for the best. Moving to New Orleans, even temporarily, was one of those plans.

***

I remember a few years back a friend of mine decided to leave Brooklyn. We ended up talking one night about whatever came into our heads and I remember just looking over at him and saying

You know that even if you move somewhere else, you’re still going to be there, right? You’re still going to be you? So just make sure it’s here you don’t want to be, and not that it’s you that you don’t want to be.

He looked at me for a while, nodded his head, and we continued on to something else less heavy. I’ve thought about that conversation a lot over the past few years; I think about it almost daily now. And I wonder, why did I run away from my life? And what did I think would happen, would change? Who did I think I would become?

***

I’ve spent a great deal of time by myself here. That was sort of the point. I needed to just, I don’t know, be with myself. To try and get a sense of what I want and, perhaps more importantly, what sort of thing I want to put out into the world. What sort of person I want to be. But perhaps it’s more complicated than that – I am still trying to work this bit out honestly. It’s not that I don’t know who I am, it’s that sometimes who I am is just too much because who I am is tied up so much in being the best me that I can be and for me that means being the most supportive, most giving, most there person I can possibly manage. And when I can’t be those things to the degree that I think I should be capable of, I experience this crippling guilt and sadness and feeling that I should have done more, should have been more, should have given more. But sometimes, there is just not any more to give. I feel like by the time I left Brooklyn I had hit the bottom of my well. I had depleted myself emotionally and physically. I was exhausted. I was breaking out in hives daily. My hair was falling out. I honestly had nothing left. And I had no one to blame but myself. So I got in my car and went.

***

The thing about leaving your life behind, as I said to my friend a few years earlier, is that your life follows you. Or, more accurately, you follow you. The essence of me, for lack of a better term, didn’t stay in Brooklyn when I came to New Orleans. It got into my small Honda Civic with me and took the 2 week long winding journey through the eastern United States and landed in this awesome shot gun apartment in the Marigny. And now it makes itself cozy in my bedroom and hangs out with me in my backyard. It comes with me to work and does speed repeats with me on the track. It’s just me…and it’s exhausting. I am exhausting. I fucking exhaust myself.

So that’s what I’ve learned so far on this journey. Something I sort of already knew but didn’t actually apply to myself. Which is basically that we can be different versions of ourselves in different locations and with different people and in different contexts, but we are, at our core, still ourselves, for better or for worse. We bring all of our habits, all of our tendencies, our strengths and our weaknesses with us and it’s just a matter of figuring out how to manage it all and, for me, it’s a matter of figuring out how to be the best me for myself, not for everyone else, and trusting in the fact that being good to me oftentimes results in being a better me to others, which is what I ultimately always strive for.

Also, it means less hives. And let me assure you, when it comes to hives, less is always more.

New Orleans Diary: Weeks 13 and 14

7 Mar

Goal: Fuck the goal. I missed another week (I blame Mardi Gras) and now rather than writing on Fridays and also Mondays I am randomly posting on a Tuesday. Things are all out of whack. Also I don’t think anyone really reads these posts anyways so it’s become sort of like that thing about the tree. You know the thing: if a tree falls in the forrest and no one hears it does it make a sound? If my blog gets published and no one reads it do the words in fact form sentences? (I need to work on that but you get the picture.) So in summation I am just going to write when I want and not hold myself to any sort of schedule which is counter to the original purpose of this series (to force myself into a publishing schedule) but whatever. Fuck it.

Face Tattoos: There are a lot of face and head tattoos here. A lot. In April of 2004 I made out with a dude in Mexico who had a face tattoo. And one time when I was in the Poconos visiting The Aunties the craziest thing happened. We were walking through the parking lot towards the We-Is (local supermarket actually spelled Weis) when we found ourselves walking behind this guy who had his own face tattooed on the back of his head. But really. I know it was his own face because I ran around the front of him (by way of ducking behind cars because I figured someone with his own face tattooed on the back of his very own head was maybe scary) and confirmed. There he was in the front and the back. Very weird.  I’ve never really been the same.

As I was saying, there are a lot of face and head tattoos here. And I’ve been thinking about it and it seems like a face tattoo is a larger commitment than tattoos other places. Your face is the first thing people see. And usually the thing people remember you by. I mean, do you for sure, but it’s a commitment is all. Anyway. There are so many face and head tattoos that I almost don’t even notice them anymore. Back in Brooklyn there was one guy with face tattoos. He had some sort of tribal something or other that covered his whole face and whenever I saw him I thought to myself

Wow. That guy does not give a fuck.

I also thought to myself

That guy is on a whole lot of drugs.

Which had more to do with his style of walking and his glassy eyes than the face tattoos.

I got distracted. The point is that there are a lot of people with face tattoos here. I don’t know exactly where I was going with all this so I guess I will sum it up thusly: I have never seen more face tattoos in one place ever in my life.

White People Dreadlocks: There are so many White People Dreadlocks here it’s unbelievable. So many. I have to say that I try to stay away from their congregation areas as best I can. That might make me an asshole but it’s the truth. They all have pitbulls which normally would be like whatever but I think they have the pitbulls for protection so I don’t really want to fuck with them. Also I am pretty sure they are armed. Not the pitbulls, the people. As far as I can tell they spend a lot of time (all of their time maybe?) on the streets and the streets here are not safe and so I am certain that they have knives and things. I want nothing to do with knives unless they are being used to cook me food so if I believe someone has knives for reasons other than cooking me food I stay away.

Let me be more specific. Because this is what it really is. Yesterday as I was walking from one job to another I saw a White Boy Dreadlocks sitting on the street and he was holding a cardboard sign that said

I need a guitar

and I literally almost lost my shit. Like no, mother fucker, you need to chop off your culturally appropriative haircut, get a goddamn job, get out of my fucking way and buy your own guitar! Or call your fucking parents. I don’t know but give me a fucking break. Give me a break! You are white. You are male. You are able bodied. The system is built for you. If you need food that’s one thing but a guitar? You are on the street with a cardboard sign begging for a luxury item? Like, what, should I sit down next to you and hold up a sign that says

I need a plane ticket to India so I can fuck off for awhile

Or

I need to go out to Pesch for dinner

Or

I need a new computer.

No, asshole. What you need to go is get a fucking clue. Ugh that shit makes me so mad. It’s like, you can’t be all “woe is me I have no money” but also look at me I am so privileged and I am owed this thing that I want. I don’t only want it I need it and therefore I will have it and you will help me to buy it. The privilege is what gets me. And now I will stop being that old white lady yelling “get off my lawn!” at the neighbor’s kids.

Antisemitism: It is real and there is a lot of it here. I hear casual antisemitism at work on the regular. I am not going to really go into it because it is the same bullshit. You know, Jews are cheap, Jews run the government and the media, Jews are basically trying to take over the world. Nothing ground breaking there really. My favorite though is when one person makes an antisemitic comment like “oh you’re so cheap…you’re such a Jew” and the person next to them then starts discussing the first time she met a Jew and how the Jew was actually a lot nicer than she had expected! Little do they all know that their drinks were made by a Jew in person right then and there! That’s right, folks, that Sazerac was stirred by the horned devil herself! The Jewess! You sure you still want to drink that? I used the cheap whisky, you know, like a Jew would.

I don’t know, it’s crazy. It’s crazy in part because there has been such an uptick in open and unabashed antisemitism since SCROTUS took office. A friend of mine actually texted her dad to see whether the cemetery in which her grandparents were buried was one of the ones vandalized (it wasn’t). But that’s a real concern right now. Shit is fucked. It’s also crazy because I grew up in a very Jewish area. I am used to being around Jews all the time. I am used to feeling normal. But down here, and in this current political climate, I feel everything but. I have never been more aware of my Jewishness in my entire life. For the first time ever it actually feels like a liability. Which I suppose it always has been. That’s part of the fun of being a minority.

The other day a dude came into my bar. He was down from Philly, originally from Newark. We identified one another right away. It was the accent (or the lack of accent as he assured me), the look and just, I don’t know, the way. It took us about 30 seconds to get into what has been happening. I mentioned to him the antisemitism I have been experiencing since being down here and he just looked at me and said

Yup. Everyone hates us.

Just matter-of-fact. Just like that. And I was like, yeah, it’s true. He said what I have been thinking, what a friend of mine and I have been talking about for months. The fact that everyone hates us. It’s a quiet hatred, made louder recently, but it is always there. We thought we were safe. We’re not. And people make sure to make it known. Especially down here. And what can I do?

Conclusion: I should have posted about Mardi Gras and all that because it was really fun. Maybe I will save that for another week. This one took a somber turn and after all that it just doesn’t feel appropriate. I did, however, put on a lot of glitter. I think it probably entered my blood stream through my pores. I hope it did. We could all use a little more glitter these days.

Women Are Human Beings, A Brief Investigation

23 Feb

Men, am I right?

The thing about men, as an overarching group, is that they basically suck. Especially white men. Because white people as a group also basically suck. My math is as follows, feel free to follow along and check. Keep in mind, however, that math was never exactly my forte. Honestly I am not entirely sure that what follows even qualifies as math but I’m going with it.

 

       If Men = Bad
       And White People = Bad
       Then Men + White People = Bad x 2

And then actually I can continue on this path of logic a little bit further and say that people on The Internet are pretty awful. But especially men. And most especially the white ones. And so it follows:

       If Men = Bad
       And White People = Bad
       And Also Internet = Bad
       Then Men + White People + Internet = Bad x 3

QED, right? I think so, too.

***

Yesterday I made the mistake of interacting with a man who I don’t know on The Internet. This always ends in tears. Or, in this particular case, me shaking with anger and having to pour myself a wee nip of wine to calm myself before heading off to work. (I work in a bar so this is entirely acceptable.) The gist of what happened is as follows:

  1. Dude comments on a link posted by a friend concerning the controversial Oklahoma Bill that would require women to receive permission from the man responsible for the sperm that helped create a fetus before being allowed to obtain an abortion. Dude claimed although the language was “objectionable” that what the legislator, Justin Humphrey, said is not entirely absurd. (Dude was nice enough to state that there should obviously be certain times when this rule doesn’t apply such as rape and domestic abuse.)
  2. I responded that the statement is in fact entirely absurd and then explained why, starting with assumptions I believe are made on behalf of the anti-choice camp and continuing on to highlight, quite rationally I might add, all of the financial and lifestyle changes that women alone have to endure in order to grow and then deliver a child oh and also our seriously fucked up national, and international, history when it comes to dealing with rape and domestic abuse.
  3. Dude said I needed to make a rational argument.
  4. My friend chimed in to tell Dude he ought to read Casey vs Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court decision that actually deemed laws such as these unconstitutional.
  5. I said that I had, in fact, made a rational argument.
  6. Dude responded that I had “ranted incoherently” and then decided to give me “pro tips” on how to behave in the future.

I bowed out at this time but not before a bunch of other people weighed in. The interaction went on and on and on. And on. At some point my friend Nick said the following:

No, you received a comprehensive breakdown of reasons why “because it’s my body” is a perfectly legitimate position. You didn’t want to confront it, called the woman voicing them incoherent and then tried to shift into a pointless rhetorical argument that you’ll just pursue until people get tired of it and move on with their lives.

Then you’ll feel comfortably superior… for some reason that only you yourself will ever truly understand.

As correct as that statement in fact was, it is really only the tip of the iceberg. So before I really get into it, let me just address a few things so that we can set them aside and move on. Myself and many other women, and certainly all the women I know, are incredibly sick of seeing old white men, and young white men for that matter, attempt to regulate our bodies through archaic, paternalistic legislation. We are also tired of having men tell us this legislation is actually not that bad and then, in an archaic and paternalistic manner, tell us exactly why. So let me say this here and now:

Abortion is necessary. Equal access to safe abortion services is needed. It is a right that all women should have, regardless of race, religion, income level, geographic location or circumstance surrounding the pregnancy. Women are not hosts, women are human beings. The argument that pregnancy means that we should somehow lose autonomy over our own bodies, our own lives, is not only absurd it is dehumanizing, disempowering and dangerous. And it is especially dangerous for low income women of color because wealthy, white women will always, I repeat always, be able to gain access to a safe, private abortion regardless of what the law says.

Women are tired of having to explain to men, over and over and over again, why exactly it is that we should have autonomy over our own bodies and why our feelings about a pregnancy necessarily matter more than theirs. The fact that this conversation continues tells me that the overarching norm concerning this issue is that women’s bodies should not be self-governed but that instead our bodies exist in the public sphere. This is simply not so. The fact that this conversation continues also tells me that women are not heard. Full stop. And that, friends, is the point of this post.

 ***

I am here to tell you right now that what exists inside of my skull is not a lady brain. It is a brain. A fully formed, fully functioning human brain capable of reasoning, of critical thinking, of debating, of retaining, analyzing and dispensing of all manner of complicated information. But what I hear, and what other women hear, is that what we have to say is simply not as valid as what men have to say. And that our space to say those things does not belong to us. We have to fight for that space every single time. And when we  occupy that space, we have to be as direct, as accurate, and as quick as possible in using it because any misstep becomes the meat of what we said. And even if there is no misstep, if we simply state a dissenting opinion, we are dismissed as ranting, as incoherent, as harpies, as cunts.

This has been happening to every single one of us since the day we were born, whether we realize it or not. And it happens much more to women of color than to white women because white women do it to women of color. The thing, though, is that it does not only happen at the hands of legislators in Oklahoma or anywhere else, or at the hands of random men on The Internet, but also at the hands of our friends and family. I have said this before and I will say it again: misogyny is insidious. And because it is insidious, it is internalized not only by men but by women as well. I left that interaction yesterday feeling as though my sanity had been taken from me. Feeling as though, for lack of a less “in” term, I had been gaslit. I made the argument to this person that just because he refused to engage with my analysis does not mean that my analysis ceased to exist. But the fact of the matter is that again and again men define the terms. This person was only willing to have an argument on the terms that he delineated, that fit snuggly within a set of rules that he had written and that could potentially change at any time. Any deviation from the desired debate or conversation was deemed irrational, incoherent and rambling. That is the reality in which myself and all women live.

Plain and simple: we do not control the conversation even when we’re the subject of it.

This ill-advised interaction I had with this Internet presence is actually symptomatic of a much larger issue, larger even than women’s right to control their own bodies. It is symptomatic of a world in which a woman’s voice matter significantly less than a man’s. It is symptomatic of a world in which men have the power, through sheer force of will and institutional misogyny, to dictate the terms of conversation and to require women to either fit within those confines or feel like a hormonal, crazy, rambling bitch. It is a world in which we second guess our own thoughts, interpretations and experiences. It is a world in which I say about men on the regular:

He doesn’t like women. Yeah, he likes to fuck women. But he doesn’t like women.

That is where I live. That is where we all live. So seriously Internet Guy, I am going to do to you what you did to me. I am going to silence you. You ready?

Here’s the deal. You are, quite simply, wrong. Making an argument other than that women should 100% be in control of their own biological processes is illogical. Whatever way that you choose to defend your ill-conceived position, is incoherent, irrelevant and a waste of your time and mine. You do not know how to argue. And you do not get to determine the terms of this discussion. In conclusion, the reason that you, and men like you, work so hard to keep women down is that when it comes down to it we are, in fact, superior specimens. We can make life. And we also have the right to choose not to make life. Get with it. Your opinion on this issue does not matter.

***

Post Note: If any of you are doubting this analysis, if any of you think that the way our world works is not in large part dictated through a lens of misogyny, then explain to me how Donald J. Trump is our President. And if you tell me that it’s because the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders over, think a little more.

 

 

 

New Orleans Diary: Week 12

21 Feb

Goal: I have totally fallen off the goal. The idea was to write weekly, which I have largely been doing save for the week of SCROTUS’ inauguration when I decided to take the week off. Then I decided to move my posts to Monday because I work on Friday so it made it hard. But now here it is Tuesday. But whatever it’s cool. At least I am writing it at some point, right? Right.

Haircuts: So as it turns out, getting my hair cut is just as dangerous here as it is in New York. People always want to hack my fucking hair off. Every time. I tell them I want a trim and VOILA all of a sudden I have gotten a foot cut off my hair. This is how it happens.

Stylist: Wow, you have such beautiful long hair!
Me: Thanks. I just need a trim though I think the ends are dead.
Stylist: Yeah, probably like the bottom three inches need to go. But wow, it is so long and healthy!
Me: Thanks. So yeah, just if you could maybe cut like 4-5 inches off? I still want long hair. I like my hair long.
Stylist: Of course. So let me see. So you want it like, here? (Demonstrates exactly what I asked for.)
Me: Yeah that would be perfect.
Stylist: Okay great. So to be clear: you want it long enough that it covers your bust, is that right?
Me: Yeah, that’s as short as I would go. But maybe I’d like it even a few inches longer than that.
Stylist: Okay great

HACK HACK HACK HACK HACK

Stylist: So, what do you think? It’s just how you wanted it!
Me: Um…it’s like 3 inches below my shoulders.
Stylist: Doesn’t it look great?
Me: It’s not long.
Stylist: Well, I curled it so it looks a little shorter than it actually is. Once you wash it and the curl comes out it will be exactly where you want it to be!
Me: (Stretches a lock of hair as straight as it can go. It is about 3/4 an inch longer without the curl.) Yeah, it’s short. Thanks a lot.

And this is what always confuses me. This certain stylist that I have come into contact with multiple times always goes on and on and one about how long and beautiful and thick my hair is and how great it is that I can grow my hair and it can still be so thick and healthy and then HACK they cut it all off. Like, why? Why did you say that it was so beautiful if you were going to then kill it with your scissors? Why waste your breath? Why not be like

Listen, bitch, I know better than you because I am a hair cutter and you are a lowly hair grower so imma cut this shit all off.

And then I would at least have the opportunity to run. Don’t stand there and talk all about your love life and your hair stylist experience and subsequently do exactly the thing I asked you not to do like 15 million times. Imagine if I did something like this at work.

Me: What can I get for you?
Customer: A gin and tonic please.
Me: Any specific kind of gin?
Customer: Just the well is fine.
Me: Great! So just to be clear, you want our well gin here right in front of me and then some tonic water from the soda gun?
Customer: That’s right. Yes.

MIX MIX SHAKE STIR MIX ADD MIX

Me: Here it is! Just what you wanted! A Ramos Gin Fizz with Hendricks! That will be $15 please.

That would never happen first of all because it would be rude and presumptive of me to make a drink someone expressly didn’t want because I thought I knew better and secondly because Ramos Gin Fizz’s are super annoying to make and whenever anyone orders one from me I always sneaky pass it along to one of my coworkers and make them do it. But you get the point. My hair is short and it looks sporty and stupid and I hate it. So if you need me sometime over the next 6-12 months, leave me a message. I will be busy trying to grow my hair back.

The world is so small!: I have been working at this one restaurant in New Orleans for all of a month. That is not very long. But in the month that I have been there I have seen 5 different people that I knew from New York! Granted two of them were in couples so it was only 3 instances of seeing people but still! That’s crazy! Yesterday I saw my friend Jason and his wife Colleen. I was so surprised to see them because I was just popping in for my check but there they were sitting at the bar having drinks I snacks.  I think maybe I was weird because I was so surprised. Sorry, Jason! Sorry Colleen!

It’s just that it really catches you off guard when you are wearing a silly uniform behind a bar in a city where you don’t know very many people and all of a sudden someone you knew from what feels like a different life walks in and you’re all like

Woah.

Super trippy. Because there are a lot of bars and restaurants in New Orleans. A LOT. But people keep walking into mine. And now one actually knows where I work so it’s just super extra weird but also awesome. Is this a sign that I should go back to New York? Maybe? Maybe New York is like

Hey! Hey! Remember me? You lived here for your entire adult life? I am going to just send a few people that you like down there to just randomly walk into your place of employment so you can remember just how much you like it here, kay? Kay.

Well played NYC. You so sneaky.

Men: UGH. (I actually almost feel as though I could just finish the section right there but I will elaborate.) Yesterday was one of those days where maybe I should have just not left the house. Okay okay, that’s not entirely true. Last Wednesday was a day when I should have just not left the house. That was The Day of the Horrible Haircut, The Day that I Lost One of My Favorite Earrings and also The Day my WhatsApp Got Hacked and I Had a Panic Attack. All in all last Wednesday was not my best day. Yesterday was fine until I had to walk to work to pick up my check because something totally weird happened with it and it didn’t get direct deposited. I am not going to go into all that but suffice it to say it was annoying and confusing and I am pretty sure that I am being harassed by an ill-intentioned spirit or internet person. ANYWAY, moving along. Yesterday my walk to work was going just fine until I passed by this dude on a bike and he looks at me and goes

Let me get a taste. Excuse me, I said let me get a taste of you.

Like as if I hadn’t heard him the first time. As if I hadn’t intentionally ignored him (while resisting the urge to vomit). Nope, he assumed I just hadn’t heard him and that if he said it again a little louder and included the oh-so-polite “excuse me” as a precursor I would be like

SURE THING! Let me just drop my pants right now. Get your tongue ready, boy! This shit tastes gooooooood.

Ew gross I can’t believe I even just typed that. Excuse me while I shower.

Fifteen minutes later…

I’m back now. In real life I didn’t actually say that gross thing I just typed up there that I will not type again or even reread. No siree. Instead I chose the more tactful route and yelled

The fuck is wrong with you, you disgusting piece of shit. Get the fuck outta here. Get a taste? I’ll give you a fucking taste of something you piece of garbage. How about this? I hope your fucking dick falls off. How does that taste?

I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed the interaction but no one seemed to notice one way or the other. Of course there were some people walking around in storm trooper outfits on the other end of the block so maybe they were distracted? Anyway I kept walking. And the very next dude I saw, the very next goddamn one, was wearing a shirt that said “Bitch Give Me Head” and he was holding some stupid goldfish tank full of liquor and walking down the street with a lady. A LADY! I’ll tell you what, if I met to hang out with some dude, friend or otherwise, and he was wearing a shirt that said “Bitch Give Me Head” I would throw paint on him and kick him in the nuts. Or maybe I would kick him in the nuts first and then throw the paint because I wouldn’t want to get paint on my clothes. I am not about to ruin my outfit because some asshole thinks he’s funny. And truth be told since I don’t normally walk around with paint I would have to come up with some other solution. Maybe I would take his goldfish bowl of booze and pour it over his stupid head and then make him wear one of those ridiculous novelty shirts that says “I POOPED” on it for the rest of his time in New Orleans. Bitch give me head. Please. I also hope his dick falls off.

Conclusion: I don’t know, I think that’s about it for now. I wish I had more New Orleans specific things to report on but I had to miss the Krewe of Barkus because that entitled coworker I bitched about last week was a no call/no show and got himself fired so we all had to pick up the slack. I had to pick up the part of the slack that conflicted with seeing a bunch of dogs wearing costumes. But! This week should be fun. Muses is happening on Thursday and my friend Tiffini is coming to visit and is staying with me. Also, Victoria is here not staying with me and so is Austin and his family! Fun times ahead. Stay tuned!

New Orleans Diary: Week Eleven

13 Feb

Goal: To write a weekly blog post about the nonsense that I notice as I go about my life here in the Crescent City. I have decided to move my weekly posting to Monday since I work all weekend. So in case you were wondering, I post on Mondays now.

A New Word: This past Tuesday there were tornadic activities! And through these activities I discovered that tornadic is, in fact, a word (although one that is not identified as such by my WordPress spell checker since every time I type it out I get one of those bright red squiggly “you spelled this wrong” lines underneath it). Who knows, maybe with the environment being all fucked up there will be more tornadic actitivities and it will become the American Dialect Society Word of the Year (WotY) for the United States. Let us take a trip down memory lane and explore some past WotY’s, shall we? (Oh my god I am looking down the list and it is hard to just choose a few because they are ALL SO STUPID and also oftentimes not just words but phrases. I will try though. And I will include some phrases.)

1991: “mother of all” (as in Saddam Hussein’s “mother of all battles”)
1992: “not!” (meaning just kidding) <—- this is not a joke
2006: “plutoed” (demoted or devalued, as in what happened to the former planet Pluto) Although I think Pluto might be a planet again? Or maybe it was a planet again and then it got redemoted to dwarf planet. It’s really hard to keep track.
2013: because introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech (e.g., “because reasons,” “because awesome”) <—- This is really dumb.
2016: dumpster fire (an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation)

Apparently in 2012 the WotY was almost YOLO which would have made me spit my coffee angrily all over the kitchen because never has a stupider thing existed. YOLO. So dumb. Drake and I are in a serious fight about that one.

Since I am down this particular rabbit hole, did you folks know that in 2009 PETA attempted to rebrand fish as sea kittens? I didn’t. Clearly that effort failed. But! I can add it to my list of reasons as to why PETA sucks. Also, the American Dialect Society decided that the 2015 “most outrageous” word was “fuckboy” or, alternatively, “fuckboi.” I would like to respectfully disagree with this categorization, especially as seeing it is in the company of other words/phrases such as 2010’s “gate-rape” which is a pejorative term referring to the invasive airport pat-down procedure and 2014’s “second amendment” as a verb. I’m sorry but anyone who uses the word “rape” pejoratively needs to have a conversation with me and also I wish people would stop verbing things all the time (see what I did there?). Alternatively, I find the term fuckboy(i) to be incredibly useful and I would ordinarily trade it with the actual WotY for 2015 except that the word for that year is, amazingly, a good one:

2015: Singular they (as a gender-neutral pronoun, especially for non-binary gender identities)

Good on ya, American Dialect Society.

Just one more thing though before I move on. I decided to double-check my spelling of tornadic just to make sure that the red squiggly lines were in fact due to WordPress not recognizing the word and not me being unable to spell it. While I was doing my research I discovered the Urban Dictionary definition of tornadic. It is as follows:

when your titties start bouncing so hard in a tornado circular motion you are jet propelled off of the ground, often landing in unfamiliar areas.

You’re welcome.

Speaking of the Weather: There were actually tornadoes here (thanks to all those who checked in!). It was weird. Here’s the thing: in the northeast we don’t really have weather events, by and large, which is one of the big appeals of living there if you ask me. There is an occasional super storm or frankenstorm or snow-pocalypse or arctic freeze (is that what they called it or is that some sort of delicious frozen beverage from DQ?) but for the most part we never get the real deals. Not many hurricanes, very infrequent tornados, the blizzards can be intense but not like how they are in the midwest, no creeping lakes of ice that appear at your back door. So getting alerts on my phone that said

Tornado warning in effect. Do not go outside. Take cover.

was alarming to say the least. And you better believe I took cover. I do not fuck around with weather events, especially ones I know fuck all about. Luckily for me and my friends we were all safe in the end but it was really scary. A lot of people in the area lost their homes and businesses, had properties that experienced severe damage or sustained injuries. It’s really fucking awful and my heart goes out to all of the people impacted. Orleans and Livingston Parish were both seriously effected by the storm which was categorized as an EF-3 tornado. For those of us not all that familiar with tornadoes (such as myself), let me fill you in on some information that I gathered.

  1. The EF scale is short for the Enhanced Fujita Scale and it is used to rate the intensity of a tornado based off the damage they cause. As an EF-3, this was the strongest tornado recorded since record keeping began in 1950.
  2. The winds from an EF3 tornado reach between 136 and 165 miles per hour. Wow, that’s fast. The strongest tornado, rated as an EF-5, have 3 second wind gusts reaching over 200 miles per hour. Jesus fucking Christ. Stay away from us please EF-5 tornadoes!
  3. Even though tornadoes happen in different countries around the world, they are most devastating here in the United States and specifically in Tornado Alley which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and, you guessed, good old Louisiana. This area is impacted due to the effects on the atmosphere of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Basically, and I don’t actually understand this fully so I am going to quote from this tornado guy from the University of Oklahoma, “a strong westerly jet stream across the Alley creates instability and a trough of low pressure that draws in warm, moist air from the Gulf. Conditions for the supercells [large, powerful thunderstorms] that spawn tornadoes require strong vertical wind shear [changes in wind speed and direction with height] and lots of instability — as happens in Tornado Alley.

I did some more research and it all basically led me to the following conclusion: tornadoes are scary as fuck. And they usually don’t come until the spring! But we got one this past Tuesday, February 7th which is decidedly not the spring time and supports the fact that global warming is actually a thing and the weather is going all bonkers now. Did you hear that SCROTUS? Scott Pruitt? Are you assholes listening? Watching the weather channel? Visiting Tornado Alley? Anything at all?!

White Dudes Gonna White Dude: (I cannot take credit for that statement. It came from my friend Beth but I pretty much use it all the time now.) As it turns out, stupid, young white dudes are the same everywhere. When I was in Brooklyn I worked with this kid who drove me bananas because (a) he sucked at his job but still thought he should make all the money and be promoted; (b) he was insanely lazy and spent more time on the phone, smoking and bullshitting with people than actually doing what needed to be done; and (c) he would not take instruction from women, under any circumstances, ever. One time I yelled at him for disappearing for over and hour and he asked me if I was on my period. Because, you know, that’s relevant, his business and not sexist at all. I was so pleased when I stopped working there and never had to deal with his stupid face ever again. Until now. Because I have a new coworker who is basically exactly the same. Lazy, know-it-all, loves to benefit from a tip pool because he can make half the money and do less than half the work, and he will not take instruction from women, under any circumstances, ever. So, in conclusion, this particular brand of white dudes are the same in Brooklyn and New Orleans. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. What, no hands? Shocking.

Actually Not Done with the Tornado: While I was watching the weather channel, one of the things that the meteorologists kept talking about was how the weather was going to effect those living in FEMA trailers. Where they have been living since Hurricane Katrina. Which happened in the year 2005. This summer will be 12 years since the storm and some people are still living in FEMA trailers. This is something I already was aware of but the thing that is shocking to me here is that it was just mentioned so nonchalantly on The Weather Channel. That particular population is obviously a serious concern when it comes to such powerful storms because there is nothing really keeping those trailers on the ground except their sheer weight. And as I learned through my research, when a serious storm touches down nothing above ground is safe.

Nothing above ground is safe.

I don’t really have the space in this post to go through how incredibly fucked up it is that in this country we have people living for over a decade in disaster-relief housing. You would think that there would be room in the national budge to help these Americans, these people, who have been treated as subhuman for the past going on 12 years, after they were entirely overlooked in the time leading up to, during and directly after Katrina hit. It’s really sickening. But yeah, sure, keep the Muslims out. Build a goddamn wall. Make abortion illegal. Make America White Again.

Oh, and also, FEMA is pledging aid following the most recent tornadoes. That is until SCROTUS further defunds it. Kaaaaaay.

Conclusion: This was an intense one. I learned a lot about words of the year and tornadoes and I got mad about white dudes and the fact that our country doesn’t give a fuck that people have been living in FEMA trailers for over a decade. Maybe next week I will return to plastic bags and nutria rats. Either way let me say this: there are a lot of ways in which this world impresses and amazes me, and a lot of ways in which this world, the one we all inhabit day in and day out, makes me absolutely sick. That the earth is capable of creating such intense weather events seemingly out of nothing is scary but incredible. And that we are able to forget the suffering of others and decide, through either our action or inaction, which people are valuable and which are not, is really disheartening. But here we are, folks. Living in this world for better or for worse.