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An Open Letter to the Women in My Life

31 Jan

Dear Women in my Life,

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my sanity and my strength. You are why I get up in the morning. No, you are how I get up in the morning. You are my sounding board and my support; you are my protection and my reinforcement; you are in my corner pretty much always and when you aren’t, and for good reason at times, you explain why in the most compassionate ways to make me understand my mistake, but to still ensure I never feel abandoned. With all of you, I am never alone.

These past few months have been tough, for all of us. Every single time I open my eyes it feels like a brand new affront, a brand new injustice, another way our government is being taken from us, used against us; its intentions hidden under layers of lies, or alternate facts, or fake news, or whatever the fuck they are calling it today. And for a moment I feel like it is too much, like it is me against everything, like I am living in this world where up is down and injustice is being legislated and a plagiarist is running the Department of Education. (Because, actually, that is the world we are living in excuse me while I scream.) But then I remember the women I am lucky enough to call friends and family and I breath a sigh of relief knowing that you are all there, that we are all going through this, and that we will somehow get through it with the love and support of one another.

So let me say this again: thank you. Thank you for your support, for your ears, for your understanding, for your analysis, for your dismay and anger and sadness and disbelief about all that is happening around us. I feel that too. And I hope that I have been able to provide even a small percentage of all that you have provided me. Because here’s the deal, ladies, we have a long haul. And women do a lot of emotional labor.

A lot of emotional labor.

A fucking lot.

And that emotional labor is unpaid and, more often than not, expected but underappreciated. And so let me say that I appreciate that emotional labor, that work, that we are all doing for one another. I notice it and I would not be able to live without it. But let us all remember that in the midst of all of this work, and all of this struggle, and all of this pain and disbelief and heartache, to take care of ourselves. Let us not forget to ask for the support of those around us. There is nothing shameful in it. Believe me there is more than enough emotional work to go around. And it is okay, too, to take a step back and say

Hey, this is all too much, I need a minute.

Take that minute. You deserve it. We all deserve it and more than that, we all require it. I had a conversation with a few of my core women today about the importance of self care and the importance of remembering that we cannot put in the work, we cannot be the best us in these horrible times, if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of one another. If we don’t ask for an ear or extra support and love on an especially tough day. If we don’t say,

Hey, friends, I need you to just check in on me today. Today the hurt is too much.

Because sometimes it just is. Our strength comes from our ability to admit when it is all just too much to handle alone. That’s when the rest of us can come in and be reinforcements, that’s when the rest of us can give you what you need – be that an ear or a drink or a joke or the biggest most heartfelt hug we can muster or some shared tears.

So again, thank you. For everything you have done and for everything you will do going forward. Because as I said before, there is a lot to be done, a lot to be endured, and we will need one another more than ever. And let me also say this: I am here for you as best as I know how. And every day I try to be a little more here, a little more supportive. I am trying to be the friend you all have been to me. I am trying to recreate for you the support that you provide that I could not live without. And I am trying to remember to say thank you, and to say it louder and more often.

And so thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul and the recesses of my brain. Thank you. I survived these past few weeks because of you and I will continue to learn and to fight and to be part of this amazing team of women for the next 4 years (chaos butterfly help us) and then beyond.

I love you. For all you are and all you do.

Forever grateful
And with open arms ready to give a giant hug,
Or a tissue to dry a tear,
Or some pointed words directed at the asshole that made you feel shitty,
Your friend,
Your Support,
Your Cheerleader,

Rebekah

Dear Francis

5 Dec

The other day I made the grave error of engaging with a troll on The Internet. I know, I know, rookie mistake. But in my defense the only reason I got involved in the second place was because this guy (who we will call Francis) posted something I didn’t like in response to a (rather funny, if you ask me) joke that my uncle posted in the first place. I get irritated when people say things I don’t like to my family and close friends. And so, after some thought about the nature of my response I held my nose between my fingers and dove into the depths, responding to Francis with a clearly thought out and argued historical analysis about the Electoral College’s roots in the era of slavery and how, even today, it gives largely white states undue power in terms of the election of our President and that (among other reasons) is how we ended up with a racist, misogynist, ableist, white nationalist sympathizer in the White House. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my response was met with all kinds of assumptions about who I am and what I believe. And then he said that the election of Trump had nothing to do with racism and that Hillary lost because she was a smug, elitist bitch, but misogyny didn’t play a role, and that I “don’t understand (my) condition as a woman.”

My condition as a woman.

I pretty much tapped out of the conversation at that point but I would just like to say, right here right now, that I am perfectly aware of my “condition” as a woman. It is impossible for me not to be. Here, Francis, let me tell you a little something about it.

Every single month I bleed like crazy. It is like a goddamn flood. I bleed so much that the first two nights I have to sleep with an ultra tampon AND a pad and I have to get up at least once, but usually twice, to change my tampon because I will have bled through it. And, while we’re talking about that, a few years ago they stopped making the tampon that I needed because the OB company decided that, rather than throwing ladies with a heavier-than-average flow some sort of a bone, they would instead discontinue the tampon we relied on and tell us we should go to the doctor because our flow was unhealthy. We were unhealthy. Yeah okay great. Funny enough they only stopped offering the ones I needed in the United States so I had to have someone in Europe buy them and ship them to me so that I wouldn’t have to get up 4 times during the night the first two days of my period. So, Francis, you try forgetting about your “condition” when you’re dealing with that nonsense every 27 days.

And then there is just the day to day business of going out in the world. A few months ago I was heading home from my friend’s place after having dinner. It was warm out and I was wearing a floor length dress that I felt really pretty in. The guy I was walking with was on my left side. Two men approached us. As they passed on the other side of me one of them leaned in and, loudly enough for me to hear but in a low enough volume that my companion wouldn’t, he said “you look good without a bra.” In about a fraction of a second I went from feeling human to feeling like an object. Just like that. Just because some dude felt like pointing out the fact that he was staring at my tits and he liked what he saw. Stuff like that happens to us on the daily. Makes it hard to forget our “condition.”

Oh and then there were the two times that the same dude spit on me while I was running. And that time the delivery guy grabbed my ass as he rode past me on the sidewalk on his way to drop some food at someone’s house. And the time some asshole threw a glass at my face and gave me a black eye all because I dared to tell him I wouldn’t serve him a drink. Oh, man, and that one time I went out to drinks with someone I thought was my friend and he spent the entire time trying to fuck me. And how could I forget that Christmas night that I was reading in a bar and some dude informed me that women only really write about shopping? That was a great night. Oh and the one time I went bra shopping and ended up realizing how ashamed I feel of my own body because I have been disallowed from defining my own sexuality. And, of course, a few weeks ago when we elected a man who, in a recorded conversation, had admitted to repeated sexual assaults. Shall I continue? Because I can. I can go on for days, Francis.

But I won’t.

Honestly, if you don’t get the picture by now you never will. Honestly, Francis, I wish I could be a little bit less aware of my “condition.” Because maybe if I was less aware I could just, you know, live. I could just live like how you just live. Only if I could do that, I wouldn’t spend my spare time telling people about themselves.  I wouldn’t use my energy to talk about things I don’t know and could never hope to understand. I wouldn’t say that misogyny wasn’t a thing all while dismissing someone based on her gender. My stars, if we could be less aware of our “condition,” if we had that luxury, imagine what we could do. Imagine what we could do if we weren’t working as hard or harder for less; imagine what we could say if we weren’t constantly being talked over and talked down to; imagine what fun we could have if we weren’t constantly policing our drinks or concerned about some drunk asshole raping one of our friends; imagine what we could accomplish if people would just see us as equal.

So, you see, I am more aware of my own “condition” than I could possibly put into words. It is made apparent to me day after day after day through my own experiences and through the experiences of my friends. And so Francis when you and people like you dare to tell me what my own experience is, dare to try to explain to me that misogyny isn’t a thing, that this country wasn’t built through an incredibly sexist system, that I have all the opportunities as you, that Clinton wasn’t the victim of the patriarchy, that I should feel lucky for what I have, well you’ll have to excuse me for laughing in your face. Because you are so deeply intrenched in your own damn world view that you have no space for anyone else. And there are a fuck ton of us. So shut up, and get the hell out of our way. We know our lives. Your penis does not make you an expert.

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

22 Nov

Dear Hillary,

Hi.  Hi. Hi. We don’t know whether to start by saying ‘Thank You’ or ‘We’re sorry.’  Mostly right now though, we’re sorry.

We’re sorry that we live in a world that casts aside the most qualified candidate based solely on her genitalia, genitalia that, by the way, is more evolutionarily sound. We’re sorry that we didn’t do enough. We’re sorry that we didn’t knock on doors, make campaign calls, call enough people out. We’re sorry that we didn’t believe in the real possibility of a Trump presidency. We’re sorry that we  asked you to change who you are so many times to reflect our own absurd value system and when you emerged on the other side we called you disingenuous. We’re sorry that the young girls of today still have to live under the shadow of that glass ceiling. We’re sorry that years of lies about you became truths. We’re sorry that people still don’t understand the things you have done for us over 30 long years of hard, selfless work. We’re sorry that as women we’re not enough to combat someone as hateful as Donald Trump and we’re sorry that if you were a white male this probably would have turned out differently.  We’re sorry that the media portrayed you as impersonal, insensitive, inauthentic, shrill, dishonest, and weak. In reality, we’re sorry about how little the media acknowledged you at all. We’re sorry that a less qualified, less accomplished politician might have been able to secure The White House based solely on the fact that due to his masculinity he was not threatening to the status quo and we’re sorry anyone made it seem like you weren’t groundbreaking. Which, by the way, you are and always have been. We’re sorry that people who supported your opponent in the primaries couldn’t get on board with you on election day.  We’re sorry that your opponent in the primaries himself had a hard time throwing his weight behind you when it mattered the most. We’re sorry about the electoral college. We’re sorry that you got 2 million more votes than your opponent and it still wasn’t enough to secure you the presidency. We’re sorry that we, the American people, didn’t get the president that we wanted, that we deserved. We’re sorry about Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. We’re sorry that some of your votes might have gone to someone who didn’t even know what Aleppo was. We’re sorry about the fuckers who didn’t vote, especially the white men who were guaranteed this right from the jump. We’re sorry that the Voting Rights Act was gutted. We’re sorry that the emails plagued you, even though all you did was follow Colin Powell’s advice. We’re sorry about James Comey and Anthony Weiner and your husband and Julian Assange and Vince Foster. We’re sorry for all the men who intentionally or unintentionally stood in your way, even, somehow, in death. We’re sorry that being qualified isn’t enough, that being prepared isn’t enough, that being experienced isn’t enough. We’re sorry that you had to work so hard to overcome your gender and it still wasn’t enough, that you had to work 100 times harder and by no fault of your own you still couldn’t get it done. We’re sorry that you had to be a level headed adult in a world full of distractible toddlers. We’re sorry you had to stand in front of the cameras and concede an office that should have been yours to a demagogue, a bigot, an asshole.

But Thank You. Thank you for being so fucking classy. Thank you for getting up over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, putting your head down and getting shit done. Thank you for being an amazing senator and a baller secretary of state.  Thank you for showing us that there’s a place for us in all walks of life and that our dreams are possible. Thank you for being unapologetically a woman.  Thank you for being smart as fuck and for not being ashamed of it or hiding it.  Thank you for your Wellesley commencement address in 1969; not only was that awesome but it still inspires to this day, almost 60 years later.Thank you for fighting tooth and nail and doing so with poise; you might not have broken the ultimate glass ceiling but you certainly paved the way for one of us to smash right on through. You did so much to weaken the patriarchy that soon enough we will dismantle the whole damn thing and for that we are eternally grateful. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for inspiring Pantsuit Nation. Thank you for inspiring a nation period. Thank you for holding the torch in the women’s movement for so damn long.  We know that people complained about your shifts in policy and opinion over the years but, seriously, thank you for listening and changing your approach according to what the people needed. Thank you for being a force to be reckoned with. Thank you for being an unapologetic policy wonk. Thank you for being prepared. Thank you for absolutely TROUNCING Donald Trump in every one of those three debates. And because it bears repeating, thank you for listening even when people didn’t give you the same courtesy. Thank you for your seemingly unending well of confidence because we all know that as women in this society confidence is hard to come by and even harder to hold on to. Thank you for ALWAYS taking the high road. Thank you for being a role model. Thank you for being a Nasty Woman. Thank you for being a badass bitch. Basically, thank you for everything you’ve done.

We see how hard you worked. Believe us we know, we acknowledge it and we strive to work as hard as you.

Hillary, we wanted to hear your voice and see your face for the next four years. We wanted to see another first in The White House. We wanted to continue to be proud of the person who represents every single one of us at home and abroad as we have been over the past 8 years. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead we will follow your lead, pick up the torch and keep on fighting until we are equal. And then we will wake up the next day and fight some more so that every single person from every background and every walk of life has the benefit of equal opportunity. We’ve got a long way to go, but thank you for getting us just a little bit closer. Every little bit helps.

With unending respect and admiration

All of the ‘thank yous’ we have

Love always and forever

Jessy and Rebekah

Dear Blood Manor

5 Nov

To Whom it May Concern:

My name is Rebekah and last Thursday after work my friend Jessy and I visited your establishment. For Jessy, who loves all things scary and apparently was not afraid of a movie called The Babadook (which, admittedly, I have never heard of and will never be seeing) this was an outing to be excited about. But for me? Totally different story. I agreed to go because I am always down for an adventure but immediately after agreeing I thought to myself,

Self, that was maybe the stupidest decision you ever made.

You see, I startle quite easily. If there is a thunder storm I jump at every single clap. You could say to me,

Rebekah, I am going to hide out around the corner of this hallway and then when you come down the hall and get to that outlet over there I am going to jump out and scream BOO!

And I will walk down the hallway, completely aware of your plan, and still have a near heart attack. It’s awful. I haven’t watched a scary movie since the 7th grade when a few of my girlfriends and I watched Psycho in the basement of my friend’s house. I didn’t sleep through the night for weeks afterwards and I still have flashbacks of that scene where Norman Bates watched the car sink in the lake whenever I see a bag of Raisinets. There was this one time, over a Labor Day weekend, when my roommates and my then-boyfriend were all out of town and I was home by myself and decided to have a Law and Order: SVU marathon in my bedroom. That night I had a dream that I was the victim in the show and that when I went on the witness stand I realized that the judge in the case was actually my attacker and I had to sit there and continue to testify while he stared at me and then all of a sudden <flash forward> and I was running through some dark, damp house and he was chasing after me with a hammer. Only he wasn’t running. He was walking, calmly, and I knew that he would eventually catch me because I was headed for the roof even though I am fully aware that people in these shows always head for the roof and that is their demise because once you get to the top of whatever building there is nowhere else to go but down or dead. Anyway, I woke up at that point and nearly gave myself a stroke from fear when I thought that a sweatshirt hanging over an open closet door was actually a homicidal maniac watching me sleep, waiting for the perfect moment to bash my head in. As you can imagine I am not well suited for haunted houses.

The days leading up to our visit were a blur of anxiety for me. I am not someone who likes to flake and I had given my word so I knew that barring a freak fire that I would have no role in igniting (….) I would be walking through that haunted house. And then, the day came. All day long I hoped my friend Jessy would forget (there was no way) or just become tired and decide she didn’t want to go (she is the energizer bunny!). I thought maybe she would smell the fear radiating off my body and think, well, maybe this isn’t the best idea. But no. There was no escape. So we got on the train and made our way to your house of ghouls, stopping for some liquid bravery en route.

Before I knew it we were waiting on line to enter. As if the screams coming from inside the building weren’t enough to ratchet up the anxiety level, there were some scary people milling about outside, working the line. There was the woman dressed up sort of like a demented Big Bird, the guy on stilts in something that looked like a zombie costume with a tiny little zombie head on its shoulder and gross-looking gauze dangling all over the place, and a lady in a bustier with dollar bills attached to her body, walking around with a stapler trying to entice us to staple dollars to her skin with real staples. I think maybe that requires repeating. She wanted us to use a real staple gun with actual, real metal staples to puncture her skin. There was blood. It was horrible. I hope she got a tetanus shot. There were two guys ahead of us in line who were amused by my fear and I think maybe thought I was flirting with them a little? I don’t know. It was weird. I mean, they couldn’t know this but I would never flirt with someone in line for a haunted house. How could I think about anything other than maintaining a certain level of calmness in the face of sure doom? I mean, I am a multitasker by trade but that is too much. Even for me.

And then, we got into the House. Everything was dark. And loud. There were laser lights. There was this weird robotic thing that was remote-controlled that would lean into you and blow gross, scary air on you as you walked by. Everyone knew I was afraid. Maybe it was the sweat. Maybe it was the eyes darting frantically to and fro. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was holding onto Jessy’s backpack for dear life, audibly weighing the option of walking through the entire house with my eyes closed like I did at those catacombs in Lima. As we began our adventure, they all came straight for me. The rooms were all decorated with gruesome scenes of torture chambers, demented clowns, circuses gone wrong. And then there were people, always people, impeding your progress with their bodies, getting onto your personal space, breathing on you, whispering not-so-sweet somethings into your ears. We darted around them. I felt like we were in a post apocalyptic version of Frogger. One of the dudes leaned into me and said

I am going to follow you home. I will find out where you live. I will rip you apart.

And this is where it all went from fun to maybe not-so-fun. Just so you know, owner of Blood Manor, this is something that we out in the world call triggering. As someone who has had a weird-o do regular drive-bys of my house when I was in high school, who was followed home here in Brooklyn and who was stalked to a hotel in a mountain town in Guatemala, the fear causing me to lose all access to the Spanish-speaking part of my brain, this was not received as emptily as it had been intended. My stomach dropped. My brain swirled. And then we encountered the angry gorilla man. We entered his lair and he herded us into the corner of the room. We looked around – every single door had an exit sign on it. Which way do we go?! How do we get out?! There were people walking towards us from every direction, looking lost. I couldn’t tell whether they were visitors like us or zombies, walking undeterred towards their next victims. I looked around and said, in a semi-panic,

Where do we go? Which way do we go?!

At that moment I sort of felt like maybe we would be in the house forever. And I didn’t know whether or not we could trust the demented gorilla man. Would he send us in the right direction? Would he tell us to go through a door only to lead us back into the room with the clowns, or worse, the one that looked like a root canal gone wrong?! But he didn’t do either of those things. He hissed

You’re fucking the whole thing up!

And called security. We almost got kicked out of the haunted house. Seriously. Jessy and I almost got ejected by a huge dude in black pants and a black, Blood Manor polo for being afraid of a dude in a weird gorilla suit. I felt like I had left Blood Manor and walked straight into Crazy Town. I looked at the security guard in utter disbelief and simply said,

We’re lost. All the doors have exits on them. And it’s dark. How are we supposed to know where to go?

He pointed at one of the three “exits” which led us into a room we had been through before. We walked around, the shine taken off, the fear evaporated. I looked around the room and rather than seeing gruesome scenes I saw poorly designed sets for underfunded plays. And instead of jumping from monsters and the orchestrators of torture chambers, I saw actors in face paint and gauze, simply trying to pay their rent. They got in our faces, we stared back at them dead-pan. There was no more fear, no more fun. We just wanted out. The gorilla man was a total buzz kill.

We emerged from the house pissed off, trying to figure out what we had done to be nearly ejected. Did we make it through the house too quickly, fucking up the flow? Did we make a wrong turn? Or did we just encounter a ghoul at the end of a long, arduous night, his patience on zero after dealing with scores of assholes, who took his anger out on the wrong people? Lord knows as bartenders we have been on the other side of that equation more than once.

It was a weird ending to what was a fun, albeit anxiety inducing, night. It made me think a lot about perception, about what we bring to the table when we enter an interaction, about what it must have been like for the people acting in the house. My ears were ringing from the loud noises for the rest of the night and into the next day and my eyes took a bit to adjust to normal lighting after spending the better part of 1/2 hour being visually assaulted by flashing bulbs and lasers. I can’t imagine it is a comfortable work environment. Or maybe the guy was just an asshole, not well-suited for his role as an undead gorilla. Either way I sort of feel like you ripped us off, Blood Manor. We will not be back next year. Maybe you should look to hire a new gorilla. Oh, and lose the triggering threats.

Rebekah

A Letter to the Guy Who Threw a Glass at My Face

7 Mar

Dear ______,

It has been two weeks since the night that you decided to throw a glass at my head because I, rightfully it now seems, refused to serve you a drink because of your aggressive behavior. I am quite certain you won’t ever read this but on the off-chance that you stumble upon it one day, I figured I would let you know what my past two weeks have looked like.

I woke up the Sunday following the incident unable to fully see through my left eye because the lid was swollen enough that it was obstructing my vision. I picked up the phone and called my parents. My father answered. I started off the conversation by asking him whether he was sitting down, telling him that I was fine, and then told him that some guy had thrown a glass at my face and that I had a black eye. During the first moments of the conversation he must have motioned for my mother to pick up a receiver because at some point her voice appeared, a soothing balance to my father’s worry turned anger turned worry. I understood both of their approaches. I can’t imagine what it must be like to receive a phone call from your daughter on a Sunday morning with the news that she was physically assaulted at her job.  I spent the rest of the day on the phone with my parents and my boss, I cancelled plans with friends, got shifts covered at work, I cried. Occasionally I passed in front of the mirror, shocked every single time by the face that looked back at me.

That evening was taken up by a visit to urgent care to assess any potential permanent or temporary damage. Thankfully you hit me in the “right” place, a centimeter above my eye socket. Had the glass struck me just slightly lower, I could have lost my vision or the entire eye. But of course you weren’t thinking about that. You were so infuriated by my refusal to serve you the alcohol you clearly did not need that you almost caused me serious, permanent damage. It’s a strange feeling to consider yourself lucky in the aftermath of such an attack but I do. It could have been much worse. And honestly, you are almost as lucky as me that it wasn’t.

And the phone calls continued. To friends and family concerned about my well-being and ready to offer me advice about what I should do next. I would be stupid to go back to work at that bar, they said. I was like a sitting duck. I wouldn’t be safe. On top of the pain I was feeling in my head I was also looking at a potential loss of my livelihood, at least for the immediate future. But you didn’t think about that, either. You didn’t think about me being concerned about the short 2 block walk from the subway to my job, about the distance between the bar entrance and the taxi I will always have waiting for me now, about my anxiety that a new security guard who doesn’t know you will let you walk in the door and there I’ll be again, face-to-face with you, refusing you service because you will never get anything off me again, hoping that you don’t grab a bottle this time.

And then, of course, there is the physical reality. I have been making my way through the world for the past two weeks with a black eye. Do you know what it’s like to be a girl walking around with a black eye? No, of course you don’t, but I’ll tell you. It fucking sucks. People either stare or they avoid looking at your face, directing all questions and comments conspicuously over your left shoulder. Those that stare do so with a look of concern and pity. You can see the narrative forming in their heads about the late night argument, the angry boyfriend or husband, the accusations, the promises that it won’t happen again. Most people don’t ask what happened because they already know, or think they do. Those that comment say things along the lines of what a customer said to me last night: I hate seeing that shit. He refused to allow me to tell him the actual story about what happened, to assure him — even though, to be honest, I am not sure — of my safety. He already knew the story, or so he thought. He threw me a $20 tip.

I know you don’t care but my face is almost entirely back to normal. There is just a small discoloration under my left eye that can, in some light, pass for a birthmark. So when I head behind the bar tonight, behind the same bar that two weeks ago was the scene of the attack, I will look almost like I did then, almost like I did when you lost your shit and threw a double rocks glass at me without a thought to my safety or your freedom. But I guess rash behavior is sort of your deal, or so I’ve been told.

So I guess now we wait and see, let the chips fall where they may. I will continue to question every decision I have made up until this point. Were they right? Were they smart? Were they the best choices for me? My safety? Never once did I think about how these decisions might impact you. You are meaningless to me. Whatever happens to you now is on you, you did it. And as the time passes you will become less frightening to me. I will start to feel sorry for you, for whatever is wrong in your head that makes you behave the way you do, again and again, and somehow justify it to yourself. I will feel sorry for your family who constantly has to clean up your mess. One day they will stop. And it will just be you, and your anger, and your violence, all alone. I may or may not be the straw that puts you there but it will happen. And by that point I will barely even remember that you exist.

Good luck.

Rebekah

A Letter to my Cat, Clark

2 Oct

Dear Clark,

I know that it has been hard for you recently, what with me working so many late nights and your feeding schedule being somewhat unpredictable. I also know that you have a lot of needs like head scratches, games of fetch, and the like. But right now your person is attempting to finish up an article on human rights and the water shutoff in Detroit and your constant meowing and knocking things off counter tops is proving rather distracting indeed. I understand that you like the sounds things make when they fall, but you must understand that sweeping up broken glass and picking up trash bag ties all over the house is not exactly my idea of fun. Also, I would very much appreciate it if you would stop chewing on things, such as the wicker basket on the kitchen table and my computer power cord. In fact, if you could stop going on the kitchen table entirely that would be greatly appreciated. I understand this is a lot to ask, but your sister does not seem to be having one bit of trouble with my requests as she has been sleeping contentedly on the sofa for the past 2 hours. You might argue that it is because of her ability to sleep for extended periods of time that she is a total fat ass, and you would have a point there, but I do not believe one day of catnaps would have any significant impact on your svelte physique. Any adherence to these requests would be greatly appreciated and subsequently rewarded with a catnip mouse.

Your frustrated person,

Rebekah

Today I Displaced My Rage Onto a Line of Hair Care Products

7 May

So my mom, knowing my tendency to get angry about things, saved me a super stupid advertisement for the got2be line of hair care products.  Due to recent events that I don’t feel like going into just at the moment, I felt the need to blow off some steam and so I wrote a letter.  Here it is:

To whom it may concern,

I am currently standing at my kitchen counter, looking at a two-page coupon/advertisement for your got2b line of hair products, a line I have used many times. On the left hand side, is the advertisement geared towards women; on the right is that for men. I would like to describe to you, in more detail, what I am seeing.

The advertisement for women is, of course, done in pink and features an overly made-up young woman in a low cut gold halter dress looking suggestively at the camera with her lips slightly parted. In the back, super imposed upon an imagine that I can only imagine is an attempt to associate your product with Hollywood and all of its glitz and glamour, is a dapper man standing in front of a parked limousine, looking at the girl. The tagline – “all eyes on you!” – is meant to promote the three products that hold down the bottom right hand corner of the ad. They are the “Body + Gloss” line of hair products and include the “glistening full blow dry cream,” the “radiance bounce whipped mousse,” and finally the “luminous lift hairspray.” That the bottles are also pink and adorned with stars and sparkles (what woman or girl doesn’t want that?!) is really just the icing on the cake.

On the right hand side of the page is the advertisement for the men’s products, done mostly in yellow. It features a young man with a tall mohawk, the sides of his head shaven, looking like he’s just gotten into some trouble, and indeed he has. The three photographs in the ad are in succession and show him doing a front flip off of a high, graffiti-covered stone wall, only to land on the ground of some east coast city smiling, not a hair out of place. He wears jeans and a grey t-shirt. What allows his hair to stay in place with all this hardcore fun he is having? It’s the “his” line of hair care products like “blasting freeze spray” and the “ultra glued invisible styling gel.” They have the power of, as you call it, “screaming hold.”

The problem with these two different advertisements goes beyond the color of the pages, the names of the products and the styling of the models. What you are selling to young men and women is the idea that men are active and independent and that women are passive and dependent on the approval of men. You are telling young people that men’s hair should be able to withstand a front flip and women’s should be able to impress and, more dangerously, still look good after what is inevitably going to happen once she gets inside that waiting car. You are playing, and not at all subtly, with deeply entrenched gender stereotypes that are not only damaging to the young women and girls that see them everyday but also to the men and boys. You are simultaneously telling women that they should wait for men but also men that they should expect to be waited for. You are telling women that their value comes from their level of sexual appeal but also men that they should only view women through that lens. On the other hand, you are telling men that they are should be more macho, more daring, more athletic and women that this is what they should be looking for in a prospective partner or, more in keeping with this ad, in a date to a party. You are telling impressionable young people that if they don’t fit within this narrow gender framework then they are unattractive and weird.

This might seem a strange bone to pick and, perhaps, if this advertisement was the only of its kind it would not be quite so alarming to me. The reality, however, is that this is only one example of the many ads and images put out by hundreds of companies annually that further reinforce our closed-minded and dangerous ideas of the correct roles of men and women. People don’t just look at these ads and move on, they internalize them and remember them and you know that, that is what you are counting on to sell your products. Don’t be another company that benefits off of the objectification of women and men.

Sincerely

Rebekah Frank

I then received the following lame ass response that made me even more annoyed.  Not only did this person spell the word “research” incorrectly, they also did not sign their note with an actual name which, had it not been for the obvious type-o, would have led me to believe the person responding to me was not a person at all but instead was a robot.  That being said, my well-argued message was clearly thrown in the email garbage.  Anyway, here is the response:

Dear Ms. Frank,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Your comments are appreciated because they help us to understand how we can better serve our consumers.

We appreciate your feedback. We will forward it to our Marketing and Reaserch & Development Team.

Again, thank you for contacting us.

Sincerely,

Henkel Consumer Affairs

I will not be buying anything from this company (not that I really did before anyway) but I will also mean mug their products as I ever-so-slowly pass them by in the aisle at the pharmacy.  Feel my rage, Henkel.