Aziz “I’m Sorry” Ansari

The Aziz Ansari exposé this week described what’s perhaps the lowest-stakes encounter we’ve seen mainstreamed as part of the #MeToo movement, and as such has launched the most interesting and impactful discussions on sex, consent, and male aggression I’ve seen in a while. The exposé has this ability to make people excruciatingly uncomfortable because it’s about regular people having regular experiences. It’s easy to hate a Weinstein. It’s less easy to hate someone who looks and sounds like you or your friends. As evidence, see…. well, nearly every response piece on the subject. Taking the temperature of the response pieces is something of an exercise in “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” Whether articles come out for or against the OP, the consistent premise is that all women have been Grace. No one seems to be denying the universality of the woman’s experience exactly as described. The only disagreement among authors seems to be whether or not to care. I blink in disbelief. In the same breath, antifeminists admit awareness of our society’s pervasive rape culture while using this very example as a way to deny its existence and declare women O.K.

We might be O.K., but we’d like to be good, great, fantastic! That’s what equality is all about. An anonymous comment on the Lindy West NYT piece sums up my reactions, so instead of reinventing the wheel I’ll simply leave this here:

Clearly Aziz Ansari was trying to rush things on a first date in a way that rushes to the male’s endgame rather than something mutually pleasurable and collaboratively reached between lovers. Some women are fine with the former, but most want (and all deserve) the latter, and for a man to expect the former is extremely presumptuous, disrespectful, and makes a woman feel terrible rather than pleasured. It is not rape, but it’s emotionally hurtful. Aziz treated her like a piece of meat as she moved away and even explicitly told him she didn’t want to feel forced. This ruins sex for women, and all people deserve to enjoy sex. Women have had enough of having female sexuality and pleasure ignored.

And then, there’s my lady, Samantha Bee, who has the unique gift of being able to sharply and hilariously describe my precise feelings I’m unable to verbalize:

Part of enjoying [this modern] world is setting a higher standard for sex than just not rape, and women get to talk about it if men don’t live up to those standards, especially if that man wrote a book about how to sex good. [….] But listen, if you don’t want to tune into your partner’s feelings throughout sex, maybe you shouldn’t be fucking a person at all. May I suggest a coin-purse or a ziploc bag full of grape jelly. Men, if you say you’re a feminist, then fuck like a feminist. – Samantha Bee

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The Return of Googlebro and This Stupid, Exhausting Fight for Respect in the Workplace

Mr. Damore’s memo last year argued that biological differences — citing greater levels of anxiety among women, and a lower tolerance for stress — helped explain why there were fewer women in key engineering positions and leadership roles at Google.  – New York Times

Or, crazy thought…. perhaps women are more stressed at work because even though they work full time they have greater childcare responsibilities thrust upon them by their partners and are expected to perform the majority of the shopping and housework and see less sleep and free time than their male colleagues because of it. Perhaps they are more stressed at work because their coworkers openly discuss and share manifestos about their biological inferiority for logic- and math-based tasks and use the workplace trends that emerge from consistent under-representation and being spoken over during meetings, undervalued, and passed over for promotions in favor of male colleagues as justification for these decidedly unscientific “beliefs” without a shred of irony. Perhaps they’re more stressed because their colleagues and/or superiors sexually harass them, and no one believes them or cares, or worse–blames them for causing it by the mere act of performing their jobs.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Women cannot end misogyny in the workplace. By its very nature, misogyny reduces or ignores the concerns of women. It’s men who must be the ones to take up the call against their peers and end workplace misogyny in our name. These are not women’s issues; they are issues about women.

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Poverty Status of the Day:

Accepting injections of live third-world infectious diseases for science.

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The Art of Rising Above

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from their traps. Quit trying to beat them in an argument. Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their therapist, if you prefer the analogy). Rather than responding to the emotional chaos—focus only on the facts.

Forbes


Thanksgiving to Christmas Is For Tolkien Weekends

RottenTomatoes

The Bloat: An Unexpected Trilogy, The Desolation of CGI, and The Battle of the Five Rotten Tomatoes

I don’t buy anything but groceries and gas these days, but on Cyber Monday the extended Hobbit series was on ultra clearance, and I went for it. It’s a love/hate relationship with this series, but mostly love these days. Let’s watch and react:

  • Gandalf’s complete disregard for Bilbo’s firm “No”s is a bit disturbing. Bilbo very clearly declined these adventures, and multiple times at that. I am uncomfortable.
  • The randy, uncouth uncle from Outlander is a dwarf. It works.
  • Hobbit meals make me incredibly hungry. In fact, I’ve made a second dinner while watching.
  • Fav new character: Sebastian the hedgehog.
  • Naked CGI dwarves bathing and spanking each other in a Rivendell fountain was the extended scene we didn’t know we didn’t want until it already existed.
  • Yessss, they brought Figwit back for the Hobbit. Oh my god. The extended edition is everything.
  • The exteded Rivendell council scene makes so much more sense than the patched oddity that I saw in the theater. In fact, there is so much exposition and character illumination in Rivendell that was cut in the theatrical, and yet Peter kept the rock battle and 40 minutes of goblins. Please. Peter, get your life together.
  • Middle-aged, CGI-smoothed Legolas just makes me uncomfortable. Some things should be left alone.
  • The memes are right: Bard looks more like Orlando Bloom than Orlando Bloom does.
  • Mordor’s mountains can’t possibly be a natural formation. It’s too squarelike. Sauron must have done something magical to bring that about in his heyday. Update: This geologist agrees.
  • Tauriel and Legolas rode from Erebor…..to the castle of Angmar…. and then back to Erebor in a few days. Nein. No. That is literally half of the west-to-east expanse of the Middle Earth map and then back again. Nope. This is Game of Thrones levels of time travel.
  • You guys, Legolas is riding a giant bat over mountaintops. This has gotten out of hand.
  • At the end of Battle of the Five Armies, Legolas finally… after six movies… runs out of arrows. It’s the only easter egg I’ve ever cared about. Thank you, Peter.
  • Things I didn’t want from the Hobbit series but received anyway: Alfrid’s unibrow.
  • Fun fact: If you took a shot every time you heard a Wilhelm scream in a Peter Jackson series, you’d be dead.
  • The weakest part about An Unexpected Journey is the utter lack of Thranduil.

 

 


Out

I have no time for a man who still doesn’t know who he is by his late twenties/early thirties. I don’t want to have the same conversations now that people had in high school about finding themselves. The privileges of our advanced, relatively safe society that prioritizes the pursuit of happiness also lead to the prolonged infantilization of adult men. I can’t believe how many men my age still have these same youthful questions, like:

  • What do I want to do for a career?
  • Should I pursue more school?
  • What kind of relationship would fulfill me?
  • What sort of partner would be compatible with me?
  • What traits do I like in a woman?
  • What are my own hopes and dreams?
  • What are my own interests?
  • How does a crusty dish become uncrusted?
  • Who takes care of the home that I rent?
  • Do I have ambitions at work?
  • Do I even like women?
  • Am I even a man?

Men require the most delicate support and maternal nurturing that seemingly never ends, and it is exasperating.

Untitled

nic

Yeah no. Deleting all my dating profiles.


November’s Aesthetic

What are men to rocks and mountains?

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God Was With Me During My Routine EKG

People who boast “God’s looking out for me” whenever a bad situation rights itself are inherently untrustworthy. I say this because if they sincerely mean what they say (and they do), then the inverse of what they say must also be true, which is that people deserve the bad things that happen to them; that God could have spared them but purposefully chose not to do so. I mean, really…. Can you imagine thinking that God’s looking out for your flu symptoms or your fender bender or your football game while Boko Haram kidnaps children that are ever rescued? Could you even muster the shamelessness? When I hear someone say they must have a guardian angel, it makes my skin crawl.


Y tho

When you nicely (?) ask your team to stop making copies of documents with little dates and initials at the end in an effort to stop version control problems, but then years later they still do it and we still have constant version control problems.

dumble


BBC Depression

My emotions, on the occasion they exist, have their own unit of measurement in the manner of Brontes, Austen, and Gaskell. At the bottom of the scale, notched at soulfully dispossessed and tragically nostalgic, is what I call the BBC depression. I take off work, stay up all night, and watch British female-led period dramas until I have to re-enter the world or work my way through it by some other means. The period drama roster expanded over the years as new options came out (Outlander, Poldark, recent Bronte remakes), but for the most part remains the same and waits for me to get sad so that I may escape into its grace and manners. Someone wants to build a mill, someone misheard a rumor, so-and-so glanced sideways at a woman at the ball. Yet, somehow these [mostly] idle characters (no one would accuse Ross Poldark or Jamie Fraser of idleness) with low stakes narratives hold so much weight with me when I’m feeling at my most vulnerable, and I return to them in earnest every time.

Maybe it’s the way they come at feminism by telling stories marked by its absence. Characters acknowledge an understanding of women even when the environment of the story pretends not to. In most tales, the greatest threat to the status quo is a headstrong girl who knows her own mind–a timeless premise. The witty societal commentary both thrills and burdens me, as so much of it still applies in some fashion today.

Nothing provokes speculation more than the sight of a woman enjoying herself. (Little Women)

“A man who has nothing to do with his own time has no conscience in his intrusion on that of others.” (Sense and Sensibility… mansplaining has ALWAYS been a thing)

And then there’s the ferocity and beauty of the moors… from the cliffs of Cornwall all the way to the Scottish highlands, the rainy, rocky natural world is never more exquisite to me than in the British Isles (in movies and photographs, because I’ve never actually been there). Perhaps I’ve grown up with leftover pangs of colonialism, but I simply prefer the windy, gray skies aesthetic of the mossy moors to just about anything.

I love these moors. They’re like survivors of another time. Climb Roughtor before sunrise and listen to the wind crying through the stones and you will feel God. (Jamaica Inn)

(+requisite Poldark pug)

And, I think, here is the zinger. When the topic of my sad stupor is a failed romance–as it is this week–watching purer, nonphysical expressions of passion somehow help to excise those demons (or repress? Who knows). Breaking down romance into such childlike depictions–all awkward gazes and fumbling over words and touching fingers while passing teacups–makes the concepts easier to digest. When people in the real world can spend years and years together and still break up over minute compatibility issues or down-the-road intimacy questions or some fight about hobbies half a decade in….  isn’t it heartwarming to think one can simply choose a candidate for happily ever after with some furtive glances, a few pride and prejudice style misunderstandings, a good deed, and a swoon-y declaration? Sure, it’s hapless fantasy, but that’s leaps and bounds better than my nihilism, knowing from experience that “love” is actually just two people agreeing to hang out together until the day one of them changes their mind. There is no such thing as commitment, because no commitment needs to be final. Some weeks that’s too fucking sad for me to think about, and I suppose I vouch for the quivering teacup pass and wholesome eyebrow flirting of North & South because it ironically feels more truthful than the truth I know.


Lyft Lyfe

Another Monday, another exciting evening ahead of me driving for Lyft. Important mysteries with which man hath toiled since the dawn of time await me on my starry night behind the wheel… mysteries like

  • Where will I stop to pee?
  • Where will I park while I pee?
  • How much will my pee break cost me in parking garage fees?
  • What must I purchase at said location to earn my right to pee? and
  • How much grief and/or sexual harassment will I encounter on my mission to pee?

Aside from the plague of bodily functions, other exciting queries might cross my mind, such as

  • Will a passenger be “running really late” yet vexingly not be ready and standing outside when I arrive?
  • Will I get to smell the stench of unwashed line cook from a seafood restaurant?
  • Will I inadvertently traffic minors across state lines?
  • Will the passenger “clue me in” by literally reciting the route that I’m already following via GPS, turn for turn? and
  • Will driving, navigating, the District of Columbia, my own job(s), and the very nature of work in general be mansplained to me?

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The Epidemic of Kink Culture Envy

I’m so over people feeling the need to wedge in “kinky” as a definitive part of their identity. When did kinky become a synonym for simply enjoying sex? Has our already pseudo-puritanical American culture backslid into complete Mormon nightgown territory when it comes to sexual exploration? And, why is it such a strain on the human psyche to consider one’s self to be sexually adequate and ordinary? Do we really need to start vanilla support groups so that ordinary people stop co-opting the lifestyle terms of other groups just to feel desirable? Why are there only two stops on the spectrum now: prude and likes-the-taste-of-rubber. People accept normalcy in so many other ways, but as soon as genitals enter the picture, people must be seen as members of some exclusive speakeasy of proverbial intercourse. Drop in those four letters (“BDSM”), and watch them cream in the glow of their sexual uniqueness (although when prompted to explain, they won’t be able to pinpoint a particular inclination for anything that might fall under those four categories.)

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My Adult Life: An Endless Cheesegazi at the WholeFoods Market

 


Christmas as a Grown Up

It’s true what I noticed of my mother when I was a child: adults want services for Christmas more than things. Things are transitory… services are indulgences that stick with you emotionally.

I’m not actually intending to do anything for myself for Christmas this year, but as an exercise I was trying to think of anything I might possibly want for Christmas, and the list ended up looking like this:

  • professional manicure–pedicure
  • interior/exterior car detail
  • money to put towards extra loan payments
  • money to put towards fancy coffee indulgences

If this isn’t the spitting image of adulthood, I don’t know what is.


Choice

Saying “it’s my choice” does not make that choice yours, although it does help you cope with it better.


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