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Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Pissy Guide to Hitting On Ladies

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I have heard many a delusional man wonder: how do I hit on a lady? If it’s not appropriate to approach them in grocery stores, where can I approach them? Why are you all such uptight bitches? Why can’t you understand that it’s just a compliment? Seriously ladies, whassamatter?

Alright, dude-bros, this is what you need to understand:

When a lady is busy doing something not directly connected to you, it’s an inappropriate time to hit on her. If your behavior could be construed as stalkerish, it’s time for you to go away. And if you try to talk to her, and she seems less than enthused? Stop.

Or, more specifically, adhere to the following guidelines.

How Not to Hit On a Lady: The Obvious

Don’t: figure out where she lives and knock on her door

Yeah, I had this happen once. A guy in my old apartment building tried to chat me up at the mailboxes; I was polite but distant; he memorized the apartment number on my mailbox and showed up at my door a few hours later. Thinking it was my pizza (that’s all I ate in those days), I opened the door wearing a hoodie and boxers printed with pictures of crabs, at which point he introduced himself and asked me out to dinner. I was a shy teenager who didn’t know how to reject people, so I grudgingly agreed, and we had a couple stupid dates. He was pretty hot, actually, until he revealed the American flag tattoo on his chest. (Also, he thought Stealth was a great film, which, no.)

Anyhow, this shit? Not an appropriate method for wooing the ladies. And I’ll tell you why.

Dude, all I initially wanted to do was get my damn mail. And then I wanted to eat my pizza. Alone. In my boxers. While listening to Deep Blue Something and thinking about my future. (Or whatever.) And using your deductive powers to find my apartment and then harassing me there is fucking creepy as shit. What the hell, man?

The creepiness of this particular encounter was compounded by the fact that I was 19—and looked it—while he was almost 28.

But then, age doesn’t really matter, because if a woman doesn’t willingly give you her address, you should not take it upon yourself to seek it out. Ever. You goddamn creepy bastard.

Don’t: use your child

I was once walking down the street when an adorable little girl waved at me and said hi. I returned the greeting, and then I heard her dad pull her over and say “ask her name.” The little girl looked confused, so he repeated it and pushed her forward. She waved at me again and asked for my name, so I made something up, smiled, and started to walk away. Her dad yelled a farewell after me, but I just ignored him because…I’m a huge bitch.

But c’mon, man. Using your kid? That is beyond manipulative, and it assumes that I’m some kind of domestic goddess in training sure to charmed by your precious crotchfruit. Yeah, your kid is cute, but you would have to be absolutely spectacular in every possible arena of life for me to even consider you as an option for anything.

Children: I like them in small doses, but not as dominant players in my life. (And lest my use of “players” seem dehumanizing and creepy—no, that’s only creepy when you try to use your kids as pawns in the tension-laden chess game of lady-harassing.)

Don’t: follow her to the gas station`

I once knew this guy I’ll call Creepy Kirby, because he is creepy, and Kirby is his name. He’d never had a real conversation with me, but for whatever reason he thought I was terrific. One day he noticed me walking to the gas station, fell into step with me, and walked me all the way down to the c-store, rambling stupidly while I rolled my eyes and wished he would go the fuck away. Once I got to the store, I saw a guy I knew and immediately went after him: “hiiiii, I haven’t seen you in ages, how are you?” Incidentally, I ended up exchanging numbers with that guy and dated him for two months, during which time he stole my broken laptop, so…thanks for that, Kirby.

This really shouldn’t ever need to be said, but here goes: don’t attach yourself to a woman and follow her around. It’s annoying, it’s creepy, and—believe it or not—it feels a little stalkeresque. I know, it’s crazy, but there you have it.

How Not to Hit On a Lady: The Should Be Obvious, But Aren’t


Don’t: at her work

I’m in a class about the films of Wes Anderson (American Modernism was canceled, okay?) and a few nights ago, we watched Bottle Rocket. Oh, Bottle Rocket—in which Luke Wilson charmingly follows a motel housekeeper from room to room, awkwardly injecting himself into her life sans invitation. Because there’s nothing creepy about that.

Look, guys of the world—if you see a woman at work, and she’s nice to you, chances are it’s because she’s at work. Where she’s required to be nice to everyone. Because work sucks. And taking advantage of that woman’s work-mandated pleasantness is a real dick move.

I used to work at a bookstore, under the direction of a crazy woman named Sharon. One day, some skateboarding douche named Josh came in to the store and hung around bugging me. Sharon was there when he came in; she left for a couple hours, and, when she came back, there he was. Bugging me.

Her response was to threaten to fire me, because “you should have told him to leave.” Yes—a guy came in, harassed me for hours, and I was threatened with the loss of my job. Of course, had I rebuffed him, I still would’ve gotten in trouble, because, customer service!

So anyway. This is an asshole maneuver because by going after a woman in an environment that demands she behave in a certain manner, you are effectively backing her into a corner, and because it could actually get her in trouble. It also suggests that you don’t respect her or her work enough to back the fuck off, but whatever.

Don’t: at your work

I know you’re bored, weird thirty-something waiter, but “Hey, you live on [redacted] street, right? In the little yellow house?” is a wildly inappropriate question. Especially since you were right about the street. The building, not so much—you thought I lived in my landlord’s art studio—but still, you were creepily close.

Like I said before: if a woman has not willingly told you where she lives, then where she lives is none of your damn business. This means that you shouldn’t find out on your own, you shouldn’t ask other people, you shouldn’t make a wild guess and then ask for her confirmation—whatever. I remember once walking through a park and bumping into some balding dad figure who asked “hey, you live in the [redacted] apartments, right?” That was the very first thing out of his mouth.

I just stared at him, then said “no.”

“Really? Are you sure?”

Well no. No I’m not sure. I might live somewhere else and just not be aware of it.

Look dude, either you’re wrong about where I live, or I’m lying; either way, leave me the hell alone.

Anyway, the point is that, again, figuring out where your dream ladylove lives is creepy, and that your place of employment is no more an appropriate place to hit on me than my place of employment.

Also, as much I hate to be That Asshole, if you don’t back off, I will talk to your manager.

Don’t: at the airport

I, like much of the world, hate the airport. If I’m in an airport, I’m probably pissed. So don’t even try it—and really, why are you bothering? You will never see me again. This is an extremely brief moment in the time and nothing more, because life is not, in fact, a rom-com.

I can only think of one time that I saw, in real life, someone I met on a plane. I was flying home next to some burly guy who was reading Twilight (yeah, I don’t fucking know), and sat quietly next to him, reading my own, less shitty book. The next day I was at work, and he walked in with his mother, stopped, looked confused, then said something like, “hey, were you on my flight from [redacted] yesterday?” We then proceeded to have an awkward conversation about what an unusually turbulent flight that had been, while his mother stood off to the side and beamed.

Nothing came of that encounter.

Anyhow, the airport. I’m busy in airports. I’m busy worrying about the status of my connecting flight, safeguarding my luggage, and imagining a world that isn’t O’Hare. That’s what I’m doing in airports. Don’t bug me please.

Don’t: at the grocery

This is a prime example of “lady busy doing something that doesn’t remotely concern you.”—and, for most people, something that isn’t especially enjoyable. Please don’t try to strike up a conversation with me about my purchase of lemon-scented Green Clean. That’s just my inner granola elitist coming out; I can’t help it.

Don’t: when delivering her pizza

That’s just awkward. Plus there’s the added creep factor of “ugh, now he knows my phone number and where I live.” Yeah, I had this happen once, got suckered into going on a date with my horribly awkward pizza delivery guy, and a few days later he left a gift-wrapped CD outside my apartment. I never called him again, and he was apparently so traumatized by the incident that he refused to deliver my pizza for an entire year. One time there were only two people working at the Pizza Hut when I placed my order, and he was so adamant in his refusal to drop off my pizza that his co-worker had to lock up the restaurant and deliver my food herself.

I actually feel a little bad about it, because I think he was more awkward than creepy, but again…don’t corner a woman in her home. Especially if she’s giving you strong “all I want is my damn pizza” signals.

Don’t: at the Laundromat

Sock-folding and pickup-lines don’t mix. That’s all I have to say about that.

And, okay, sometimes people do end up meeting in quirky places. People in coffee shops write each other’s phone numbers down on the inside covers of their moleskine notebooks; beautiful twenty-somethings bond at the deli over their mutual love of prosciutto; whatever. But as Pepper’s husband (a dude) pointed out, you can tell when someone wants to talk to you, and you can tell when they don’t. I think he added something like, “and if you can’t, you’re fucking stupid.”

And if you’re not getting obvious signals, if there is no obvious desire to chat, if the woman you’re blatantly eyeballing is just standing at the baggage claim looking panicked…just don’t.

Unacceptable Gestures, and Why I Need You To Pick a Side

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No, not those. The bird is always an acceptable gesture.

 

Pictured: Always Acceptable

 

No, I’m referring to a much bigger gesture. A gesture being made at the state and national level.

There are all of these bananashit bills being introduced, bills that are just so far out there that I can’t even bring myself to google and link. Bills to eliminate Kindergarten in New Hampshire, bills to make every miscarriage a crime in Georgia, bills to remove child labor laws, bills to remove safety testing on children’s products, bills to cut Headstart because women should be doing it for free, bills targeting teachers that strip them of their collective bargaining rights (teaching is still gendered feminine, so they feel safe going after the icky girls who should be doing it for free because what the hell else are they good for? Oddly, firefighters and police are exempt. Shocking.)

 

Pictured: Me and Paprika, Watching The Tidal Wave of Bananashit Bills Coming In

 

 

 

And of course, your favorite and mine, all of the bills at the state and national level that aim to strip women of our autonomy and our freedom of choice, and to make damn sure that we know bitches aint shit. Bills to make it legal to deny lifesaving care, to make it impossible to get woman specific care and treatment, bills that strip the funding to FEED PREGNANT WOMEN AND THEN THEIR INFANTS. Not to mention denying them pre and post natal care. If you don’t want to be pregnant? Fuck you.

If you do want to be pregnant but you are poor? Fuck you! Sex is too good for poor people!

 

The Future Says: Seriously, Guys?

 

 

What shocks me about all of this is not that it’s happening. Anyone who has been following reproductive rights at all in the past oh…forever– could have warned you that the right-wing would try to do this.

What shocks me isn’t how little they seem to care about children, given how pro life and pro family they claim to be. Everyone already learned that lesson when they decided that the best motivator for poor kids was pain, pain and more pain with a side of starving and cut assistance for the spectral “Welfare queen” of the 80’s.

What shocks me is the apathy from the other side, from the squishy middle, from the independents, from the sensibly “objective” people, and from ironically detached liberals who don’t want to protest because that would be “sinking to their level”.

These people, for some reason (and by “reason” I mean because of their assloads of privilege) do not see gestures of overt sexism, classism and racism as problematic in and of themselves.

Oh yes, they say– it would be awful if these things became laws, but they won’t pass the senate (they might, they might not, they might well in a year when [if, god please, if!] the right takes the senate majority), so don’t get so upset. Stop getting all lathered up over the silly gestures of the tea baggers and the bible-abusers, it’s no big deal.

Tell me again why this is acceptable?

 

Pictured: What's Goin' On

 

Why is it alright for anyone to make a symbolic gesture that proudly gesticulates that I and others like me are not human? Why is it OK to make gestures against our rights, autonomy, freedom, choice, and dignity.

Why is that gesture acceptable? If I was an elected official and authored a gesture bill stripping African- Americans of their right to own property, there would be, and quite fucking rightfully so, calls for me to step down. I would have to issue an apology. That kind of overt racism is, should be, must be absolutely unacceptable.

So why are all of these gestures being met with so much apathy? Why is it acceptable to hate women (especially women of color, this shit is SO racist) so overtly?

This is the question that those who pose themselves as objective, as ironically detached and too cool to protest need to ask themselves. What level of violence would it take for you to care? What monstrous thing would break the apathy?

Feminists are organizing marches, feminists are writing letters and calling and petitioning. Feminists are not the problem here. We need a groundswell of support for women.

Because until we demand that the right backs the fuck off and actually focuses on creating jobs and fixing the economy, they won’t. Until a vast, vast majority tells them it’s unacceptable to hate women in law, they’ll take it as Carte Blanche to keep on kicking us when we’re down.

Pick a side. Because women’s rights are men’s rights and children’s rights, all of which are worker’s rights, immigrant’s rights and the rights of People of Color, of LGBTQI people, and of the poor. Because women’s rights are human rights, and human rights must not be open to debate, or gestures of contempt.

 

Pictured: What Needs to be Goin' On.

 

 

 

What Happens On Facebook Gets Posted On Pepper and Paprika

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So I used to be friends with this guy on Facebook. He worked, for awhile, as a dishwasher at the Restaurant of Doom (at which I am still currently, tragically employed), until he was fired. Yes, he was fired as a dishwasher–because he decided that it would be a better idea to go be an extra in a play for one night than to show up to work.

This young man, amazingly, is twenty-three years old. Awesome.

So after he was fired, he added me as a friend. I never particularly cared for the guy, and his profile picture showed him holding a newspaper that happened to be on fire, but I added him anyway, because I’m a pushover. He tried chatting with me on FB a few times, made awkward attempts to ask me out, didn’t take my hints (e.g. “oh, why don’t you give me your number?”), and just generally hung around being annoying.

And then, I pissed him off. And he deleted me–and then blocked me. Oh, the injustice!

I decided to take a series of screenshots of our lively debate and post them here, because, well, I just don’t like this guy. My name is obscured in red, Pepper’s in yellow, and the fired dishwasher’s in blue; the excellent article that instigated this cramazing argument can–and should–be read here.

 

An Open Letter

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Hi.

This is kind of weird, right? Blogging you a letter?

But. Right now I have things to say about the very subject which caused our argument. Feminism and reproductive freedom– why does it matter so much to me?

Why are feminists so “obsessed” with reproductive choice? Why can’t we just calm the fuck down about it?

Well. Here we are.

There’s this.

Oh, and there’s HR3. That one you should know about, but if you haven’t been paying attention, it basically makes it (more) impossible for women on medicaid to get an abortion for any reason whatsoever, and also severely curtails the ability of private insurers to include abortion coverage, oh…and it restricts women from using their pre-tax money from medical savings accounts for abortions. So.

There’s also HR385, which extends conscience clauses such that a doctor won’t be held accountable for refusing to save the life of a pregnant woman at the expense of her fetus.

Theres the bill that would strip all Title X funding from family planning clinics, which would severely curtail poor people’s access to contraception, cancer and STI screenings, and  sexual health information.

In our home state, they are trying to implement, in addition to a mandated speech about what a horrible, horrible thing women are doing by having a safe legal medical procedure, a 72 hour waiting period between mandated pre-abortion counseling and actually having an abortion. We don’t have an in state provider, one flies in from Minnesota, so if you have to wait 72 hours (assuming you can get the time off work, and make it to the one lonely city here), you probably can’t get an abortion in this state.

It’s not getting better anywhere else.

So, this is why I care so much about reproductive rights. This is why I get so annoyed when someone insists to me that I WILL want babies of my own someday. Because they aren’t doing that insisting in a vacuum, they are speaking with the weight of a culture determined to make damn good and sure that I WILL have babies behind them.

Because our reproductive rights, even the ones that seem like a no brainer, even our birth control pills, our free condoms, our sliding scale STI tests and treatment, our annual pap smears, they aren’t settled. The question of whether or not women are just walking aquaria– it does not appear to have been settled to the satisfaction of the public.

Certainly,  most people don’t have an issue with reproductive freedom. Most people wisely recognize that sex is a near universal practice and making it safer is probably kind of a good plan. But most people are not willing to fight for those rights.

And the people most affected, well, they don’t have the resources or the time to carry the torch. Poor women, mothers trying to support the children they already have, women in coercive, abusive relationships with men who would happily get them pregnant just to make sure they have an inseverable bond, well, it isn’t fair to demand that they rise up and ensure our continued freedom.

So it’s on me. And other privileged people. It’s on us to give a damn, to talk about it like it matters, to issue annoying reminders that there are constant attacks on these things that seem so simple, so logical. It’s on me to continue to take it seriously.

Reproductive freedom is the foundation of my feminism because it is inexorably tied to economic, educational, and environmental outcomes. Every other issue that I think about as a feminist bumping around in the world– class, race, health, food, the environment– every single one, cannot be talked about without connecting it to reproductive freedom.

So yes. I will continue to get good and pissed off when people insist to me that I, and other women like me, exist to bear children. Yes. Because it reduces me to one single thing that I am able to do, but don’t want to.  I will get good and mad because when people push at me about having babies, they are also talking about race, and about class.  Because  the idea that women exist for having babies at the whims of the patriarchy is an old, old tenet of misogyny, and women are in a double bind– producing children is used to dehumanize us, and not producing children is used to dehumanize us.

I don’t know, or care really, whether you agree with me on the underlying principles and ideas pushing the movement to limit reproductive rights.

But I hope that all of the evidence, of which I could gather mountains and mountains from most of the states, will convince you that reproductive rights are a big deal to feminists for a reason.

Happy Valentines, now a few words about Emotional Labor, hosted by adorable baby animals and plastic flowers.

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‎”.有明や家なし猫も恋を鳴
ariake ya ie nashi neko mo koi wo naku

at dawn
the homeless cat, too
cries for love”

— Issa Kobayashi

Growing up, I must have heard the scriptures about what love is and isn’t about a tetrahecadonahillion times. Interestingly, nowhere in said scriptures was there the sentence “Love is definitely not two or more ladies/dudes/gender non conforming people. Ever.”

But anyway. I digress.

It’s Valentines, and here we are. The hallmark cabal and the all powerful florists lobby wants us to feel like shit, and have a miserable day of lamenting that either we are a. single, or b. in a two-some which will now experience inordinate amounts of pressure and faux red velvet, or c. married and bitterly resentful about it.

 

Foiled Again, Hallmark!

 

 

They would also very much like us to engage in the cultural trope that Men Want Sex and Women Want Love.  Therefore, Men can buy sex with shiny things that stupid pathetic Women will  mistake for Love,  ???? and Profit!!

And so on, and so forth. Ad nauseum, weep and eat pints of ice cream, make a sweeping exit whilst tossing down a bouquet of red roses in the rain, trashy lingerie, jazz hands.

I maintain that Valentines is a day for making your own goodies, if you can, and handing them out at random. Thats it. Me and Mr. Lee Hales won’t be doing anything exciting, seeing as we both have the head cold of doom, but even if we didn’t, thats about all I would be able to muster. And frankly, cupcakes of universal love are plenty.

 

Valentines Day: A holiday as Authentic as these Fine Flowers.

 

But I’ve also been thinking about emotional labor, and how much we do, and how much we make the other people in our lives (especially of the significant other variety, but certainly of the friend and family variety) do for us.

Whenever we refuse to own our shit– that is, to admit that we are sad, or restless, or bored, or pissy, or angry, or wounded, or lonely, and we make someone pry the truth of us like a toddler with a filthy disgusting blankie, we are making that person do our emotional labor. When someone can tell by our body language that we not fine, that we are, in fact the opposite of fine, and we say “I’m fine. No, really, everything is fine,” when what we really want is to either talk about it or be left alone, we are making that person do our emotional labor.

There is also the reverse. Refusing to do emotional labor– refusing to accept the validity of someone else’s feelings comes to mind. Flat out telling someone that “no, you don’t feel that way, you actually feel this way,” yeah, thats refusing to do any emotional labor.

I’ve heard various lobs back and forth about whether relationships take work, or whether the “best” relationships are labor-free– and for me, relationships take care and tending. You know, emotional labor. The labor of going beyond merely not being an asshole.

I think this is one case where gender doesn’t have a whole lot to do with things (OMG a card carrying Feminist just said gender doesn’t have a whole lot to do with things, alert the press, call out the hounds, it’s the end of the effing wooooorld!)– because although I’ve seen unbalanced emotional labor dynamic play out in plenty of hetero couples, I’ve also seen it play out in many a same/different gender friendship.

People, it must be said, tend to be lazy. I include myself in the class “people” in case you were wondering. It feels awesome to behave like a lazy, angry toddler, and have someone there to clean up the mess.  It makes you feel more secure, and more loved, because the other party is proving how awesome and special you are, how worth it you are, by putting up with your nonsense. Paradoxically, it also makes you feel less secure– why, you wonder, are they putting up with this? Are they using me? They must be more fucked up than I am. I’d better start behaving even worse, to see if they still love me.

And this is how the asshole spiral of guilt, fear, doubt, laziness and asshole behavior begins.

I speak from experience– I’ve been on the dishing out and taking it ends of this sad sad cycle.

 

Baby Capybara says "Boy have you."

 

Emotional labor, it must also be said, is, uh…work. Having the guts to own your moods, and tell other people when they’ve hurt you, or crossed a boundary or failed to do right by you, well, it’s really hard.

 

Doin' emotional labor: It feels a lot like this, most of the time. Yes, I did just use a tired "coming out of your shell" cliche. It's Valentines, everybody gets a free one.

 

I don’t have any great golden mountain of wisdom to end on. I don’t even have cupcakes of universal love for you.

I have…

This. This is my fluffyschnuzzleoopieboop Valentine for you.

 

 

And the sincere hope that we can all learn to do our own emotional labor, to maybe not do so much of someone elses that we can’t do our own, and to know when to let someone help us when we need help.

 

 

 

In case you wondered why misogynists want to make sure we all get unhappily pregnant as much as possible…

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It would be because they a. hate women, and b. want to destroy the fucking world and make women suffer as much as possible. I think the evidence is pretty compelling.  So, there’s that.

50 million (!!!!) unnecessary abortions, and you have the nerve to call yourselves pro-life?

3.6 million dead infants. And you say it’s all about the babies?

oh, here’s what it’s really about, huh– 300,000 dead women. Slutty slut sluts who died because they couldn’t keep their slutty legs closed, right? Yeah, I bet that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, assholes.

 

Your political philosophy is fucking bananas.

 

 

 

 

Two things that you should read (and a cute monkey because OMG MONKEY!!!)

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Courtesy of Shakesville– if you are of the cis-dudely persuasion, you should read these things. Then get all defensive and then think about it and read them again. Lather, rinse, repeat. For those of us of the feminist-cis-trans-gender-queer persuasion, these are very useful posts in providing tools for refuting some bullshit assertion that likely now function as the background noise of our lives.  Thanks to Liss at Shakesville.

Feminism 101 for Dudes

and

The Terrible Bargain

Oh and  A MONKEY!!!

 

OMG MONKEY MONKEY MONKEY!