This January, I had a bad job interview. I performed the best I could, but they’d kept me in a room, coming in groups of two or three at a time, grilling me on why I wanted and was qualified for an entry-level customer service job for two straight hours. I’ve been employed in some way or another for the last ten years, and I graduated with honors last year. I couldn’t just say, “I need a better job than I have now, and frankly this is going to be a cakewalk for me.” Some of them said I was underqualified; some of them said I was overqualified. No one really seemed to have a real sense of what they were doing; HR was out for the day, so it was all sales managers. I was so upset and confused afterward that I sat in Merchandise Mart crying for a half hour before working up the courage to get on the train. Keep reading »
I’m sure by now that everyone has seen Men Taking Up Too Much Space On the Train, a genius Tumblr that more than adequately demonstrates the fact that we teach women to take up as little space as possible and teach the opposite to men. The blog draws regular ire from dudes, and the person (woman? I don’t know) who curates the blog is happy to just rip apart their responses, so good luck with that, guys. The most common excuse guys give is “We sit that way because we have dicks.” Ironically, I’m pretty sure that “because we have dicks” is the basic justification that’s been used an immeasurable number of times over history to do things like deny women the right to vote or own land or have autonomy over our own bodies, harass us in public all the fucking time, and block us from adequate and equal access to healthcare, but WHATEVS. Another thing people like to do with this Tumblr is write in to mock the blog by saying things like “Oh yeah you’re so oppressed because guys are taking up a lot of space on the train,” which kind of completely misses the point. So I feel like it’s my duty to say here that the point is that we teach men and women to dignify their bodies differently, and that’s worth questioning.
That being said. Keep reading »
When I got to my friend’s place for my self-defense lessons last week, he told me we were going to do basic self-defense techniques and toward the end, simulated assaults. The simulated assaults were walk-bys: We would walk across the room in opposite directions and he would either do nothing, or he’d very suddenly grab my throat and wrist. The purpose was to train me to react quickly and correctly if it were to happen to me in real life.
But it had happened to me in real life, and after the first or second walk-by, I wound up having visceral, vivid flashbacks to my former partner putting me in arm locks and finger locks, pinning me, kicking me, putting his hand over my mouth, pushing my head into the floor or the bed. I hyperventilated and cried, and my friend hugged me and helped me calm down. He also didn’t let me stop, because the things I experience will upset me sometimes and I still have to know how to handle it, especially when physical danger is involved.
Which brings me to trigger warnings. Keep reading »
So here’s a thing that is making my eye twitch: There is a (fringe) group of people — mostly men — who believe that divorce is, basically, a feminist conspiracy meant not to empower women to live autonomous lives (y’know, the whole “pursuit of happiness” thing) but to allow women to destroy men’s lives.
This is largely a product of the Red Pill community. For the vast numbers of people who live in blessed ignorance of Red Pill, it’s a group of people (again, mostly men) who believe that they’ve “taken the red pill” (à la “The Matrix”) and embraced the painful reality that our society is increasingly being set up to disadvantage men. Not that this is an actual reality: They believe that “involuntary celibacy” exists, i.e. they are having celibacy forced on them; they are disadvantaged for being virgins; their entire identity is wrapped up in having or not having sex. They’re the notorious believers in pick-up artistry, a concept that posits that since all women are brainless automatons, there’s a magical formula of actions and behaviors you can adopt to manipulate women into sleeping with you. They’re so obsessed with false rape accusations that they practically never actually validate the fact that women in America are raped (and then, if she was, of course, she probably deserved it). They buy into the “alpha/beta” social theory (because humans are dogs!). They talk about women in terms of monetary value. They believe they are buying their “partners.”
And they hate divorce, because in the Red Pill community’s minds divorce is a system set up to allow women to vacuum money out of men’s bank accounts and steal children away from their fathers. They believe men should be able to divorce women for even spurious reasons, but women should be shamed for getting divorced (by the way, read all of these links at the risk of your sanity). Keep reading »
I spend an inordinate amount of time reading and writing and thinking about words, why they’re used, how they’re used; how sentences are structured, what human motivations are behind those structures, and what human motivations are behind the assumptions we make about language. That all being said, there are an awful lot of words that have sort of died and become useless, and I’d like to just remove them from popular usage. Here they are, and why. Keep reading »
Every few days, they would come home with hundreds of dollars worth of brand-name groceries and struggle to fit them into their bursting cabinets. They had two freezers and two refrigerators to hold food for three adults and one child. The food would spoil in the fridge or go stale on the shelf and just stay there for weeks. They ate out almost every night, spending $60 at a time at KFC, wrapping up the leftovers, and then never eating them.
On Christmas, the child would get fifty presents, and not tiny presents but whole playsets, Lego sets, motorized cars, animals. Birthdays were the same, and Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving were all treated as further opportunities to give the child presents. If the kid wanted something, they’d hound the parents for weeks, throwing tantrums, guilting, pleading for hours at a time, until the parents’ patience would wear thin and they’d buy it, even between the holiday milestones. Keep reading »
I’ve wondered for a long time if maybe I have higher levels of testosterone than other women, because there’s always been a lot about me that is just distinctly un-feminine (in the sort of standard way of looking at masculinity and femininity). I don’t want to state any facts about testosterone because I am not an endocrinologist and I don’t want to engage in pseudo-science, but suffice it to say that when I hear the experiences of transmen who have undergone hormone therapy I’ve related to the differences they observe. And, in fact, I’ve always had an easier time relating to and making friends with men. Keep reading »
I’ve said before that I drink alcohol for the variety of tastes, but what I haven’t disclosed yet is that I am obsessed with putting booze into my cakes (also: I am obsessed with cake). Flavor matching is at the heart of mixing cocktails, and translating cocktail flavors into cake is basically the best party trick ever. This is some intermediate-level baking that we’re talking about, but I encourage you to try it because 1) practice makes perfect and 2) armed with this knowledge, you will be able to make the most spectacular cakes of your entire life. Keep reading »
“Cities That Surprise” highlights places across America that defied or exceeded our expectations, for whatever reason. Today, Rebecca Vipond Brink tells us why Madison, Wisconsin, is not to be missed!
For a lot of people from Chicago, the place to go for a quick, chill weekend vacation either is Galena (home of fudge shoppes, historical reenactments, and antique stores) or Lake Geneva (great beach, some sailing, OK shopping). However, if you’re not frumpy or if you’re weird (hello) I have to suggest Wisconsin’s great alternative: Its capital, Madison. Keep reading »
I made a special trip to New York last weekend to visit Kara Walker’s A Subtlety at the Domino factory during its last weekend. It was worth it. It was worth the four 90-degree days with no air conditioning in a hostel, it was worth the plane fare despite my general brokeness, and it was worth the syrup that got caked on the hem of my dress. The floor of the factory had flooded a little the night before I went, so the bases of the sugar sculptures had eroded; some of the figures that had already started to break down were melting into pools of syrup that looked like blood, and some of the figures held baskets full of hardened sugar-water.
Beyond the colonial critique that the installation waged, what struck me the most was the way that the viewers had sensationalized the Sugar Baby’s naked body, taking unintentionally macabre smiling selfies in front of her breasts or exposed vagina. And although this artwork has the most to do with the exploitation of black women’s bodies, the feeling that shocked me, as a viewer, into just total heartbreak for this woman was that this is what I feel like every time I get catcalled: a body that’s been unwillingly made into a sideshow, a thing to consume and reduce, vulnerable and exposed. In other words, it was a massively effective work of art.
But you missed it! And I know that you missed it because every single friend I met with during my visit said “Oh yeah! I’ve been meaning to go see it.” But by then it was too late. I’m so sorry, guys. However! There’s another exhibit in New York that I have to exhort you to see to soothe your lady-art cravings… Keep reading »