Monthly Archives: January 2011

Ok, let’s post about Mad Men.

Here is fair warning. When Season 5 of this PHENOMENAL show starts, I’m gonna be writing about it all the time. The gender issues are so spectacular I could dedicate this whole freakin blog to it.

I was gonna write about something else but then I wanted a Mad Men clip and then I found these AMAZING videos with cast/director commentary and I got led in a whole different direction. So click HERE, and watch the video 409, “The Beautiful Girls, and then read on.

Seriously, I’ll wait….

Ok seriously, how good is this quote “Ok Peggy, I guess we’ll have a Civil Rights march for women.” Its just too good.

But anyway these themes link to a conversation I was having in this apartment not too long ago, inspired by another series you may have heard of, Sex and the City. I have two roomates, and they are both boys and they are both Cancers. We’ll call one Kahn Crab and one Canada Crab because I love alliteration. So Canada Crab was calling Miranda, the super smart/independent/cynical lawyer, a bitch. And I was very ineloquently disagreeing with him. Here, hopefully more eloquently, is what I was trying to convey.

When women are making decisions about their professional lives, they are always more complicated than men’s decisions. As Matthew Weiner mentions, women’s roles have been largely defined by how they relate to men. Indeed, we are trained from a young age to consider the needs of others before our own. We are always doing for others, and when we aren’t doing for others we get called names (bitch is the main stinger.) Not only that, but it’s way harder for women to get to the top of their profession and they give up more to do it (see the video posted in “Confidence“.) Overwhelmingly, women do more of the unpaid labor that occurs in the home, and so it’s a big deal deciding whether or not to be career or family oriented because ultimately, it’s harder for us to do both.

Durning this minor disagreement, I stated emphatically (read: blurted out) that men get to have careers and come home to houses that women run. Canada Crab disagreed, but I stand by that statement. Ask any married man with a career, and the overwhelming majority will tell you that its the wives who run the household. Still today. 2011. Which is why Mad Men is so brilliant, because we get to marvel at not only at how far we’ve come, but also how little we’ve moved. Faye’s speech to Don at the end could absolutely come out of any professional women’s mouth today, in this city or any other. Women still take a man’s name, leaving behind their identity so that people can know they are someone’s wife. We overwhelming take on the role of caregiver, in a variety of circumstances. And work, for women, will always have two realms: the professional, and the second shift in the home. That’s why our decisions are fraught with more tension and heartache. In a lot of ways, the stakes are higher.

And now, a fun photo of Christina Hendricks, the love of my life, who is beautiful and also brilliant at playing the complex and heartwrenching character of Joan.

Breathtaking, I know. Go rent seasons 1-3 so when they release Seas 4 and I have a party at my place you can come prepared.

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Why Twitter is important

Ok guys, I am now tweeting.

My blog Guru, Rocco (check her blog out here, she is HILARIOUS and also sometimes I inspire her posts) tells me that Twitter is super important to your internet life. Since I need to be free and mobile on the web as well as in my real life, I decided that I’d use my bike as the alter ego for tweeting. Sparkle Pony is my best friend. Into the winter and beyond, on streets below 14th, she is my partner in crime. We are speedy and sassy, down to the Lower East side, over to NYU campus, and sometimes even over the Williamsburg bridge. So, she’ll be tweeting for me and helping me out, spreading the word about this little blog thing I have going on. Check out how gorgeous she is below.

BTW, she was featured in a blog about urban biking, which is SUPER cool and if you are into bikes or girls who ride bikes or new york city, read this.

Dance 10. Looks 3.

(Dedicated to Ricki, who is visiting soon…)

So my mom has been here visiting all weekend, and in fact I’ve been staying with her uptown in her hotel on 57th street. Lovely visit, ov. But we had this one conversation that I found interesting, and totally connected to an issue I’ve been pondering. That issue is beauty. Here are some questions I have about beauty:

Why do we have such limiting rules about who is beautiful? Do you always need another pair of eyes to confirm your beauty? Are beautiful things always more beautiful when they are still (able to be looked at) and possessed (able to be touched/held)? Do things I find beautiful that aren’t physical (kindness, HUMOR, compassion, intelligence) matter at all? Do I want to be beautiful? If so, does it matter more than all the other stuff about me? (For the record, at this moment, it’s I don’t know but men make the rules, yes, yes, not really, sometimes, most of the time)

Anyway, I’ll ov be talking more about all this, but suffice it so that that I made a decision towards the end of last semester that I was done w/ the cycle of indulgence and guilt we all go through, and that I didn’t have time to have the perfect body so instead I was just gonna try and like mine just how it is. (That 10 lbs is only ‘extra’ if I’m trying to look like celebrity freaks who are not only the minority physically but also they’re airbrushed. I don’t need a six pack to write my thesis.) So I mention this to my mom, that I’ve been liking my body just fine, and she says something like “Well there are still little things you could do that would make a difference, you know like eating less bread.”

Why should I eat less bread? I like bread. And I am a perfectly healthy and normal size and shape. Yoga and biking keep it all in check for me, not to mention the surplus of veggies and lack of dairy/meat (yup, I’m vegan, which I’m sure will come up more later…) The point is, she is so programmed (like we all are) to think that 5 lbs less and we’d be happy. Or at least happier, and probably in a relationship and also more valuable to the world. But I was 5 lbs lighter in August, and I was certainly not happier (or attached.) I also didn’t really look that much better. Any better. And between now and then, no one who has seen me has registered a complaint (nor has anyone ever, for the record) because it’s only us girls who have this weird obsession with being littler, lighter. If you think everyday that you’d be happier if you lost weight, you need help. I don’t know how much help, if you are a self-helper or you need friends or therapy or whatever. But its frustrating to me that my own mother, who I know is proud of me and thinks I’m beautiful blah blah blah, still couldn’t help but counsel me towards the zero end of the scale.

(By the way, wanting to shrink does have connections to wanting to be invisible, disappear, go unnoticed, ect… Just sayin’.) Speaking of beauty and self worth, here is an old school Broadway standard that discusses this topic. It’s from A Chorus Line. I know the preceding monologue, and will recite it for you if you ask nicely.

The PS is that once I let go a little of that eternal quest perfection and decided I’d rather be smart than beautiful (also substitute funny/sexy), I felt a lot more confident. Like when I stopped trying so hard and feeling guilty, it opened up this space for breath and sassiness. I have no idea if that will last. But for what it’s worth, usually if you have to cling really hard to something, thats a sign of how much you need to let it go. If it’s meant to stick around it will show up again and settle into your life in a way that fits better. If not, it will fly away and you’ll be lighter. And funner. And freer.

On Getting Felt Up

I totally wasn’t gonna make myself write today, given that writing everyday here when I need to write a thesis seems a little lofty. But then something happened that I knew I had to share, and it occurred to me that most likely something will happen everyday that I want to share, cause gender issues being everywhere all the time is PRECISELY THE FUCKING POINT!

Ok, sorry for that angry outburst, but it will seem more acceptable once you hear this story.

Tompkins Square Park (hereafter TSP) was a winter wonderland today. Snow lined branches, trecherous walkways, puppies frolicking, that really bright sunlight that bounces off of an undisturbed white surface. Gorgeous. I was cutting through the park thinking it’d be faster, but since the walkways weren’t shoveled I was taking heavy, laborious steps and so I decided to cut over the 7th street out of a side gate. As I was approaching said gate, I noticed that the man in front of me had stopped walking and was turned towards me. I had my eyes down, trying to step in other people’s boot prints, so I only kind of noticed him.

However, as I got closer, I started to get that feeling that you must know if you’ve ever walked home late at night and heard footsteps behind you, or if you are on an empty subway car and a guys sits right next to you. This fear antenna is programmed into all of us, because from a young age we grow up inundated with the narrative of violence against women. We all know how dangerous men are, and how easily we can get hurt in a world that often condones such acts. Sometimes this is outright, sometimes subversive,  but the sad fact is that even though we all should be able to run ass naked through the park at all hours of the night on any day of the week month or year, we don’t. We know better.

So in any case, as I stepped off the TSP walkway onto the sidewalk, this gross man reached out and squeezed my ass. I was stunned, and turned to give him a disapproving look. I opened my mouth to yell, but something stopped me. I realized I was alone on the street, unable to run, and also that he looked vaguely drunk and not a little dangerous. So I turned back around and continued towards Ave A.

His actions were not flattering. They were a declaration that my body belonged to him, and that it was his obvious right to judge it, comment on it, and touch it in any way he wanted. Even in the middle of a brightly lit day, he reached out and took without asking. This exact thing happens on larger and smaller scales all day every day. As if it’s completely obvious that all women not only want to be beautiful, but expect you to pass judgement and verbalize said judgement. I was wearing two pairs of pants, a hoodie-vest combo (which is neither appropriate in a snow storm nor cute,) nerdy glasses and a silly winter hat. I know how to be alluring (I am a Scorpio, but more on that later) and trust me, this was not an alluring moment. And even if it was, you still don’t get to comment or touch. I don’t constantly seek male attention every time I leave my apartment and walk down a street. Mostly, I have somewhere to go and something to do. I’m not sure that I should have stayed silent, but I was stunned and afraid and I think it would have taken much more than angry words from one little blond girl to make this asshole see the light. So I urge you, if you are in a situation where you can speak out, do so. Don’t disassociate from your body and allow your personal space, your personal self, to be violated. Any small breach is absolutely violence against you, and violence against all of us.

“However, for women and for children, especially girls, relations of power are often enacted in moments of intimacy, when we are the most vulnerable, in our families, with our parents or lovers, when we should experience the greatest sense of safety. Relations of power between women and men are likewise enacted in public places, when we are at work, or walking the streets, or riding public transportation. These instances also can take on an intimate quality because we experience them as a violation of personal space, or violence against our own person. What I am describing are widely shared experiences affecting the lives of millions of women virtually everywhere in the world… Taken together, in a feminist contest, these experiences can be recognized and named as the politics of trauma. Healing is both individual and collective.” ~ Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics

Confidence

This is gonna be a personal story with a video attachment. That’s right, I’m coming out of the gate swingin!

I (as mentioned in my ‘About’ page, check it out!) am getting a Masters degree. (I’ve started calling in my Mistress degree to call attention to the inadequacy and bias of language, but that’s another story for another day.) Last semester I was in a class titled ‘Thesis Seminar’. All of us were gathered to prepare to write our thesis, the seminal project in our MA journey. We spent all semester commiserating, discussing, freaking out, and working super hard on proposals and definitions and personal essays. The culminating event was a night of creative presentations (we are all completing artistic thesis’, ie a thesis w/ an artistic component.) Everyone got a chance to show some of their work, whether it was photographs, videos, or a reading of plays or novels or memoirs. I cannot express to you how impressive each and every student in the room was. Each scholar was a talented expert in their field, and it was painfully clear to me how hard we’d all been working and how great all of our projects were going to be. I was moved and inspired by every single one of my classmates.

The other realization that was painfully clear was less positive. I realized that all of us, myself included, had spent all semester down playing how smart we were. I accounted for this by acknowledging that the room was filled almost entirely with women, mostly artists, and many projects occupying a queer space in academia. We all made jokes and expressed insecurity, and none of us had owned our expertise. We were all being quiet and hesitant, afraid to believe that we knew what the fuck we were doing. And all of us do. All of us really do.

This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to academia. It happens everywhere. Women are much more likely then men to quietly succeed, to second guess themselves, to attribute their success to some factor other than themselves. This is a huge obstacle to personal success and fulfillment, in any field. I for one am trying to succeed more loudly, to let people know about my work and how cool I think it is and how proud I am so be earning my Mistress at age 23 (I’m a baby, I know.) So don’t be shy about how smart and dope you are. Make sure you own your intelligence and expertise. It might not always be easy to be a smart woman, but confidence in your abilities is the only way to make it to the top. You don’t have to be a bitch about it (unless the situation calls for that) but remember this: it ain’t braggin if you’ve already done it.

And now, a video that (in part) discusses this. This is the full video, there are also shorter clips if you don’t have 15 mins. But you should just watch when you do have 15 mins…

Now go have an intelligent convo w/ someone, and don’t you dare apologize for how smart you are or how much you are talking. Dominate the convo. Be proud. Be loud.  Be… well, I ran out of rhymes, but just remember that confidence is not bitchy-ness and that you deserve to shine to your full brightness potential. Those who think you are too bright should fuck off or buy sunglasses.