Um … yeah.

Yes, I’ve been gone a LONG time.  I’ll address that in a moment.  Right now, there’s this:

Really?  Really?

Found this through Curly Nikki who sent me to the Hot Hip Hop Detroit link.¹

I spent a week in Detroit at the beginning of the month.  The relationship between Detroit and its non-white residents is something I have a lot of thoughts about.  Little did I know that Seagram’s offering me the chance to buy my gin with a du-rag needed to be one of those things.

Oh, Seagram’s.  Oh poor, misguided, unambiguously racist Seagram’s.  Apparently this gin is “Urban Elegance” … that’s what I learned by checking out the Seagram’s Gin Live site.  And, as we all know by now and as the ads on the Seagram’s site confirm, “urban” is a way of saying “black.”  Yeah.  Should I comment on their “Gin & Juice” line of pre-mixed drinks?  You know, the eight-mix collection with names that are almost all notably violent or aggressive (Red Fury, anyone?  How about a Blue Beast or some Purple Rage?).  Should I comment on the 2011 model calendar with eleven months of scantily clad black women and one Asian woman, each associated with a drink (at least they didn’t make the Asian woman pose for “Singapore Bling” or “Raspberry Twisted Kamikaze” … I guess that shows something)?

And of course, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has under its fingernails the dirt of approving this ad campaign.  Really, people?

Ok, so I’m not actually surprised.  In my neighborhood, I am bombarded with offensive ads all the time.  The most offensive of these are usually for alcohol.²  But this giveaway still amazes me.  And it amazes me for a reason that has nothing to do with how disgusted I am.  My disgust is a given.  Let’s think about this from the Seagram’s side of things.  You’re creating an ad campaign for your big fancy client, Seagram’s Gin.  You know they have a whole “Urban Elegance” thing going on … and you think a du-rag has anything to do with elegance?  Do you?  And clearly there’s a crazy-pants, drinks-too-much-of-the-gin staffer at Seagram’s who shares that ridiculous notion.  There is nothing remotely “elegant” about a du-rag, people.   Just know this.  Know it.³

Let’s get back to my righteous indignation.  You know what would be true urban elegance?  If all the “urban” people Seagram’s thinks they’re targeting with this giveaway turned their backs on this crap and shopped for Tanqueray or Beefeater instead.  So much classier than me pouting in a corner (in my du-rag).

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¹  Though, I could have found it in plenty of other places. For example: The Milwaukee Drum (and yes, I’d love to get that “Uppity Negro” t-shirt from the sidebar).
²  How happy was I when a Sean Coombs Ciroc ad replaced the awful Captain Morgan billboard I used to have to pass every morning?  I may not be a Diddy fan, but I much prefer his ad to the image of a black woman looking drugged and unfocused as she sprawls on the ground in a bikini, her skin dripping oil.  Every morning for about six months.  Feh.
³  And, while it sounds as though I have all kinds of bad feelings about du-rags, this is really not the case.  I am, in truth, wearing one right now, protecting my curls so I can be all cute tomorrow.  I’m just saying there’s a time and a place for a du-rag, and when I’m stepping out and thinking I’m all the ish, there is narry a du-rag in sight.

I hate people … ok, I don’t really … except when I do …

I am a hugely fat, tall, dark-skinned woman who strides confidently and has big hair.  Can you see me?  If you can’t, please allow me to introduce you to the 4H kid who’s raising your guide dog because you, my friend, are blind.

Crowd of juiced-up white people congregating around the church I pass on my way from work to the subway.  I can smell the pot and see the beer bottles and know they won’t be pretty, know I want to be away from them.  I need to get from Point A on the east side of them to Point B on the west.  Each group I approach, I say, “Excuse me,” five or six times and with increasing volume.  No one moves.  Seriously?  Seriously, people?

Yeah. Seriously.  I have to shove past each cluster.  One guy, as I shoulder my way by him, says: “Did you feel that?  Something just moved by.  It’s so dark out here, I couldn’t see what it was.”  Seriously.

I do not have the time or patience for this level of bullshit.

I kept walking — head high, newly acquired face of belligerence in place.  Yes, I could have gotten in his face, made him acknowledge seeing me.  But why?  And, too, it would have been the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory: there were about forty of them and one of me, and most of them were men.    My decision to shove people aside so I could pass was enough of a challenge.  Further aggression — physical or verbal — would not have earned me anything but pain.

But really.  I have no time for this kind of crap.  I am done.  But other folks are clearly not done.  Can someone else deal with them, please?  I’m tired.  Beat to my socks.  It’s too many years, too much stupidity.  And I’m just so tired.  So tired.  Worn the fuck out.

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Ah, don’t we all feel so very much better now that Anthony Weiner has finally admitted to being not only the subject of the crude twitpic, but also the sender?  I know I’ll be sleeping better tonight.  This whole story is so predictable, stupid, annoying, tired.  Why can’t these men figure it out?  No, I will refrain from adding to the 4,273,899 Weiner jokes that have made the rounds lately.  I do hope, however, that Weiner has learned to keep his mouse in its house and spare the rest of us.

But there are two things this story is making me think.  Plenty of people are calling for Weiner to resign.  Plenty of others are saying resignation would be the second mistake of this whole pathetic episode (really the third: sending the picture and lying about sending the picture would seem to hold the first two slots).  I’m on both sides.  Do I think a man shouldn’t hold public office if he can’t keep his pants on?  Not really.  But do I think someone who is foolish enough to send crotch shots of himself over Twitter should hold public office?  I’m thinking maybe not.  He couldn’t figure out what a stupid move that was?

This next bit isn’t just for Anthony Weiner.  It’s more of a public service announcement for men in general.¹  Women really and truly don’t want to see your penises.  We don’t want them flashed at us on the subway or in the park.  We don’t want to open an email and find photos of them.  Know this, men: your penis isn’t pretty.   If we are wildly attracted to you, madly in love with you … then your penis would have some appeal (and even then that’s really only true some of the time, often it will just make us chuckle because it’s such a strange little appendage).  But even if we’re in love with you, we still don’t want to see your little congressman without prior invitation.  Trust me.

Men don’t seem to know this.  It’s something I realized during the craziness of e-dating.  I wish I had five dollars and a memory eraser for every time some man sent me a photo of his penis after one email exchange, after one phone call. What is that supposed to do for me?  Is there really a woman somewhere who gets excited by the sight of a penis?  Sure, we might look at the guys in Playgirl, but we are looking at the whole guy, not just one little bit of him (though I have to say: for me, a naked guy reclining under a willow tree or hanging out of a police cruiser looks more comical than come-hither).

I know that men can’t help the fact that they think like men.  They know how thrilled they would be if the women they liked — or perhaps just any woman — sent them unsolicited topless photos.  But you know what?  Women aren’t men.  And breasts are a lot prettier than penises anyway.  Penises are a private matter.  No one is ever going to love them as much as you do, so you need to keep them to yourselves.  When we want to see them, we’ll let you know.

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¹ And yes, I know all men aren’t the same.  I know and appreciate that fact.  Still, sometimes a little generalizing more appropriately fits the bill.

Update, thanks to Molly: If you haven’t yet seen Kristen Schaal’s hilarious piece that makes the same point, go check it out!

What a Long Strange Trip, Part 3

After the twenty-nine levels of compatability failed, I let a friend talk me into trying more specialized sites.  And there are many: single parents, pet lovers, Christians, married people, trophy wives … you name it, there is a dating site for them alone.  I did some research and chose two sites, one for each predictor the others neglected: size and race.

The first site is all about helping black folks find one another.  That seems so clear, implies a certain outcome.  I do not, in actual fact, date only black men.  Vlad isn’t black.  Neither The Morphine Man, nor several other former paramours.  But the fact that I am black was hampering the process, so I signed up … and the first thing I saw was one white man after another. I will admit to a fair amount of confusion. But behind all the non-black people on the site, there are plenty of — surprise! — black people.

I think the most interesting thing I’ve found on these sites is that removing the issue doesn’t remove the issue.¹

On the fat ladies site, the men are — one should feel safe assuming — into fat ladies.  And they are, but the truth of that doesn’t in any way affect the concurrent truth that many are fatphobic.  “You need to show a full-length photo,” one man’s profile says. “If you don’t, then I have to assume you’re fat.”  Um, what? Trust me, sir, that any woman signing up on the Meet Fat Ladies site is fat.  Trust me.  What he means, probably, is that some level of fat is too fat for him.  But I’m sorry, don’t come to Fatland and then be all prejudiced against the fatties.

Another man worries about meeting women larger than a size 14.  Seriously?  Let’s just be clear: a woman who is a size 14 is. not. fat.  She’s not even anywhere near being fat.  A man hoping to meet small women needs to figure himself out and stop wasting my fat girl time.  Please, people.

Things are much worse on the black site.  From reading their profiles, it is clear that many black men have ugly and unfortunate beliefs about black women.  “Don’t bother responding if you have more than two kids,” says one.  Another makes clear that his ideal woman can’t have more than $3,000 in personal debt.  Many others say they don’t want their woman to be loud, angry, uneducated, trampy, domineering, demanding, dealing with baby-father bother² … 

What is that?  How can it be that so many black men think so little of black women?  I’m not really that naive, but I’m disgusted and disheartened all the same.  If you’re a man who’s looking to meet a black woman or a big woman, how are you served by posting a profile that is insulting to the women you hope to meet?  And excuse my bluntness, guys, but if you’re a raggedy-looking, broke-down man whose profile pictures look like you took them the morning after a three-day drunk, how dare you say even one disparaging thing about me.

I am supremely troubled and angered by this crap.  The prejudice against fat women bothers me, but most men on that site wax rhapsodic about the joys of “loving large.”  The anti-black woman bullshit coming from men who should prize black women above all others … that hurts.  I know many of the places it’s coming from, but it burns me.

Happily, not all of the men on these sites are rude and prejudiced.  Some have made it past the initial does-he-warrant-a-date screen.  A couple have even managed to rate a second date … And yes, I’m going to string you along and talk about them in another post!

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¹ This might be an important takeaway for the folks behind the new Huck Finn: erasing the printed evidence of racism doesn’t erase the fact of racism.  Hello

² And this from men with their own exes and children in tow.  I heard from a guy who’s never been married but has strewn nine children across the world … and he had the nerve to say he didn’t want any baby-daddy business.

What a long Strange Trip, Part 1

Turns out my friend Miss Mice Maze and I have one more thing in common.  We have both signed up on online dating sites to increase our chances of meeting someone we might find interesting and possibly date-able.  I can’t speak for Sarah, but in my case this decision represents a complete loss of faith in my friends’ ability to manage the whole fix-Stacie-up mandate.  The string of blind dates I have found myself on were utter failures.  While I’d still like to believe one of them will come up with a passable prospect, the interwebs seemed like a way to be a little proactive while waiting for that possible eventuality.

Again, can’t speak for Sarah, but this has been a bizarre little odyssey for me.  Strange and educational.  Hysterical … and hugely annoying.

My first mistake was pulling out what should have been the big guns: going with the sites that claim to actually think before pairing you up with someone.  One of them touts its analysis of “29 levels of compatability.”  Twenty-nine.  That sounds like a lot.  Surely that’s going to be better than my list: tall, not a Republican, good kisser …

I’ve looked at the list of compatability levels.  It’s pretty comprehensive.  Includes things like “self concept,” “autonomy,” “intellect,” “curiosity,” “artistic passion,” “emotional status,” “character.”  It’s a great list, full of things that might be hugely important to me but which I wouldn’t necessarily find out about a guy until after I’d wasted spent a considerable amount of time with him.  So, you know, great.  Let’s jump on that.  Start serving up the bachelors.  Who’ve you got?

Who have they got?  Man after man after man who match me on 15, on 20, on all twenty-nine levels of compatability … and yet who don’t match me at all.

The “how” of that is simple: these sites ignore some ridiculously obvious things, each of which are absolute deal breakers.  Size matters.  So does race.  If a man checks the boxes that say he wants to meet only white and Asian women … he doesn’t want to meet me.  If a man says he likes skinny girls and slender girls, he should not be paired with me.  It doesn’t matter how many of the other fabled levels of compatability connect us.  There is no level of compatability that trumps prejudice.

“Prejudice” is harsh.  I’m actually not faulting the men … at least not much.  We can’t help who we’re attracted to.  And while it’s true that I find it a little suspect when men check off every possibile ethnicity box except “Black/African-American,” I won’t pretend to know that those men are in any way prejudiced.  My point here isn’t to begrudge the men their irrational biases.  My beef is with the sites.  Ethnicity and body type aren’t even on the comptability list.

The last overlooked predictor is politics.  In this case, I’m the bigot.  I’ve gotten messages from men who are avowedly ultra conservative, despite my check mark next to “very liberal.”  And maybe that’s very big of them.  Maybe they don’t let politics stand in the way of true love.  Or maybe they imagine they can coax me over to their side of the purple line.  I harbor no such illusions.  We could match on every other level … but Maria Schriver I’m not.  There’s no room in my love shack for a man whose political views make me want to poke him in the eye.

I did go on a handful of only-dates.  Not thrilling, but not the end of the world, either.  I drank a lot of coffee, had a couple of good dinners, but I was ready to hang up my dating spurs, had started eyeing the Spinster Sisterhood with new respect.

Then a friend nudged me toward a couple of other sites, ones that would, in theory, eliminate the annoyance of running up against the same deal-breaking non-negotiables.  I had my doubts.

But there are a few questions I need to look at before I get to all that.  (To be continued …)