Hail to the V, indeed.

Finally I understand. Finally someone has shed light on a biological question that has plagued me for years. Thanks to Missouri’s Todd Akin, I now know that I should never have worried about getting pregnant after Alain forced himself on me. The superpower of my vagina kicked into high gear to shut that thing down. Amazing. I wish doctors had been more forthcoming with that news earlier. Would have saved me a lot of stress, maybe delayed the onset of my hair going grey.

Oh, but wait. That wouldn’t have worked for me, would it? After all, by Akin’s definition, I wasn’t legitimately raped. Date rape doesn’t meet Akin’s “forcible” criteria. My trusty vajayjay would have been all confused, unsure about releasing the shut-down chemicals and blasting that rapist sperm to smithereens. Damn. Guess I was right to worry and just plain lucky that all I got was raped.

I’m betting the folks who came up with the ridiculous and offensive ad campaign for Summer’s Eve had no idea just how right they were when they exhorted us all to hail the V. I mean, that’s some awesome power. Okay, so it wouldn’t have worked for me, but that’s my fault for not having the sense to get myself legitimately raped. But for all the women who do, wow. Someone ought to harness the power of those shut-down chemicals. Surely a natural contraceptive would be welcomed by millions. No more migraines and weight gain caused by the pill. Oh yes. Hail to the ever-loving V.

Of course, now that I know about the shut-down system, I’m a little annoyed. The system seems flawed. It’s great, the whole not getting pregnant from legitimate rape thing. Really great. Absolutely. But it doesn’t go far enough, does it? Even Representative Akin realized that, saying that there should be some kind of punishment for the rapist. Some kind. I don’t know what kind he was thinking of, but I know the kind that seems best fitting to me. That fabled vaginal shut-down system should shut down more than pregnancy. I’m thinking a two-step approach. First, of course, is the instant penile vaporization — which would take care of the pregnancy danger most handily. Next would be the injection of a neutralizing agent that would make rapists turn themselves over to authorities as well as acknowledge and seek help for their power and control issues. Now that’s what I call a shut-down system.

Alas, that’s just crazy, unscientific, hysterical fantasy talking, nothing to do with the evidence-based pronouncements of Representative Akin. Hey a girl can dream, can’t she?


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).

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.


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!

Reading Is Fundamental … ish

The A train yesterday.  Morning rush.  Crowded.  Lots of readers.  Seeing so many people reading when I’m out and about makes me happy.

But then I look at the page displayed on the Nook of the woman next to me.  Clearly from a chapter that must be called, “Disgusting Stereotypes about Haitians and How We Will Perpetuate Them.”  Its central premise seems to be that Haitians are worshipers of evil and that their pagan Voodoo ways are the cause of all their problems.

Seriously?  I read along with her for a few pages to see if maybe there will appear a magic line like: “Oh, these are the kinds of small-minded, hurtful things that small-minded hurtful people say about Haitians.”  No such luck.

But the woman across from me is reading Water for Elephants.  Yes, yes, she’s reading a new printing that has Robert Pattinson on the cover and that pisses me off, but still.  It’s a great book even with the lame “Now a major motion picture!” cover.

The woman next to her is reading Minding God’s Business.  I have no idea what this book is, but the title makes me smile.  Like you’re eavesdropping on God, or butting into divine conversations out of which you should definitely be keeping.  Silly.

I look around: kid reading Catching Fire, man reading Deathly Hallows, another with a graphic novel, a slew of spines I can’t see, a whole bunch of people deep in a newspaper.  Half a dozen Kindles, a few more Nooks, a handful of iPads.

I love-love-love to see people reading.  And I really am working on getting past my “You’re reading that?” snobbery (though I still can’t get behind a book that blames the people of a country for their misfortunes because of a string of lies about a religion).  I’m happy to see all these readers.  Happy, encouraged, affirmed.

Until she gets on.  Gorgeous, tiny Latina, closed and angry face.  She squeezes into a seat between two bigger women and pulls out a book: Why Men Love Bitches.  I want to be kidding.  I do.  I’m not.  The page she opens to is a rule (number 63? 68?) that says we need to keep men guessing and confused by not being available, that this behavior will drive them into our arms.  Oh.  Right.  So it’s not an “explaining how men work” book but a “how you can be the kind of bitch men will love” book?  Swell.

I try to console myself with my old stand-by: “Hey, at least she’s reading something,” but it doesn’t work.  Keeps getting drowned out by, “You’re reading that?”  Feh.

Miss? Miss, can I ask you something?

That was how my conversation started at the bus stop tonight.  I was listening to my music, deciding what I thought about the date I was on the way home from, and then this young guy walked up and asked if he could ask me something.

“I need some advice.”

I’m pretty used to strangers talking to me on the street because I am one of those people to whom it happens all the time.  My chatty strangers don’t usually ask me for advice, however.

“She’ll let me stay at her place,” he explained, “but only to help with the rent and taking care of my kid.  But I don’t know.  I think she’s still seeing other dudes.  What you think I should do?”

Seriously.  You would ask a stranger this question?  But if you would turn to a random stranger, you must be so desperate, so at the end of your rope, how could I not try to talk to you if you asked me this question?  But I have nothing to go on.  My first response was to laugh — because he started so in the middle of things with that unidentified “she” not just because of the total absurdity of the situation — but I held that in check.

“I have no idea.  [insert pause for my brain to scramble for something to say] Maybe think about what it would mean for your kid to have you there in the house?”

Oh, he’d thought about that.  His daughter had apparently told him how much she wanted him there and was looking forward to him picking her up from school.  Which made sense.  That question was really more of a stall because of course the issue wasn’t the kid but the ex-girlfriend.

I didn’t want to give him advice.  Never mind the fact that I have the known world’s worst relationship experience.  He just shouldn’t have been talking to me, a complete stranger!

But he looked so sad and confused …

“Maybe you should think about how you’ll feel living there and seeing her date other men.  I mean, are you hoping the two of you will get back together?”

“I thought we could, you know?  I think I’ve been fooling myself.”

I told him it was a really hard decision and how much I didn’t envy him.  He stood there for a long few minutes, saying nothing, just staring at the ground.  I couldn’t tell if the conversation was over or if he was going to ask another question … or maybe smack me for having so much nothing to offer him.  Finally he just shook his head.

“Thanks for listening,” he said and walked away.

What do I do with that?  How can it be that the only person he could find to talk to was me?  That’s just so wrong.

Digging Out

Wondering what’s happened to me?  Me, too.  I’ve found it harder and harder to come here, to find things to say.  Or, more accurately, to find a way to say all the things I’m thinking about.  The new project I’m taking on at work is big and important and fabulous … but I can’t really talk about it.  I could, I suppose, but it would tell too much about me, would remove the last bit of anonymity I’ve managed to maintain here.  But I want to talk about it, and holding myself back has translated into holding myself back entirely.  Surely there’s some happy medium between telling all and complete silence.  Not sure why it’s so hard for me to find it.

Right now I’m waiting to see how long before the city figures out that “the city” encompasses more than the borough of Manhattan.  I came home last night from spending the holidays with my mother and sister.  I’d been worried about road conditions between Maryland and New York, but the drive was practically effortless.  Getting a cab to take me out to Brooklyn, however … that was another thing.  It took me almost an hour to find a driver willing to brave the unplowed wilds of my home borough.  And in the end, the driver who agreed to take me agreed with a warning: if we got closer to my house and found the streets were impassable, I’d have to get out and walk.  But then he softened and said he’d find a place to pull over and help be get to my door.

I thought he was being foolish.  This is New York City, after all.  We understand snow.  We deal with it every year.  We deal with it when it comes fast and heavy.  We deal with it no matter what.  So we got almost two feet in Sunday’s storm.  No problem.

Except, it’s a huge problem.  The closer we got to my neighborhood, the less good the roads were looking.  We turned onto one of the big avenues that lead to my block, and it was barely passable.  It hadn’t been plowed, but people had driven through it enough times to create a car path.  The side streets we passed — as my driver was quick to point out — hadn’t seen a plow, either.  Some were clogged with snowed-in cars.  I was going to suggest that he drop me when we recahed the intersection with my street (if the avenue wasn’t plowed, no way my street would be) but then we saw that someone had pulled a line of garbage cans across the avenue ahead of us: a warning that the road wasn’t drive-able beyond that point.  I wondered how he would get out.  Would he have to back down the avenue and hope no one was behind him?  Would he have to add his cab to the cars I saw stuck on the snowed-in side streets?  I regretted my insistence on taking a cab home.  (Though how else I’d have gotten home, I don’t know.  No way I could have walked from the subway, and there were no buses running.)

But then we reached the corner and saw that my street had a car path, too.  He turned onto my block and spent the next five minutes trying to find a place to let me out where I could a) reach the sidewalk from the street and b) reach my front gate from the sidewalk.  There were several paths carved through the snow to the sidewalk, but there were walls of snow between houses, blocking cleared patches of sidewalk from one another.  Finally, he got out of the car, and found a good crossing for me, put my bag on the sidewalk and helped me get there, too.

I tipped him well and wished him a happy new year … then went inside shaking my head.  What’s up with all that?  How could it be days after the storm and things still be so totally out of whack?   Because, you know, like I said: this is New York City.  We understand snow.  We deal with it every year.  We deal with it when it comes fast and heavy.  We deal with it no matter what.

Except that, somehow, this time around we didn’t.  Just really, truly didn’t.  I heard clips of the Mayor saying how everything was fine because Broadway shows were full and tourists were in town enjoying themselves.  Clips of him saying clean-up was in progress and yelling about the pace of that progress wasn’t going to help anything.  What?  What?  Yeah, I’m not totally surprised.  Mayor Bloomberg is nothing if not completely out of touch with the reality of ordinary life in this (or any other) city.  But really?  Was he serious?  Can he really not understand why the lack of plowing and snow removal outside of Manhattan is an issue?  I heard another clip of him saying something insane about how there are a lot of streets in the city, that there are some streets that aren’t even on the map.  Excuse me? 

No.  I’m being too hard on the Mayor, aren’t I?  Ok, so there are some mysterious, unmapped streets.  Fine.  Don’t plow them right away.  Don’t plow them until you discover them.  What about all the streets that are on the map?  Like all the ones in my neighborhood, thank you.  I live on a bus route.  The avenues that bookend my block are bus routes (as are 11 of the 13 avenues that run perpendicular to my street and 3 of the 10 side streets that run parallel to mine).  Surely some effort should be made to clear the bus routes so that people have some means of moving through the city that, for some unclear reason, you chose not to put on snow emergency.

Can’t reach the subway.  The buses aren’t running.  But the city is just fine because there are tourists having a snow holiday in mid-town Manhattan?  Really?

Here’s hoping we see some plows soon … and that this little fit of pique I’ve subjected you to will trigger a lifting of the gag order I’ve placed on myself and get me back to writing again.