Content Warning: Weird stuff. You've been warned.

Category Archives: Feminist

… and do something with my hands that does not involve petting the cats:

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Yes yes knitting BUT WHAT ABOUT MEEEE?

Every time I nudge them with my foot to get them to stop scratching the carpet:

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What no no claws in the carpet here of course not just stretching that’s all go about your business human go on k byyeee

This, except with towels:

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All the things belong on the floors silly human whyfor not you know that already

Every time a foot moves under the blankets:

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I MUST KILL IT WITH TEETHS

They have no concept of “blocking the TV”:

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But is good place for sits.

What I wake up to every morning:

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Is an hour before alarm happens. Good time for snuggles.

Damn, they’re cute though:

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Look, I are a clock.

It’s been a long week and I needed kitty gifs. Thank you for indulging me.

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I know, I know, it’s fiction and it’s not supposed to be perfect. But, I just… look, there are some improvements to be made, ok?

_______

Scene 3: Jamie Leaves For The Wedding

JAMIE is rushing around, in a hurry to finish tying his tie, grab his coat, keys, etc.

JAMIE: God, I’m going to be late.
GIRLFRIEND WHO APPARENTLY HAS NO NAME: It’s just ’round the corner, you’ll make it.
JAMIE: You sure you don’t mind me going without you?
GWAHNN: No, really. You know them better, and I think it would be hard for both of us if I came along. I’ll send them a nice note later.
JAMIE: I’m sorry it had to end like this, but I appreciate that we were able to talk it out last night. I love you, but that doesn’t give me the right to keep you in a relationship you’re unhappy with.
GWAHNN: I know. And I appreciate that you were able to respect my needs, and that I felt safe in being honest with you about how my feelings toward you have changed. You’re a good guy… I just don’t think you’re the right guy for me.
JAMIE: I understand. It hurts, but I think we’ll both move past this in the end. Maybe we’ll even stay friends?
GWAHNN: Maybe so. After all, mutual love and respect doesn’t go away just because we’re not dating anymore. The things we liked in each other are still there, even if the romantic feelings are gone. I’m so glad this wasn’t a nasty breakup.
JAMIE: Right? Can you imagine if we didn’t have such strong communication skills and you felt so trapped in our relationship that you started cheating, half-hoping I’d catch you with my friend or brother or something, and  I’d be forced to do the work of breaking up so you didn’t have to?
GWAHNN: Ugh! That would be terrible! Now go, or you will actually miss it.

_______

Scene 5: Colin Strikes Out

COLIN wanders through the office with a basket of fruits, baked goods, and various food items. He very obviously ignores the men in the office and is speaking only to the women.

COLIN: Best sandwiches in Britain. (She shakes her head uncomfortably.)
COLIN: (to another) Try my lovely nuts? (She tries to ignore him.)
COLIN: (to yet another) Beautiful muffin for a beautiful lady. (She tugs self-consciously at her cardigan, pulling it closer together.)
COLIN: (arriving at MIA’s desk) Morning, my future wife.
MIA: Colin, you need to knock that off. You’ve been coming in here and hitting on me for ages, and I think you’re already well aware that your advances aren’t appreciated. But just in case, let me make it clear for you: I am not interested. Stop treating my workplace like it’s a Lady Zoo. I am not here for your enjoyment; I am here because this is how I earn my living and in fact has nothing to do with you. Hitting on women incessantly and indiscriminately  won’t get you laid, which seems to be what you so desperately want. It just makes you creepy. Women don’t like to sleep with creepy dudes.
COLIN: Wow, you’re right. I’ve been really disrespectful and inconsiderate of you, and everyone else here. I guess I’m just really insecure about what my place in the world is as a man. There’s a lot of toxic messages in our culture about how men and women are ‘supposed to’ interact; mostly it revolves around men feeling powerful by treating women as objects for personal gratification and not the full and complex human beings they truly are. Maybe I need to spend some time reflecting on how I could be better as a person before I try to find a girlfriend.

The office breaks into a standing ovation.

_______

Scene 13: Jack And Judy On Set, That Part Where They Talk About Traffic While She’s Half Naked And Neither Of Them Make A Big Deal Out Of It And Martin Freeman’s A Perfect Gentleman Because Of Course He Is And Joanna Page Is Absolutely Charming Because Of Course She Is

This scene is perfect in every way and I staunchly refuse to listen to anyone who would try to tell me otherwise. I just put it in here because it’s really great and we should all aspire to be more like Jack and Judy.

_______

Scene 51: Where Karen Tries To Bring Up The Fact That One Of Harry’s EMPLOYEES Has Been HITTING ON HIM, SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK DUDE

HARRY and KAREN are getting undressed and preparing for bed after the Christmas party.

KAREN: That was a good night. Though I felt fat.
HARRY: Oh don’t be ridiculous.
KAREN: It’s true. Nowadays the only clothes I can get into were once owned by Pavarotti.
HARRY: I always think Pavarotti dresses very well.

A slight pause. Karen hesitates, then:

KAREN: Mia’s very pretty.
HARRY: Is she?
KAREN: You know she is, darling. I felt really uncomfortable with the way she was acting toward you. You do know she’s flirting with you, right?
HARRY: (Sighs) Yes, I do. I just… don’t know what to do about it. She’s a work colleague, you know? I’m worried things would get awkward if I said anything about it. And to be honest, in a way I sort of like the attention. I mean, I know you love me and still find me attractive, but it’s hard to see myself get older and older, and wonder if I’m still the man I once was. It feels good to be flirted with. That doesn’t mean I want to pursue it beyond that, of course, but… it is a nice ego boost.
KAREN: I understand that. I’m getting older too, you know. I know how nice it is to feel like you’re not totally invisible. But, darling, if you don’t set boundaries with her, she’s going to continue to escalate. If you think it’s awkward to turn her down now, just think how much more awkward it’ll be if you get caught sleeping with one of your employees. Even if she goes so far as to force herself on you, it’s not very likely anyone will believe you, since we live in a society where, infuriatingly, sexual assault committed against men is treated as a joke. Are you really willing to lose your reputation, possibly your job, just to be polite and avoid an awkward conversation?
HARRY: Well when you put it like that, of course not. You’re right. I need to put a stop to this before it goes any further.
KAREN: Thank you, my darling.

_______

Scene 53: Harry Leaves The Office To Go Christmas Shopping, Mia Tries To Seduce Him While Maintaining A Sheen Of Plausible Deniability

HARRY: Right. Back at three. Christmas shopping, never an easy or a pleasant task.
MIA: Are you going to get me something?
HARRY: Er… I don’t know, I wasn’t planning on it. Where’s Sarah, by the way?
MIA: She couldn’t make it in today. Family thing.
HARRY: Well then I will take her at her word and certainly not insinuate that she drank too much and is taking an avoidable day off, which even if she was does not mean that she deserves our derision and joking behind her back. I’m sure whatever reason she didn’t come in today was a legitimate one. See you later.
MIA: Yes. Looking forward to it. A lot.
HARRY: Excuse me?
MIA: Looking forward to seeing you. You know.
HARRY: Mia, this sort of behavior is inappropriate, it makes me uncomfortable, and it needs to stop right now.
MIA: What? What behavior?
HARRY: You are being intentionally suggestive, and I don’t like it. From here on out I would appreciate it if you kept our conversations focused on work-related topics.
MIA: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was making you uncomfortable. I just find you really attractive, and I thought it was fun to flirt.
HARRY: Be that as it may. I am in a monogamous marriage, and I am your direct superior here at work. This puts me in a very awkward position, not to mention endangering both our jobs, and I need it to stop.
MIA: Understood. I apologize. Moving forward, I will work to keep our interactions strictly professional.
HARRY: Thank you, I appreciate your understanding.

Harry goes Christmas shopping. Nobody buys any necklaces and nobody finds that necklace in a coat pocket later on, only to realize on Christmas fucking Eve that he fucking gave the necklace to someone else, and it was probably expensive too and I doubt they’re so well-off that it wouldn’t be a totally unnoticeable expense, and nobody has to see Emma Thompson start to cry while straightening out the bed and then have to put on a happy face so the kids don’t suspect anything, even though she clearly feels alone and hurt and totally unappreciated and unloved, because trust me that is the most heartbreaking moment in the whole movie and I fucking cry every time and it’s the WORST.


Last week, I went to see Pacific Rim.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s stupid. I know it’s not meant to be taken seriously. I know this. People in giant robot suits fight giant monsters in a futuristic battle for Earth. Not really thought-provoking stuff. But it did leave me with some questions nonetheless. Things like:

Why are there so few women left on planet Earth?
Are they hiding underground? Were they wiped out in a plague? Were they sent to colonize another planet? Did the kaiju eat them all? Actually – the movie does mention (spoiler) that the earlier waves of kaiju were intended to wipe out “the vermin” – us humans – to make way for the kaiju to inherit the earth. So maybe they ate the women to slow down population growth.

Seriously. We’re maybe a third of the way through the movie before they even introduce a female character. And she’s the only female character in the entire movie. Well, ok, unless you count the Russian Jaeger pilot who has two lines and (spoiler) gets eaten on the very first mission we see her go on. In the bustling army base, full of military personnel looking varying amounts of busy, I was able to count three extras that were female in appearance before I just gave up. This is in a scene where probably two dozen people appear on-screen. It was like a shitty game of Where’s Waldo.

Why is the girl such a wuss?
When we meet What’sherbucket (Mia? I got through the whole damn movie without learning anyone’s name), she’s your stereotypical acquiescent, quiet, cringing Japanese girl-lady archetype. She appears to be Colonel Badass’s assistant. Secretary maybe? Concubine. No, definitely not concubine. She wants nothing more than to pilot a Jaeger with Main Character, who she’s been studying obsessively for years because reasons. Colonel Badass is totally against it, because reasons. Main Character is sure she’s totally into him, because he’s a dude and why wouldn’t she be? And also reasons.

They spar. With sticks. He’s all “OMG we’re totally compatible!” (The giant robot suits require two pilots, and they have to be psychically linked so they can move the damn thing around and punch alien monsters in the face.) He tells Co. Badass that W.H.Bucket is his new copilot. Badass says no.

And Bucket? She looks hopeful. Then she looks sad. Then she disappears into her room. At no point does she tell Badass he’s wrong, that she can do it. She doesn’t stand up for herself at all, even though she’s clearly just demonstrated she is capable of administering an ass-kicking. She tells Main Character that she’s aced the simulations – she got a perfect score, which is apparently unheard-of – but she won’t stand up to Co. Badass. Out of “respect.” (How very Japanese of you, Bucket.)

Why? Well, as we find out during a flashback sequence… he’s her father. Basically. She was a little girl in Tokyo when it was attacked by a kaiju, and Badass was in the Jaeger that saved her life. So he, uh, adopted her or something. There’s also a shoe involved. Don’t ask, I don’t know.

Look, the point is: Bucket could have been a really interesting character. She could have been tough, and capable, and smart, and still have been sexy enough to draw the attention of MC. (More on that in a second.) But instead she’s just kind of this useless lump, and the only thing she’s really good for is making the guys in the movie look good. She isn’t even given the opportunity to stick up for herself when one of the other Jaeger pilots (a total douche by all accounts) calls her a bitch and tells MC to keep her on a leash. (Oh, yeah, that flashback sequence? That happens during a training exercise, where she powers up the Jaeger’s plasma cannon and comes within inches of vaporizing the whole army base from the inside out. Because it’s usually a good idea to put a total rookie through complex training maneuvers with live ammunition.) Instead of telling him off or beating his ass to a pulp for looking at her sideways, Bucket does…. well, nothing. She cringes in the background and looks pretty while MC wrestles Douchebag to the ground and tries to make him apologize. Total white knight style. Because it’s the man’s job to save the woman, apparently.

Does the movie even need a woman in it at this point?
Pacific Rim could have gotten by without casting any women at all, and it would barely have warranted an explanation. I think that’s the most off-putting part of the whole thing. Bucket brings nothing to the table by being a woman, except as an awkward and contrived way to convince MC to participate.

Yes, they fall in love. Why? It’s not like they spend all that much time interacting. There’s not anything to be gained by throwing them into a relationship together. It’s not like he’s suddenly motivated to fight to save her because OMG LURRRRVE. They don’t have sex (that we know of). They don’t even kiss on-screen. It’s enough to make me suspect that Bucket was originally a male character, too, and at the last minute someone went “Wait, there are no women in this script. We need at least one woman, for affirmative action purposes!” And then they had to go justify why there was a woman there. I honestly think this might have been a better movie (all things considered) if Bucket had been a male character. Then at least we wouldn’t have this stupid love story just kind of tacked on to our robot-fueled-alien-ass-kicking-fest.

And really, if you wanted to drop a woman into the story to keep the protesters quiet, there are way better ways to have done it. What would have changed if either of the neurotic scientists had been women? Nothing. What about Co. Badass? Nothing. What if Douchebag was a woman? No change. The fact that all these characters were male really points to societal views about what a woman can and can’t do, what she should and shouldn’t be.

Did I hate the movie? No, of course not. It was giant robots fighting giant deep-sea aliens. I never expected it to be Great Feminist Discourse. But it is an excellent example of the kinds of sexism we don’t even think about.


Anyone who knows me – hell, probably anyone who’s met me – knows I am bad at asking for help. Not just bad at it, really… like, allergic to it. I’m the person who juggles 50 pounds of groceries and the house keys rather than asking someone to carry a bag or two. I’m the girl who drives herself home with a broken ankle rather than call a friend to come pick her up. (Yeah, that happened.)

I’ve just got this weird sort of stubbornly self-destructive independent streak. In a dude they might call it cowboy pride or something. And it’s super bad when it comes to money.

Just the thought of asking someone in my life for money is enough to put me on high-anxiety mode. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a lower-middle-class family. While my parents never really taught me how to budget or plan finances, they were good at telling me what we could or could not afford. I started to feel ashamed to ask for anything non-essential, and pretty soon I just stopped asking for anything. I started working at 15 so I could pay my own way. If I was going to waste money, at least it would be my own.

It got harder as I went through college. My dad got laid off from the company where he’d been a top performer since before I was born. My parents couldn’t send me to a university like they’d planned. The company stocks they were going to use all plummeted in value just before the layoff – that nest egg was essentially gone overnight. I worked to pay my way through community college, and they struggled to help me pay my tuition.

They also took over running a local business -one that was well liked and pretty popular. It seemed like a safe bet. The previous owners, though, had no idea what they were doing. They falsified the financial statements they showed to my parents. The stores were circling the drain when my parents bought them. My family worked their asses off for years just trying to get them to turn a profit. Of course, being the oldest and out of the house, that meant I was on my own financially.

Fast forward to today. I haven’t asked my family for money probably in the better part of a decade. I can’t even imagine starting that conversation. But the truth of the matter is, I’ve been struggling. Between the hassle it took to get into my new place after leaving my husband (the week I’d planned to stay at a friends house turned into a month) and a change in pay schedule at work, I have been emotionally and financially exhausted.

I mentioned to my husband that I may have to quit therapy for a while. It was down to either that or not eating for a couple weeks, since rent and deposit on the new place cleaned me out. My therapist is an incredibly kind woman who takes barter as well as cash –  I’ve paid for therapy in pickles and hand-knit scarves before – but I have enough of a struggle just dealing with that bit of generosity. I’d honestly rather just pay the lady. Plus, I can’t pay my student loan or rent in pickles, so there’s only so far that can carry me anyway.

Well. I found out earlier this week that my husband went and did something amazing. He sent a quiet message to as many of my friends as he could reach, explaining my situation, and asking for donations. He told them not to say anything to me, that this was without my knowledge and that I would probably kill him if I found out.

I won’t put any numbers down here, but I now have enough to pay for a month of therapy in advance and still buy bus fare this week. I’ll be able to make it to next payday without overdrawing my account or maxing out the meager bit of credit I have left on my credit card. And I can eat.

This is what true love looks like. It’s not necessarily romance. It’s not flowers and chocolates and wine.

My husband – the husband I left, the husband whose heart I broke – was willing to find me the help I couldn’t bring myself to ask for. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to thank him enough. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to thank my friends enough. I don’t even know who pitched in, or how much – and honestly, I don’t want to. It’s all I can do to just accept this gift gracefully and humbly say thanks.

Love is in the sandwich, and in the eating of the sandwich.


Alrighty. We’ve had a day to digest the news about DOMA. By now, it seems, the breathless celebrating is mostly over – although I am willing to guess the Pride parade this weekend is going to be super extra glittery and rainbowy and celebratory.

As it happens, it was my husband who first told me. He’d spent the night rather than driving home tired (at my insistence), and had left to go to work earlier that morning. I was doing my best to sleep in when I got a text from him:

Wooo! Supreme court ruled against DOMA! Ruled same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional!

I think I just stared blankly at the screen for a minute. Then I started to cry. Which is a little weird, to be honest.

After all, I am already married. And, yes, planning to get divorced somewhere down the road. At this point I have my doubts about getting married again in the future. I’ve learned a lot about what a marriage is, how it works, what really makes it function. I’ve learned how far love can take you in a marriage… and I’ve learned the places love alone can’t carry you. If love was all it took to make a marriage work, I wouldn’t be separated from my husband. So I wasn’t crying because I could finally get married.

I’m sure there are many couples out there who have been waiting for this decision. Who have wanted legal recognition and protection of the relationship they already share. As a fledgling baby lez, a neurotic proto-queer, I don’t have that. There was not some woman for me to turn to and say, “Finally. Marry me.” If there is a wife in the cards for me, she is little more than a concept right now, a nebulous and far-off future. So I wasn’t crying because the love I felt for someone else was finally recognized by the government.

I have lived my entire life with a sense of otherness. Always on the edge, the fringe, different without really knowing why. Never really fitting neatly into any given category. Not terribly easy to define, or even to sum up. Set aside, set apart, something different, a mismatched piece of the puzzle.

But yesterday… yesterday I stepped into the bigger picture. Yesterday I was included. Along with millions of other Americans, I was recognized as fully equal and deserving of the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else. It’s not really about getting married, not for me. It’s about the fact that the government has recognized that they have no right to dictate who I should want to marry. It’s about the fact that this decision is a step towards ending discrimination, a step toward erasing the attitude that anything other than straight is wrong and shameful and must be kept hidden. It’s a step toward recognizing and celebrating love in its many and myriad forms. It’s a step toward understanding, a step toward acceptance.

I cried because, yesterday, I was recognized by the United States government as a human being.


So I’m not sure how far this has spread, but apparently yesterday this little gem of a book got funded on Kickstarter. It’s called Above The Game: A Guide To Getting Awesome With Women. (You can find it on Seddit, the Seduction section of Reddit. Or with the simplest of Googlefu. The thought of linking to it here makes me feel icky.)

It’s exactly as problematic as it sounds. There’s already been several voices raised around the blogosphere, pointing out that the chapter “Physical Escalation & Sex” endorses assault and rape. So much so, in fact, that the author has already posted a response, which I feel a little better about linking to.

While others have covered the problems with the original project in great detail, and better than I probably could here, there’s something disturbing to me about the author’s “apology.” He says:

People took advice from a section on “Physical Escalation & Sex” and posted them online. Devoid of context, they appeared to be promoting sexually assaulting women when that wasn’t the case at all.

The gist of the controversial advice is “Don’t wait for signs before you make your move. Let her be the one who rejects your advances. If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don’t want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable. Try again at a later time if appropriate or cease entirely if she is absolutely not interested.”

The thing that the commenters on social media are leaving out is that the advice was taken from a section in the guide offering advice on what to do AFTER a man has met a cute girl, gotten her phone number, gone on dates, spent time getting to know her, and now are alone behind closed doors fooling around. If “Don’t wait for signs, make the first move” promotes sexual assault, then “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid was a song about rape.

Um, well. I guess I never liked Prince Eric anyway. (Wait – was Ariel really not giving him any indication that she wanted to be kissed? Oh jeez, is kissing sex, you guys? I’m going to have to re-watch me some Disney movies.)

Look, here’s the thing: there’s one glaringly obvious piece of advice missing from this chapter that would, honestly, make the rest of this advice tolerable….

ASK HER WHAT SHE WANTS. WITH WORDS. OR MAYBE PICTURES IF YOU’RE MUTE.

Holy shit, you guys, I should write a book and shill it on Kickstarter. Problem is, it’d be really fucking short. You just read the whole thing.

It’s not rocket surgery, is it? But this guy – and the 732 people who were willing to pay him for his advice – seem to forget that women are individual people, with individual likes and dislikes, who can and will tell you what those likes and dislikes are if they’re given the opportunity. I’m not sure what mysterious signals these folks have been waiting on – like, are you waiting for the Bat signal, only with a vagina or something instead? – but in my experience, it’s not super hard to tell if a person wants to do things with you. There’s no need for forcefully coming on strong until she has to stop you. You’ve spent time getting to know her, right? So spend some time getting to know what she likes and dislikes in the bedroom. Spend some time getting to know what turns her on. Spend some time getting to know whether or not she’d like to jump your bones. My turn-ons include talking about what my turn-ons are.

This whole argument also neatly and completely erases the possibility of rape, abuse, and assault within a relationship. It assumes that once a woman is in a relationship with a man, she will of course submit to his every sexual desire, every time. So really what Mr. Hoisky is saying here is that once you’re dating a girl, it’s totally okay to be physically aggressive with her until she either gives in or is forced to say no. (Note: That’s exactly what the two worst boyfriends I ever had did. Both of them sexually assaulted me.) There’s absolutely no mention of communication or negotiation. There’s no mention at all of giving the woman in this relationship agency and a voice. In fact, it specifically instructs men not to:

Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.

Right. Ick. This isn’t a matter of taking things out of context; even in the context of an established relationship, this shit is Officially Not Okay unless you’ve already confirmed with the particular girl whose hand you’re placing on your dick has TOLD YOU it’s ok. Within the context of a pre-negotiated scene, sure, this would be perfectly okay. Probably pretty hot for everyone involved. If she’s already told you that she likes it when guys do that, then game on. Get freaky. If she thinks this is just a make-out session and suddenly you force her to touch your junk, you’ve officially just become a creep. Communication makes all the difference.

Oh, shit, I apologize. He does actually advocate communication. Here it is:

Ask her what her favorite positions are.

That’s, uh, that’s it. That’s all of it. That’s in the second-to-last paragraph of the second-to-last section of the chapter on sex… which is chapter 7.

Your problem, Mr. Hoisky, is not that you’re being taken out of context. Your problem is that you’re giving advice on how to manipulate and assault women. And we are calling you on your bullshit.

Quick update: As of this morning, Kickstarter has issued an apology and updated their guidelines to prevent seduction guides like this from being funded on their site. They will also be donating $25,000 to RAINN, a non-profit dedicated to preventing rape and abuse. 


So right now I work the customer service line for an online retailer. I like my job most of the time. Most of the customers I talk to are pretty nice. But the other day I took what was probably the worst call I’ve ever had.

This woman called in wanting to return some clothes that didn’t fit. They were too small because she’d gained weight, you see. And that would have been fine, returns are a thing we do, no problem. Except…

This poor woman was in tears. She was brokenhearted that the outfit was too small. She was convinced that it was because she had gained weight, and not that (as I pointed out) that designer likely runs small. She kept saying things like, “I’m so disgusting, I’m such a monster, I’m so fat, I’m so ugly…”

I’m not going to say “She wasn’t even that big.” Only because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what size she was. It would be the same story whether she was a 2 or a 2X. This woman was in tears over clothing that didn’t fit because she’d bought so completely into the belief that there is a right size to be, and she wasn’t it. I could hear her sobbing as she hung up the phone, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to help her.

This shouldn’t be normal. No one should ever feel like a monster because her clothes don’t fit. No one should ever feel so bad about their size that a too-tight shirt makes them feel worthless.

So Penny’s request for the day, guys? Value yourself as you are. Even if it’s just for a day. Spend a day shutting down the voice that lists your flaws, that tells you you’re ugly and worthless, that makes you feel gross and ashamed. Spend just one day focusing on the amazing parts of yourself. Remind yourself that you are, indeed, amazing.

Maybe we can’t always fight this horrible culture that tries to devalue us and force us to confirm to unrealistic ideals. Maybe those damaging messages about what a woman “should” look like aren’t going to go away, now or possibly ever.

But we don’t have to listen. Please, just spend a day not listening.


So I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while now: why aren’t there more women in comedy?

I have a theory. Google the term “women aren’t funny” (if your computer’s anything like mine, you can just type in “women aren” and Google will take it from there) and the first half-dozen links are articles discussing, in all seriousness, exactly why women aren’t funny. There’s a lot of evo psych in there – it’s because of their brains, see? It’s because women have to raise children, see? In fact, the Vanity Fair article (yes, Vanity Fair, the WOMEN’S MAGAZINE) goes so far as to suggest that the placenta is actually made of brain cells, and that most of those come from the humor center of the brain. It’s on page two, if you really think you can wade that far through that much bullshit. (And don’t give me the Lighten Up, It’s Just A Joke line – that’s not a fucking joke. Jokes are supposed to be funny.)

There’s a lot of misogyny in there, too – ohh, women are the oppressors of the male sex because we police what they wear, and eat, and how their bodies look; we control their access to medical care and legislate what they can and cannot do with their own bodies; we commit horrible violent crimes against them that we then blame on them because they didn’t conform to societal expectations rigorously enough, and…. oh, wait. I think I got my genders backwards. I’m actually not sure how women became the oppressors in this scenario. But apparently humor is a reaction to that situation – which is why women don’t have any.

I think the reason there aren’t more women in comedy is because there are men that just don’t fucking want us there. I went to an open mic night last week. There was a dude there whose entire five-minute set was about his divorce. I’m sure there can be funny material in there, folks. This guy did not find it. He “joked” about how much of a whore his wife is. He “joked” about how she still bosses him around three years after the divorce (because she asked him to spend more quality time with their son). He “joked” about how she makes everyone around her fat.

In five minutes, I knew why his wife left him. It’s because he’s a massive asshole.

I was there that night because I want to get into doing standup. I’ve been told I’m a pretty funny person, and I figure I’ve got an interesting perspective to share. But, fucking hell… I would never want to go up on stage after a set like that guy’s. If all the dudes in the bar were chuckling and guffawing over the horrible things he said about his ex, then I can only imagine they must believe those horrible things about me, too.

I’ll admit, I struggle with being a humorless feminist. I love humor; I love jokes and comedy and making people laugh and being made to laugh. I love it all. And whether a joke is actually funny or just makes me uncomfortable, my first reaction is to giggle anyway. It’s like a compulsion.

So when someone throws up the straw-man of “Well if we have to be PC all the time, what on earth will we ever joke about?!” it gets me thinking. After all, jokes usually have some element of insult to them, do they not? Humor is about finding and pointing out the differences between expectation and reality. Or it’s slapstick, I suppose, and you can only watch a dude get kicked in the nads so many times before it’s just completely lost its appeal. (For me, that number is one.)

What on earth would we ever joke about? We couldn’t tell racist jokes, obviously. Nothing to do with violence or disrespect against women. No political jokes. No religion jokes. No jokes about little people, or disabled people.

My God. It’s almost like we’d have to make jokes about….. ourselves.

I’ve realized that my favorite comics all have one thing loosely in common: they all make fun of themselves, first and foremost. Brian Regan talks about how badly he did in school, and it’s hilarious. Gabriel Iglesias pokes good-natured fun at his own weight, and I’m rolling in the aisles. Wanda Sykes fantasizes about leaving her vagina at home, and I’m right there with her. Eddie Izzard tells us about leaving his makeup in a squirrel hole, which still makes me giggle a good decade after he said it. And he makes fun of Hitler – I think most people can be comfortable with that.

None of the jokes these people tell ever make me go “Oh, that one was bad.” I never feel weird about laughing at their humor. And I think that’s because it’s all self-directed. Contrast that with someone like Tosh or Adam Corolla, who seem to do nothing but sit in a place of supreme privilege and spew hatred down upon anyone different and, thus, inferior to them. That’s not funny – that’s bullying. And society just goes right along with it. They wouldn’t have gotten popular unless there were enough people out there agree with them, who don’t think they’re total assholes, and who are willing to give them money.

Look. It’s hard to self-monitor, I know. I’m sure I’ve made off-color and disrespectful jokes from time to time. The hardest thing about a blind spot is that you don’t know it’s there until it’s too late. That’s why it’s so important to speak up. That’s why it’s so important that the minority be heard and not silenced by the majority. That’s why it’s so important to examine your own privilege when someone says “Hey, that wasn’t cool,” instead of just telling them to stop being so sensitive. Just because it isn’t a big deal to you doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to someone.

When the reaction to dissent is an avalanche of hatred and vitriol, it makes one wonder what, exactly, is being defended. Freedom of speech? As Captain Awkward so deftly put it: “‘Freedom of speech’ means you can’t be locked up by the government for expressing an opinion. It doesn’t mean you can’t be kicked out of a party where you’re peeing on the carpet.” Freedom of speech isn’t the entitlement to thoughtlessly spew whatever vitriol is floating around in your head. Your fist ends where my nose begins. You aren’t free to say anything you want, free of social consequences – you are merely free of legal consequences. That is a massive difference.

I think it’s time we were more sensitive. Why is sensitive a bad thing? Because it’s inclusionary? Because it means asking you to admit you may have done something wrong? Because it means you might have to re-examine your beliefs and attitudes? Because it’s considered a feminine trait?

And if asking you to do that means getting an earful of name-calling and profanity… maybe I’m not the sensitive one, after all.

******

In rather timely other news, there’s a very funny and talented woman in Seattle who is putting together a female-friendly open mic. You can check it out on the Faceyspaces or here. There will be an open mic performance every Tuesday in April, with half the slots reserved for female (or female-identified) comics. There are also a few spaces left in the workshop next week, if you’d rather be onstage getting laughed at and just don’t know how to get started. Either way, if you are in the Seattle area, I strongly recommend you check it out.


I want you.

This wanting is an ember
I grip between my thighs,
a slow heat, creeping
sneaking upward, gripping my lungs, my heart
until I cannot breathe and so
I blush.

It is a quiet current
beneath the surface of a deep river
carrying strange secrets
inviting me to dip my fingers
beneath the surface.
Inviting me to drown.

This wanting is
a dark and wondrous thunderhead
building tall and silent, embracing the dry hills.
Waiting for a lightning strike,
the first drop of rain,
like kisses on my skin.

Forgive me.
It has been decades since my last confession.

I am afraid to hold you close,
afraid I’ll fan the coals
and burn us both to the ground.

I dare not speak
for fear the gates will break
and you and I will be swept away
on that mighty river.

I watch the horizon with worried eyes,
waiting for the forest fire.
Waiting for the flood.

In my hands, my blood composes songs of you
until my fingertips want to cry.
The melody is so perfect
because it is unsung.
It rushes through my core,
whispering your name.

Forgive me.
I want you.


My brilliant friend Caitlyn posted this on her blog last week. It essentially posits the question, “Would more people be open to feminism if we simply called it something else?”

And I think… maybe? But is that really a good thing? Or more to the point, does that really mean we should call it something else?

Maybe this is a tinfoil-hat moment for me, but I think the hesitance to identify with feminism as a movement is an indicator of oppression. Think about it. Much in the way that a Muslim fears to identify as such in our society, for fear of being lumped in with terrorists and extremists by the average ignorant ass, so too do women fear identifying as feminists to avoid being lumped in with “a bunch of angry, unshaven man-haters.”  I can almost hear the patriarchy going, “But you’re cool, right? You’re not one of those angry women, right? You’re not, like, one of those feminists who has a stick up her ass about rape jokes, are you?”

Why is it a bad thing for a woman to be angry? For that matter, why is it a bad thing for a woman to be unshaven? Or to have a stick up her ass, provided it’s her stick and she wants it there? Feminism, among many other things, is about a person’s right to not conform to stereotypes and expectations. And yet that nonconformity is used against us somehow, as proof of the invalidity of our stance. An angry, unshaven woman simply cannot be taken seriously.

So women who want to be taken seriously distance themselves from that image. And if the word “feminist” conjures up that image, then she’s not a feminist. Oh, no. That would wreck her credibility.

This is bullshit. Not because there are “I’m not a feminist – but” women out there; they are entitled to their choices, and frankly I can fully understand why they wouldn’t want to identify as a feminist if, for instance, it means she won’t be taken seriously in a professional setting or that she’ll catch hell from her male friends. The bullshit part is that there’s even a possibility she won’t be taken seriously, or that she’ll catch hell from her friends.

I mean, really. A majority of the population believes that there is an all-powerful man in the sky who personally created the universe and can’t wait to invite us to his really awesome party once we die; but it’s the folks who believe women and men should be treated equally that get the side-eye. Seriously?

As the article points out, we are “bending to the societal pressure that feminism is gauche.” Why? Why is feminism gauche? Why does it make so many people so uncomfortable? Is it because the word “feminist” conjures up images of angry, unshaven women, waving picket signs and shouting slogans? Is it because a feminist woman, by definition, will almost certainly not conform to your expectations of her? Is it maybe because a feminist woman breaks the rules, and we’ve been told that’s bad?

All this doesn’t even take into account the problems with being a feminist man. Is it really any wonder that society sees a feminist man as weak, effeminate, somehow lesser than his fellow man? Take a good look at the systematic way patriarchal society oppresses women, and tell me it’s a coincidence that those who speak out for the rights of women also get oppressed, laughed at, degraded, dismissed, made fun of. It’s all part of a system designed to keep the oppressed under the heel of the oppressor.

Right now, I am reading what I’ve just written and thinking to myself, “I sound like a loony conspiracy theorist nutbag.” And I think that’s part of the problem.

It’s like gaslighting, on a widespread societal scale. We’ve been conditioned not to trust ourselves; conditioned to question our anger, to mistrust our emotions. We abuse ourselves to save our abusers the trouble. We tiptoe around those in power, afraid to upset the status quo; afraid of the backlash bound to come our way if we stand up for ourselves. And when others point out how fucked up the situation is, we defend it. Oh, it’s not that bad, we say. Society’s just having a bad day.

Or year.

Or century, maybe.

No, I don’t think we need to change the label. I think it’s more important than ever that we stick with feminism. I think it’s more important than ever that we stand up, have our say, make our voices heard – in the name of feminism. The more we fear to be connected with it, the more power we give to those who wish this whole feminism thing would just blow over. The more we hesitate to join ranks, the more power we give to those who believe women should “know their place.” Maybe they won’t take us seriously now… but if we don’t fight for equality, they won’t take us seriously ever.



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