All acts of sex were forms of degradation. Some random recollections: East 11th Street, on the bed with Murray Gorman: “Swallow this mother ‘til you choke.” East 11th Street, in the bed with Gary Becker: “The trouble with you is, you’re such a shallow person.” East 11th Street, up against the wall with Peter Baumann: “The only thing that turns me on about you is pretending you’re a whore.” Second Avenue, the kitchen, Michael Wainwright: “Quite frankly, I deserve a better-looking, better educated girlfriend.” What do you do with the Serious Young Woman (short hair, flat shoes, body slightly hunched, head drifting back and forth between the books she’s read)? You slap her, fuck her up the ass and treat her like a boy. The Serious Young Woman looked everywhere for sex but when she got it it became an exercise in disintegration. What was the motivation of these men? Was it hatred she evoked? Was it some kind of challenge, trying to make the Serious Young Woman femme?

Chris Kraus, I Love Dick

This book is like a talisman, or something, or a spell, like sort of a secret, because it wasn’t in any of your Women’s Studies classes or even on the radar for so long, but all the women you meet now or see at readings or online are talking about it in a way that makes you both doubt it’s really everything they say (because WHY DIDN’T YOU HEAR SOONER) but then you buy it and read it and are like, oh, yeah. It’s the kind of thing that makes you write exclamation points in the margins. It’s as totally revelatory and gutting as Emily in particular always says, of course. 

Warning: Chick Stuff ahead

It’s hard to be in the mood to make fun of Miss Utah — who, after all, was participating in a prettiness contest and who did what she was supposed to do in that regard, which is look pretty — when almost everyone who has done so already has done it so gleefullybecause there isn’t much we love more than a dumb woman. (Especially a pretty one, because it’s reassuring, I think. “Well, at least I am smarter than her/Well, at least she isn’t threatening,” etc.) Her answer, if you can call it that, was funny, really. Or sad. But to watch the commentary is to be put in this weird spot where I don’t want to join in for what I guess are political reasons, and probably that’s part of the reason why feminists get called humorless — because it’s hard for me to understand what it’s like to live in that world, where one pilloried woman doesn’t remind you of sixteen others and you’re able to think of the person without the pattern. It’s the pattern that isn’t funny even if the person really is. It’s impossible to be objective.

And that’s come up a lot lately, and it’s among the other reasons I don’t care for the jokes about Miss Utah (it seems almost everyday now there’s something like this, forcing me into hiding off Twitter) — the idea that there’s an objective funny (and it’s what guys say) and an objective story worth making movies about (and it’s men’s) and an objective GOOD journalism, and it’s the kind in Esquire and GQ and not Marie Claire and Glamour. I don’t think anything is objective, except maybe, uh, gravity, but even that is debated, like by David Hume, even though I find that irritating because well, okay, we’ve all dropped enough things to know it’s going to keep happening by this point, if you ask me. That is my subjective opinion about David Hume.

There is a quote in that Jessica Grose story from Janet Reitman, who said, “I was never going to be a ‘chick,’ you know, doing ‘chick stories.’” And that’s taken out of context, and we’re assured she’s well aware of the way women’s experiences are ghettoized and discounted, but that sentence still makes me cringe. (That’s ME she’s talking about, in a way!) If even we won’t say our stories are as valuable as Buzz Bissinger writing about leather suits for fourteen thousand pages (and I think probably at least some of them are!), who will? I get it — on the one hand, women shouldn’t be relegated to writing about manicures if they do not want to write about manicures, and nobody should patronize us or assume ALL we care about are manicures. On the other hand, there is probably a lot to say about manicures, and a lot of people would read about manicures and have a nice time doing that, and there is a way to tell that story that’s smart and funny and interesting, too. At a certain point we have to ask WHY we think the topics we think of as fluff are fluff. (OK, a manicure story is not my best example. Or am I accommodating even now??) 

The “stupid” girl movies and girl books and girl TV shows I’ve seen and read have meant so much more to me, personally, than any action movie about a bro hero or acclaimed pop psychology thinkpiece — things that feign depth while being, in the end, no less shallow than every “perfect for the beach! for girls in swimsuits!” book I’ve ever read, and probably more so — ever has. A lot of it is imperfect but I grab hold of it whenever it is there. And I hope soon there is more, MUCH more, so there’s room for some of it to be stupider than the rest. Because then we could say that out loud and feel fine — not so protective of something that, in a vacuum, we might not even protect — if other people say it out loud too. We won’t feel so sensitive, because we know it’s just one thing, not a pattern. You can hate this show/book/movie for girls and it won’t remind me of everything else I’ve ever heard about things made with me as an audience in mind.

And really, even now, I don’t think almost any of it — CHICK stuff — is stupid at all. Most of it still says something, however little, about what is — what it’s like — to be a woman. Who’s to say that isn’t serious? It’s the most serious thing I can think of. 

This “Totally Biased” segment on catcalling from this fall is really great and, given that it’s the second-annual Anti-Street Harassment week, really relevant. ALSO, I wrote about street harassment and “compliments” for BuzzFeed.

I wrote about this damn obituary and phantom husbands and the way women’s careers are written about for BuzzFeed.

I wrote about this damn obituary and phantom husbands and the way women’s careers are written about for BuzzFeed.

BUT ACTUALLY one last thing, which is that last night I posted this picture to Twitter and called it my “thinkpiece” on the topic — as a response to this piece in particular but also, more so, the vault it belongs to, the asking over and over and over and over again whether “women can have it all,” and also just as a joke about … thinkpieces — and mostly that was completely fine, save for ONE LONE AND BRAVE MAN, who tweeted at me to say “congratulations on being successfully trolled.” 
And the same man tweeted again, today, at other women I follow, when they protested a slideshow published by Complex called “The 40 Hottest Women in Tech,” LITERALLY days after events that brought sexism in tech (which, spoiler: IT’S THERE, everyone can see it, everyone with eyeballs) to the internet surface yet again. Again, this asshole says, “This is obvious trolling.”
But, actually, fuck that guy. Because these things — especially the Complex slideshow — are not trolling. These are popular refrains of the patriarchy that are ALWAYS there, ALWAYS regurgitating themselves, ALWAYS objectifying and judging and holding down and back and limiting and otherizing. You do not, as a person NOT BELONGING to the group experiencing the prejudice, get to tell me or anybody else belonging to the group how to respond to it. You don’t get to tell us to ignore it and it will go away, because we know better than you, and no, it fucking won’t. The things that get into our sides aren’t always predictable and sometimes they may seem small but they are only just the straw or the tip or whatever little item that sits on top of a deluge. Women on Twitter (and the internet at large) take that shit OVER, and rant, and joke, and cut it down, and it’s the only thing that makes it tolerable for us when it happens and happens and happens again. If you are trying to take that away or say that it is wrong to do, you are part of the problem.

BUT ACTUALLY one last thing, which is that last night I posted this picture to Twitter and called it my “thinkpiece” on the topic — as a response to this piece in particular but also, more so, the vault it belongs to, the asking over and over and over and over again whether “women can have it all,” and also just as a joke about … thinkpieces — and mostly that was completely fine, save for ONE LONE AND BRAVE MAN, who tweeted at me to say “congratulations on being successfully trolled.” 

And the same man tweeted again, today, at other women I follow, when they protested a slideshow published by Complex called “The 40 Hottest Women in Tech,” LITERALLY days after events that brought sexism in tech (which, spoiler: IT’S THERE, everyone can see it, everyone with eyeballs) to the internet surface yet again. Again, this asshole says, “This is obvious trolling.”

But, actually, fuck that guy. Because these things — especially the Complex slideshow — are not trolling. These are popular refrains of the patriarchy that are ALWAYS there, ALWAYS regurgitating themselves, ALWAYS objectifying and judging and holding down and back and limiting and otherizing. You do not, as a person NOT BELONGING to the group experiencing the prejudice, get to tell me or anybody else belonging to the group how to respond to it. You don’t get to tell us to ignore it and it will go away, because we know better than you, and no, it fucking won’t. The things that get into our sides aren’t always predictable and sometimes they may seem small but they are only just the straw or the tip or whatever little item that sits on top of a deluge. Women on Twitter (and the internet at large) take that shit OVER, and rant, and joke, and cut it down, and it’s the only thing that makes it tolerable for us when it happens and happens and happens again. If you are trying to take that away or say that it is wrong to do, you are part of the problem.