When I hear a rape joke, I have a range of reactions. Sometimes it’s been laughter. Sometimes I’ve felt a weary indignation. After a year of women being a political punching bag and the “rape is OK” culture of places like Steubenville, it’s at times just one more reminder of how we’re being devalued as people and that Mad Men often looks like the fucking future. Sometimes I have even felt threatened. Yes, sometimes it feels creepy to be out numbered by guys who are laughing about sticking a dick in a woman against her will. Some people just give off the vibe like they’re acting like they’re kidding, but if they suddenly thought they could get away with it they’d be the Mayor of Rapeville on Four Square.
But all jokes are like this for everyone. They affect us all differently depending on who is telling it, our environment, where we’re at mentally and how good the booze is.
Overall though, most of what I feel when I hear a rape joke these days is boredom.
I’m not here to debate whether or not you can make a rape joke. (You can. We have free speech.) I’m not here to debate whether or not they’re funny. (Some are. Some aren’t. And everyone has a different opinion about this, just like all jokes.) I’m not here to debate whether or not feminists think they’re funny. (Some of us do. We don’t all think alike.) I’m here to say that “Rape Jokes” have become the “Airplane Jokes” of our day.
Hearing a comic make a rape joke is like watching a baby poop in the toilet for the first time. “Oh, did you do that all by yourself? How cute.” Eventually you will poop every day and it will just be called joke writing and you won’t need a parade every time you do it celebrating how “edgy” you are. Besides with the proliferation of rape jokes, they’ve become about as edgy as musing, “What’s the deal with Chicken McNuggets?” Call me when life happens to you and you have something interesting to talk about.
And here’s a suggestion: easy on the outrage when someone doesn’t like a rape joke. You’re beginning to sound like the fucking gun nuts screaming about Obama. No one’s coming to take away your rape jokes. You don’t have to go out and stockpile rape jokes or buy them at “Rape Joke Shows” with Bitcoin. As long as we have free speech you can make your rape jokes same as someone can make a statement that they didn’t like them. And by the way, people are allowed to not like them and say whatever they want and it doesn’t mean that anyone is policing your mind or interfering in your “safe space.” Jesus! For people who love to make fun of rape, these comics sure need a “safe space.” I love hearing about the sanctity of a comedy club like it’s a Women’s Shelter or a poetry group at Breadloaf or a Pagan Menstrual Circle. Let’s not kid ourselves. A comedy club is where people get shitfaced and listen to dick jokes while comics do blow and people embezzle the money they’re fucking comics and the IRS out of.
And sometimes something awesome happens and we go back and we chase that high like the fucking addicts we are and we are so lucky no matter who doesn’t like what we said. But if we can dish it out, we can take it.
It was midday and I was feeling like a load from the bottle and a half of wine and 2 boxes of See’s Chocolates that I split with The Husband during a House of Cards marathon the night before. The salt that I sprinkled on my caramels in an effort to make them salted probably didn’t help that bloated feeling. Having finished the morning’s writing and not quite ready for lunch (as if I could ever be hungry again) I put on my sneakers to go for a walk.
I live around the corner from a middle school; we occupy the same, over-sized block. To go around this gigantic block is approximately .6 of a mile, a nice number that I can add up and feel a sense of accomplishment. (Two turns means I’ve gone over a mile. Four turns is almost 2 ½!) The school’s large athletic field occupies a corner of this super block and I often pass the kids in gym class struggling to run laps and I resist the urge to yell in support, “I suck at running, too! It’s OK!”
On my second turn around today I walked alongside a threesome of boys playing basketball and as I walked passed them I heard, “Show me that ass!”
It hit me that this was probably aimed at me, and I was further convinced when I turned around, saw the boy looking at me, his hand cupped over his mouth as if he’d been caught saying something he knew he shouldn’t, but still with a look on his face like he thought he was hilarious.
I debated what to do. I thought I was just going to move on. The
kids boys had mocked me before on my walks, probably shouting out things that were borderline harassment and I had been in a kinder mood, or just too lazy to do anything about it. Kids should be able to do things like stand on a playground unsupervised and swear or be loud or whatever without having some unrelated adult such as myself narc on them.
But I was within steps of the school’s front office. And the memory of another walk, again in my own neighborhood just weeks before, when a group of men in a van pulled up alongside of me, started driving slowing while saying things like, “You’re very pretty,” was still fresh. Seriously, Dudes! WTF! Do you think I’m going to think this is a great opportunity and just jump in the van? Has that ever worked? Or is it just about making me feel threatened and unsafe? Who’s to say this kid won’t grow up to be a creeper like this someday? Or worse? I want kids to be loud and swear and talk about sex and whatever the fuck else they yell about when there are no adults present, but I also want boys to grow up respecting women and not harass them. This is not a KIDS thing. Girls don’t stand on a playground and yell at men who pass them by, “Show me the dong!” And I guarantee if a boy is yelling it at me, he’s probably making similar rude comments to the girls he goes to school with, most likely the ones who hit puberty first, and that’s just bullshit.
So this is what I decided. I didn’t want to point the kid out. But I did go into the office and tell them what happened and that perhaps they could teach the kids about respecting women and not harassing them. I pointed out that if the kid said it to me, he was probably saying it to the female students, too. I decided not to bitch about the constant trash on the sidewalks and in the grass that those children generate and how someone should teach them about ecology, too, while they’re at it. Although I did wonder why I was bothering to recycle and preserve the Earth for the next generation when clearly they couldn’t be bothered. And then I cut my walk short.
Being unemployed is expensive. At a time when you most need to enact austerity measures (That’s what I try to call it, so it sounds European and like something I might actually want to do) it is virtually impossible to do so and not just lose your mind from utter uselessness and boredom.
Unemployment costs. And here’s where you start paying, in excuses. Let’s examine the facts:
I am unemployed, therefore I have time for all of those household projects I always said I never had the time to get around to.
- Cleaning out the closets yields 2 pairs of shoes that need fixin’. Cleaning off the desk results in finding a print I need framed. And of course I’m going to renew my LACMA membership. Now I actually have time to go! And I should go for free since I’m not working! Even if going for free later means paying $90 now.
I am unemployed, so now have time to see all of my friends socially.
- This means lunches, drinks, dinners out. Maybe you have those friends who just want to meet for a hike instead of a cocktail, but I have the type of friends who need a couple of cocktails to even think about hiking. You can’t catch up during a yoga class despite what they show you on Sex and the City. And saving money by eating in still means spending money on food and wine and $4 cupcakes. I can’t serve my friends Top Ramen and 2 Buck Chuck. That wouldn’t be very European.
I am unemployed, which means I need a new wardrobe so I can become employed again.
- This may not be true, but it certainly sounds good to yourself when that Nanette Lepore dress or Sam Edelman pumps go on super sale (or just sale) and you say to yourself, “If I’m going to present myself as a confident brand that people are going to want to do business with I should look the part. If I’m going to be promoting a book in the press, I will need something to wear.” Never mind the fact that your business is dominated by men in sweatpants wearing tee shirts of the Cookie Monster inside a Grateful Dead logo or that most of your “press junkets” are podcasts.
I am unemployed, which means I work from home.
- And guess what you notice when you work from home: your home needs some work. Staring at the same walls while your ideas “percolate” will usually just yield ideas about what you can change on those walls. If I’m going to write in this chair, I could really use an Eileen Grey Table next to it so I have something to put my latte (READ: wine) on. And I could save money on lattes if I buy an espresso machine. Any why is every light bulb in this house burnt out? Does the water filter really need to be replaced this often? How much are they? Was my laptop always this slow?!
I am unemployed, but I will be employed again so….
- So go ahead and spend that savings! Or rack up that debt! It’s rationalizing like this that created the debt crisis in our country, but it’s also the same rationalizing that keeps me from waking up in the night screaming so I will take it. (And that pencil skirt while I’m at it!) After all, I accumulated no small amount of debt in my 20’s and while I no longer have the same amount of eggs that I can sell to rich couples if worse comes to worst, I’m sure I have other useful organs that I can comfort myself with the idea of selling.
I don’t want Hillary Clinton to run in 2016. Not because I don’t want her to be my President. I desperately want her to be my President. I voted for her in the ’08 primary and considered writing her name in for the general election. No, I don’t want her to run because I like her too much.
In the last few years, Hillary has established herself as that tough talking, no nonsense friend who you call when your other friends are going to pieces but then can also surprise you by giving you a hug when you least expect it. She’s the one you and your friends elect to drop the hammer when something goes amiss on your girls’ weekend and you need someone to fight with the concierge to try and get that room upgrade. In Sex and the City terms, Hillary is the one Carrie asks for when she’s stuck in the bathroom and can’t get her diaphragm out. And Hillary would turn to Miranda, hand her her scotch and say, “Tell Bibi Netanyahu I’ll call him in 5.” (In my dreams of hanging with Hillary, she drinks scotch.)
As such a trusted and beloved girlfriend, the last thing I want to see her do is run for President again. Why would she want to? Hillary has spent the last 20 plus years getting beat up in the political arena. She has achieved the rare position of political hermaphrodite who gets pummeled for being too much like a man as well as too much like a woman. When she’s tough they want her soft and when she’s soft they want her tough and when she gets a blood clot they want her dead, otherwise she’s just faking it. Why would she want to go through 2 years of dredging up everything from Benghazi to what she wore to a state dinner in ’94? Doesn’t she deserve a chance to just hang with her girlfriends, sleep in and go shopping?
The Presidency is like that ex that your “way too smart for this bullshit” girlfriend keeps going back to. Oh, for a few weeks it will be a honeymoon period with Hillary as the presumptive nominee and Bill out there stumping for her. But then it will start. As a woman, they’ll criticize her for things that would never criticize Biden or Romney. (How much does she spend on clothes for the campaign trail? Doesn’t she feel her daughter would have been better off if she had been in the home instead of chasing a career?) As Hillary Clinton, they’ll bring up every thing she’s spent the last 20 years explaining and make her waste another 20 explaining it. (Hey, remember that cookie baking comment?) I know Hillary is tough and can take it better than anyone, but why would she want to? We need to grab her by the shoulders and scream, “No, Hillary, no! He don’t love you!” And then we need to invite her over for wine and a Colin Firth marathon just to show her what she’s missing.
Sometimes it’s hard to measure your success in life. You know your life is different than it was 5 or 10 years ago, but when you’re still sending out emails to try to get friends out to shows, it’s often hard to feel like you’ve made any real progress.
But 10 + years do go by and even you have to admit that life is different, not just for yourself, but for many of the people you came up with, too. I’m always amazed that people from this part of my life still like me or ever did. I look back on myself then – and the enormous chip on my shoulder – and often wonder how it was I didn’t alienate everyone I came into contact with. But your 20’s are a little like being in a war and when you run into someone from the foxhole, you both have the unspoken agreement that you did what you had to in order to get through it. You are happy to see them as they are part of a select group who know what it was like being holed up in the bunker or coffee shop, the sounds of 1,000 hacks bombing in the background. The combat of your 20’s behind you, you now live more according to the accepted behavior of civilized society, not the least of which is the happiness you are legitimately able to share in your friends’ successes. Gone is the deeply held belief that our chances of success are inversely proportionate to someone else actually achieving it. Instead you now have an appreciation for how much work goes into it, constantly, still, on a steady basis. You know that anyone who is still here humping it, who didn’t just say fuck it and move to someplace reasonable, deserves your respect and congratulations.
It’s these things I’m mulling over after my friend Retta texted me a photo of her awesome US Weekly spread this morning. Kind enough to give me a plug in her Tory Burch hobo explosion, it makes me grateful that I still know so many people from my enlisted days and that I was able to keep my shit together long enough to engender some good will among my compatriots.
8pm show at Akbar 4356 West Sunset Blvd. Super fun bar and an even better show!
Super talented comedian & writer Laurie Kilmartin (Conan) & I (Tess Rafferty, composter, infrequent Cardio Barre attender) have joined forces this holiday season to create the one place in Hollywood where 2 female writers are in a room together.
We’ll be selling and signing our books, Recipes for Disaster & Shitty Mom, at Dustmuffin in Silverlake. Both are great gift ideas and the store has many more. Champagne will be served and we’re doing readings at 4 and 6, but signing all afternoon.
Come in and take a break from shopping and leave with your list finished!
On the days when I hate myself/love myself enough to actually make it on the treadmill, the only thing that keeps me motivated to stay on it for a full half hour, is the promise of watching an episode from my Sex and the City box set. I’m currently in the middle of the second season for the second time, and I’m reminded all over again about why I fell in love with these ladies to begin with. And I’m reminded that so many people hate them.
I find Sex and the City to be a more divisive subject than illegal immigration and this season of The Walking Dead combined. A lot of men love to hate it. They love to make fun about how the girls are all old, as if most of them won’t at some point in their lives be married to a forty-something woman that they find beautiful and still sexually desirous. And many men love to hate SJP. They love to make comments about how attractive they don’t find her. I think men don’t know what to do with a woman they don’t want to fuck and who is successful in spite of that. She doesn’t need them or their approval to be a leading lady. Weeks before the second movie opened they groaned about it in conversation and posted unprompted Facebook updates about how they weren’t going to see it, as if this might somehow be a blow to HBO’s marketing department that was basing their projections on straight, male ticket sales.
Of course, you’re not going to see it. It’s not for you.
One guy went as far as to comment on my friend’s post about seeing it, “My condolences.” When she said she loved it he responded, “Then you really have my condolences.”
No, you have my condolences for having nothing better to do in your day then to shit on something a “friend” has just told you brings her joy. And by the way, guess what, it’s not for you.
Some women dislike it as well. They find their humor unfunny and their horniness insulting to women and that’s their prerogative. Personally I have been hooked since my first episode and I am fortunate that my female soul mates are, too. We’ve had parties for the premiere, parties for the finale, and celebrated the two movies now with dinner and drinks beforehand and wearing new outfits. I’ve looked forward to few things as much as I looked forward to this.
I make it a point to not read reviews for anything I want to enjoy, but I’m always curious afterwards to put my experience up against the critics. I knew SATC2 had gotten bad reviews, and after having a great evening, I was wondering what the critics had objected to, so I read two that happened to be handy.
They were almost identical. Their two big issues: the girls’ lifestyle had become completely unrelatable and their problems were non-existent.
The girls’ lifestyle has always been somewhat unrelatable. Most of us don’t live in New York where you can drink all night and take a cab home. Most of us can’t get on guests lists to fancy events. And yes, most of us can’t afford $400 shoes. But we bought the knock offs and watched the show with a homemade cocktail in our hands because their experiences were relatable. Sex and the City gave us four women whose dating and professional lives raised the same issues for them that were often raised for us. And if it’s sugar coated with a little glamour – well, that’s why it’s called entertainment.
With the same mouth people use to criticize SATC2’s glamour, they call their conflicts mundane. They call the movie unrelatable, and then dismiss the parts people can relate to. Carrie and Big have been married for over a year; he just wants to watch TV and stay home and she’s worried the spark is going to go out of their marriage. If you can’t relate to that you’re either in an amazing relationship or with someone you don’t care to have sex with. Yes, keeping the romance alive may pale in comparison with problems like the loss of income or an illness (both issues that SATC has dealt with FYI.) But a healthy and thriving relationship can get you through the worst of times, and an unhealthy one makes even the best of times worthless. And regardless, it makes people feel good to see themselves represented on screen. To see that even the amazing Carrie and handsome Big have the same problems we all do. And then to see how they choose to handle it.
Sure there are women in films with bigger problems. You could watch Precious, but that’s a fucking bummer. And if it’s relatable you’re looking for, I’m guessing more women get frustrated with their husbands watching TV than have had to face what that poor girl did.
Yes, it’s a fantasy, but it’s one that inspires. It’s a fantasy that includes. It was never “you have to have this glamorous life to have fun.” To me it was “your life is already glamorous if you choose it to be.” It was never about $400 shoes. It was about seizing the night with your best girlfriends.
And it doesn’t just inspire you to have a good time – it inspires you to work hard, too. None of these women – with the exception of Charlotte once she got married in later seasons – paid for this lifestyle with money that wasn’t her own. Yes, Mr. Big did something lucrative to earn that nickname (and Raoul the driver) and yes, there were other wealthy boyfriends, but these women never relied on any of these men for what they wanted. They were all successful professionals. If anything, perhaps these women inspire young women to not be content with less; to achieve more professionally and create goals that are for them and have nothing to do with a man and to not rely on a man to support you financially. And while some may look at their lives and think “unrelatable,” I prefer to look at it and think “attainable.”
Why does the evil queen even trust that mirror in Snow White? I can’t fucking trust mine. Lately my mirror has been doing this weird funhouse thing when I step in front of it, like it’s squashing me slightly. I honestly don’t know if it’s the mirror or if it’s me and that’s just what I look like now.
“Well, what does your scale say?” you may ask. I don’t trust that traitor. For an instrument that is reportedly scientific, no one can explain to me how after 6 weeks of strict dieting I manage to lose at the most five pounds, and in fact, usually fluctuate up most days, while after 10 days in Italy doing a faceplant in pasta and gelato, I come home to find I weigh a pound less than my lowest diet weight. No, fuck the scale, too.
“So how do you feel in your clothes?” Well, that’s easy, I feel lousy. But I always feel lousy. Jeans always make me feel fat, no matter what size they are. If they fit me they feel like sausage skins, and if they’re too relaxed I feel like some doughy middle aged man. I’ve had shirts no longer fit me after I’ve gained absolutely no weight whatsoever, like they just shrink after 47 uses or something. Maybe they always fit like that and I never noticed. What do I know? I’ve got no answers, only questions.
There’s one mirror I like. It’s the one in the office lady’s room, third panel on the left. When I walk in to see myself in that third pane, my clothes look great, my outfit is cute, and I look thin. The two next to it, I don’t care for at all. They are as unreliable as the one at home and its fucking useless friend, the scale.
I often wonder which mirror is correct or if any of them are? Does any mirror accurately reflect your reflection back to you? Or are they all flawed and can easily be distorted by humidity or cold or whether or not Mars is in retrograde or who currently has more electoral votes in the Republican primary? Maybe scientists could study my beloved “Third Pane in the Lady’s Restroom,” to uncover if it has magical properties or if I really actually look like that. That would be nice to know.
Because unless I can get CERN to study the physics of the Lady’s Loo mirror, I am left to wonder what I look like. I am forced to go out in the world and interact with people without knowing what they see back. But, also, I am forced to eventually wonder if I need to know what I look like. Why is it so important for us to know what other people see when they look at us and does a mirror even accurately portray that even if it’s the “Third Pane on the Left in the Second Floor Bathroom?”
If I were to pose the same question to my mirror that the Queen does to hers – “Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” – my mirror would respond, “Well, you could be…if you were a few inches taller and you did a few more tricep curls and take off that dress, it cuts across your hips all wrong and did you really go another day without washing your hair?!” So really, why don’t I throw that bitch out? She’s about as useful to me as that twat friend who likes to talk about how she can’t believe she fit into a size 0 pair of jeans while she’s chugging down a milkshake.
But I can’t throw away the mirror anymore than I can do anything but smile and nod and make my sympathetic face while this skinny bitch orders a plate of cheese fries. Because as many times as I don’t like what I see in the mirror, sometimes I do. And I like to think that’s the me that people see.