In response to the mass shooting in Isla Vista, which appears to have been motivated in part by the shooter’s deeply ingrained misogyny, much digital ink is being spilled across social media to refute the experience of women. The #YesAllWomen hashtag has alternately been empowering women to speak up, been hijacked by trolls, and been whined about by aggrieved men concerned that women may not care enough about what they think about what it means to be a woman in 2014. As such, I feel compelled to share my rules. These are not for debate. They are mine. I have not asked you to soften them, annotate them, or amend them. If you choose to proceed, sit down, fasten your seat belts, listen and follow.
1. You do not have default access to my body — not with your eyes, not with your words, not with your fists, not with your genitals, not with your politics.
2. If you do not have an advanced medical degree, a speculum, and an appointment I’ve booked through your receptionist, I’m not interested in what you think I should do with my reproductive organs.
3. Unless I ask, your opinion about my looks is irelevent. I don’t care if you like my hair straight or curly, or worn up or down. I don’t care if you like my outfit. I don’t care if you think my stilettos are very tall or look uncomfortable. I didn’t get dressed to earn your approval this morning; I got dressed so I wouldn’t be naked.
4. I don’t care if you’ve noticed I’ve been losing weight or working out.
5. I do not owe you a smile on the street. I can look serious whenever and wherever I want to.
6. You are not due any acknowledgment when you comment on my body or my outfit on the street. I am not a bitch if I flatly ignore you or tell you to stop talking to me.
7. An adult woman can have sex with whomever she wants, whenever she wants. She can have sex with a different man or woman every night of the week and your opinion of that is completely irrelevant.
8. If you’re not one of the men or women she chooses to have sex with, it doesn’t make her uptight, frigid, or — and this appears to be the preferred ironic insult — a slut.
9. In a professional setting, I will demand high standards and I will advocate for my position. I will not modulate for fear of being “pushy,” nor will I engage in some sort of mental calculus about whether I’ve spoken up too many times in a meeting. I will not cringe and apologize when asking you to do something or soften the blow when delivering warranted criticism for fear of being labeled a bitch.
10. If your out-of-the-gate response to women engaging in discussions of men doing horrible or inappropriate things is “Not all men…” you are undermining what they’re saying about the misogyny, sexism and chauvinism they experience. There’s a severe problem in this country right now. Your being a great guy isn’t the issue at hand.
11. There’s nothing wrong with most porn, but if you get your jollies by watching porn in which men simulate raping women, you need to take a moment and think about why that excites you.
12. My daughter will not be rude to you on my watch. But she does not need to hug you or kiss you or pose for a photo with you. If I don’t know you, she does not need to speak to you. If you do not get the response you seek from her and you say “She must be shy,” you will hear from me.
13. If I choose to walk or jog at night, I am not an idiot. Men who choose to attack women at night are criminals. Direct your disbelief and disgust at them.
14. I can have no children, one child, two children or six children and none of those scenarios warrant your opinion about how I’m doing being a modern woman right or wrong.
15. In discussions of sports, science fiction, action movies, gun deaths, finance, politics, history, and home repair, you are incorrect if your default assumption is that you’re going to need to educate me when you disagree with me. Using Google doesn’t make you the expert, professor.
16. In discussions of pregnancy, childbirth, female sexual assault, misogyny, feminism, chauvinism, workplace inequality, oral contraceptives, or abortion, your attempt to rebut my opinion with any derivation of “What you don’t understand is…” makes you look like a buffoon.
17. If you point to women sometimes asking men to open a jar or kill a bug as your refutation of feminism, you’re doing logical equivalence wrong.
18. Women sometimes lie about rape. This does not mean your default when a woman reports being raped should be to assume she is lying. A woman who says she was raped by an athlete from your favorite team doesn’t need to meet some higher burden of victimhood.
19. Nothing that you will ever hear about an alleged rape case from a newspaper, cable news show, on talk radio or a blog will qualify you to determine that the woman was not raped.
20. If you put your hands on a woman in anger, she has nothing to apologize for about that assault.
21. If you think the word feminist connotes a negative, and wrinkle your nose when I tell you I am one, you are part of the problem.
22. If you think my having been in a sorority undermines my feminism, and wrinkle your nose when I tell you I was, you are part of the problem.
23. My rules are not necessarily the same as another woman’s. We are not a monolith. This is not proof of any exasperating, confounding reality about womankind other than that womankind is made up of different women.
24. If you bristle at a woman saying she has rules, you need to think about why a woman in 2014 feels the need to sit down and spell any out.
5:45 a.m.-Wake up to go to Bikram class. Daughter wakes up too and demands snuggles. There goes Bikram.
6-Cancel class reservation and go to gym instead.
7:15-Come home, relaxed, invigorated, ready to take on the world, pour bowl of cereal.
7:16-Realize with panic that it’s parent-teacher conference day at daughter’s school, and our appointment is in 90 minutes.
7:17-Realize with additional panic that I’m supposed to supply the fruit salad for the related teacher appreciation lunch today, grab car keys and race to CVS praying there’s some sort of edible fruit in the refrigerator case. No time for cereal!
7:25-Stare at CVS fruit options and determine that the good people at CVS Corporate don’t have a great deal of respect for our town’s college students who are inclined to eat healthfully. Grab the best of the bunch.
7:45-8:10 Return home and frantically whip up Pinterest-worthy platter of peanut butter dip with apple slices and grapes. “Oh you think these are just regular old grapes? Well what if I put five of them in a mini pink polka dotted paper cup and put a number of those adorable cups on a Tiffany-blue tray? BAM! PINTEREST, MOTHERF—–S!”
8:15-8:30 I’ve now got a whole 15 minutes to shower, get dressed and make myself look presentable. This is why I will get to work and realize I do not have on actual shoes.
8:45-Parent-teacher conference. Beam and grin for 15+ minutes while the teacher says things about daughter that I want to have tattooed in their entirety across my clavicle because seriously she’s my little angel dumpling rainbow unicorn sprinkle of joy and how could you not love this kid? One highlight of their 15-page report: In the “Dramatic Play” area of the classroom one day she and another buddy decided to play mama and papa having a date night. They dropped their baby off with “Aunt” and then went to a restaurant — complete with place settings that they set up — took pictures (date night selfies!), and talked about their jobs.
9:15-Enough beaming. Race to work.
9:25-Gas tank on empty. Stop for gas.
9:35-Child’s stomach on empty. Stop for bagels (Yes, of course it was really a donut.)
10:15-Arrive 10 minutes late. Head directly into in-progress meeting.
10:16-Look down. Realize the shoe thing.
With my apologies to Stacy & Adam of TextsFromHillary.com and inspired by this Talking Points Memo piece by Sahil Kapur: Female Supreme Court Justices Hammer Birth Control Challengers.
1. You have exactly SEVEN days to watch an episode of television after its original air date, and upon the expiration of that time period you may not complain about spoilers. When a new episode airs a week later, full and candid discussion of the previous week’s episode is fully sanctioned. Your failure to keep your DVR neatly groomed does not require our self-censorship.
2. If a show is released exclusively online in bingewatching full-season quantity, you have one month from the date of release, at the conclusion of such time you may not complain about spoilers. (For example, you have until March 14 to complete House of Cards.)
3. Under no circumstances may you squawk at people about spoilers for discussion of a show’s previous season when the new season is under way. Guess what? Lady Sybil dies in childbirth! Ned Stark gets beheaded! Henry Blake’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan! Not a spoiler a year or more after it happened.
4. You may not wade into a robust comments chain obviously dissecting a previous episode or season covered by the above rules and then complain about spoilers. Don’t look under a large rock if you don’t want to see dirt and bugs.
5. Finally, if you do not subscribe to HBO, you may not cry spoiler on the off chance you’re going to buy the DVDs or download in a year. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
These are the rules. Learn them, embrace them.
The title of this post is an excerpt from a sign hanging above me at a famed Korean day spa and sauna outside of Chicago. The uncomfortability referenced by the sign relates to the feeling that may arise if I spot someone who has entered the hot tub area without showering “with soap.” How would I possibly be able to see this? Because I can see everything. Literally. The uncomfortability is apparently not noteworthy if it arises from the fact that I’m stark naked surrounded by strangers and it’s America in 2014 and we’re all still completely hung up about doing things like this.
The Day Before at the Airport (as told in texts)
By the end of the day, I would come to realize how stupid both of those fears were.
The Next Day at the All-Nude Korean Day Spa Outside of Chicago
As I peel off my last piece of clothing for what will turn out to be a good portion of the day, I understand the cold sweat grip of terror and panic that Sandra Bullock must have experienced as she became untethered from her spacewoman rocketship in Gravity. As an American woman, if you’re playing by a certain rulebook (even generally speaking and whether you particularly want to or not) few people are going to be lucky enough to see you in a full state of undress. I was about to up my quotient considerably.
Who Does This?
I have a very short list of friends cleared for such an excursion. There are two prerequisites to get on my short list:
1. Are you older than 35?
2. Have you had a baby(ies) and as such have a thorough understanding of what the miracle of life does to a once-respectable midsection?
Bonus: Have we at some point debated the relative merits of Dr. Oz supplements and tapeworm ingestion as weight loss techniques?
Luckily, the friend accompanying me for this outing met this criteria and earned the bonus. So off the clothes went and into the ladies spa complex we went.
Sunshine on My Shoulder… Makes Me Want to Cry
I decide to get the “Princess Scrub” and massage, which sounds suitably regal and relaxing. It is neither.
On the hour, the women who work at the spa make their rounds looking for their clients, as identified by the numbered bracelets we wear. As for what they’re wearing, it’s black mesh bathing suit/undies things. I have no idea. Don’t ask.
The woman who walks up to me and gestures that she’ll be princess scrubbing me is named Sunny. This turns out to be a stunning bit of irony.
Because Sunny is a torture artist. The next 80 minutes involve a mix of scrubbing with what felt like sandpaper, and utter indignity — they work on everyone in a row, a fleshy naked xylophone of humanity behind a low “modesty” wall. I highly doubt Kate Middleton ever endured this sort of treatment, so frankly the name is kind of starting to seem like bullshit. I’m used to genteel massages at spas where the most skin revealed is the eight inches of leg and ankle visible between the bottom hem of a plush robe and the floor (the Victorian full monty).
Sunny mutters instructions for me to flip this way and that, foreshadowing that these instructions are coming with a whack of her fist on the nearest part of my body and a loud “Hey!” Sunny smiles only once through the entire process, when she crawls on top of my back and drives her entire weight into my spine with the pointed angle of her elbow. As I let out a yelp, she laughs.
Later, as the day unfolded, I would see women stumbling away in an (admittedly glowing) daze from Sunny’s table, trying to process what had just transpired before finally giving up and going to get a mango smoothie.
Finally, mercifully, we appear to be nearing the end. Sunny begins slathering my face with a gloopy mixture of light green substance flecked with dark green bits of something. I’d seen it covering the faces of other women as I came in for my treatment but couldn’t place what the substance was. I sniff and decide that the base note of the goop on my face is cucumber. Must be the light green stuff. But it’s punctuated by something smellier, more bitter — the dark green stuff.
Oh God. There is kale on my face.
But it turns out, it takes only about an hour to overcome a lifetime of Puritan-infused American nudity norms. (Results may vary, depending on whether parents were hippies or you embrace kale.) That’s it.
After one hour, my last vestige of modesty was obliterated in a hail of exposed hindquarters. Along with it, a good deal of my body image issues, at least for the day. Seem too convenient? Too pat? Too bad. It’s true. Had I only come here when I was 14, I probably could have avoided a lot of undue heartache.
Because the women of America — as represented by those gathered on this freezing afternoon at a Korean day spa outside of Chicago — look entirely different and nobody needs to care. We’re in shape or we’re not. We’re keeping it tight or we’re letting it go. We’re smooth or we’re lumpy. We’re young or we’re old.
In this space, we’re bound together by one, common thread: We’re all terrified of Sunny.
Today’s New York magazine piece has some really interesting theories about who the Yellow King is on True Detective. And on i09, Michael Hughes let us know “The One Literary Reference” we needed to know to determine it.
But, um, you guys… I’ve got a perfectly cromulent explanation.
Detective Hart was right. Our “true failure was inattention.”
“How can you not see the holes in the yard?!”
My husband widened his eyes in disbelief, incredulous that I hadn’t noticed the path of destruction on our front lawn caused by legions of marauding squirrels. But I saw in his searching expression that he needed to believe it was lack of observation. He couldn’t allow himself, not yet at least, to think that perhaps I was in some sense complicit by turning a blind eye.
I should say right up front that I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the squirrels. I genuinely don’t see the holes, I don’t think anyone’s yard looks good in the winter anyway, and I’ve got bigger mental fish to fry. Speaking of rats, I’ve always viewed squirrels as gross rodents. Rats with a better PR team, I’d say, when for some reason the subject had turned to such rankings — usually while being skeeved out by both groups of them in Central Park or on the Mall. But now I found myself silently rooting for the squirrels.
Why? Because after years of complaining about them digging holes all over the yard — allegedly, because again, I don’t see it — he’d decided it was the year to finally take action. Alliances were formed, a neighbor with traps enlisted. And then, the centerpiece of the battle plan unveiled: Squirrel transport.
For some reason, my husband has the impression that one merely needs to transport the squirrels six miles and over a body of water for them to remain forever banished. Not five. Not seven. Not dry land.
“Six miles and over a body of water.” He said those exact words. The 1892 Farmer’s Almanac had come to life and was standing in my kitchen in the form of a sandy blond, six-foot-tall Texan sucking down his tenth Diet Coke of the day, amped up on caffeine and the bravado of men preparing for battle as they have since Thermopylae.
There would be no slaughter though. No tiny heads on pikes lining our driveway. We were in effect to become the bus to the country for the squirrels, where we would release them for a better life and miles of farmland. The Squirrel Jitney.
Correction: He would. I believed this plan to be insane and wanted no part of it. Also, I was completely grossed out by the idea of them thrashing around in the trunk of my car. It wouldn’t matter though, I thought, because what squirrel would be dumb enough to get caught in a giant, obvious metal cage baited with a few measly peanuts?
The dumbest squirrels on the East Coast live in our neighborhood.
Me, answering phone at work: “Hello?”
Him: “Four! We got four! And it’s only the first day!”
Me: “Wow. That’s really something. OK, I gotta go.”
Me: “Are you washing your hands after you move those cages? Because those things are crawling with vermin and rabies.”
Him: “Yeah. I mean, sort of I guess. (pause) Do you have any hand sanitizer in your bag?”
Me: “Is there like, a tarp down in the trunk? Because I put the groceries back there.”
Me: <opens the trunk><finds a piece of cardboard the size of a notepad in the vast ocean of unprotected trunk><closes trunk><goes inside and pours a glass of wine>
My father baits a trap with a Diet Coke can and says the squirrels must be mounting a counter attack. I find it hilarious. Later, husband oh-so-casually checks to make sure the integrity of the trap still stands after the hooliganism.
Me: “You know that in the Pixar movie they would make about this, you’re the big human jerk terrorizing the little animals, right? Or like, say this was Fantastic Mr. Fox…you’re Boggis, Bunce and Bean. That’s on you, dude.”
Attention every business and restaurant in America: Please stop with the superfluous Santa visits.
This time of year, you can’t go get waxed without an unsolicited appearance by the big man. In the past two weeks I’ve either personally encountered or seen Himself advertised as visiting Home Depot, the tree farm, Speaker John Boehner’s office, three local restaurants and a civic pancake breakfast. Santa’s one Meet the Press sitdown away from the Full Ginsburg.
It used to be, you’d head to the mall and with hushed reverence wait in a seemingly interminable line snaking past Orange Julius and Claire’s for your one annual one-on-one with him. One, being the operative number. ONE. Now you’re awkwardly dodging him in the grocery store aisle like that weirdo from accounting whose LinkedIn request you’ve been ignoring. And most of these “Santas” are in suits and beards that are a little more janky than jolly.
Here’s the thing… [SPOILER ALERT] Now that I’m a parent, I’m Santa.
As in, the real Santa Claus is me and I am him. As such, I have a pretty tight secrecy game to maintain. So it’s not helping when I have to answer the question, “Is that the real Santa?,” accompanied by a tiny raised eyebrow, every time we run an errand in the month of December. She’s only four, but she’s already got a hair-trigger holiday bullshit detector.
Don’t even get me started on Santa Stumbles. All of you drunken buffoons running through downtown in red thongs and Santa beards in the middle of a Saturday can go sod off.
So let’s give it a rest, shall we? I shouldn’t have to pull out the chipper spiel about “Santa’s helpers” unless I’m teaching her how to politely ignore Salvation Army bell ringers.