Unpopular Thoughts on Men, Rape and Nail Polish

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

(All the quotes in this post is paraphrased because I’m too lazy to go look up the actual verbiage, but it’s more about the atmosphere they produced than the actual words themselves.)

For the last couple days, I’ve watched people I really like tear each other apart on social media over a nail polish. Not just any nail polish — a conceptual nail polish in development which hopes to help detect date rape drugs in drinks. I think the premise is that a woman sticks her finger in the drink and the polish changes color based on the drugs found within, if any. Oh, and the polish idea was developed by men.

I swear, you could almost hear a crack opening in the earth with the feminist outrage that swept the internet.

“That’s unsanitary!” (Well, so’s a stranger’s penis.)

“We don’t need nail polish, we need men to not rape!” (I think this is admirable, but naive. And I can be super naive.)

“If you think this nail polish is a good idea, you’re not an ally!” (This one made me sad.)

“We’re not interested in your penis!”  (Just kidding, that’s a line from PCU.)

In essence, what I heard was a lot of, “Men, you’re not entitled to your opinion. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. You’re not listening. You’re wrong. Stop raping us.” In turn, this riled up a lot of defensiveness among the men, like “I never said that! You’re not listening. You’re wrong. Feminists must all be man-haters!” which turned to mudslinging on both sides and no one’s argument was really heard. Or absorbed, at least.

I consider myself a feminist. I believe a feminist is whatever she wants to be — a lady, a vixen, an anarchist, an activist, feminine, butch, demure, brazen and all combinations thereof and more. I also believe women should feel empowered and if wearing some lousy nail polish (assuming it actually worked) made a woman feel more comfortable, who cares?

This morning, I saw Time magazine tweet a link to apps that would help women stay safer on campus. I knew the moment I clicked on it what the @ replies would say and I wasn’t wrong. It was everything from the polite yet obvious, “Teach men not to rape and we wouldn’t need these apps” to the angry and ill-conceived, “Until men stop raping us, fuck your apps!”

That last one brings me to my ultimate point: until men stop raping women (and other men, by the way, it does happen) what would you like us to do?

I don’t talk about it a lot, but as someone who has been both roofied and date raped (separately), I can tell you — it’s not going to stop. I mean, I’d love to think that it would but the very idea that you have to teach someone not to rape you, seems a little far-reaching. If someone is going to rape you, they’re not wired right and likely, they aren’t going to hear you. Most men know not to rape or we wouldn’t be able to let them outside. Unfortunately, it’s those that do who color men as a group and I just don’t feel like that’s fair, either.

I believe, in addition to men not raping, in taking responsibility for one’s own safety. Doing so does not make me a victim blamer, it makes me empowered over my own body. Recently, I was pinned to my car by a creepy hobo who has been following me around. He did it broad daylight, made lewd gestures at me, got into my personal space and promised to “have me” the next time he saw me. Am I not a feminist because I bought a taser? Am I not an ally because I’m prepared for his advances, should they ever occur again? The next time he accosts me, should I just say, “You should learn to not rape me, creepy hobo!”?

Look, I guess my point is this: we can do both — we can teach men not to rape and we can create preventative measures. Women are usually the ones being raped, so most of the preventative measures are geared toward us. It is what it is. And getting a guy into a chastity belt can be an ordeal… so I’ve heard. (Yes, we can talk about rape and still joke. It’s ok.)

We teach people not to murder. We teach them not to rob. But we still lock our doors and buy alarm systems and avoid walking down dark alleys alone at night. Taking a measure of personal safety or even applauding an attempt a product that might help women feel safer, doesn’t make someone anti-women, pro-rape or not an ally. YES, it totally sucks that we have to do those things, but this isn’t Mayberry, you know?

I don’t think that “teach them not to rape” is enough. I don’t think products that help women take responsibility for their safety is blaming women. It’s just something to help until we reach this magic utopia where rape doesn’t exist. On Xenu. With Tom Cruise.

Categories: drama, Life

What I’ve Learned About Myself from Women’s Conferences

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

eeeeeI think the one 100% true thing I’ve confirmed about myself at (my third) BlogHer is that I’m not much of a “vagina joiner”.

That sounds like some kind of an infomercial product, but it’s the most succinct way can describe how events like this make me feel. Look, I love women. Believe me, I love women. Poetically, philosophically, physically, some other “p” word… broads are good stuff.

But I’m just not one of those “touchy-feely, kumbaya, sign my yearbook, let’s braid each other’s hair, soft focus sisters of the woodlands” types. I never have been. The very idea of sitting in a room and discussing how to “be authentic” makes me want to drink. So you’ll probably find me in the hotel bar.

I think women are amazing people. But when you put a lot of them together in a hotel lobby, it’s not unlike what I’d imagine dolphins on a casino floor sound like — shrill shrieks of superlative excitement over a slot machine-like din of chatter and air kisses.

I respect women. I appreciate that this is the jam of thousands of women here at BlogHer. That’s why so many people are here — to “network”, to meet people, to socialize, be inspired, empowered and potentially sync up the cycle of every woman on the internet. And I totally, totally get that.

It’s just not for me.

Does that mean I don’t want to talk to you, meet you, hang out with you? Do I not want to be inspired, empowered? AM I NOT ENTERTAINED?

No, it mostly just means I don’t want to drop my business card in a fishbowl and listen to your schpiel on heavy flows and wide-set vaginas. Different strokes.

Memories of a Piano Bar Baby

Monday, June 24th, 2013

There was a restaurant I used to go to as a kid called The Cotton Patch. It was in Point Loma on Midway, cattycorner to the main Post Office, for those in the know — next door to the Aaron Brothers that has been there since I can remember.

As a family, we must have visited The Cotton Patch at least once or twice a week from 1979 to somewhere in the mid-eighties. The restaurant was essentially a steak house, known for their prime rib, but also their frog legs (for some reason). It was nice, though I wouldn’t say fancy. While they had cloth napkins and (I think) tablecloths, they also had complimentary cornbread shaped like actual corn and plastic bears filled with honey on every table, to my chubby 7 or 8-year-old delight.

I spent a lot of time hanging out at the hostess stand. Much like I am now, I made friends pretty easily. I have always been able to talk to anyone and been wise beyond my years (some might have said precocious), and spent a great deal of my childhood as an only child surrounded by adults. So, it was pretty easy to make friends with the middle-aged, but very, very nice blonde hostess we saw there often. I can’t remember her name anymore — I want to say Sheila, maybe? —  though I seem to recall something going sour between her and my father sometime after my mom died. I’d rather not speculate too much on that.

I spent most of my time at The Cotton Patch, when I wasn’t stuffing corn-shaped cornbread in my face, playing the tabletop Miss Pac-Man machine they had in the lobby. I got pretty good at it and it kept me occupied and out of my parents’ hair.  My dad would get me a roll over quarters and I’d play for hours while they sat in the lounge, sipping Benedictine and listening to the jazz pianist by the stone fireplace.

Sometimes my dad would get up and sing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.  If I ran out of quarters, he would let me give the piano player a generous tip in the giant tip snifter set at the end of the piano.  Often, Dad would ask me to request “My Funny Valentine”… my mom and dad’s song. The pianist would even sometimes let me sit next to him while he played standards I strangely knew the words to and I would sing along quietly, so as not to bother the adults. Adults, I might add, who thought it was charming and not at all that odd for an eight-year-old to be in a bar, let alone know all the words to “Autumn Leaves”.

We stopped going to The Cotton Patch in the mid-to-late-eighties, if I recall correctly, after my mom died. My last memory of being in there was when the piano bar guy played “My Funny Valentine” and my dad gave me some money, asking me to tell him to never play that again.

I’m not totally sure what happened to The Cotton Patch. I heard it caught on fire, but I can’t find any information about that. It’s a De ja Vu Showgirls strip club now, which kind of makes me laugh, a little sadly, whenever I drive past the now-hot pink stucco building. Though whenever I do, I still can’t help but think of my parents and of corn-shaped cornbread, frog legs and “My Funny Valentine”.

Categories: Life, thoughts

“I Want My Two Dollars!”

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

When a client stiffs you, especially one you liked and have had forever, unless it’s for a lot of money, there’s not much you can do.  But it sure feels bad. It makes you feel like all the effort you put into cultivating a relationship with that client was pointless, worthless. It makes you (even a little) nervous that future efforts to go above and beyond with other clients could be met with the same result. The rapport you thought you had was really just meaningless. You might as well be the plumber. Hell, I bet they pay the plumber.

Having tried to collect this meager balance since January 25, I inquired with several strong-arm collection agencies and anything under $500 doesn’t seem to be worth their time. It’s not really worth my time either, but I was hoping it would quell my desire to light shit on fire whenever I log into my accounting software or see that client prancing about online, smiling on social media, excited about their new business ventures.

It’s not about the money. If they had been honest with me, if they’d said, “I just can’t, I’m so sorry, times are tough.” I’d probably have waived it. I do that kind of thing all the time, to my detriment sometimes. But I take care of my clients and am usually pretty understanding and flexible.  Yet, this client ignored me for months, totally flat-out ignored my emails. Their services were completed in January, but it took until I sent a somewhat shame-laden email in late April for them to give me some cockamamie story about how they would pay me at the end of May, which of course, despite my kind reminder emails, they never intended to do.

They could afford to open a new bakery in another country, but couldn’t afford to pay me a few hundred bucks? It costs multiple thousands of dollars to open a brick and mortar business, especially one in food service. In a last ditch effort, I even offered them the chance to pay me the principle, saying I’d waive the couple hundred dollars in late fees they’d racked up if they just would pay me the initial balance. Crickets, of course.

I just wanted to win, honestly. For me, for all of us who have ever been stiffed. It would’ ve been a small victory, but a matter of principle.

If your toilet stops up, you call the plumber and you pay him. If your spleen falls out, you pay the doctor. If you need a haircut, you pay your stylist. What makes people think that they don’t have to pay someone who does work for them? I’m not in the business of working for free. I bet the client expects $5 for that eclair they painstakingly crafted.

And while it happens so rarely, it disappointments me most that I was shafted by someone I thought was a trustworthy person, a long-standing, kind, honest client with whom I’d done a lot of work for almost a decade. If they’d decided to hire someone else, I’d be less offended.

So, consider our bridge burned, dear client. I’m sad to see our long-standing relationship pissed away over $280. I hope your flan gives everyone the runs.

Categories: Work

Mine Reads “Mrs. Roper”

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

So, our property has this online social network that allows management to alert us to new events on property, announcements, if we have a package in the office and we can submit maintenance requests through it, as well. But each unit has their own profile, and you can add a photo, your birthday, your interests, etc and display your profile in the “My Neighbors” listing, like a phone book.

UH, NO THANKS. It’s apartment living, I’d like some semblance of privacy. I love where we live and I’ll happily smile and nod at a neighbor or wave or coo at their dog, but I don’t need to know that Kenneth and Oliver in Building 5 are wine enthusiasts in matching shirts who indulge in weekend thrifting when they’re not handcrafting leather jewelry (though I’ve probably seen them at Mo’s). I’m glad to see most of my fellow neighbors eschewed profile photos or even listing their profile altogether.

Unless you’re UPS, no one who sees me in my towel turban watering the plants on my patio needs to know my full name.

Categories: Life, neighbors