Archives

“Late Night” Review

Written by Mindy Kaling (this is important)

Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling walk into a bar…

Well, not quite.

Age. Gender. Breaking into a male-dominated business.

This is a good movie; well-written, well-cast. Not overly preachy, although dealing with timely issues of gender politics. I’m considering going a second time and adding it to the personal collection. Definitely personal collection.

Mindy Kaling stars as Molly Patel, a showbiz outsider who longs to be an insider. Like the actress who plays her, Molly has a great sense for comedy and timing.  I don’t want to spoil things, but as a chemical plant quality analyst in Pennsylvania, she comes up with a brilliant plan to get an interview as a  writer for the show she has loved and studied since she was a kid.

Emma Thompson stars as Katherine Newbury, the host of a late-night talk show, “Late Night with Katherine Newbury.”  It’s a somewhat intellectual show, but in danger of going under because ratings are flat and dropping. She won’t engage in Jimmy (Fallon/Kimmel) hijinks with her guests. And her guests aren’t the kind that would necessarily indulge themselves. Doris Kearns Goodwin in Tight Pants? No. Just no. Katherine is not your warm-fuzzy type of personality. In fact, she is rather detached, especially what’s going on with her show and with the people who work for her. I wouldn’t call Katherine a bitch. She’s not knifing anyone in the back (although, there comes a twist in the third act). She’s not out to emasculate her all-male writers room. She  is stubborn and not a fan of change, thus the 10 year decline in quality and ratings. The show is safe and stale, but she won’t see it.

The talk show host who came to mind as I watched was not Samantha Bee, but Dick Cavett. Same higher-brow content, same dry humor.


Katherine is a tough boss. She is not portrayed as an unreasonable demanding bitch, like Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” (another workplace comedy). She’s intelligent and intellectual and knows what she wants. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily what’s best for her or for her beloved show. As mentioned, she is detached from what’s going on with her staff (one guy died years ago and she didn’t know), or the changes in the world. At one time, Katherine herself had done stand up (Emma Thompson, before we in the US came to know her, had been performing sketch comedy for years with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, among others). Her sense of humor is displayed in some of the cutting remarks she makes in defense of her positions, and in an unplanned stand-up set. it’s a step forward in depicting powerful women. Representation matters.

The network president, a talent agent, and the writer’s room all want Katherine to change her format to the more sophomoric ones put on by the late-night guys.

Molly’s opening into Katherine’s world is precipitated by Katherine firing one of the writers who asks for a raise. When she says “No,” he protests based on having additional expenses due to a growing family. The firing isn’t because he asked, it’s because he  objected and based the request on HIS needs rather than warranting a raise for a greater contribution to the show. Katherine tells him it’s sexist. (Okay, so we do have some preachy) She’s right in that his reasoning has nothing to do with his work. Sound logic. Good business sense. However, because she’s not giving in to the emotional appeal (“Please, Sir, may I have some more?”), she seems heartless. Katherine isn’t. She’s just thinking more practically. More of what we perceive as “masculine thinking.” The writer fires back that she’s a sexist because she does not work well with other women. There are some facts to support this: Katherine has a dismal track record of retaining female staff.

Enter Molly.

The writers for the show are all white men, most have Ivy League credentials on their resumes, and the head monologue writer, played by Reid Scott (“Veep”), was expecting to have his brother hired for the open slot. His brother who had run the Harvard Lampoon. That’s a solid credential. The first time Molly goes to sit in a meeting, they deny her a seat at the table, literally, saying one open chair was for a guy who was running late because he was trying to sort out a now long-distance relationship. She end up sitting on a waste basket. This is what you call a visual metaphor. An even greater one is that, since women were scarce, the writers have been using the ladies room when they shit, something Molly learns the hard way. I’ll come back to that later.

Before I go further, let’s delve into Molly’s creator/portrayer, Mindy Kaling. She had the same education track as those writers, a top private school in Boston, BBN, then graduated from Ivy League in 2001 (Dartmouth. Big whoop. We at UVM routinely eat their lunch at Winter Carnival. Go, Cats, Go), interned for Conan O’Brien, did stand-up, and began with the American “The Office” in 2004 as a write/performer, for which she won an Emmy as a writer. After “The Office,” she went on to “The Mindy Project,” creator/lwriter/producer. This is her big screen writing debut, I believe, but my point is that Ms. Kaling knows her stuff. She is intimately familiar with writers rooms, television production, comedy, lack of representation. They tell you “write what you know.” She has. Some of the casting reflects her experience as we see faces we know from “The Office” (Amy Ryan) and “The Mindy Project” (Ike Barinholtz).

You get the idea, Molly has to prove herself to a bunch of skeptics and wants to save the show. From the outset, she’s depicted as intelligent, driven, and willing to think outside the box to achieve her ends. So, we have an underdog to root for and we have a near-impossible task we want the underdog to master. And the focus is on Molly’s work rather than her personal life. (“Why are you making a point about that?” We’ll get there) So this is a workplace comedy.

We also get #MeToo elements, some romcom elements, big missteps. Look, it’s a great movie.

This movie hit my feminist nerve endings from nearly the start. Not in a bad way. I mentioned the the writers preventing her from taking a seat at the table. The fact that the Late Night writers were all white male. Racial comments were made. Sexist comments.

The biggest metaphor for me was the men using the ladies room to shit. And continuing to use it even after Molly’s arrival. What bugged me was when, in the middle of Molly having a private breakdown in what is supposed to be a ladies’ room, one of the guys comes in to do his business. They have a quick, somewhat sympathetic exchange over her meltdown, but he still insists on using her facilities and SHE LEAVES TO ACCOMMODATE HIM.

My God, that pissed me off no end! Yes, there’s something to be said for him insisting on still getting his way, but goddammit, she should have yelled, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE AND DON’T FUCKING COME BACK!” Ms. Kaling is a damned good, very experienced writer, but this was a missed opportunity for Molly to claim some power and autonomy.

What also pissed me off was the twenty something white man sitting two seats down constantly fiddling with his phone during the movie, at one point, something loud started to play. I yelled at him. With support. It was analogous to what was going on with the movie. People, if you want to talk or fart around with your toys during a movie, do the rest of us a favor and wait for it to come out on Red Box, huh? You have a responsibility, when out in public, to behave in a way that is considerate of that public.

The above picture speaks volumes. When yours has been the only voice in the room and things aren’t working so well, perhaps it’s time for different perspectives. Part of the ongoing snark in the writers room was how, as a woman of color, maybe the writers (or the brother of the head monologue writer) could gain advantages in hiring. The boys’ clubs in certain industries weren’t established so much as treehouses with no girls/people of color/LGBT/different religions allowed as they were networking within an insular sphere. Nepotism. Friends of friends. Alumni of the same college. Fraternity brothers. It’s a tribal thing: we will favor the members of our tribe until there is no room for anyone else. This dynamic plays out in the men in the story pressuring the star of the show to do what the men are doing, things. Rather than working to perfect what she’s doing, they insist on things being done their way, their idea of what’s funny. The threatened replacement for Katherine is a male comic in the same age range as the writers.

I’ve worked in the financial industry on and off for 35 years and I saw it up close and personally: in the mid-1980s, we had the invasion of the “Suits,” who fit one of the above categories. Didn’t know what in the hell they were doing, but damn, they got promoted fast. I spent a lot of time talking to angry customers cleaning up after the messes they’d made.

But, Molly shows her smarts and eventually wins over the other writers. And that brings up another thing that bugged me:

It’s a workplace comedy. There was no good reason for trying to go to romcom territory.

And

The guy in the blue shirt is Reid Scott playing the “Head Monologue Writer.” The guy on the street is Hugh Dancy playing one of the other writers. There are subtle undertones of working towards a romantic relationship (very subtle) with the Reid Scott character, and a flirtation with the Hugh Dancy character that ends abruptly. He is where we get the #MeToo content, but not what you’d expect. During their first flirtation, he mentions it taking 3 weeks to get her into bed and that’s treated as something cute. While this movie could pass the Bechdel test (Two women having a conversation that doesn’t center around men), given the subsumed hostility of Molly’s work environment, romance just doesn’t belong. And it’s not necessary. Ms. Kaling has made comments that Valentine’s Day is Christmas Day to her. Okay.  That’s your thing, Mindy. In my perspective, when it started to come up, my response, “Aw, Jeez! Really? Do we need this?” This is how women get stereotyped: always looking for love. This sort of subplot is why, even as late as 1998, women at my law school were told that we were just there to find husbands. (If that was the case, it’s an expensive damned method you’ll pay for the rest of your life. Literally) What I loved about Molly, is that this was the first time I’ve seen Mindy Kaling play a  major character that wasn’t “bubbly,” obsessed with pop culture and shopping, or boy-crazy (Kelly Kapoor and Mindy Lahiri, her two biggest roles prior to this one. Mrs. Who in “A Wrinkle in Time” doesn’t count). Are women not interesting if they’re focused on a goal other than a romantic relationship?

The romantic comedy element, though distracting, did not ruin the story for me. I liked that Molly found her way on her own. No mentoring from within the boys club, you know, no “I’ll help you, Little Lady.” Molly solved her own issues. Molly breaking into a rarified world isn’t about race or gender. It’s about making the argument using your own skills and merits.

Representation. It matters.

 

 

 

The Hidden Meaning of Dick Pics

(No pictures today)

I’m an author. I write a lot of Facebook posts and comments, quite a bit on political issues.

Today, I got a Messenger connection request from a stranger. I tried to find out who it was, but the system just opened the picture.

It was an erect penis with a man’s hand on it. I have deleted it.

I posted about it on Facebook because a number of my author friends have posted about getting these or suggestive messages. Up until today, I hadn’t been exposed to that nonsense.

The comments I’ve gotten so far have ranged from “I sent it” to “Why would anyone think that was sexy?”

I don’t think it was intended as sexy. I do write erotic, funny short stories, but the picture wasn’t sent to that Facebook page. And it wasn’t sent to my author page.

No, I think there was a message and it wasn’t “Hey, wanna do me?” I think it was more along the lines of “Shut up, Bitch.”

I’ll tell you why.

In high school (and I’ve blogged about this), I was getting harassed by another student and his posse on a daily basis. One day, I had enough and slapped him across his face (full wind-up). This was back in the days when parents didn’t press assault charges and, not being a guy, I wasn’t suspended. (Last year, I got a final warning in my work file for telling the office bully to “Shut the fuck up.” Still didn’t stop him from being an offensive asshole). The little twerp sent a message through his friends that he was going to retaliate by raping me. A threat using his penis.

I had an interview with a paid job search company (I was looking for a job). I read body language, and as he was giving the price for the company’s services, he came around his desk, leaned against with his hands in his pockets and his crotch thrust forward, junk outlined, not that far from my face. Now that I think about, he may have wanted a blow job. At the time, I took it as a subtly aggressive posture. “Well, that’s the offer. Gonna take it?” The subtext was “Here’s my dick. What are you going to do about it?” I said, “No,” got up and left as he called after me, “Can’t you borrow the money?” (BTW, that’s how you can identify a bad salesman or desperate bill collector, when they ask why you can’t borrow the money)

I got the same posture when I was fired from a major (now defunct) mortgage company. The man firing me (and he made sure he had two  lackeys in the room) did the same thing as he told me I was terminated. Walked around the desk, leaned against it, hands in pockets and forward-thrusting crotch. He looked at me with a smirk and said, “Okay?” I said, “No, it’s not okay” and told him why. The hands came out of the pockets, he retreated to the other side of the desk, turned beet red, and spluttered. The two lackey sat with their hands folded in their laps, covering their crotches, looking somewhat stunned. Submission to the alpha. I was supposed to submit and didn’t. Gee whiz, fellas, he’d just done the only thing he could do, legally. There was no consequence to me firing back at him at that point. What was he going to do? Hire me again to fire me again?

In previous posts, I’ve recounted tales of attempted intimidation on Facebook and (way back when) Myspace.  I’ve invaded the male space of discussing sports and politics. I have gotten messages saying things like “Fat fucking whore, I hate you” and “Shut up, you stupid bitch, you don’t know the law” (My Juris Doctor degree and law license would say otherwise, but…). I believe today’s dick pic was a response to political comments I’ve made. I have no way of being sure, but that’s my thought.

As for the other authors who have gotten similar “messages,” I don’t know whether they respond to political posts. Or sports posts, for that matter. 2016 brought a lot of American ugliness to the surface: racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, white fright,  and a huge dose of misogyny. If you watch “The Daily Show,” you saw Jordan Klepper interview Trump supporters at rallies who talked about Muslim countries and how bad they were because they were disrespectful towards women. A man, who was clearly unfamiliar with hypocrisy and irony, was explaining this to Jordan while wearing a shirt that said, “Hillary Sucks But Not Like Monica” on the front and “Trump That Bitch” on the back.

Jordan Klepper Quizzes Trump Supporters with the “Extreme Vetting” Ideology Test on ‘The Daily Show’

Trump supporters are the easy to find examples, through their behavior at rallies and online. They support a man who has referred to the mothers of his children as “a nice piece of ass,” called women who disagreed or mocked him “fat pig” and ugly (Pro tip: if the only thing you can come up with to criticize someone is their appearance, you’ve got nothing. Chris Christie is fat, but that’s not what makes him an arrogant asshole), has been accused of sexual assault, and has bragged about forcing himself on women. I guess he’s just the ultimate phallus to use to threaten women to “stay in their place.”

https://goo.gl/images/oz1hvj

The guys sending crap to my writing cohttp://Trump giflleagues may just be stoned, giant douchebags, figure that since we write sex scenes, we must be “into it.” I think there’s a subtle message as well.

There’s a reason “The Handmaid’s Tale” (either book or Hulu series) is resonating right now. It depicts a post US world (religious fanatics blew up the Capital and assassinated the President. NOT Muslims) where women are either supportive wives to “Commanders,” household servants, or baby machines because those supportive wives are infertile. Women are not allowed to have bank accounts, have credit (Hell, we couldn’t until the 1970s anyway), not allowed to handle money. Women are forbidden from reading and writing.

I think the inboxed junk isn’t so much sexual as it is attempted intimidation. We do have some troglodytes among us who want certain areas of society to be exclusively male, such as sports, politics, and letters. It shows when an author is discussed with the label “woman” or “female” applied before the term author where our male colleagues are simply “authors.” They don’t see us standing shoulder to shoulder with the boys, we are largely confined to a subset (and there are a lot of subsets because there are a lot of authors who are neither white nor male).

As I said, I have joined an unwilling sorority who have had men use their genitalia as a means of intimidation.

Not intimidated.

 

The Cracks in the Glass Ceiling are from Banging My Head On It

(Let’s be honest; I don’t have something profound to say every time I log in.)

I am a feminist in that “respect until proven otherwise” should be the default setting between the sexes, I believe there is more to me than my reproductive parts (including the breasts) and ability to please a man, that I should get paid the same (perhaps more. I work hard), that all women are capable of making their own decisions regarding their bodies. “All men are created equal” applies to women, too. Of course, the man who wrote that was boinking one of his slaves. Small power disparity there.

I graduated law school and while there, encountered some young men who believed that women were attending for husband-hunting. I shit you not. All the nights I spent locked in my home reading cases, writing papers, and time researching in the library, I should have had 3 husbands magically appear (I wish. They could have paid the tuition for me). Not so much. In fact, I know of only two couples who met at school. In fact, most of the women who attended went on to substantial careers (a few of us didn’t follow the traditional path). So much for that theory.

Is it a male ego thing that they believe women inhabit workplaces  or higher education primarily to meet a spouse (or partner)? Or when women show that they can compete on the same playing field, it makes their balls shrink? Back when I worked for Fidelity (which was  a pretty good place to work), the big deal was to take the Series 7 exam, to be a licensed representative. This is the golden ticket; you can sell securities with it. The guys I worked with would stand around and brag about their scores. “I got 75.” “I got 78.” Well, I took that exam and passed with an 88. The next time the guys were comparing scores, I said, “I got an 88.” They fell silent and one said, “The score doesn’t matter as long as you pass.” I never heard the score conversation again. By the way, another woman who took the exam at the same time got a 92.

I worked in a department that assisted customers with resolving issues. Phone-based customer service. A couple of times, I picked up the phone and had a male voice demand that I transfer his call to a man. When that happened, we were instructed to politely try to get the customer change his mind. If not, we had permission to tell him to hang up and call until he got a man on the line. One time, my friend Jack was sitting nearby and said, “Give him to me!” I transferred the call, and Jack made himself sound like a gay stereotype. “Turbo swish.” (his term) That man called again; didn’t ask to be transferred. We also saw letters. One guy wrote in to object to a woman managing a mutual fund because (and I am not making this up) “All women want to do is go shopping and have babies. They have nothing but babies and clothes on their mind.” The female head of our department was not only a clothes horse, but also pregnant when that gem came in. She handled it personally. No, we weren’t allowed to read her reply.

Another life later at another company, doing a completely different job (due diligence underwriting), one of the men completed 82 files in a strictly data-entry project (“file scrubbing”). I’m pretty good at data entry; consistently clocked at 9800 keystrokes per hour with 0 errors (I could go faster, but I’d make mistakes). The men were marveling at his speed. I was assigned to that project the next day. I completed 127 files. The men fell silent.

I don’t see why I can’t stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone and be accepted. I believe we are all created equal, and that we should treat each other as such, regardless of, well, regardless of anything. One the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma March, someone from the NAACP remarked at the frustration of still having to fight the same battles now because of attitudes that should have died out a half-century ago. It’s the same with male supremacy. That should have died out, probably with the passage of the 19th Amendment, certainly after World War II when women undertook war production (Rosie the Riveter, anyone?). We proved ourselves. And still do.

I still hear, “Don’t let men know you’re smart” or “don’t show the men you can work as well as they do.” My late grandmother, said that in the mid-nineties, in fact. “Boys don’t like it when you’re too smart,’ she said as we were driving somewhere.  My friend sitting in the backseat hadn’t been briefed on how to deal with Gram and blurted out, “That is such bullshit!” My sphincter snapped shut, my grandmother tried to backtrack (Another time, she had to backtrack from saying Tiger Woods had made golf less classy), and my friend is now a partner in a DC law firm (not married, but doesn’t seem to suffer from the lack of a husband).

“Take Your Child to Work” day started as “Take Your Daughter to Work” day. The idea was for girls to see women working and realize that their options were as wide open as their imaginations. But.. the men objected to it as sexist. “Why should only girls get this?” and the effort to show girls what they could be was watered down because men didn’t want women getting ideas. There is a parallel in Black Lives Matter being countered with All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Dilute the power of the movement.

The attitude will continue as long as succeeding generations are taught these out-dated “truisms.” I daresay it played a major part in the outcome of the 2016 election. Not just who the Democratic candidate was (Sec. Clinton herself is not popular), but I believe a number of people, men and women, did not want a woman as President, regardless of who she was. It didn’t matter that England and Germany had both been lead by women, Margaret Thatcher being in the same hard-nosed conservative mindset as Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the modern GOP. Nope. “What’s going to happen when she has her period?” According to Robin Williams, “intense negotiations every twenty-eight days.”  Hillary Clinton has probably the best resume of anyone who has run for President in the last half-century. Foreign policy experience, legislative experience and relationships, activist First Lady (Arkansas and US), a willingness and capability to tackle the heavy, thankless work of governing. Had she been a man, the results would have been completely different. I know this.

I also know that a day will come where we won’t have this resistance to women as equals. After all, the glass ceiling has millions of cracks in it (3 million more than the current President). Who or what it will take for those cracks to finally merge and break that barrier, I don’t know. But I do know that it will happen.

 

 

 

 

Bitch

Now there’s a fraught word. Technically, a female dog. More commonly, an epithet lobbed indiscriminately at women and at men who are presumed to allow other men to dominate them. And especially men who”allow” themselves to be dominated by women. Aka bitches. “Make ____ your bitch.” Dominate it, with overtones of rape.

I had it thrown at me today, in fact. I went to enter a restaurant, and if you know me personally, you know I have a couple of small fractures in my right foot (tripped over a dog toy and hit my very solid bed frame with my right pinkie toe with enough force to cause not only the pinkie toe break, but also a “buckle fracture” a couple of inches down. If I was the Burgermeister, Meister Burger from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” I would ban all dog toys from the house. That would cause sad dachshunds. Sad dachshunds are destructive dachshunds. They get to keep their toys. However, this is a detour)

Image may contain: dog

and a surgical shoe and a noticeable limp when I walk. (The plus side of this is that the plantar fasciitis in my left foot has said “I’ll shut up now.”)

As I said, I was entering the restaurant and a couple was leaving. I was trying to safely navigate past them and thinking that the man (Nope. Not gentleman. You’re about to find out why) looked like Sam Elliott. Image result for sam elliott

 

I got a couple of steps past them, and he loudly said, “You’re welcome” over his shoulder. I yelled back, “Thank you!” and then I heard it float back from him.

“Bitch.”

(The restaurant staff saw this and gave me extra special treatment because – their words – I had “been attacked”)

Not the first time I’ve heard, to be sure. Not the last, certainly. But the widespread use (and yes, I use it myself. I am no angel), I think, points to a thinly-veiled hostility towards women. And the veil is being drawn back.

While I was in law school in Concord, NH (Yes, I graduated and passed the bar in MA. No, I don’t practice), the first time my parents came by to “inspect,” as parents are wont to do, the man who lived next door came out of his house, introduced himself to my father,  looked at me, and proceeded to recite a list of how things were supposed to be done. A few weeks later, I was late to a class, and ran out the door. He screamed at me from his door about how I wasn’t supposed to slam my own door. I yelled back and heard, “Geez, I didn’t know you were going to be such a bitch about it.”

 Bitch: Woman who does not obey orders from random men.

My mother lamented my unladylike demeanor all of the time our lives ran together, from 1961 to 2013. I didn’t like wearing skirts all the time (Mom, I know you won’t read this because you can’t and I know you wouldn’t believe me anyway, but I didn’t like skirts because I didn’t want anyone looking up them, which happened in second grade). I was and am direct (“You’re just like your father!”). I don’t step back and let the boys go ahead and certainly don’t do so with a pretty smile and “that’s okay.” I’m perfectly content with saying, “No” without frills or apology. And I’m perfectly content to enforce it.

Bitch: Woman who does not act soft and submissive.

“Smile more. Women should smile. You look so much prettier when you smile.”

Bitch: woman who does not smile on command.

“Resting bitch face” is a part of the current lexicon. It implies that even in repose, you must arrange your face to make sure you don’t offend or intimidate men. Even when you are working out a a problem (math or logic) in your head. If you’re familiar with the X Men, Mystique, who is a shape shifter, can make herself look like anyone else, but she has to focus and concentrate. When Mystique is at rest, she is blue with textured skin, golden eyes, and red hair.

Image result for mystique

The “good” X Men around her prefer her to concentrate.

Image result for mystique jennifer lawrence

Mystique would rather not. So, she’s a bad X Man. She’s a bitch.

I have dealt with office Romeos who stroll from desk to desk chatting up their female colleagues who are trying to complete the tasks for which they are paid. It’s the women who get in trouble. I was working in the branch of a financial services company when a scandal erupted at another branch: one of the salesmen had stalked and harassed the customer service representative, even leaving notes on her car AT HER HOME, making late night phone calls and essentially terrorizing her. When she complained, the company moved HER. Nothing happened to him. I got sent to that branch for a day to fill and I  protested the assignment. My boss, a woman in her fifties who had come up from the “Mad Men” atmosphere, told me to “Shut up. Maybe you’ll like it.”

I have been with other companies, including one very recently, where women were in mid to upper management and treated the women under them in the chain of command like rented pack mules: unreasonably demanding, forcing excessive unpaid overtime, dumping their assignments downward, communicating mostly with threats, insults, and denying opportunities when those women tried to move on. It’s insecurity run amok and about on par with the sexual harassment and discrimination some men dish out. They create a hostile work environment.

Image result for bucket of crabs

This is a barrel of blue crabs.

If one crab tries to crawl out, the other crabs will pull it back in. Such is the case with some women in the corporate world. Those who have been subjected to the harassment, condescension, discrimination, and diminution for long enough will try to stop those who push back. “Don’t be such a bitch about it.”

Bitch: Woman who stands for her dignity.

We live in a time when fundamentalist Christians with political influence want to undo the progress on women’s from reproductive control (sovereignty over one’s own body), to equal pay, to the right to sue an employer who abides sexual harassment, and, in the middle of the 2016 campaign that stated Trump would lose if only women voted, wanted to undo the 19th Amendment. You know, the one that said women could vote. Yeah. I saw the tweets. They wanted that gone.

Bitch: woman who sees herself as equal to men.

Our current President notoriously talked about forcing himself on women. If women criticize him, he attacks them based on appearance. He’s not the only one. And when I have been attacked for not yielding for not giving pretty smiles and dimples when I’m getting pushed, the inevitable comeback is “Fat, ugly bitch.”

Bitch: woman who will not yield.

Years ago, I would hear “be a lady, be a lady, be a lady.” What I saw was ladies getting pushed aside, treated like dirt, getting their asses swatted by the men doing the pushing, and smiling through it. I know a lot of ladies with substance abuse issues. I got enough beatings growing up to know I don’t like it.  I knew, having been raised by strict, forceful father, that I did not want to yield my power, my authority to another tyrant (“I am the man, and what I say goes.” Fuck you, but that’s another word for another post) simply because of an XY chromosome combination. I like fundamental fairness, and that isn’t it.

It is now, 56 years on this Earth, that I finally see these individual acts coalesce and a pattern emerge. Thinking this should have ended in the early 70s when women marched for their rights. We roared, we made ourselves heard, we got some grudging concessions and three women on the Supreme Court. One Christian fundamentalist who believed women should not work outside the home, despite being a lawyer herself (the hypocrisy kills me), killed the Equal Rights Amendment.

Apparently, it was all window dressing.

Because when I was too preoccupied to acknowledge and profess gratitude to a man holding a door (actually for his wife to pass through), I am a bitch. Because I didn’t want a cranky, insufferable old man dictating how I was to conduct myself in my own home, I am a bitch. Because I don’t smile on command, say “No,” mean it, and don’t apologize for it, I am a bitch. Because I won’t get off a leg press because a man (who had been chatting up a woman on the other side of the gym before he came over) wanted it, I am a bitch.

You know what?

You bet your  ass I am.