Stop Talking to Strange Women on the Street.

 

Most of us have seen this video passed ’round and ’round the Facebooks this week. The woman above, 24 year old Shoshana Roberts, wanders purposely around Manhattan clad in a crew neck and jeans for 10 hours and records the catcalling and straight up creepy behavior she receives from men. A guy straight-up silently follows her for five full minutes, for fuck’s sake.

I won’t even get into the fact that since the video, the woman has faced threats of sexual violence and death since the video was published. I can’t even think about it, I have to insert a mental block against this face for my own well being – or I will run screaming down Addison Street. One can note that this is not a rare occurrence on Addison Street but that’s a story for another day.

But I’m here, as a woman, to explain to you that yes, this is a problem, yes, you should listen to us and no, it’s not okay to holler at strange women on the street.

I’ve had two incidents that have been more egregious than “guy yelling at my ass on a street,” which happens on the regular – one douchebro last summer actually just said “nice ass”, which I guess speaks to lack of creativity as well as lack of social awareness.

The first incident happened before I had kids. I was driving home to Gloucester from my late-shift job in Everett at near-midnight in an unexpected heavy snow squall. I was on route 93, four lanes across, but only one even had tire tracks in it. It was slow going, my tiny Scion xA didn’t have snow tires, and it was just messy. And dark. There are barely any other cars on the road.

And then this guy pulls up next to me, starts beeping and rolls down his window. Now, as a human, my thought process at this point is “something is wrong with either my car or the road, and this guy is warning me.” So I roll down my window, too, as I’m also still trying to keep my car in the ruts from the cars ahead. And the man in the truck looming next to me says, “HEY BABY ARE YOU MARRIED.”

Yep.

The second incident happened less than a week ago, actually. I was walking back to my house from the local watering hole that I frequent, past closing time. This route takes me past the train station as the last train from Boston was pulling away. A pack of manchildren started calling out to me. ‘HEY! HEY! EXCUUUUSE ME! HEY!’ I ignored, quickened my pace with confidence and purpose, pulled out my phone, rang my confused and tired husband, and made him stay on the phone with me until I got back to the house.

These incidents happen to women across the board – all ages, all body types. And the worst part of enduring these experiences as a female is that so many folks second-guess those experiences. Here’s some of the common apologist responses and why they’re awful:

“Those dudes were mostly being polite! They were just saying good morning! She should relax, there was nothing bad there.”

This is mansplaining of the highest order. Here’s the worst thing about this line – it’s disingenuous. Unless that guy on the street said good morning to every man, woman, child, homeless mentally ill person, and hedge fund manager they passed with the same exact phrase in the same exact tone and manner (hint: they do not do this), it’s straight bullshit. There’s a world of difference between a polite eye contact and hello as you pass on the street (to which most people repeat equally across the gender/age line in this town, as it’s custom in this area), and the way in which these guys are expecting or demanding a response. Please listen to the women in your life. Dismissing them is contributing to a vast problem, and it also makes you look and sound like a gigantic tool.

So we can’t even say hi? What are we supposed to do? It’s so rude of her! I just wanted to tell her she looked good/befriend her!”

Here’s the thing, dudes – we aren’t walking in public to meet you or hear about our bodies from you. This may surprise you, but women know how to meet other humans already. In fact, if we’re looking to meet other members of the public with whom we are not yet acquainted, we can find a social event to do so. Like a bar trivia night, or Pavilion Beach at Fiesta. When we are walking places, we just want to get to that place with minimal hassle. Guys, we’re just like you! Whoa!

Also, I know hundreds of women from all walks of life – none has ever showed up with a man on her arm and said “You just have to meet my new boyfriend Kevin. We met when he told me to smile on the street and then told me my ass was nice!” Never. Happened.

If you’re really confused on what to do, do nothing. Smile if you make eye contact and nod, or say hello or good morning and keep walking. And this is only if you’re taking up the same space, like passing on a sidewalk. Like you’d do with any other person.  If you’re a straight-laced brochacho type, imagine 3 of the most obviously homosexual men in town walk by you. What would you be comfortable with them saying to you?

“Women spend all this time and money looking nice, you mean to tell me they don’t want to be complimented on it?

No. Not from strangers, and especially not from unknown dudes. Much like bondage, paying bills off early, or skateboarding videos, maybe some women get a kick out of it, but that’s not for you to assume and it’s certainly not okay to do in public. Again, it’s all context. If I’m at a bar, and someone I have already politely said hello to tells me they like my hair and are so obviously NOT being a creep about it, I don’t immediately turn into some spittle-flecked angry person. But the line is so thin, and the guys who run roughshod over those lines are so common that we’d rather not get a compliment and avoid possible creepiness.

Here’s my final takeaway – if you’re a guy who just doesn’t get why we’re making a big deal out of this, dig the turds out of your ears and actually listen. We’re not being “bitches” because we don’t want to respond to you telling us to smile. We just want to get to work and you don’t know us or our lives. We don’t want to befriend you. We owe you nothing, we don’t owe you a response because you decide to interact with us – you’re not trying to make us feel good, you’re trying to make YOU feel good. If this upsets you, take a deep breath and figure out where in the hell that upset is coming from, because it’s not us you should be pissed at.

 

 

Clams to Mars

Try and answer this to your nine year old:

“Dad, we’ve been to the moon, right?” he asks. “Yeah, back when I was a little kid,” I tell him.

“So we’re going to Mars next, right?”

How do I explain that we’re sort of not?

We gave up doing big things, and I’m not sure I can correlate this directly but I think a huge part of it came from when we started to become afraid. The generation that actually went to the Moon were not. They’d faced down the Depression and fought World War Two. For them, death was much more commonplace, there were outbreaks and diseases that could kill you around every corner. Today we shit our pants about the fake-assedness that is Ebola in the United States while for them thousands of kids would die annually from Polio. Whole neighborhoods would be on lockdown. It was just part of life.

We brought a car up to the Moon because America, bitches.

We brought a car up to the Moon because America, bitches.

Somehow, the American sense of fearlessness eroded and we started being afraid of everything.  All the time. Maybe the Cold War, where we spent decades not actually fighting but just existentially in horror of a devastating total nuclear war did something to our psyches. Maybe it’s harder when the enemy isn’t wearing a uniform and driving a Tiger tank but is actually our own internal need to step past limitations. Maybe the pervasiveness of video news showing the reality of horror in full color makes us retreat.

So much of our public response to threat is nothing more than theatre designed to make people feel secure without providing any actual security. The entire TSA comes to mind. Now Ebola. When our actual leaders say we need to take drastic, stupid measures that trample on the one thing this country is supposed to be about (Liberty, by the way, for those of you who said “cheap gas and Big Gulps”) exceeding the recommendations of the consensus of accomplished doctors and scientists out of “an abundance of caution” I see the problem dead in the face.

An abundance of caution. Take “E pluribus unum” off the national seal and replace it with “Ex abundanti cautela”

Right after "Bomb Shelter Yoga"

Right after “Bunker Yoga”

It’s a risk to be alive. It’s a risk to say things you believe. It’s a risk to help someone when you’re worried about yourself. It’s a fucking risk to be awesome. That, apparently, is a risk fewer and fewer of us are willing to take. You can look foolish. People will try and cut you down. You will fail and one of the creampies you’re attempting to juggle will wind up on your face and you’ll be on Buzzfeed’s list of “Top Ten Epic Fails of All Time” and dear God who could stand that?

So we do nothing.

Going to the Moon was awesome. Like, crazy-fuck off-the-charts awesome. That the only people who have ever been there are all Americans, and that should tell you something. Now we talk about our next steps in space and people say, “We have problems to take care of at home…”

Did you ever notice these are the same people who don’t actually fucking want to fix problems at home?

Solving the problem of there not being rocket chairs

Solving the problem of there not being rocket chairs

“Ok! Problems at home!” I say. “Sweet! Lets build hyperfast trains! Let’s update the energy grid! Let’s convert to solar, create a real education system for all kids rather than fako bullshit like charter schools! Let’s build bridges and clean up the environment! Let’s run fiber optic cable to every home, create big innovation centers that support entrepreneurship and let’s start training for 21st century jobs not 19th century ones! End poverty and hunger! Stamp out disease worldwide! I’m down, let’s do this! ”

You will find the answer, every fucking time, from the “space is waste” crowd will be: “Um, no.”

Those who don’t want to tackle one challenge are the same people who don’t want face ANY challenges. Mitt Romney solved a massive problem in this state, MITT FUCKING ROMNEY and helped millions of people. He had to RUN AWAY from his health care program when he ran for president. The guy solved a problem and lost the election because of it. This is the situation we’re in. I would be the last person to call ole Mittens “awesome” but you have to give the guy credit, he got something done and a lot of people were better off afterwards. Apparently that’s not what anybody wants in a President. Obama went ahead and used this exact same program to solve  the exact same problem nationally and he too helped millions of people using the same system and he gets no credit for it.

Sure he used advanced calculations to fix the deficit and climate change, but did he bring back Crystal Pepsi?

Sure he used advanced calculations to fix the deficit and climate change, but did he bring back Crystal Pepsi?

Did the economy crash? No, it’s better now. Is medical care worse? No, it’s the same as before. Remember all the pants-shitting about “Obamacare”? Did I miss when the Zombies clawed out of their graves and started gnawing on the bones of the living, or is shit just marginally better now- and just the simple gain of “no exemptions for preexisting conditions” was not in place before, so take that into your calculations.

Both of these guys solved an actual problem and got nothing but shit for it. No, it was not clean. No, the solutions were not ideal. But someone explain to me how we’re going to solve the challenges of the 21st century when two leaders can’t even solve a tangible problem using smart policy and compromise but get no credit from the majority of Americans for it? What the fucking Hell happened to us?

How we get to Mars:

I should be humans drawing dicks in the Martian soil, not robots

It should be humans drawing dicks in the Martian soil, not robots

I’m going to dare everybody for the month of November: Do something awesome. I don’t care what the fuck it is, do something. Bake an awesome cake and leave it somewhere for people to eat. Fix up a vacant lot. Write a song and play it at the commuter rail station in Chelsea (“The Saddest of the Stops”). I don’t care what, but it can’t be any of that “pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line” crap because that is not awesome, that is just stupid. I’m talking about making an instrument yourself out of scraps of wood and metal and posting a video of yourself playing it, or having an Ultimate Frisbee tournament at night in a rainstorm.

We get to Mars not by position papers and underfunded projects, but by one small act of awesome at a time. So every act in November we will call “My Step To Mars.” Most of you are doing awesome stuff anyway. Let’s hear about it.

A seventh grader sent this to space

A seventh grader sent this to space

 

Take us to Mars.

 

 

Tom Menino, 1942-2014

Today will be devoid of much original content – let’s face it, it’s Halloween and we’re all making tasteless last-minute costumes.

But Tom Menino died of cancer yesterday, so I’d like to instead just take a day to memorialize the man who ran Boston for twenty years. I barely remember a time before Menino, honestly.

Menino was the kind of guy who was married to the same woman for nearly 50 years and stayed in the neighborhood he grew up in, Hyde Park, in a regular house. Menino tried his best to look out for the people who didn’t have a voice. He told Chick-Fil-A to back the fuck out of Boston for their anti-gay discriminatory policies. He banned indoor smoking against the wishes of so many bar owners who claimed their sales would be hurt, and in the end the bar staff, who didn’t have the power to say a thing, are far less likely to get cancer from secondhand smoke. The man checked himself out of the hospital to deal with the Marathon Bombings at a time when the city needed him most. 

I can’t do a writeup of Menino’s life any justice, honestly. Instead, I’ll just link you all to this wonderful piece by WBUR, which includes a the following Menino quip about his nickname:

“Oh, it’s a wonderful name,” he said. “Just think about it. I’m ‘Mumbles’ but I’ve been mayor for 20 years. No one else has been ‘Mumbles’ and mayor for 20 years.”

We’re all a bit poorer having lost him.

KT’s Hatesong: Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora, “Black Widow”

Welcome to KT’s Hatesong, where I basically just explain why I hate a song. It’s that simple. It’s right in the title. This week, I’ll be dissecting the steaming pile of shit that is “Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea ft Rita Ora.

Let’s start off with how terrible the entire idea of Iggy Azalea is. She’s worse than a gallon of baby spiders. I am certainly not the first to bring up the idea that she’s a blonde, white Australian girl who is totally using cultural appropriation to make her millions. I think every single hatesong I’ve had so far has involved some level of white people making vanilla versions of traditionally non-Caucasian music.

In case you’re not super familiar with cultural appropriation, Slate writer Brittney Cooper has an amazing definition in her article on Iggy Azalea’s culture co-option:

Appropriation is taking something that doesn’t belong to you and wasn’t made for you, that is not endemic to your experience, that is not necessary for your survival and using it to sound cool and make money.

And this is what Iggy Azalea is all about. Worse, even, is her blatant offensiveness in doing it. She’s a terrible person. She spouts racist lines like “I’m a runaway slave…master.” She has a habit of tweeting awful things like this:

charming.

charming.

and this:

wow.

wow.

But she’s still famous, even though she’s kind of the worst person in the entire world. She can play at minority fantasies in her videos, but say racist-ass shit on her twitter and in her songs. Ugh. I can’t.

Anyway, here’s why I hate, in particular, Black Widow. First of all, the video is awful. Like unnecessarily awful. There’s like a two minute long segment of her being a waitress with a shitty boss, and then it goes to a bad re-enactment of a Kill Bill scene.

Also, titties.

Also, titties.

Oh, and now there’s poker, and kicking! And a terribly done shot of Iggy and Rita on motorcycles.

Someone, in 2014, got paid to make this. I hate my life.

Someone, in 2014, got paid to make this. I hate my life.

The lyrics are the worst. Basically, she’s playing up the mysogynist-as-shit “bitches be crazy” trope. Everyone loves a peppy, upbeat song about being massively unhinged!

I’m gonna love ya
Until you hate me
And I’m gonna show ya
What’s really crazy

Oh hooray! This is not frightening at all. Thanks for portraying women as emotionally unstable, Iggy. Awesome job doing whatever the fuck it is you’re doing.

I can’t even continue about how it’s a bad song and Iggy is bad. You get the picture. The only redeeming quality is that now I know who Rita Ora is (Rihanna, right? She’s the same person as Rihanna?). And that’s it. Iggy keeps coming out with these songs, and people keep listening. I think my head is going to explode.

I swear, there is pop music I like. Just not Iggy Azalea.

Fuck this shit, I’m out.

Clam the Vote, Question 4: Paid Sick Leave

Are we even discussing this? Seriously? Take it away blockquotes from The Boston Globe:

The ballot measure, promoted by labor unions and endorsed by some business groups, hospitals, and economists, would allow workers to earn up to 40 hours per year of sick leave — an hour of leave for every 30 hours they work. This leave could also be used to care for a sick child, spouse, or parent. Workers for companies with 10 or fewer employees would earn unpaid leave; workers for companies with 11 or more employees would be paid for their time off. The measure would apply to part-time workers as well, and would affect nearly one-third of Massachusetts workers — about 900,000 people, many of them in low-wage jobs. It would allow home health care workers to receive the benefit, as well, by classifying them as state employees for the purposes of the law.

Jeez. After working six weeks I can earn a whole day off to either be sick or care for a sick loved one, up to one week per year. Wow. Socialist fucking paradise. But I know there are some groups opposed to this:

Victorian Money Lenders for a Brighter Tomorrow for Non-Oprhans and Anti-Wastrels

"Cratchit, sir? 'ed be off again tendin' to 'is wee crippled son Tiny Tim, e wood, sir."

“Cratchit, sir? ‘ed be off again tendin’ to ‘is wee crippled son Tiny Tim, e wood, sir.”

Slave Barge Owners and Operators United

Oh, Ben? I think his mom is sick. We have an intern coming down from marketing to take his oar.

Oh, Ben? I think his mom is sick. We have an intern coming down from marketing to take his oar.

Oh, and of course. The Koch Brothers.

Stock Image

Stock Image

vote YES because you are not a heartless monster.