Monthly Archives: August 2016

I ain’t afraid of no sexism…

Hello everyone! I know I am a few months late to the party but I finally saw Ghostbusters. I had to go at 11 a.m. to a not-very-nice movie theater in order to take my son during his nap time and avoid possibly ruining other people’s experiences, but I made it. Love finds a way.


I absolutely loved it! I had been cautiously optimistic from the the start, mainly because of my extreme dislike of Paul Feig. More than sexist movies, I hate movies that are shoved at me by male directors shrilly shouting “LOOK we made a movie with a GIRL in it!! It’s for YOU because you’re a GIRL!!!!” And I feel like “Bridesmaids” and, to a worse extent, “Spy,”  were tone-deaf movies “made for women” that didn’t ring true to anything I’d ever felt or experienced. So I was very worried.


But then it was just totally awesome beyond my wildest dreams. I really have a hard time speaking coherently about it because I am still in that warm fuzzy afterglow. I’ve been walking around my house all day singing the Ghostbusters theme song, which is about the only way I seem to be able to articulate my joy. It feels a little bit like seeing The Force Awakens for the first time. I had no idea that  movies could feel so good! Ghostbusters did not have any gross bathroom humor jokes. It did not have women hating women in the name of “comedy.” It did not have any rapey jokes, or making fun of fat women or women of color jokes, or anything that made me feel uncomfortable!! It was pure pleasure, start to finish. It made me belly laugh, it made me cheer, it made me mist up a little bit. It was just so delightful and empowering and FUN. My only quibble, and it’s a minor one, was that the Chris Helmsworth joke wore a little thin. We get it, he’s stupid! And I know it was meant to be a critique of how women are repeatedly portrayed in films, but I got the point the 6 zillionth time. No need to beat it into the ground.


SPOILERS AHEAD, so beware!! If you haven’t seen Ghostbusters yet, GO DO IT and then come back.


One of my favorite parts was when the Ghostbusters were trying to talk Rowan out of turning on the machine. He (a white, and by outward appearances a cis and straight man) was complaining about how nobody understood him or accepted his genius. He says something like “do you know what it’s like to be constantly put down and ignored?” And I looked at the team–an openly gay woman, a fat woman, and a black woman among them–and thought, yes, of course they do!! Melissa McCarthy played the moment with no trace of irony or heavy-handedness (Which would have ruined it) and replied yes, she did. It was a real emotional center in the movie that resonated deeply with me.


All women know what it feels like to be ignored. All women know what it feels like to be devalued and discounted and underestimated. We are routinely kept out of the boardrooms, out of the highest paying jobs, out of positions of power, and often out of the movie screens. Our opinions are discarded out of hand and our experiences are constantly called into question. We are not to be trusted with our own motives (what did you think was going to happen, wearing that skirt?) or our own bodies. Leslie Jones, Ghostbusters star, was recently hacked and had her private photos put up online. I mentioned this to someone I respect and trust, and their response was “why did she have nude photos in the first place?” A crime was committed, and people are still judging a woman for the audacity to have nude photos. (Because women should be ashamed of our bodies–the beauty industry depends on it.)


And God forbid we speak up about any of it, or do anything considered unladylike. Gabby Douglas, a 20 year old woman, doesn’t put her hand on her heart during the national anthem? Rake her over the coals! But Ryan Lochte, a 34 year old man, vandalizes property and lies to police, causing an international incident? Well, boys will be boys…


It’s easy to forget this in my compassionate and tolerant group of friends. Most of the time, I hear about the outrage OF the outrage (how could people be so mean to Gabby?) instead of the actual outrage. It’s hard to believe, sometimes, that real live people could be so awful.


Which brings me to my brush with Breitbart this week. Technically it happened a while ago, but I didn’t find out about it until last night. Apparently an author at Breitbart was so upset about me writing an article about a Muslim woman pirate that he felt the need to write a takedown. In it, he calls me an Obama follower (he meant it as an insult but it made me really happy), an ISIS promoter, and an airhead who didn’t do my research right, among other things (and that doesn’t even take into consideration the commenters, who had a whole host of other things to say!). I found the whole thing pretty hilarious, and I was even a bit honored that I’d made someone in the far right so uncomfortable, but my Sayyida al-Hurra piece wasn’t an advocacy piece. It was a biographic profile of someone who happened to be a woman, who also happened to be Muslim. The fact that she existed, and that I felt her worthy of study, is what Mr. Harrod was so upset about. Because how dare a woman write about another woman? A nonwhite one at that? Why was I trying to push terrorists down their throats? (Why grown men were trolling Jezebel, a site aimed at youngish women, I’m not sure, but that’s another question.) It really opened my eyes to what some people out there think. Things that I don’t find remotely button-pushing or radical are enough to blow some peoples’ cool. (I have a lot of ultra-radical, super-progressive thoughts that would cause Mr. Harrod’s brain to explode–they’re just not included in that piece.)


I got a tiny window into the life of a woman on the internet. I received no death or rape threats (although a commenter did suggest I had rape fantasies about President Obama, and that I wished for an abortion in the presidential motorcade, which was interesting.) My personal data was not hacked and revealed for all the world to see. I got off easy and I know it.


It was eye-opening, for lack of a better word, to see what some men feel like they can say about a woman they’ve never met with total impunity. These men clearly have no idea what it’s like to be afraid–not that the Mexicans are taking their jobs (which is a stupid and illogical fear anyway) but for their very lives. They haven’t made sure their keys are in their hands before leaving a store and sprinted across a parking lot to avoid being assaulted. They haven’t ignored catcalls and kissy noises while walking to work, school, or even church. They have not swallowed a criticism, knowing it would only spark a rebuke or a threat. They don’t know fear like that. And they don’t know consequences, either. And they probably never will. That makes me sad.


You know when I wasn’t sad? When I was watching Ghostbusters! Even the news (I really have been under a rock, guys) that it hasn’t made back its budget and will not get a sequel can’t squash my joy. Because movie by movie, we are chipping away at the idea that women aren’t allowed to be heroes, that women have to have love interests, that women can’t kick ass. Somewhere out there, a little girl saw this movie and it made her brave. She can aspire to grow up and be a scientist like Holtzmann, who saves the world with her brains. I saw a tweet that sums up my feelings pretty well. It said “I saw Ghostbusters and it ruined my childhood. I could have been a fan for all these years!” Me too, funny woman on twitter, me too. I may have been late to the party, but I’m here now. And I ain’t afraid of no ghost–or white supremacists on Breitbart, either.


How about you, my lovely readers? How many times have you seen Ghostbusters? Stay cool out there and be good to each other.


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Olympic fever

Hello Everyone!


I hope you’re staying cool out there! It’s been muggier than anything here in the DC area, and Bear and I have been hunkered down in our basement, trying not to move too much. Fortunately, it’s that special time of year where I can watch hours of TV a day and not feel guilty…OLYMPICS TIME!!


Are you guys watching? What are your favorite events? I make a daily calendar of the things I want to see. I follow women’s beach volleyball, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, swimming, and of course, women’s gymnastics. What a great job the Final Five did in gymnastics this year!! I know it’s weird to feel proud, but I do.

It was the first time I can remember that a woman gymnast did commentary alongside those two men who’ve always done it. Nastia did not showcase a sparkling wit, but I thought it was really great to have someone who’d actually been where the athletes were to give some perspective. She’s experienced it all–not just the athletic part, but the sexist commentary, the media pressure, etc. She was a voice of reason on the telecast and I was surprised that it didn’t happen sooner. (Now, I’m sure someone will tell me that I’m forgetting Shannon Miller commentated or something, so go ahead and correct me. I just don’t remember it happening–doesn’t mean it didn’t!)

Here’s a really fascinating article on the team that got me hooked for life on gymnastics, the Magnificent Seven (last night I named them all for my husband, to his astonishment): check it out. It’s incredible that, with all the spotlight on them, they turned out pretty normal.

I caught the beginning of a special the other day with Bryant Gumbel about the dark underbelly of the Olympics, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I know that cities generally end up losing money by hosting the Olympics. I know that the IOC is pretty seriously corrupt, according to many people. Countries pour billions into making their athletes the best–and treat their athletes horribly when they lose. I can’t deny that people are pushed to the breaking point for a chance at sports glory. There is a cost to these games that makes me wonder why we love them so much. I’m not a huge sports fan as a rule; I don’t enjoy the Super Bowl or the Final Four and things like that. So why am I wholeheartedly an Olympics lover?

I guess I really do think that it brings out the best in people. The only time I cried during the women’s team final is when, after Aly Reisman’s near-perfect floor routine, the Chinese women (despite knowing they were out of medal contention) lined up to hug her and shake her hand. I think of all the little girls of color out there (and girls in the foster system) who can now dream of being the next Simone Biles. The Olympics show–despite the often sexist coverage, which I don’t even want to talk about–the dizzying heights that a human can ascend. These athletes are chasing dreams, and they inspire us to dream, too.

I hope that’s not too hokey (but let’s face it, I’m pretty hokey). I am starting to get worried that the ends do not justify the means. But I know I will always tear up when I watch an athlete mouth along to the National Anthem. Katie Ledecky (can we TALK about Katie Ledecky!?!? She is just incredible and I love her), Michael Phelps, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, some random biathlete…doesn’t matter. I love them all. And for a few days every four Augusts, I get to dream with them, which is pretty much the best thing ever.

What do you think, readers? Is the coverage too gross for you to keep watching? Do you think there’s too much hype? Or do you love it as much as I do? Let me know what you think.


Stay cool, and be good to each other.




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