Lifestyle

OAKLAND

My hood.

I am a homeowner in the city of Oakland.

When we purchased our house in 2012, we knew that it had been broken into 3 times within the previous 6 months. The minute we heard our realtor reading the disclosure to us—he was also reading it for the first time—I thought, “Nope. No, no, no. No way.”

But it had been a long day and we were on a tight deadline, and we had so much to consider overall… So, tired and exasperated, I said, “You know what- email it to me so I can read through it more closely later and we’ll get back to you.”

I’ll never forget reading it later that night and thinking “this sounds more like a problem with the tenants rather than the actual neighborhood. Something seems fishy…”. We also cross-referenced this information by looking up police reports filed by people in the area for car break-ins, thefts, residential break-ins, etc.. There were maybe a couple of other car break-ins in the immediate area, but nothing else. It really just looked like there was something wrong with this house, i.e. these particular residents, rather than the neighborhood itself. It just didn’t seem representative of the area as a whole. So we bought the house.

Little did I know what I would soon learn in my first semester of law school—never make any assumptions. Just look at the facts. Nothing more, nothing less.

*sigh*

We moved in on the 28th of June and our anniversary was just a couple of days later. We celebrated by adopting ‘his & her’s’ puppies—two 20lb hound pups.

The day we brought them home

Just a couple of days later we were broken into. Around 9am. While my husband was home.

My car had been parked in the driveway, but I had left for school, and it turned out the back door had been left open with only the metal security door closed, but unlocked. And our wooden fence/side gate area didn’t have a lock on it yet either (just one of those latches you commonly see on a side gate to one’s yard). So two young men walked right into our yard, opened our back door, and proceeded to *try* to come into our house (presumably to steal stuff). However the back door leads into a laundry room where there is yet another door that leads into the rest of the house. Our two 20lb pups immediately took action—barking and barking and barking and barking. The two young men grabbed a couple of 2x4s from the laundry room (soon to be constructed into shelving for the new house) and tried to push our pups back with it, but the little 16 week old pups held fast.

Husband, who was still in bed, groggily thought they were making a commotion because I had come home, but he soon realized the commotion was coming from the back of the house, not the front. My tall, tattooed husband sprang out of bed, still in his boxers, walked into the kitchen where he saw the two 2x4s poking through the door, and slowly walked toward the door. He then yanked the door open and yelled, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.”

The two young boys bolted. Husband had clearly startled the shit out of them. They were probably expecting an empty house since my car had pulled out of the driveway only moments earlier. Husband said they couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18… 20 tops, but more than likely they were just teenagers.

He called the police, filed a report—feeling kind of shitty having to give the description “two young black males”—and we let all of our surrounding neighbors know what had happened.

Two things:

1. When Husband asked the officer what he recommended we do to increase our security, the OPD officer said “Well, we’re really not supposed to say this, but you should probably just get a gun.”

My husband and I are staunchly anti-gun. No thank you.

2. Upon talking to our neighbors we found out that everyone was stunned that someone had bought the house. It’s recent history was well-known, and furthermore, break-ins had been common in the area since around 2009/2010. (Gee, I wonder why…?) #economicmeltdown

So that was great to hear.

My hood again. Isn’t it cute?

Anyways, this happened when we first moved in and it’s been almost 2 years since without any issues except for the time one of our dogs got out, and the current issue of some decent-looking, yet insane, middle-aged man following my husband and I around just to harass us.

*Long story short: This man almost plowed into my mother-in-law’s car while she was taking us to the airport two weeks ago—he did not obey a stop sign and she was making a left turn. Husband gave him the middle finger. The guy ended up following us to the airport just to get out of his car and yell, “YOU GOT SOMETHING YOU WANNA SAY?!,” and try to take our picture. We got a picture of his license plate. Almost two weeks later this man somehow followed us to our HOUSE. As I was bringing in groceries, he stopped right in front of our house, made eye contact with Husband, then drove away. I called the police.

The issue of one of our dogs getting out was also a major concern for me. You see, I’m from Venice. (CA) When I was a kid I learned to always keep the car doors locked while you were in it because of car-jackings, and to keep a close eye on your dogs and people walking through your neighborhood because of a rash of dog poisonings. People just throwing rat bait or some shit over fences to kill dogs, for no apparent reason. In Oakland, I get to add to this the concern that someone may try to poison my dogs for an actual reason—to be able to break into my house and steal stuff. Not to mention, there is also the added concern of people stealing dogs to either use them for fighting, or as bait dogs. (Also, one neighbor claimed to have seen an almost full package of hot dogs right next to my fence the day my dog had gotten out—and right next to where he would have gotten out—so naturally that made me sick with worry) So, with all of that said, I really really really really worry about the safety of my dogs while living in Oakland. This was a nonissue in my former home of San Diego. Ah, how I miss the SoCal beach life sometimes… But I digress.

And now, the reason I’m telling you all of this…

As previously mentioned, my husband and I are homeowners. We actually have the privilege of owning a little piece of land and an actual house. It’s our property, our investment. We look forward to putting money into it, increasing it’s market value, and being a positive contributor to the overall economic growth of our little community. But it’s hard to stick with it—to stay here—with this kind of shit happening. And quite frankly, it makes me want to sell the place so we can take our investment money elsewhere.

Just yesterday Husband was talking to our next door neighbor who takes his dogs to the same nearby park we often take our dogs to, a short walk away from where we live. Apparently Neighbor was up there the other night when a lovely older lady was having a nighttime stroll and said, “yeah… this park didn’t used to be so nice. I once found a dead body up here. It’s much safer and nicer now, though, of course.” Apparently just then a ghettobird promptly appeared, shining a spotlight down on a house near them, and over the loudspeaker Neighbor heard something to the effect of “COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP. WE’VE GOT YOU SURROUNDED.” Add to this the fact that, believe it or not, I have never had to call 911 in my entire life, until living in Oakland. In just under two years I have called 911 five or six times now.

And so I repeat:

How are we—and other young professionals, and DINKs, and young families, and other perfectly nice people who just want to own property and live a nice, quiet, happy, secure life—supposed to want to buy property in Oakland and stay here? How are we supposed to contribute to the prosperity of this city’s economy if we are subjected to this madness? I suppose the answer lies, of course, in the question itself. Some of us have to stay here in order for the city to ever see it’s economy and community prosper. We 25-45 year olds are an essential component to just such a place thriving. But dammit, Oakland, why you gotta make it so hard…?

“Let’s Go Oakland” ?

 

 

 

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Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny…

Designer Jessica Rey implores for greater modesty from young women, asking the question [of the bikini], “Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?”

To this I say, “Maybe… I DO ?”

Her argument for greater modesty is underpinned by studies showing that men really do see women as objects the less they wear. However she is invoking the same logic used in arguments saying that if women and girls don’t want to be raped they shouldn’t wear short skirts. Feminism is about equality and choice. If I want to wear an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini, I should be able to— without fear of some consequence such as sexual harassment or abuse.

Rey’s argument also ignores the existence of a woman’s own agency. To her own question, “who says it has to be itsy bitsy?,” she answers: everyone— “fashion designers, the media….”—everyone except the woman buying the bikini, that is. In this way, she completely fails to acknowledge a woman’s own agency.

But perhaps, Ms. Rey, it’s the WOMAN buying it who says so. I buy bikinis because I think they suit my particular body shape better than a full bathing suit, and, quite frankly, I find it more comfortable. Point in fact, I actually feel like a sausage stuffed into a casing in a full bathing suit. Hell, maybe I would actually look “better” in a full bathing suit rather than a bikini, but I just prefer letting my belly and hips hang out. It’s so freeing.

Quite frankly, Rey seems to be living in line with the misogynistic male gaze more than I do in my bikini, or perhaps any woman in her bikini for that matter. After all, she’s the one conforming to the very androcentrism behind her whole argument.

“Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?”

Me. And my freedom of choice, and my fashion sense, and my self-recognized agency. That’s who.

 

 

 

 

Childless or Child-free?

Husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day that led us into a bit of a debate that ultimately left me with an itching, goading, thought-provoking question on my mind….

Are parents more capable of effecting change in the world via their parenting than those who do not have children?

Is one doomed to not affect as much change in the world as they could have, had they had children?

I was telling dear husband about this article the other day [in which the author argues for people to stop talking about appearance when approaching her daughter, as well as all people’s daughters] and in the ensuing discussion/debate about it, he began to postulate that one would effect more change via writing an article directed at parents about parenting, rather than writing a prescriptive article to all people everywhere about how they should, or should not, treat children they meet in day-to-day life. In his opinion, a more effective article would be one in which the author addresses parents about how to raise their own children (& henceforth, how their child will be), rather than trying to change how all other members of society think, act, etc.

This immediately caused within my brain a line of logic to spring forth that suggested that one would generally be able to effect more change in the world via their act of child-raising than would otherwise be possible if one didn’t have kids. Perhaps, as husband suggested (though he was really not suggesting this at all), the most effective mode of change in the world is found in parenting itself. Whereas I, as a writer, am merely addressing all members of society about society’s issues, perhaps to no avail at all. At least kids kind of have to listen to their parents, right? (Just kidding—even those of us without kids know—they’re totally not listening to you!) However, it is a fact that no single person, or medium, will influence them [children] more than their parents. Ipso facto, as my crazy brain was thinking, parenting is the ultimate way to potentially effect change in society (via raising that new little member of society—your child).

Now, I know that this is not at all what my beloved partner was actually saying. He was just speaking in terms of what kind of article would be most effective. But I couldn’t help but continue pondering the difference… Moms v. Non-moms, Parents v. DINKS, The Child-bearing v. The Child…less? (is it “Childless” or “Child-free”?)

***************

Anyone that knows me (or has followed this blog, at least) knows that I have long-held the belief that raising a child can be one of the most profoundly feminist acts of one’s life. Yet I’m not doing it. And I’m not necessarily “planning” on it either. Am I childless, or child-free? The latter term insinuates freedom, while the former, lack and loss. Which do other women in a position similar to myself refer to themselves as? (i.e. over the age of 30, married, and with multiple “furkids,” but no human ones)

And is there such a chasm of difference between the moms and non-moms? Once again, many other women in my “situation” are most likely familiar with such oft-heard phrases as, “Well, you don’t have kids, so…,” or “It’s a mom thing,” or my favorite,  ”When you have kids you’ll understand,” which implicitly states that I’m just generally expected to procreate, not to mention it also infers that unless I do have kids, I will never, ever, understand…

I think Caitlin Moran says it best in her book, How To Be A Woman, when she says:

“Men and women alike have convinced themselves of a dragging belief: that somehow women are incomplete without children. Not the simple biological “fact” that all living things are supposed to reproduce, and that your legacy on earth is the continuation of your DNA—but something more personal, insidious, and demeaning. As if a woman somehow remains a child herself until she has her own children—that she can only achieve “elder” status by dint of having produced someone younger. That there are lessons that motherhood can teach you that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere—and every other attempt at this wisdom and self-realization is a poor and shoddy second…

But I don’t think there’s a single lesson that motherhood has to offer that couldn’t be learned elsewhere.”

While I want to ask why it is that all people everywhere seem so interested in whether or not a woman plans on procreating (and let’s face it- this is a truly personal, serious decision)— coworkers, friends,  family, some who may be no more than a casual acquaintance won’t bat an eyelash at asking you, dear female reader, whether or not you plan on reproducing —I already know the answer. Reproduction is more than just one’s personal experience—it’s social reproduction. It’s about population control. It’s about environmentalism. It’s about your tax bracket. It’s about what kind of parent you will be, and what kind of child you have. It’s about sex, it’s about birth control, and it’s about childbirth. It’s about that highly politicized, most basic element of society, the family. Yes, it’s personal, but it is also political. For just one example of this, see here.

In spite of this, however, to borrow from writer Suzanne Moore, “having or not not having children should not define or divide women.” We are all women, nonetheless. We are all human beings nonetheless, and we are all ‘precarious’ in some way, living in this society and this world, dependent upon one another. No man, woman, or child exists in a vacuum exempt from one another.

Suzanne Moore also stated the following in her recent Guardian article:

“I fear that if we put all our eggs in the basket of motherhood, we are bound for disappointment. We must fully appreciate that those without kids subsidise those of us with them and contribute in myriad ways.”

“Some women without children need to “heal”. Some don’t. Some with children feel as existentially lonely as those without. Children are no guarantee of care in old age, or even company.”

“Having kids gives meaning to lives, but this is not the only way to have a meaningful and wonderful life…  If it takes a village to a raise a child then it is worth saying that those who reproduce and those who don’t do not live in separate villages. We are, in fact, next-door neighbors.”

PRETTY HURTS

In the now publicly-released video for “Pretty Hurts,” Beyonce makes a strong statement about girls, women, society, and standards of beauty. “Pretty Hurts” is about the pain many young girls and women face as they go through life absorbing the millions of messages from television, magazines, society as a whole, and sometimes even family members, telling them that their self-worth is tied to their looks. “Pretty Hurts” is about self-esteem, it’s about self-revelation, and it’s about reevaluating that socially-charged word to begin with—”pretty.”

Preach, Bey, preach….

“Pretty Hurts” by Beyonce

Mama said, you’re a pretty girl
What’s in your head it doesn’t matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth
What you wear is all that matters

Just another stage
Pageant the pain away
This time I’m gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says bigger is better
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says
Thinner is better

Just another stage
Pageant the pain away
This time I’m gonna take the crown
Without falling down, down, down

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

Ain’t no doctor or therapeutic that can take the pain away
The pain’s inside
And nobody frees you from your body
It’s the soul that needs surgery
It’s my soul that needs surgery
Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
And you break when the paper signs you in the dark
You left a shattered mirror
And the shards of a beautiful girl

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Tryna fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

When you’re alone all by yourself
And you’re lying in your bed
Reflection stares right into you
Are you happy with yourself
It’s just a way to masquerade
The illusion has been shed
Are you happy with yourself
Are you happy with yourself
Yes

Lyrics via metrolyrics

*This post was updated on 4/29/2014

Everyday Sexism

I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE

The amazing folks over at Everyday Feminism have a running theme of posting photos comprised of people holding up signs that say “I need feminism because…,” with each person’s sign citing just one reason (albeit I’m sure there are more) they need feminism. Today I would like to share with all of you just a little sneak peek into that which fuels my feminist fire.

A.K.A.: #EverydaySexism

Below is just a sampling of that which I see on the daily— images, articles, tweets, etc.—which only further serve to ignite the STRIDENT FEMINIST within me.

Exhibit A: The Underrepresentation of Women Within Our Government

wherearethewomen

via @NancyPelosi

Currently, “99 women serve in the U.S. Congress. Twenty women serve in the Senate and 79 women serve in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 75, while the proportion of women in state legislatures is 24.3 percent.” (See more stats taken from the Women In Elective Office 2014 Fact Sheet)

Exhibit B: Blatant Sexist Bullshit such as, “Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged” by King of the Morons 

(ok, I made up that moniker)

shorthair01

“Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged” By Tuthmosis

Which is brought to us by a website called returnofkings.com, whose “About” section I have copied and pasted* below:

About

Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.

ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed. Click here to send an email to the team.

Women and homosexuals are prohibited from commenting here. They will be immediately banned.

ROK Community Beliefs:

1. Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt.

2. Women are sluts if they sleep around, but men are not. This fact is due to the biological differences between men and women.

3. Men will opt out of monogamy and reproduction if there are no incentives to engage in them.

4. Past traditions and rituals that evolved alongside humanity served a net benefit to the family unit.

5. Testosterone is the biological cause for masculinity. Environmental changes that reduce the hormone’s concentration in men will cause them to be weaker and more feminine.

6. A woman’s value is mainly determined by her fertility and beauty. A man’s value is mainly determined by his resources, intellect, and character.

7. Elimination of traditional gender roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation.

8. Socialism, feminism, and cultural Marxism cause societies to decline because they destroy the family unit, decrease the fertility rate, and require large entitlements that impoverish the state.

ROK is published by Roosh V.

Exhibit C: tea party propaganda

(And, no, I will not capitalize the “t” or “p” in tea party)

LIBERALS

I actually got to see this little gem due to a  FAMILY MEMBER posting it on Facebook. OH, GOODY.

For one, I couldn’t help but see this and think, “You are not making your party look any better with this crap, buddy. This is fallacious in so many ways. Why not attack actual policies that are currently in place, in a logical, rational way? That would make you and your party look so much better than spouting nonsense BS like this.” Then it also occurred to me how very insulting this actually is to any Jewish Liberals out there. THINK, Teabaggers, THINK! Way to offend the Jewish crowd by comparing Liberals to Nazis. I’m sure they and any Holocaust survivors really appreciate your poor analogy.

In any case, after much debate with said family member and their tea party friend, I finally ended my side of the debate with the following statements:

My objections to the above graphic are based on (but not limited to) the following logical fallacies:

  1. It analogizes current-day America to post WWI Germany, which is a highly inaccurate analogy due to the different economic, social, and political conditions of each country within their respective contexts.
  2. It equates Liberals with the Nazi party. Just one flaw in such an analogy between the two is the fact Liberals are for increased rights for the LGBTQ and Disabled communities, whereas the Nazis wanted such people rounded up and killed. Liberals are largely for a more egalitarian society with increased infrastructure and social programs whereas the Nazi Party was a dictatorship.
  3. It implicates a cause-effect relationship between stronger gun regulation and a fascist government takeover. England, even at the time that it was one of the Allies during WWII, had stronger gun regulation. yet it did not “follow Hitler’s lead,” nor does not today.

Exhibit D: Online Harassment

tumblr feminist art project

Lindsay Bottos’ “feminist art project”

The words on the above picture state:

I bet you’ve slept with half of baltimore. Your just an ugly slut with cheap ugly makeup and a shitty art school haircut. I hope you get an std and die, the world would be better without your ugly fucking face.

It is just one of many photos in a series Ms. Bottos has put together as a righteous fuck-you to all whom have thrown such insults at her on tumblr for no particular reason whatsoever. According to buzzfeed, “Since starting the Tumblr in 2010, she has received hundreds of cruel anonymous messages. Last week, she decided to turn the words of hate into a feminist art project; she screencapped some of the messages and posted them over pictures of herself.”

Online bullying, threats, and stalking are without a doubt a seriously gendered, feminist issue. After all, the majority of all such harassment—and I mean a LARGE majority of it—is aimed at women.

Just listen to what writer/journalist/heroine-of-mine, Amanda Hess, has to say on the subject:

“According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organizationWorking to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female.”

“The Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman draws a distinction between “tourists” and “vagabonds” in the modern economy. Privileged tourists move about the world “on purpose,” to seek “new experience” as “the joys of the familiar wear off.” Disempowered vagabonds relocate because they have to, pushed and pulled through mean streets where they could never hope to settle down. On the Internet, men are tourists and women are vagabonds.” (Excerpts taken from Amanda Hess’ Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet)

This is our world, folks. This is why I NEED feminism. In fact we all do.

Even John Legend says so.

john legend

“All men should be feminists.”

*Editor’s note: I have de-linked the two hyperlinks originally contained within this text, so as to not contribute any more traffic to their site. (and if you’re a woman you’re “not allowed” to comment on any of their articles anyway)

DRUNK IN LOVE AND MARRIAGE

 

Anybody have any feminist-related thoughts or comments on Beyonce and Jay Z’s performance at the Grammys last night?

I, for one, loved that it oozed both sex AND partnership. What a concept! As it started, I was thinking, “DAMN. Get it, girl! GET IT,” and by the end I almost shed a tear because it was so sweet.

We should all be so lucky to have a partner with whom we can grow, share in our version of success (whatever it may be), and of course, be madly, butt-crazy, passionately in love with. I feel incredibly lucky to feel that I have that too.

It was also interesting to wake up to an article this morning about how Beyonce and Jay Z “Make The Case for Marriage That Conservatives Can’t“…

 

drunk in love

 

Lyrics via metrolyrics.com:

[Intro: Beyoncé]
I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking
I get filthy when that liquor get into me
I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking
Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?
I want you, na na
Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?
I want you, na na

[Verse 1: Beyoncé]
Cigars on ice, cigars on ice
Feeling like an animal with these cameras all in my grill
Flashing lights, flashing lights
You got me faded, faded, faded
Baby, I want you, na na
Can’t keep your eyes off my fatty
Daddy, I want you, na na
Drunk in love, I want you

[Bridge: Beyoncé]
We woke up in the kitchen saying
“How the hell did this shit happen?”, oh baby
Drunk in love, we be all night
Last thing I remember is our
Beautiful bodies grinding off in that club
Drunk in love

[Hook: Beyoncé]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

[Verse 2: Beyoncé]
We be all night, and everything alright
No complaints for my body, so fluorescent under these lights Boy, I’m drinking, walking in my l’assemblage
I’m rubbing on it, rub-rubbing
If you scared, call that reverend
Boy, I’m drinking, Imma bring it right
Oñly bring you a gangster wife
Louis sheets , he sweat it out like washed rags, he wet it up
Boy, I’m drinking, I’m singing on the mic ’til my voice hoarse
Then I fill the tub up halfway then ride it with my surfboard
Surfboard, surfboard
Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood
I’m swerving on that, swerving, swerving on that big body Been
Serving all this, swerve, surfing all of this good good

[Bridge]
We woke up in the kitchen saying
“How the hell did this shit happen?”, oh baby
Drunk in love, we be all night
Last thing I remember is our
Beautiful bodies grinding off in that club
Drunk in love

[Hook]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

[Verse 3: Jay Z]
Hold up
I do say it’s the shit if I do say so myself
If I do say so myself, if I do say so myself
Hold up, stumble all in the house tryna backup all of that mouth
That you had all in the car, talking ’bout you the baddest bitch thus far
Talking ’bout you be repping that 3rd, wanna see all that shit that I heard
Know I sling Clint Eastwood, hope you can handle this curve, uh
Foreplay in a foyer, fucked up my Warhol
Slid the panties right to the side
Ain’t got the time to take drawers off
On sight
Catch a charge I might, beat the box up like Mike
In ’97 I bite, I’m Ike Turner, turn up
Baby know I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
Said, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae!”
I’m nice, for y’all to reach these heights you gon’ need G3
4, 5, 6 flights, sleep tight
We sex again in the morning, your breasteses is my breakfast
We going in, we be all night

[Hook: Beyoncé]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

[Verse 4: Beyoncé]
Never tired, never tired
I been sippin’, that’s the only thing
That’s keeping me on fire, me on fire
Didn’t mean to spill that liquor all on my attire
I’ve been drinking, watermelon
(I want your body right here, daddy, I want you, right now)
Can’t keep your eyes off my fatty
Daddy, I want you

[Hook: Beyoncé]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

Read more: Beyonce – Drunk In Love Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Book Review: How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

how-to-be-a-woman book cover

Three word synopsis:

Hysterical, Intelligent, Contentious.

Here’s the deal: I really enjoyed this book. The entire first half had me in stitches. I was laughing out loud in the break room at work, on the BART train home, and in my own living room. She is hysterically funny. Both the stories in and of themselves, as well as her sense of humor. I was so thoroughly entertained I wasn’t even taking notes. And I am ALWAYS taking notes. Or, at best, resisting the urge to notate any and every book I read.

Here’s a glimpse at one of the parts that had me beside myself cracking up at work—on the topic of naming your vagina, naturally. I ended up sharing it with my coworker:

 

“But, let’s be honest, “pussy” is the least of it. There is a panoply of slang words that are, in their ways, just as truly awful as “vagina.” Let’s bullet point!

  • Your sex: sounds like a preemptive attempt to shift blame.
  • Hole: a bad thing that can happen to stockings or tights. My Johnnylulu is a GOOD thing that happens to stockings and tights.
  • Honeypot: inference of imminent presence of bees.
  • Twat: an unpleasant melange of cow-pat, stupidity, and punching. No.
  • Bush: the band of the same name are tiresome. The vegetation has spiders. No.
  • Vag: sounds like the name of a busybody battleaxe, a la “Barb” and “Val.” Suggestion also of chain-smoking Marlboro Lights, and borderline addiction to bingo. No.”

 

I mean, really—”Vag”—she is so dead on with that description.

Oh, and then she goes on to list a few of the names that she does like, and that bit may actually be even funnier (especially if you like Star Wars and/or came of age in the 80s).

 

Moran is a British writer, born and raised in the countryside of Wolverhampton, who at 16 gets to go work for a rock magazine in London. Her upbringing is interesting, to say the least, especially to someone born and raised in LA like myself. It is not only foreign geographically, but culturally. She grew up in a small house, in the English countryside, sharing what little space they had with 5-6 siblings in addition to her parents and a dog. (She not only shared a room, but a bed, with one of her many sisters.) On her 13th birthday she gets, instead of a cake, a baguette filled with Philadelphia cream cheese. And the cultural, class, and gender differences just continue on from there.*

*note: there is not much said, or discussed, in regards to race throughout the book. end note.

Her chapters go from pre-adolescence to present-day womanhood, in chronological order, and one of my favorite aspects of this journey is her chronological commentary on sexism. Ironically, the chapter titled I Encounter Some Sexism!—found dead center in the book—is also the point at which I wanted to bang my head against a wall out of frustration. Really, it boils down to the fact that:

(a) she says “You couldn’t find a woman making music for love nor money” in the early nineties. Hello?! L7, Verruca Salt, 7 Year Bitch, PJ Harvey (whom she does mention, at least), Tori Amos, Hole, The Breeders… and I’m sure many of you can think of even more amazing female artists, both rock and otherwise.

(b) she furthermore states that we’ve “had little more than a handful of female geniuses” since women got the right to vote (“There was still no female rock band to rival Led Zeppelin…No female hip-hop artist to rival Public Enemy…”) *Ahem* I’d say Janis Joplin earns at least the right to rival Led Zeppelin, and as for female hip-hop artists: TLC, Lil Kim, Da Brat, and SALT N PEPA. And don’t even get me started on [musician] female geniuses between the 1920s and 1990s: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday (whom she does mention), Peggy Lee, Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane), Sarah Vaughan, Wanda Jackson, Alice Coltrane, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Kate Bush, Nico (The Velvet Underground), and I COULD name more…

finally, (c) I’m not sure whether it was in this chapter or the preceding one, but she does state at one point that she probably learned most about being a woman/how to be a woman from her husband; However, in this chapter she is upset at her boss saying, “You wouldn’t know what it’s like to be a fat teenage girl, being shouted at in the street by arseholes,” when, as she says, she in fact is “a fat teenage girl, being shouted at in the street by arseholes.” Well, Mz. Moran, given that you just stated you probably learned most about “being a woman” from a man, perhaps it is not so unfeasible for your male boss to know more about being a teenage girl than you. It just seemed a little hypocritical to at one point say you learned most about being a woman from a man, but then say, well, this guy is a jerk for thinking that he knows more about being a teenage girl than I do (because, once again, apparently your husband knew more about “being a woman” than you did…? Perhaps she could have at least expanded on this in order to clarify…) I just found those two aspects of the narrative a bit incongruous and I was miffed.

With that bit of criticism stated, I did love her “Is this polite?” sexism test (as I’m sure most people would- men and women alike), as well as her chapter on strippers and strip clubs. It’s a really delightful, laugh-out-loud funny, and insightful take on the whole sex work/sex worker debate. Something I’ve yet to decide on myself, but I do like what she has to say. One of my most favorite aspects of the book is the pairing of the two chapters, Why You Should Have Children, followed by Why You Shouldn’t Have Children (Chapters 12 & 13). Maybe it’s due to my legal studies background, but I do so enjoy how she is able to argue for each side, and quite deftly at that. My only point of criticism here is the last paragraph of the former chapter (chapter 12). Having studied childbirth, and having a midwife mother-in-law, that last paragraph made me give the book a sideways glance while thinking, “ummmm….ok, Moran, sure. uh huh.” But it’s a trivial piece of criticism, really. This book is truly and sincerely more than the sum of its parts.

She decides to almost end the book (it’s the second to last chapter) with abortion, and wow. It’s profound. It’s clearly well thought out. And of course, it’s contentious.

In spite of my pieces of criticism it really is a great read. I am so glad I read it and would definitely recommend it. I love her intellect, and perhaps most especially her humor. It will keep you entertained, and make you think, and I don’t think a book lover can ask for more than that.