On Not Being an Attention ATM for Men: Internet Edition

bobby-hill

Until last night, I was Facebook friends with this guy who I’d met once at a party about a year ago. He’d been messaging me regularly for the past few weeks to tell me about the novel he’s writing and to ask for my opinion on various lexical things, because he knows I’m an editor. He had also posted some lite-mansplainey/devil’s-advocatey trash on my Facewall a couple times, and I’d responded with gently annoyed comments like “come on, man,” which once got him to delete a comment. But he still kept doing it. Almost every day.

The phenomenon certainly wasn’t new, but it was new from this guy, and I’ve been puzzled on what to do because I don’t know this cat at all and I was worried he’d hulk out on me–yanno, like aggressive people reliably do when you tell them to back off. The clues were there. Been chewing on it. And also stalling, TBH.

Last night, he Facemessaged me, wanting to know my opinion on the word cacophony. I made up a total lie about how my BOYFRIEND and I were just talking about words with the suffix -phony, which I should have known wouldn’t work and isn’t the high road anyhow. It didn’t work. He kept on talking about the word cacophony. Wrong move, self.

So, I said what I should have said first, which is “I dunno, man, I’m not your editor.” He told me he had decided to use it, and I didn’t reply, and he added that he only asks me because “you have superb taste.” Then:

Wait, that’s not true–I met him twice. Once at the party and once about a month ago, when I was waiting for a friend outside of a cafe and he Facemessaged me to ask if I was standing outside of Caffe Vita because it sure looked like me, while not telling me where HE was that he could see me from (terrifying!), and then I went into the cafe with my friend when he arrived and the guy was in there and told me about his novel. Oh. Just like on the Internet, then.

Anyway. I told this guy to fuck off and blocked him, not before he had the chance to tell me to get over myself. Then I went over to the exquisite I Will Fight This Man group on Facebook and posted the screen cap above, and everyone yelled with me and it made me feel better.

misandry.jpg

But on the real, two things got dredged up here that I think not everyone knows, so here’s a couple PSAs, on the house:

1. Unless you are super hyper best friends for life, do not send pro-level people your editing/writing questions if you don’t plan to pay them for their advice. Aforementioned, this is what I do for a living. It happens that my day was a 13-car pile-up of unpaid labor for job headhunters who probably won’t even make me an offer for my trouble because they’ve got me competing against 38 other people, and I’m already resentful about that. But even if it weren’t, I still don’t wanna spend my free time volunteering on someone’s project, especially if I don’t even really know him. Actually, don’t do this in general if you’re not strictly BFFs with someone–don’t do it to lawyers, don’t do it construction workers. Knock that shit off. Okay, cool.

b. There is a burden that I and other women, I am sure, carry inre. Internet dudes who we don’t know very well who message us all damn day that is REALLY FRUSTRATING and also A FUCKING TRICK, and I never speak up about it to them because of exactly this reason. God, It’s such a complete rip-off trick. Because these guys may not say anything officially untoward to you, but you can smell the intention on them, via the weird flowery compliments and TMI-about-their-lives bits and mostly just the constant contact. As my smart friend Genevieve Jenner said, “It’s that thing where you see them test you with a comment… they are trying to see how much they can get away with. And if you don’t say anything or you change the subject, they will either keep pressing or play it off as a joke.”

And that’s how you know your only option is to tell them straight-up to stop, because they’re not interested in taking hints. And THAT’s how you know you’re gonna get called a bitch who’s full of herself by this kind of dude. (Or I guess you can stop replying and then get called a bitch that way.) It’s 100% no different from skeezers who harass ladies on the street.

So here’s where I’m at: I don’t really want to be friends with any straight single men anymore, regardless of what their intentions are. I can’t even tell; the only safe thing is to assume that all single dudes just want to foist their expectations for attention and validation on you, and then not listen and call you names when you don’t wanna give it, because IT ALWAYS HAPPENS. Like, at this point, I don’t care if their intentions are chaste. I don’t want the problem of trying to figure that out, because it’s not my job to fucking pay attention to some rando, and I don’t want him to pay attention to me. I did not enter into this contract, where he can purchase my attention with his. It’s exhausting and magnificently rude.

Like I said, I’m writing about it here because I think lots of folks genuinely do not know this shit. E.g., I absolutely believe that the dude from my anecdote has no idea why I’m mad and just wrote me off as a conceited ho without batting a lash, then told himself that he did nothing wrong. It’s the “sorry I bothered you with my friendship” defense, and it’s lame as fuck. Sara Benincasa wrote an essay titled How to Treat a Lady on the Internet that touches on this as well, wherein she talks about maybe not bombarding women whose work/brains/style you enjoy with 18 fuckloads of online attention. Even if you’re honestly just a fan and aren’t trying to get some ass out of them.

Because guys, it’s okay to be a fan. It’s good to like things! I as well am a liker of things. But irritatingly, what goes hand-in-hand with fandom sometimes is that think many people (ahem, often straight cisgender men kinds of people) assume that they are owed something by being a fan of a lady’s, and they get rull mad when the fandom is not automatically returned by OH MY GOD SOMEONE WHO HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW, and that’s the shit that’s not okay to do. Those are two different things. Do one but not the other one.

In closing, if you’ve been messaging a woman online all the live-long day who you’ve met few if any times in real life and she has never, ever messaged you first even one single time, regardless of your obtaining-ass-from-her goals, fucking stop. Or, as Michael put it, Internet strangers can basically just

leave-me-alone

Advertisements

A Knuckle Sandwich?

So I guess I was under the impression that Seattle doesn’t tolerate this kind of bourgie Reddit-grade sexism:

sexist sandwich truck

If you’ve unhinged your dumb mouth to mansplain to me about how this is not sexist, you may close it again because this is sexist AF. Did you know that the phrase “Now go make me a sandwich” is so pervasive in shutting down women’s voices in online spaces that the 2012 GeekGirlCon had to have a fucking PANEL about it? That’s right, in addition to being trite and overused, it’s also super denigrating! This is a fucking problem.

(If you’re not familiar, “Now go make me a sandwich” is the rallying cry of Internet broheims whose carefully crafted walls of text have failed to change a woman’s mind about whether or not she’s a kitchen appliance. So, they panic and hit the “make me a sandwich” emergency button, whereupon all of her points are rendered invalid. Voila, her opinions are drowned out by his wit + the loud, ensuing laughter of the hallucinated audience, who is definitely watching and cares.)

sandwich panel

Then the Viking thing is just a gross cherry lodged in the asshole sundae. How now, m’ladies, I’m an unrefined man-slab who’s worked hard browsing Imgur all day! I want a sandwich, and it’s someone else’s job to provide it for me. You may address me as “your liege” when you deliver it to mine dripping jaws. This is how I think about myself! By the way, men have rights too, and have you seen the new Archer?

Like, I’m sure these dicks find a healthy cash flow when they drive their little misogyn-obile over to the Amazon campus or Chuck’s Hop Shop. Plenty of sexist shitheads in that demographic. I guess they figured no women would ever see it.

Dear men of Seattle, if you wouldn’t say this degrading catchphrase to a woman, please do not encourage these business owners who have co-opted it by buying their stupid bro-tep sandwiches. Fuck them for capitalizing on the fun Internet fad of silencing female voices. It’s not acceptable.

And to the business owners: I don’t know where you think you are. This isn’t medieval Norway, you and your clientele are not Vikings, and modern, progressive Norwegians would hang you by the balls for this stunt. You may not name your food truck this. Get out of my city with this shit.

fuck off sandwich

P.S.: Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets. Richard Wagner made that up.

P.P.S.: I’m currently researching who is responsible for this, and it turns out to be a woman, I am going to sob into the trash can for the rest of my life.

Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla

All right! Let’s talk about the toddler-falling-into-the-gorilla-habitat thing. We are going to. More to the point: If you think that the kid’s mom should be fined/cited/punished/SHOT TO DEATH, as some people have suggested, I’m here to tell you how profoundly wrong you are and how ashamed you should be.

gorilla.jpg
I’m only putting this here because I want you to look at what the subspecies names is. Yay, I love it, it is the only thing I liked about writing this post.

To begin: Yesterday, a deplorable, non-sequiturial article that I’m not going to link to was published all about how the kid’s dad has a criminal history, and I had a few Facebook friends latch onto that as well as string up the mom for the alleged crime of not watching him closely enough, and in some cases for having a kid at all. People are saying that CPS should take her kids away, and lots of people are saying it.

This is some privileged, snot-nosed, misanthropic, racist bullshit, and I will explain why.

I don’t have kids, and I’m gonna come clean: I don’t really enjoy their company. But even though I don’t like them, I do understand why other people like them, and that they have the right to have some. It’s not a mystery to me, because I can imagine not being myself, right, and additionally I understand the concept of liking things. E.g., I don’t like green bell peppers, I think they taste like pennies, but I GET why some people like them–they’re vegetabley, and I like vegetables, and they’re similar enough in taste and texture to vegetables I do like. I like kittens, and I like red bell peppers, so I understand how people arrive at liking babies and green bell peppers.

Imagine, for a second, that you are not the only person in the world, and that there are other people, ones who prefer and enjoy things that you do not. Pretend it is Opposite Day. You’ve heard of Opposite Day. This is finally it. Then imagine, briefly, that you are not the king of other people’s tastes and preferences and don’t get to tell them what to like! Good, OK, now imagine that THOSE PEOPLE–the people who you’ve imagined, and who I’ve not even asked you to accept are real people, they can still be pretend people for right now–also know that YOU like things that they don’t like! Consider the fact that those people don’t try to punish you for liking a thing you like, either, even though THEY DON’T LIKE IT. It’s cool with them. Instead, they just mind their own business and let you like the thing. OR dislike the thing! This may well happen to you all day, every day. Think!

OK, stay with me. Now imagine that the thing to like or dislike here is “kids,” and not only that other people are ALLOWED to like them despite the fact that you think they taste like pennies, but they also have this thing called a biological imperative that HARDWIRES THEIR BRAINS to make them like kids. And reproduce. It’s, like, inside of their minds and bodies, this hardwiring, this fondness for children. You know the way you want to play shitty violent video games all the time and ache for them when they’re not around, because you are obsessed with hurting or killing people who you think you’re better than? It’s a good feeling, right? It’s just like that for these whoops-not-imaginary-anymore people, but with kids.

Other animals are like this too. It’s OK if you’re not, you don’t have to be, but recognize that it is not only normal but is actually the default setting for all mammals, birds, fish, and insects. And flowers and mushrooms and worms and dirt. Everything. You are in poor company if you don’t have this voice-force inside you that’s compelling you to make babies.

OK, good work, you did great. Sorry I psyched you out on how those people were secretly real the whole time, but I didn’t want to freak you out, and look how far we’ve come. Now.

Even if you are a compassionless cold-handed White Walker-ass wretch, which is your complete right to be, as an American, you are still super incorrect if you are spouting a bunch of braggy pious Child-Free Movement rhetoric all over the dinnernet about how the toddler falling into the gorilla enclosure was the mom’s fault and she should be in jail or dead. For having the kid, which in your estimation is dumb, and for then not watching the kid meticulously during all seconds of the day. You’re so wrong that I’m embarrassed for you. Firstly, even though you don’t like them, she still gets to have a kid if she fucking wants to because it is literally the point of being alive, as we’ve just covered, so you’re the actual dumb one for that, but additionally: Have you ever met a human child? Maybe you’ve seen one on TV, or in a comic strip from the 1890s. This idea has been around for a minute, so it may not shock you, but as evidenced by, I don’t know, the Katzenjammer Kids, children are slippery, mischievous creatures who they routinely set out on an unintentional mission to kill or grievously injure themselves. That is their whole executive summary. It’s because they don’t know danger and that is how they learn it. This was true for you when you were a child, and it is true for most kinds of baby animals, and human is a kind of an animal, you see, and a toddler is a baby version.

Also, kids are little fuckers and will go out of their way to defy the wishes of their parents. You can sure as shit try to keep them from getting into trouble, but good luck having a 100-percent success rate there.

katzenjammer
Kids: They’re fuckers.

It’s as though the naysayers don’t know this? So I am clearing it up for them. These folks have patently never heard of kids.

I know you don’t care about this, but it is regardless true that you, as a non-parent, enjoy a luxury of judging the mother of this kid from afar, and that you would be whining a different tune if you were in her position. I motherfucking guarantee you that if you, with ostensibly less job experience in caring for kids than the poor mom whose DEATH PEOPLE ARE CALLING FOR on social media, were minding not one but THREE of them simultaneously, at least one of them would escape your sight some of the time. Almost certainly all of them at some point, and almost certainly multiple times apiece.

Imagine actually liking kids, which people who have kids usually do. Or liking YOUR particular kids, at least, thanks to that biological hardwiring thing. Imagine you would be devastated for the rest of your life if you lost one of them, like it was your fucking XBOX or whatever in the fuck you like. And imagine it’s not just your regular XBOX but an XBOX that talks to you and came out of your body. You have a pretty strong motive to not let the XBOX climb into an enclosure with silverback gorillas, eh? You could be the number 1 best XBOX owner in history, and if your curious little XBOX had legs and were sentient, it still might get away from you and climb in with the gorillas. Especially if you brought it to a place that was crowded with other walking, death-wish-having XBOXes, and especially-especially if you had three of them milling around at once. If you brought your precious meat XBOX there in the first place, you’d probably be reasonably sure that it was a safe environment for XBOXes beforehand. Because you like it and don’t want it to get smashed. Yeah?

(And maybe if it did happen, you would already feel awful enough about it, without people who weren’t even there blithely judging you for it from thousands of miles away.)

That brings us to the place where this happened. A zoo, which is a prison for animals, is an establishment that chiefly markets itself to 1. families with small children, and 2. schools for small children. “Bring your small children to us,” zoos say! “We’re great for those things.” So, supposing zoos weren’t ghastly and inhumane, which they are, how are you going to be a business that invites large groups of soft, miniature people with real knack for accidentally killing and maiming themselves to come to your place in exchange for for money, and then be like, “Awp, BTW, we have dangerous animals inside enclosures that a toddler can easily scale! But we’re not going to tell you that, because you caretakers of children should just know that, intrinsically! Yeah, that’s not our problem, hope that’s cool, thanks for the money.”

Like, maybe I’m wrong on this? I can’t tell you the last time I was at a zoo myself, but when I was, I sure as shit didn’t see any signs that read,”Hey, your kid could fall in the gorilla pit, hope you’re watching him.” (I know I’m not wrong because if that were true, and the zoo knew this, no one would go to it and there would no zoo.) 

But you watched the video, you say, and Harambe was trying to PROTECT the little boy! You are not a gorilla, but you just, like, know this! You know things! Here is the zoo’s director, emphatically stating otherwise. “That child’s life was in danger, and people who question that or are are Monday-morning quarterbacks or second-guessers don’t understand that you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla.” He also points out that you saw one person’s phonecam video on Facebook, from one angle, but you did not see everything that was going on at the scene. As my friend Lana said, “Jesus, but it’s easy to play basketball from the bench.”

“We’re talking about an animal–with one hand–that I’ve seen take a coconut and crunch it.”

Oh, but are you a zoo director? Or a primatologist? Or an animal specialist of any kind, or even a naturalist? Is there any reason that you would know better than this guy about what should have been done in this situation? Would things have turned out way better if YOU had been in charge here? Or are you just some momo on the Internet who knows shit about fuck and who wants to punish people, especially women? Especially-especially single moms? Tripe-especially black single moms?

That is the revolting irony here. The irony is that you are not using your fucking brain, by which you are so impressed, when you say that the decision to kill the gorilla was wrong and that you are right. And that fuck this lady because YOU could mind a 3-year-old 24/7 with two other kids to juggle, and that he would never ever escape from your sight. That is stupid. You are refusing to employ a basic understand of logic or critical analysis when you say these things. You, the stupid-caller, are actually the stupid one for thinking that, my holier-than-thou childfree friend.

(Augh, and please don’t tell me they should have used tranquilizers to knock the gorilla out. It was an emergency, for godsake. Tranqs take a while to start working, and there is a dysphoric period wherein the animal is unpredictable, plus the pain from the dart could have just agitated the gorilla further. They should not have used a tranquilizer dart. That is also stupid as shit to say, so stop fucking saying it.)

It also speaks volumes when you show the world that you will spring to the aid of a gorilla but you don’t give a fuck about the plight of any actual human being. The news about Freddie Gray’s murderer being acquitted doesn’t faze you, but your world comes grinding to a halt when an <i>animal</i> is unjustly killed. You don’t give a shit that this gorilla was given about 3 and a half minutes longer than Tamir Rice, a human child who was sitting on a swing with a toy and not thrashing a toddler around by the leg, was given. Fuck everyone but animals, basically, is what you’re getting at.

I know that it feels natural to assign blame in a tragedy, because it’s painful to hear about a wrongful death, even of an animal, yes, of course. I do grok that part. I know that you want things to have turned out differently. No shit–everyone wishes that Harambe the Gorilla hadn’t been killed. If YOU think you’re sad about the death of a gorilla you never met, think about the zoo handlers, who worked with him every day and had to make the agonizing decision to kill him. It’s not an ideal outcome for anyone.

But it’s on you, as the total brain genius you’ve touted yourself to be, to place your blame carefully. This tragedy is not the mom’s fault, for trusting the zoo to be a generally safe environment for children, and it’s not Harambe’s fault for being a gorilla–if you must cast blame, cast it on whomever encouraged people to bring their children to a zoo with a climb-able-by-a-toddler gorilla enclosure. Which reportedly was in agreement with height regulations, so then it’s the fault of whomever sets the zoo-enclosure-wall-height regulations?

I personally believe that the blame, in fact, falls on the zoo for being a zoo, for showcasing imprisoned, dangerous animals for profit, and I invite you to place it there along with me. A goddamn 400-pound gorilla shouldn’t be kept in an enclosure to begin with. Zoos are unethical relics leftover from a barbaric era in history, and there’s no reason for them to continue existing when the same biological research can be carried out in animal sanctuaries and wildlife conservation parks. Today’s zoos exist only for profit. Fuck a zoo. Dismantle all zoos. Circuses too.

But if you blame this woman for the death of Harambe the Gorilla, you are straight-up being an asshole, which you’re doing because you like it and it’s fun, and it’s rooted in a hatred of single moms and general racism and misogyny, so at least own that. Like, do it if you must, but go forward having been informed.
-MvH
P.S.: If you DO have kids and you’re calling for this lady to be arrested or fined or shamed or otherwise punished for what happened to hers at the Cincinnati Zoo, you’re the very worst kind of asshole. And my, but it’s just so interesting that a perfect parent like yourself has so much free time to spend denigrating other parents on Facebook.

Attn: Tormund Giantsbane

I drew this a few years ago while reading Book 1, and it holds up inre. recent developments on the Thronesgames show. I will never get why Brienne is victimized and harassed all the damn time. LADY, YOU ARE SCIENTIFICALLY A GIANT. And murder is apparently legal where you live. Dude on your jock? Whether he’s hatin’ or he’s coming on to you? JUST KILL HIMMMMM

briennecomix

-Meg

HELLO. HERE IS AN ESSAY ‘BOUT BILLY JOEL’S FEMINISM. Thx.

beej

by Carolyn Main

One of the reasons I love Billy Joel so much is the same reason so many people hate him: because he’s super fucking catchy. You’d know him as the Piano Man, since it is on the radio half of all the time. Failing that, if you still listen to the radio, you can switch stations to catch “Uptown Girl.” Keep tuning the dial until you are sure you Did Not Start the Fire. Yes, the Beej is inescapable pop culture. I get it.

Still, you may be missing some of his best works, which also happen to be the most feminist ones. And that’s the other reason behind my adoration: Markedly unlike most mainstream music, Billy Joel’s works are never misogynist. They love women. As does he, with almost as many hits (33) as marriages (4).

Even more than that, Joel came of age in an era that was arguably more sexist than our own. One need look no further for the gold standard of ’70s gender politics than boot-faced old Charles Bronson’s Death Wish (1974), wherein his wronged daughter is spraypainted in the butt by Jeff Goldblum, basically to death. Well, it’s more of a catatonic vegetable state for life. But because of a spraypainted butt. That’s, if possible, somehow even more insulting.

Joel, though, bucked sexism of the decade to write and record some of the smoothest sax-positive songs in America. During the current election cycle, it’s really easy to feel crazy and also to hate old white men. But good news: If you ever need to listen to a boomer who you don’t hate, and who doesn’t hate you back even harder and more irrationally, just take a listen to this, the Billy Joel Feminist Playlist:

6) “Shameless”

Billy Joel will not allow anything to compromise his desire to please. Why would he? So, just ask. It’s not a problem. He’s so into you, and so over the judgment of society, that he’ll do pretty much whatever weird shit you like. Craft store? Yes. Cunnilingus? Sure. Both at the same time? He’s open to it. Featuring Cyndi Lauper’s vocals (YES) and frequently covered by Garth Brooks (shrug).

“And I’m changing, I swore I’d never compromise
But you convinced me otherwise
I’ll do anything you please”

5) “Stiletto”

Billy’s comfortable with a woman on top. Perhaps to a fault. Is this an unhealthy relationship, or does she just get in the best one-liners? (Along with the knives/stabbing heels entendre, over and over.) Either way, he’s stuck, and he’s loving it.

“She cuts you hard, she cuts you deep
She’s got so much skill
She’s so fascinating that you’re still there waiting
When she comes back for the kill”

4) “Only the Good Die Young”

Every day is another potential assault on a woman’s sexuality; politics, the patriarchy, and religious propaganda try to control a pussy and put it behind lock and key. Fuck the stigmas that would keep a woman from the power and pleasure of her own sexuality. And once you have thoroughly dismantled that nonsense, would you please consider bringing your heat to Billy Joel’s meat? Well, it doesn’t hurt to ask. There’s a reason this song was so controversial to the Catholic Church, as it makes the case for fucking instead of going to mass. There’s pretty much no comeback to that.

“Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you away
Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done”

(The video above is a cover by Melissa Etheridge, who makes it much more suggestively lesbian-tastic and hot hot hot.)

3) “Code of Silence”

Just like a sea witch, what’s the first thing the patriarchy would steal from you? Your voice! (Because from there, they can strip away everything else.) As a woman, you are being diminished from all sides and are taught that there’s no one can hear you. So, you’re expected to just tamp it down and try to move on with a slit throat. But look. Billy Joel is ready to dismantle those blocks in your throat chakra and encourage you back to an authentic person who speaks their truth. He’s ready to listen. Also featuring Cyndi Lauper, YAY, who should have done even more songs with Beej. And maybe they should have probably had a baby.

“So you can’t talk about it
Because you’re following a code of silence
You’re never gonna lose the anger
You just deal within it a different way
So you can’t talk about it
And isn’t that a kind of madness
To be living by a code of silence
When you’ve really got a lot to say”

2) “Modern Woman”

This is an all-out doo-wop-style 1980s feminist anthem. It’s bordering on corny, but it’s still somewhat shocking when you think about it, since how many other mainstream dudes of the era would say such a thing? Name one. I’ll wait. Because if they exist, I would really like to hear more of these. BJ was born in 1949, and he formally recognizes outdated the gender norms he’s grown past. He’s totally ready to embrace and celebrate his empowered paramour. She’s not his uptown girl; she’s a grown-ass modern woman.

“She looks sleek and she seems so professional
She’s got a lot of confidence, it’s easy to see
You want to make a move
But you feel so inferior
Cause under that exterior
Is someone who’s free.”

(By the way, this song was featured as Bette Midler’s workout montage in the ’80s flick Ruthless People. Fun! But Bette, FYI, you don’t need to diet or work out, tho. You’re fine Just the Way you Are.)

1) “She’s Always a Woman”

Billy’s most direct response to misogyny, he wrote it for his wife-slash-manager at the time, who was much maligned by every passing sexist in the music biz. Because she was powerful. Of course, Bill had no problem with that.

Even though their relationship would turn out to be doomed during this album, as evidenced by the title track, “The Stranger,” this creamy balled endures. Here, Bilj loves his woman, and he tells the dudes who wanna hate her that that’s just their problem. This came out in 1977, for godsake; music should be way, way more advanced by now. Mike. Drop.

“She is frequently kind
And she’s suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She’s nobody’s fool
But she can’t be convicted
She’s earned her degree
And the most she will do
Is throw shadows at you
But she’s always a woman to me”

Isn’t his ’70s perm amazing?

Billy’s hair, like that marriage, has since fallen away. However, unlike too many iconic pop stars of late, Billy Joel remains, still playing to sold-out audiences. Via helicopter. And he reserves the front rows, not for the 1 percent who game Ticketmaster, but for the fans who he likes to perform for the most: women. Thereby proving to the world that even if you’re a worldwide musical legend (who happens to be a dude), you don’t have to be a misogynist sell-out to rock ‘n’roll.

carolynCarolyn Main is a cartoonist and writer in Portland, Oregon, who is in the process of releasing her own card game, Pitch Please. She has tickets to see Billy Joel at Shea Stadium for the first time, and she is hecka pumped. You can check out more of her art at www.carolynmain.com.

How I Put Donald Trump’s Lights Out in Atlanta

12822701_976584465751666_1567639090_o.jpg

by Veronica Sidwell

The Trump rally was occurring at the GWCC, which is about four blocks from where I live, so I figured I’d walk down and watch the spectacle. I put together the most patriotic outfit I could, a navy blue dress with white buttons, navy blue leggings and a bright red cardigan.

The doors opened at 2pm, I arrived around then and several hundred people were already in line. It was a real blizzard there, and it looked like the suburbs had vomited on downtown Atlanta. Several street vendors lined the sidewalks, and they fought with local police over where exactly they could hawk their wares. The lady behind me in line kept jabbing me with her stupid Trump flag and apologizing. She and her husband mused about how Trump was the only one who could sort this mess of a country out. Photographers hovered around the line, passing over the J.Crew models for the gaudier of the bunch, who happily posed for the cameras.

The people in front of me had a panic attack when they realized that they did not procure tickets. (It was a free event.) They scrambled to register online on their phones. However, tickets were completely unnecessary.

We made it to the front, and there were Secret Service officers who were in full SWAT gear. We were told that no outside posters were allowed. Also, no umbrellas. It was a little misty outside, but luckily I kept my umbrella at home. They did let me in with an issue of Creative Loafing though.

Because the event began at 4, I needed some diversion. I passed through security and made my way down two sets of escalators to the hall where Trump would be speaking. Instead of finding a proper auditorium with seating, it was a mostly empty hall with a stage in the middle with cameramen stationed there, and then the main stage up front where Trump would be speaking. There had already gathered a large crowd on the right side of the stage, since that’s the side of the auditorium where the doors lead to, so I decided to make my way to the left side of the stage to get a better view.

The crowd was still a little thick, so I made my way over to the hard left of the stage. I found a spot right up front on the barricade that was empty, but my viewpoint was going to be Trump’s right shoulder. It also just so happened that the spot I found was directly in front of the soundboard.

There was an overweight gentleman behind me, and beside him there was a man with a button-up shirt of a Confederate Flag. The sound man was nowhere to be found, so the overweight man reached over the barricade and took the sound man’s chair. He sat no longer than 30 seconds when the sound man came out and demanded his chair back. The overweight man asked if there was any way to request some chairs, that some of the people in the crowd had disabilities and couldn’t stand for extended periods of time. Others in the crowd chimed in and asked if he could bring chairs. The sound man apologized and said that at this point it would probably involve getting a forklift and to bring chairs out, and there’d be no way to get enough for everyone anyway, so he wasn’t going to bother trying.

I opened up my Creative Loafing and started to work the crossword puzzle. It took me quite a while to finish, but I did complete it, and tried to ignore the opening acts, which consisted of some people saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing “God Bless America” and some other nonsense that I have blocked from my memory. I do remember a country singer trying to get a sing-along going of “Don’t Be a Chump, Vote for Trump.”

As the time drew closer to 4pm, workers with the campaign began to pass out signs to the crowd. I thought they were only going to pass them out to those in front of the stage, but eventually they made their way over to where I was and handed out a handful to us. I kept one and passed the rest back. The signs said something to the effect of “The Silent Majority Stands with Trump.” The signs were of a high quality and on a very, very heavy card stock.

Throughout the afternoon, I knew that I wanted to create some kind of disruption, but I hadn’t come up with anything. I held the sign in my hand and thought I could fold the “T” over and make the sign say “RUMP,” and then a part of me thought that the card stock was so heavy that it could make a bitchin’ paper airplane. I was probably 100 feet from the podium, and I wasn’t sure how far I could actually throw a paper airplane. Plus I was a little worried that if I cocked my arm back with airplane in hand, someone would probably grab it or somehow otherwise block the throw. The more I thought about it, the lamer the idea seemed.

Finally, the time for Trump to take the stage had come, and beforehand a mechanical, disembodied voice came over the speakers giving instructions regarding the contingency of protesters. They said it was a private event, and a safe place to protest was given outside of the event. But if someone inside did protest, do not touch or accost the protester, just simply hold your signs up and chant “Trump, Trump, Trump…”

Donald finally took the stage and I folded my sign over and held up my RUMP sign and a middle finger in front of it. Everyone settled down and Trump launched into his speech.

I noticed the sound man get up and go behind a curtain. A few minutes later, he returned. This happened several times and a plan began to brew in my mind. The soundboard was probably about 5 feet away from the barricade and I noticed an 8-channel mixer, of which only 3 seemed to be in use. The sliders on those three were pushed to the max, while the other sliders were set at zero.

I looked at this rigid, folded-over sign in my hand and realized that it made the perfect tool to rake the sliders and pull them toward me to the zero position. I thought it was controlling the sound, and I figured that I’d be cutting the mike. I got nervous and giddy at the same time thinking about it.

The sound man left again…and I chickened out. After a minute or so, he returned. But I kept eyeing it, thinking that if I stepped up onto the lower part of the barricade, I could lean over and make the reach. About this time a small group of about 5 photographers was heading my way in the pit. The sound man left again, and in a moment I decided that when the photographers passed by it would provide the perfect cover to pull the sliders.

The last one passed by and I stepped up, leaned over and, with the sign, pulled two of the sliders down with one swipe, and then I pulled the third slider with an extra flick of the wrist.

Someone next to me said, “Hey, what are you doing!” and I immediately stepped down and turned to leave. Someone grabbed my sweater but I kept walking, and they let go. I walked through the crowd, and made my way to a side exit that was open, but a police officer said I had to exit through the front entrance. I powerwalked through the auditorium, and could hear Trump going on about the lights being out. I then realized that I had shut the lights off, and not cut the sound as I had anticipated. I giggled to myself and looked back and didn’t see anyone following me.

trump

I figured that the most distinguishing part of my outfit was my bright red sweater, so I took that off and stuffed it in my purse. I continued through the double doors, exiting the auditorium, and got on an escalator. I turned around and saw no one in pursuit. I walked up to the second escalator, looked over my shoulder, and once again, saw no commotion behind me. I thought I was home free until I got to the front doors and I noticed them stopping two ladies who were about my age who were trying to exit.

As I approached the exit, a Secret Serviceman in SWAT gear told me to stop. He said into his radio “Is this her?” A few seconds later,”Are you sure?” He then tells me to step aside.

Two people who look like real-life Mulder and Scully come up and start questioning me. They ask vague questions like “Why did you do what you did?” but I keep denying that I know what they are talking about. They take my license and write my information down. They keep asking if I would go to a private room with them, just to answer some questions and I decline. Eventually, I ask Mulder if I am being charged with anything and he says no, that if I were I’d already be in handcuffs, and I said I figured as much. He says that people from the GWCC want to talk to me and he asks me to stay put. He leaves Scully with me and walks over to a group of policemen.

Probably a solid half hour passes and Scully and I are just standing there silently, and finally I ask, “So, if I am not being charged, am I free to leave?” She says no, that they are under the jurisdiction of the GWCC police, and it’s up to them to decide what to do with me. Finally, two GWCC police officers come up to me and start the same line of questioning, and I stonewall again. One of the officers asks me a series of innocuous questions about my family and background. We chit-chat for a while when he says “So what were you doing leaning over that railing?” Again, I say that I don’t know what he is talking about.

Finally, the other officer comes back and claims that they have video of me turning the lights off, in addition to a witness. It could be a bluff, so I still do not admit anything. The officer asks if I’ve ever been arrested before. I said I wasn’t sure. He said “How can you not be sure if you have been arrested before?” I told him about the time I was involuntarily committed in my early 20s, and I wasn’t sure whether that constituted an actual arrest.

He informs me that they are going to issue me a Warning of Criminal Trespass, but he rattles off a list of charges that they could have given me if they wanted to throw the book at me. Another officer comes over with the paperwork and explains that for the next 3 years I cannot come on the GWCC grounds, or go in the Georgia Dome, or visit Centennial Olympic Park. (The last one actually stung just a little; I enjoy going to that park.)

I signed the paperwork and they gave me my license back. The one officer that I was chit-chatting with asked “So what kind of motorcycle you got?” referring to the fact that I have a motorcycle license. I said, “Oh, I don’t have a motorcycle, I have a scooter. A Vespa.” He smiled and said, “You need to get a Harley.” I smiled and said, “Maybe I will.”

The other officer said I was free to go and I said thanks and wished them all a good day, and strolled out the door.

Epilogue: I walked straight to Taco Bell for a early dinner.

Men Who Hate Women

By Amie Simon

I’ve had my mind on comics and comic book stores a lot lately, and so I’ve been thinking about the BEST job I ever had, ever. But because of one guy, it was also one of the most horrible workplace environments. Ever.

Too bad I didn’t have this WW crown when I was working there. I could have summoned my inner Amazonian and kicked his ass.

In the mid-’90s, I took a second job at a comic book/collectibles store to make extra money, and to try to forget about how bad my once-awesome-but-now-terribly-corporate video store job had gotten. I used to buy my comics there and had discussed my rampant Clive Barker obsession with the owner several times, as he always seemed to have several signed books, figurines, et cetera (as I found out later, he was good friends with Clive! SCORE). So, when I mentioned that I was looking for something part-time, he thought it would be awesome to have a chick working there who knew her stuff. It was a quick hire. I don’t even remember an interview, really. I had become so chummy with most of the staff that they already knew me and liked me. 

All of them I guess, except one.

For the purposes of this story, I will just call him “Dick.” It seems appropriate.

Dick had relocated to the fair city of Lynnwood from some small town in the Midwest and, as I came to find out, hated women. Not just a little. A lot. Or maybe it was just me he hated? I guess I never quite figured it out. In any case, Dick was polite and accommodating when other employees or the manager/owner was around, but as soon as we were the only two in the store, he would have me do the most insane things, backed up with the excuse that the owner wanted it done.

He would have me move whole sections of comics to the other side of the store, and when I finally got them all perfect, he would have me move them all back to their original place. He would tell me to clean the glass counters over and over and over, sometimes up to 20 times a shift (a whopping 5 hours, usually). I was instructed to vacuum all the time. He would tell me to take a toothbrush and scrub in between the tiles on the floor by the counter, or use a wire scrub brush to try to get stains off the back door.

WHY would I put up with this, you ask? A few reasons, I guess.

1) I needed the money. Working 30 hours a week at minimum video store wages wasn’t covering my college books, rent, food, and bills.

2) I’d been treated worse by a boyfriend, or actually a few, so I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. In fact, I was sure I deserved it in some way. I spent most of my 20s feeling like I deserved to be miserable.

3) At the time, I was naive enough to believe that these are the way things were, and that the boss wanted them that way—until I worked with my absolutely favorite guy (Hi, Brian!), who said, “Wait. He told you to do WHAT? That’s not cool, Amie,” when I described my workload.

Also, while I was doing all this Cinderella-caliber work? Dick would be on the phone. CONSTANTLY. Talking to friends, family, you name it. He was always on the damn phone. He barely ever put it down, and when he did, it was only to ring up big sales.

So the next time I worked with him, I politely explained that I didn’t think things needed to be cleaned over and over—and also probably not with a toothbrush, ever. He glared at me and then ignored me for the rest of the shift. UNTIL someone came in to buy something. Since he was on the phone as usual, I helped the guy. A nice older gentlemen who was interested in the whole Magic card phenomenon (at the time, it was kind of a big deal). I talked him into buying an entire box of starter decks and another of the packs to try it out.

Toward the end of the purchase, Dick got off the phone, and decided to talk to the guy as well. (He was nice to the customers, just not to me.) And then the customer turned to me and said “You know, you are stunningly beautiful! I just wanted to tell you that. Have a good night, and thank you!” And he left.

Dick’s response to this was to turn angrily to me and scream in my face:

“God, I fucking HATE you! You. SUCK.

And then he stormed into the back room. And man, I felt it. I absolutely FELT the fact that he hated me. For seemingly no other reason than that I was a woman, and that someone had told me I was beautiful. I wondered what was next. More insults (I had heard him call me a bitch under his breath more than a few times)? More rage? Would this guy actually try to hit me?

I was terrified to work with him again and almost quit. Fortunately for me, the very next day, it was discovered that all of Dick’s phone calls were long-distance calls to his Midwestern hometown—all on the company’s dime. So, Dick was out. And I was able to stay. And I never had to see him again.

Which meant Brian and I had the most fun ever working together once Dick was gone. And coming up with scenarios about the miserable, unhappy life he was leading.

Hopefully it didn’t involve serial murders, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Amie Simon is a Seattle-based writer. She likes cake AND pie. You can find her on Twitter at @posiegirl.