“Why Now?” revisited

*EDIT: apparently I’m going to lose some readers with this one.

Earlier this week, my son was talking to me about the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This is a current story in the news, so naturally, his “Social Studies” (for a lack of better description) class talked about it. I’m glad they’re talking about it. They should be talking about it more classes than just that. But I’ll take what I can get for now.

One of the things he asked me, was “Doesn’t it make it less believable, that she came forward so long after it happened?”

Of course, we already know how I feel about this, but in case you don’t, I have linked it below, as this week’s post. I find it important to repost it, because it’s clear that there are people who truly don’t realize what others go through, particularly when it comes to sexual abuse/assault survivors. It isn’t just my 15 year-old son, who is lucky to have a mother that encourages he pull apart the patriarchal traits that have been sewn into the youth of this generation. It’s not just right wing misogynists. It’s not just the wife beaters. There are some really good people- some of whom may be closer to you than you think – who just don’t know the answer to the question:

“Why didn’t they come forward sooner?”

(click link above to jump to article.)

-jg

Oldies, Not Goodies

I like just about every style of music (almost) and when I find myself getting “bored” with one style, I just start binge-listening to another style until I get sick of that one too. Right now, I’m back on “oldies” music, because I’ve been listening to a lot of old hip-hop, and I get fixated on the samples, so here I am. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the genre of “oldies” music, it refers to the clean-cut, radio friendly, seemingly innocuous songs of the 1950s and ’60s, which mostly focused on love and happiness.

In the spirit of the zeitgeist, this post is to highlight some of the things music artists used to get away with, that just sound ridiculous now. Society has changed, in the way we interact with each other, our interests and priorities, and the way we express ourselves. People don’t sing about the same subjects, because we don’t worry about or value the same things we used to. That’s not to say music has gotten better, where profanity is now encouraged to be as explicit and sexual as possible, but there is at least a new taboo around certain slurs that used to be allowed (I don’t even want to go into the numerous songs I found, which used “faggot” and “retard” freely on radio versions). Different things bother us, as well as delight us, and as a result, music is drastically different.

Take the song “Down In The Boondocks  by Billie Joe Royal:

Down in the boondocks/ down in the boondocks
People put me down cause that’s the side of town I was born in
I love her and she loves me/ but I don’t fit in her society
Lord have mercy, I’m a boy from down in the boondocks

People don’t really sing about caste or class in songs anymore. With the advent of Tinder and Bumble, as well as online services like Match.com, people can date across the tracks, and not have to face any backlash. I tried thinking of a recent song that deals with this issue, and I could only think of “Sk8r Boi” by Avril Lavigne. He wasn’t good enough for “her” but he was certainly good enough for Avril (wait- was Chad Kroeger the sk8r boi??). He just had to stick to his own demographic, which is something Billie Joe Royal couldn’t abide.

Have you ever listened to “The Wanderer” by Dion a million times, like I have? The message in this upbeat tune is pretty questionable on its own, without Dion actually doubling down on it: “You say to a chick, ‘Stay away from that guy,'” Dion said in 1976, “and she would say, ‘What guy?’ Chicks loved a rebel.”

How charming, Dion. I mean, you told her to stay away from the guy, and she didn’t listen to you?! The nerve! She must be asking for it, I guess. It’d be like, if your buddies told you to stay away from a girl, and you didn’t, but then when your buddies were right, you blamed it on the chick.

Oh wait, YOU DID. On the SAME RECORD. Let’s talk about “Runaround Sue” a minute, shall we?

She likes to travel around, yeah
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
Sue goes out with other guys
(-Runaround Sue)

Okay, so what about:

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl
Yeah, I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world
(-The Wanderer)

So let me get this straight: The Wanderer is some mysterious sex bomb, born to drive the women crazy (which is clearly all we want in life), while Sue doesn’t even get the luxury of being called by her first name, without the slut-shaming prefix? Interesting.

If you’re wondering why she goes out with other guys, it’s probably because you’re out fucking every girl in the world, not even telling them your name, because to you, “they’re all the same.” If you were home once in awhile, perhaps Sue would be happy to get a good dicking, but you’ll never know that, because you’re drivin’ ’round the world in your car.

I mean, you literally talk about how, when you’re spending the night with Janie (not Sue), you tell her you love Rosie (again, not Sue) the best, so Sue probably has the right to be going out with other guys. It’s only fair. Sounds like you either drove her ass crazy while you were in your “Wanderer” phase, and she couldn’t take it anymore, or, maaaaayyyybeeee… she was such a powerfully crazy whore, that you finally broke down and turned into a whore as well, and now they call you The Wanderer.

Still, if the latter were the truly the case, you said it yourself, “ask any fool she ever knew, and they’ll tell you” so why the fuck didn’t you listen?? You knew she wasn’t trying to settle down. It’s like when you tell a chick to stay away from a guy, and she doesn’t. Don’t expect monogamy from someone who is sexually liberated, and then go blaming them for your own transgressions.

Here’s another song I’ve always hated, that still makes me shake my head:

The purpose of a man is to
love a woman
and the purpose of a woman is to
love a man…
Come on, baby
‘Cause the time is right
Love your daddy with all your might
Put your arms around me
Hold me tight
Play the game of love

c’mon baby, let’s play the game of Love
(- The Game of Love)

Say what???

First of all… let’s just say we’ve learned our lesson on sexual attraction being limited to heterosexual couplings. Let’s pretend we all Oops!ed our way away from that whole tragedy, and agree that it’s a horrendous indoctrinating mindgame. Beyond that… I’d say the purpose of a man, back then, was mostly to either serve his country, and/or go to work and be the breadwinner, and provide discipline to the family, and wash the fucking car in the driveway. He didn’t have much purpose, beyond that. And let’s not glaze over the purpose of a woman, which is apparently to love a man?? Can we still pursue our dreams, though? Or rear our children? Do we have any other options, or can we do other things with our lives, while waiting to fulfill our life’s purpose? Just checking, for someone else.

Don’t even get my overly-analytical ass started on the disgusting Daddy/control issues at work in the last part. He feels the need to tell her that the time is right, as if she has no say in the matter, or simply can’t tell if the time is right or not, and then he keeps bossing her around like she’s some kind of voice-commanded sex doll. Why does he have to call himself her daddy? Why?… because daddies are bossy? Let’s shrug the daddy shit off, shall we?

Also, why have we not updated this song, to say “The purpose of a human is to love themselves, and the purpose of other people is none of your fucking business“?

Much better.

Tommy James had a song that goes: “My baby does the hanky panky”  over and over, for the whole song. I never actually knew if he was excited about it, or if he was slut-shaming, but he apparently felt the need to tell everyone about it in a song. I mean, there are only a couple of ways a person could take that line, both of which I’ll go into now.

If his baby does the hanky panky, and one assumes that he is the one doing the hanky panky with her, then why is he putting all of the focus on her? In that case, he and his baby are both doing the hanky panky, and he’s telling everyone that she’s doing it. Not cool. Own that shit, dude. If you’re proud of your lady, and you’re open enough to let others know she’s boning, be proud of the fact that she’s boning you.

That is, assuming “hanky panky” means boning.

On the other hand, if his baby does the hanky panky, but he is not doing the hanky panky, then he sounds unnaturally upbeat bout her doing the hanky panky with other people. The whole thing smacks of Open Relationship vibes. In either case, it sure does seem like he wants everyone to know about his “baby’s” sexual appetite, and could think of little to say about it.

Not exactly a ’50s or ’60s song, but in 1970, there was a fun little summer ditty called “In The Summertime“, in which Mungo Jerry celebrates all of the free-spirited excitement and adventure the warm weather brings. You’ve heard it in movies and TV, on the radio, in stores, and probably just in passing, more times than you can count. But have you ever listened to the lyrics? Particularly these ones:

“Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find
If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel”

Couple things: if you’re drinking and driving, it’s bad enough that you’re taking your own life into your hands, but your lack of compassion for other motorists on the road… not a cute trait. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make it a habit to get into a car with a drunk driver, much less, one that has been trolling around for “whatever he could find” before settling on me. This song doesn’t relegate the singer to his own class, as mentioned in the lyrics, though I’m still unsure if he truly understands the distinction between rich and poor. Who knows, maybe he’s spot on. Just seems more logical that the girl with the poor daddy is going to need that meal a little more than the rich girl. She would probably also be more inclined to be financially conscious at said meal, or at least bring home the leftovers, and probably eat them, and definitely not just leave the doggy bag in the fridge, like I do.

1970 produced another gem, called “Vehicle” by a group called Ides of March (like the warning). The very first line in the song lays it all out on the table, in the creepiest way possible:

I’m a friendly stranger in a black sedan
won’tcha hop inside my car
I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man,
and I can take you to the nearest star”

Uhh, what the hell?? That guy is using every cliche available to rapists in 1970. I mean, at least he’s friendly, but damn, he’s still telling you straight-up that he’s a stranger! Apparently he wants you to hop in his car, based solely on your looks, which just doesn’t ever lead to anything substantial, but if he can get you to the nearest star, he’s wheeling and dealing extremely well. Pictures? I can get those anywhere. Candy? You’re speaking my language, but again, I can buy my own damn candy. But when you start talking about taking me to Alpha Centauri, well, I just might be putty in your 1970s hands.

Not to further my point about the ’70s being equally weird, but in 1972, The Four Tops decided it was time to remind us what #RelationshipGoals look like, with “Ain’t No Woman.” I admit, I used to love this song, because it’s otherwise romantic as fuck, and I still do enjoy listening to it, but I cringe so hard when he sings the line “I would kiss the ground she walks on/ ’cause it’s my word, my word she’ll obey.” 

You mean, her value above others in your world is strictly contingent on whether or not she’s going to do whatever you say? Why does she have to obey your word? Do you have some unreasonable expectations, on which bullshit has been called? Not to be a buzzkill or anything, but that ain’t romance. It reminds me of that line in The Labyrinth, when Jareth says “Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” What is it with guys thinking that’s a fair exchange?

“Hey girl… your free will, for some dick?”

I think we have arrived at a point, in our current society, where it really isn’t safe to sing or talk or write about anything, without incurring some backlash. I have come to accept this, and it seems that more and more performers are coming to the same conclusion, plowing past the red tape of PC civil rights and humanistic compassion, and glorifying misogyny, rape, murder, and racism. If you think the lyrics from the 1960s were questionable, just turn on your radio today. There is nothing to even question anymore; between the lyrics and the video themes, the messages are clear, and they set both genders (and society as a whole) back so many decades, the 1950s seem like yesterday.

But remember: nothing is safe to say, so even this post itself will come off as “anti-feminist” to someone, because they could argue that music videos nowadays are sexually liberating for [insert gender here] and I should break free from the chains of sexual repression in the media. I like to think there is a happy medium, where sexuality and the human form have their platform to be celebrated, AND creativity and ingenuity get to shine on their own platform as well. Sexuality can be liberating for people, and anxiety-inducing for others, but it has its place. Using sexuality as a replacement for anything, seems to surrender your own power over it, defeating the purpose of it in the first place.

Love and sex and relationships between people will always be changing. We will look at each other differently in the future, than we do now, than we did 50 years ago, and hopefully learn from our poor choices. I wonder what we’ll be singing about in another 50 years, when Li’l Pump and 6ix9nine are considered “oldies.”

-jg

Andy! You Goonie!

It’s Friday the 13th, y’all, which is my faaaavorite! Sometimes, there is a full moon on this night, and that’s extra special, but tonight, there is a new moon, which means you can’t see shit. Still, Friday the 13th is a fun day, because you get to act like your bad luck is a result of the day, when it’s really just because life wants to shit on you.

As you may know, I am digging for answers all the time, and some of you know from my previous article I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!, that I am currently seeking answers regarding an unfortunately-named product called Man Dip. In the article, I mentioned that I had contacted the founder of Man Dip, Andy, in search of the answers to my questions. I used the email address given in the contact information on the website, so thinking I would get an answer soon, I hesitated to post the article, but ultimately ended up just putting it out there. I’m glad I did, because the process is taking a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

Matt thinks I’m coming off rude, pushing it too far, and that I probably scared Andy with my raging feminism (uh, humanism, thankyouverymuch) but I don’t think I was that mean. Judge for yourself. Below, is a copy of what I’ve sent to him, so you can see that I’m just a woman, looking for some conversation on the topic.

“Andy,
I have a huge issue with your product. Don’t you realize dip is for everyone, regardless of the ingredients, and calling it “Man Dip” is purposefully alienating the majority of the population? Given these divisive and exclusionary times, branding your product under this name is a huge mistake. I urge you to reconsider your mission statement, where food is not given a gender label.
Feel free to contact me.”

I didn’t receive a response, so I wrote to Andy again, just to check in and make sure everything had been received okay.

“Good morning Andy,
I am following up on the email I sent to you 9 days ago, regarding the name of your product Man Dip. I had figured I would get a canned response, but I got nothing. I realize Public Relations 101 would tell you that saying nothing is better than saying something that might make you look like a dick, so I understand your lack of response altogether. I also realize that I am just one woman, in a sea of many women, whose opinions you probably don’t care about. That may be a rash generalization, but I’m mostly just assuming based on the content of your website. I’m sure you didn’t “get where you are today” by caring about a woman’s opinion.
So when I didn’t get a reply from you, I wrote an article about your product, your website, and your company. Also, being that it’s in the public domain, I mentioned you by name when I talked about the part when I emailed you (and you didn’t reply). Now, you may be on a two-week vacation with your family, or just working really really hard, but you should probably have a canned response for inquiries like mine.
The article is getting a lot of attention, so if your website has seen a recent spike in foot traffic… you’re welcome.
Thank you for your time.”

I included a snippet from the article, for his viewing pleasure, thinking he would be so impressed, that he would write back immediately!

That was on June 16th. As of today, I still haven’t received a reply from Andy, or from any other PR people, or any kind of agent or assistant or customer service representative. I haven’t written a third email (yet) since there is purpose behind their radio silence; a conclusion I came to, when I realized that any positive emails or good feedback is probably getting through just fine. I wonder what is happening with my emails, then? I have ideas…

I picture a big board room full of powerful females, sitting around a big table, reading my email. They’re impressed by my outlook on this stupid matter, and they’re all wondering how such an exclusionary idea could have ever been marketed from their company. How did it get by their brilliant minds? Oh, some dude’s Frat Bro nephew gave it the green light, even though he is only working at the company because of nepotism? I see the powerful females educating him on how fucked up the country already is, without adding chip dip to the list of things that promote divisiveness… they’re showing him a slideshow of products that are marketed to women for more money, for less of the exact same product, just in a flowered scent… they’re showing a slide of the dip, with the red Ghostbusters thing around it, because it shouldn’t be a gendered item…  they’re offering the branding and marketing job to someone else now… it’s a woman… she’s taking the Jersey Shore mentality out of the dip industry… she’s sitting on the desk… she’s eating a big scoop of dip out of the container, and laughing at how delicious it is… the taste of victory, that is. (I find this to be a legitimate use of time, and thereby, an acceptable excuse for not returning my email.)

Or, some old rich grumpy asshole is yelling at his grandson, because he got my email from an assistant of some kind, and he’s mad that his grandson used family money to start a business, and “This is the best you could do?!” He’s super embarrassed. The grandfather is yelling, because he has spent his whole life working hard, and his grandson doesn’t know the meaning of struggling, and doesn’t think things through. He throws the printed-off email on the floor, and the grandson looks at it with failure in his eyes. Man Dip? Really? He asks himself, as he realizes how dumb it sounds.

Or what about like, the wife is checking the email one day, and she sees the email, and she’s like, “Yes, girl, I thought Man Dip sounded stupid too. It may come as a surprise to you, but he didn’t listen to me when I told him that it’s borderline sexist to target a food to one specific portion of the population. When I offered him alternate names, he swiped all of his containers of dip off the desk in a fit of rage, and ran out of the room.” But before she can send the email reply, something happens. I don’t know. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Or maybe it’s the woman who came up with the name in the first place, and she doesn’t realize she’s a grade A turd? Maybe she thought she was being “clever” somehow when she thought of it, even though it really just sounds like she’s trying to impress her man and his buddies. It also sounds a lot like someone just wants to be One Of The Guys. That’s cute. Now ship me out some free dip, while you think about how you’re setting back our gender 70 years.

These are just ideas. Change or no, at least acknowledge when someone is contacting you about the product you put out there for consumption. Don’t just ignore them. What kind of business plan is that? How busy is the dip industry, that the founder of the company can’t even get a minute to respond to an email? Is he back there, making all the dip by himself? Milking the cows, tirelessly, for the cheese? Mixing the delicious Chorizo sausage by hand?? Harvesting the Habenero Habanero peppers into the midnight hour??? What is consuming so much of his time, that he can’t even get a break? Does OSHA need to pay a surprise visit, to make sure he’s okay? Let’s get legit concerned for Andy, guys. Dude needs a break. #Andyhumanizing

I didn’t ask him for a miracle. He could just write back and say, “Hey, your email caught me off guard because the whole Gendered Food game is new to me, and I hadn’t thought of literally any of the things you said.” At least open up the conversation, dude. And throw me some free dip. Damn.

Customer service is something that goes hand-in-hand with consumer reporting. If you are fine with listening to good feedback, you need to be able to take the bad feedback as well, and use it as an opportunity for improvement. It’s not just about making money. You have to be a mindful businessperson to be able to survive marketing, because your advertising and branding is the face of your company; it’s what represents your name, your employees, your company culture, your mission statement, business plan, and ultimately, you. When someone approaches you with an issue in your advertising, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention to it. These days, you never know who is going to see the bad review of your product… it could be a much bigger group of people than those who see the website itself.

-jg

 

En Garde, Ne Touchez Pas

Nobody has ever really considered me to be their Best Friend. Or at least, they’ve never told me about it. I grew up before the “selfie” thing began, so there aren’t any pictures of me cuddled up to my bestie, or manicured photos of us dressed up and ready to go somewhere fun. No home videos of me and my bff doing something funny or interesting. Those things don’t exist, because they never happened. Nobody ever looked at me that way. Unless you count dudes, who generally felt pretty safe around me, because I was “one of the guys,” which is a phrase I CAN’T STAND. But they weren’t jumping to preserve those fun candid moments in a photograph. They just didn’t do that stuff.

The fact of the matter is, I wasn’t the type to have a bestie, in the traditional way. I found the posing and posturing stuff to be forced, and was uncomfortable with hugs and arm holding and being physically close to my girl friends. I noticed them doing it, when they didn’t notice they were doing it, and I would think to myself, “Why don’t I do that? Why do I want nobody to come near me? Why does it feel weird and unnatural?” I didn’t feel that way around my male friends, because most of our contact was aggressive (shin kicks, arm punches, pushing and shoving, head smacking, etc) so there was nothing out of place about it. It seemed like what everyone did, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to smack my girl friends, so I just cut off the physical contact piece altogether, and thought that was fine.

Guys felt comfortable to me, because I grew up with my older brother and his friends. I also wasn’t particularly girly, I didn’t mind getting hurt or dirty, I swore a lot, I was abrasive and confrontational, but somehow also the funniest person in the room. It was (is) nearly impossible to offend me, and I think I was a breath of fresh air, for the guys in my class. I think they liked when I swore, and when I said things about boobs. That’s not why I hung out with them, though: to make them laugh and want to hear more, though that was a draw, for sure. I liked making people laugh, and it seemed like I was always more successful at making guys laugh, so I naturally gravitated toward that feeling. It had nothing to do with the girls not being fun to be around, because I definitely had a few kickass female friends, who I still love and respect. No, I hung out with the guys because it was just easier. I didn’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, because I grew up when guys were still afraid to show their vulnerability outside of their bedroom. They weren’t offended by my humor, which I KNOW is over the damn top sometimes, and it feels great to not have to filter yourself, and just let shit land. I could just be myself.

I couldn’t do that with my female friends, for the most part, because (in addition to the awkward physical contact) they had some real feelings. We were pre-teen/teenage girls, growing up in a small town, during the aggressive second wave of feminism. I had to pretend to be something I wasn’t – or rather, hide parts of myself that just wanted to be crude and playfully insulting. I used a lot of insult humor, and felt like I was being constantly fed opportunities by my classmates and teachers, and I didn’t want to pass on ANY joke; I wanted to say everything that I thought was clever, and put my wit on display when I thought the timing was perfect. I felt conflicted… I didn’t want to hurt or offend my friends, simply because it felt like it was the wrong thing to do. Even though my jokes were fueled by timing and set-ups, there was seldom any truth to them, and were usually not meant to hurt. Still, I didn’t want to put them in the situation where they had to work out whether or not I was truly making fun of them. It was a tangled web. I did make my female friends cry a few times, and I’m not proud of that, but at the time, I don’t think it mattered much to me. I cared about being funny, and barely stifled the urge to roast everyone at all times.

One friend did consider me their Best Friend for several years, and he happened to be a guy. I look back on our friendship, and I don’t know why he thought I was better than his other friends. I was pretty mean, and didn’t realize I was being such a relentless asshole about it, until probably right now as I write this. We can’t ever see ourselves the way other people see us, no matter how we scale ourselves back, no matter how funny we think we are, or how harmless we think our intentions are. In that same way, we can’t see what others value in us, either. I never thought to ask about my qualities as a friend, and never told him why I valued him. He was a fun and patient person, and that made me feel comfortable to be myself. I wish I had given him credit for that, because the act of not letting myself disappear completely, was probably the most integral part of my upbringing.

When I was a teenager, I once told my mother, after not seeing her for many years, that I didn’t want her to hug me, and that it made me uncomfortable. It broke her heart, and I can’t imagine one of my kids saying that to me, and on top of that, I probably was a fucking dick about it at the time. I was so guarded, that I didn’t know why anyone would be shrouding me in hugs. I thought I was such a rude and abrasive person, that everybody else saw me that way too, and that they all knew that they were all better than me. Like they all saw through my façade of defense mechanisms, and were ready to expose how sub-par I was, at any minute. Why did I feel that way around my own mother? It didn’t make sense. I had gotten so far into my own head, that I felt like I had been rejected by everyone, simply because nobody wanted me to be the traditional “friend” to them. I felt like I was being left out of something on purpose, because I didn’t belong. They went to each other’s houses, and went out to do things on weekends, and went to school functions, and played sports, and took dance, and had all the things I wanted… but I was left out, so I must not have deserved to feel included. It was me, not them. They all liked each other. I let that toxic mindset cause me to reject my mother, which is such a terrible thing to realize.

As an adult, I am still fairly guarded. I’m still not a hugger, though sometimes a person’s vibe can strike me in just the right way, and I’ll hug them. My daughter isn’t a hugger, either, other than with me, which is ironic. I think she’s as guarded as I am, because she has a similarly minimal group of friends, but unlike me, she places importance on having a best friend. Where I wrote off any interest in being a part of that culture, she does want the affirmation and acceptance, and to feel like she identifies with someone. She takes the selfies, and is comfortable with the casual physical contact, and wants to be included, but doesn’t like too much attention. She likes attention, but she doesn’t want the focus to be on her, is a better way to describe it. She uses voices and sound effects and random moves and faces to capture people’s interest, if even for a few seconds. I used jokes and sarcasm to do the same thing. Who’s to say which method is correct?

My son is one of the most personable people I’ve ever known in my entire life; he’s so intelligent and funny, with an incredibly mature and dry sense of humor, and an outgoing attitude that adults find charming. He’s polite in a way that is practically non-existent in this society, always holding the door for someone, or shaking hands with people he encounters, even casually.  He is involved in clubs and organizations, loves to act and sing and play music, and rolls with whatever everyone wants to do. Despite these great qualities, his peers don’t like him. The males like to assert their dominance over him, because he is non-confrontational. The females don’t know he exists, because he’s not an athlete, and that just happens to be the big deal in our area. He also joined his class in the middle of 7th grade, so he never outgrew the New Kid label. It doesn’t help that his sense of humor is so much more elevated than those around him, so the only people laughing are usually the teachers or parents. The kids don’t get it. They don’t realize he’s so funny, so one of his two biggest personality traits misses the mark with them. His other boldest trait would be his intelligence, and his classmates don’t appreciate that, either. The truth is, my son is what you would call a “Know-It-All.” He loves knowledge, and will read or watch anything in order to gain it. He reads copyright information. He studies people throughout history, that you would never think to care about, much less think to memorize their entire life story. He recites timelines, origins, and little-known facts like someone is testing him. He asks everyone’s opinion about everything, all the time. He wants to gather information, and if you don’t have information for him, he’s going to give you information instead. He uses that interest to his advantage, earning Honors in school consistently, and killing the grading curve on tests. He likes to show off how much he knows. In high school, people don’t really like that. They’ll appreciate it much later in life, but right now… not so much.

Therefore, his net of friends is widely cast, but sparsely populated. He will be the first to admit that he prefers it this way. I wonder how much of that confession is a defense mechanism of his own. Like my jokes. Like his sister’s outbursts. We create our own comfort zones, where we get to show the person we want everyone to see, and we acknowledge but still hide our true feelings, and we convince ourselves we don’t want the things that aren’t available to us.

Eventually, we find people who don’t make us feel excluded. We feel like we’re accepted, even without putting on the front. We don’t have to hide the rejection, because it’s not present, and we don’t have to create a comfort zone, because our true personality traits are naturally valued by those around us. The good ones and the bad ones, and we don’t have to make excuses for it. We can be unapologetically US. I think all of my classmates found that in each other, and I just never did, so that’s why I didn’t fit in. I put up the guard like it was my idea. Now, I get to be with people who make me feel comfortable and real, and so, I have stopped hiding my real personality. It’s about living my life, and accepting that not everyone will like it. Those who want to accept me, will. Those who don’t want to include me in their selfie, can fuck off.

 

-jg

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

Recently, while perusing the online shopping ad for my local grocery store, I came across a product that caught my eye, and refused to let go. That product was called Man Dip.
Now, I admit I was curious about it, but I had some immediate thoughts that ruined any chance that I would ever pay for the item, regardless of how much I wanted to try it. Aside from the obvious reason that I, myself, am not a man, there were some moral stances, as well as some fairly practical stances, that kept me from buying. Let’s just take the name itself, for instance.
A product called “Man Dip” should only ever be two things:
1. A dip that is made from human meat, or
2. Something you stick your dick into.

If neither of the two aforementioned situations are happening, there should be no reason to call a product Man Dip.
Especially when the product is a food. But here it is: www.mandip.com, and yes, I realize I’m giving them free advertising, because their products actually look fucking delicious. There’s chorizo and habanero (which the site spells as ‘habenero’) and all kinds of shit I would totally eat in a dip, and it looks cheesy, too, which is my absolute favorite dip base! When I look at it, all I can think is, TAKE MY CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AND MY HOME ADDRESS AND GET THIS TO MY HOUSE IMMEDIATELY. Which is a huge reason why I have a major problem with this tasty treat being called Man Dip. I mean, I’m no Man, but I have some questions.

Questions such as, can ladies not also enjoy it? The site says it’s “Man tested. Man approved” so I know that every man will like it… that is, unless they’re not into heavy fatty dips for medical health reasons, or if their taste preference differs from the traditional pub food palette.

But CAN a woman enjoy it? Is it possible? The advertising leads me to believe it is NOT “Woman Tested,” or at the very least, just not “Woman Approved.” Which brings me to my next question:

Is there a Woman Dip? I realize the site is called www.mandip.com, so just on that alone, I should be able to deduce the answer. If you go to www.womandip.com, do you know what you’ll find? Not a fuckin thing. GoDaddy says you can create a Woman Dip site, to represent all the ladies out there, who are just looking for a site that has all that dip we love! I’m a lady who is looking for a site with a variety of dip to love. And so, I went on a quest.

My quest only led me down a rabbit hole of subsequent questions, but I also got some answers: Hot Corn Dip, Roasted Corn Dip, Hot Corn Chili Dip, and Spinach Dip are the top search results when one feels inquisitive enough to google search for some Woman Dip. Why is corn the main ingredient in all of these dips? I have literally never ever eaten a dip with corn in it, so I’m not sure why it appears to be the most commonly used ingredient. Is corn a woman thing? I’d considered that I was peeping through a narrow scope, when it comes to the wording, so I opened it up a bit, and searched a few broader (haha, get it?) terms:
– Lady Dip: the top three results included two results for The Dip Lady, who will give you ideas about what to make for your next dinner party, and one result for this amazing post that I thoroughly enjoyed.
– Girl Dip: the top three results included Pretty Girls Dipping: the video, followed by another video of a girl sticking dip pouches into her vagina, and a third video of a Hot Girl taking a Fat Dip… all tobacco products, no food.
– Chick Dip: obviously all recipes for buffalo chicken dip.

So, no Woman Dip exists. But why not? Is it because no lady has ever been smart enough to think of ourselves exclusively, where dip is concerned? It can’t be that hard to figure out, but I mean, we don’t exactly have any Real Men boldly leading the way in the female dip market.

Don’t they know we also want to test and approve things that are only meant for us?

Don’t they know we also want to proclaim that a large portion of the population, including some Non-womanly types of women, need to go get their own dip, for women who aren’t Real? I’m taking cues from the Man Dip site, which I should not be doing.

So if Woman Dip is to be what it claims, would we also have to exclude certain gender groups? Like, all you UnReal Men (and UnReal Women!)… as much as we recognize you’re under-represented in the dip game, we need to leave you out of this one too. It’s harsh, because we know you can’t handle the Man Dip (just like we can’t) and you want some Woman Dip, but you can’t have it. It’s for Real Women. That’s just how the dip game is going to work, now. Thanks, Man Dip!

“SOUR CREAM IS FOR SISSIES
EAT LIKE A MAN!”

Also, since Real Men love sausage and spices, and despise cream dips (I don’t know what they were trying to say there), what would be the ingredients of Woman Dip? Something we could handle, is a must. Nothing fatty, nothing spicy, nothing hearty, and nothing a Real Man would ever be caught dead eating. Flowers? Dish soap? Lace? Summer’s Eve? Whatever the ingredients, the quality would be as satisfactory as Man Dip, but it would cost 78% less, so I think we have a market here… *rubs womanly hands together excitedly*

Their website has guidelines and tips to try, in case you are a man who communicates mostly in a series of grunts.

“And now, with six varieties, there’s a dip for every meal of the day. That’s right – that’s MAN math.”

It is definitely Man Math at work right there, because I recognize it from my old job. Working in a “Man’s World,” AKA a manufacturing plant, opened my eyes to what opportunities are available for women, and apparently the kitchen is no different. Men get 6 meals per day, because that’s the Man thing to do. Women should really only have 2 meals per day, because if we get fat, men may not desire us. That’s why we save the chorizo and cream cheese and spices for the Men. The Real Men.

And while we’re on the subject of Man Math, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out our country’s raging obesity and heart disease problem. 6 meals of big fat dip per day has nothing to do with that. That’s right – that’s MAN science.

The Man Dip website, interestingly enough, also has a merch tab, where you can peruse the (now closed) store of Man Dip memorabilia. Included in their items: a LADIES’ t-shirt with the Man Dip logo on it. Wait a minute- the ladies can’t have the dip, but we can advertise it on our tits? Oh, I get it. Because Real Men also like tits. Makes sense.

Of course, www.mandip.com isn’t the first place to make this delicious concoction. A simple google search will bring up a number of recipes for homemade man dip, so this is hardly their brainchild. But they chose to brand the product – and essentially their entire company – with this gender-specifying label. They could have called it anything else, but they called it that. No biggie, right? Well, they didn’t stop there. They also put recipes on the site, for other Man foods you can make (if you’re a Real Man, or if you’re the titty-sporting wife of a Real Man), and geared all of their statements toward the importance and the glory of being a Real Man. I find this to be excessively divisive, in a society where gender is already a hot-button issue, not just where people are concerned, but where consumer products and reporting are concerned.

Being the consumer reporter that I am, I decided it was only fair to start by reaching out to Andy, the owner/proprietor of Man Dip.

My email to Andy was not rude (shocking, I know), because it wasn’t my aim to call him out on his bullshit, but rather, to guide him toward an understanding of the zeitgeist in which we currently exist. I am not making any rules, nor am I speaking for anyone else, but my guidance comes from my own understanding of the vastly different and constantly varying viewpoints of those around me. I am smart enough to realize we live in a consumerist/capitalist society. We use the preferences and influence of our audience, to make money for ourselves. If Andy had looked a little more closely at the sign of the times, he would see that assigning gender to this product is a huge mistake, and I urged him to reconsider his mission statement.

Whether or not he bites, is his choice. I am hoping for a response that doesn’t include a condescending statement. Appeasing the curiosity of a lowly woman might be the order of the day, but I want more than answered questions. I want change. I want everyone to be welcome to eat that dip, whether they’re a Real Man or a Fake Man, or even a Woman. I am a woman who eats like a Real Man, so I don’t like being told ANY dip isn’t for me. I want that dip.

Unless someone has stuck their dick in it.

-jg

Covfefe

According to Urban Dictionary, I live in a “Big Town” because we fall between 7,000 and 20,000 people.  We have a population of about 18,000, but it’s one of the larger towns in the state, so we call it a city. Everyone who has been here longer than 5 years knows everyone else, at least by reputation, and you can easily get from “uptown” to “downtown” on foot without getting tired. I wasn’t raised here, but many of my friends -including my boyfriend- were, and they’ve watched businesses close, affecting numerous families in the community. They’ve seen their own friends die from drug overdoses, following a sad trend that has existed in this area for decades, with no apparent end in sight. They’ve burned bridges with employers that they have had to interact with again down the line, whether waiting on their ex-boss at the store or restaurant, or having to do outside business with them in their new job.
But there are also times when interactions just get weird. You don’t need to live in a big town to know that, but it certainly helps. I believe in signs, to a certain extent, and like to follow the lead of the universe in a lot of what I do. Coincidences and clairvoyance are an everyday occurrence in my life, to the point where it freaks out those around me. I don’t feel like going into that right now, but maybe I’ll forget that I wrote that, and still say something further down in another paragraph.
I normally go to the same Cumberland Farms (gas station in the Northeast) location for my coffee, whenever I can. The clerks all know me as a “regular” there (haha, coffee jokes) and I always get the same thing. Sometimes, I get up to the counter, and someone has paid for my coffee already. That’s the thing with Regulars. It’s like a communal offering. Only it started happening more and more frequently, so I started calling my stalker (I finally saw who he was) “Coffee” and avoiding entering the store if I saw he was there. This is tough to do, when you run on a routine that is similar to someone else’s. It makes for a lot of awkward dodging, and apparently for a 25 minute visit to the gas pump until I finally go inside.
I didn’t want to deal with “Coffee” anymore, so I started making my own coffee at home, which of course was not the same. I had to get back to the real stuff: the Primo shit straight from Africa or Colombia.
This morning, I told my boyfriend that I wanted to go to Cumberland Farms, and he joked: “Six guys are gonna pay for your coffee.” Haha yeah right! We laughed and laughed.
Then, at Cumberland Farms, someone paid for my coffee.
I don’t normally even go to this location of Cumberland Farms, but I was on that side of town so I stopped in for my fix. As I approached the parking lot, which is on the corner of a busy intersection, I noticed that there were 2 parking spaces available, but I was quickly cut off by two (separate) guys driving pickup trucks. They each slid into one of the available spaces, forcing me to have to back up and park near the garbage dumpster in the dirt. I mumbled something about the patriarchy, and how ladies are only allowed to let men to do EVERYTHING for them, or NOTHING – we can’t pick and choose which things are okay, and then not accept other things. I mean, if we can accept a man holding the door open for us, we should also be happy to accept their catcalling as they pass by. I ended my mumbling by shrugging and saying I don’t care about parking in the dirt.
When I went inside, it was a much different story. There were 3 female patrons, including myself, and about 15 guys. To be clear: it was 7:00 AM, which is change of shift in a factory town, so I was expecting there would be more men than women, it wasn’t a big deal. I made my coffee, and without making eye contact with anybody, I scoped out the other patrons, because that’s what I do. I have to make sure I know what people look like, in case I need to identify them in a lineup or something. I could see that I didn’t know anybody in the store. By the time I went to pay for my coffee, there were significantly fewer people in the store, and the last of the other two females was paying for her coffee in front of me. I got to the front of the line, and the clerk says “He paid for your coffee.” I thought he was talking about that woman, so I say, “Hey, she’s a woman.”
“No, the other guy paid for yours.” He says.
So, I say to the clerk, politely yet still confused, “Who paid for it? I literally know NOBODY in this store right now.”
The clerk chuckled. Ok, I do know the clerk, but only from having stopped in that store before. I don’t know if he knows my name, but I’ve seen him in there on the night shift, hating his life. He has seen me in there on the night shift, looking like a voodoo doll that got stuck in a garbage compactor.
“He’s gone now,” says the clerk. “Just some older guy.”
Me: “Well, did he pay for everyone else?”
“No, he must have just liked you.”
Now is a good time for me to bring it back around, that I had scoped out the people in that damn store, and I didn’t see any older guys, unless the clerk was being an ageist and the guy was like 40. I realize I myself am no spring chicken, but 40 doesn’t seem old to me. In this case, I wasn’t willing to let age be the deciding factor, because I instantly remembered that I had seen a 40-something asshole cutting me off in the parking lot just minutes prior. Now he was willing to pay for my coffee, like “Hey, here’s a charity coffee, on me. Now walk your ass to the other side of the parking lot, where I made you park.” It’s a fucking dollar, dude. Please, don’t do me any favors.
So now I had all kinds of principles telling me to pay for my coffee, because WHY the fuck didn’t he pay for the women in front of me (I watched them pay for their coffee)?  Why should anyone in that store think I would walk in, with no means to pay for my purchase? Did they really think I needed to save that ONE DOLLAR?
I put my buck-oh-six on the counter, and said “Here is the money for my coffee. Mystery guy just bought the next guy’s coffee.” It made me feel awesome that the guy ended up paying for another man’s coffee instead of mine. The other people in the store (all dudes at this point) were like “wtf?” but you know what? Fuck that. They don’t even know me by reputation, if they think I want some coffee ghost following me around town.

-jg

Why Women’s Empowerment Is Important To Me

I have been asked what made me start a Women’s Empowerment Group. There is no simple answer, being that I became interested in women’s strength when I was just a teenager in the 90’s, looking for some feminism. While I would love to credit that interest for the reason I became active, it simply isn’t the case.
I started the group because I was once a damsel in distress. I had nobody to help me out of the darkest, deepest hole of my life:  a failed marriage with children involved. My husband had slowly controlled every small aspect of my life, while making it invisible- almost enjoyable -to me, until there was nothing left. He literally walked away from me and the kids like we were a detonation site. I had no job, no money, no phone, no computer access if I even had wifi to turn on, no car, no tv, no friends, and no family to lean on. I know my parents will read this, and they’ll feel insulted that I’ve said no family to lean on. The truth is, I’m certain I could have gone to my grandparents or my mother at any time, and they would have helped me, with no questions asked.
But I would have asked questions of myself, and I didn’t want you to see that process, so I didn’t ask. Asking you for help would entail me finding a dollar in change somehow (because apparently there is a place I haven’t checked for change before…) and piling my 100 lbs of children into a 50 lb stroller, and finding a payphone, telling you about how my husband found a younger woman without kids, and tried to stretch out two lives for as long as possible. I would also then have to tell you that when it stopped being possible to cheat on me for that long, he decided it would be better to leave the three of us behind, and not ever come back or check on us. I would probably also have included the information that he had his girlfriend come to our house to pick him up. But then, I would also have to face the questions (there they are!) about why. Why was I not enough? Why was my passion and dedication to our children not enough? Why were my domestic efforts not enough? Why was my faithfulness to our marriage not enough? There are questions of how as well. How did I become so undesirable, when he had just married me the year before? How could I not notice the signs sooner? How am I going to word this to my grandparents, or to my mom, in a way that won’t sound like I need them to save me?
I felt alone. In a way, being alone was better than being pitied. When I wasn’t alone, it meant someone was sitting around, listening to my plight, and agreeing that it sucked. Nothing changed, and nothing got better. They just agreed that my situation was fucked up, and thanked “god” that it wasn’t them.  I wanted to minimize the circle of people who fit into that category of “visitors” and decided being alone was the way I needed to go. I had my kids, and immersed myself in being with them, and taking pictures of them. But I still felt an emptiness inside, where my pride used to be. I had lost what people like to call “my voice.”
For years.
So, when I noticed a sadly obvious trend among my girlfriends, I couldn’t help but feel a duty to them; a duty to help them understand that there IS someone out there who wants to listen. There ARE other women who know what she is going through. She just doesn’t know, because she has lost her voice for everything other than asking herself the same questions I suffered through.
I started the Women’s Empowerment and Education Group online, and invited all of the ladies I thought would benefit from it. I posted articles from psychology journals, educating women on things that were happening to them, that they couldn’t understand. I posted funny blogs by women who used humor to ease their pain in their own situations. I posted links to events that could be helpful to women, for whatever reason, which I didn’t need to know. It was a casual forum, where women could read about issues females face in our society, as well as other cultures. But I didn’t know how effective the group was, until our first actual meeting.
There were only a handful of ladies at the first meeting, including my teenage daughter, which upset me at first. I had put the event together, because of some very specific ladies who had been coming to me for advice. Imagine my surprise when many of them didn’t show up. My disappointment didn’t last long, and the meeting was a great success. I met a new friend, and was able to help old friends vent out frustrations they had been sitting on. There was a TON of “Yes! Exactly!” and even talk of our next meeting. My new friend messaged me the following week, and said she couldn’t wait for the next time we could meet in person, because she loved the group. My other friends said they loved the small setting, and felt like they could talk about anything, despite having just met each other that day. My daughter said she had a good time, and learned a lot about what life is like outside of the nuclear family. I found it eye opening to see how my friends easily interacted with each other, and decided this had to happen again soon.
As things have progressed, I’ve seen both the rewarding side of helping women in less than desirable situations, as well as the scary side that tests your conscience to see how much you really want to help. I’ve been in the position where I’ve had to consider that someone would come after me and possibly harm myself and my family- or worse. I’ve considered my name being dragged around the internet, I’ve considered that I may be followed, or my car may be tampered with, or my house might be broken into. I don’t know what will happen. I do know that Matt recently lost a great friend because he tried to help his sister-in-law escape a violent relationship. Her boyfriend drove 600 miles to find her, kill her, and then kill the family who had tried to help her. Three people were murdered that night, including Matt’s friend and his (friend’s) wife…in front of their 4 year-old daughter. Months after, I read about a woman who I had known to be in a very violent situation for years, getting shot by her boyfriend. This was after people repeatedly told her that “nobody risks their freedom to get back at a girlfriend.” I guess he was willing to risk it. Her mother stood fearlessly between them, and saved her daughter from being killed by her attacker, though she did end up in ICU for her injuries.
Matt has been worried that I will end up on the unfortunate side of things because I tried to help. This is a very real concern, but when I think about what would happen to these women if I abandoned them, I can’t bring myself to leave them. They have nobody else to go to. Nobody else to trust them, or let them know that their feelings are valid. Nobody who cared enough to listen, much less give advice or make moves happen. My role in these women’s lives is important. They gain strength through my love and support, and are able to look at themselves differently, and are able to fight their way to something better. Even inspiring one woman is enough for me to not turn my back. If I stopped helping because I was afraid, I would be leaving these women to fight alone, when they are much more afraid than I am.
I started a Women’s Group, because I wanted women to stop being told nobody is going to listen to them. I started it because it was necessary. I tell them to be strong and never give up. How could I not practice the same for them?

-jg