Holding Out For A Hero

I have come to believe God stopped making men capable of confidence and decisive action some time in the late 70's. Twice in the last two weeks three men have watched another man act aggressively towards me and said and done nothing. 

Today when I arrived at the station to wait for my train there was a smelly and bedraggled young man with his pants and underwear halfway down his thighs. He was hunched over and drooling. Wanting to give my fellow man the benefit of the doubt, I at first assumed he was an itchy drug addict so out of it he wasn't aware of his surroundings. About 30 seconds later I realized he was in fact masturbating. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn't. I looked at the three men waiting with me for the train and they were staring at their phones. They glanced at the guy but each time they went back to their phones. So I loudly in my best angry mom voice said ,"Get your hands out of your goddamn pants! I don't care what you think you're doing. Stop or I'm calling the police." He kept doing it but moved behind the pillar. So I said even louder, "That's it! I gave you a choice. Calling the cops." At which point he did take his hands out of his pants, and pulled them up. He then glared at me and took two deliberate steps towards me. I took THREE steps towards him, slowly shaking my head. I intently said, "Don't. You have more to lose than I do." He paused for maybe three seconds and then sat down with his hands folded in his lap.

Now before you accuse me of being brave, in my right pocket I had my self-defense stabbing key chain and in my left I had my taser. And I assure you  I had both hands in my pockets. I was also wearing sneakers and fully prepared to run. But I read the situation correctly and didn't have to run. A few minutes later the train came. I found a seat and put in my headphones. My plan was to listen to music and shake the whole thing off. But then I felt some dude staring at me and trying to get my attention.

Man: So that was crazy. I was going to say something.

Me: Hmm. Couldn't tell. 

Man: Well I was.

Me: (sarcastically) I'm sure you were

Man: (angrily) What's your problem? He might have been armed

Me: Yeah. With the same weapon I assume is in your pants. But whatever dude. It's over. So...yeah. 

He didn't let it go and there was a bit more back and forth in which I accused him of watching too much TV. Drug addicts are usually pretty docile and content to only hurt themselves. And public masturbators aren't known for their violence. But at each turn I reiterated that I would like to have had the help, but it obviously wasn't required. Finally when I was done discussing it and just wanted to watch a funny youtube video on my phone I said, "Listen! If you want me to say it is cool you didn't do anything, you'll be waiting until the robot apocalypse. Not going to say it. But it also doesn't matter what I think. I don't know you. You shouldn't care what I think." And I put in my headphones and put up my hand in the STOP gesture when he tried to continue the conversation.

I was tired and annoyed and I don't tolerate public masturbation. If I die feel free to put it on my headstone "Here lies, D.C. Martin. Daughter, Sister, Friend, Advocate against jerking off in public"  If those dudes could put up with it...well...bully for them. I haven't expected a man to consistently and reliably have my back since my father died when I was 18. But just because I don't expect it, that doesn't mean that I don't want it. And I feel hideously old-fashioned.

We exaggerate the danger in this world to the point that people are afraid to act. Could that guy have had a gun or knife? Possibly. But it was really unlikely. And I can't live my life being disgusted four feet away from a man yanking it. I work hard. And I don't have an easy life. I deserve moments of peace. And I don't ask myself to endure unnecessary indignities. And everyone else at that stop deserves dignity and peace too. So why was I the only one who said anything? Why were those three men so afraid of being cursed out, punched, or in some way minimally harmed that they'd rather just sit there and be victims? What kind of person, not even man, but person, is too afraid  at the very least to call  the police for help. I had already stood up and said something, all the men had to do was stand next to me, or behind me. They could've even just sent a text to the "See something, Say something" number. But they did nothing. 

Something similar happened at my book club last week. A guy was bullying some women. I said something. The men sat silently, or nervously laughing. And later they said "I was going to say something..." But they didn't. Of course they didn't. And when I don't let them use feminism as an excuse to stand by and do nothing they get pissy. Feminism means we stand up to wrongs TOGETHER. It doesn't mean we cower and give up together. I have an illustrative example that I use to help men understand the difference between chauvinism and support. In her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Gloria Steinem tells a story about arriving home after a long and stressful trip to find her boyfriend had sent a car to the airport to pick her up and drive her home. There is no doubt that Gloria was fully capable of getting herself home, she didn't need him to send that car. She wouldn't have just stood there like a kid not picked up from pre-school. But as she slid into that car and leaned her head back and closed her eyes exhaling she felt appreciated, supported, and loved. Her boyfriend wasn't oppressing her, or controlling her. He was being a partner and a friend. 

There is nothing in this world that I want or need, that I need a man to provide for me. But I'm exhausted.  A little help would be nice. I can protect myself from public masturbators and alpha male bullies. But any man who sees me in distress is welcome to help. And if he doesn't help, he can expect me to be disappointed and a bit too overworked to make him feel better about himself for being fearful and useless. 

I started this post by saying that this inaction and fear is something I'm noticing universally in men younger than myself. And that is because it seems to so far to be isolated to those men. Elderly men, middle-aged men, and the men I know my age have always either helped me out or backed me up without fail. People tease me about only dating old guys. But it isn't only that we share a love of whiskey, baseball, and books about war. It is about the moment when I'm angry or scared and I look to my man and he isn't staring at his phone. 

 Here is my keychain. My taser is less photogenic.

Here is my keychain. My taser is less photogenic.

Make-Up Confuses Me

I spend a fair amount of time hating my personality because I’m socially awkward. When I die they should carve on my headstone “Ugh. Why did I say that?!?!?!” But although I don’t always enjoy my personality, I tend to be okay with my looks. I look like my parents,  they were nice looking people, and I loved them. And I like to see them. My father is long dead and my mother lives far away. It is nice to see them when I’m brushing my teeth.
 
The Mirror Has Two Faces is not a good movie. I love it. Regardless, it is crap. But there is one great line in the movie. The protagonist played by mildly deranged fame demon Barbara Streisand is talking to her future husband and he comments on the fact that she doesn’t wear makeup. And she says, “What’s the point? I’d still look like me, only in color.” It isn’t magic. You don’t wave the mascara wand around, say some incantations and get a new face. You get a face that is shinier or more matte. You get eyes that look slightly bigger and lips that are a different color and maybe a little fuller. But it is still your face. And since I’m cool with my face it always felt like it wasn’t worth the hassle.
 
I am aware that I have some facial features that years of human evolution have deemed as more attractive than others. And I don’t have acne or wrinkles. I’m also lacking in birth marks and scars.  So it is easier for me to say “Eh. That’s acceptable” versus someone who has to deal with excessive external criticism regarding their looks. But since when has being pretty stopped anyone from feeling shitty about their looks and being makeup and plastic surgery obsessed? What’s that you said? Oh. Right. Never. So it isn’t that.
 
I suspect it is a form of complacency that I’ve decided is contentment. I am currently as beautiful as I will ever be. It is all downhill from here. I can’t afford plastic surgery and am not healthy enough to risk having it. Therefore, thinking up reasons why I need it would be counterproductive to my desire to be happy.
 
And I don’t worry much about being pretty because it isn’t my job. I’m not a model or actress. No one pays me to be pretty, so I don’t have to be good at it. The insurance company that has the honor of being my day job would hypothetically pay me the same amount to do my job if I wore makeup. I say hypothetically because I do not know what the most beautiful women in the office make and I have never consistently shown up to the office looking like something other than the kind of woman who reads a lot and has never accomplished a successful cat-eye. Since what we’re building towards is me starting to wear makeup, soon we may find out.
 
I don’t have many friends who are not daily makeup wearers. One doesn’t know how to apply it. And another is allergic to everything and swelling and open sores don’t bring all the boys to the yard. So I have had ample opportunity to ask “Why is it that you do the thing that you do with your face?”
Reasons:
1)      “I have bad skin.” I’m not sure who decides what is good or bad skin. But my understanding of the standard is that it is smooth and one even skin tone. This is also virtually impossible to accomplish past your 12th birthday. People constantly compliment me on my skin. It is three distinct colors. We should have separate skin standards for adults and children.
2)      “I look tired.” Umm…Bitch, you are tired. You have kids/a job/an annoying husband/insomnia/a casual cocaine habit or combination of two or more. If we all look tired, no one looks tired. New Standard! Who’s with me? *crickets*
3)      “I don’t have any eyelashes if I don’t put on mascara.” You demonstrably DO have eyelashes if you can apply mascara. If you don’t have alopecia universalis then you are being overdramatic and allowing Maybelline to pimp you out to make them rich.
4)      “I don’t want to look old.” Yeah. This is a tough one. I don’t want to be mean. But if you are worried about looking old you probably already do or makeup isn’t going to help. You’ll just look less like you’re going to die today. And before you come for me with your “Easy for you to say. Black don’t crack.” I beg to differ. Black just takes longer to crack, but it almost always cracks. I’m going to look the same way I do today until I’m 60. And then in what will seem has been overnight I will look 110 years old. I’ve seen it happen. It is like there is an invisible army that shoves black women into meat dehydrators when they least expect it. And then we find ourselves whining, “But I used to look so good.”
5)      “I like it/I like how it looks/It is fun.” Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere. This makes sense to me. In this scenario no one is internalizing impossible to achievable beauty standards that slowly poison their soul until they’re writing into their will how they want their hair and makeup done at their funeral.

Since all of my readers are smart and ask the right questions, you’re wondering why if I don’t feel like I need it and I don’t like it, why am I going to start wearing makeup again. Excellent. Good for you. It is because I recently through careful examination realized that the kind of men that I want to attract like women who wear makeup. That when you put on makeup it signals to the world that you prepared to be noticed and want to be looked at. Wearing makeup says “I wanted to look my best for you.” It doesn’t matter that what I think is my best look is “$50 richer and slept 10 more minutes.” In order to achieve the desired result we must take the appropriate action. (Insert eye-roll) So I will wear makeup every day for two weeks, and see if I notice any positive change in how the world treats me. I’ll let you know. So prepare yourself for a bitter diatribe on how superficial the world is. Or just a video of me twirling and laughing with a scrubbed clean face shining with triumph.

 Me. With varying amounts of color  applied to my face.

Me. With varying amounts of color  applied to my face.

An Open Letter to Accidental Racists and Bigots

For centuries straight cisgender able-bodied white males determined what everyone would be called like a little girl on Christmas morning naming her dolls. Now as marginalized people begin asserting themselves it easy to offend someone. Even if you’re a good and kind person who would never do so intentionally. The wrong way to respond is to say it isn’t offensive. A little worse, would be to say people are too sensitive. And it is hard not to look like an ass saying "We're friends, we can joke around that way" or "It’s okay that I said it because one of my best friends is (insert race/sexual preference, ethnicity, etc). As a person of color I feel like I can provide insight into how many of us would prefer you responded. Copy this down and try it:
“I didn’t know that was offensive. I’m sorry. I won’t say it again.”


If you think you might be a victim of a social justice warrior politically correct witch hunt you can follow up with this question, “Why is it offensive?” We’re happy to explain it. There is always a reason. And usually we’ve put up with it for at least a century before we got up our nerve up to say something. I promise contrary to what FOX news and the right-wing blogosphere tells you, we’re not just making shit up to make you feel bad.


Getting defensive and arguing with the offended party about how they shouldn’t be offended is a request to have your privilege and superiority affirmed by that person. You’re telling a gay person that you know more about being gay, a black person that you understand the 400 years of the subjugation of their ancestors better than they do, and you’re asking a transgender person for permission to tell them who they are and how the world will see them. If you actually are as a good a person as you think you are, you won’t want to do that.


But if you still feel like you are being bullied by the word police you can just say “Okay” and roll your eyes after we look away. You’re not the first person to say whatever it is to us, at this point we can live without your enlightenment. We’ll settle for you just shutting up.

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Angry at Soup

One of the chief conflicts of my life is that I'm a loner. But I am also driven insane by solitude. Constant battle. People, can't live with them, really need to stop trying to live without them.

I haven't been feeling well lately, and  I have spent much of the week in bed, eating soup. And I purchased a new soup, Campbell's Well Yes! Sweet Potato Corn Chowder. I like my food with a kick so I added some cayenne pepper and it was really delicious. My rage is not directed at the soup itself, but the label on the can. I actually yelled at the can.

"Preparing the soup is Easy!"  Really assholes?!?!?! Nothing in life is easy. If it's so easy what is with the damned exclamation point?

"You know how to do this-" Maybe I don't. Maybe this is my first soup ever. For all you know I'm a recently orphaned teen just trying to make it on her own, and you've now made me feel like I'm ill-prepared for life because everyone else in the world already knows how to make soup.

"All microwaves are a little different-so suggested cooking times are approximate."  Well, well, well, look who has lawyers on staff who are afraid of getting sued if someone eats overcooked or under cooked soup. 

"Heat in a covered microwaveable serving bowl on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes." Thirty seconds into cooking the soup I learned why this instruction was lacking the rest of the label's insouciance. YOU MUST COVER THIS SOUP! I spent more time cleaning up splatter than I spent eating soup. 

"Let the soup sit in the microwave for 1 minute. Resting is good. Carefully remove."  You soup elites don't understand the common man. Not everyone has the luxury of rest. Not in life. Not in soup. Some of us hustle 24/7. When I'm asleep, I'm working in my dreams. And guess what Campbell's, many people eat soup at work, in a shared microwave. Other people need to use it. And they will think you're a jerk if even after the microwave beeps you don't take the soup out. You can't just make them keep waiting. Also Campbell's do you not know how microwaves work? They beep and beep and beep and beep until you open the door. I don't find an irritated appliance asking me to get my shit together very restful.

"Stir up the goodness and serve with a smile!"  Why is everything with you people an exclamation? It is just soup. I think I'm agitated because you're too animated.

"Caution edges are sharp." Oh, now you want to walk the novices through soup. Umm...A sharp edges warning is a little late. At this point in the label we already have a bowl full of hot soup. If we were going to cut ourselves on the can it would've happened while we were emptying it. Oh. My. God. You're lucky your soup is really delicious. 

"Made with carefully chosen ingredients:"  You've been making soup since 1869. Are you telling me that up until now you haven't given a shit about what you've been feeding people? Soup is eaten by children and old people. Tell me you were being careful before. 

I bought all seven of the vegetarian soups in the Well Yes! line and they're all amazing. And that is the only reason I will continue to let them piss me off with their stupid labels. Great soup. But I don't like yelling at cans of soup like Trump yells at the media.

Ivanka...Let Me Explain

Hey Ivanka,

Girl! You look great. And I hope things are going well. You seem very nice. But I worry that the wrong people are yelling in your ear about department stores dropping your brand. This isn't an attack on your father. This is letting the market make its wishes known. Republicans are always saying we should let the market dictate. You can't complain if it doesn't go your way. Fair is fair. And there are reasons that people stopped buying your wares.

  • Your brand was built on the narrative of a hardworking professional woman aiming for the perfect work/life balance while looking chic. You are the one Trump family member to truly step down from running a company. You're no longer involved because you quit your job to be a D.C. housewife and fill in for your reluctant stepmother as First Lady and White House hostess. You can't sell "You can have it all" and then say "Meh. I don't even want it anymore."
  • Allow me to speak anedotally for a moment. A few months ago I needed to buy a designer tote. Most days I carry a backpack, but I needed a large bag that could go from the office to dinner. I found your Blair bag online and spent three days contemplating buying it. I decided against it because I didn't want to be harrassed when I carried it. Your last name became poison the moment you said your father would be good for women with a straight face. If you decide to go back into fashion maybe name the line something else. That way women can buy your products without inadvertently marking themselves as bigots, homophobes, and misogynists. 
  • You have been accused of stealing from other designers. If we're going to carry knockoffs they should at least be cheap. 
  • Lack of celebrity cache. I'm about as bookish and disengaged from fashion as a person can get, so when I buy a designer piece it is because someone I think is awesome made it an aspirational item. When you decided to build your brand around people aspiring to be YOU, you painted yourself into a corner. No one aspires to be the daughter of a man so maligned he was protested by an entire gender. No one aspires to be invited to throw tea parties while her two brothers run a billion dollar empire. No one aspires to have their father say things that hint at incestuous thoughts about them. 
  • You got hit with a very effective hashtag. Hashtags can bring you high or take you lower than you ever thought you could go. And #grabyourwallet and its illusions to your father saying "grab them by the pussy" meant you didn't stand a chance.

I hope this provides you with some clarity. I would hate to think of you sitting at home like the girl who can't find anyone to sit with at lunch glumly asking, "Why does everybody hate me?" We don't hate you. We hate your name and what it stands for. Again, you seem like a decent lady. 

 Ivanka Trump Blair Tote. Cute right? But...Nope.

Ivanka Trump Blair Tote. Cute right? But...Nope.