It Doesn't Matter What You Think

I have a lot of thoughts about Aziz Ansari. I have a lot of thoughts about Grace, too.

But mostly I have thoughts about what consent means, or should mean.

(If you're not sure what I'm talking about, allegedly feminist comedian Aziz Ansari and 22 year old Grace - not her real name- went on a date a while back. Grace feels he assaulted her {Her account, painful to read, is here} and he has apologized for misreading her signals.)

My first thought, when I saw the article linked on Twitter, was, "Not Aziz, dammit!"

But I read the article anyway, because of course I did.

It made me sad.

When I was Grace's age (and younger), it was sort of a given that a guy would always be trying to push past whatever boundaries you had in place. And it was the girl's job to repeatedly say no, or move the hand away, or whatnot. And if it got really annoying, you left. (And if he didn't let you leave, or ignored your no, then maybe it was assault but also what were you doing in his room in the first place?)

By those standards, this story is not one of assault.

I keep reading comments about how she didn't leave, how she didn't repeatedly say no, so of course it wasn't assault.

And I'm inclined to agree, given my own experiences and my realization that while it sounds like Aziz is both clumsy and gross, he is not Harvey Weinstein.

And yet.

If we define consent as not actively saying no, Brock Turner is not a rapist. And Brock Turner is definitely a bigger rapist than Aziz Ansari.

If we define consent as not leaving immediately, we blame every person afraid to run out of their boss' or potential employer's office.

Grace seems baffled that Aziz Ansari misunderstood her non-verbal cues and lack of affirmative consent. I find this heartening in one way - it makes me think that when Grace has hooked up with her male peers, they have respected non-verbal cues and looked for affirmative consent.

Aziz is something like 15 years older than Grace so it's entirely possible he missed the affirmative consent movement during his college years. It's also entirely possible that as an Emmy winning TV star in his late 30s, he presumes the consent of every young woman who agrees to go out with him. If #MeToo has taught us anything, it's taught us that powerful men often assume consent from all the less powerful women in their orbit. 

Grace's shock and inability to advocate for herself in the moment will feel familiar to anyone who has been assaulted. And yet those of us who grew up in places and times where no had to be explicit, repeated and occasionally accompanied by running out the door, it's hard to understand why Grace felt so violated by Aziz's creepiness. 

Consent should never be implied, nor should it rely on anyone to yell no. In an ideal world, partners would be attuned to and invested in their lovers' non-verbal cues every single time. But we don't live in an ideal world, so when we talk to our kids about consent, we need to talk about what happens when they find themselves with a creep. 

Because of this story and my own experiences as a heterosexual woman, I know I'm looking at consent through a certain lense. But affirmative consent and strong self-advocacy are important for kids of all genders and sexualities. 

In the end, it doesn't really matter what you or I think of Grace, Aziz and their horrible date. What does matter is working to prevent dates like that and worse. 


#Shithole Country

There are now almost as many articles describing Trump's racism as there are about why Trump voters still support Trump. And there are still swaths of people - including Bernie Sanders - who will tell you that Trump and his supporters are not racists.

Those swaths of people are lying. Perhaps even to themselves.

Those swaths of people really enjoy quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they swear Trump is not racist because he hired Omarosa and Ben Carson. They will even cite Trump recognizing today as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to point out how he's not racist.

Fun fact: If you judge a person by the land of their birth, or assume the content of their character because of  where they were born or what religion they practice? You're just as racist as if you judged them by their skin color.

And if you fucking announce that you want immigrants from Norway instead of El Salvador? You're racist.

And not in that funny way from Avenue Q, either.

If you spend a lot of time on Breitbart (which is doubtful if you are reading this blog) or watching certain Fox News shows, your definition of racist is probably very different than mine. Breitbart, after all, has a tag called, "black crime" to rile up their readers - who claim the tag is "not racist".

Trump, alleged leader of the free world, does spend time on Breitbart and Fox News. He's also 71 and the son of a man arrested at a Klan rally. He doesn't read. He's never served in the military, studied abroad, interned, worked for minimum wage, moved to a new city or done anything to expand his cultural knowledge. Of course he's racist.

I used to think he was racist in a way that I call "privileged racist". You know, the kind that doesn't see skin color - or acknowledge that people of color have challenging experiences solely because of their skin color that white people can't imagine. But now I suspect Trump's racism is deeper and more global.

The Daily Stormer, Nazi wannabe paper of record, was right about something back in 2016: Trump is their candidate.

At this point, I'm more comfortable with the Nazi wannabe who openly says he loves Trump because of his racism than all of the people who tell me Trump isn't racist. Those who don't or can't see Trump's racism never share this King quote with me, but I think it's more appropriate:

Of course, as Trump runs around calling other countries shitholes (Trump fans should read that "as Trump runs around talking tough") and insulting our friends, I'm finding it harder and harder to view the silent people as good. 

Fox host Jesse Watters says this is how the forgotten people talk at the bar. I know Fox thinks "forgotten people" is code for the white working class. . . but it's really code for racists of all economic levels. In fact, I've heard talk like this from way more white middle and upper class people than I've ever heard from working class people. Exhibit A, Fox talking blonde Tomi Lahren, who make more money than most of us do.

If they aren’t shithole countries, why don’t their citizens stay there? Let’s be honest. Call it like it is.

I guess Tomi (and Trump) don't realize that people immigrate FROM the US as well - does that make us a shithole?

But Tomi, just like The Daily Stormer, is also right about one thing: Call it like it is.


Friday I'm In Love: This Post Wasn't Sponsored

This post has affiliate links. Because I'm posting about something I actually like!  You are free to ignore them. Keep in mind, though,  that Jeff Bezos will not miss the nickels I will earn if you buy through me, but I'll be forever grateful. 

For Christmas, my Dad (thanks, Dad!) got our family an Echo Dot . The kids were very excited to be able to ask Alexa things, because they love harassing her at my parents' house. (I have a very bad habit of anthropomorphizing Alexa. I've been known to thank her.) It was nice to just ask for the weather and top news headlines, instead of getting sucking into the morass that is my phone and all of its various notifications and distractions.

 Quickly we all embraced her ability to keep track of our every growing grocery list, especially since we could just yell things to her while we were in the middle of cooking.

But it was Hot Guy demanding that she play "Rhinestone Cowboy"  to torture the kids that made me fall in love with the Echo Dot . Alexa explained that if we had Amazon Music she could play us the whole song, but since we didn't, she'd play us an excerpt. Immediately I investigated Amazon Music.

Now, probably all of you reading this have many cool music apps and/or already know about Amazon Music but we. . . .did not. We still have CDs. We just got rid of our stereo last year. Sometimes we try Pandora, but for years most of my music enjoyment has been in the car. When I was in a car with Sirius Satellite Radio.

Anyway. I knew nothing about Amazon Music, despite having been a Prime Member since 2004. I quickly discovered that because I'm a Prime Member, I can pay $3.99 per month for a vast, ad-free, music library that I can play on the Echo Dot and from my phone in the car and from my iPad and. . .

I was able to impress seventh grade girls by telling Alexa to play Imagine Dragons.

I was able to make playlists so easily and with so many different artists that I finally stopped missing mixed tapes.

I was able to listen to it from my phone during my commute to work in the car that doesn't have satellite radio.

I don't think I realized how much I missed listening to music until I was able to do it again. I apologize for writing a post that seems like it's sponsored.

It's totally not. I just really like my Echo Dot and Amazon Music. And I thought I'd try to see if I could still write about something I actually like. During one of the other times I regularly blogged, I did a series called "Friday I'm in Love" to focus on the happy (and to pay tribute to one of my favorite Cure songs, obviously). I'm considering doing it again.

I just doubt I'm going to find something I love as much as my Echo Dot every single week.


There's No Value In This Post

That feeling when you send a blog post out into the world and there's a typo in the freaking TITLE.

This what I have not missed about blogging.

I have a bunch of automated crap for sharing my posts, because that was the accepted wisdom back  in the olden days. I have no idea if it still is, but I also have no idea anymore how to stop any of it. Which sucks, because this probably won't be the last time I have an embarrassing typo.

I'm so much better at proofreading and editing other people's stuff than I am with my own. Of course, it helps that someone ASKS me to look at their stuff, whereas I'm usually in such a hurry to get to the next task that I often hit the publish button prematurely.

Perhaps I do need to look at one of those "How to Create a Successful Blog in One Month" pins that keep showing up on my Pinterest feed. Hopefully they include a reminder to proofread before hitting publish. The last time I looked at one, the first suggestion was to make sure to "offer readers something of value in each post" and the second was to "give them the information they need".

Further investigation revealed that successful bloggers don't consider laughing something of value, nor do they consider learning which people are pissing me off to be information they need.

(Have you guessed who's pissing me off today yet? I promise that you won't have to click through 27 ads to find out!)

I'm not saying that I'll never give advice, or that I haven't given advice, but this idea that every post has to include valuable information. . .

that's what has gotten the blogging world to a place where people are sharing recipes for chocolate chip cookie dough HUMMUS. Which is obviously a crime against hummus, chocolate chips and humanity. No to mention an obviously desperate attempt to create something of value for readers.

I've also seen a blog post about how to organize your yogurts by date in your fridge. Anyone who needs this information is way too disorganized/uninterested to accomplish it and those of us who do stuff like this don't need a blog post to tell us how.

I blame The Pioneer Woman.

Plenty of niche blogging, including parent blogging, has been informational. Even if that information was just, "Oh my god, my 1 year old bangs his head.  And my pediatrician said not to worry about it! But I totally am!" It was relatable, not authoritative. Except for The Pioneer Women.

She did all her amazing recipes and homeschooling and whatnot fantastically, without swearing or admitting flaws or telling any funny stories. She did not have opinions on very many things - certainly not politics or even pop culture controversies.

And now it seems that so many parenting - excuse me, now they're lifestyle - bloggers have turned into aspiring Pioneer Women. And by aspiring, I mean that they copy her tone and style and habits so they too can write cookbooks and appear on The Food Network.

Or at least write sponsored posts for Ziploc.

Which would be fine, except that it feels like they believe this is the only way to blog, and the only reason to. At least, that's the impression I get from the advice they post for newbie bloggers.

And that advice? Well, I'm so glad it didn't exist when I started blogging. I never, ever would have blogged if I'd had those expectations laid out to me when I was a new, isolated, overwhelmed mom who liked writing. Their advice on not getting too personal, on not swearing and on how to "make your blog brand-friendly" is such a turn off for me. So are many of their blog posts, to be totally honest. 

But I read blogs for fun, not for directions on being the perfect homemaker, so what do I know?

Other than I've never enjoyed reading The Pioneer Woman. I did enjoy this woman, however. And this one. And this one.

Huh. It's almost like humor does have value. 


Whoops, You Fell Down the Idiot Hole*

You may not remember, but a couple of years ago a mom made the news because all 7 of her kids got whooping cough. She, of course, was against vaccines. Her children infected her baby niece, who wasn't yet fully vaccinated. It was terrible for all of them, and now this mom is pro-vaccine.

I hate this whole story.


Even the part where she learns a valuable lesson and evolves on the issue.

I know I'm supposed to applaud her evolution, which she blogged about extensively.

But I'd rather use my hands to slap her.

Imagine, instead, if this woman refused to use car seats because she grew up just fine without them. And then, she got rear-ended in traffic and all of her children were injured because they weren't in car seats. And then she ran around promoting car seats. Still impressed?

How about if she let her kids smoke because she had a grandma who smoked like a chimney and lived to be 90?

How about if she claimed that racism didn't exist because no one in her (white) family had experienced it or perpetuated it?

Ok, I'm exaggerating. About this particular woman, anyway. Although I always wonder about the anti-vaccination parents who use car seats. Why do they believe the car seat studies and not the vaccination studies? Car seat companies operate for profit, just like pharmaceutical companies, after all. And I'm probably jinxing myself here, but we've gotten sick way more often than we've gotten in car accidents. And the fight to buckle Hugmonkey into his car seat back in the day was a daily thing, unlike getting vaccinations or even getting sick. How odd then that there's no anti-car seat movement. (At least, not one I can find with a quick Google search)

But this is not meant to be a post about vaccines**, exactly. It's meant to be about people who cannot properly evaluate information unless it happens to them. The whooping cough mom admits to dismissing peer reviewed scientific studies in favor of "natural" mom blogs to justify her anti-vax stance. But then those evil medical experts saved her children's lives so now she believes what they've been saying to her for years. Seriously?

That's like taking my advice on time management  over some expert's, then being saved from financial ruin by the expert hiring you. But you never would have teetered near financial ruin if you had just listened to the expert in the first place.

In other words, random people on the internet do not know more than the CDC, or the Mayo Clinic, or even public health reporters at the Boston Globe. Believing the people on your favorite forum over experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics puts you in the same idiot hole as people who believe The National Enquirer over the The Philadelphia Inquirer.

*Yes, this post could have been titled, "Fuck You, Whooping Cough Mom". I predict that most of my posts in the near(ish) future could be titled, "Fuck You, so and so" and be perfectly apt. But finding creative ways to say "fuck you" is going to become my new favorite hobby.

**If you want to argue with me about vaccines, read this first. And then just don't. I'm not going to change my mind.


Fuck You, Mark Dice

If you don't spend too much time dealing with Trump trolls on Twitter, you probably don't know who Mark Dice is. For that, you should considerate yourself fortunate. . .and wise.

I am not wise, so occasionally I see Mark's tweets. For all the disdain he and his ilk have for Hollywood, I'm pretty sure he tweeted about the Golden Globes almost as much as I did last night. The one that got me was the one attacking Meryl Streep for "knowing" about Harvey Weinstein.

Mark has had a lot of fun attacking the actresses in Hollywood who didn't speak out against Weinstein, Toback, etc. He doesn't attack the predators, unless you count his broad brush attacks of Hollywood as a whole. But mostly, Mark and misogynists like him (on both the far right and the far left) attack the women who knew, or the women they think should have known.

To which I say,

Of course, they have no idea what these women actually knew or what people did behind the scenes to try to stop the predatory behavior. They also conveniently ignore that this behavior isn't unique to Hollywood or Fox News or D.C. or whichever scapegoat location they've chosen to attack that week. Mark and his misogynists also love to overlook all the men who employed the predators over and over again.

In Mark's world, Meryl Streep is responsible for not outing Harvey Weinstein as a predator (despite the fact that he never preyed on her) but every woman who said anything about Bill O'Reilly or Trump is a liar. In Mark's world, there was never a time when an accomplished woman like Anita Hill was dragged through the mud for complaining about sexual harassment from a guy who still sits on the Supreme Court. In Mark's world, women have gotten rich when they accused powerful men, not degraded, humiliated and erased. In Mark's world, accusing the average CNN viewer of being stereotypically unattractive woman is the greatest insult there is.

Mark Dice is every person who told you to laugh off the dirty joke from your boss. Mark Dice is every person who told you to get over the guy groping you at the club. Mark Dice is every person who told you to be polite instead of making someone else uncomfortable. Mark Dice is every person who said you were too sensitive. Mark Dice is every person who judges women on looks first, second and third - even when it's not a beauty pageant. Mark Dice is every person who says school dress codes are important for girls because men can't help themselves.  Mark Dice is every person who told you that you shouldn't have been drinking, or walking alone, or wearing a skirt, or flirting, or being unfriendly, or sexually experienced, or a lesbian, when something bad happened.

And yet now, Mark Dice, serial asshole, doesn't understand why Meryl Streep didn't attack the most powerful man in Hollywood over rumors she may have heard about him harassing and assaulting women.

It would be funny, if he didn't have an army of misogynists who agreed with him.


Acid Washed Blog

Um, hey there.

This has been the biggest blog break I've ever taken.

Break is quite possibly a misnomer; I can't say for sure that I'm coming back. I mean, I'm definitely not coming back in that regular confessional sort of way that I maintained for years. And I'm definitely, definitely, not coming back in that fancy niche way all the bloggers are doing now.

That said, I miss blogging.

When I don't blog, I don't write much of anything. I thought I would write more without the blog, but I don't. I've written very little in the last couple of years - unless you count Twitter rants and educational curricula. And while I enjoy writing both of those things, a lot of my Twitter rants would probably be more effective as blog posts.

Not that very many people would read them; I just don't care enough about SEO and pinnable images and my brand and the 337 ways to market your blog post to get a lot of readers. And honestly I don't even know if there's a place for homely little blogs like mine anymore. It feels like everyone is an aspiring Pioneer Woman these days - except for those that are busy telling others how to be successful bloggers.

I suck at both of those things.

But back when I first started blogging (in 2007!) I hardly had any readers either. If I got one comment, I was so damn excited. And I loved having an outlet of my own so much. Why can't I just keep blogging like it's 2007?

Just because everyone else has evolved into brands with thousands of social media followers doesn't mean I have to.

Ironflower and Lovebug used to have a preschool teacher whose style had not evolved since the 80's - she had the teased bangs and blue eyeshadow to prove it. But you could tell that she felt really good in her acid washed denim and pink lipgloss, she didn't give a shit that her style hadn't changed since she'd been voted Prom Queen while Duran Duran was playing.

I was never blogging (or prom) queen, but that doesn't mean that I too can't rock my (metaphorical) blue eyeshadow. When I feel like it. With no established niche.


That Time My Kid Missed A Month Of School

Welcome back to those of you who probably didn't enthusiastically didn't vote for Trump. Also, I started this post a while back, but didn't finish it thanks to my much needed Trump rant. Anyway. . .

As I type, Ironflower is lolling on the couch on a Wednesday afternoon.


According to the letter I got about my older children's poor attendance records (which I got after Lovebug reached his 7th absence due to a 4 day fever/upper respiratory infection week before last), this marks Ironflower's 21st absence this year.

She'd be on her 22nd, but I made her go to school Monday (despite feeling very crappy, which made sense because by that afternoon she was vomiting and had a fever) and then get sent to the nurse just to prove that I'm not just letting her play truant because I'm too lazy to make her go to school.

I think she's had 5 stomach viri* this school year, including one which then turned into an upper respiratory infection which then turned into pneumonia that required 2 rounds of antibiotics. Which explains why she's missed the equivalent of a month of school, but not what the hell happened to her immune system. She's 12, not 2.

Though, to be perfectly honest, if puberty continues just like this - many illnesses, fierce independence and an unfailingly sarcastic wit, I will consider myself blessed. (I'm not sure the ever vomiting Ironflower would agree).

The most worrisome part of this whole missed a month of school thing is that she's only screwed up one test because of it.

Oh, and that it's quite possible the truancy officer is going to visit us. Or something. I don't quite know how it works in the 'burbs.

I think this must be karma. I remember judging parents whose kids missed a lot of school back in my teaching days, wondering why they didn't see the importance of daily attendance. Of course, if Ironflower is any indication, daily attendance isn't as important as I thought.

I'm just kidding, people ready to alert the middle school administration about my laissez-faire attitude.

*Or viruses, if you didn't sit through 3 years of Latin in junior high.