Category Archives: Media/Entertainment

It’s Galentine’s Day and I’m a Feminist So Let’s Talk About Feminism

Today is Galentine’s Day.

You’ve never heard of it?

I’ll let Leslie Knope, my favorite character from one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation explain.

After all, she created it.

It’s about “ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair minus the angst, plus frittatas.”

So let’s start by celebrating Leslie, who is my hero even though she is a fictional character.

I love her because she’s smart, funny, ambitious, opinionated, tenacious and yes, just a little bit annoying in her idealism. But perhaps most importantly, I love her because she doesn’t apologize for being any of those things.

She’s a great role model for women and girls, and hell, everyone.

She’s also a proud feminist and so am I.

The fact that I identify as a “feminist” shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve said it probably hundreds of times before and one of my blog’s categories is literally “All the Cool Kids are Feminists”. It has been a category for years.

So this isn’t a new thing for me, what is new is this feeling I’ve had lately (that I am by no means proud of) that I shouldn’t say I’m a feminist.

That I shouldn’t say it because it might offend someone, because they might not understand.

People are not liking the word “feminist” lately.

When I hear the “F word” I think of someone who advocates for the equality of all people. (With that in mind, here’s a link to a old, but good article that explains  intersectional feminism far better than I ever could.)

When other people hear the word “feminist” they seem to hear “man-haters” or “whiners” or “Trump haters” or for some reason I really don’t understand “ugly, women who don’t shave their armpits.”

I’ll talk a little about these definitions.

But first I want to be clear about where I’m coming from when I say I’m a feminist.

I think a big part of why, as a society, we seem to have a hard time relating to each other lately is that we’re not even working with the same definitions of words.

We assume we know what someone means whey they say they’re a feminist or a Republican or a Christian or a supporter of Black Lives Matter.

We see a label and ascribe a definition to it – based on what we think it means, not based on what the person we’re talking to thinks it means. We make assumptions. (And we all know what they say about assumptions.)

Basically, we’ve become big fans of oversimplification lately. (Or maybe we have always been big fans of it but I just didn’t notice until now.)

But oversimplification doesn’t work because if there is one thing people are not — it’s simple.

People are confusing. They’re complicated. They are sometimes contradictory and frequently frustrating.

And though, on the surface that may seem like a negative thing, if you look a little deeper you can see it’s actually a good thing. Because people are complicated – that means their views are complicated too. That means things aren’t always black and white. That means there is usually more agreement and overlap in ideas than we give ourselves credit for.

Lately, it seems like if you say you’re a supporter of one thing, people automatically assume you’re against something else.

For example, if I say I’m a feminist (aka pro-women in this example) that must mean I’m against men. If I say I’m a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, that must mean I hate cops. If I say I’m not a fan of Trump that must mean I’m a whiny Hillary supporter who is just complaining because my candidate lost.

Sorry, it’s just not that simple. Life’s not that simple. People are not that simple.

Because, the thing is, I can be a feminist and love men and women. I can support Black Lives Matter while still believing that our law enforcement professionals are an incredibly important part of our society and we should value their work more. I can be a critic of Trump and Hillary.

People are complicated so we have to try harder to understand where they’re coming from and we have to try harder to communicate where we’re coming from too.

So here’s what I’m trying to say when I say I’m a feminist:

I’m saying that I believe traditional gender roles are limiting for everyone and there’s still more work to be done in terms of achieving full equality. 

Emma Watson (aka Hermione) explained the problem with traditional gender roles much more eloquently than I ever could in her speech to the United Nations in 2014. (It’s an old video and a long video, but it has an important message which I also wrote about at the time.)

She starts the speech by talking about what I’m going to talk about now – that “feminism” is not “man-hating.”

I don’t understand this misconception. If anything, I think feminism does a better job of honoring men than sexism does.

I’ll explain.

In a sexist world – things are pretty simple, by design. Men and women fit into very rigid gender roles that tell us what it is acceptable for each gender to do and be. (Also, it goes without saying, this is a very hetero-normative worldview.)

We all know these rules. We’re taught them from an early age. Men are to be smart, strong, ambitious, career-minded, brave and aggressive. Women are to be gentle, friendly, sweet, selfless, moral and focused on caring for others.

These roles or rules give both genders a raw deal. Because we’re all capable of being all of these things and we should all be free to be these things without judgement.

As a feminist, I believe that men and women are equally capable of making good decisions and treating others with kindness. That is the opposite of man-hating.

If anything, sexism hates men, or if not hates them, definitely thinks they’re dumb or less capable of basic decency than women.

Sexism operates under the idea that men’s bad behavior is something that can be explained away wholly by their gender. That’s why sayings like “Boys will be boys” are so popular. That’s why when men talk about sexual assaulting women we hear people talk about it as “locker room talk” that every man does.

Sexism teaches us that this behavior is a normal and it should be expected and tolerated because that’s just the way men are. It teaches us that men aren’t capable of being decent human beings and it’s up to women to preserve the moral integrity of society. That’s why women have to have stricter dress codes because you know how men are, always thinking with their penises.

Ummm no. Men are smarter than that. They’re better than that.

Not all men view women as solely sexual objects. Not all men sexually harass women. Not all men talk about harassing women in locker rooms. Some men just change in locker rooms and talk about normal stuff like people do, because some men are nice.

The average man is good and decent and that’s the way feminism views him.

I don’t think I’m more capable of making good choices than my male counterparts simply because I’m a woman – I think we’re equal.

That’s sort of the point.

Okay, now we’ve reached another point where I’ve seen a lot of disagreement lately particularly among women.

Please let me explain where I’m coming from.

When I say I’m a feminist, I’m not saying that I don’t think men and women are equally capable. As I’ve explained, I do.

I am not saying men and women don’t have equal opportunities. In many ways, we do. We’ve come a long way.

Yes, we have the right to vote. Yes we have the right to pursue the careers of our choosing. Yes, we even have the right to be president.

But you don’t have to stop believing in something just because you’ve achieved some of your goals.

Life is more complicated than that. Equality is more complicated than that.

And we’re not equal yet.

Despite the fact that women make up more than half of the U.S. population, women are not equally represented in politics, business or entertainment.

These three groups shape our country’s laws and provide us with the products and media that are a large part of our daily lives.

And, just math-wise, it’s clear there’s not equality here.

  • It’s 2017, our country is roughly 240 years old and we’ve never had a female president. (This isn’t a pro-Hillary thing. I’m just saying it’d be nice of we had a lady in the White House at some point.)
  • There are only 20 women in the Senate out of 100 senators.
  • Since 1917, when representative Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to serve in Congress, 325 women have served as U.S. representatives, delegates or senators. (That may seem like a lot until you remember that Congress has 535 members and it’s been 100 years since 1917). 
  • Roughly 20 Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. Yeah, just 20.
  • Women made up 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic movies in 2016.

There’s still work to be done. 

And that touches on another complaint I’ve seen about feminism – that women who call themselves feminists want to be handed things. That they’re lazy. That they’re whiners.

Maybe that’s what some of them are saying, but I don’t think that’s what most of them are saying and that’s certainly not the brand of feminism I support.

And, it’s not the kind Leslie Knope would support either. I don’t know Leslie, because yeah, she’s not real, but I’d imagine she’d be behind the “let’s get to work” brand of feminism.

So what does that mean?

To me, it means supporting other women (particularly politicians, if I agree with their policies). It means supporting the work of female directors and other women who make good entertainment about smart, strong, female characters. It means working with young girls to let them now that they are capable of being anything they want to be.

And it means, not tearing other women down.

Which is one of the saddest things I’ve seen come out of the recent debate about feminism.

I’ve seen women who don’t identify with the feminist ideology saying that feminists have attacked them, saying feminists have called them a disgrace to women or something similar.

That’s not what feminism is about and if people calling themselves feminists did that to you or made you feel that way, I’m sincerely sorry. But please know these people don’t represent feminism as a whole and they don’t represent me.

 

But then I’ve seen people on the other side, people who don’t identify themselves as feminists, imply that feminists are lazy, or whiners or ugly girls who are just sad they can’t get a date.

This is equally sad and it needs to stop.

The name-calling needs to stop.

Because if Mean Girls taught us anything, it’s that this type of behavior is the freaking worst.

It’s “girl on girl crime” and it doesn’t help any of us. Here’s a video of Tina Fey, I mean, Ms. Norbury, talking about it. And yeah, the video’s long but it has a good point.

We’re all better off when we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down and Galentine’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate that.

P.S. You can also celebrate but giving to some neat organizations for woman and girls.

P.P.S. I know it’s annoying that I keep plugging charities, but I don’t care because sometimes a little annoying is good for us. Leslie taught me that.

 

 

 

 

Your Joke Wasn’t Funny But Here’s Some Stuff That Is

Sometimes, when you tell an offensive joke and people don’t laugh, the offensive bit wasn’t the only problem.

Sometimes the joke needs some work too.

Sometimes it just wasn’t funny.

Recently, a Nebraska politician came under fire for re-tweeting a joke about the Women’s March.

I’m not going to get into the whole thing here because frankly, the joke wasn’t funny the first time, nor was it funny when the state senator re-tweeted it. But if you’re interested, here’s a link to an article on it from the Lincoln Journal Star.

(The article also details the senator’s other controversies – including using his state-owned laptop for cybersex with a stranger. So, yeah this wasn’t just about the tweet. There was more to it than that. But for now, we’re going to talk about the tweet.)

When he received some inevitable push-back on the tweet, the senator inevitably took it down. But not before he spent spent hours arguing back and forth with people about it. Because, as we all know, any good joke requires hours of explanation to make sure people “get it”).

And, even when did resign, (after he was asked to do so from senators from both parties) he wouldn’t admit to doing anything wrong.

I’m sick of this behavior. I’m sick of people making offensive jokes and then complaining when people get offended. That’s how these types of jokes work.

When you decide to tell an offensive joke, you are voluntarily taking a risk. You’re making a bet that what you are about to say is slightly more funny than it is mean. You’re guessing that your joke will make people laugh at least slightly more than it will make them angry.

Sometimes, you’re right. Sometimes you’re wrong.

Sometimes you miscalculate and there isn’t enough humor to balance out the mean.

This can make you look like a jerk. That’s on you. That’s a consequence of your behavior and adults own that. They don’t get to turn on their audience and claim they’re the problem. That they’re all just humorless.

People are not required to laugh at jokes they don’t think are funny. They don’t have to pretend they like them.

This is not a Liberal  versus Conservative thing or a Democrats versus Republicans thing or even a political correctness thing.

It’s just how jokes work.

And, before you think I’m being biased, let me point out, this applies to everyone, regardless of political party.

The politician I mentioned earlier does happen to be a Republican, but I also don’t think Katie Rich’s joke about Barron Trump was funny. He’s 10. Leave him alone. It’s not clever to pick on people who have no way to fight back. It’s lazy. Do better. It’s your job.

And as much as I’ve heard people say things like “people can’t take jokes any more” or “it’s like no one has a sense of humor these days”, that’s just not true.

Many people whose job it is to be funny, are actually being funny.

We’re living in a new golden age of television. This is the time of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and a revitalized HBO, if you can’t find something funny to watch on one of them, you’re not looking hard enough.

There is a treasure trove of funny out there, and some of it’s even nice.

Here’s a random sampling of some of my favorite, funny (but also nice) shows and movies:

  1. Moone Boy – It’s a sweet, silly show about a lovable Irish boy and his imaginary friend, played by Chris O’Dowd. It’s adorable. The entire, three-season series is streaming on Hulu.
  2. Zootopia – Yeah, I know, it’s a kids’ movie but it’s surprisingly funny and it has a nice message about diversity that is poignant without being too preachy. It was just nominated for an Oscar. But, more importantly, there are sloths.
  3. Golden Girls – Betty White! All of the episodes are coming to Hulu in time for Galentine’s Day.
  4. Bob’s Burgers – This show, and the family it features, are weird and wonderful. Also, when I grow up, I want to be like Louise Belcher – a fictional, nine-year old girl. This probably sounds nuts, but if you watch the show, you’ll get it.
  5. Parks and Recreation – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson are the comedy duo we so desperately need right now. They’re political opposites but they’re buds who agree on  all of the important stuff, as Leslie would say: “Friends, waffles,work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work comes third.”

 

P.S. If you have any more suggestions for funny (but also, sort of nice) entertainment, please send it my way. I think we could all use a bit more of it right now.

“Politically Correct” Isn’t a Bad Thing

Remember when you were a kid and you did something wrong and your mom found out and she said she “wasn’t mad, just disappointed”?

Remember how much that sucked? Remember how that was so much worse than her just being mad?

That’s how I feel about most things in politics – not mad, necessarily, just disappointed and also very confused by the beliefs of many of my fellow voters.

In some respects, I just genuinely don’t understand where some people are coming from – like with “political correctness” for example. For the life of me, I don’t understand why so many people (and at least one entire cable television network) are so against it.

I officially don’t get it, people.

I don’t understand why people complain about it. I don’t understand why people blame it on the “infantilization” of our society. I don’t understand why people are allowed to say offensive things then blame the inevitable fallout from their comments on our nation’s obsession with “political correctness”.

If you say something offensive and then people get offended, it is not because of our society’s supposed obsession with political correctness. It is not because you have made a bold, brave choice to not be politically correct. People got offended or upset because you said something offensive or upsetting and they reacted to that. You know, the way people react when you insult them.

This is not a new phenomenon. This is not something that started happening only after we started using the term “politically correct.” This isn’t new.

If you say something that is insulting to large segments of the population, large segments of the population are bound to get upset and tell you about it.

People have a right to get offended. That’s just how conversations and frankly, societies work. It’s also how freedom of speech works.

You get to have an opinion and, just as importantly, people get to disagree with your opinion and they get to tell you about it – as vocally as they choose. We have freedom of speech but we do not have freedom from the consequences of that speech.

I’m sick and tired of this particular scenario that I’ll break down into steps because I’ve seen it so many times lately, I can easily break it down into its parts. Which is kind of depressing in and of itself:

  1. Action: a politician or media personality says something incredibly insulting about a segment of the population
  2. Consequence: that large segment of the population and those who support them are insulted and show their frustration with the politician or media personality through social media, protests or by pulling their support from the politician’s campaign or media personality’s business endeavors
  3. Politician or media personality complains that people were only upset by their incredibly insulting comments because society is becoming “too P.C.”
  4. I want to scream

Because here’s the thing, in most cases people are not “just being too P.C.” In most cases people are just being “understandably upset by something that was genuinely upsetting.”

You don’t get to point at any opinion or idea you don’t like and just call it politically correct to discredit or degrade it. That’s just not how words work.

To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

To get all Merriam-Webster with it, here’s the simple definition of politically correct: “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”

Okay, there, now maybe it is just me, but using Merriam-Webster’s simple definition, being politically correct doesn’t really seem like a bad thing.

In this context, politically correct sounds an awful lot like “Hey, please just try your best to be considerate of other people’s feelings. Thanks.”

That’s an idea I’m completely, 100 percent behind.

How did something that sounds so incredibly innocuous and common sense become seen as such a bad thing? How did it become so hated?

Why are we celebrating politicians and pundits who proudly proclaim that they are not “P.C.”?

Why is that a good thing? Why is that something to be proud of?

Honestly, it’s not even that impressive. It’s the easiest thing in the world to not be politically correct. Just think of something offensive to say and then say it. Don’t stop and think if there a more thoughtful and productive way to say it. Don’t stop and think if there is a kinder and more inclusive way to say it. Just say it, no filter, as is, without any thought to anyone but yourself.

It isn’t that hard.

We can all not be politically correct. All we need to do is forget the manners our parents taught us; forget what we’ve learned about healthy, productive, respectful communication and also, equally as important, forget everything we know about empathy.

That’s the easiest way to not be politically correct.

But why would we even want to not be politically correct? Why would we want to promote something that celebrates rudeness over common sense manners? Divisiveness over thoughtful, inclusive dialogue? Deliberate callousness over empathy?

That doesn’t make sense to me.

And I’m not falling for the argument that an increase in political correctness erodes at our freedom of speech. It doesn’t. You can still say what you want to say. Political correctness just encourages you to try to say it in a better way. A more thoughtful way. It doesn’t stop you from speaking your mind. It just means you may get a little more fallout if you speak your mind in an offensive way.

Yes, it may encourage you to think a bit more before blurting out your opinion, but is that really such a bad thing? Do you really think our country couldn’t deal with people putting a little more thought into their words?

Yes, it’s harder to express yourself while taking into consideration the thoughts and feelings of others. But it’s worth it.

Making an effort to speak your mind and share your viewpoints in a way that is respectful and inclusive should not be seen as a negative.

It should be seen as what it is – diplomatic.

Just for the record, because I seem to be all about dictionary definitions today – here’s how M.W. defines diplomatic: “not causing bad feelings : having or showing an ability to deal with people politely.”

It doesn’t seem like it’s asking too much of ourselves and of our future president to try to deal with people politely.

And if we don’t end up with a president who does that, I, for one, am going to be mad, no, wait – disappointed.

 

When She Says “I’m Fine”, She’s Fine and Some Stuff About The Golden Girls

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because I love to repeat myself), I love The Golden Girls.

I don’t care that the show premiered a year before I was even born and that the characters are still about twice my age. I don’t care that, at face value, it doesn’t seem like I should be able to relate to a group of over-50, widowed and divorced women sharing a house in Miami.

Not only do I relate to them, I freaking love them (you know, as much as it’s normal to love fictional characters). But just like everyone I love (whether they are fictional characters or real people IRL) sometimes they annoy the heck out of me.

(For instance, I just annoyed the heck out of myself by saying IRL in the last sentence instead of “in real life”like I was some kind of jerkface who doesn’t have time to type real words any more.)

See nobody’s perfect. Not even the golden girls are. Not even the most self-proclaimed perfect golden girl – Blanche Devereaux.

(Sidenote: Don’t worry, I’m about to start making sense to people who have never seen The Golden Girls. I will also soon get to the point. I realize I’m sounding a bit like a Rose Nylund St. Olaf story here – okay, that was just for G.G. fans.)

Anyway, here’s a bit on Blanche if you’re a Golden Girls novice: she’s a confident, worldly, sophisticated, lively, beauty of a southern belle who at one point or another has probably used all of those words to describe herself. She’s also, well, very popular. We’ll just say it that way.

That’s the gist of Blanche – and I love the gist of Blanche. I love almost everything about Blanche, especially her seriously impressive pajama collection that appears to cost more than my entire wardrobe.

One thing I don’t love about her though is that she plays into one of my least favorite stereotypes of women.

If someone asks Blanche how she is doing and she says “fine” she never just means fine. She means that there is something terribly wrong and it is up to the people talking to her to ply her with questions until she finally reveals why she is absolutely not fine.

In one episode Blanche goes so far as to chastise her roommates because they have the absolute nerve to just believe that she is fine when she says she is. Turns out, she isn’t and she expects her roommates to magically know this and come to her aid with friendly advice and presumably chocolate cheesecake.

I hate this type of behavior. It’s not attractive or mysterious to speak this ambiguously just so everyone else has to go through the trouble of decoding your speech. It’s not cute. It’s not coy. It’s just annoying.

And most infuriatingly, it just perpetuates the stereotype that women can’t be trusted to say the words they mean or mean the words they say.

It just plays into the old joke that when a woman says she’s fine she never actually means she is fine, she means something else entirely and it is up to her significant other to figure out what she actually means.

(The punchline of  these type of jokes is always the same: hey guys, isn’t it funny that women never say what they’re actually thinking? )

I hate these jokes because they just make women sound like a bunch of tricky, manipulative, duplicitous minxes who are trying to slowly drive their significant others insane with their exhausting, passive-aggressive mind games.

I, for one, am simply too lazy to make my comments into complicated riddles I then expect others to decode. Most of the time I just say what I mean, because, frankly, my life’s just easier that way.

And I think the vast majority of women I know (hell, just the vast majority of people I know) do the exact same thing.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to get want you want if you just say it.

And as smart as Blanche is, you’d think she’d know that. (Insert a Sophia joke about Blanche and the word “easier” here.)

Anyway, the point is, when a woman says she’s “fine” she probably just means she’s fine.

Because that’s just how words work.

 

I’m a Monica

The thing about me is, I’m a Monica.

If you lived through the nineties or currently have access to Netflix, you should know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Monica Geller (eventually Bing) from the hit sitcom Friends. Obviously.

If you didn’t know Monica Geller Bing was a character from Friends, you need to get a clue. You need to get a life. Wait, no, actually, never mind, what you need to do is get less of a life so you can spend more time binge-watching old sitcoms on Netflix like a normal person.

Anyway, back to what I was saying earlier, I’m a Monica. Like almost everyone else who has ever seen Friends, I wish I was a Chandler, but I’m not. Could I be any less of a Chandler? No, no I could not. That’s my point–I just don’t have it in me to be Chandler Bing.

I’m not that funny. I’m not that unwittingly charming and I could never live compatibly with a chick and a duck, or even with Joey Tribbiani. (Yeah, I know everyone loves Joey and I do too but we all know that man would never use a coaster and that’s a deal-breaker for me.)

So, basically I haven’t got the goods to be Chandler. I do, however, have the bads to be Chandler, which is to say, I do happen to have all of Chandler’s bad qualities. Many of these bad qualities also happen to be Monica’s bad qualities.

Let’s face it, both the Bings are a tad bit neurotic. Monica and Chandler are the show’s resident, tightly-wound, neurotic weirdos. Aside from Phoebe, who is just plain weird (in, you know, an endearing way) Chandler and Monica are probably the looniest of the bunch.

And Monica may be an even bigger weirdo than Chandler because Mon also has the whole obsessive compulsive thing going for her.

I so totally get that. I’m a bit, well, persnickety, myself. Like Monica, I am hell to live with if you want to have any sort of say in the way your home should look or be arranged. I’m the boss of home organization. I have to be or I will lose my mind. You have to fold the blankets a certain way or I will refold them when you leave the room. You have to put everything away. Always. All the time. No exceptions. No, I do not care if you’re going to use it tomorrow anyway. Everything has to be “just so.” I’m very big into “just so.” Typical Monica behavior.

Also, like Monica, I’m very vocal about these sorts of things. I just want what I want when I want it and I’m not afraid to say it, like a boss. Unfortunately, unlike Monica, I’m not actually a boss. Unlike Ms. Geller Bing I am not cool enough to be a head chef.

I am, however, kind of in the food business. By that I mean I make it my business to eat a lot of food. You may not think that counts but I disagree. It’s all just semantics. Potato. Potato. Who cares? Let’s just agree that both Mon and I are really into potatoes.

So, ok, fine. I’m not a head chef like Monica. That’s one of our big differences. Another one of our big differences is I certainly don’t look like Friends-era Courtney Cox. But, really, how many of us actually look like Friends-era Courtney Cox? Answer: not many and thank goodness for that. If we all looked like Courtney Cox we’d all spend all our time staring at our perfectly-symmetrical faces in the mirror all day. No one would get anything done, the world would descend into chaos and everything would become a complete and total mess.

And, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate messes.

Because I’m a Monica.

The Media’s Not Always Lame

Please stop calling the press “lamestream media.”

Please stop claiming that all journalists are worthless, stupid puppets of authority figures or personal and political agendas.

Sure, some of them are. I’ll give you that.

It’s just, some journalists don’t suck. And the ones who don’t suck are pretty damn important.

Hating on journalists or the media shouldn’t be seen as making you more patriotic or a better American.

The media is an integral part of what makes this country great. And if you’ve really been playing attention to this country or its history, you’d know that.

They are not the enemy. They’re there for you, for all of us. They go where we can’t or don’t want to go to tell us the stories we often don’t want to, but need, to hear.

That’s pretty damn heroic stuff. That’s a big freaking deal.

The fourth estate is no joke. We need it. We need them.

What we also need is a clear understanding of the difference between journalists and commentators.

Because I don’t think we need more commentators.

It doesn’t take an extraordinary amount of journalist training to be a commentator. What you need to be is camera-ready, opinionated and ideally, well-spoken (though some of them don’t even measure up there.)

In short, many commentators aren’t that different from those guys standing on street corners with big signs screaming their opinions at passersby. They’re just better-dressed, well-scrubbed and they’ve been given airtime and microphone so they don’t need to scream, but for some reason, they still do.

They are usually not journalists. So let’s please stop pretending they are.

Let’s just admit they’re there more for our entertainment than for our education.

On some (okay, most) 24/7, cable news networks the line between entertainer and reporter is decidedly blurred. Just because someone is talking on a news network, it does not mean that person has any legitimate news training.

Case in point, Stacey Dash (aka Dionne from Clueless) is a commentator on Fox News. That’s real. I’m not making that up.

She is entitled to her opinions, as are the (arguably more famous) celebrities who provide commentary for the other side of the aisle. It’s just, they’re celebrities. They’re actors. They’re not journalists.

And, I think if people really thought about it, they’d see that these are the people who really deserve our complaints.

So yeah, please complain about them. And then stop watching them.

Commentators are largely to blame for what people see as the negative aspects of our media today—that it’s politically divided, prone to fear-mongering and superficial.

It’s like that because we keep watching that, because we keep watching them.

We should try to stop. We should try to get news from some people who aren’t screaming all the time, who aren’t speaking in talking points and party rhetoric.

And sure, that kind of news may be harder to find, but it will certainly be less lame.

Why Did She Even Have to Say It?

“Anger is a lot like a piece of shredded wheat caught under your dentures.  If you leave it there, you get a blister and you have to eat Jello all week. If you get rid of it, the sore heals and you feel better.”

That’s one of the best lines from one of the best characters from one of the best shows of all time. The wise, wonderful, witty Sophia Petrillo says it to her daughter, Dorothy, when Dorothy is having a hard time letting go of a long-standing, though, some would argue, justifiable grudge.

Though Sophia admits that the advice may not be her most poetic — it does make a good point. If something is bugging you — really grating on you — you won’t feel better until you get it out. If you don’t, it will just keep on bugging you, nagging at you, getting more and more irritating with time.

So with that being said, I’m about to remove a metaphorical piece of shredded wheat from my metaphorical dentures.

It all started a few weeks ago after I watched Emma Watson (you know, Harry Potter’s Hermione) deliver an amazing speech to the United Nations as their U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking — why is this 20-something actress a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador? Don’t worry, she addresses that in her speech.

Really, if you haven’t watched that speech yet, you should just go ahead and watch it now because I’m going to keep referring to it and this whole damn thing won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen it.

Yes, its long. It’s more than ten whole minutes. But it’s worth it, I promise. Also, you and I both know you’ve spent more time on the internet today tinkering with your Fantasy Football lineup or watching videos of cats chasing laser pointers. So, please just do it. Trust me.

Okay, assuming you’re now properly edified on the on the subject matter, I’ll continue. (Yes, I understand I sounded like a snotty schoolteacher there, but please just go with me on this.)

It was a phenomenal speech, right? Just perfect. If Hermione Granger was, in fact, a real person and not a fragment of J.K. Rowling’s imagination, she’d be pretty darn impressed. And if you’re not well-versed in the Harry Potter universe like I am, let me assure you, that’s a tall order. That girl, okay, fictional character, isn’t easily won over. If you want to convince Hermione Granger of something, you’re going to have to do it right.

Thankfully, Emma Watson did.

Sidenote: If you’re having doubts about the confidence, compassion or general competence of our generation (or the generation below mine, I’m getting old) Emma Watson is the proof you need to see that not all millennials are self- and selfie-absorbed dumb-dumbs. Some are actually pretty upstanding, outstanding people who might be worth listening to.

Watson is certainly one of them.

In her speech she does some pretty important things very well. For one, she admits that the word “feminism” has a bit of an image problem. Some people incorrectly believe that feminism means man-hating, which is simply not the case. Feminism isn’t about pushing men down — it’s about promoting an environment where people, regardless of their gender, are not restricted by out-dated, ill-informed, societal gender norms, and are instead free to be the truest version of themselves.

That’s a pretty worthwhile goal for all of us — men included.

It’s just — and here’s that shredded wheat part I mentioned earlier — I’m angry we have to say that at all. Why don’t we already know that?

Why did Emma Watson have to give a speech (albeit, a damn good one) about things we, frankly, should already know?

It’s 2014 and we’re still having to give speeches which essentially say: “Hey, guys, ladies are just as good.”

Of course, we’re just as good. Duh. Obviously.

As cliche as this seems (and yes, I know it’s cliche) people are just people.  No person is a better person, a more intelligent person, a more compassionate person, simply because of their gender.

We’re all more than that.

Defining or judging people’s abilities or characters based on how you perceive their gender is incredibly limiting and just doesn’t make much sense.

It never made sense and by now, it’s about damn time we figured that out.

Okay, I just needed to get that out there.

And now that I have, I can say with certainty that Sophia Petrillo was right. (She’s always right.)

I do feel better.

I Just Can’t Get Enough of the Cheesy Stuff

I like to think of myself as a self-possessed individual with deeply-held beliefs which cannot be easily swayed by or for other people.

That’s probably total crap though, because if Jillian Michaels had a cult, I’d sign up immediately and gladly stop thinking for myself at all.

I’d just let her handle all my thinking for me. She seems better equipped for the job. She has way more gumption, stamina and wisdom than I do.

Based on my frequent viewings of her workout DVDs, I’ve concluded that Jill-Jill (and yeah, I just decided to call her that) is the perfect spiritual guru for me.

It turns out I’m the most receptive to constructive, self-help advice when I’m partially delirious after a round of burpees. That’s my philosophical sweet zone. That’s when I’m too tired to talk over people so I’m forced to actually listen to what they are saying and learn from it.

This is when I’m the most open to advice, even if that advice is being doled out by a sweaty woman on my television screen who then yells at me to do more lunges.

Or it could be that I’m just naturally more responsive to people who are just reaffirming what I already believe.

It turns out I believe almost all of the stuff personal trainers spout when they are forcing you to do more sit-ups. Incidentally, these are the exact same messages that are repeated ad nauseam on motivational fitness boards on Pinterest.

Yup, I’m a complete sucker for that stuff that most people would just roll their eyes at. I gobble that stuff up. I can’t get enough of it. I’m all in, baby.

I wholeheartedly (without the slightest trace of irony) believe:
• You can do most things you put your mind to if you can just force yourself to try (Obviously, there are parameters to this, I’m probably not going to win the lottery just because I really, really want to. Duh.)
• It’s important to make time for yourself because when you feel better and healthier, you can take better care of those around you.
• It’s important to push your limits and make yourself uncomfortable every once awhile because that’s how you learn and grow.
• It’s important to take time to acknowledge and appreciate your accomplishments or as Jillian says (for real, she actually says this in one of the workout DVDs) “give yourself mad props.”

Yeah, sure, some (okay, all) of this advice is clichéd and super cheesy but it’s good advice nonetheless.

It’s also significantly more impressive when you hear it while doing side planks or something. So ideally you should have been working out the whole time you were reading this. If you weren’t, you totally blew it. It’s no longer my fault if this advice doesn’t stick.

And, if about now you’re thinking something like “If you’re such a Jillian Michaels devotee, why don’t you look more like Jillian Michaels?” I have an explanation for that.

I do love Jillian Michaels. But I also love nachos. So many nachos.

I told you, I’m a sucker for the cheesy stuff.

Do It Because a T.V. Show Told You To

If you’re looking for commentary on the latest, greatest television show featuring hot, rich twenty-somethings whining about how hot and/or rich they are, you can stop reading now.

I’m about to talk about post-menopausal, single gal pal roomies from a 1980’s television show, because those ole gals are way cooler anyway.

By now you probably should have figured out that I’m talking about The Golden Girls.  And if you hadn’t figured that out, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I’m pretty much always talking about The Golden Girls. (And if for some seriously messed up reason, you don’t know who the Golden Girls are, go Google it. Now. Go ahead and watch a few episodes and get back to me when you’ve been sufficiently enlightened.)

Now, for the rest of us who have been appropriately educated, I’ll continue.

It may seem weird for a twenty-something Nebraskan to be obsessed with a show about senior gals in Miami which premiered a year before she was born.

But that’s the thing about The Golden Girls, it’s timeless. Everything I’ve learned (okay, almost everything) I’ve learned from the golden gals is still relevant today (except for all of those Gary Hart jokes.)

In many ways though, the show was clearly ahead of its time. The golden girls had a bunch of stuff figured out years before the rest of society. In fact, I think they officially settled a bunch of issues politicians are still arguing about today. Heck, Sophia Petrillo solved the marriage equality issue over 20 years ago in that she figured it made sense to allow people who loved each other to get married and be happy. (Because, you know, duh.)

Sophia, Dorothy, Blanche and Rose also taught me a bunch of other useful stuff that still comes in handy today, like this:

  1. All serious conversations should be had at the kitchen table with your best friends.
  2. Do not mess with little, old ladies who carry heavy purses.
  3. People from Minnesota are nice.
  4. If you’re really lucky and you play your cards right, your mom can become your best friend.
  5. Friends fight sometimes, but that’s okay. They can get over it as long as they’re willing to talk it out over some cheesecake.
  6. Older people have sex and that’s totally okay because sex is a perfectly normal and natural thing for people in loving, committed relationships to do, provided of course that they wrap that stuff up. (Condoms, yo. Even the golden gals used ’em.)
  7. If you want to become a classy lady you should invest in some swanky pajamas. (Seriously, they had the best pajamas.)
  8. You shouldn’t ask for your mother’s opinion if you don’t want a truthful answer. Mama’s gonna bring the hard truth.
  9. Your ditsy friend is probably smarter than you give him or her credit for.
  10. If all else fails, just eat more cheesecake.

…and this is why you shouldn’t write a blog when you’re hopped up on Golden Girls reruns and craving cheesecake.

This Is All Harriet’s Fault

I’m nosy.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before.

But if you were as nosy as I am, I wouldn’t even need to mention it. You would just already know.

Because you’d be a busy body like that. (Like me.)

I’m such a busy body. I take nosy to new and enterprising heights.

It’s not like I’m digging through people’s trash or reading their emails or something. Both of those things are gross. And not even I am that gross.

I’m just nosy because I’m immensely interested in people and how we choose to treat each other. I find it fascinating, and by fascinating, I mean weird and confusing.

We’re all so damned weird and confusing. The older I get, the more and more confused I get by the way we behave. We’re just so damned odd.

And, just to be clear, we’re all weird, confusing and odd. It’s not just a woman thing. It was never just a woman thing.

I’m tired of hearing people say that woman are so “confusing” or so “crazy.” Not all women are “confusing” and not all women are “crazy.” Sure, some are — because as a whole, people are confusing and yes, some people behave in ways others might deem “crazy.”

But calling out a whole gender as irrational (and by extension, somehow lesser) is just, well, crazy.

And it’s also bullshit.

Because if you pay attention to human behavior like I do (which you probably don’t because you’re probably not as nosy as I am and you, unlike me, probably have better things to do) you’d notice that everyone does odd things occasionally.

Everyone misspeaks. Everyone says one thing and does another every once and awhile. Everyone is occasionally fickle or indecisive or just a bit off. Everyone screws up sometimes.

That’s a human thing. Not a woman thing.

Trust me, I know. I’ve been an overly-nosy observer of human interactions for years. I’ve spent much more time than I should have analyzing and over-thinking other people’s behavior. And believe me, if my extensive study of the human condition has taught me anything, it’s that none of us make a whole heck of a lot of sense.

Like me for example, why in the world am I so nosy? What’s up with that?

And no…it’s not a woman thing.

Though if you really wanted to pin it on something, you could probably blame it on the seminal nosy-girl heroine Harriet the Spy.

And yes, I know she was a girl, but two nosy little jerks does not a nosy gender make. It just makes two nosy little jerks.

Just like how one “crazy” girl does not a “crazy” gender make. It just makes one individual person you really don’t understand.

There’s a difference.

And you don’t even have to be nosy to see it.