Why does a party lifestyle blog need feminism?

Why does a lesbian need feminism? Why does a lesbian going out to a gay bar during San Diego Pride week need feminism? I mean, I’m categorically sexually disinterested in men, I’m in an environment which should not have friction or competitiveness or predation between women and men, and this week is, in theory at least, all about solidarity in our minority status as LGBTers. So you’d think I could take off my feminist hat and just enjoy my Adios, right?

Actually, my interactions went fairly well last night. The only example I can truthfully give is that a friend-of-a-friend started to tell a story and stopped at the word bitches, “Sorry, I always say that word. Anyway these bitches…” So, at least he was aware. Fuck though, I hear the most misogynistic crap come out of the mouths of gay men.

Part of me wants to give them a break. If the world has been trying to force-feed you women on a platter like they’re juicy delicious burgers (every Carl’s Jr ad, ever) and you finally want to express your right to want something different in life by proclaiming, “ewwww vaginas,” who can blame you, right?

I’m full of empathy until gay men I’ve barely met spin me around like I’m a little doll (ok, sometimes I like that because my shoes are awesome — but it doesn’t matter if I like it; he should get my permission first) or whistle at me in a drive by or slap my butt or (and, of course this happened) touch my crotch. They basically do this because there’s some sort of agreement between gay men and straight women that she can treat him like a little pet –hashtag gaybestfriend!! — in exchange for a boost in confidence from his (male) approval, and he can…well I’m not sure what he gets out of the arrangement but I’ll have to talk to my gay male friends and get back to you. Perhaps the social mobility through her straight world? Anyway, whatever the deal is, I think it’s a weird and kind of fucked up relationship. And it certainly doesn’t work for me when I’m assumed straight and so desperate for validation from a man that I will accept it gladly from one who isn’t even sexually attracted to me. More willingly, even, because I’m not expected to “pay out” for the favor.

Even when I attempt to retreat from the pressures of the straight world — when I try to go somewhere where I’m not going to be bombarded with cheesy pick-up lines or creepy staring — even at a gay bar, my interactions are still colored by the gender roles which filter and mutate into my environment. Sure, I’ll be able to relate with a gay man on many points about our shared queer space. But there are still going to be moments here and there where his viewpoint as a man means he’s going to trample over me. I will grant a few jabs because of my femme privilege — in that I blend into the straight world so easily and by choice of appearance or whatever he might not. But, I think there is a point where a negative attitude against women goes beyond the objection to the oppressive straight culture and into just mirroring sexism from that same culture. There are moments where I am made the object of a joke, or I have to witness a drag performance which is overly mocking of women rather than gender roles in general, or I’m actually molested, or I see other women treated this way. These things remind me of why we need feminism.

Just because it is to a lesser extent does not mean it should be ignored. Party environments can of course amplify misogyny — hello booze and hook-up culture. But environments which are expected to be safe can still host some of my most uncomfortable moments. Even a party thrown by a particularly enlightened bunch of hippies. Not every moment is going to be puppies and rainbows, but as long as the risks are so dire (rape, violence against women) I’d like to not be reminded of them. Not when I’m trying to get drunk on blue liquor, especially.

And that’s just the gay bar. Like I hinted at before, booze and hook-up culture makes for some pretty desperate maneuvers (and upsetting behaviors) at any party. All I really need to say is I live in a world where telling a man that I’m a lesbian does not turn him away; it turns him on.

There is no escape from the restrictive narratives which police gender. There is no escape from the entitlement that many men feel they have in regards to women’s bodies. Not even parties, and especially not parties in a lot of ways. People are trying to get drunk and fuck, after all. So long as I am surrounded by people who are trying to have sex with each other, and our larger cultural example of how to negotiate around sex and gender is so broken, I am going to be a witness, collateral damage, and/or a target of sexism. And I’d like to help fix that. So I can drink in peace.

Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too

…here is Part 2.

You saw in my last post that, “Women Hurt Women, Too.”

Patriarchy hurts men, too. It hurts men because it self-perpetuates. Even women become willing participants in patriarchy. Even women ignore other women’s struggles; even women use #notallmen on their tweets. And a self-perpetuating patriarchy does not give men much room to be their true selves; it punishes men for opposing it.

This is going to be a rather dense post, so here are the bullet points you can discuss on your Facebook walls in lieu of actually reading the whole thing:

  • Patriarchy is a system that, by its own (sloppy yet powerful*) “design,” holds itself together and pops up everywhere
  • Men are hurt by patriarchy, too
  • Patriarchy punishes men who want to be “different”
  • The fact that Patriarchy exists means that women have (valid) reasons to be distrustful of men, for their own safety. For a well written, male perspective on this, I recommend the “Women are Defensive (With Good Reason)” section of Pepper’s larger essay (which, though it is about nonmonogamy, is useful in general)
  • This distrust hurts men (especially those who are sexually interested in women), too. Men have a crisis of identity, because they are told they could be “accidental rapists” and, like, no one wants to be that
  • The Patriarchy protects subtle, hurtful behaviors such that they are supposedly invisible even to the men that do the hurtful behaviors. This hurts men, because men can begin to believe that they can’t trust themselves.
  • Part of the solution is to banish these hurtful behaviors from the shadows. One of the ways to do that is to, as men, call out other men you see doing hurtful, Patriarchy-supporting behaviors.
  • If it is not obvious to you what these behaviors are, spend more time listening to women and to feminists who have spent a lot of time experiencing / thinking about these behaviors

*Sloppy Yet Powerful is my new band name.

Liberal media is talked about like it’s a monolith, a fucking machine or a conspiracy meant to control our brains. Regardless if that is true (and I have my suspicions — a little cog named Jenji Kohan got me fantasizing about conjugal visits with particular jumpsuit-wearing actresses), there’s another monolith that controls our interactions as if by invisible gears — actually, it mostly uses social scripts — and that is Patriarchy. For the benefit of my readers that might not throw around the word “scripts” like I do, they’re not just the things Laura Prepon memorizes for her job. Social scripts are those little memorized stories that tell us what to do when we have to interact with other human beings.

Social scripts tell us that when we love someone, we kiss them, and that when we really love someone, we marry them. They tell us that when someone is being a nerd, and it makes you uncomfortable, you laugh at them. They get rewritten so that nerds can be geeks, and some geeks are cool, and if you aren’t a big enough geek, maybe you’re not cool.  Social scripts are passed down to us from our parents and grandparents and/or other guardians. They play out in our favorite TV shows, and movies, and the movies we hate but we watch anyway because they’re on TV and the remote is too far away.

“Alternative” scripts are shot down, demeaned, framed as a waste of time, and, worst and most frequently of all, not imagined in the first place. Ordinary men are Patriarchy’s unconscious deliverers, because without help, ordinary people cannot imagine their own scripts. Ordinary men aren’t told any other way to be, and are seduced by the charm of stories whose outcomes they know. Any impulse to be otherwise, to be “different,” is squashed, leaving men the apparent choice of a hyper-masculine bravado (and its spoils) or an empty valley (some people call this the “friendzone”). This personality crisis hurts, too.

This is how men do not realize that #yesallwomen experience discomfort at the hands of men. The monolith of patriarchy makes a smokescreen for men like Pan to exist in the “benefit of the doubt” arena where their behaviors are seen as “normal” and not “fucking creepy.” Because it’s “normal” for guys to “sweep women off their feet,” or “seize women in a passionate kiss” — I saw it in all the movies, ever. And it’s “normal” for women to want these things, because princesses.

(Update: when a friend told Pan that “Blotted” was too fucked up and should be left alone, Pan said we are adults and she could make her own decisions. Either he has no idea about “too intoxicated to consent” or he’s using a facade of ignorance to do whatever he wants.)

Patriarchy hurts men too in that it allows these subtle aggressions to live unchallenged. That is: any man can expect that sometimes (or often) his transgressions will be invisible. Predators abuse this system; average men bumble into predatory territory because these walls are kept hidden from them. I have male friends who tell me they worry so much that they could be like the man in the “I Need a Man” story — that someday women could earnestly tell these stories about them.

Part of me is baffled, because my friends are good men, and how could they see themselves that way? Part of me knows that even my most consent-obsessed friends have moments of blindness, where they make other people uncomfortable because they take their sexual agency for granted. The world tells them it is thus, and how can they escape it?

I have a friend that was falsely accused of rape. First, the criminal justice system intervened and found him not guilty. Then, quite some time later, administrators in his college found out about the case and decided to conduct their own investigation and protective measures. This is how his entire campus found out. The administrators’ actions make sense in a lot of ways – they know how ineffective the so-called justice system can be and need to protect their students.

What is most painful for my friend is not the repeat “trial,” though it is stressful and hard and depressing, but the reactions of people he thought knew him better than to mistrust him. That his “friends” are quite capable of seeing him as “the enemy” now, when they happily fell asleep next to him on couches or walked arm-in-arm with him before. Now they are swatting his hands away not just from themselves but from others. I am sure he has even had moments where he asked himself what has he done, no truly, what has he done to deserve this?

Guys, the impulse to fear that you could accidentally be a predator is the right one. The system protects predators, makes excuses for their transgressions. The system will make excuses for your transgressions. It will tell you that you were too drunk, too overcome with testosterone, just trying to be friendly, just trying to have fun, just teasing a little, that girls like bad boys, or strong boys, or confident ones, that nice guys finish last. This same system means there is no easy distinction between rapists and men like you. As long as predators are allowed to lurk in the shadows, the women who have lived in fear of the shadows will see you in them. It is their right to be afraid, lest the shadows devour them.

Proclaiming “Not All Men” is not the answer. Women know not all men are like this, in fact a lot of heterosexual women look forward to the fact that not all men are like this and they might fall in love with one (or more) of them. Yet, for her own safety a woman has to assume the potential for any man to hurt her. She knows that other men and even other women will count her the most responsible for her own safety, rather than protect her from or blame the predators. She should carry mace. She should stand up for herself. She should know better, shouldn’t expect better. The world shows her it is thus, and how can she escape it?

This is how patriarchy hurts men. It assumes everyone is a participant. It tears the ground right out from under them when they resist it. It creates shadows around all of us. The solution is to shine a big blaring spotlight into those shadows. To stop protecting the transgressions of others. I know (some of) you see yourselves in those shadows, are afraid of being called to stand trial for your bumblings. But when the excuses stop, the dark mirror will break, and you will see which pieces of yourself you need to throw away with the shards. I really hope you will.

If you are not sure how to shine this spotlight, stop and listen. There are people out there who can help direct this light. There are people who see the shadows when they close their eyes in fright. It is not their job to tell you, because they have a hard time knowing if you are made of shadows, too. It is merely your job to listen.

I Need A Man

Edit: I forgot to mention that I was inspired to share this personal story after the North Park attacks on women made me start thinking critically about my own safety. It was a depressing reminder that it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of false safety, but that horrible things happen to women even in my own neighborhoods.

You catch those predators, San Diego, and you work hard to make this an environment where such things happen less and less and hopefully, someday, never.

——————

I am brazen, compared to most. I am not afraid to say mean things, when mean things need to be said. I am also a skilled diplomat, disguising my vitriol as obliviousness, couching my barbs in pseudo-flirtation. I ended up using the latter strategy for this party.

A good friend of mine, along with two female friends of his, wanted to find a darker, couch-ier place to pass around a bottle of whip-cream vodka. We did find a couch, in a dark room, with very loud music and an open dance floor, though no dancers. I’m noticing a trend at these burner types of parties that alcohol is scarce; perhaps we’re all skilled consumers, and by the midnight hour the beer is gone. So, when my good friend left (me with the bottle in my lap) to go to the bathroom, a man immediately approached to take his place in the center of the couch. I will call this man “Caveman.”

I don’t know if I was protective of the bottle only at this point, or the women already, but I defended my place. “I’m saving this spot for my friend,” I shrugged with a grin. I clutched the bottle.

“Oh, so you’re going to be 2nd grade about this?” Caveman said.

“Yeah,” I was.

He sat at the end instead, by who I will call “Blotted” — as she was. The way he stroked her arms made me uncomfortable. She periodically flailed them, proclaiming, “Everything is so nice.” I was not sure if she evaded his grasp or celebrated it, but at least my good friend came back and we passed the whip-cream bottle for awhile.

Between dizzy swigs I peered at Blotted. My good friend noticed my glances and began to share my uneasy expression. I leaned over to my good friend, “I think I’m going to diffuse the situation a little.” It was Blotted’s first time partying with the burner community and I wanted to make sure she felt safe and happy. She was also only 21, and not so experienced with being so blotted.

I pulled Caveman away from the couch. He was easily led. “It’s Blotted’s first time at a party like this,” I said over the music.

“She’s beautiful.”

“Yes.” I nodded.

“But you, you are even more beautiful.”

Instead of retorting in my head like I might normally, I said these words aloud, “That’s a terrible compliment.” After all, I looked fierce as fuck in a half-undone Spyro the Dragon Kigurumi and a black sports bra, so why hold back?

“What?”

“I like women. I don’t want you to put them down to raise me up. A better compliment would be…. you are also beautiful.”

As we talked, I bobbed and danced around him so his hands could never quite land on me. He seemed to, at least, understand that much — that I didn’t want him to touch me.

“What’s his secret?” he said.

“Who, him?” I looked over at my good friend where he still sat on the couch with his friends. “We’re not intimate. I’m gay. He’s my really good friend.”

“No. You’re not gay. Like all the way gay?”

Oh fuck you, too, Caveman. Just question me immediately — it’s not like I don’t get that reaction every time. “Ummm…. Welllllllll. Yes.” All the way gay, it is. He did not deserve a nuanced explanation of my complicated sexuality.

I spun and I stomped to the beat, and then said to Caveman, “His secret is he knows how to interact with women non-sexually. So I can feel comfortable with him, and they can feel comfortable with him. Your problem is that you exude sexual intent. I’m immune of course.”

“No, no you’re not. I can tell you have a heart.” Caveman. I don’t have a heart if it doesn’t beat for you/your penis? You’re killing me, Caveman.

“Yes, yes I am.” 100% immune and heartless.

I think introductions finally happened here. I think a half-naked gal started to walk up to us for some group dancin’ but smelled his desperation and pivoted away. Then he said:

“How old do you think I am?”

Looked 42, so I guessed 38. He was 50.

After his dismissal of my sexuality and this tidbit, I came to a swift conclusion: this man is a predator. He goes to parties, he finds young, inebriated things (I’m 24, but look younger, and of course Blotted is 21), and he eases himself into grope-central. Like, age is just a number but he wasn’t staring into her old soul through her young eyes. She didn’t even know his name and he was kissing her whenever her face was pointing in the right direction.

“Can I ask you something?”  This is, of course, an omen that something offensive is about to come out of someone’s mouth. “And if you want you can break my heart, you can stab me right through the solar plexus….”

Warning. Trap: I am going to confess my undying love/lust for you and if you don’t like it, it will cost your guilt and discomfort as I throw myself on the sword. He trailed off before completing his sentence and his emotional trap, unable to finish his thought, so transfixed was he by my fierce sports bra.

“I’m up here.” I actually fucking said it. I actually fucking said those words for the first fucking time in my flat-chested, itty-bitty-titty-committee fucking life. If this dude was going to be old school, this dude was going to get some old school sass to make him understand I am a human being, not a walking sex doll.

He sputtered, probably some excuse but I missed a lot of what he said due to the loud music and my blind-white shock that a guy like him got into a party like that (a very cool party, btw), and was still bothering me.

Actually, actually I remember now, at some point he told me his name was Pan. This is obviously his burner/community name, but still, he could be recognized. I don’t care at all. Hey Pan, this girl talkin’ shit over here on her blog about you. Take that in your solar plexus.

I was beginning to feel like I needed a diffusion, myself. I’m at a party to have fun, not explain to men like Pan that lesbians are actually lesbians and quit staring at my chest. I went back to the couch. He resumed his post next to Blotted.

Through an unfortunate miscommunication, I was left by my good friend and our other friend to be Blotted’s babysitter for the rest of the foreseeable night. Normally I would be happy to let her wander around in such a community on her own, and perhaps that is what my good friend expected, too. This particular crowd is very loving and enlightened and take good care of fucked-up 21-year-olds. Nevertheless, I could not bear to leave her alone on the couch with Pan.

“Want to go on an adventure?” I tried to suggest as she struggled to figure out which way was up, let alone how to end Pan’s creepy kisses. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her. Perhaps she couldn’t process my invitation for an escape or perhaps she really didn’t mind, because she said, “Uhmmm…… I don’t know. I’m okay.”

Lucky break, he had to pee. Not a moment later I said, “Want to go on an adventure?” She agreed immediately. This, and, the fact that she never once asked, “Hey where’s that guy I was making out with earlier?” makes me certain she wasn’t interested in making out with that guy.

I was very happy to tote her along for a bit. She’s sweet and played fun blotted party games, like let’s gather a circle of people and give them new names because I can’t remember their names anyway. They smiled, like, “isn’t she adorable?” when she named them Jason, and Richard, and Amazon. I got Dory, “like that fish from Finding Nemo.”

After awhile I became uneasy, because I wanted to go in the hot tub with Katelyn and I couldn’t leave poor Blotted alone, not when Pan was still lurking. I looked and looked for my good friend to relieve me from my babysitting shift, but it seemed like he was never coming back to find me, from wherever he went.

Eventually I found one of the party hosts, a genial, tall and wiry man with a great smile. I explained my predicament, that I didn’t want to leave her unattended only because I wasn’t sure just how predatory this other guy was. The host offered a confrontation session, but honestly even if we could have found Pan (and I hadn’t remembered his name yet) I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to him for another second. The host incorporated Blotted into a circle of new friends and I felt like she was safe again.

I had a good night, a very good night, and before I left I saw Pan again. I had since remembered his name, but I wanted to call out to him just to be sure I got it right. I would say, “Pan?” I would see his head turn, and say, “Nevermind.” But in that twisted staircase, even though all the lights were on, my mind was as blank and foreboding as his big, bare chest and I coudn’t say a thing at all. I knew nothing was going to happen to me, not realistically, but I still felt something like fear. I don’t know what kind of confused glare I gave him as I tried to memorize his features — to know if they were really his, all the while the gut of panic behind my eyes knowing, yes, it is him. There’s sirens blaring in your head that it is him.

And after that overwhelming moment in the staircase, I thought, “I can’t do it. I can’t speak up. I can’t rely on myself.” I remember feeling helpless — that even after all the empowerment I’ve experienced as a woman, I can still be held to the flames of fear. That to be safe, I need to call on the help of others, even when I would rather stand strong on my own. That to be safe, I needed a man.

Related:
Women Hurt Women, Too
Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too

5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having, Really

I saw an article, “5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having,” by HuffPo and got excited to get my feminist morning-read on, but….what was I thinking this is HuffPo. Of course it’s just “5 Conversations People Should Stop Having” …if they want to stop being boringgggzzzz.  Everybody talks about being stressed out, “traumatized” by their parents, annoying people, where to eat dinner, and clothes. This article is not news.

Good on HP for not resorting to all-out disgusting stereotypes, but if this was supposed to be an appeal to female readers it was weak. Actually, no. Shame on HP for implying that these conversations are only problems, only annoying, when they are had by women.

These are the 5 Conversations Women Should Stop Having, Really:

1. I am not a feminist, because… You’re actually some kind of feminish. Fine. We get it. There are so many different ways to be a feminist, and so many disagreements about those ways.  Some of us take CGS classes. Some of us raise boys up to be good men someday. Some of us burn things. Some of us just try to go about our day without ruining anyone else’s. But unless you truly believe that women don’t deserve equal rights with men…you’re a feminist. Pretty much.

I’m not going to argue with you; you can self-identify however you want, but you’re wasting precious breath that we could be spending on “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” That’s all feminism is to me.

bra-burning-is-a-lie

2. Your body is amazing/beautiful/perfect but my body is sad/horrible/flawed. Actually, I do think there can be value in comparing our bodies and our feelings about them so that we can learn and grow. But I’m sick of impossible compliments, sick of the whiplash of first trying to process the nice thing you said about me and then the gloomy thing you said about yourself.

HOWEVER. I am trying to teach myself to hear the little plea in such statements: “Please see that you are privileged and acknowledge your advantages over me because you are socially recognized as attractive.” Because I know I’m a minx with glorious hair (er, actually, that I don’t face discrimination for my weight, physical health status, and race), I think I hear this plea and I try to answer it when I can.

Sometimes, though, it isn’t so obvious that I might have a particular privilege and it really just comes across as another beautiful lady telling me I’m more beautiful-er than she. Um?? Girl you’re amazing. I guess I’m just supposed to say, “Stop it, no you are.”

Here’s the conversation I’d rather have: “I’m dissatisfied with _____ part of my body and I’m reaching out to you as another woman to help me contend with that. Maybe I just need you to boost me up, or maybe I need you to agree with me that you are fortunate to not have this problem and that it’s ok for me to feel disadvantaged sometimes.”  And I’d also like to make time for this super special conversation, “I am proud of _______ part of my body and I’m reaching out to you as another woman to help me celebrate that.”

shut-up-prettier

3. “She needs to stop wearing the Hijab.” One woman will say, the Hijab is a symbol of oppression, and muslim women (in America) should not wear it. Another woman will say, it is her choice, her freedom of religious expression: “Don’t bother her.” The two will argue, neither side will concede.

Which of the two will also say that revealing clothing degrades women? Which of the two will counter, it’s her choice, let her wear those daisy dukes and boob toob? (It’s not always a predictable pattern.)

We should not argue over how much or how little cloth we use to cover our bodies. We should instead agree that what is more important is our freedom to choose for ourselves. Whose eyes do you feel when you get dressed in the morning? I’m a femme lesbian; I feel the eyes of women who might think I should put on a flannel instead of a frock. I feel the eyes of women who see the advantages of my femme invisibility, and yes I acknowledge and understand them to be true. I ask them to see the loneliness in my femme invisibility, too.

Can’t we just agree the whole point is to have the freedom to wear what you want? Please let the communities who wear particular items of clothing discuss within their own communities about the symbolic significance and/or necessity of those items, and shut up and enjoy your high heels and/or combat boots.

Bad-feminist-fuck-it

4. I’m not like other girls because…. You. Are. Not. Like. Other. Girls.  I know. Thing is, we’re all incredibly different from each other.

Don’t tell each other this, don’t believe this. If you form a friendship on the basis of, “It’s ok, we’re not like the others,” you won’t make it through those moments where she is like all the others. You’ll be sniffing out each other for signs of the enemy, The Conforming Woman. You’ll want so badly to be seen as Not A Typical Woman that you’ll erase yourself, you’ll erase entire identities.

The only time we should see each other as fellow women is when we are on the same team, when we are sharing in our suffering or our growing, when we’re listening to the experience of someone who is going through “woman” differently than we have — or soul-touchingly “the same.”  Otherwise we should see each other as other human beings.

Which leads me to….

5. I have all guy friends because I don’t get along with (normal) women (but you’re an exception).  If this is a conversation you hear yourself frequently starting, you need to Just. Stop. Go stand in a mirror and practice a new conversation: “I don’t understand why I’m insecure in my ability to relate with other women. I need to heal this in myself.” I get that it’s tough sometimes to form relationships with women when the patriarchy often pits us against each other, but if you believe it’s only other women that are the problem, then you’re part of the problem.

This conversation breaks my heart more than all the others. When a woman starts this conversation with me, I wonder, does she think she’s not getting along with me? Does she think we have reasons to be enemies simply because we’re both women? “I’m not like other girls, don’t fear me,” she says as if it’s a truce.  Excuse me, but I like women. I love women, actually. You can’t take that away from me. You can’t make me some sort of “not really a woman” woman.

And if she knows I’m gay, do I not count as a woman, because I might look at her the way a man does? Does she think I’m not capable of valuing her as a person rather than a person I’d like to touch naked?

Does she realize the poison she is spreading between women by perpetuating this conversation?

1 year of SDSurvivalGuide

This Saturday will mark the 1 year anniversary of SD Survival Guide.

I’ve worn a few 2-dimensional identities in my life — the kind people use when they’re trying to describe you to a friend. They’ve varied from “Anthony’s girlfriend,” to “redheaded lesbian” and at least one unpublishable moniker in-between. Slowly, over the past year, “writer” has been taking over.

For that, I am calling this a success. The encouragement and feedback I receive make my fucking day, ya’ll, because I constantly think about how happy I would be if I had an audience for a book, and if I could write one that is worthy of them.

Many of you lament that you’ve gotten behind in my posts, so this week I hope you enjoy an excerpt from each one.  And pretty, pretty please write me a comment, text me, or send me a snapchat with any thoughts about my writing.

Snapchat-20140131100329

Simulation

Cutesy post introducing SD relationship with the weather: Hypo-manic with fear, we discuss rain and sun and fog in a tone that is easy to confuse with eagerness.  Oh, we’re not pleasant or easily amused; we’re terrified.

Nausea-filled regret at first post + epic tale of misogyny: Trapped in a bar stool between smokers, a railing, and his body, I felt like a cornered animal.  Even as I chewed him out for what must have been at least 20 minutes, he stood alternatively with his face so close to mine I could feel his breath or with his crotch against my leg.

Attempt to draw in San Diego Googlers using keywords: There’s sort of an ennui in happiness and stability, and this is not the best town in which to forage for chaos. In this heaven, we’re a bit oblivious to evil and all the fun it brings.

Party story about violence against inanimate objects: The bear arm results from the potent combination of three things. Me, alcohol, and unrequited lust.

Here's a drawing of Katelyn murdering a unicorn.

Examining  appropriation of LGBT culture: I thought of the trendiness of swinging, straight couples hunting for that perfect bisexual woman who will love both of them in a harmonious triad, and 1-dick-per-relationship policies.  I thought of dudes who ask me to sleep with their girlfriends, but insist that they at least be allowed to watch.

Party Monster Kill Switch + I freaking love Sour Cream: “Fluffy bear got me through a lot of hard times, too.”

Katelyn's planning to use this purple vase with her 3 hose hookah next.

Thrift shopping primer for San Diegans: I still thrift primarily to impress people at parties. I try to be selective, but having a conversation starter is more valuable to me than closet space.

My embarrassing familiarity with hangovers: But then everything is too loud so I sit in a dark room. Everything is too dark so I move to a dimly lit room. My blood is uncomfortable.

The “Gay Gambit” + map I found: “Gossip Gril is Vagina Stronghold?” I said, unimpressed. “More like where I go to remember I hate lesbians and cigarettes.”

I wanted to remember how bad I am at math and make it about alcohol: Ok, I lied, sometimes we feel poor and we drink piss water. Can I find a drink that doesn’t cost more than my student loans?

sdsurvivalguide-banquet-chicken-fingersBlaming orange juice for my problems:  I’ve been living off gatorades and cheese-foods since Monday. Cheese comforts me. Katelyn, I said, I want something like chicken fingers or macaroni n’ cheese. Something little kids eat.

Carpe diem for stupid people: I just want to know, how is throwing on a trucker hatt, getting smammered, and drooling on a young woman while she gyrates against your crotch seizing the day?

Another picture by Mel Marcado. I wasn't too sure about my decision to wear braids until a girl ran up to me, touched them, and told me I looked "so cute, like an anime character."

Reviewing a little SD rave: It felt like being in a kindergarten where you’re allowed to eat the crayons.

What is our civil duty to interfere in bad situations?Pro-tip: pretending to be my “boyfriend” in order to “rescue” me from some asshat is going to annoy me almost as much as the dude telling me I’ve got pretty teeth 10 times in one night.

I fell in love with a stripper: “No,” I said in her ear, “I don’t care if he gets off. I want you and he has the money.”

Lame short post b/c I procrastinated getting ready for SCA War: Each fight could represent their last day on earth, so at night we party.

mac-n-cheese-pizza-ketchupKatelyn told me to blog about pocket cheese: . After getting off work at 7 and taking your pre-party nap and laboring over your costume, there is no time for food. You can’t chop a salad, you can’t toast a sandwich and juice a carrot. You have to eat on the go. So we have this thing called “Pocket Cheese.”

K1-to do listSaga of my christian-phase closeted love-triangle: I hadn’t had an orgasm since I found Jesus.

Some 35-year-old said something I didn’t like, so I blogged about it: Ah crap. I’m that stubborn young woman who doesn’t like to be told what to do with her life and doesn’t have respect for people’s personal beliefs.

I got the slut strep: How do you tell your doctor that you may be responsible for spreading a nasty disease with a Jameson fueled make-out binge? (Forgive me, for there was a dimly lit bounce house on premises.)

An ex-boyfriend said something I didn’t like, so I blogged about it: An expired apology is one that is so old in respect to its crime that it’s completely missed its window and should stay in a deep basement to rot with the rest of your baggage.

I got the slut strep AGAIN: I can barely stay awake, and when I do manage, I’m confused and vaguely nauseous.

my kaleidoscope of face parts

Artsy thing I wrote about a warehouse party: She liked me. I shouldn’t have been surprised; wives always like me, come on to me, kiss me. Yet, she focused on me so quickly, when my irises were just starting to quicken again.

I missed Pride because I was sick and I examined my coping strategies for FOMO: Do you realize how many strains of new and exotic viruses are flying in from around the country, world even?  No thank you, spawn of swine flu.

Audio interview (I procrastinated so I never transcribed it): For my very first local celebrity profile interview, I’m featuring a very close friend and source of my inspiration, Xanadu Rocketship.

hungover-couch-girl-cartoon-underwearBuncha theme ideas for parties: I have been throwing theme parties since I was 7. I would plan for my next birthday just as soon as the last one passed, brainstorming ideas in my journal.

Almost missed a deadline for a post, but my brother called and I was inspired: Other people don’t sound like themselves on the phone, but I just hear my brother in the hot piece of plastic against my ear. He mentions how the Illuminati or maybe the overlord lizard-brains are monitoring our call, trying to intercept it, how he’s been really into conspiracy theories…

I attempt to forgive myself for not knowing enough about pop culture: Due to my delusional escapades as an alien princess, a Christian, a heterosexual… my connection to reality is a bit flimsy.

mr-scumbag-from-sprint-telephone-business-card-college-storeI learned that Sprint has tricksy awful sales-hobbits: Katelyn needs a new phone as well, because it never seems to work when I need her immediate attention and dammit why doesn’t she ever text me back?

I spent 3 hours making an OkCupid manifesto: You are meeting a stranger. Off the internet. You do not need to invest heavily in this date.

Benefit of being a writer, life lessons are now blog fodder: But when I checked my bank account Monday and discovered my wallet was stolen I wasn’t sure if I felt more like a victim of crime or a victim of my hangover.

6 monthiversary is an excuse to analyze keywords!: I know there’s plenty to do, I know there’s stunning and quirky and intelligent and sexy people in this city. I am making it my mission to connect these people together.

Taco Wow Cafe San DiegoDelirious with new technology: I’m relentless. I won’t stop. The smartphone eats my dreams. I don’t need to sleep. I have 7 years of technology to absorb.

Sometimes I kick people in the butt and I have to leave the party: Now I’m no stranger to butts in my face, but I don’t like stranger butts in my face, and this guy didn’t even know my name.

comic-lesbian-first-sleepover-sexBoobs: There are basically two ways to be a feminist at a party. One is to stand up for your beliefs and counter any bullshit the best you can, whether through reasoned quips or belligerent screaming, as is necessary. The other is to realize you are outnumbered, down another drink, and to instead store up your dismay and upset for an angry blog rant.

I struggle with coming up with something so you get to read my diary: If only, if only, I can become such a celebrity that people will want to read my diary.

Cutesy post about tourists: This weekend I met a woman from Chicago who awed at the mountains, and yes they were very effective at blocking my cell reception but I stopped cursing T-mobile and also spun in a slow circle. Ok, yes, I’m looking at them. Wow.

Lame last-minute blog post about Halloween costumes: I’m down to 15 minutes before I need to start assembling my own costume, and I realized if I really do want to provide a service through this blog, I can at least share some last-minute, cheap and lazy, DIY Halloween Costumes that I found / imagined.

Lookin' like a supermodel in my onesie jam jams.

I’m so full of myself I ask people to tell me something I don’t know when they say I’m beautiful: Make yourself memorable with a fraction more thought given to the compliments you choose…

I often leave parties without saying goodbye and why you should do it too: Immediately a man I didn’t know put his arm around me, people were dancing barefoot in the backyard to no music at all, and worst of all, I realized, everyone was dry as paper. Sober.

Based on Eysenck's personality theory (I didn't make this up) -- click for larger view.

An introvert said something I didn’t like so I wrote a blog post about it: Yes, the Eysenck test divides emotional instability by introversion/extroversion. But I won’t accept cherry-picking the emotional problems you identify with as a valid “diagnosis” of introversion. Perhaps, like I did, you have a secret extrovert inside of you who is trapped by feelings of moodiness and pessimism.

I played a game of Cards Against Humanity and I was bored so I wrote a blog post about it:  In general, just realize that nobody is paying attention to you because this game is designed for narcissists.

Got lost. Doesn’t matter, had waffles: As you probably already heard, I scooped chicken and waffle alike with my hand shovels into my mouth bucket, and then wiped all with individually packaged moist towelettes, and felt sated and warm.

grinch-who-stole-facebookToo much upworthy pissed me off:  If I don’t know the person too well, such breaches have me reaching for the “hide” or even “unfriend” buttons. Facebook only lets me see you in one-dimension, and the one you’re giving me is ugly.

I whine about not wanting to go to work:  I know that when I have to go back to work, the night previous I will be a restless mess of reluctance. I will do something pathetic with my time, like watching cable television and playing solitaire on my iPad. I don’t know why, but I waste every moment that is my last, simultaneously berating myself for not doing something more valuable with what I still have.

electric-grape-leather-80s-comic-strawberry-blondeBar story about a guy being nice to me: The “wrong” bar and my general lowered expectations for birthdays should have set me at unease, but maybe I just feel like I can do anything in a pair of Jeffrey Cambell’s and 1000 square inches of electric-grape leather. Maybe I could even accept free drinks from strangers.

Mean Girls don’t actually exist:  I find it immensely rewarding to get people to come out of their shells, even if it is a shell made out of gender shenanigans.

Kitty-leggings-patterned-tightsCigarettes are like little puke torpedos: Luckily drunk-sami became a smartphone photographer so I’ve managed to reconstruct memories of Jenga and flogging.

Don’t read this when you’re drunk; trust me I’ve tried: I’m beginning to identify two major structures in which a party group can operate. I’ll call them the Creatives and the Nostalgics.

Another attempt at Google traffic, but it’s actually a decent read if you ask me: Those kinds of conversations, about how SD is so nice and the weather is fucking rad, are immensely boring to me.

Thank you again for reading (I fucking mean it) and please tell me in the comments below which posts are the SD Survival Guide “must reads.”

Straight Girls Pt. 1 “Mean Girls” as seen by a notorious Toaster Taker

Consider this a letter to my fellow humans of the feminine persuasion.  Dudes, let me know in the comments if this was at all valuable to you. Frankly, I wasn’t thinking of men when I wrote this. I could write a book on this subject (Straight Girlz), so let’s go ahead and call this Part 1. This has less to do with the “straight” part of “straight girls” and more to do with women in general, but through my personal perspective as a kissing bandit. I have probably smashed faces (and other…) with maybe 3 bonafide lesbian chicks. The rest have been varying levels of bisexual or straight. So very many straight women. I swear I don’t specifically target them. They’re drawn to me — outgoing, harmlessly femme; I think they feel safe and welcomed. Not just the ones that kiss me, but the ones that befriend me also surprise me with their warmth and trust. Often women will tell me “I don’t normally get along with other girls” or “I prefer hanging out with guys.” How do I manage to break down social barriers and engage women on deeper levels? Am I just appealing because they project or sense a level of desire in me (as a lesbian) that they find familiar from men? Is it just my pretty hair? Or am I managing to do something else… My friend wrote to me about her recent experience (anonymity preserved for work reasons):

Friend1Oh. Surprise, surprise. I finally kissed a girl that I liked it. Sami

??

You accidentally a word. Not sure if you finally liked kissing a girl, or one finally liked kissing you

Friend1 haha…I kissed a girl…well…and it worked out anyways it didn’t tweak my usual “that doesn’t work” reaction Sami Sexuality is fluid so maybe something changed for you Friend1

I dunno. There might be a few girls I can kiss and it would work out. I’m pretty sure there aren’t a lot. I’m definitely not anything beyond heteroflexible.

I wanted to know what was special about this kiss. Why, when she’d always asserted that this wasn’t a thing for her, did she have a successful experiment?

Friend1 I think bubbly, friendly, outgoing girls maybe sometimes work for me. I know the first time I managed to successfully kiss one without it tweaking me was similar in that respect. Girls who are a bit oblivious to the fact that I may not actually be bi…and are just super friendly/warm and bubbly, I guess. Sami

You don’t want to be targeted maybe?

Friend1 I think part of it is that for the most part I don’t trust women, in general, because so many of them are so catty…and this personality type tends to be fairly opposite the catty persona that I feel comfortable with it? I mean, this girl, she heard I didn’t feel well and immediately took me downstairs and hooked me up with cough drops and was just super sweet. The more I learn about her…she is a straightforward gal…so, someone I would get along with easily.

Sami

Women in general are nice at the core. I don’t know why they catty front has to be prevalent

Friend1 This doesn’t account for your basic nerd/lezzie girl types I tend to get along with just fine, as well, of course.

Sami It’s interesting to me that you operate with so many categories

Ok, I started to get a little rude. Really though, women need to STOP acting like their problem with other women is other women. If you categorically cannot get along with an entire gender, it might be something you’re doing wrong. My friend rocks for taking my criticism in stride.

Friend1 Haha! I think I do nowadays because I used to just think it was women, in general, that I didn’t get along with. Then, as I got older I noticed there were certain personality types/traits that I got along with a lot better. I grew up, though, with mostly boys for friends. I thought a lot of girls were just plain mean.

Her younger self’s perspective is one that I see perpetuated even by women my age and older. I’ve come to realize that since our society evaluates women strongly on a rubric of “niceness,” failure to perform to the gender is read as “mean.” Saying it like it is? Mean. Standing up for yourself? Mean. Setting clear and firm boundaries? Mean. This analysis is further muddied by the fact that “mean” is also willfully taken on as a strategy by women who see its value in power plays. If a woman (nice) is expected to be docile, and gentle to the point of weakness, then the opposite (mean) is brassy and cruel to the point of strength. Your popular “mean girl” will be perceived as mean both because she is rated on the mean-nice scale and because she draws her ideas of power from the anti-feminine ideal: act like a man to game the system. Then of course she (the popular girl) overcompensates in other stereotypically feminine roles (make-up, clothes) and we hate her for being a hypocrite. You really can’t win. How do I pull people out of this overwhelming network of social scripts and assumptions so I can have a decent conversation, or even make a friend?

Sami Women are obsessed with being nice, at the expense of being fake. Since the opposite of nice is mean, fake-nice comes across as mean Friend1

there you go fake nice=mean at least, that’s how I feel about it disingenuous can’t trust people like that Sami

Thing is, it’s not actually mean. It’s just fake. Get real with her and the fakeness stops

Friend1 that’s a good observation .. “Get real with her?”

I really struggled to explain myself here. It’s not something I had consciously analyzed before.  I just…do the me…and the friends…happen.

Friend1 Maybe most girls are just nicer to you because you are cute so they want to be seen with you. Sami

Haha sure but it’s still fake-nice until they realize I’m going to be real with them Friend1

Maybe I just prefer dealing with women who are real from the beginning…and don’t know how to deal with fake nice.

She makes an excellent point. It’s not her fault if women observe her naturally open and interested nature and throw a wall up in her face. She is fair, genuine, and very used to managing expectations and relating to people (she deals with young-ish ones for a living). But I want to deal with fake nice. I find it immensely rewarding to get people to come out of their shells, even if it is a shell made out of gender shenanigans. Or maybe I’m a jerk that just likes to poke people out of their comfort zones.

Sami Just see it as insecurity. Validate them and the insecurity goes away. Unless it’s insecurity matched by ego/arrogance. Then sometimes you have to call their bluff Friend1

That probably explains the difference I run into between the women I get along with and the ones I don’t in a nutshell. Validate them? Like, “Wow, I really like those shoes (if I genuinely do),” you mean? And what’s up with the “calling their bluff?” What do you mean by that? Sami

Well, like, it’s never something you can do verbally per se. But you can disengage from their bullshit. You have to direct the conversation in a way, don’t react with the script that we all know

And after you call their bluff, you have to be nice for real I typically will kinda zone out when the fakeness is gushing. Then I chime in with the conversation I want to have. Faker will typically get a bit unsettled by this. I look for an opportunity to mitigate her fears. Get her on my sailboat and give her a life preserver Friend1

LOL…I guess that makes sense. I am constantly redirecting student conversations from where they want to take them back to the class concerns in ways that kind of broadside them. I use humor and self-deprication to move them back in the right direction…maybe a mild insult that gets their attention without really insulting them. Kind of the same thing? Make it more comfortable to have a real conversation? Sami

Sure, stuff like that, as long as it’s recoverable. Kinda like hey I know what you’re doing and knock it off, but I understand how you feel I do it too

We hinted at a few strategies.  Let me elaborate:

  • Disrupt the script – do something unexpected
  • Refuse to play the game — you don’t have to prioritize being “nice” over all else. I, for one, get more out of life with “honesty.”
  • Being “fake-nice” will often get misread as “mean” because most women know exactly what you’re doing, at some level. Even if they don’t feel like you’re being mean, they’ll often balk at your apparent insincerity (and they may not even understand why they don’t like your demeanor)
  • …Regarding getting along better with teh menz, they may not see life through this same lens and so they interpret “nice” as just plain “nice.” So maybe that’s why you get along better.
  • Extend olive branches. Make the effort to truly connect. Show that we’re all on the same team here.  If you “don’t play the game” but also skip this step, then you’ll fall into the category of “girls don’t like me because I don’t act like a girl WOE is meeeee”
  • Use the “benefit of the doubt” both to show that you will be considerate to her point-of-view, but also to allow yourself to believe she doesn’t hate your guts already
  • In other words, be “actual” nice
  • Don’t assume that girls are mean and awful and it’s not in any way your fault you get along with boys better.  YES it’s a systemic problem but the only way we’re going to get around it is if we do actual work to relate to each other like human beings and not “mean girls.”

Friend1 Thanks for all the insights. I might understand women when I’m ninety. Sami

didn’t know I had them til you asked! Give me more insights on getting girls in the kissing mood! Friend1

Be super nice and helpful and welcoming? Sami

Will try that haha

Guys don’t totally suck (I learned on my birthday)

(Hey guys, I got Prismacolors for my birthday! Enjoy the new doodles.)

I can’t say the last 7 days were uneventful — I had a birthday and 2013 became 2014 — but there isn’t a whole lot I’m willing to share on a website with my real name on it (Summary: lots of booze & bangin’). I do have a little story for you:

On my birthday, I discovered that the place I always think is Redwing but is not Redwing is also not Livewire. Nope, it’s Nunu’s.  But, you can’t blame Kateyln for taking me to the wrong, “U-shaped bar with booths,” because that, Livewire is.  Eh, it’d work. Never expecting much for my birthday, I put up check-in on facebook like my bat-signal and waited to see which friends would show.

I really mean I don’t expect much for my birthday. It’s the 27th of December, and I’ve spent most of those in a car ride to grandpa’s house in SB. My parents made the day special by letting me have the newspaper first and sometimes we’d pick up In’n’Out.  As I’ve gotten older, my birthday has become less of an addendum to Christmas in a bad way (hello child, you are getting a COMBO present and it is clothes!!), and more of an addendum to Christmas in a good way (combo present: DSLR!!!). First off, no one forgets my birthday checks. Also, I haven’t completely abandoned my childhood fantasy that all the lights and tinsel are put up just for me.

The “wrong” bar and my general lowered expectations for birthdays should have set me at unease, but maybe I just feel like I can do anything in a pair of Jeffrey Cambell’s and 1000 square inches of electric-grape leather. Maybe I could even accept free drinks from strangers.

electric-grape-leather-80s-comic-strawberry-blondeThe first person to show up was Katelyn’s bestie. She brought me a wrapped gift that was very obviously alcohol.

no-wine-gift-in-the-barYeah, no, that had to go straight to the car. The two girls left me in the bar to attend to my whiskey and a PBR tall can. I finished the former and took taxes from the latter. Just standin’ here by myself, looking gorgeous and bored. Twiddle thumbs.

Two dudes approached me and the first one said, “Hey, Sarah?” Close enough, and with my face-blind-ish-ness I assumed he knew me. We very quickly established he did not. I’m really good at talking about myself so I slipped in seamlessly that it was my birthday. (I’m lying; I announced it without context like a proud 5-year-old.)

He immediately offered a birthday shot. The way he did all the talking, I figured he was trying to wing-man for his shaggy-haired friend. I thought I knew what was going on there. Whatever, I could take his alcohol and reject his friend. Leather. 6 inch heels. It’s my birthday.

And then something kind of magical happened. The three of us took our shots of bourbon. My friend Marina arrived. He saw I wasn’t alone anymore, and told me he was glad to meet me, he’d be over by the pool table. He was glad to meet me. Past tense. As in he just bought me a shot and would be leaving me alone. I gave him a big hug I was so pleased.

I don’t want to undercut the rarity of these kinds of occurrences. I don’t want to dismiss the damage my gender faces at the hand of institutionalized sexism and asshats. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of bullshit. But something about that moment felt very….normal. Like it happens every day. Like 2014 is going to be different for me.

It’s the serenity that I felt that I treasure most. I know I’ll have to continue sharpening my skills of graceful rejection. I know someday some guy is going to put his hands on me and act like I was asking for it. But this little moment, this freely given shot, makes it worth it to keep my heart open.

Thank you, Bryan, wherever you are, for giving me something special for my birthday.