Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things


Things About Chicago ‘Happy Endings’ Gets Wrong

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Or, “Things That TV Gets Wrong About Chicago”

Editor’s Note: I’ve written about the importance of getting the place right in television before. Emily has recently THANK GOD started watching Happy Endings , and it’s started to bug her too.

You know how when you’re learning a new language, you have to think about every grammatical rule just to ask where the goddamn bathroom is? Is it “por” or “para,” preterite or imperfect, masculine or feminine? And you know how one day, when you get kinda good at it, all of sudden things start to sound right or sound wrong? You don’t know why it’s “el dia” when it should obviously be “la dia,” but it is, and your ears know it even if your brain can’t articulate why.

My Spanish is rusty as hell, but I’m find that the same principle applies to geographic familiarity. ‘Live in a place long enough and you start to get a linguistic and visual sixth sense for when people are talking about it wrong. Before you can even begin to identify what’s sounding alarm bells, the hair on your arms is standing up and your hackles, whatever they are, are raised.

I just had my five year anniversary with Chicago and I feel like I’m finally achieving that level of comfort with the quirks of this city. I even have evidence. I’m currently catching up on Chicago-based sitcom Happy Endings, and in a bit about Penny burning down her apartment building, this visual gag flashed on my screen:

No big thing, right? Fake address of fake burning building on a fake tv show. False. This is big fucking deal. Every single alarm bell went off. I hadn’t even been paying very close attention, but I knew in my gut something was very, very wrong. I paused, rewound, and freeze-framed. I don’t even know where to begin:

1. Clybourn does not have an “E.”
2. Those are not Chicago apartment buildings. They’re just not.
3. Nobody lives 42 blocks east of anything in Chicago. No matter where you are, 4200 E Whatever will put you squarely in Lake Michigan.
4. Clybourn is a North/South diagonal, not East/West. Everyone knows this.
5. Most importantly, even if they meant 4200 N Clybourn (no E), that would be Roscoe Village. Penny is not the type of character that lives in Roscoe Village. She’s more of a River North/Gold Coast girl. Possibly Lakeview, possibly Wrigley. Definitely not Roscoe.

The point is, I knew that it was all wrong before I could tell you why. I’m not sure exactly what that means for me and Chicago, but I think it must mean good things. As for the writers of Happy Endings…. hire a fucking fact-checker.

Spotted On Southport

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Best guess to the back of this shirt?

“Smart Girls…Don’t make their bridesmaids wear matching t-shirts.”

The Unlive Blog: People’s Choice Awards 2011

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Editor’s Note: For personal reasons, and for reasons like Ijustdon’tgiveafuckaboutthisparticular”awards”show, Emily has taken over the unlive blog for the People’s Choice Awards 2011, officially the first special of the new year. The usual cast of characters, however, is still present.

8:15 Conor: Sooo…do people like…vote for this?
Emily: I think so…which makes it better? Maybe? Except…I don’t trust people.

8:16 Some announcement of an award for country somethingorother between Taylor Swift and some other people at which point we have a 10 minute argument about whether Rascal Flatts is well known or not. I acknowledge that they are (he is?) I just haven’t heard of them (him?) and that this is all because I’m a New England elitist.

8:17 Taylor Swift wins something! Almost side boob, uh oh…argument about whether or not she’s a freak in the sack. Jessie says yes, Conor and I say no.

8:20 Taye Diggs and Kate Walsh would have pretty babies. He will have pretty babies. Can I have his babies. Or at least practice. Kate Walsh explains to us, “Comedies are humorous.”

8:25 Since when does Selena Gomez sing? I told Jessie that she is dating Justin Bieber. Croutons were spit up. She does look pretty, but kind of like a slightly older version of Toddlers in Tiaras.

Queen Latifah looks good (Jessie: Do you call her Queen, like “Hey Queen, what’s up”? Well, from now on we will!)

8:33 Elton John is a dad, too! Sweet!

8:40 Zac Efron…terrible haircut. Gross. But who cares, because NPH won for best actor in comedy and he won one in 1990 for Doogie Howser! (Kate: What goes around comes around!) He thanked his partner (“better half”) and his kids (Gideon and Harper?) and it was a lot of shriek-worthy cuteness.

Kate: Shiny, shiny suit to match his shiny, shiny hair.

8:42 Jane Lynch for best actress in comedy…the gays are taking over. She says, “Laura I love you baby!” Jessie: “AHA Gay shoutouts I can do one tooooo!

8:50 Favorite Viral Video (this is a category? Clearly I am unclear about what this people’s choice thing is…) goes to the little boy who cried when his dad told him he couldn’t be a single lady. Cutest multicultural family ever.
Kate: This video depressed me. That is all.

8:52 Best actress in a drama gets stolen right out from under my Juliana Margulies. Oh well, I’m a new found fan of Lisa Edelstein’s since I found her wikipedia page. For some reason, she’s listing nicknames or something, like hers, which is inexplicably Cuddlestein? Losing points, Lisa E.

8:56 Johnny Depp wins Favorite Movie Actor. Jessie points out that what they’re streaming behind him as he accepts is about 8 JDepp movies ago, since nobody saw The Tourist.

9:00 Katy Perry is advertising her tits…I mean..the Grammy’s. Well, both.

9:02 Kardashians front row. Khloe is so tall. With the bedhead and the towel-y dress she’s rocking the shuffle-to-the-bathroom-post-sex thing. Queen is pretty much making fun of them to their faces.

Kate: CANNOT GET ENOUGH. They are a sickness.

9:06 Zac Efron winning Favorite Movie Star Under 25. He says, “When you’re young it’s.. like, like a roller coaster, you know, so many twists and turns, you know?”. We know, Zac, we know.

9:16 Favorite Guilty Pleasure? Kardashians — shocking! Three strapless dresses, six giant boobs, giant hair. Khloe: “We have the best job ever!” I’m sorry… what? Jessie would like to be in charge of nominating this particular People’s Choice Award.

9:18 Lila Garrity! I mean…what’s her name? The one who dates Derek Jeter.
Kate: Minka Kelly is her name!!!The sexiest woman alive! I don’t even believe that, ask Esquire, okay wait, I totally believe that.

I was just saying that I was ready for a performance. It is Kid Rock. Careful what you wish for, goddammit.

9:29 Some girl with crazy bangs I don’t is wearing a NOH8 dress! What with all the samesex shoutouts this is the most progressive awards show ever.

9:30 S%&* My Dad Says wins for Favorite New Comedy. How is that possible? Do people who vote on this actually know who William Shatner is?

9:31 Oooh, new dress on Queen; turquoise silk ombre halter, jewel crusted straps. My favorite of the night.
Kate: Wait, is she hosting this thing? How did I miss this?

9:33 Stephen Moyer tells us that “Leading ladies are not just pretty faces anymore” before Malin Ackerman interrupts with “But these ladies are still prettty hot.” Good, thanks Malin…I was pretty worried we might have nominated some fugs.

9:37 We just learned that Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal are no longer an item. This makes all of our earlier speculations about their sex life moot. Or, as Jessie points out, it probably means that she didn’t put out and he was like “Um, I’m 30, fuck this.”

9:45 Queen is chatting with Kristen Stewart RPattz etc. in the front row and then pauses to turn to the guy to their left to say “And who the hell are you that you get to sit up front with vampires?”
Kate: Note this amazing headline.

WHAT ARE THE LENGTHS?! I want to know.

9:47 Julie Bowen aka Claire Dunphy is doing that look she does behind Phil’s back when he’s been an ass on Modern Family (Kate: This one?), except that she’s on stage in front of thousands of people. Favorite female artist goes to… Katy Perry…man…I wanted Pink to win, if only for the generation of kids she introduced to the Rosie the Riveter look

Jesus…Katy Perry is on stage holding her statues at breast-level “I’ve got two! These are so heavy, I wish you could feel them!” (Kate: This is a family show!) She does not thank Russell Brand. Hmm…trouble in bearded elephant-riding paradise?

9:55 Saving the big guns for last: Natalie Portman (pregnant! yay!) and Ashton Kutcher present Favorite Movie of the Year: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, Alice in Wonderland, Inception, Twilight: Eclipse. Please let it not be oh crap of course it is…Twilight wins. That’s what happens when you leave it in the hands of the people, people.

[Photos via Getty]

The Helen Mirren Hypothesis

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In Helen Mirren’s brilliant, moving, inspiring acceptance speech at a recent Women in Hollywood event, she delivered a forceful rebuke of Hollywood’s obsession with “the 18 to 25-year-old male…and his penis (quite small, I always think).” Mirren lamented the “fact that virtually every drama made for film, stage or television has 20 male characters to the one, two, maybe three if you’re lucky, female characters.”

I decided to test Mirren’s supposition against the recently released Golden Globe nominations. This is obviously not a cross-section of all that TV or film has to offer, but The Golden Globes represent an industry standard of perceived quality. Consequently, Mirren would be more likely to find roles of substance in these nominees, than in, for example, The Bachelorette90210 or The Back-Up Plan.

A word on methodology: The statistics below are based on the official cast lists presented on each show’s network website. Rather than using my own judgement (or the judgment of IMDB, Wikipedia, etc) to decide which characters merit inclusion, I wanted to see how each network officially depicted its cast. For example, AMC’s Mad Men site names 27 characters, 12 of whom are female, netting a “score” of 44%.

Best Television Series (Drama):

Boardwalk Empire (27% of listed characters are female)
Dexter (29%)
Walking Dead (33%)
Mad Men (44%)
The Good Wife (50%)
Best Television Series (Drama) AVERAGE: 37%

Best Television Series (Comedy):

The Big Bang Theory (20%)
30 Rock (33%)
Modern Family (40%)
The Big C (43%)
Nurse Jackie (44%)
Glee (64%)
Best Television Series (Comedy) AVERAGE: 41%

Yikes. One drama achieves gender parity in its casting, The Good Wife, a project from husband-wife team Robert and Michelle King. Michelle King is the only female “creator” of the five drama nominees. Even shows created by women (30 Rock, The Big C, Nurse Jackie) favor roles for male actors. Although the comedy category average is not quite as dire as the dramas, this average is hugely helped by Glee, the only nominated show with more female characters than male (without Glee, the category averages 36%).

On to the big screen:

Best Motion Picture (Drama):

Black Swan (80%)
The Fighter (40%)
Inception (22%)
The King’s Speech (22%)
The Social Network (29%)
Best Motion Picture (Drama) AVERAGE: 39%

Best Motion Picture (Comedy):

Alice in Wonderland (75%)
Burlesque (44%)
The Kids Are All Right (60%)
Red (33%)
The Tourist (14%)
Best Motion Picture (Comedy) AVERAGE: 45%

The differences in category averages between big and small screens are only a few percentage points, but the distribution within categories don’t line up. Film, it would seem, allows for one or two female-driven pictures. Black Swan, set in a dance studio, starring 4 women and 1 man, would be this year’s entry.

The point is not for all productions to reserve exactly half of their roles for women (or minorities, the elderly, or any other oft-neglected demographic). Some shows are aimed at women (SATC) and others at men (Entourage) and their casting reflects this fact. The problem is that what we identify as quality, via awards shows like the Golden Globes, distinctly favors male actors. This creates a cycle in which male-dominated productions are considered the “norm,” and gender-neutral casts or female-heavy casts are relegated to niche markets or less popular networks.

One could argue that Hollywood reflects reality…most police departments are male-dominated, as are boxing rings, and tech-start ups. That is both true and problematic. Yet, the question remains; why are the male-dominated arenas the ones in which people prefer to play creatively? Because women (self very much included!) will watch a show or movie set in a “male world,” but men will not reciprocate? Projects set in traditionally female worlds (say a preschool or an ice skating team) either don’t get made, don’t get made well, or get made well and don’t get recognized. Any way you cut it, Helen Mirren has a point.

Same Romance Novel, Different Cynic

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Prompted by Kate and KB, I succumbed to the glossy temptation of Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet. While I’ve never been one for the traditional bodice-rippers, I’ve got a fair amount of Jane Green/Marian Keyes/Emily Giffin/Lauren Weisberger/Jennifer Weiner chick-lit under my belt, and I usually enjoy every predictable word. I say this to assure you that, as I cracked open Vision in White (Book 1), I wanted to love it. Four best friends with distinctly different hairstyles, people named things like Delaney and Emmaline, silly metaphors for sexual acts… What’s not to love?

Sadly and probably unsurprisingly, I have many complaints, the least of which is Roberts’ incorrect usage of “hook up.”* Skip the timing (they meet on Jan 1st and get engaged mid-March… really, Nora? REALLY??) and the overwhelming wedding minutia (WTF is a pomander anyway?), and the schmaltzy-waltzy dialogue. I must admit that I signed up for the suspension of disbelief, the preposterously whirlwinded fairytale and even all the wedding mumbo-jumbo.

What rang incredibly false, and what I was really hoping would ring true, was the depiction of female friendship.  There’s a scene early in the book where the friends (they are also business partners) are congratulating themselves on a job well done and they toast, to themselves, for being “damn smart women.” I cringed, I literally cringed. Have you ever had girlfriends, Nora?

My female friends are amazing across the board. They are certainly a brainy bunch, full of both high-brow theories, low-level street wisdom and everything in between. They are professionally successful, ambitious and creative. Funny, confident, strong…and yes, beautiful. In any room with them, I feel seriously blessed.

The complexity of adult female friendships is not the point of the Bride Quartet, I know. And yet when you’re asking me accept a whole bunch of other preposterous things, and your foundational structure is “these four women are best friends,” and their friendship feels like a list of outdated cliches…. I’m just not buying.

Do you know what real best friends would do if you got engaged after less than three months? They would look at your ring, shriek a little, then grab your face, squeeze it really hard and say “GIRLFRIEND, YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND.”

* “…back when she was still hooked up with Carter.”  NO. If you want to play with the ‘tweens, Nora… learn the lingo.

Not Your Mom’s James Deen

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Yesterday I stumbled upon the personal blog of male porn actor and winner of the 2009 Male Performer of the Year Award, James Deen (NSFW, duh). Peppered with pictures of his naked colleagues captioned with witticisms like “Riley Evans and her Amazing Boobs,” I expected, nay, wanted, to hate it. Except… I didn’t. I read and I read and I read, and the more I read, the more I smiled. Why wasn’t this clear objectification (I mean… we’re talking close-cropped shots of semen-covered faces) not offending my feminist-self? And then I figured it out:

Are you ready? In one fell swoop I’m going to make Andrea Dworkin roll over in her grave and bring the wrath of Catharine “Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice” MacKinnon down on Smart Girls: James Deen is a feminist. He may not identify that way,  he may not even be able to spell “feminism,” but I believe the evidence is clear.

Beyond his eminently quotable one-liners (“At least I have opposable thumbs.  Those are pretty damn sweet!!!” or “Here is a pig I saw wearing a purple tie… I call it ‘party pig'”), Deen’s says things like:

I totally intercoursed her and made out and ejaculated on her face and stuff.
She was super cool and totally put my penis inside of her ass … and that was pretty cool.
I’m just horny and feeling weird because this is the first day in about 7 years that I haven’t ejaculated onto some girls face

So… yeah… he writes like a whiny 12-year-old XBox-er describing sex to his uninitiated friends over doritos and pizza bagels. Nobody ever said porn stars had to be articulate. BUT, more importantly, here are a few words strikingly absent from Deen’s blog:

(okay… he used “bitch” once… but he was describing a slice of pumpkin pie, not a woman)

In an industry saturated by language that is horrifically offensive towards women, language that implies sexual object not sexual partner, Deen’s overwhelming appreciation, admiration and respect towards his co-stars is refreshing. The women he works with are “rad” not because the let him have sex with them, but because they also enjoy exhibitionist sex. The power dynamic that has so frequently plagued the porn industry (think pervy-fat cat director and naive, resource-less teenager) is completely missing. Deen frequently works for female directors, does feature films for female-headed studios and prefers co-stars who share his kinks.

Plus, there are his hilarious views on the “Slut-o-ween” phenomenon:
So every year chicks dress up on halloween as a slutty version of something right?  So I decided a few years ago that if chicks can do it then so can I (What can I say, I’m a big believer in equal rights).  So since then I have been choosing my costumes and basically just cutting the ass and the crotch out of them and being a slutty version of whatever said costume is.

Sex-positivity, professional partnerships, gender equality in leadership positions, respectful relationships with co-workers… if only the rest of the industry could get on board with Deen’s values, maybe I could second his frequent blog-post sign-off, “GOOOO POORNN!!!”

For further reading, check out my favorite porn-centric blogger, Lynsey G. at  Conflicted Existence of a Female Porn Writer

Middle Ground

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A recent spate of articles have lambasted Hollywood projects from The Social Network to The Town for propagating the slut v. prude dichotomy. One type of girl wears too much make up, has sex in bathrooms, gets crazy jealous,  and applies minimal (if any) standards to her choice of partners. The other wears conservative clothes, only sleeps with men who “care” about her (missionary only, obvi), in a bedroom with sufficiently hazy lighting so that you might not actually notice the boning going on.

Hollywood obviously has a difficult time with the hump (ha, pun intented) of the bell curve, that seemingly elusive space between Slutville and Prudeland. Think about all the women you know (men too, but let’s talk about the ladies), most of them probably land somewhere in the middle of that hump, right? So where are my sexually-sane models of what a healthy adult sex life can look like? Kate and I did some brainstorming, and below is a summary of how our conversation went:

Emily: what about X… no, wait
Kate: yeah…no, what about… no, never mind
Emily: Oooh, how about, um… you know, nah… she’s crazy

Much like there is no one way to get to the center of a tootsie pop, there is no one way to portray a healthy, sexually fulfilled character. All I’m after is a character that a) confounds the extremes of slutdom and nunnery, b) depicts sex as a varied, pleasurable activity between consenting adult partners, c) includes presentations of female pleasure and participation. We came up with a few:

Deb Morgan (Dexter) – Bad ass Miami Metro detective. Uses sex for… pleasure (hey! that sounds about right!) Has some one night stands, some relationships, some FWB situations (like what actual people do!) Asks for what she wants, usually gets it.

Nancy Botwin (Weeds) – Pot-dealing suburban mom on the run. Maybe because it’s written by a woman (Jenji Kohan), Weeds has always had a pretty pro-female view of sex. Women masturbate too! Oral sex for girls, hey, that’s a real thing! On the kinkier side of TV sex, folks on Weeds happily (and graphically) let freak flags fly.

Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother) – On other levels, NYC’s favorite crack-of-dawn anchor might not make any of my favorites lists, but it’s hard to argue with her sex life. She’s uber-confident, refreshingly forward and doesn’t feel the need to justify every time she gets laid. In fact, sometimes she high-fives.

The fact that the three we came up with are all TV characters is probably not accidental. An arc of 13 or 22 episodes is a lot more time to work with than a mere 120 minutes. That’s not to say that TV is in the clear (Glee’s Brittany/Rachel, for example) or that there aren’t quality examples on the big screen (Hm…), only that TV is perhaps a more character-development friendly medium.

How great would it be if big and small screen alike could find a little room for complexity in adult sexuality? Let’s look at the slut-prude bell curve, ignore the outliers and spend some time riding the hump! Pun definitely intended.

Sex is fun, so what’s wrong with sex work?

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If you prefer the high-glamour, high-raunch depictions of sex work* (Cathouse being an excellent example… though the “glamour” label won’t readily stick to Air Force Amy’s EEs), it’s easy enough to view sex work in a rosy live-and-let-live light. Sex workers wittily blog about charming and/or hilarious encounters with quirky characters, TV shows remind their audiences of the novel fact that sex workers are (shocker!) people too, and porn performers who really, truly love what they do outshine dead-eyed, bleached-out teenagers any day of the week. Roll that bundle of media consumption up into a nice little package, and this is what you get:

Sex is fun —> people like to make money doing fun things –> what’s wrong with sex work?

Some people thoroughly and completely enjoy sex work. If you talk to the right ones, you’ll find people enamored with the perks of their profession, thrilled to explore and expand definitions of sexuality, power, pleasure and play. To these lucky folks who have so easily found their passions, I say bravo,  carry on!

Which brings me to the rest of sex workers, the ones for whom sex work is a job, not a calling. Like any job, sex work has advantages (the ability to earn more than minimum wage, flexible hours, no educational pre-requisites) and disadvantages (higher risk for STDs, unsafe work environment, societal stigma). Legalizing prostitution doesn’t remove the negatives, but it does mitigate the risks. Consider this fact: Since 1986, 42,000 HIV tests have been administered to legal prostitutes in Nevada with zero positive results (Weitzer, Sex for Sale). Condoms are legally mandated in Nevada brothels, and employees have the right to refuse a customer should he refuse to wear one.

Here’s another fact: In the last 21 years there has been one reported assault in a Nevada brothel, and the woman was able to reach the panic button in her room in time to protect herself.  Street prostitutes in major American cities report incidences of assault and rape as high as 80% (Albert, Brothel). Legal prostitutes are safer and healthier in Nevada than prostitutes anywhere else in the United States.

Take Kate’s Baltimore woman, climbing out of the back of the truck adjusting her skirt. Imagine that she climbed into that van and something went wrong. There was no camera catching the guy’s face on his way in, no bouncer to turn to, no panic button to press. Maryland doesn’t have legal prostitution laws. If she steps out of that van with a black eye or a broken nose, she can’t tap the cop on the corner and ask for help. She’s stuck.

Legalizing prostitution is not a solution to any of the economic, social, racial, cultural, etc conditions that compel people who are not of the sex-work-is-my-passion pursuasion into “the oldest profession.” Legalizing prostitution is a stopgap measure that can help make the sex industry just a little safer. After all, sex is supposed to be fun, right?

*For the purposes of this post, consider “sex work” to refer only to the consensual exchange of sexual services for money from one adult to another. “Sex work” should be considered a broad category of employment, including but not limited to prostitutes, escorts, phone sex operators, and professionals in the BDSM community.

Read Alexa Albert’s Brothel, Ronald Weitzer’s Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography and the Sex Industry for more. Try Melissa Farley’s Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada for a completely different take on the issue of legalization in Nevada.  And watch Cathouse.

It Can’t Hurt to Ask…

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Lauren’s excellent blog post (referenced in the social network map post) reminded me of this blog I recently started reading and the host of questions that flare up at the intersection where gender, entitlement, courtesy and propriety collide. On the Daily Asker, the blogger, inspired by the book Women Don’t Ask, went on a year-long mission to discover the power and pitfalls of asking for things. Every day for a year she asked for something that she would not normally have asked for, a favor, a discount, a free sample, etc, and documented the results. Over 70% of the time, she got what she wanted.

Inspired by the blog, and the radical idea that the worst thing that happens is I get told “no,” I asked for a first time customer discount at a new hair salon. I told them that I was excited to try their salon, and had read great reviews, but the cost slightly exceeded my price point.  I was told they had never done that before, but hey, why not. I saved myself $45. Who would have thought!

Describing the blog–>inspiration–>asking–>salon success story to my friend Jessie, I was struck by her secondary reaction (the first being, of course, props on my cheap hair cut.) Her second reaction was along the lines of “be careful not to become one of those pushy, demand-y people that customer service workers hate.” I second her sentiment completely (I’ve worked food service and retail, and I hate those people), but I do wonder if I would ever get that reaction from a male friend. On the Daily Asker’s list of 88 things she learned is this one-two punch:

26. Don’t worry about exploiting the other side by asking. He or she can decline.
27. But remember there are cases where you have more power, status or income, and the other side feels compelled to comply.

I love this sequence of observations  because I think that women, in general, worry a lot more about the imposition of asking and the feelings of the “askee” than men (vast generalization, I know)*. For example, if I ask a salesperson for a discount, I might make that salesperson uncomfortable by putting them in the position of having to say no. Is their potential discomfort my responsibility? Should I not ask because of that potential? Do men recognize that potential as much as women? If they do, do they proceed more often because they believe their need/desire/request trumps the askee’s discomfort? If they don’t, what broader implication does that have on social interactions across gender lines (or other relationships fraught with power dynamics?)

*Sara (a Texan) pointed out that the willing-to-ask factor is also tremendously different from region to region. A conversation for another day.

On Behalf of Tiger Woods (Sort of)

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In a recent NYT blog post, Timothy Egan wrote a blistering editorial berating Nike for standing by Pittsburgh Steeler, and alleged rapist, Ben Roethlisberger, when even the NFL suspended him and mandated behavioral counseling. 95% of Egan’s arguments are totally on target (and articulately put), particularly the stark contrast between Nike’s treatment of Michael Vick (they dropped him after the dog fighting debacle) and their continued support of Roethlisberger (“Ben continues to be part of the Nike roster of athletes.”) Egan writes,

What, exactly does it take for Nike to dump a jock? Dog-fighting will do it. After Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to running a felony dog-fighting ring, Nike took action. “We consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and unacceptable,” the company said at the time. But cruelty to women is O.K. I don’t know how else to read the company’s inconsistent stand. Here is a guy who treats women like garbage, yet a company that boasts of having humane corporate values uses him as their front man. Ditto Tiger Woods. Same with Kobe Bryant after a rape allegation, a case that was later dropped.

After giving Egan all deserved credit for pointing out the obvious hypocrisy and blatant double standard, I have one tiny, nitpicky problem with his article. He continues to include Tiger Woods in his litany of badly behaving superstar athletes. I see where he was going; all of the men share a gigantic sense of entitlement fostered by a buffer zone of wealth, celebrity and an outstanding ability to make a ball go where you want it to go. It seems as though they have a lot in common. Shared douchebaggery aside, when it comes to the treatment of women, Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisberger do not belong on the same list.

Tiger Woods was a terrible husband, a philanderer and a liar. He may be disrespectful, a lousy role model and in need of counseling and rehab for sex addiction. But of all the women with whom Tiger cheated, none have accused him of rape or assualt. Did he use them? Maybe (probably). Did they use him? Maybe (probably). Tiger and his mistresses were adults having consensual, albeit adultory, sex. What happened between him, his wife, and his mistresses is for divorce lawyers to negotiate. Ben Roethlisberger, judging by the testimony of the three women who have thus come forward, is a rapist. Sexual assault, attempted rape, rape… these are crimes. People who do these things do not belong on Nike billboards, they belong in jail. Tiger is an asshole, but Ben Roethlisberger is a criminal. Let’s note the difference before we go lumping all overpaid, oversexed athletes together. That just wouldn’t be fair.

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