Body Talk

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9/26/14 - We discuss babies and why some people just don’t know if they want them, how to not get fooled by fake body positive anthems, shero Shonda Rhimes, the brave & wonderful college ladies leading the anti-rape movement and this week in menstruation

Transcript below.

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Aminatou: Hello, welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: This week on our agenda we'll be talking about babies and not everybody knows if they want them. We'll also be discussing that terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible number one billboard song and why Alessandra Stanley is really horrible and Shonda Rhimes is the best human alive. We'll also be discussing the end campus rape movement and Emma Sulkowicz and we'll have some updates about periods.

[Theme Song]


Aminatou: Hi Ann.

Ann: Hi Amina. How're you doing?

Aminatou: I'm doing great.

Ann: I just ate a ton of this carrot tahini slaw, like probably too much. I made party size and ate it all. California problems. But other than that I'm great.

Aminatou: I know. I made this falafel sandwich with lavash bread and I'm so happy. It's like falafel and every cucumber is just the best.

Ann: Now that we have the food update, lately I've also probably because I'm finally home and in home body mode been seized by an urge to text friends my current eating/watching status. If I were a tech bro I would create an app for what I'm eating and watching right now, like white wine, Entourage, Cheetos.


Aminatou: I mean I think that's Facebook right? Tell me, tell me, what else is going on? What did you write about this week?

Ann: People, ladies in particular, but also dudes who legit can't figure out if they want children. And my inbox is full of people being like not outright like tell me what I should do because I do not claim to know what anyone should do but basically being like ugh, how does anyone know? Like just befuddled by how people can be so sure they do or don't want kids.

Aminatou: Do they really not want children? Or do they just think it's not cool to have kids but secretly they want them?

Ann: Well let me tell you this woman I interviewed who interviewed -- in turns has interviewed lots of women, so basically rather than interview hundreds of women I interviewed one woman who has interviewed hundreds of women.

Aminatou: You're so efficient.

Ann: I mean or lazy. She was like "You know, in my experience if you're on the fence it probably means you don't want kids and you're just wrestling with intense social pressure that says you should want them and you have taken to heart your older relatives' please that you have children and you're just afraid that you're going to die alone with no one to care for you." She didn't say it like that but basically that's what she said.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Which is very different than the touchy feely Cheryl Strayed look deep within your heart, do some soul searching. She was basically like yeah, come to terms with the fact that you probably don't want them all that much. That felt definitive, you know? I can't remember if that quote made the cut because I felt like part of the thing about everyone ambivalent that I did talk to was that they didn't want anyone to tell them how they really felt. You know, they weren't like oh, I'm not looking for you to interpret my actions about what I really want.

Aminatou: Yeah.


Ann: I just want to sit here and be confused. Fair enough.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Yeah. Yeah, no, that sounds about fair.

Ann: My favorite comment, or one of them, was from our pal -- Internet pal feminist writer Kate Harding who made a comment along the lines of "I'm so glad I don't have a uterus anymore and it made the decision for me."

Aminatou: I know, I saw her say that and I was like I heart that so much because yeah, sometimes your body chooses for you.

Ann: Truth. And also I've enjoyed the number of comments I've gotten from men because it's always hard for me to tell whether I just don't spend time talking about their feelings or whether men actually don't think about some of this stuff.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Who knows? Who knows?

Ann: Yeah, anyway . . .

Aminatou: Yeah, the thing about that whole conversation I guess for me that I always come back to, like a couple of years ago I watched this documentary at South by Southwest, oh god, I forget what it's called, but it's basically about the lady who does all the high-risk pregnancy documentaries on Discovery Channel.

Ann: I wish you could see me crossing my legs right now when you said that.

Aminatou: Oh my god, I'm like obsessed -- I'm like this is the best kind of birth control. So yeah, she did this whole really great documentary on in vitro fertilization and followed four different women. And the thing about the whole do I want babies/do I not want babies conversation that's always so shocking to me is how people's definition of family is so narrow. Really what you're saying is do I want to poop out my own baby? That's the holy grail of womanhood. And then all these people that have IVF and are really ashamed of it or lie about it or have surrogates, all of this stuff.


And that stuff costs so much money. Like having your own kids is really -- especially when your body's not cooperating -- costs so, so, so, so much money and then you have adoption or all of these other ways that you can form your own family that are on the other end of the spectrum.

Ann: But that's also expensive.

Aminatou: Yeah, they're expensive depending on where you live to be fair but nowhere near mortgaging your house for IVF. But yeah, it's like if you want to go to Romania to get a baby I'm sure it'll cost you a lot of money. That was really interesting to me how it's just this really strong biological imperative whereas I feel very agnostic about it. I'm very much a never say never kind of person. If I really want to have kids badly and I can afford it I'll probably just buy one like a purse.

Ann: But I think that that's the lesson, right? There's no biological imperative; it's just actual deep-seeded personal desire. Whatever you might call a biological urge to reproduce is not that.

Aminatou: No, totally. I can't wait until you can shop for babies by IQ and hair color at an online store. Bring the future. I want that. I'm a terrible person.

Ann: Your dystopian baby shopping.

Aminatou: Ugh, can't -- I just can't wait.

Ann: Oh my god, this goes back to our conversation about needing gay babies. Are we going to be able to preselect for that?

Aminatou: I want a gay, redhead smart baby.

Ann: Ugh, ginger gay. The most relevant.

Aminatou: And not just like book smart; I want a street smart baby. Like how do you screen for that?

Ann: I think that's like a post-birth thing that you instill, P.S. I don't think they're born street smart.

Aminatou: The street smart gene. You know, some people have it; some people don't have it.

Ann: Have you ever met an infant that you've definitively thought this kid is street smart when it's too young to even walk?

Aminatou: You know I have this one little cousin. Every time I look at him, he's like what, two-and-a-half? Three? God, maybe four? Who knows. Child.

Ann: [Laughs]


Aminatou: But he always has a permanent scowl on his face like somebody owes him money or something and I'm like you are going to be a great old man because he's so fucking skeptical.

Ann: Blue Ivy over it face.

Aminatou: Ugh, all the time.

Ann: We were going to call that Annsplaining but I don't really have any Annsplaining takeaways except that news flash, some people don't know if they want babies.


Aminatou: Okay, it's like babies. It's like the third rail for me. I just -- I can't. [Laughs] Or rather I just don't want to talk about it.

Ann: Every photo of you holding a baby you're making the same face.

Aminatou: I know. Me and the baby, right? We're both like please don't drop me and I'm like please don't poop on me. We're so on it. The thing I do . . .

Ann: A lot of fear.

Aminatou: Ann, have you ever seen a baby being born?

Ann: I mean I went to Catholic school. They definitely showed us those videos under the guise of miracle of life.

Aminatou: Like IRL, like not in a video.

Ann: Oh my god no, not IRL. No.

Aminatou: Oh my god, I've seen two C-sections and one vaginal birth. Is that what they're called? Yes.

Ann: Yes.

Aminatou: So the C-sections are kind of totally impressive because they just cut you open and they dig in there for it and I'm like I'm so down for this. But vaginal birth, never again. I was in the room and my aunt was crying and the nurse was like "Isn't this beautiful?" and I was like I need a bucket. I'm going to throw up. This is the grossest thing I've ever seen.

Ann: Yeah, I don't really know what to say about that. And I don't think even if my sister had a baby I'd be in the room, let's be real.

Aminatou: Don't worry, if by some accident I have a baby you have to be there.

Ann: I mean obviously. I'll be the one vomiting into a bucket.

Aminatou: I know, but it would have to be some kind of crazy fluke, like the government is forcing me to have a baby. Like it would have to be extreme.

Ann: I love how all scenarios involving babies in your world are immediately a dystopian future. You're like I want to select my baby from a conveyor belt. The only way I'm having one is if the government makes me have one.


Aminatou: Yeah, no, I really . . . it's not part of my -- you know, it's not part of my five-year plan; it's not part of my ten-year plan. Like who knows? Who knows? Who knows? Maybe I'll just buy a cute baby.

Ann: Although final word on this, I will say one of the things that several experts said to me is most people don't age into making up their minds and so if you are a 25-year-old woman who has no clue if she wants kids or a 30-year-old woman who has no clue if she wants kids it's a good thing to think about before you're 37 and then deciding oh, maybe I do, because you're forced by not wanting to pay for IVF to actually consider it.

Aminatou: God bless the experts.

Ann: I mean thanks experts.

Aminatou: [Laughs]



Aminatou: Amazing. Okay, we're done with baby talk.

Ann: So done with that.

Aminatou: I'm like crossing my legs.

Ann: Please Aminasplain something.

Aminatou: I'm like crossing my legs. Ugh, let me tell you about one thing that's making me so angry today. Actually it's been making me angry all summer but I'm just like ugh, I cannot handle. So there is this song right now that it's like the number one single in America. I know this because I subscribe to the Spotify billboard playlist. What's up? And . . . 

Ann: Is that how you stay in touch with the kids? The kids these days?

Aminatou: I mean mostly the kids and Maroon 5, you know? That's how I know what's going on at all times. But so it's by this woman named Meghan Trainor and the song is called All About That Bass. It's on the R&B. It's supposed to be an R&B pop single. No, it's like ska, pop. The video is deeply offensive to me because it's all pastel macaroons. But also it's like extra offensive because it masquerades as this really body-positive anthem and it's like hi.


Ann: Where bass is a euphemism for a big ass?

Aminatou: Yeah, no, it's like -- I hate lyrics that are nonsensical. Like unless you're Kanye you can't get away with that shit.

Ann: Oh my god, please do a dramatic reading of her lyrics.

Aminatou: The chorus is I'm all about that bass, all about the bass, no treble. LOL. I'm going to let that slide. But here are the problematic lyrics. Yeah, it's pretty clear, right? No size two but I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to because I've got that boom-boom that all the boys chase. Ugh! Like no, no, no Meghan Trainor. Absolutely not. Don't make fun of smaller-sized ladies and then still bring up the point that, you know, basically it's just all about the boys.

Ann: Don't try to ride the Anaconda wave and then hit on other types of bodies.

Aminatou: I know. Listen, white ladies have been trying to ride the Anaconda wave all summer. I'm going to -- in your free time please look up the new J. Lo video and die. And yeah, then you know the rest of the lyrics, I see the magazine working that Photoshop. We know that shit ain't real. Come on now, make it stop. If you've got beauty building just raise it up because every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top. So it's like, you know, ladies hear this shit then they go oh my god! Fat girls let's all get together! And it's like no, anybody who tells you that they're "lyric bringing booty back" you can't trust them. This is the actual lyric, "I'm bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that." No!


Ann: Ugh, this is some anti-Shine Theory bullshit.

Aminatou: No, it's so bad and because the video is so pop shiny, whatever, everybody's like this song is all about loving your body and your booty. No, there's no such thing as real bodies. Don't buy that shit.

Ann: I'm going to quote our friend Jenn Mizgada who says bodies are different.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: It is the thing that she always says when anyone is comparing their body to anyone else, bodies are different. Period.

Aminatou: No, seriously. Don't be charmed by songs with upbeat beats. It's bull crap. But then the best thing happened, like clearly I went down this rabbit hole and was like who the fuck is Meghan Trainor? To find out.

Ann: Investigative Google reporting?

Aminatou: Yeah, I investigated this lady. And let me tell you I tweeted at her I was so angry. She told Billboard "I do not consider myself a feminist." And I was like, you know, I sound like one of those crazy people like I'm angry at somebody on the radio so I'm going to go find them and tweet at them.

Ann: Not even on the radio, on the Billboard top tracks list on Spotify. Let's be real.

Aminatou: Yeah, no. Listen, she's number one today. She just knocked Tay Swizzle out of the charts so this is a big deal. Yeah, and she's like I don't consider myself a feminist. And I was like don't worry Meghan, nobody was confused about the fact that you knew what feminism was. No.

Ann: We don't consider you one either. It's okay.

Aminatou: Ugh, I hate fake body positivity. You have to see this video. It's like all these ladies in baby doll '60s dresses. The whole thing looks like a pastel macaroon. It's just gross.

Ann: It's so the worst of middle school mean girls to be like to feel good about ourselves we're going to talk about how actually everything else is worse.


Aminatou: No, totally. And also it's so easy to make fun of ladies who are size twos but I'm like you don't look like you're a size 16, 18, or 20 lady if you want to play this game, you know?

Ann: Well that's like the game of calling anything over a size two curvy. That's the game she is playing.

Aminatou: Ugh. But the truth is this, that a lot of smart ladies on the Internet have made this point: she's not a feminist because she's like a dumb-dumb but the song is probably going to be a really good gateway to feminism for like, I don't know, all these brand new baby feminists. Ugh.

Ann: I think that when I look back on things that I really liked in my formative pre- using the word feminist but kind of feminist years there's a lot of stuff that now I would be like ugh, no. [Laughs] But you know, like . . .

Aminatou: Maybe if I'm also really honest the kind of thing that just, ugh, really annoys me about this kind of person who's like "I'm not a feminist" then five years later she's going to be like "I didn't know Maroon 5 was making more money than me on the Billboard charts, I'm a feminist now," is they always act like feminism is new relative to where their journey starts. And it's like no, shut the fuck up. Some of us have been here for a long time. And if I'm really honest that's what makes me really annoyed.

Ann: Okay, but not that I'm defending the I'm not a feminist but honestly feminism is relevant to wherever you are on your personal journey. Like how comfortable you are with using that term totally depends on how much you know about real-life feminists.

Aminatou: No, that's fair and I hope that in your personal life you make it seem that way. But then they publicly become these like oh my god, let's organize everybody. Here's this brand new idea. And I'm like uh, I don't think so.


Ann: I think it's okay though. I think that there have to be people who are like here's this brand new idea I have like Taylor Swift talking about Shine Theory for things to spread.

Aminatou: No, I don't think those two things are the same thing.

Ann: I mean I just wanted to comment about how we got there first. That's all.

Aminatou: I mean Ann, when have we not been there first? [Laughs] God I sound like such an asshole today. It's not my fault. I don't have forks at my house. I'm very annoyed.

Ann: You've been on an all-sandwich diet which is apparently rage inducing.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's just like everything is rage, rage, rage.

[Music and Ads]


Aminatou: . . . ragey thing. Obviously everybody else on the Internet or who reads the Sunday New York Times, you probably read the Shonda Rhimes article or as our Jewish friends like to call it Shonda's Shonda. [Laughs]

Ann: You mean the angry black woman article? That article?

Aminatou: Yeah, no, it was so ridiculous. One, Alessandra Stanley wrong on so many things. I thought that the New York Times public editor did a really serviceable job about trying to get to the bottom of how this happened, and things that are shocking about this article, three editors looked at it which what? So I'm like I'm outraged about a tight edit? This is crazy. The bottom line is like hi, there's like 20 culture critics at the New York Times and only one of them is a person of color. Maybe diversify your sources and you'll know that saying angry black woman anywhere in an article about a black woman, no matter what clever writing device you think you're using, as our grad school friends say a little problematic.

Ann: I mean also this is about who gets to subvert a stereotype? I think there are people who have a history of writing about the representation of women in culture who could very effectively write something that is about, you know, how Shonda Rhimes actually subverts that stereotype. I can totally see the pierce. It is not this piece. It is not something that could ever be written by Alessandra Stanley or edited by three different presumably white -- we're not sure -- culture editors at the New York Times. It is like it's the wrong context for something like that anyway. It's one of those things where it's like know your place. It's an appalling situation as well as being like oh, since I sat down for an interview with this person I'm sort of close enough now where people will just know it's winking. Isn't that what she said? Isn't that what she told . . .

Aminatou: Yeah, but I guess there's like two problems for me, right? That anger is very one-dimensional when it comes to black women. It's an offensive stereotype, right? And she's like 100% aware of it. That's the first problem.

Ann: Right.


Aminatou: And the second problem is that she makes it very personal. If she had actually interviewed Shonda Rhimes or she had a quote about that I think that would've mitigated my anger, but it's just so tone-deaf. That's what Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times editor, said, "she was astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch." I was like yes, thank you.

Ann: But what I think is really interesting is tone is one of those things that's used in all corners of journalism to describe, you know, gut-level feelings. Or when people say tone-deaf what they mean is it's wrong. [Laughter] Like she did something wrong. And it's almost like this cover to be like oh, when you say tone-deaf the substance of what she wrote was okay but sort of the way she got at it was wrong. Actually no, the substance of what she wrote was wrong and stupid. It's funny because in talking about even good writing tone is used the same way, like oh the tone was just spot-on. It's like well what do you mean? Which words? Casual conversation or using stereotypes in a certain way? I mean I don't know. Just say it's bad.

Aminatou: Also just for a TV writer I'm like do you actually watch Scandal? Do you actually watch Gray's Anatomy? Because the angry women on those shows are like the white women.

Ann: Ugh, the angriest white women.

Aminatou: Yeah, you know, like Nelly's so angry all the time for good reasons. [Laughs] Let's be clear. You know, but also like Meredith Gray, always angry and fighting all the time. It's like where is the angry white lady stereotype? It's just so stupid. And Shonda Rhimes, so accomplished and in just a couple of sentences you just kind of reduce her to nothing. And I was like oh, if Shonda Rhimes is nothing then I'm kind of nothing. Like fuck you. Ugh.

Ann: And the very fact that she had no idea that that's what -- I mean I honestly believe that she did not know that she was reducing Shonda Rhimes to nothing. Like I honestly believe . . .

Aminatou: I know Ann. That's like the definition of white privilege.


Ann: Exactly, exactly. And a newsroom culture of lots of popple who aren't attuned to the real implications of using phrases like angry black woman.

Aminatou: Ugh. Can I tell you my favorite thing that Shonda Rhimes has ever done though? It's not even Scandal.

Ann: Yes, please.

Aminatou: She wrote the debut film for pop star Britney Spears, a.k.a. Crossroads.

Ann: Shut the front door. Shonda Rhimes wrote Crossroads?

Aminatou: Yes, and I don't know how to tell you this, that's the movie that bought her house fool.

Ann: One of my favorite drinking games of all time is related to watching Crossroads.

Aminatou: What?

Ann: Take a drink every time you see someone in cut-off denim. Take a drink every time Britney sings for no reason. I have a whole drinking . . .

Aminatou: Ann it really hurts me that we've never talked about this before. I have a full-sized Britney Spears poster from Crossroads. [Laughs]

Ann: Ugh, my god. I should've spent a little more time on Shonda's IMDB page.

Aminatou: And don't even get me started on calling Viola Davis classically not beautiful. That's just racist.

Ann: Oh.

Aminatou: That's just like you just can't -- I'm like sorry, no, the race police, we have decided that that's racist.

Ann: I think instead of Aminasplaining we should call your segment the race police.

Aminatou: Oh my god, you know I run the race police.

Ann: I know you do.

Aminatou: We have meetings every Monday morning. 

Ann: I take the minutes sometimes when I'm allowed in.

Aminatou: Listen, we haven't let a white person in the race police in decades. [Laughter] 



Ann: That was heavy.

Aminatou: That was really heavy. Well I'll tell you about one more heavy thing but it's kind of like -- it's okay. It's about Emma Sulkowicz, that woman that goes to Columbia who's doing the performance art piece where she's carrying her mattress to class because she was raped in her college dorm room years ago and so the mattress signifies that. That's what she's doing. So there's been some really good writing on this. My favorite honestly is this New York Times piece about the actual performance by Roberta Smith who is my favorite art critic. You know, usually I'm not down for performance art but this is really touching. And there's this fantastic picture. I got really emotional and mushy about it the other day. You know, she's carrying the mattress to class and all these women are helping her carry it and I was like oh my god, campus rape, so much problems.

Ann: I saw that picture as well and got the same full-body chill. It's interesting because did you read the New York Magazine piece about it which is sort of about the broader nation -- I mean it's focused on Columbia which is where she goes to school but it's focused on the national movement. It's interesting because I thought their portrayal of there are two activists in their early 20s who are the full-time employees of End Rape on Campus.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: Which is the non-profit that is sort of coordinating a lot of these efforts and bringing Title IX lawsuits against these universities for not dealing with it. And I thought it was really interesting the way Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote the piece and the way she kind of characterized how savvy these women are, sort of being like oh, it's both about a national story but also there are these hyper-specific stories that all matter.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: And here's how we tie them together. And I was loving it because I'm like this is so smart about how reporters actually put together stories to get people to actually talk about it. And it seemed like Vanessa Grigoriadis was a little bit skeptical of them for some reason, like she was kind of like oh, they know they're really good at this almost to the point where she was feeling a little manipulated or something.


Aminatou: I know, right? But the reason they're good at it is they're under assault everywhere around the country, right? One thing that I love about this end campus rape movement that's so great is every time some old lady's like "What happened to women protesting and organizing? Why don't the young women care?" I'm like "Uh, they care. They're on college campuses organizing all around the country."

Ann: The difference is you're not on college campuses do you don't see it.

Aminatou: I know. Ugh, can I tell you a really sad thing? Somebody, I think it was on Feministing -- yes -- wrote up. They went to dinner with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, spirit animal of this podcast. She was like "Do women know -- do young women today know how important Roe v. Wade is? Do they know the price women had to pay before them? Why aren't they organizing?" And I was like what? How do you think you get to be a famous Internet person if it wasn't for like young feminists? Hello? Who do you think is anointing you cool Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Ann: Do you think that some of that is just old person oblivion? Like I just read this book about the history of the birth control pill which quotes Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, problematic, also influential.

Aminatou: So problematic. Oof.

Ann: Tabling that, we can talk about that later, but who has some quote near the end of her life like in the '60s -- early '60s, maybe late '50s -- where she's like "Kids these days, they don't know anything we fought for."

Aminatou: No, I know.

Ann: It's funny because when I'm reading this and she's saying this in the late '50s, birth control isn't legal yet, abortion is years from being legal, she's like a straight-up racist, eugenicist. 

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Ann: I'm kind of like . . .

Aminatou: We talk about her at race police meetings. It's cool.

Ann: I mean but my question when I read that quote is sort of like well maybe you don't want them to be grateful for the stuff that you did because that's a generation that grew up to do their own set of amazing activist things that maybe in some long view of history you laid a lot of groundwork for but maybe it doesn't matter that you feel -- that you as an older person really feel that the young kids are on top of it. All that matters is the young kids are actually on top of it. So I'm kind of like Ruth it doesn't matter if you don't see it, it's happening.

Aminatou: Whenever I hear these old second-wave feminists say that kind of stuff I'm like hmm, I think what you're really trying to say is you didn't raise a feminist. What are your children up to? You know, if that's the only exposure that they have is say maybe the New York Times and they're not hearing these stories it just means that the young people you're around don't care and maybe you have a part to play in that.

Ann: That is really interesting as well because I was just thinking about Gloria Steinem, also problematic in her own way but undeniably influential.

Aminatou: Oof.

Ann: Who doesn't have children and who is someone who is sort of continually saying the kids are all right, the kids are all right, and maybe when you don't have kids of your own who are disaffected by the movement that you made your life out of and all you're doing is hanging out with other people's kids who are super active, maybe you feel differently.

Aminatou: No totally, totally. Anyway giving it up for college women.

Ann: The best.

Aminatou: Who do all of this hard work and yeah, they are the best.

Ann: When you and I were at the University of Missouri earlier this year I was just like you are all so much better than I was at this age. You're just so advanced, I love it.

Aminatou: I mean I'm going to be a jerk and say I don't think they were more advanced than me at that age but they were pretty rad. [Laughs]

Ann: Okay, fine, speaking for myself. I'm comfortable admitting I was a late bloomer in nearly every respect so . . .


Aminatou: I mean I'm just like I'm from Europe. I was like what? What is happening here? I told you this in my first feminism class in college when they were like "Who here thinks they're feminist?" I was the only person who raised their hand and the class was literally like Feminism 101. I was dying.

Ann: I mean that's because you were in Feminism 101. If you had gone to sort of like, you know, the politics of I don't know, whatever, something . . . I don't even know what a fake feminist class is because I didn't take any.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like I can't even make up a name for a women's studies class.

Aminatou: It's always like women in, yeah, I don't know.

Ann: Anyway if you had gone to something more advanced maybe more hands would've gone up as opposed to 101.

Aminatou: I don't know. But it's like why do you even come to the -- why are you even here? Like, you know, the class . . .

Ann: Easy credits.

Aminatou: I don't know man. That shit is never easy credits. Anyway . . .

Ann: I'm saying that's the perception anyway. Anyway.

Aminatou: [Laughs] It's like come argue with women, easy credit.

Ann: I mean I love arguing with women. I should've been a women's studies major.


Ann: Maybe this is a good time to talk about menstruation.

Aminatou: Yeah, let's talk about periods.

Ann: Oh my god. We should talk about this video game that was made by baby feminists.

Aminatou: Yes. These like two baby feminists are the best and yeah, I think they're like 16 or whatever. The game is called Tampon Run, it's great, and they coded the whole thing themselves. It's basically like Angry Birds but instead of birds you launch tampons at your enemies. Like what could be greater?


Ann: Do you pull them still bloody out of your vagina and pull like a riot girl . . .

Aminatou: [Laughs] No, I wish. But it's really cool. I think the game is super clever and it's very thoughtful. You know, I'm just really impressed that two 16-year-olds are just like my bleeding's not the problem, society's the problem.

Ann: Ugh, yes. Take them to a meeting with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Somebody install Tampon Run on her whatever Samsung Galaxy and make her play it.

Aminatou: Yeah, no. Ruth is definitely rocking a flip phone, like doesn't know how to computer. Oof.

Ann: I have not played this game because I don't really play any games ever but I . . .

Aminatou: That's crazy. I'm going to send you a list of games you should be playing.

Ann: I mean I don't know how to tell you this, I don't have time.

Aminatou: I don't know how to tell you this, you have time for some of these games. There's a Beyonce game out there right now that would blow your mind.

Ann: I did play the Kim Kardashian game just so I could understand jokes on the Internet.

Aminatou: Okay, when I meant games I meant games that make your brain stronger, not . . . [Laughs] So we're talking like numbers and letters.

Ann: I mean Tampon Run is not a numbers and letters game.

Aminatou: Kind of. You have to stay really alert. It's good for hand/eye coordination. It's good for just getting your moral compass together. Yeah, no, it's great.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: Yeah, no. It's like yeah, it's like all of these bad guys are trying to steal your tampons and you're trying to stop them. It's great.

Ann: Speaking of guys trying to steal your tampons, the other . . . [Laughter] the other This Week in Menstruation news is my colleague at The Cut Maurine O'Connor wrote an article about, well, I think it's framed in terms of dudes but really it's into people who are super into period sex and I kind of loved it in part because it's, you know, normal body stuff that my intellectual brain and often IRL does not gross me out at all but somehow reading quotes about it was super, super intense.


Aminatou: I mean it's pretty gnar, like in a good way, but you know?

Ann: I don't know, it's one of those things too where I think I also have bad Terry Richardson connotations, you know?

Aminatou: Eww.

Ann: Terry Richardson's well-known obsession with tampons and all things menstrual has made it in my mind less totally fine than it is.

Aminatou: Yeah, bodies are gross, man, but you've got to embrace your body grossness.

Ann: Do you think it is a relationship firable offense to say no to period sex?

Aminatou: To me it is but here . . . [Laughs] I want to think this through. Well, you know, one, I don't think that it's a relation -- yes, it's relationship problematic. But yeah, it's . . .

Ann: Or whatever, you're cut off from sex if you won't do it with me on my period.

Aminatou: Listen, you're not cut off from sex but you will be heavily reprimanded and also made fun of right? Also here's the thing, maybe this is TMI, period sex is like the number one gateway to shower sex. It's like hello?

Ann: Some would say shower sex is the gateway to period sex. Just saying. Just saying.

Aminatou: You know how I love a luxurious tiled shower. So . . . [Laughs] So yeah, this is so TMI but yeah, no, I mean I think that dudes that make you feel weird about your body, like fuck them. That's not okay. A period is very normal. It's also you're the one that's actually going through the bleeding and it's like from a young age you learn to be very self-conscious about it and having somebody reinforce that even a little bit is not okay. I think there are really tactful ways to say "Hey, I don't want to fuck you on your period" or whatever. I think that it's okay to not want to.

Ann: You think you can tactfully say I don't want to fuck you on your period?


Aminatou: Yes, not in those words, but you know what I mean? I think that . . .

Ann: Tell it to me tactfully that you don't want to have sex with my on my period.

Aminatou: I think that if you say hey, this is not for me. I've had dudes say that to me and it's fine. I think that again it's all about that ominous word tone. [Laughs] And it's all about tone and context, right? How somebody approaches that. Everybody has preferences and I get it. I'm not going near somebody's butt so it's okay. We can talk about the butt next week because you know the butt is back right?

Ann: No, I was going to say didn't you once tell me you wanted a pair of Juicy Couture velour pants with context on the butt instead of juicy?

Aminatou: [Laughs] Yes.

Ann: I'm going to get ones that say tone and we'll just be like . . .

Aminatou: Just stay open-minded kids. You never know.

Ann: Ugh, you say that and then there's a scene in this article where some guy is looking up at a woman with a spaghettios mouth situation and it just gets really real really fast in the description.

Aminatou: No, it all has to be real, right? You can't be like oh my god I want somebody to eat me out when I'm bloody and then you freak out when you see their face. It's like you've got to think the whole thing through. Don't be a martyr for the sisterhood.

Ann: Context. Tone.

Aminatou: Yeah, again, context and tone. Helpful in most sexual situations.

Ann: I feel like we should just end now while we're on top.

Aminatou: I know. I'm never going to be president. It's like all of these conversations, I'm just like Teresa Heinz carrying myself, like nobody will love me when I'm a politician's wife. Ugh.

Ann: I mean I'm just imagining all of the clips that have been edited out and are going to be used in the ads against you, like the mudslinging campaign.

Aminatou: On Fox News? Oh my god, it'll be my proudest accomplishment.

Ann: Head of the race police.


Aminatou: [Laughs] Here's the whitey tape.

Ann: Advocate of shower sex.

Aminatou: Listen, don't knock shower sex. It's very hard in a tub but in an actual stand-up shower very simple.

Ann: Ooh, is it hot in my room? I feel like . . . [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah, we've lost the PG-13 audience. Okay lady. On that note I'm going to finish the second half of my sandwich.

Ann: Oh my god, I love it. I hope there's something red on it.

Aminatou: Oh my god! Stop it.

Ann: Sriracha all over the sandwich.

Aminatou: Oh yeah, I should order some Sriracha. Probably on Amazon because I live in San Francisco and that's how we do groceries. So I think we should tell people where they can find us on the Internet.

Ann: Oh my gosh, on Twitter at @callyrgf and at and on iTunes and you can also email us your questions or prompts, things you would like us to discuss, things you would like us not to discuss like how we feel about period sex. [Laughter] And yeah, I think it's probably a good idea to say see you on the Internet.

Aminatou: Yeah, just pray about it. Period sex, pray about it. See you on the Internet. Bye lady.

Ann: Bye.