Episode 100: Voter Oppression

Published July 7, 2017.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: That was so serious. A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: [Laughs] I am Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, let America vote: voter suppression, redistricting, and a bunch of shady dealings by the Cheeto administration. Across the ocean in Ireland efforts are underway to get more women elected to office. We also talk about meal kits, cooking, and gendered expectations in the kitchen and Amina breaks down what is going on with Blac Chyna and the Kardashians now.

[Theme music]

Aminatou: Announcements! Pow! Pow! Pow! I like how every week I make a new noise.

Ann: Oh my God. Okay, announcements: so soon we are going to be doing live shows in Brooklyn and in Philadelphia. The early show in Brooklyn is sold out but we have a late night edition which is a totally different show from the earlier show on the 15th.

Aminatou: CYG After Dark. It's going to be really sexy and funny. Well, I don't know if it's going to be sexy but it'll definitely be funny.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Like maybe you'll wear a chemise.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: Maybe we'll have a really sexy guest. Who knows? We'll keep you guessing. Yeah, I think it's going to be super fun.

Ann: Yeah, so there are tickets to that late show and then there are still a couple Philly tickets left the following afternoon right around happy hour time at the Trocadero July 16th. So if you go to callyourgirlfriend.com/events you can make sure you won't miss out.

Aminatou: Also Ann I heard that you were on PBS this week.

Ann: Oh my god, my mom heard from like a friend of hers and there's no way to please midwestern parents more than for them to hear from their friend that you were on PBS.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Yeah. I also got more emails from old men than for anything I've ever done. Most of them not mean, so I was like oh, PBS, best audience.

Aminatou: [Laughs] That's the best. I'm so happy for you. Also I'm happy for me because the cover art that they used, I'm on it. So I'm like oh, this is the best kind of credit. I was like thanks for being a good work wife.

Ann: They were like "We need some flattering stills." I'm like "Hmm, they're all of me with Amina." [Laughs] Interesting that you should ask.

Aminatou: I know. People keep telling me that they saw me on PBS.

Ann: Love it.

Aminatou: And I was like bitch, I ain't been on PBS!

Ann: Cute.

Aminatou: It's made me very happy. You look super cute.

Ann: Aw, thanks boo-boo. Announcements out.

Aminatou: Announcements out. Why comes I have the giggles today?

Ann: I don't know.

Aminatou: I've just been useless.

Ann: I mean short week giggles. That's what's going on.

Aminatou: Yo, it's hard out here for a pimp lady.

Ann: Too much holiday weekend partying?

Aminatou: Too much beach. Too much living well, you know? Since it's our first Independence Day without a real president that's been really tough but other than that I'm fine.

Ann: Independence in the worst possible sense? Like oh my god, it's just like descending into anarchy out here.

Aminatou: Yeah. But also let's be real, 4th of July is like, you know, it's like national cookout and pick out a cute outfit kind of day. It does not mean the same thing to a lot of people.

Ann: I know. For me it really is the beginning of cookout season. I don't know why. I kind of forget how great cookouts are until 4th of July every year, then I'm like oh, right, got to rotate this into my life again. [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's that hotdog aroma wafting in the air.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: Even though I don't love hotdogs I smell them and I'm like "Oh, this could be pleasant," and then I don't partake.

Ann: Can I tell you about an incident involving a veggie sausage at my 4th of July cookout this year?

Aminatou: Disgusting. Tell me everything.

Ann: The person who was in charge of the grill was under the impression that these field roast veggie sausages just had a very sort of thick casing on them when in fact . . .

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: When in fact it was just plastic in direct contact with the grill melting off.

Aminatou: Oh no!

Ann: It's like you've got to unsheathe the veggie meat before you put it on the grill. Also California cookouts, 50% non-meat products, 50% meat products. It was great.

Aminatou: That's crazy. What'd we do? Like yeah, I went to the beach with Chani (?) who has like really revolutionized my life at the beach. She invested in a tent and some beach chairs.

Ann: What?

Aminatou: And we were like those people at the beach. [Laughs] And those people have the best fucking time at the beach. Like getting to choose between shade and no shade and our cooler was not under attack. Everything was amazing. And then she sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal about how some beaches are already banning tents.

Ann: What?

Aminatou: And I was like over my dead body. Over my dead body. Now that I live well at the beach I refuse to go back.

Ann: The idea too of just recreating the most comfortable situation in any public space, I love it. Like take up all that space on the beach.

Aminatou: Way to go. But now we're all paying the price for it.

Ann: I know. It's true. I had a multiple -- I didn't have like a hangover, too much party hangover, but I had a day drinking hangover. You know what I mean?

Aminatou: Welcome back to reality. Too much fun. Too much fireworks.

Ann: [Laughs] Oh, what have we missed in the real news?

Aminatou: Girl, what have we not missed in the real news? You know, it was -- this week has been a lot because North Korea is definitely trying to get us out to paint no matter what. And then having the president tweet garbage at them, that was not reassuring. I'm like I'm trying to dip into this ocean and have a good time but also I'm keeping one eye on the sky for those ICBMs. This is crazy.

Ann: I mean there is no holiday from the president tweeting absolute dribble that could possibly start a war.

Aminatou: I know. Can I tell you though that he finally tweeted one thing that shocked me? His WWE or F or whatever wrestling meme.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: With the feud with CNN, that was the first time I was truly shocked. Like our president is for real a Real Housewife. This is crazy.

Ann: I know, but it was also one of those things like when your parents misuse what a meme really is or something like that where I'm like I see what you're trying to do, I see the warfare you're trying to engage in, and it didn't work yet it was still so disturbing. Like that's kind of how I felt about that.

Aminatou: I know. Like I mean it cleared the high bar of that finally shocked me. I was like this is really where we're at? It's always a tie between him and whenever Nikki Haley does her Honey Boo Boo accent at the UN.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: And I'm like I cannot believe this is where we're at. This is crazy.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: Well, but the real creepy news this week is that the president, Ivanka's father, is trying to get all of our voter information.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: On his phone, unprotected, for free.

Ann: Totally. And then also being like in certain states they're sending paperwork asking people who are registered to vote to "confirm their voter status" and if you don't return the form you'll be purged from the rolls. All of this stuff that is active voter suppression, like it's in Merriam-Webster's dictionary under voter suppression. Like that's what all of these things going on now are.

So basically last week when we were all buying barbecue supplies and were already looking forward to a long weekend Kris Kobach who is the Kansas Secretary of State and also the vice . . .

Aminatou: Fraud. Fraud.

Ann: And also the vice-chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter to every state's secretary of state requesting personal information on every registered voter.

Aminatou: Here's what personal information means: your name, your party ID, your address, the last four of your social, everything about you. Like all of the things that make somebody be able to identity thief you, that's basically what they're requesting.

Ann: Yeah. The real national holiday was identity thieves celebrating that this information has made their lives so much easier with this letter requesting all this personal information. Secretaries of State are not really having it. Many of them are like what the hell?

Aminatou: Yeah. Well it's actually a little worse than that, right? Here's the problem: Trump made this election integrity commission under the guise that three million people illegally voted in the last election that he won in still somehow, so I don't know how this is a problem. Almost every Secretary of State in the country has confirmed that large-scale voter fraud like this did not happen.

Ann: Yeah, several independent reports have said that. Yeah.

Aminatou: The administration has pushed through with this election integrity commission. So here are multiple evils that are happening. So you have said that 40 -- what is it? Yeah, 41 states so far have declined to comply with this request because it's an insane invasion of privacy. Also the request came over an unsecure email. It was basically like an SMS that was like "Hey, can you send over those files right here? Put them in the cloud so everybody can steal them."

Ann: Yeah, the federal government phishing every Secretary of State in America.

Aminatou: Exactly. This is the same president that keeps railing on about emails that Hillary Clinton -- the emails she used to put the whole country at risk. I'm going to put that aside for a while. But the fact that 41 states have declined this request to me says two things. At the most generous it means that Kris Kobach who is in charge of election integrity and a Secretary of State himself knew that these requests would be turned down because he had done his homework.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: And all they're doing is setting us up for a showdown where it's a no-win solution because now the president has tweeted "What are these states hiding?" which just furthers the conspiracy. But here is the other thing: it is also very possible that these fucking idiots on the election integrity commission didn't once check to see what the requirements were for every state and were really caught flatfooted and surprised about the fact that their requests cannot be granted. Either way it does not bode well for the country or for any of us.

Ann: Yeah. I mean this also comes on the heels of -- I mean what's so infuriating about this is it advances this reverse narrative about illegal voting, I'm air quoting and I know you can't see it because this is a podcast.

Aminatou: Girl, I can feel it. [Laughs]

Ann: When in fact there are millions of people, like actually millions, who were eligible to vote in 2016 but could not do so because of all these newly-enacted barriers to voting, most of them in states with Republican governors and state legislatures. So laws that disproportionately target students, poor people, people of color, you know, obviously people who are not in the core Republican voting demographic.

Aminatou: New immigrants.

Ann: And making it impossible for them to cast a vote already. And so it's like this is when I start to get real dystopia chills where it's like okay, wow, there is actually a real problem with voting in this country but the problem is voter suppression, not people signing up to vote illegally. This idea of right is left, black is white, reverse policy, it really starts to freak me out.

Aminatou: Ann, it's both terrifying and infuriating because they know exactly what they're doing. There is one party in this country that is hellbent on getting the fewest number of people to be eligible to vote at all times.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Like if you look at some of the crazy stories of the people that Kris Kobach has gone after and prosecuted for so-called voter fraud issues, they're horrifying. One was like an honest to God mistake where this couple, the woman -- they had just moved. They moved across a state line. The husband didn't realize they had moved. He mailed in their ballots. Then she ended up voting. They caught it really early on. She apologized. Everybody knew what happened. He went after her to make a point and the entire thing ends up getting thrown out and he just used her as an example.

Because she was a woman from an underrepresented minority, also these things are really, really, really rare. Secretaries of State actually are really good at sharing information with each other. They do like cross-checking. All of that stuff happens. If there was widescale voter fraud going on we would know about it.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: It is just not true, and it's a meme that the right keeps pushing and everybody buys into because they think there is something wrong about people of color and people who are naturalized immigrants voting. It's really terrifying and infuriating.

And so on top of that request there is now a request to start purging people off of the voter rolls. So you get a letter in the mail that says you need to check your registration, you have 30 days to do so, otherwise you come off of the rolls. Guess who misses those kinds of letters? Almost everybody.

Ann: Yeah. This is a tried and true strategy because look at the state of Wisconsin which Ivanka's dad won by less than 30,000 votes, so drop in the electoral bucket. And according to the state's own records there are ten times that many eligible voters in the state who did not have what is now considered to be a proper ID in Wisconsin and so may have been disenfranchised. This is based on a 2011 law in Wisconsin that a federal court said is unconstitutional because it burdens low-income people of color and yet it still went into effect for the 2016 election and we know what happened. The state of Wisconsin went for Ivanka's dad and a bunch of people couldn't vote.

It's like watching this repeat and essentially go unchallenged, right? The thing that frustrates me about this is because it is -- and maybe you know about this. Maybe I'm just like . . . when it comes to my only recourse of like who am I writing letters to about this, like what am I doing, aside from directly petitioning the Secretary of State to not purge voters what are our citizen-level recourse to say we want more people voting, not fewer?

Aminatou: Well, one of the really basic things that you could do is to follow groups like the National Democratic Redistricting Committee that's chaired by our former Attorney General Eric Holder. And what they're doing is building a targeted state-by-state strategy so the Democrats can produce fairer redistricting maps in the process.

Ann: The idea being that our district leadership means elected officials won't purge voters from the rolls? Is that the long-game idea behind this?

Aminatou: That's the long game but that's also the game that's going to take 1,000 years to produce.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: That's not a next-election thing. But I think the other thing that it challenges kind of every single one of us to do is to really look on the most basic local level of where you live, and everybody on your vote who is eligible to vote, are they registered to vote? Is everyone in your community registered to vote? And what are you doing to make sure that underrepresented minorities and women and naturalized immigrants near you are there? And I think that that's something that should happen on a volunteer basis and it should happen outside of election time.

Ann: Yes.

Aminatou: Because constant vigilance is the name of this game.

Ann: Yeah, and you know, it's interesting that you say that. I've been thinking about the fact that at least in my corner of California it's possible to sign up to vote by mail for all elections which I know is not a perfect solution all of the time but I think like for me -- and I don't even have a kind of hourly wage job that makes it truly prohibitive to get to the polls. But it makes it a lot easier for me to cast my vote when it comes automatically in the mail. And I have thought about before how many friends I've talked to here who don't know that you can say sign up to vote in every local election by mail. Things that traditionally have a really low turnout, making it just that much easier on people in your community who might struggle to get to a polling place multiple times a year because that's how often, at least in my district, there are elections at every level.

And so I think thinking too about knowing a little bit more about how people in your area can register to vote and actually cast their vote is part of this game as well. And, yeah, you're so right that we can all get better about that, like saying oh, are my neighbors voting? Can they vote? How can I make that . . .

Aminatou: Right. Like is the guy at your bodega registered to vote? Are all the people gentrifying in my neighborhood, are they registered to vote? That is the thing you can do on an individual level that is a lot of change, but on a systemic level it's also challenging all the people in power that have opportunities to do that.

So it's like I talked about that one organization. There's also Let America Vote that launched this year and they do a lot to fight voter suppression in courts, you know? And that's also really important because the photo ID requirements that we have cut to the core of disenfranchising a lot of people. What is it going to take so that we don't have to vote on a Tuesday and also so that every single person that's eligible is automatically registered to vote? I think it's in Oregon they have that and they have really high turnout.

Ann: Right. And I think also, like I was saying, I think about a lot in my area do you really need to have three different municipal elections every year? Like can we collapse these into one vote so that it's not such a burden on people who want to be engaged citizens to turn up and cast a ballot? And some of it is structural in other ways, like even if you're not intending to suppress a vote the fact that the mentality is not how do we maximize turnout? The mentality is what can be easiest on the government or people already in power?

Aminatou: Voter suppression is a very, very dirty game and honestly it's probably the number one reason that democrats lose so many elections. Well, that and the lack of message. [Laughs] Lose as many elections as they do. But it's really terrifying when you think about the fact it's just this shadow war that's been going on for so long and so few people are activated to do something around it.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Yeah, that it takes something like this flim-flam presidency and this sham commission to put everybody's -- like all of your information at risk, and also deter so many more people from voting.

Ann: Yeah, and just realizing the scope of the problem, like the fact this goes back many, many elections and also it's going to require a long-game solution as well like everything. I hate to be a broken record about that but it's so true. It's going to take a long time to un-fuck this.

Aminatou: Ugh, listen, always be playing the long game.

[Music and ads]

Aminatou: Do you want to hear some good political news?

Ann: Always. I'm dying for it.

Aminatou: From a country where they're perpetually trying to un-fuck their politics. I was looking at this really cool Irish campaign, hash tag #morewomen, #morewomenplease, that's basically run by this group called Women For Election. It's a non-partisan group that is setup basically to train women to run for office and they had a huge crowdfunding campaign this weekend and raised tens of thousands of Euros which doesn't seem like a lot considering we need so many more women in politics. But the Internet chatter about this campaign was really cool and it made me feel like oh, everybody is doing their part and this is a global issue and it's getting better.

Ann: In it looks like they might actually get some women on the ballot?

Aminatou: Yeah. They like raised their money. People are super enthusiastic about it. I've never given money so fast for something I have no stakes in mainly because the perks were so good for the crowd funding campaign. [Laughs] But also I was like yes, get women elected to office. So this is really cool. And they're basically committed to having 50% representation in their cabinet, 50% women in the cabinet, and I was like thank you. Thank you for setting quotas and goals to fight gender imbalance.

Ann: Oh my gosh, yes. I also love this website has a form where you can invite a woman to run. I am now thinking about all the Irish women I know who need to run. I love a form that's like a nudge to a woman who you and I or the nominator knows will be an incredible force for change in government. Just saying like "I see you. Maybe not this year, maybe not right now, but I see you." I love that this is part of this as well.

Aminatou: 100%. And they have a nice, big, fat donate button on their page. So you can go to womenforelection.ie and if you want to see more women represented in cabinet and at all levels of politics you know what to do.

Ann: Ugh, yes.


Aminatou: I was just telling you that my house is a mess because I potted plants and now -- ugh. I'm just like one of those people that I like going to the beach but I hate sand. I like plants but I hate soil. So those are the feelings I'm dealing with right now.

Ann: Oh my god. Speaking of gender and domestic work, did you read this article about cooking and meal kits and all of that in the New York Times?

Aminatou: Uh, did I ever.

Ann: I think we both have lots of feelings about this. I think we should probably say upfront that meal kit companies have sponsored this podcast in the past and will probably in the future as well so we're . . .

Aminatou: Yeah, meal kit companies are big into the podcast space if you've not noticed.

Ann: So use your own critical listening skills now that we have acknowledge that as we discuss this.

Aminatou: Exactly.

Ann: Personally I don't think that that affects my opinion of this op-ed but maybe you can summarize it.

Aminatou: Okay. So the op-ed is written by a chef based here in the United States of Brooklyn, Amanda Cohen, who w rites that basically -- the title of the op-ed is You Don't Need Blue Apron to Teach You to Turn On Your Oven. And, again, disclaimer, Blue Apron specifically has advertised on this show but that's not what this is about. And she writes about her own professional opinion as a chef and as a writer how people have basically lost touch with learning how to cook. We don't pass down recipes from generations anymore. You don't know how to make your grandma's frittata or whatever the thing is that your grandma made. And how meal kits basically don't teach you how to cook; they just teach you how to follow that specific recipe. And, I don't know, is that fair? Is it a fair representation?

Ann: Yeah, I think it's a fair representation. Yeah.

Aminatou: And I don't know, it left me feeling very salty -- LOL -- for many reasons. You and I are both pretty decent cooks. We know how to cook things that don't require recipes. We have recipes that are kind of always in our head and we're also pretty adventurous cooks.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: We know how to make a thing without having to look up 10,000 things to make it. We are women who cook.

Ann: Kitchen freestylers as I like to say.

Aminatou: Exactly. And I don't know, there were so many things about this op-ed that rubbed me the wrong way. There was something very condescending about it. You know, like this person specifically admits they order Seamless all the time because they cook for work so when they come home they'll eat Seamless. But somehow you're a dummy for not knowing how to cook. Red flag number one.

Red flag number two, I don't care what gets people cooking. I think that it's important for people to know how to cook for many reasons, one of them being that it's less expensive than eating out for sure. But I don't have any of that nostalgia of I have my great grandmother's parmesan recipe or whatever because so much of that kind of sentiment is tied into gendered bullshit like women are expected to cook things. You know what I mean?

Ann: Yeah. Your greatest legacy will be the cherry pie recipe you pass down or whatever.

Aminatou: Exactly. To be fair men cooks also have these stories but I think there's something so performatively gendered and classist about this kind of thing. But also it's just the shitting on people who cook. It's like are you kidding me? The whole problem with cooking honestly is not meal kits or whatever; it's just there is not enough time in the day. We don't all have wives. This is what everybody wants. Everybody wants a wife where you come home and there's a beautiful meal laid out for you. You want a wife. I want a wife. Terrible people want wives. Everybody wants a wife. But the truth is we don't have wives because we're our own wives and there's not enough time in the day to make all of these meals. So as far as I'm concerned whatever gets people cooking gets people cooking.

Now when it comes to the technical aspects of cooking I think that it's whatever makes you feel good and makes you feel okay about knowing your way. Like yes, some people have to do that very precise -- like if you don't tell them exactly how many peas go into the thing they freak out. That is totally fine. It's totally okay that some people cook that way. And also I don't know that you get to be a freestyle cook if you didn't know how to follow recipes once upon a time. Like that's the next level of cooking.

Ann: Yeah. And I think that for me the line where I really -- this writer really lost me was "to me meal kits sound like cheating, not cooking." That's where I'm like whoa, whoa, whoa. There is a whole legacy as well of blaming women in particular, blaming their choices to not spend as much time on domestic tasks for other social ills. And I'm like as you pointed out very early on the problem is capitalism, the problem is not enough hours in the day, and the idea of venerating a from-scratch model, yeah, wow, that sounds really delightful. It's kind of like how at a certain income level all cooks are hobbyist cooks. Like you don't just cook to eat; it's like you're a foodie or whatever.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: It's because you have enough time at that point. And I don't know . . .

Aminatou: Right. And it's like also look at the people who get celebrated for being chefs. A lot of them are men. I don't believe that men are the lion's share of cooks out there.

Ann: Exactly, and there have been a lot of studies about how when it is a meal, something that is for more praise -- for example my grandfather would always make pizza for the family on the weekend or would fry some chicken for the family on the weekend. But when it came to who's getting the job done on a weeknight it was my grandma who did that work. And I think there's something too where this idea being there are meal kit cooks and there's like everyone else who's doing it the old-fashioned way is wrong. Anyone I know who has ever tried one of these meal kit services is someone who knows how to make at least a few things for themselves without a recipe or with a different cookbook or something. I mean it's very weird to think of it as an either/or proposition.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's definitely like the argument also of people who are getting the recipes from the box, like they don't have recipes passed down? And like I'm sorry then, what the fuck are you doing with your grandma's recipe if you're still reading from it every single time you cook? That's the same thing.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: So that nostalgia is really weird to me. There are really pointed critiques of meal kits, and the environmental footprint that they have.

Ann: Or the labor chain.

Aminatou: Exactly, the food labor chain that's really problematic. That's something that you should think about. Also how much money they cost and the kind of upfront investment that you have to have. And as somebody who cooks from meal kits, here is what I will say in praise of the meal kit is it has forced me to eat things that I would never eat before. I have enjoyed the discovery aspect of it. But I think you can be an accomplished cook or somebody who is comfortable with your own cooking skills and then still do a meal kit if that works financially for you.

Ann: You know, and the other thing I read in this too is there is probably some startup to be done that is more about a long-game approach to learning to cook, which is to say that it is about building a pantry. It's about knowing how to use a variety of food from a shopping trip to make several different meals. Some of those skills.

Aminatou: Exactly, or learning actual techniques which I will say I've also learned in meal kits. It's like oh, this is what julienne is or whatever. I get this whole aspect of the meal kit is the training wheels and you have to learn how to ride but there's no reason that the meal kit's not the thing that teaches you how to do that. Like it's very strange to focus on having this technical capability that you then shame people for getting skills to do.

Ann: Yeah. I mean when I think about the things that taught me to cook in the dark ages before meal kits -- LOL -- the Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I think that's what it's called book, which is very simple, it has very basic recipes, but I followed those recipes in order to learn how to cook and then eventually lost that book in a move and don't need it anymore. But in college it was a bible for me, you know what I mean? I guess what makes for a good op-ed, right? A really extreme argument. But at the same time every time there's something about the right way to do things domestically being the thing that takes more time I see this glaring gender undertone that is often not addressed upfront.

Aminatou: Yeah. And also just, you know, I don't know, it's also very snooty. It's like my mom was really big about having us in the kitchen cooking with her which is definitely -- well, my sister and I at least . . .

Ann: Ding, ding, ding, there you go.

Aminatou: Yeah, which is definitely its own gender thing. It's like yeah, African girls need to know how to cook for sure. That was the dark side of that. But the positive side of that is that oh, I know how to take care of myself. It's like all the posi sides of patriarchy are you know how to make your own curtains and cook. Thank god when the economy goes lean.

But at the same time I think about a lot of the French food that we made and the French cooking bible is the La Rousse Gastronomique and that book is legit 1,200 pages. It teaches you everything about every -- you know what I mean? In America it would be considered like snooty people cook French food, but for people who eat French food this is the book that we all read to learn how to cook.

And it is so technical, and the whole point of the reason why you basically need a cooking encyclopedia is you don't know everything and it's okay to have reference material for oh, I have a mango. What do I do with it? I have a steak. Here are the 10,000 ways you can cook that. There is no shame in having to constantly learn and not having the stuff -- being able to just be like Martha Stewart out the gate. How do we make everybody cook? But then when you create all of these barriers I don't know that that's how we win that war.

Ann: It's true. And it's funny to talk about this because on your recommendation I've been reading Salt Fat Acid Heat.

Aminatou: Yes! The best book!

Ann: It's so good. Okay, Samin is an amazing writer but also it feels for me like I'm leveling up in terms of, like I say, I feel pretty good about my kitchen freestyle skills. But it is a book where it's like okay, you already know how to cook from a recipe. What happens when you let go of that? And it's very clear that all of this stuff exists on a spectrum and also, I don't know, you don't know what everyone's home life was like growing up. The idea that oh, yes, it's supposed to go a certain way. There are lots of resources, meal kits being one among them, but cookbooks being one among them or like recipe websites. How many things did I learn to make from Smitten Kitchen? A ton, you know? Yeah.

Aminatou: I know. You really solidified my cooking resume with so many Smitten Kitchen recommendations. I feel like my entire lunches are based from that. Like the thing I like so much about Samin and Wendy's book is that they just break down the actual scientific components of what cooking is and you're like oh, this is what emulsion is. This is what fat does. This is what salt does. And then you are comfortable around the kitchen because you understand what everything at its basic component is.

Ann: It's true.

Aminatou: But at the same time for me it's like whatever gets you in the kitchen, I don't care if it's a meal kit or it's trying to impress your new boo or it is trying to compete on Top Chef. At the end of the day the more people who know how to cook, men and women, the better it is for everyone.

Ann: Do you remember we had a joke in the early days of meal kits about men -- and they were almost exclusively men -- Instagramming the meals they made that were clearly meal kit dinners but being like "Look at the meal I made and how good it is?"

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: And it's like you know what? We were laughing because we were like we see you starting at zero and bragging about it, but also I'm like at least they're starting at zero, you know?

Aminatou: I know! That makes me so happy. It's like be a little less judgmental and whatever it takes to get this country cooking. My god.

Ann: Ugh.

Aminatou: And also if you don't want to cook that's also okay, because I think that there is so much personal failure, especially for women, that is associated with not being domestic in any way, shape, or form. Like if you are messy or you don't know how to cook or you -- I don't know, you don't clean or whatever, it is seen as this ginormous failure in a way that it's just not fair.

Ann: Yeah. So . . .

Aminatou: What don't we do as a society? We've like weaponized domestic arts. That's . . .

Ann: I know. Let's be clear, we didn't weaponize domestic arts; the patriarchy weaponized domestic arts.

Aminatou: The patriarchy weaponized domestic arts. But how crazy, right?

Ann: I know. I know.

Aminatou: You can't win. It's 2017 and you have to act like you're a 1950s housewife but also like a 2017 down chick all at the same time. You can't operate on all these levels.

Ann: All of the levels is what is expected, right? I'm not like other cooks. I'm a chill cook. Ugh.


Ann: What else is going on?

Aminatou: Well, a lot of people have tweeted me about this and I don't know how I feel about it yet about the current Blac Chyna and Rob drama.

Ann: Oh my god, it is messy, messy, messy.

Aminatou: Let's be real, by the time that this airs it is quite possible that we will be in a new part of the drama. Clearly Rob is not well. That has been a Kardashian truth for a long time. He needs like a mental health intervention and help and his sisters and his sisters and his mom have been trying on the show for a long time. It's not happening. Two, somebody needs to take all of his keyboards away because when he spirals it just goes to a bad place.

At the same time Blac Chyna has accused him of hitting her and that is something that is really serious and not okay. And then the other thing too is in his outburst today he's basically engaging in revenge porn.

Ann: Yeah, back up and start with what is going on. So they are split up.

Aminatou: Rob Kardashian, Erstwhile sock designer Rob Kardashian, and what is the tea called? Flat Tummy Tea? Tummy Tea? Flat Tummy Tea.

Ann: Flat Tummy spokesperson.

Aminatou: Flat Tummy impresario Blac Chyna have a child together, Dream Kardashian and they've been on and off. It's like really unclear if they were on or off before today's outburst and there have been many outbursts since the last time we checked in on them. So they're on and off. Who knows if they were on? Today I was just trying to do work like the rest of America on a day after a holiday and all of that was put to a startling halt when Rob Instagrammed all of these private photos that Chyna had sent him and also a video of her making out with somebody else I believe.

Ann: And that's called revenge porn.

Aminatou: Yes, all of that is called revenge porn. California has really strong laws against it. And he was basically airing her out. Everything from she's cheating on him, how he spent $100,000 on -- I'm doing really big air quotes here because I'm quoting him -- body surgery for her, which this is hilarious for many reasons. Plastic surgeon's expensive; it's not that expensive. Even Kardashian plastic surgery is probably seriously not that expensive because they would get a lot of stuff for free for exposure. So I'm choosing to believe that Chyna spent $2,000 on her titties and then pocketed the rest which is like an amazing move. And then he's complaining about how he spent a million dollars on her and he paid for all of it. I'm going to pause right here and tell you Rob is a sock designer.

Ann: Erstwhile.

Aminatou: Erstwhile. There is no evidence that Rob has sold a single sock. And if you watch the show you know that his mom and the money manager cut him checks all of the time. You know, Rob actually is a great person to understand like where modern toxic masculinity is at right now. Your sisters and your mom work really hard and you sit at home eating hamburgers and doxing your girlfriend on the Internet. It's kind of -- it's insane.

Ann: Yeah, he's actually that guy in his mom's basement.

Aminatou: He really is. It's insane. And he's done this with previous girlfriends. He did it with Adrienne Bailon. He did it with Rita Ora, notable whos. But this is kind of insane. It's also insane to me that these people have a child together who will grow up to read all of this one day. You would think that that would be the number one antidote to people just being on their best behavior is the fact that now there's a record of how crazy they are for their children to see but that's not what's going on.

Ann: I know. Just picture baby Dream listening to daddy issues on her headphones.

Aminatou: Oh my god. But you know what? There are some clear winners in all of this. One of the guys that Chyna is allegedly hooking up with posted a picture -- like has a picture of himself, and Rob got mad about it because he was like "That's my robe. That's the bed we invented our baby in." And this guy is in Rob's alleged robe looking so unbothered and happy and I'm like this is how I want to be the rest of my life, just this unbothered, completely 100%. Everybody else it's like very dark. I hope Chris gets to his phone and his Internet, but also like this is really not okay. There's nothing funny about revenge porn. There is nothing funny about somebody having a mental health breakdown. And probably by Friday he'll do the same thing that he does all the time which is an "I'm so sorry. Chyna and I talked about it. I love my baby. Everything is okay." And everything is not okay. Not at all.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: This is too dark. It's like usually I'm really up for Kardashian antics but this is dark shit.

Ann: I mean it's often though not on a level of committing a really gendered crime or -- you know what I mean? It's like antics is not the right word for this situation which is why it's upsetting. That's not the correct description.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's 100% a crime. And it's so interesting too to see all of it because people have very clear -- the reason Blac Chyna is not as sympathetic, like she's not sympathetic to the public, is because people already believe that she's a gold digger. You know what I mean? So this is why when she says that he hit her it's not bigger news, and that's so disgusting that that's the reaction to it. Or the fact that people are like "Oh, Rob, you deserve this. This is coming to you." And it's like no, no, these two are in a toxic relationship. Crimes are being committed here and we are all along for the ride and it's such a mind fuck.

Ann: Is this just like -- I mean I forget who wrote that piece, I mean maybe there have been a couple actually, about things getting not just reality TV real but very, very difficult and dark in Kardashian world over the past year? This feels like an extension of that. It's not drama over business.

Aminatou: I've not read that but I mean it's true. I have been very Kardashian-detached since Kim got robbed in Paris. Kim, I'm so glad you're okay. It is like dark. It's dark, but also usually we all go to reality TV kind of to unplug from . . . it's the antidote to what's going on, but it's like when the reality TV is dark and your actual real life is dark it's like what do we have left?

Ann: It's difficult timing.

Aminatou: It's just crazy, but it's also really hard to see somebody go through such a very public breakdown. Like this is not -- like he's not okay. And you can either be implicated by being along for the ride or you can disengage but you're going to be exposed to it no matter what. But then you also wonder behind the scenes what the fuck are they doing to stop this? This is not okay.

Ann: And of course there's also the is everyone not intervening in a strong enough way because this is good for ratings or it keeps certain names in the news? I mean there is a part of me where it's like this is really bad for multiple parties in terms of actual consequences. But you can't ignore the fact that this is like oh, Kardashians? The name is on TMZ. I don't know. The whole thing makes me feel icky.

Aminatou: I know, but it's like -- yeah, this has diminishing returns. I never believe oh my god, Chris is letting all this happen for fame reasons because one, they're already too famous. This is at the point where this hurts your pocket. And also on the show they've dealt with a lot of Rob's issues already and so this is just an escalation of all the other shit that he's going through. Mostly for me it's just hard to watch how there is a class of celebrity -- well, celebrity is the wrong word, but famous people -- who use their social media to fight with each other. This happens a lot around reality TV, like T.I. and his wife and a couple of other people. And I'm just like what do you have to gain by having the audience arbitrate? This is your actual real life. You people are getting real life divorces. You're having real-ass kids and all of this stuff and you're using social media to mediate -- not to use this word again -- but weaponize your relationships with each other. And it's very . . . it's dark. That's the only thing I can think of. It's so dark. I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.

Ann: Yeah. I mean I would also very much like Kim to say this is not okay behavior. I would like the family to also use the platform to say revenge porn is not okay and domestic violence is not okay.

Aminatou: Yeah, especially because Kim was a victim of revenge porn as well. Like this is crazy. I mean and what I was saying about the toxic masculinity thing and Rob, it's so apparent, right? It's like for him to shit on somebody for having plastic surgery when his sisters are products of plastic surgery is crazy.

Ann: Yep.

Aminatou: And also you can see how all of his resentment around just having very accomplished -- like his sisters just being more successful than him, it's making him lash out in all these ways. If you had ten jobs like Kylie probably you would not be on Instagram airing out your baby mama.

Ann: Yeah, it's true.

Aminatou: Dark shit. Dark shit. Dark shit.


Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet: on our website, callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at callyrgf@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook -- look that up yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All other music you heard today is composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and this podcast is produced by the beautiful Gina Delvac.

Ann: See you on the Internet.

Aminatou: [Laughs] See you on the Internet.