Episode 108: Bloody Prince Charles

Published September 1, 2017.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death and we're visiting some key interviews in her public life, plus Kim Kardashian in Interview and North's first cover. Sending love to all of our people in Houston and talking about flooding elsewhere in the world as well. Plus women who created a fake male cofounder to keep things moving along with their startup, and have you seen this Ivanka Del Rey video? We're obsessed.

[Theme Song]

Aminatou: Hi Ann Friedman.

Ann: How's it going over there?

Aminatou: Uh, okay. Just okay.

Ann: Yeah. I feel you. Maybe this will be our like -- I won't call it a low-energy episode, but you know, maybe a chill episode. Maybe that's . . .

Aminatou: Chill vibes. Maybe that's the way to think about it.

Ann: 100%. Well I've been thinking of you because it's the 20-year anniversary of Princess Diana's death and I know how important she is to you.

Aminatou: Oh my god, it's making me very emotional because I can't handle any of the content about the 20th anniversary of her death. Like it's just like -- it's very hard to contend with. My mom was a huge Princess Diana fan and in fact she died on the day of my parents' anniversary and my mom cancelled the anniversary party. She was like "We're not doing any of this," and she put on a bath robe and like set home for like two weeks watching TV.

Ann: Wow.

Aminatou: There's really something about black moms and Princess Diana that I really wish somebody would write about or expand on that is really, I don't know, I need to get to the bottom of that.

Ann: What do you think it is? Is it something that has to do with class? Or like something that has to do with like the way she's a fairy tale princess but not in the cartoony sense? Like in the modern day like this doesn't happen sense?

Aminatou: I think it's all those things, but I think really at the bottom of it it's that she was somebody who was emotionally very accessible, you know? So everything from the insane amount of philanthropy work that she did and, you know, she was kind of the first public person to touch somebody with AIDS publicly. Like that was an earth-shattering moment whenever it happened, which today seems really silly, but at the time it was like what? A member of the royal house is saying that it's okay to be there? And she did all this incredible work for like refugees and people whose limbs had been lost to land mines and all that kind of stuff. So she was very connected to people in this global sense but also I think that a lot of women can also relate to the tragedy of a bad marriage. Your life is supposed to be setup to be a princess and then instead it's like everything goes left. And I think there is something really profoundly human about that.

Ann: Yeah. I mean there's also something too about you don't have to be literally a princess to understand that a man as your way of accessing power is both in some ways great because it is true that she gained power through that marriage that she would not have otherwise had, but it's also a pretty fraught way to come by power and prominence. And I don't know what it's like to work through that in such a public venue either, you know?

Aminatou: Yeah. It's just it's so interesting. And also I think too that, you know, there's something about media coverage at the time that is really interesting where she was able to kind of -- to exploit the best and the worst of tabloids to tell her own story in a way that made her again more accessible to people and kind of . . . you know, like not to say that it was manipulative. Whatever. It's like everybody manipulates media and PR. But I do think that, you know, she made herself vulnerable and just human in these ways that people had never seen a royal or maybe even just a very, very rich person do. You know, I'm thinking about all the pictures of her and her kids at amusement parks or, you know, just looking really sexy on a yacht and swimming. At the time I didn't understand that but now that we live in a Kardashian world and I know how the Daily Mail works it's like oh, you get the story that these pictures are supposed to tell and you understand how they end up in the hands that they end up in. So I think that, you know, for that she was like a really savvy media operator.

But also the story of the marriage breaking down is crazy. It's like I'm thinking about that Martin Bashir interview, you know? I'm like who does that? Who talks to Martin Bashir about the breakdown of their marriage? Like nobody. Nobody does that. Don't do that ever again.

Ann: Yeah, talk about that interview a little bit because I feel like that's one of those things I was definitely not aware of in real time and read about later.

Aminatou: Well, for one, Martin Bashir is like . . . British journalists are very interesting to me because they either seem very respectable or they're just very trashy. There's no in-between. But Martin Bashir was definitely like a tabloid reporter at the time. In fact he got fired from some American network recently, which I don't remember which, but it's essentially because he's a tacky, tragic whatever. But anyway, so he lands this Princess Diana interview on the BBC in 1995 I believe and it was an incredibly frank interview. So Princess Diana and Prince Charles had separated, so it's like everything in the media is going really bad. So she sits down with Martin Bashir on the BBC to tell her side of the story, which, you know, everybody should walk in their truth for sure. But this is one of those instances where walking in your truth has ginormous repercussions on everybody else's life in a way that is kind of really unfortunate for people that are in the public eye.

So in the interview she admits that she was having this affair with her riding instructor. She talks about how hurt she was at her husband's relationship with Camila, Camilla Parker Bowles, who when I was growing up to me she was the ultimate villain. I was like nobody can be more evil than this woman. But also, yeah, it was like she -- like the princess was also great. She talked about depression, about bulimia. I think it was the first time for me that I heard a famous person talk about an eating disorder. That was something that I was really -- that had a huge effect on me.

[Clip starts]

Diana: When you have bulimia you're very ashamed of yourself and you hate yourself. And people think you're wasting food, so you don't discuss it with people. And the thing about bulimia, your weight always stays the same, whereas with anorexia you visibly shrink. So you can pretend the whole way through. There's no proof.

Interviewer: When you say people would think you're wasting food, did anybody suggest that to you?

Diana: Oh yes, a number of times.

Interviewer: What was said?

Diana: Well it was just "I suppose you're going to waste that food later on?" And that was pressure in itself. And of course I would because it was my release valve.

Interviewer: How long did this bulimia go on for?

Diana: A long time. A long time. But I'm free of it now.

Interviewer: Two years? Three years?

Diana: A little bit more than that.

[Clip ends]

Aminatou: And she talked about her kids. She talked about like, you know, how the monarchy is weird. She said that famous line about there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded which is something that has stayed with me forever and ever and ever. Oh my god, I realized that all of my feelings about marriage were formed in this interview. She also said in the interview that she wanted to be the queen of people's hearts, which this is before Twitter and this amazing 140 character description of yourself.

Ann: Also talk about setting a high bar, right? I feel like that's the kind of thing now, if I heard someone say they wanted to be queen of people's hearts, I'd be like oh my god, you are setting yourself up for sadness and depression and failure. [Laughs] You know what I mean?

Aminatou: I know. You know, I think the interview -- well, I don't think. I'm pretty sure the interview is on YouTube. You should go back and watch it. Like I will go back and watch it. But I remember that she was definitely fidgeting during the interview. She was talking like very . . . she was really soft-spoken. She just did not look confident. It was like anxiety/defiance, you know? Where like I'm going to do this thing, then when you sit down to do it it's like "Ah! Should I be doing this?" But it's too late now. And later on there were a lot of reports that she regretted doing the interview. But the interview itself was very damaging for the royal family because it just like . . . it was like all of the secrets that were out in the open that everybody kind of knew about she confirmed. 

Going back to the thing about being a savvy media operator, this is like what running shadow PR looks like, right? It's like you've got to throw some people under the bus so that you get to be the princess of people's hearts or whatever.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: You know, but I feel . . . like I don't know. That interview for me is such a high mark because I feel that we get so few of those kinds of interviews now except when somebody has done something really, really, really wrong, you know? And they're kind of rehabbing themselves.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: It's the like okay, you've got to sit down with Diane Sawyer. You need to sit down with Robin Roberts. It's like there's all these things that you're supposed to do. But now it's more like a crisis exercise as opposed to an I want to tell my truth kind of exercise.

Ann: Ugh, yeah.

Aminatou: So yeah, the '90s were very weird when it came to that kind of disclosure. But also now it's like celebrities and famous people have platforms where they can do this stuff on their own. But, so anyway, that's my media tangent aside. But I just remember that interview to me is still . . . it's like a thing I don't understand, but was a thing that definitely contributed to endearing her even more to so many other people because she was just like -- she was telling the truth about her life and she didn't need to dress it up and she was like a normal person who just wanted to be a good mom and she wanted her boys to grow up to be like good, normal people. And it was just like . . . the whole thing is tragic and sad.

Ann: Right. Yeah, I mean it's funny listening to you talk about that too. I'm thinking about the Interview Magazine cover, an interview with Kim Kardashian-West, which I also read this week. I'm sure -- did you read it?

Aminatou: I have not read it but it will be at my house probably this week.

Ann: Well, I mean it's just like . . . to just continue that thread about how women in the public eye do or don't control their own narratives now. It's just like an interesting . . . I'm always as interested as much in the choices about like who to grant the interview to and when to do it and in what context as much as what's actually said in the interview.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's like the story behind the story I think is just as important, right? As much as the message. I've not read the Kim interview at all. I just saw the images of them trying to make her look like Jackie O. And North looks really cute. It was one of those things that, you know, like I just wonder, I'm like what are you trying to accomplish here right now in this moment? You know? And is this the right time to do this for you? But also will you regret putting your kid in this really -- you know, it's like you propel your child forward for PR reasons which every parent has the right to do. Like I'm not going to judge that. But I think it's one of those like . . . like how is this going to hold up 20 years from now?

Ann: This gets back to all of my questions about Asahd Khaled as public figure. [Laughs] It's like totally the same set of reservations about . . . and I guess parents make this -- who are not super famous -- make this choice all the time about how much of their kids' lives to put on the Internet and when. But I just wonder, you're right, how it's going to age for the kids of celebrities and is it going to feel like . . . you know, if they have a hard time, which the children of celebrities notoriously have a difficult time. Not all, but many have a difficult time transitioning to adulthood and living their own lives. It's like how does this stuff age? You know, depending on how their story changes.

Aminatou: I go back-and-forth about this a lot. As somebody who does not have children it's obviously a really easy line to draw, you know? But I personally feel that unless you have your children's permission you should not be telling their stories online because you . . . you know, it's like for all of us, we were not exposed to the Internet until we kind of had control over it. I even think about those really early days of Facebook when you would have to have the "Actually, I don't want that picture of me doing the keg stand on your Facebook album. Can you take it down?" Like those weird kinds of conversations.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: That's a conversation that obviously a three-year-old cannot have with their parents. But a couple . . . like a couple of celebrities are really frank about it. Like Busy Philipps, I think it was in her Who Weekly interview, or it might've been somewhere else, where she talked about . . . you know, her entire life is on Instagram and she kind of has to do that. That's essentially her job now. Don't begrudge her that. But she has one daughter who is really young and then one who is kind of a maybe older tween I think. And she was talking about how the tween, the older one of the two, has become really "I don't want to be in your feed because my friends watch this and blah, blah, blah." And they had a conversation about it and that's going on. Which I was like that's good. Even kids have agency over their own image and how they want to be portrayed. And that stuff is forever, but it's also really complicated, right, about owning your own narrative. 

So even if it comes from this perspective of "Ew, don't embarrass me," like from a seven-year-old I think it's still really, really valid. But at the same time it's like some people just choose to live all of their lives in public. Obviously somebody who is a princess kind of has to. There's not a lot you can do about that, so you have to take back your narrative how you want. But, you know, even today regular people just use social media all the time and having to make that calculus every single day of every single minute about what you show and who you show and how you do it, it also gets really exhausting.

Ann: Yeah. And the idea too of . . . I think that everybody understands that what you get, whether it's in an interview or on someone's Instagram or whatever, you understand that that's not the whole story and you're kind of seeing selectively what they want you to see. But there are repercussions for how your authenticity is perceived, I think, when you make choices to protect your own privacy or the privacy of your family members. And there's also not enough conversation about that too, about like I mean normally when their performativity comes up in the context of "What are you posting on social media?" it's often through this lens of women's sexuality. Like it's not about how everybody is including and omitting and stylizing what they're posting, if they're doing it for an audience beyond people who know them in real life. And I wonder . . . I'm not friends with lots of teenagers or people who have grown up with Instagram but I wonder how -- I'm sure that that critical thinking does enter into a lot of how people use Instagram or whatever but I don't see a ton of conversations. I feel like schools should be talking about stuff like this, you know? Like this gap.

Aminatou: Yeah. I think that schools should teach it. I think that we should have more honest conversations about it, because back to Princess Diana, I think that one thing that was also really apparent to me, especially in the days after her death, was this feeling of feeling complicit because I maintain that she was literally killed by paparazzi.

Ann: Right. Yeah.

Aminatou: That's how I feel about it. I'm like that's literally how I feel about it. And, you know, but I'm somebody who consumes a lot of gossip news and it's something I feel really conflicted about. And I've drawn lines for myself. I don't do any kids coverage. I don't like to talk about it. You know, whatever. We're all fucking complicit. I can say that. But I think too that the other thing that it does is one conversation we never have, or I guess the conversation we do have, is we're always like well, if you're a public figure your life deserves to be out there completely which is a thing I don't agree with at all. I'm just like I'm sorry, the relationship that you have with public people is you get what they give you and if what they're giving you is music then you buy a ticket and you go to their concert or you buy their music or whatever and that's the extent of your relationship. For royals obviously it's a little different because -- this is where I'm also going to come out against monarchies in general . . .

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: I'm like I'm sorry, we literally -- well, not me, I don't care, but British taxpayers literally pay these people just to make public appearances and to keep up with whatever the monarchy is supposed to be. Speaking of gossip news, I was reading a thing about Kate and Will and how they were moving back into Kensington Palace. And literally the subhead was "They've been accused of not pulling their weight." And the accusation of not pulling their weight is because Will has -- he has like a part-time job. He's just like "Okay, I'm going to have a job for real money and do real shit," because he like went into the Army, and Kate's like "I'm raising my kids." That is deeply offensive to royal watchers because they're like "No, no, you guys have duties and you're not discharging your duties." And now that their kid is going to school they're like "Okay, we need to settle down." So like Will is quitting his job or whatever. But the framing of it that way was so offensive to me, it was like are you serious? Because you're born into this family you have to do this bullshit that you don't like? Watch The Crown on Netflix.

It's like the whole time I'm watching it and yelling like "You're creating these problems for yourself. Nobody cares." But also the public is really complicit. They get paid to do the duties but the people fucking love it. Nobody's like "Hey, actually it's 2017. We don't need this ginormous family to do all this dumb stuff that we make them do for us." But because they do it people feel that they're entitled to know everything about their lives so there's no semblance of privacy. It's like everybody feels they own a piece of them which I think is really, deeply unfair. What's the youngest one? Not Will. The other one.

Ann: Harry?

Aminatou: Harry. Sorry. I can't believe it, and he's my favorite. Totally blank there. 

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Harry is dating this actress, this who actress, and it's like my favorite romance in the world. But when they started dating he literally had to put out a statement that was like "1) Stop being racist to my girlfriend because she's kind of black, and 2) Let us have our relationship just to ourselves." So they literally are doing spy craft to see each other. Like the paparazzi's so confounded. It's like she'll land at Heathrow and they don't see her come out of the airport and then days later she's like riding a bicycle in a Whole Foods in London and they're like "How did that happen?"

And I was like this is crazy, like you won't let these two people date and have a shot at just being themselves because we are so hungry to know what is going on their lives. But his statement, people were really shocked by it because the royals never acknowledge their own humanity. And for once he was like "Hi, I grew up in the bubble. Don't do this to the person I love." And I was like this is so -- you are your mother's son but also we are all really shitty people for participating in this economy. This is awful.

Ann: Yeah. I mean my feelings change a little bit if you are in a position where the public is paying your salary or subsidizing your lifestyle. So a difference between a celebrity and like a celebrity's child and a politician or a public figure and then their child I think is pronounced. Like I don't think anyone's child should be in the public eye without having some kind of say in it. When you're talking about politicians' personal lives though especially that's where I'm like it's 100% fair game if you are writing laws that affect the personal lives of people across the country. And I know it's a little bit different with the royal family in the UK, but when I think about US politicians who especially during campaigns and stuff are like "Leave my spouse's job out of this."

Aminatou: No, not if your spouse works at Goldman Sachs. We're going to talk about it, Ted Cruz.

Ann: Right. Or, you know, "It's not relevant where my family vacations or something like that." I'm just like hmm, I'm sorry, but it is. Like if you're asking us to pay your salary the accountability is different. So I don't know. I'm a little bit torn. I don't actually know a lot other than centuries of inherited privilege, like what the royal family is getting, right? Like I don't know -- obviously some subsidized housing.

Aminatou: Oh my god, they get so much money.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Like millions, so much money.

Ann: So then -- so then I actually do think like okay, what are you . . . what are you doing to earn that keep is a fair question. And the answer might not be offer up your personal life on a plate, but you know, 100% pull your weight if you are . . . or find a way to reject that. Like plenty of us had to reject the value systems or baggage of our family in order to do something different. I'm like you know, you're an adult now. You get to decide how you want to operate.

Aminatou: I mean I agree with you. It's like which one was it? Like Edward VII? V, VI, VII? Whichever one divorced to marry his American girlfriend with my favorite name, Wallis Simpson. Yes, Edward VII. He was like I don't want to do this anymore/he was in love with this American lady and they were like "Hmm, this is not how this works." He literally abdicated so he could be with his lady, you know? And I was like people have to make tough choices.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: If you don't want this life you should do something else, you know what I mean? You should maybe have a real, respectable job. People feel how they want to feel about monarchies. I personally think that they're stupid. I don't see what they add except for people feeling good about themselves and feeling some sort of level of prestige. It's like release these people. Let them do real jobs.

And to be clear, some other European monarchies, people have honest jobs. They get to be princesses but they also have to go to work at the bank every day. I see all of it on a continuum from like royals to celebrities to even politicians. I feel that how we get the information matters but also how the information that we have is weaponized matters a lot, you know? Because the thing that always happens is that we hold these people to standards that we don't hold ourselves, you know? Which I think is something that is fair to discuss as a society.

One of the reasons American politics is such a sham, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, but one thing that's actually refreshing about Donald Trump is the hypocrisy is laid bare from everybody. Because you're supposed to get up there and overnight you go from somebody who was your regular self to some sort of presidential saint. Like all your vices disappear and you become -- you know, you become this polite, muted person. And because he's a fucking idiot, he's incapable of doing that, people don't know how to react to that. They don't know how to be like "Ah!" Like he's still eating KFC out of the bucket and he's doing all of these things. And it's like maybe -- no, it's like maybe some of the standards that we hold people in political office to are ridiculous and we should start having conversations about that, like why that's dumb.

It's like I think about the Melania's stiletto scandal or everything that Michele Obama wore or things like that, or the ways that we also really weaponize sex when it comes to celebrities or it comes to public figures. I think as a society it reflects really poorly on us. We make sexual behavior shameful no matter what happens without knowing all of the details, and also again we hold them to standards that we don't hold ourselves to. Like how many people were divorced and divorce was such an unseemly thing? And, you know, it's like we still have never had a divorced president. That's probably not going to happen for generations. It's like look at the royals, how much they had to fight to be able to just divorce people. [Laughs]

Ann: Well we do have a divorced president. That's the thing.

Aminatou: Oh, you're right. Yeah, now we have . . .

Ann: I'm sorry.

Aminatou: Now we have this unseemly gorilla. You're right. You're right.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: I'm sorry. Like I said, he's laid the hypocrisy bare. I can't believe I forgot that.

Ann: I was like whoa, is this coming to me live from mid-2016? Are you like . . . [Laughs]

Aminatou: No. I forgot. Like he's not the president in my head, you know what I'm saying?

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: But, you know, even with him -- yes, you're right. But the conversation about his divorce has been really interesting because people just don't think about it and all these Christian leaders are like "But he's God's chosen leader." And it was like literally what happened when we had a black guy and you guys decided the standards were different for him? This is weird. All of this is weird.

Ann: Yeah. I mean I dislike hypocrisy obviously but I also think that when it comes to matters of morality -- I'm air quoting -- that we want to see reflected in our politics . . . and that -- this also I think applies to people that I disagree with. It's fair to ask those questions about the politicians you're electing. Like I do care that this president has never given a dime to charity even though he's claiming he's giving lots of money to charity because I have a value that if you're a rich person you should give a lot of money to charity. That's a personal moral value that I have. [Laughs] You know what I mean? And I feel comfortable holding the president to that. But also, you're right, like oh, okay, do I hold myself to that? Do I hold my friends to that? It's fair to ask whether -- not only whether elected officials are being hypocritical, but whether you and your judgment are being hypocritical. I mean I'm also not . . .

Aminatou: I 100% agree with you on that.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Because I think . . . I don't want to let any of these bad people off the hook. Like no, you're actually bad. Like please. You're not going to catch me making the case for Donald Trump's divorces. I guess maybe the point that I'm trying to make is it's more complicated than that and we get the leaders that we deserve because we are unwilling to have those hard conversations about everything else.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: And also it's like -- and it's like having impossible standards like that is why we have hypocrites in power.

Ann: Just bringing it back to the question about what does the public have a right to know versus -- and performativity if you're a public figure. I mean my feeling is actually your personal morality is fair game if you are the democratically -- questionable -- but democratically-elected leader of the nation. I know. I know, right? The supposedly democratically-elected leader of a nation, we should expect a certain amount of transparency on how you are living the values that you claim to hold. And I feel differently about people whose business is entertainment in the public eye as opposed to people who are literally on the public payroll as public servants.

Aminatou: Yeah. But I guess that the problem is also those lines are shifting, right? It's like obviously politicians, like that's fair. But, you know, where do you put something like the royal family? Between entertainment and public figures and politics, it's blurry.

Ann: Oh man. If they are on the public payroll they are a political figure in my point-of-view.

Aminatou: You know what? You're right. It's like don't take the money and then you don't have to deal with the rules. We already have examples of this.

Ann: Exactly. You can always abdicate. [Laughs]

Aminatou: You can. You can always like -- you don't . . . you're right, you don't actually have to do this. I just have . . . I have a soft spot because I care so much about like . . . I don't know. Like I care a lot about personal privacy and I think that we as a society are really terrible about the ways that we use that, you know? But also super-rich people who have access to PR and don't use it well, I'm always like what is wrong with you? Just use your platform for good things and then do all the bad things that you want to do and don't get caught. That's how the game works.

Ann: Right, and just make good choices too. I mean I think for other public figures, and this is something -- I mean I know Jenna Wortham wrote that great thing about how Beyonc uses social media to reveal what she wants to reveal and when, and how that tactic is actually available to all of us. I think about that a lot when people ask us questions about how we can be so personal on this podcast or whatever. And I'm like, you know, obviously we talk about some things that are personal but there is a lot that is not recorded for public consumption. And I think increasingly that's become a skill that you need even if you aren't, you know, an elected official or a celebrity, like this idea of what do you keep for yourself and what do you make public?

Aminatou: Right. And everybody should have a really rich interior life. It's like you should keep a lot for yourself actually.

Ann: To be the person making that choice as opposed to feeling like something isn't real unless it's been externally validated. I think that is a skillset. You know, it's not just some sort of personality trait. It's something that you actually have to think about and work on and interrogate what do I want for me and what is part of my work in the world? Even if you're not Kim Kardashian West.

[Music and ads]

Ann: Love to our listeners who are in Houston. Love to our listeners on the Gulf Coast.

Aminatou: I know. Heartbreak. Heartbreak.

Ann: Do you . . . I know you have important people in Houston. Do you have like a fav charity or something that you are super into in terms of where to send your extra pocket money?

Aminatou: So I am a big proponent of giving locally. People have many feelings about the Red Cross. I personally do not give a dollar of my money to the Red Cross, but do your research. Do what you want to do. One of the things that a couple of people have highlighted are organizations that will give money to donate menstrual products to people who are in Houston because, let's be real, women are disproportionately affected by natural disasters all over the world and, you know, we care a lot about menstrual hygiene in this family. So there are a couple of places that you can give your money to. One of them is Aquia Estamos RGV and the other is the Neta Fundraising Campaign. We'll put all of this in the agenda. And also I think there have been some really good lists, like Jia Tolentino put -- who is also from Houston -- put together a good list of places that you can give your money to and volunteer. But this is really . . . this has been really heartbreaking. Love you, Texas.

Ann: Yeah. We are . . . we'll put some links to some local organizations that we like in the show notes and on our website.

Aminatou: And this is one of those things I think too that if you're really overwhelmed and you don't know where to start, like I have been really overwhelmed and watching the news has just been like . . . it's like watching streets that you know and see them be flooded. It's like you don't know where to start. If you have a little bit of money, I think that one way that I always think about this is what is an issue that I care about and how can I help in that way, you know?

So I have a lot of friends who have been really touched by all of the animal rescue that they're seeing and so they're figuring out ways to give money to those organizations. If you care a lot about immigrant families who are displaced, it's like there are so many causes that you care about and all of them intersect with the hurricane.

Ann: Totally.

Aminatou: Like that's just . . .  that's it. So like one way to come out of your inertia and also just generally feeling bad is just -- it's like focus on one thing. One day maybe the government will get its shit together and give these people the billions of dollars that they need to rebuild their city, but in the meantime you can do that. It's like pick an issue that you care about, figure out how it intersects with the hurricane, and do your research to figure out how many can go to that.

Ann: Totally. I gave to the Montrose Center which is the local LGBT organization and to Houston and Harris County Homeless Services. So exactly. I think that's such smart advice. The way you think about giving overall, apply it to organizations on the ground.

Aminatou: Ugh, everything is so hard.

Ann: I know. Yeah, and if you are watching what is unfolding in Houston and are recognizing the need that's there and how many people are suffering it probably bears mentioning that there are actually right now many other places on other continents that are experiencing equally catastrophic flooding because climate change among other things . . .

Aminatou: Yeah. Like a thousand people died in the India monsoon so that's something to remember, and southeast Asia has been just like pummeled by rain.

Ann: Totally. So lots of places wanting your donations. And I do think that the criteria for how you find an organization or how you think about giving is the same. You know, just keeping in mind that it's like it's not just Houston.

Aminatou: That's right. So we are going to link to Houston resources in the show notes, and if you get The Bleed, our newsletter, you will see more information there. If you don't get The Bleed you should subscribe to it. And if you have some suggestions about global organizations that we can give to for other places that have been affected by flooding you can tweet them at us or email them to us. We would love to share that with everybody as well.

Ann: Totally.


Ann: Okay, lighter note, did you see this article about the women startup cofounders who created a fake male cofounder to try to get people to take them seriously when they were asking for funding?

Aminatou: I had to read it three times because I thought it was you, me, and Gina, because we have talked about this so many times. I was like did we implement this plan while I was not paying attention? What's going on? It's amazing.

Ann: Oh my god, it's basically the plot of the Whoopi Goldberg '90s classic The Associate in which she invents a white male business partner in order to have her ideas heard and advance through corporate New York. It's 100% that principle. The cofounder that these women invented, they named him Keith Mann. [Laughs] And, yeah, they basically were sick of getting emails from developers that started with stuff like "Okay, girls," or condescending messages explaining what needed to happen or what needed to be done.

And so they actually watched developers show more deference to Keith, for example. It's one of those things that obviously not surprising to learn that people interact digitally differently if they think that the person they're corresponding with is a man. But, you know, I do think that sometimes stories like this allow the lived experience of women in tech to hit home for people who are not experiencing condescending emails and things like that directly.

Aminatou: Right. But then it's also expanded out, right? And then think about all the people you know that have non-white sounding names.

Ann: Yep.

Aminatou: Or whatever, you know? And just like . . . it's like when I hear stories like this all the time, the first thing that sets in is that person of color paranoia that every person of color has. It's just like a low-grade fever where you're like "Hmm, has this been going on in my life and I just don't know about it?" And then you think about it for five minutes and then you decide that if you think about it more it'll drive you crazy so you just keep going.

It's like this stuff is always really interesting because it's like you look at it through one lens and then you expand it out and then you really see the scope of the problem and it's like this is crazy. It's like this is really crazy.

Ann: Yeah, totally. Like this is the tip of the iceberg.

Aminatou: Props to those ladies. I'm changing my email name right now to Keith Mann.

Ann: Keith Mann. What is your white male email alias? Like this is a fun game. I need the Internet formula for how to create your . . .

Aminatou: My Starbuck's name -- my Starbuck's name is Amanda which always works miracles for me. But I feel like my white man name has to be really white, like Todd or Tripp or something unmistakably white.

Ann: Yeah, I would definitely be like Andy Friedman.

Aminatou: Andy Friedman? You know, Andi Friedman though, still could be unisex. You've got to be Andrew Friedman.

Ann: All right, Andrew. Andrew.

Aminatou: Andrew Friedman. I'm going to be . . . I'm going to be . . . or Scott. Hmm, except that I met a black Scott and it really shook my world the other day. I'm going to figure out Tripp something. I'll get back to you.

Ann: Travis? You want to be Travis? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Ooh, Travis is good. And Travis is such a Texas name. Thank you for tying it all in together.

Ann: I know, I . . .

Aminatou: That was always the joke that we had at the UT International Student Center where it was like there is always a Travis. And I was like that's true, there is always a Travis in Texas.

Ann: Ugh, look out. Look out for our competing podcast cohosted by Andrew and Travis. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Andrew and Travis. Going to have to work on that bass in my voice.

Ann: It's true. We're going to have to have Gina do some editing trickery so our voices sound different. Ugh.

Aminatou: we've got this. Okay, before we leave though actually I do want to leave on one Prince Charles menstrual-related note.

Ann: Yes?

Aminatou: You know about Prince Charles and tampongate right?

Ann: Wait, no. Wait, Prince Charles and tampongate? No.

Aminatou: Ann. Okay. Actually this is amazing because again I realize that everything I know about periods and marriage are all because of Diana and Princes Charles. So Prince Charles was married to Diana but he was definitely in love with Camilla which, a side bar, as I have grown older I have changed my mind about those two. Or not I've changed my mind, but rather I have softened on those two because life is complicated and long. But back in the '90s, I think it was like in '92 maybe because I was definitely a baby. I was like seven or eight. Prince Charles was caught on tape having this flirty conversation with Camilla and Diana definitely heard it. And, hold on. I'm going to find the transcript so I can read it to you because I will not do it justice.

"Charles, oh God, I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier." I wish I could do a good British accent but it always turns out to sound Jamaican. "Camilla: Laugh. What are you going to turn into? A pair of knickers? Both laugh. Oh, you're going to come back as a pair of knickers? Charles: Oh, God forbid, a tampax. Just my luck. Laughs. Camilla: You're a complete idiot. Laughs. Oh, what a wonderful idea." This was like . . . just imagine like '92, the low amount -- how little media people had then compared to now, but still on that global scale, the amount of scandal this was.

Ann: Horror.

Aminatou: Like this is crazy. So whenever I see Prince Charles it's all I can think about. I was like you told a lady you wanted to come back as her fucking tampon. That's insane.

Ann: Yeah, I mean . . .

Aminatou: But also that's how you know the love is real.

Ann: It's true. He just wants to soak it all up.

Aminatou: Yeah. I'm like you don't casually tell your mistress you want to be a menstrual hygiene tool. That's like real.

Ann: Oh my god, yeah.

Aminatou: So shout out to Prince Charles for being this week's -- this millennia in menstruation. Thank you.

Ann: I also feel like the perfect song to play us out is have you seen the Ivanka Del Rey video?

Aminatou: Yes, I like lost my mind. Thank you Amber Coffman. Too good.

Ann: 100%. So I think that -- like we'll link to it in the show notes, but Ivanka Del Rey are the only three words you need to hear to understand it and it is just what the Internet is made for, like that level of brilliant parody. I'm obsessed.


Aminatou: Thanks for wanting to come back as my tampon also, Ann. This is how I know we are real friends.

Ann: You know, I'm just here to absorb everything that you are putting out there. [Laughs]

Aminatou: This is where I hate you. I guess -- you know how people are always like "What are words that you hate," and everybody always says moist? Moist has never bothered me but absorb really bothers me. Now I know.

Ann: Ugh. Mine is crevice.

Aminatou: Ooh, crevice. Why? That's such a pleasant word.

Ann: See? Yours are different. We're different here. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Crevice? I like that word. Yeah, absorb. Ugh. Crazy.

Ann: All right.


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, 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 was composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs and this podcast is produced by the beautiful Gina Delvac.

Ann: I'll see you on the Internet. [Laughs]

Aminatou: See you on the internet, boo-boo.