Episode 122: So Much Drama

Published December 8, 2017.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: [Laughs] I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: Who are you? I'm Ann Friedman. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god.

Ann: On this week's agenda, so much to be angry about. The Supreme Court okays the Muslim travel ban; Congress must act to preserve DACA protections for immigrants though time is running out; the tax bill continues to move forward and it's truly horrible even without the personhood language that we didn't like; plus a bigoted cakemaker who claims to be a persecuted minority. Then there's a trip to the creep iceberg with news about Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Russell Simmons. The backlash begins with people who are like "Hey, getting creeped on at work turned out great for me." There's a lack of support for Terry Crews, and people are really excited about John Oliver just doing his job.

[Theme Song]

Ann: I feel like there were so many rage-inducing things to discuss this week I don't even know where to begin.

Aminatou: Well, there are a lot of rage-inducing things but there are a lot of personal things also to talk about because something that's been going on in the background for all of us is I found out that I have endometrial cancer.

Ann: To be clear I was including that because I'm in the anger phase so anger at the world. Yeah.

Aminatou: I mean, listen, I am sorry that you are going through this also.

Ann: Stop.

Aminatou: Like we are all going through this. It's true. It's true. We're all going through it. If you can't tell, I am upbeat about it because I only have two modes, like very depressed or very excited. [Laughs] So right now I'm just trying to channel all of my energy into figuring out what treatment looks like for me. You know, and just enjoying everything that's fun that life has to offer. So so many people have written in and said really nice things. Thank you so much. So many people have asked "What can I do?" For me personally there is nothing that you can do because I am so well taken care of. For the universe there are a couple of things that you could do. One of them involves signing up for healthcare. Open enrollment ends December 15th. It would mean a lot to me if you would sign up or make sure that all of your friends are signed up.

Ann: Yeah, and help them figure out how to sign up because I think that is honestly . . . like no one gets health insurance alone in this country. It's like a group effort of figuring it out.

Aminatou: Yeah. If everybody in your friend group was signed up for health insurance and you could help each other through that, that would be really cool. What else can you do? You can donate blood if you're able to on a regular basis. I've been getting a ton of blood transfusions. I feel like that is a very tangible act of generosity. Every time I get blood I'm like somebody did this for me, like this is serious.

Ann: I love that.

Aminatou: They don't just harvest blood like, I don't know, inside avocados. It's like people have to go do this. So I'm asking all of my friends to donate blood regularly.

Ann: You also put in a request that if anyone with a uterus is suffering super heavy periods or other symptoms . . .

Aminatou: PCOS, yeah.

Ann: To get it checked out. Go to the doctor and insist on testing and care for that.

Aminatou: Totally. I love my doctors. I love my medical team. Also this is hard for me because I want to do this privately but I think sometimes we're going to have to talk about it. [Laughs] So I'm just asking everybody to be gentle about how little or how much I would like to talk about it because it's just going to be in the background of my life for a little bit.

Ann: Yeah. I mean and it's also part of me too is being close to you as you go through this, it is now something I think about a lot when I am dealing with someone I don't know over the Internet for work. It's like you don't know what's going on with them. It's prompted me to be gentler and more generous with people who maybe are not going through something similar, but it has triggered an empathy button in me for sure.

Aminatou: You never know what people are going through. That's just it. I say this now where I'm being a nice person. When I turn into a full-on cancer diva in a couple of weeks ask me again. But I think right now that's actually . . . that's a great note to end that on is just have empathy for people because you do never know what they're going through.

Ann: Totally. I also have to tell you because you are in such a proactive and upbeat mode, at least in the Instagram posts you put up for example, there's a friend of mine who is also a friend of yours who I will not out here who recently was like "Oh, she still has cancer? I thought it was all over based on the tone of that Instagram post."

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: I had to contain myself. I was like it is not all over, okay? Get it together.

Aminatou: Oh my god, that's hilarious. Now I want to find out who.

Ann: I'll tell you when we're not recording obviously.

Aminatou: Perfectly. I'm going to be like hello? You have not come to kiss the ring. What's going on?

Ann: I think that you have the ring.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Yeah. I don't know, it's like you can cry about it. You can laugh about it. I'm doing both all the time. What I'm really excited about is that all of my . . . like I've always felt like a hypochondriac and always a little crazy for how much I advocate for myself at the doctor and I was like oh, this has worked out. This is where taking all of your courage and having hard and daring conversations comes into play. And I was like okay, I'm going to be . . . I hope I will be fine, because so far, so good.

Ann: Yeah. I mean like the idea that sticking up for yourself will always save your life in the big, metaphorical sense, but actually literally sticking up for yourself, saving your life, is a thing that I've been thinking about a lot for you and all women, knowing we need to advocate for ourselves in pretty much every scenario.

Aminatou: You know, I'm going to leave you with the words of Audrey Lorde, your silence will not protect you. Applies in so many ways.

Ann: Yes. 100%. Sorry, feeling emosh. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god, get it together Ann. [Laughs]

Ann: I love you so much. I'm trying to find a word other than inspired because I hate it when people are like "You're so inspiring!"

Aminatou: I know. Aww, thank you.

Ann: But I'm feeling that way. I truly am feeling that way, and it's like you know I'm a writer. I hate resorting to cliché, but that's how I feel.

Aminatou: Listen, cliché works for a reason. Cliché works for a reason. It is tested and tried and proven. But, you know, it's like we'll keep talking about it on the pod. Let's get through this.

Ann: Yeah, let's do it. I'm ready.

Aminatou: Let's do it.


Aminatou: What else is going on on this podcast? What are the other dramatic things that are happening? [Laughs]

Ann: Oh my god, where do I even begin? I could begin talking about all of the infuriating things in the news, like the Muslim ban is back. Guess what? I know you haven't been at the airport holding a sign. Neither have I. That's on us.

Aminatou: Ugh.

Ann: But the Muslim ban is definitely back. The Supreme Court decided not to uphold a lower court ruling. You know, except for our favs Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they were like definitely this is a no-go zone. But everyone else was pretty . . .

Aminatou: They were like I dissent.

Ann: Yeah, everyone else was pretty chill with this latest iteration of the Muslim ban. That's happening. Trump ended Obama's differed action program for childhood arrivals in the US and essentially put it in the hands of Congress to continue this.

Aminatou: Ugh.

Ann: And surprise, surprise, Congress is not getting it together, and if they don't get it together before the end of December then tens of thousands of immigrants are going to have to continue to live in a state of fear and precarity, so that's going on. What else? The budget, I can't even begin to talk about this tax bill, the situation, which as we discussed . . .

Aminatou: Tax mess. [Laughs]

Ann: Yeah, this steaming pile of something called the tax bill.

Aminatou: Oh god.

Ann: Which remains a nightmare for so many reasons.

Aminatou: You know, the tax bill is hard for me because as a person I don't like it but as a corporation I get it.

Ann: Stop.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Listen, now that I'm walking in my truth I'm just going to say everything. Everything I've wanted to say. I'm just like hmm. I'm like what a mess, this thing, but also hmm. I mean LLC, I might just be fine.

Ann: Oh my god, I can't even with you right now. What about CYG LLC? We're not going to be fine.

Aminatou: Oh my god, CYG LLC will be fine from the tax bill but I'm telling you that it's because we have good politics that we're incensed by this. Are you kidding me? Every time I hear, ugh, god, Ivanka's dad talk about how much the tax bill is going to kill him personally, that makes me laugh because I'm like wow, your lying knows no bounds. Like we literally don't know the outlines of your tax situation. So the fact that you want us to believe that you would do something that would be detrimental to you or your friends, we were not born yesterday, sir.

Ann: Although I did read something just this week that Robert Mueller wants to subpoena all of our horrible Cheeto president's bank statements and bank records which would be a real game changer.

Aminatou: Oh my god. All of it will be a game changer because we'll finally find out how much money he has, which you know I believe he has no money.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Like real estate moguls usually are very light on cash. So this is going to be crazy. But you know what we're really going to find out is how CYG LLC definitely gives more to charity than that family. Jesus.

Ann: Oh, I mean as a percentage there's no question, right?

Aminatou: As a percentage and even as cold cash numbers, I'm going to tell you that. I believe that 100%.

Ann: Yeah. So the silver lining is that the personhood language that we talked about a few examples ago which is basically saying that you could open a 529 college savings plan for an unborn child at "any stage of development" on behalf of every one of the eggs sitting in your ovaries or whatever . . .

Aminatou: All of the babies that are just a twinkle in the eye of their parents.

Ann: Yeah. No longer -- so this has been stripped out, no longer can you open a college savings plan for every twinkle in every eye in America.

Aminatou: They really tried it though.

Ann: They really tried it.

Aminatou: They really tried it and it was very dastardly and genius but some people are not asleep at the wheel.

Ann: But also there's plenty of other garbage that remains in it including a lot of things that have to do with how state and local governments use their own tax dollars which is a problem if you are in a city that needs a higher tax rate for something you want to do like fix your roads or spend more on public transportation or on social services. This is a bill that would constrain state and local governments from doing that which is just part of the GOP plan to convince everyone that government is only a force for bad and never for good.

Aminatou: Yeah. NARAL Pro-Choice America's president Ilyse Hogue had put out a statement that was basically like "Yeah, this is welcome news, but also state vigilant because this kind of stuff fails a lot of times but they are very persistent in trying to bring it back." And so knowing that there's an organization like NARAL that actually has members that are ready to fight this stuff is really encouraging, but it is distressing to me how few people know about it.

Ann: Yeah. I mean it also contains a provision -- hang on, I'm checking to see if it's still in there. Yeah, from what I can see. So the bill hasn't gone through reconciliation yet. It was passed by both the House and the Senate because both branches of Congress are terrible right now. It also contains a provision that says churches would be able to engage in political activism which we all know how well that would go down for . . .

Aminatou: Which they already are. Like let's be real.

Ann: I know, but this is just like cool, go for it.

Aminatou: Ugh.

Ann: This is just like a green light, like not even in a grey zone.

Aminatou: Yeah. Basically this tax bill is only good for you if both of your parents are private jets. That's the only way you net out fine.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Everybody else is messed up.

Ann: Ugh, I can't.

Aminatou: And all this stuff, I've also just been reading up on all the stuff about graduate students and getting PhDs.

Ann: Yes.

Aminatou: This is just going to decimate their financial situation. When you think already about how much work and resources you need to go through the upper echelons of academia and now having that codified in the tax bill that literally only rich people can become PhDs, it's really upsetting.

Ann: Yeah. 100%. So all of that is happening. There's a cake master bigot who doesn't want to bake cakes for people who are gay.

Aminatou: Okay. First of all, Ann, his company is called Masterpiece Cakes.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: The fact that Masterpiece Cakes is not a PBS show, like a cake competition, is the biggest travesty of all.

Ann: I can't even believe you're giving this many any sort of credit for anything. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god, okay, let's explain to the people the Masterpiece Cakes situation.

Ann: I like cake master bigot personally.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: You know, one of the things I hate about this case is you know how much weddings are not my favorite thing and fighting for fundamental rights for people who very much deserve them and fighting for people to be free of discrimination should not require me to be in favor of wedding cakes, and yet . . .

Aminatou: Yeah. Like wedding problems aside, the reason that this case is actually really important, it's one of the ways that people who are on our side politically get very complacent about things. We're like "Ugh, how bad could it be?" And again you realize that people on the right, part of the reason that they win is because they are persistent and they're very disciplined. And so, you know, it's like for me I'm like ugh, a Supreme Court case about religion? I don't really care. And the first amendment? I don't care that much. Actually you should care because it's terrifying.

Ann: Yeah. It basically says that depending on the outcome of this case, which P.S. we already litigated this in the Jim Crow era when we said businesses could not discriminate against black patrons, like that was a thing that the court has already decided . . .

Aminatou: Exactly. But one of the things that religious people have done really well recently is they have coopted the language of minority and so they're basically trying to get you to believe that ideology is a protected class which it's not. What's to stop a white supremacist from saying they have a religious right to refuse to bake a cake for a black couple? Religious arguments for white supremacy are very, very, very old.

Ann: Totally. And as this case is basically a religious argument for extreme bigotry against non-heterosexual Americans.

Aminatou: Yeah. Why it's so dastardly is because once you start seeing that commerce is free speech, right, it's like a cake artist -- oh my god, cake artist -- or a florist or whatever, where does it stop? You can't really regulate commerce. And the thing that I found really infuriating in this is I've heard a lot of liberal people say "Well, there are a lot of places you can get a cake or whatever." And the truth is that's probably the argument that's going to help the right wing win this. But there were also places where black people were not allowed to buy cake and eat barbecue and drink water from fountains and it's not . . . it's bad.

Ann: Yeah. You won't be surprised to learn that the Cheeto-led White House is on the same side as the people who are defending their right to be bigoted with cakes. It's a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. That's like another eyeroll, right? Like the freedom to discriminate in your business. Oh, yeah, that's definitely . . . sorry, I'm being incredibly inarticulate about this because it's the sort of thing where the true long game is making itself seen, right? I'm like oh, yeah, I thought we litigated this 50 years ago.

Aminatou: The long game is really to whittle away all of our anti-discrimination laws, right? Because the thing that these people are really good at is dominating the debate on everything. It's how they basically turned bullying women outside of abortion clinics into "This grandma just wants to hold your hand and pray for you!"

Ann: Right, a free speech issue. Yeah, yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah, you know? And really it's like no, they're trying to control your body. This is not good.

Ann: Right, and they also . . . it's very savvy to use something that is . . . I mean I know I'm half-joking about cake master bigot, right? But okay, not baking a cake for someone is really easy to argue that this is not a life-or-death situation. But when you look at people, what about a private landlord who would be legally able to refuse to rent to someone because of who they love or who they are or the color of their skin or whatever? It's like obviously we know our president is chill with that because he did it, but the idea that this could affect housing or other more fundamental rights, not just can you purchase a cake from someone, is something that they are very, very good at obscuring.

Aminatou: Right. And it's also like all of the places where you could just get really complacent and be like "Well, what if a liberal cake maker doesn't want to make a cake for a homophobe or whatever?"

Ann: "Doesn't want to make a Pepe cake for Richard Spencer?" Yeah.

Aminatou: Right, you don't want to make a Pepe cake or a Nazi cake. And it's like well, the difference between Nazi cake and the homophobe cake and the gay wedding cake is that gay people are historically an oppressed class. [Laughs]

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: And I think about just how evil the right wing is and it's why something like gay conversion therapy is so important to them on the right because they basically want to craft a world in which they're the minority and the rest of us are just like . . . we're the ones that are oppressing them, right? And it's like actually your god is on our money. We celebrate all your holidays. Can we live please? You are the dominant culture.

Ann: You're in charge of literally every institution of power. Yeah. Ugh.

Aminatou: There's a reason that people work on this kind of stuff for years and years and years, because they know eventually they will wear us down and win.

Ann: They're not wearing me down. I'm here. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah. You know what? Fuck that master cake bigot guy. No way.

Ann: Ugh.

[Music and Ads]

Ann: Well, do you want to talk about the further reveal of the creep iceberg? [Laughs] The like receding waters around the . . . the beginning of the backlash?

Aminatou: When will it stop? Who did we get out of the paint since the last time we talked? Oh, Matt Lauer who we famously brought up on this very podcast doesn't have a job anymore.

Ann: Hey, and did you see the news that his slot's going to be taken over by your fav? Did you see this?

Aminatou: By Christiane Amanpour?

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: I know. What an inspired choice. It's like I engineered it myself.

Ann: Ugh, I know.

Aminatou: If I was like an evil media puppeteer this would've been my long game the entire time.

Ann: Ugh. It's kind of a bad long game because of all those people who were harassed by Matt Lauer and whose careers suffered. I don't know that I necessarily see it as justice in any way.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: But I'm like oh, good choice in a bad situation.

Aminatou: It's been very weird to watch all of the morning TV shows and all the panels are all women and I'm like oh, it's because all the guys are harassers and they're not here anymore. This is wild.

Ann: Yeah, totally.

Aminatou: Who else is gone? Charlie Rose is gone.

Ann: Russell Simmons, Charlie Rose. I can't remember if we talked about that before.

Aminatou: No, just all of these bad people. The thing that's been very weird is hearing all these people who work close to these people going "I didn't know!" And I'm like I don't know how to tell you this, Savannah Guthrie, I don't even work at your office and I knew. What's going on?

Ann: Yeah, it's pretty selective.

Aminatou: It is the tip of the creep iceberg, and the only thing that has been encouraging to me about seeing some of these guys lose their jobs, because I'm so skeptical about . . . I'm like in five years they will all have bigger, better jobs. In fact they're probably all plotting in a group thread right now engineered by Bill O'Reilly. But the only thing that's been good about seeing these kind of end-of-career people lose jobs is just this realization that you can shoot your entire legacy in the foot in the last twelve months of your career.

Ann: I mean I hope you're right that it is their entire legacy shot in the foot. Like I really hope that that is what we're talking about here and not a blip between when they have a well-funded mea culpa documentary or comedy album or whatever.

Aminatou: Like Charlie Rose is not coming back, you know?

Ann: I know, but he's old. What about the young ones?

Aminatou: Yeah, he's old. No, this is what I'm saying. I am hoping that this fear of seeing the old guys' lives completely be destroyed is what is going to shame the younger people into realizing there's a problem. But also this . . . we're not even on 0.1% of where this whole movement is going and God only knows where it's going. But I'm just holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ann: There is something about the conversations that I have had with people in my life who are not anti-feminist, I wouldn't say that, but people who are not on the tip of constant feminist rage like the way I am. [Laughs]

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: And having them have a little bit of like . . . not like whoa, I now acknowledge this happens, but like a whoa, you were so mad all those years for a reason. Or like whoa, it really is . . .

Aminatou: Like the Matrix is coming together for them?

Ann: Completely. It's like the creepy dude upside down has always been visible to us, you know? Then watching other people be able to see it has been somewhat satisfying. However it's not lost on me that when it comes to younger people who have been accused of this behavior, like younger men, it's taking a lot longer for those stories to come out. The idea that it's clearly wrong for a figurehead like a Matt Lauer or a Charlie Rose to be harassing and doing horrible things to interns, that feels really clear in this moment, right? Like it's safe to be like old creep, young intern, imbalance of power, you're awful. And I think what I'm waiting to happen is for the stories of men who are harassing their peers, or people who maybe are not their subordinates at work but people they know professionally and the ramifications of that behavior to become known. Because it is not lost on me that like yeah, maybe Charlie Rose will never make anything again, but also Charlie Rose was half an exhale away from retirement anyway.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: And so I'm just waiting for the young ones that I know are out there. I'm waiting for all of my peers who are out there.

Aminatou: [Sighs]

Ann: And then the other thing that's happening is the backlash wave is beginning to crest. I'm not sure exactly what phase we're at. We're starting to see especially this week lots of "Oh, but can men and women even be friends? Why do you want to end friendships?"

Aminatou: Yeah, "Can you still hug your coworkers at work?"

Ann: Oh my god, yeah. "Can you still lovingly pat the butts of only your younger female coworkers at work? Is that okay? Is that not okay anymore? What world are we living in?"

Aminatou: Right. Like we don't know -- first of all women don't know the difference between friendship and actual rape and harassment. Thank you. We're very acutely aware of it. And also I have long maintained this: maybe you shouldn't be hugging people at work and maybe you should save all that shit for your friends. This conversation, it actually drives me bonkers because it's so infantilizing for one, and two, it's done in such bad faith.

Ann: Yeah. The idea that when women sound the alarm or when people sound the alarm that they have been touched in a way that is not okay by them, that is creeping them out and violating their boundaries, that they are somehow making a proclamation that no contact is ever okay. Those are two very, very different things.

Aminatou: Also why are you trying to make contact anyway?

Ann: I just have to say this, if you have ever touched someone in the small of the back in that kind of deliberate way, it's never okay. It is never. Like someone who you are not in a very, very close friendship/probably already sexual relationship with, do not put a gentle hand on the small of anyone's back ever. Ugh.

Aminatou: Yeah. This is infuriating for many reasons, right? It's like I get it, you know? Work is a very fertile ground for meeting your partner and your spouse or whatever. And yes, that is the nature of our economy and how we work. There's a world in which there's nothing wrong with that. But I think that not examining how even a consensual, sexual relationship between two people affects the rest of the office's dynamic is really dishonest.

Ann: You're talking about an article in Slate by Allison Benedikt which I can summarize as getting creeped on at work turned out great for me.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Listen, sometimes it works out.

Ann: A different sort of addition into the "what, now we can't be friendly at work?" genre which says essentially if modern politics relating to behavior in the office, if those had been in place, I wouldn't have met the love of my life. But there are some truly shocking and appalling things in this article. On one hand I'm like fine, people meet at work. I have had relationships with people that I have worked with in the past that have been serious relationships and whatever. The problem of this is being like here is one woman's highly specific experience that she did not find creepy and it's being used to kind of pose the rhetorical question of "Well what if it isn't so bad across the board beyond my personal experience?" There's this part in this, oh my god, I know you were screaming when you read this.

Aminatou: I am doing an internal scream and just holding my breath in.

Ann: Can I please read you a short paragraph?

Aminatou: Please do.

Ann: "It wasn't until years later that John told me that he used to look down the back of my jeans at work. I was surprised -- I guess he had been discrete -- but filed that little nugget away as cute, not creepy. It turns out a long, long time ago he thought I was hot."

Aminatou: [Sighs] You know, it's all about how hot you are or not and that's what really drives your feelings about being harassed at work.

Ann: Practical concern also, this guy was staring at the "back of your jeans." Of course you didn't notice him. He didn't even need to be discrete. He was literally staring at the back of you.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: So there's that which is ridic. Then she also says "I know John wouldn't have punished me at work had I not been interested in his advances."

Aminatou: How do you know that?

Ann: Are you a wizard?

Aminatou: Did somebody else get punished at work because you were in a relationship with someone that's kind of your boss? Like I'm not saying that that's true. I'm saying that it's crazy not to ask those questions.

Ann: Yeah, and then she has a follow-up that says . . .

Aminatou: Yeah. It's like who didn't get opportunities because you were getting opportunities? That's also worth talking about.

Ann: Yeah. I mean and this idea too that, like she says, if he had punished her, if she rejected his advances and he had punished her at work, she said that would've been harassment and not okay. And it's like this idea of I had a highly specific one-off situation which is a hot affair with my boss that I ended up marrying and it ended up being great and now he's a great guy, and I know nothing would've turned out differently, it's like how naïve do you have to be to say I absolutely know it couldn't have gone any other way? [Sighs]

Aminatou: [Sighs] [Laughs] Thank you for sighing with me.

Ann: I'm just like that's all I have for this right now.

Aminatou: Yeah. Also women dying on the hill of defending men has been . . . this has been a very instructive time for me. I can't wait until a lady harasser is outed and no man defends her.

Ann: Oh, definitely not.

Aminatou: I'm like we're going to see how this game is played, but y'all ladies love rehabilitating men. My god. Just let them duke it out. It's fine.

Ann: I just really resent . . . so the headline on this piece is "The upside of office flirtation?" No one has ever argued that every single time there is a non-professional or kind of sexually-charged interaction between two coworkers it's rape. Like that's not a thing that people are saying. And this idea that because you want to end harassment at work you are banning flirtation is, I'm sorry, frankly really crazy to me. No one is reporting a wholly consensual kiss that was kind of awkward with a coequal coworker.

Aminatou: Women are literally coming out twenty years later to tell you they felt uncomfortable about something because we literally don't live in a society where we let you process out loud whether something was right or wrong.

Ann: Totally.

Aminatou: It's so infuriating.

Ann: In talking to friends about this too, the articles like this do not acknowledge the fact that yeah, it actually happens all the time that women have experiences with coworkers or peers -- professional peers -- who make an advance or hit on them or whatever and women say no and reject them and everything is fine. Everything just continues to chug along. Like that happens a lot too. It's not like . . .

Aminatou: Yeah. And also that's exactly the way it should happen. Nobody should get a pat on the back for that.

Ann: Yeah. And I think that this argument in particular, because the man in question was her boss, that's where I'm like how stupid is this person? Conflating office flirtation with your boss making a pass at you is also really . . . I'm sorry, it's a problem. And being able to say it didn't bother me is the most infuriating thing ever. You're not the person who gets to decide for everyone in the workplace ever what involves crossing a line and what is uncomfortable.

Aminatou: And we're still not discussing the fact that we live in a culture that makes it okay for women to be harassed in the numbers that they're harassed at work. Like that we're still not dealing with, you know? But does this mean there's no more making out at the holiday party? It's also really cruel to the women who have come forward to share their stories.

Ann: That's the other thing too. Articles like this have the effect of, without saying it's the fault of women who experience this negatively, that it's on them. Like essentially what's implied here is it went great for me and there are a bunch of caveats like oh, you know, maybe it's not great for everyone. But the overarching effect is to say if you have a problem with it, it's your problem, and you're kind of misreading things and taking it too hard.

Aminatou: Like if you had been a cool, chill girl like me you could've been the coowner of Charlie Rose's townhouse.

Ann: Completely. You're right, this is such cool girl behavior like "Yeah, I love making out with the boss after karaoke. Woo!" You know?

Aminatou: Yeah. And instead, you know, again I'm not saying that you cannot meet the love of your life at work and they're not a decent person but it is highly suspect and honestly cruel to try to universalize your own experience. It's like again you're taking a systemic critique and taking it personally. Nobody cares about your own -- like congratulations that you met somebody at work and it worked out for you. We literally have evidence that for hundreds of thousands of women the opposite is happening to them.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: And nobody is listening to those people.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Well, good luck to everybody who's having a successful office romance.

Ann: [Laughs] Wow.

Aminatou: Mazel tov.


Ann: What else is happening on the creep iceberg?

Aminatou: What else is happening on the creep iceberg is that Terry Crews has been naming names, and you know how I will not die on the hill of defending a man on anything? He is actually one man who I feel has shared his story of harassment and has contextualized it in a way where he was like here are the parallels with what women are going through, here is my own experience, and here is where it intersects with race as well. He's been naming names and talking about his industry's toxic subculture. And it's really been interesting to see how it's not sticking and people are not believing him in the way that they should, and it's very encouraging to see him not back down and it's highly frustrating to see how he is being treated.

Ann: Yeah. And in this case in particular the person assaulted him, essentially an agent named Adam Venit, who I don't know, I don't know anything about Hollywood, whatever, but he represents a bunch of important, big-name people like Diane Keaton, Emma Stone, Eddie Murphy, and Adam Sandler, this agent walks up to Terry Crews and just grabs his genitals straight up. And then when Terry Crews said something to the host of the party which was Adam Sandler nothing happened.

Aminatou: Nothing happened.

Ann: I mean and all these people . . .

Aminatou: And he also in that moment realized he can't do anything because here he is, a big black man, and the optics look bad for him and everything backfires and it becomes his fault if he creates any kind of commotion.

Ann: Right. It's one of those things where the reason you're not hearing the name Adam Venit alongside all these other creeps we've mentioned is because of who he targeted, you know? The answer is he targeted a black man.

Aminatou: The other thing that is frustrating/amusing to watch is how all of these new Internet feminists are going out of their way to praise John Oliver who called out Dustin Hoffman on Dustin Hoffman's own history of harassment during a panel that they were doing. And to be clear I am very happy that John Oliver used his capacity as a journalist to do journalism.

Ann: Wait, he did what now? He did what now?

Aminatou: And he challenged somebody on something that is in the news. But again it's so crazy to me that John Oliver -- like yeah, people . . . I tweeted about this because, yeah, people are going out of their way to be like "Thank you for being brave. Thank you for using your voice," or whatever. I'm going to hit you with two things. One, it was literally just a couple of years ago that Jezebel and friend-of-the-podcast Irin Carmon wrote about The Daily Show's woman problem. And maybe if you were still in college or you weren't reading the Internet or you hadn't gotten to Teen Vogue yet or whatever you did not know that all of the comedy boys did not handle that very well. People were just like there's no structural sexism problem in comedy.

There are more British people in late night TV than there are women still. It's not okay. And John Oliver was one of the people that his response to that was sorely lacking and frankly sexist. I'm glad that seven years later he is awoken enough that he knows more and I'm glad that he's using his voice, but it's like very hard to see people who contribute to a climate of fear for women and a climate of not creating opportunities for women now come out looking like fucking heroes. Like not on my goddamn watch. And also this is the bare minimum that you can do. This is the bare minimum that other men can do is call other men out in their lives who are assholes. This is not the thing that we give them the prize for. This is the floor.

Ann: Yeah. And also just like I think it is fair to continue to ask and say okay, so you've demonstrated that you care about this issue. What are you doing next? Right? Like it's not like . . . it's not punishing someone who does their job and actually asks about something that is the zeitgeist if you say "Huh, okay, well what are you doing in terms of hiring? How are you putting your belief that this is wrong into action in other ways?" You know, I think there's this sense of if we don't praise someone who gets it kind of right then they'll never have any incentive to do good ever again, and I think the opposite is true. I think this is once someone says they care about an issue or care about something, the logical thing is to say how are you living that? You know, that's what I expect of everyone.

Aminatou: Right. And how are you creating opportunities for people who you know are affected by this issue to work in your industry? And I know that anecdotally the writer's room at John Oliver's show is more diverse than most, right? So it's like I know that he gets it. But my god, should you get a pat on the back for it? You know who doesn't get a pat on the back for it? Women who do that work every day. Just let people be grownups. You don't have to go out of your way to create heroes out of people who do regular, decent things. Jesus.

Ann: I mean I understand why it happens though, which is everything is shitty and no one is reacting the way we want them to react to the fact that like, you know, this is decades of justice we're now finally starting to talk about. And so when someone who doesn't have to do it right -- like let's be real, he could continue to have his job if he doesn't do anything -- does do something pretty right, that's why everyone gets so excited. And it's like you just have to decide if you're going to be comfortable with accepting that as the bare minimum or if you want more.

Aminatou: Yeah, I am not accepting the fucking bare minimum of saying that women should be allowed at work. That's crazy.

Ann: Yeah, I know you're not, and neither am I. And I think that there's also something going on too that's like some anger tone policing, right? Of like can't you just be happy about this one good thing? You're angry all the time. Just be happy about this one.

Aminatou: Just smile!

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: You know what? I'll smile about this if all the men who are afraid that they can't flirt at the office now also just smile. We'll all be fine.

Ann: [Laughs] No more lower back touches. Yeah.

Aminatou: Just smile, sweetie. You're doing amazing, sweetie.

Ann: Yeah. What's the matter? Why wouldn't you be smiling today, beautiful?

Aminatou: Oh my god, I love it.

Ann: Yeah. I feel like you're doing amazing, sweetie, is a good note to end on for all of this. [Laughs]

Aminatou: [Laughs] You're doing amazing, sweetie.

Ann: You're doing amazing, sweetie!

Aminatou: I hope Gina plays the audio.

[Clip Starts]

Female: You're doing amazing, sweetie.

[Clip Ends]

Ann: Maybe we just have to end every episode with that from now on because it really is -- it boys me so much.


Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, you can download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcast, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can email us at callyrgf@gmail.com. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at callyrgf. You can subscribe to our monthly newsletter The Bleed on the Call Your Girlfriend website. 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 original music is composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. Our logos are by Kenesha Sneed and this podcast is produced by Gina Delvac. Thanks for being my friend and I will see you very soon on the Internet.

Ann: Ugh, see you on the Internet.

Aminatou: That was a good rant.