Episode 66: Big League Overladies
Published October 28, 2016.
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, a boycott of Ivanka's business, big league versus bigly, a letter to Trump-loving relatives, plus Black Jeopardy, opium-soaked tampons and a teen meninist tweet, good reply to being wiki-leaked and some listener questions including is it wrong to want to only hire women and a baby feminist friend zone dilemma.
Aminatou: Hi! [Laughs]
Ann: Gina's taking a photo of us right now because we are IRL in the same place again.
Aminatou: We're in the same bed. What's up California King?
Ann: I mean is this a California King?
Ann: This feels queeny to me.
Aminatou: That's ludicrous. A third person could fit in this bed.
Ann: How are you doing in these last days of the election?
Aminatou: When Gina got here I told her that I've been at "See you next Tuesday" for 72 hours.
Ann: You mean a charisma uniqueness nerve and talent? (?)
Aminatou: Yes, woman. I am stressed out. Not just about the election; about life in general. But, you know, I was watching MSNBC all day today.
Ann: Okay, that's your first problem, watching cable news all day.
Aminatou: Listen, it was just in the background, but every time Chris Matthews came on he always said "The election is in two weeks plus two days" and he got really excited about it. And I was like you know what? Chris Matthews, you're right. Almost at the finish line.
Ann: That's because Chris Matthews gets a vacation or whatever at the end of those two weeks.
Aminatou: Chris Matthews just loves elections. He's been here since like the first one we ever had.
Ann: It's true, as a hologram.
Aminatou: Do you know what Chris Matthews' favorite movie is?
Ann: Is this like a knock knock joke that I'm supposed to know?
Aminatou: So it's Love, Actually and he legit finds a way to work it in into every single thing. Talking to Valerie Jarrett, "You know my favorite movie, Love, Actually." He'll be talking to a TSA official and he's like "You know in my favorite movie, Love, Actually, in the airport . . ." Like he talks about it once a week.
Ann: I can't handle that.
Aminatou: Now you know my dirty secret of watching cable news at 5 p.m. every day.
Ann: Not as dirty as Chris Matthews' secret about Love, Actually.
Aminatou: [Laughs] Love, Actually is a great movie. I'm not going to die on this hill but yes.
Ann: I was like I don't know. I mean . . .
Aminatou: There's a lot I was going to reveal, but I'm like you know what? I'm not going there. I'm suffering.
Ann: I defend Love, Actually in a like hung-over, not going to change the channel, settle for it kind of way.
Aminatou: I love Love, Actually. It's one of the very first movies I saw in the United States with my own money.
Ann: Even the creepy guy? With his friend's wife?
Aminatou: I'm like first of all which one?
Ann: That is -- okay, there are so many creepy subplots in Love, Actually.
Aminatou: Yeah, exactly. There's only creepy subplots. The only good subplot is the porno people one.
Ann: Sure, sure. Okay, fine. But that's like one plot out of many creepy -- like dude shows up on your porch, declares his love after you've done nothing.
Aminatou: Yeah, obviously. Welcome to shitty rom-coms. Not defending the genre; I'm just telling you me and Chris Matthews have good taste. [Laughs]
Ann: Okay. I'm not hating.
Aminatou: We're cutting all of this off. I'm not talking about Love, Actually.
Aminatou: Okay, what's going on this week Ann?
Ann: Well, I am really excited that Ivanka is finally seeing some backlash in a real way.
Aminatou: She's the most dangerous surrogate Trump has because she keeps pretending that she's not doing anything bad.
Ann: Are you starting to regret -- I was thinking about this -- our Ivanka's dad construct, placing more importance on Ivanka who is the most dangerous person?
Aminatou: I don't regret it, one, because I think it's a good joke, and two . . . [Laughs] Two, we were operating on limited information, okay? Who is it that said -- was it Maya Angelou, Dr. Maya Angelou as everyone calls her, who said "When people show you who they are, believe them?"
Ann: I thought that was an Oprah quote.
Aminatou: No, Oprah . . .
Ann: That is frequently attributed to Oprah I have to say.
Aminatou: Yeah, because Oprah is always quoting her own mentor.
Aminatou: I'm pretty sure it's Dr. Maya Angelou. But yeah, it's like when people show you who they are believe them. Ivanka has shown us that she's a monster so I believe her now. Here's my main problem with her, besides the fact that she's like the surrogate of a racist, xenophobic, homophobic candidate, she pushes that fake empowerment stuff. You know, it's like her brand is essentially sheet dresses for women who go to work and cocktail parties.
Ann: Oh, totally. Shoes that are definitely going to give you blisters by hour four.
Aminatou: Totally, like that thing. And then she pushes this like "I'm a working mom but I work and here is all this stuff." And it's like well, that's all well and good but she lied spectacularly about her father's position on childcare and then tried to stay that Hillary Clinton doesn't care about childcare and then lost.
Ann: And then got very angry when it was pointed out to her that all people who need parental leave are not women who've just given birth. Maybe there's other people.
Aminatou: Totally. It's so telling that there's one party in this country that thinks that only mothers need to recover from birth and that there's not another way to be a parent.
Aminatou: Or to get help for it. But also she's just fundamentally dishonest. And so my feeling about this is it was cute while it lasted. I hope her entire empire turns into ashes and there's nothing left because she's a dishonest person.
Ann: Well, so there is a woman who is organizing a boycott of Ivanka Trump's work wear brand and all of the many mostly department stores but also places like Amazon and Zappos that carry all of her stuff.
Aminatou: I support this 100%. You will not catch me dead in an Ivanka dress so I have nothing to boycott. [Laughs] But what you wear and where you shop, it's part of the story of who you are. So I hope that it will hurt her in the wallet because she's hurting people where it matters to them.
Ann: That's right. The campaign is called Grab Your Wallet.
Aminatou: Oh my god, so like grab them by the pussy but grab them by the wallet.
Ann: Grab Ivanka at least by the wallet.
Aminatou: That's right.
Ann: No mention of boycotting her dad's hotels although one has to assume that if you are boycotting Ivanka's shoes you're also not staying at her dad's hotel. But it's pretty amazing. They asked Ivanka's chief brand manager, which can you imagine a worse job right now than Ivanka's chief brand manager? Whew. They asked her about the boycott campaign and she sent a statement to The Guardian that said "We are proud that our business is growing rapidly and that our brand resonates strongly with women who are inspired by our messaging and excited about the polished and chic solution-oriented products that we offer."
Ann: Like you know what is a polished and chic solution-oriented . . .
Ann: Yeah! Well, and also I was going to say not having a misogynist assaulting president. Like that's a pretty polished and chic solution for me.
Aminatou: Ugh, it's so true. Also two different things that I was reading about this week that made me really happy. So the Trump hotel brands is opening a hotel for . . . like they're doing a chain for millenials.
Ann: Oh my god, what is it called?
Aminatou: A lot of hotel brands have been doing this now. There's one for Marriott and a couple other places. But it's not going to have Trump in the name.
Ann: Of course. Of course.
Aminatou: Young people aren't going to live there. And then there was this amazing article . . .
Ann: Bigly Suites, is that what it's going to be called?
Aminatou: Oh my god, I'm going to come back to bigly in a little bit. But the other thing is there is this article -- I think it was in the New York Times, I should go back and find it -- about all of the people in New York who live in those Trump buildings.
Ann: Oh, yeah.
Aminatou: And just how terrible they feel and so much shame, and they were down there talking to a doorman and even the doorman is like "Ugh, it's bleak out here."
Ann: But it's also such a bad time to offload your Trump properties. Let's be real.
Aminatou: No, yeah, there's nothing to be done about it. Okay, I want to go back to the Trump word bigly. Here's the problem: is it bigly or is it big league?
Ann: Bigly. Bigly is a real word.
Aminatou: No, but which one is Trump saying? This is like a huge, controversial thing right now. We don't know if he's saying bigly or big league.
Ann: Are you saying this is a transcription issue that when people write down his stuff he really means . . .
Aminatou: Totally, and he's so incoherent that it doesn't matter which one he's saying. That's not what brings clarity to the statement.
Aminatou: But in all of his hash tags . . .
Ann: Oh my god, sorry, I just Googled this and the New York Times headline is "Yes, Trump is releasing big league, not bigly."
Ann: According to linguists.
Aminatou: Yeah, my linguistics friend is who alerted me to this. She's like it's not bigly; it's big league. Yeah.
Ann: Yes, doing the goddess's work.
Aminatou: And I was like what are you talking about? And she's like there was something in the way . . . I don't even know about linguistics. I took one class in college. I dropped it after four days. It was too hard.
Ann: I mean, wow, okay.
Aminatou: Yeah. Wow, right?
Aminatou: Yeah, Trump is saying big league. Because whenever he tweets it he's always like "Hillary, #bigleaguelie. #bigleaguetruther." This is a whole thing.
Ann: But this is what happens when you're not coherent anyway.
Aminatou: Yeah, it doesn't matter that you've been saying one word wrong the whole time.
Ann: It just becomes like Mad Libs, you know? Of inserting . . .
Aminatou: It's crazy, I also went back and I was reading a couple of his old interviews, like a couple of Playboy ones he did or whatever. And in the transcripts of them he doesn't have all those linguistic ticks that he has now. So I'm like is this because you used to be more tightly-edited so nobody noticed there were all these non sequiturs? Or is he actually slowly losing his mind and that's why he's talking like a crazy person?
Ann: Okay. Sorry, here's an example I just read. Okay, here's a Trump quote about immigration where he says "We're going to speed up the process bigly." We're going to speed up the process big league.
Aminatou: Big league. Yes. [Laughs]
Ann: That doesn't even make sense.
Aminatou: Yeah, but name another Trump sentence that makes sense, you know what I'm saying?
Ann: Ugh. No, you're right. The problem is I'm holding this to a different standard than it can actually plausibly be held to. [Sighs]
Aminatou: It's so serious. I was talking to my therapist about Trump the other day because it was just one of those days where I was like ugh, I hate how much mental energy I've spent on this person. And then he told me that he's actually seeing this in all of his patients. He's like this is the number one thing that I'm talking about with most people.
Ann: There was also a New York Times article about this.
Aminatou: Ugh, always late on the trend story Amina.
Ann: No, but I think maybe the New York Times is behind you on both of these things.
Aminatou: No, but it was so real, and I was like this is making me really, really, really sad that it's gotten to that point. And he was telling me that he's hearing it a lot from parents of small children, he's hearing it a lot from teenagers, and after the third debate just a lot of people had -- especially people who were sexually assaulted or who had . . .
Ann: Of course, yeah.
Aminatou: All kinds of things happen to them, were really distraught over it. And I was like how can one person take up so much space in our eyes?
Ann: Terrorize an entire country? It happens.
Aminatou: [Sighs] He's the worst. The actual worst.
Aminatou: It's like good thing they're from New York and so the sons, like Udey and Kusey, can never run for office. Because if they were from Wichita or some weirdo real America place it's like those two dummies would be shoe-ins for senators.
Ann: Right. Drumpf dynasty.
Ann: Picture them with the big beards.
Aminatou: Oh man. I don't know, grow a pair. Like call out things that are wrong when they're wrong in real time. Don't die on the hill of Ivanka Trump and her dad. That's ridiculous.
Ann: It's true. I don't know, I could have this conversation all day too because you can feel like the stakes are really low when it comes to -- to use that Thanksgiving example -- like privately calling out your racist relatives. It feels like okay, what good does it really do? I think about this a lot, like people in my family, some of whom have been divorced out, thank god.
Aminatou: Wow. Divorce and jail. That's the way that god uses to get rid of bad people in your life. [Laughs]
Ann: Listen, I was like I feel like I knew first, you know? One of those things. But anyway there were some very prominent examples of this where I can say that I could've chosen to be a low-key Ivanka. And it's kind of hard. You know, I don't know that if she were to speak out against him or to totally disassociate herself, if that ultimately does a lot to end his chances at the presidency or whatever. But it's like put yourself on the right side of history, you know what I mean?
Aminatou: Put yourself on the right side of history, but also she has a big platform.
Ann: Oh totally, totally. And that's also how I feel in a more subtle, like dialed down into just family dynamics way. It's like okay, yeah, I'm not going to convince this openly racist relative to change their mind about the world. However at least I will know I said something, or at least for my other relatives I've modeled that this is not super cool. I don't know.
Aminatou: Yeah. It's like remember that one lesbian Cheney daughter?
Aminatou: Who's always telling her family they're trash.
Aminatou: Is it Mary or the other one?
Ann: Mary. What up?
Aminatou: Yeah, she gets it. Also my friend Zack wrote a really good piece at Mike -- he's a reporter at Mike and he's great -- his mother's black and his father is white so there are people on the white side of his family that are Trump supporters including an aunt that he knows loves him and his sister dearly. And he's watched her Facebook devolve into this Trumpkin territory. And he wrote her a very real letter that was like "Here is what it feels like to me and my sister when you show support for him," because when Zack's parents got married his grandfather disowned his dad. So a lot of Trump supporters actually do have black people in their families and also that's a thing that we can all bond over. But Zack's piece about it was very sweet and eye-opening. It gave me hope for how people can talk to people in their family because the other thing about the election is we're always fighting and you forget that oh, we know these people. [Laughs] They're not . . . all of the people you disagree with politically are not strangers to you; they're people in your life. That's why I really liked the Black Jeopardy skit on SNL this week.
Aminatou: You know I don't fuck with SNL but I watched SNL for like the second time in my life and I was really happy that I got to see that. The sketch was great in that it created -- it's like Tom Hanks was this Trump supporter who was playing Black Jeopardy with two other black women and they realized that they have more in common than not, because shocker, white people with economic anxiety at the bottom of the class rung, they actually do have a lot in common with black people. But the sketch itself was really funny, but that point that it made, it's like yes, this is a really important thing to show that it's true.
Ann: Yeah, especially also at this stage when it's like everything about the election kind of provokes this ugh feeling in me. I feel like I'm running out of ways to meaningfully engage, not so much with how do we make sure that Ivanka's dad is not our president, that kind of engagement, but engaging with people who just fundamentally believe different things than I do when it comes to the world. It's a real reminder to keep doing that.
Aminatou: Like that's the thing about Ivanka's dad that is scary is everything that he says is not true and then you realize that a ginormous chunk of this country is just tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists. And that's a hard thing to be able to discuss or find consensus on or even see the humanity in someone and want to engage with them.
Ann: It's true, but friend-of-the-podcast Stacy Wood studies conspiracy theories and went to a conference for academics who study conspiracy theories recently. She told me a lot of interesting things about it but then sent me down a reading spiral about many of the underpinnings of who are the types of people who are likely to believe a conspiracy theory and essentially kind of to your point about that Jeopardy sketch is to buy a conspiracy theory the system has to have failed you. In some way a core belief that you had about the way the world should work didn't actually turn out that way.
Aminatou: Yeah, but then wouldn't that mean that most poor people would be conspiracy or all black people?
Ann: I mean . . .
Aminatou: Oh, all black people are conspiracy theorists. I walk back.
Ann: I cannot be the one to say that.
Aminatou: I walk back this entire statement and this entire logic. I'm not going there. [Laughs] The Plan, hash tag.
Ann: All I'm saying is there are levels of conspiracy theorists obviously. But I guess I'm trying to say . . .
Aminatou: No, I believe you.
Ann: It gave me a compassion for the type of person who would find just outrageous lies somewhat plausible when they're tied together in this compelling narrative.
Aminatou: No, I hear that, and now I'm just thinking about all my uncles who believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories. [Laughs]
Ann: I like how you were about to tell me about like . . .
Aminatou: Yeah, I was going to be like actually we are blameless. And then I was like wait, I definitely grew up in a conspiracy theory home, but culturally approved.
Ann: Right. And I grew up in a home where people had a lot of faith in systems and government and had never been fundamentally wronged by a lot of stuff and definitely were not believing in conspiracy theories. It totally holds up, which is not an excuse for rampant racism or believing lies, or you know what I mean? I'm not trying to excuse it. I just feel like it helped me tap into some compassion and understanding.
Aminatou: Yeah, somebody's got to have compassion for those lunatics.
Ann: I mean they're still going to live in America after this election.
Aminatou: Not after we have a woman president.
Aminatou: When we have women overlords and we sent everybody to Gulag. [Laughs]
Ann: I mean . . .
Aminatou: This is a thing people are genuinely afraid of. They're like when the women are in charge, and I'm like yeah.
Ann: Right. But it's like how -- and I don't even know which comedian or which organizer to attribute this to, but that whole "Oh, you don't want to switch places with black people in America? Maybe you don't think they have it so great? What do you think is going to happen when they're in charge of you?" Like that's the matriarchy now of fears. It's like what do you think overladies . . . oh, they're going to do what now?
Aminatou: I know. Friend-of-the-podcast Jumelle Booey (?) had a really funny joke about this. He just recently deleted all his tweets. I'm so mad I never screen capped it, it was so good. This was a while ago and I tweeted an observation about maybe the reason that white people are so anxious about being called racist or racism charges is they think we'll do the same thing to them that they did to us.
Aminatou: And he was like "Yeah, they think it's going to be some sort of Chad Crow situation."
Aminatou: I lost my mind at Chad Crow and I'm so upset that it does not live in the world anymore.
Ann: It's true.
Aminatou: But yeah, you know, it's like we don't have time for this.
Ann: If you don't want to switch places with someone ask some deeper questions.
Aminatou: Make it better. But you know what? Can't wait for our lady overlords.
Aminatou: Our overladies. It's going to be amazing. Some people are definitely getting sent to Gulag. [Laughs]
Ann: You cannot joke. I'm sorry but I cannot even laugh at a matriarchy Gulag joke right now.
Aminatou: You know what? You don't want to laugh but you go to the same meetings that I go to.
Ann: I cannot even believe.
Aminatou: I am just joking, okay? This is like one big elaborate joke. Please don't arrest me.
Ann: Good thing this is a king-sized bed. I can put some distance.
Aminatou: It's like NSA, don't come for me. Trump, don't come for me. It's just jokes. Putin, if you're listening, we do this podcast in the original Russian and just translate through.
Ann: Putin, if you're listening while shirtless on a horse call us.
Aminatou: [laughs] Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: Call your girlfriends.
Aminatou: Oh my god, you put in the vagenda, the vagina agenda, a.k.a. where we put . . .
Ann: The links to discuss.
Aminatou: The links to discuss, Ann put in this incredible link titled Opium-Soaked Tampons Were the Midol of Ancient Rome. Midol is not that strong so yes please to opium-soaked tampons.
Ann: If only Midol were a powerful hallucinogenic that was sold over-the-counter and we were all allowed to take it five days a month.
Aminatou: Oh my god, being a woman is so hardcore. Can you imagine just ancient Rome baths? You're like "Yo, do you have some opium for my vagina right now?" [Laughs]
Ann: Okay, so get this.
Aminatou: Tell me.
Ann: Early tampons. "Early tampons, apparently on display at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum" -- did not know about that -- "were soaked in opium and belladonna," which apparently is not just a Stevie Nicks album from the '70s, "is something that was there to dilate and relax the vagina."
Aminatou: Dilate and relax the vagina. Huh.
Ann: Stevie, of course. So I don't know, basically it's a tampon and a suppository at the same time?
Aminatou: Oh my god.
Ann: The practice goes back to ancient Egypt.
Aminatou: I am so down for this. Make America great again. Bring back opium-soaked tampons.
Ann: Okay, when we have an overlady I do feel like opium-soaked over-the-counter tampons are going to be high on my government vagenda.
Aminatou: Oh my god, this is such a tangent, but did you read the story last week or maybe a week ago about some British teen? He was mad about all of the tampon tax stuff and he was like "If women can't hold it until they go to the bathroom I don't understand. I don't understand why we're paying for this." [Laughs]
Ann: Oh my god, and I thought American sex ed. was bad.
Aminatou: Oh my god, I was like dawg, it's not like diarrhea. We're not just running around. I should find the story because in and of itself it's funny.
Ann: I just Googled British teen tampon tax.
Aminatou: Oh my god. Okay, so it was a British teen. Yeah, he went on a rant. It was so good.
Ann: Yeah, tells women to "Control their bladders."
Aminatou: Yeah, and look at him, he looks like MattyBRaps except not as cute.
Ann: Is this something that's just for British tabloid clicks?
Aminatou: We're failing our children. We're just failing our children. Why do you not know this? Yeah.
Ann: He says people have sent him death threats though -- I don't endorse that -- just because he doesn't understand anatomy. But aren't you just grateful sometimes? I mean I know we were never as foolish as this teenager, but aren't you just so grateful you didn't have Twitter when you were a teenager?
Aminatou: No, I would've never been this foolish. This doesn't apply to me. Ann, come on, this is a bridge too far.
Ann: [Laughs] I'm just saying.
Aminatou: It is a tampon too far.
Ann: I'm just saying I didn't have very good sex ed. either.
Aminatou: I didn't have good sex ed., but you know the difference between you and that teen is you don't think that your opinion is so important that the entire world needs to know it.
Ann: I don't know, I kind of make my living giving my opinions to the entire world. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah, now, you know what I'm saying? Now.
Ann: But that tendency was always there.
Aminatou: No, okay, if I'm perfectly honest it is true I am glad we did not live in the time of the Internet because one of the things the Internet does that annoys me is we don't allow people to change their minds and to evolve in their views.
Aminatou: Like obviously that's real. But you know who I'm not also going to die on a hill for? A kid that's a fucking meninist. No. I'm sorry, I just . . .
Ann: Update from The Daily Mail, meninist has been dumped.
Ann: Oh no, the meninist's last tweet was "I'll do anything to win my girl back." And the comments are like "You know she has a period too, right?" And somebody else says "She's peeing blood in this photo."
Aminatou: What's going on in Wikileaks Ann?
Ann: Oh my god. [Laughs] Do you really want to talk about this?
Aminatou: Oh, I thought you want to talk about this link. That's it.
Ann: Sure, but the question "What's going on in Wikileaks?" has some other implications for this family.
Aminatou: Oh yeah, I didn't even think about that. Sorry.
Ann: That's all right.
Aminatou: Yeah, I'm being wiki-leaked right now.
Ann: I know. You have been wiki-leaked.
Aminatou: You know, your girl's in a Wikileak dump. [Laughs]
Ann: I mean, okay, I have to say I know that this has not been super pleasant but I also have to say . . .
Aminatou: No, it's been awful.
Ann: I know. I know.
Aminatou: Okay, let's explain to the people what's going on.
Ann: Please do.
Aminatou: So Wikileaks is a website started by Julian Assange -- I just wanted to say his name. You guys know what the fuck Wikileaks is. Your girl was named in one of the Wikileaks emails so my life has been hell for the last however many days because I was on a random press list according to . . .
Ann: A Clinton campaign press list.
Aminatou: A Clinton campaign press list.
Ann: During the primary.
Aminatou: That's right. Shout out to myself. But apparently . . .
Ann: Seriously, this is a big lifetime achievement I feel.
Aminatou: Yeah, you know what I'm saying? But can't enjoy it because, you know . . .
Ann: People don't want to let you be great.
Aminatou: Because I'm a corporate whore now according to many Bernie supporters who, one, I cannot believe how still upset they are. But also, two, I want to be really clear with the fact that there is nothing wrong for campaigns to talk to people. Like there is literally nothing wrong in that. Some people on the list were reporters who clearly are doing their jobs. I am not a reporter or a media person.
Ann: You are a media person, just not in the way they are.
Aminatou: I guess now I'm a media person. What's up?
Ann: Yeah. You were during the primary too but not in the same way as a reporter.
Aminatou: Sure. Sure.
Ann: I mean, seriously though, you're like a public person.
Aminatou: I'm not a journalist. I'm not a journalist and I'm entitled to my own opinions and that's why also I literally did nothing wrong.
Ann: Oh my god, yes.
Aminatou: But just because I was named on this list a lot of men have come after me on the Internet and tried to ruin my life. But you know what? It's okay, because I don't see a lot of it. But I've been really surprised at the fact that this is still going on in the sense that there is a serious faction of people on the Internet, whatever political affiliation that they have, who spend a huge part of their day just making women and people of color's lives really, really, really difficult. It is so crazy how gendered and racialized that abuse can be, because I was clearly not the only person on that list, and to see the way the hatred has manifested is very eye-opening. Like I said, your girl got wiki-leaked. [Laughs]
Ann: I know. And I don't mean to downplay -- I mean it is sort of a very cool life achievement to be like oh, I am connected . . .
Aminatou: I mean not really. It's like you were in somebody's email.
Ann: No, no, no, but the fact that . . . I don't know. There are way worse things to be known for than I took a phone call with a candidate I really support and believe in.
Ann: However the fallout is like I have friends. I read the Internet. I know that these things happen.
Ann: But it's like it is -- it's truly shocking, thinking about the Lindy West or Mary Beard approach of trying to engage people who are saying such terrible, hateful things, that starts to feel all the more incomprehensible to me the closer that I am to it.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, it's like to me, just to go back to the campaigning aspect of it, it's like do we really need to teach this in civics? Like here's how elections work and here's how politics work. Because here's the thing, if somebody dumped the Bernie campaign emails they would be just as harsh. What is the Clinton campaign's sin? Is it trying to win an election? You know, that's what you're supposed to do. This is what people do professionally. But just people who are on the fringes of political movement who think they're very purist and they don't know what's going on, it's like no, it's a game and everybody plays the same game and people play to win. I don't quite understand what the actual issue is. I was like if you have real information that the press was colluding with campaigns in really real ways then of course we should discuss journalist malpractice but that's not what's happening here.
Ann: Right. This is some opinion writers.
Aminatou: Yeah, it's opinion writers. And it's also the thing where it's like guess what? If you're writing a story about somebody you should probably email them or call them to get a comment from them or to get a quote. You know what I mean? I don't understand quite what the accusation is and what people are upset about.
Ann: Yeah. And then there's also this bigger issue. I know you probably saw Lawrence Lessig's response?
Aminatou: Oh, yeah. Saint Lawrence, he finally -- I think his response was spot on.
Aminatou: This leak is a leak of John Podesta's private email account, first of all.
Ann: Who is John Podesta, Amina?
Aminatou: John Podesta, he's the founder of the Center for American Progress. I'm like who is John Podesta?
Ann: Right. And now Hillary's campaign chair.
Aminatou: Yeah, and now he's Hillary's campaign chair. But this is genuinely his private Gmail account where he is conducting business. Some of these emails were from when Hillary lost in 2008.
Ann: Yeah, it's his Gmail address.
Aminatou: Yeah. So it's like imagine if you were a private citizen and your email got dumped, it's like what does that mean? All the people that you've ever talked about or the people who have emailed you, their privacy is also being compromised. And private email dumps are not in the public interest. It's like that's the whole point of these sites that say they do government transparency is we need to see how some of the sausage is made. But in this case it's really gross what is happening.
Ann: Right. It's not like oh my god, this has revealed a vast wrongdoing or conspiracy. It's really the kind of mundane stuff that is in a lot of private emails.
Aminatou: That everybody emails about.
Ann: So there's this one exchange between John Podesta and Neera Tanden who now runs the Center for American Progress about Lawrence Lessig who is a Harvard professor.
Aminatou: Who ran for president.
Ann: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And in their exchange they say to each other -- Neera says "I fucking hate that guy," about Lessig, and John Podesta calls him smug or pompous. Anyway, they say not nice things about him. And Lawrence Lessig responded on his blog and he basically says "I'm a big believer in links for the public interest. That's why I support Edward Snowden and why I believe the president should pardon him. But I can't for the life of me see the public good in a leak like this, at least one that reveals no crime or violation of any important public policy. We all deserve privacy. The burdens of public service are insane enough without the perpetual threat that every thought shared with a friend becomes Twitter fodder." And then he goes on to basically say "I respect the work of these people and don't scream at them because of what they had to say to me."
Aminatou: In the private conversations that you have with your friends, saying like "I fucking hate that guy," it's not the same thing. You know what I mean? It's like people should be allowed to have private and personal thoughts. I bet you there are people who work in the White House right now who fucking hate Obama and they're there and they talk about it.
Ann: Which is fine. Who hasn't had a boss that you're like they're smart but I kind of hate them?
Aminatou: No, it's totally okay. But I guess the thing that makes me really upset about this kind of information being public is what's going to happen when somebody leaks a media organization's email? Sources are revealed and just really actually consequential stuff. This is where we're heading, where it's going to start happening more to corporations, it's going to start happening more to media people, and it'll be awful. And also it's like what is it like walking around every day knowing the entire contents of your Gmail can get doxed one day? For me at least it is definitely changing the way that I email with people. But even the most innocent, innocuous things can be interpreted badly.
Ann: Oh, totally. And also just think about the sheer volume in your own inbox in trying to pull out one email and deciding what it means for an election or for a business or for a political issue. The answer is you don't know. It's like one tiny . . . also think about how many emails you had where it's like two sentences in an email then you follow-up with three other conversations where the email thread doesn't have anything in it. It's also without context. You know, people trying to think they can use it to tell a complete story about anything is pretty crazy.
Ann: I don't know. I'm sorry that happened to you.
Aminatou: It's okay. Your girl got wiki-leaked. I'm going to just keep saying that. Yeah, it sucks. You know who else got wiki-leaked though?
Aminatou: Our girl Huma. What's up? Shout-out to Huma. And you know what? Here's what I will say about John Podesta's inbox: that man is highly professional. It's like if the worst thing people can accuse you of is running a tight campaign and having a bomb-ass risotto recipe then you are fine. [Laughs] But the specter of emails is going to keep following the Clinton campaign forever and ever and ever. I never want to hear the word email in connection with elections ever again.
Ann: I mean, I don't know, and this is also one of those things where you're like yeah, sometimes a leak is in the public interest when you're talking about people colluding to send thousands of Americans into a war that they couldn't really justify. There are things I do feel are justifiable in terms of making them a big deal because they are a big deal.
Ann: But the timing of this too, it's just like in this stage of the election trying to find . . . I don't know, everything is a big story right now. That's kind of how it feels.
Aminatou: That's crazy, but it's also so telling that Ivanka's dad is so bananaroos that even these email dumps . . . it's news but they're not as big of news as they could be.
Aminatou: So we're doing okay. Stop leaking people's emails.
Ann: Private email, apparently a privilege, not a right.
Ann: Do you want to take a listener question?
Aminatou: Yes. Do you have one ready?
Ann: I do have one ready. I'll read it to you.
Aminatou: Tell us.
Ann: Okay. "Hi Amina and Ann. Like all good feminists I know that the 'friend zone' was invented by butt-hurt dudes who can't handle rejection."
Aminatou: Can we discuss the word butt-hurt for two seconds?
Ann: I find it kind of homophobic.
Aminatou: It's very offensive.
Ann: Yeah. This person says "Like all good feminists I know that the 'friend zone' is utter crap. However a friend of mine is really hurting after confessing his feelings to a girl and being rejected. Obviously this happens all over the world all the time, but she has continued allowing him to fill the role of a boyfriend and behaving in a way that is making it harder for him to move on."
Aminatou: Oh boy.
Ann: Just wait. I'm not even done. Let me finish the question.
Aminatou: Oh boy.
Ann: "This girl has somewhat of a posse of such boys all being allowed to think they have a shot with her, but I don't think she is leading them on maliciously. She honestly seems to believe that all these relationships are plutonic but hasn't made any change after realizing she's hurting people. As a baby feminist I'm torn between wanting to support the female tendency to under perceive romantic advances and put this down to a male notion of friend zoning, and between seeing this girl continue to reap the benefits of my friend's suffering. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this."
Aminatou: Oh my god, so much to unpack. What are your feelings?
Ann: I feel strongly that the language about the assumption she's making about what this other woman is and isn't doing and why are quite telling. Like the descriptions of she has continued allowing him to fill the role of a boyfriend and behaving in a way that's making it harder for him to move on, I mean a lot of that I think is like . . . I mean I have to assume that he confessed his feelings and she said "No, I don't want to be in a romantic relationship with you."
Aminatou: And he still showed up.
Ann: And he still keeps showing up. And it's like I don't really see how this is this other woman doing something nefarious and awful.
Aminatou: You know, like Mom Oprah says, you get the love that you think you deserve so that's one thing.
Ann: Are you sure that's Oprah or Dr. Maya Angelou?
Aminatou: No, that's 100% Oprah. I know this because I wrote it down in my journal.
Ann: Post-it note on the bathroom window.
Aminatou: Totally, you know? It's like obviously this person is coming from a place of all of these men are her friends so she feels very fondly towards them. And yes obviously we all want to protect our friends, but you can't have it both ways. You can't discuss the friend zone that your friends have been put into and then say that the other person is the reason that they're continuously stepping into the friend zone. It's like if you get friend zoned once and somebody is still -- let's say they're actually leading you on, because that's another thing that is true.
Ann: It can happen.
Aminatou: It does happen. It's like people are like "I don't want to be with you," then they lead you on. Whose responsibility is it to stop the cycle? You have to do that for yourself. You know, everybody feels some type of way about their own romantic life and that's fine.
Ann: And their friends for sure.
Aminatou: And their friends for sure. But I think that in this particular case the blame cannot unilaterally fall on this woman. It's like it takes two to make those kinds of situations happen and if she is in fact leading them on then it's your friend's responsibility to get out of that cycle for themselves and not feel used and not feel bad. And, you know, sometimes that just takes time. It doesn't mean that you can't be friends with somebody after that but if you clearly have very strong romantic feelings for them it's going to take a while before you can be real friends.
Ann: Yeah. I mean almost everyone is going to need a little bit of distance between hearing intellectually "You don't want to date me" and being able to actually behave platonically and not continuing to want that. I mean I think also a thing that's going on here is she says "as a baby feminist" a few times, and definitely as a baby feminist and kind of as a feminist in general there are things that are easy to understand in big, conceptual ways. Like the friend zone is kind of a bullshit term. But then when it comes to the people you care about, like you were saying, it's a lot harder to connect those thoughts. And I think in this situation honestly it seems like this woman is not really part of her world at all. She's friends with this guy in the situation. Okay, so then she has to ask the question of what does it mean for her to be a good friend to him? Maybe pointing out hey, it seems like it's difficult for you to be friends with this other woman. Or how are you supporting your friend as opposed to how are you demeaning or criticizing this other woman?
Aminatou: Criticizing this other woman, yeah.
Ann: Who it sounds like you haven't actually spoken to directly or are not friends with directly. You're just kind of making a lot of assumptions about what she does or doesn't want. So I think it's concentrate on being a good friend to your friend and . . .
Aminatou: It's like your responsibility and your care is towards your friend. You don't have the full picture to know what's going on and you can't make a value judgment on this other woman just because dudes hang around her. That probably says more about those dudes than it says about her, you know?
Aminatou: It's not a fair thing to pit her against, I don't know, feminist practice and use that as . . . you know what I mean? And use that as a way to discredit what she's doing. Like not everything has to rise to that level of scrutiny.
Ann: Right. So as a baby feminist be a good friend to your friend and you don't need to weigh in on whether or not this other woman's behavior is good or bad or anything. Just concentrate on asking your friend good questions about the other relationships in their life and whether they are hurtful or fulfilling or what. And I think that the answer is in that. Yeah. And you're right it's not all about high-level concepts like the friend zone.
Aminatou: I know. Friend zone is bullshit though. Way to identify that.
Ann: It is true. It is true.
Aminatou: Good looking out, baby feminist. Good looking out.
Ann: Although she is right. It's usually used in sort of a gender . . . the genders are usually flipped when that term is used.
Aminatou: Yeah. I know, which is why honestly I'm making this criticism of is it really a feminist thing and do you feel that way because it's the woman that's in that position? You know what I mean? In the position of being the rejecter constantly.
Ann: Yeah, it's exhausting.
Aminatou: It is exhausting. So lonely at the top. [Laughs] Okay. Good luck to you, baby feminist, and tell your friend to get a hobby. Do other things.
Ann: Oh my god, yeah.
Aminatou: It's true.
Ann: Do you want to read the next question?
Aminatou: "Hi ladies! I'm such a fan of the podcast. Here's a question for you. For the first time in my career I'm hiring people and building my own team. Is it wrong to only want to hire women? [Laughs] I think this feeling stems from a mix of wanting to surround myself with other badass ladies but I also might be afraid of managing men. I work in the tech industry so part of me is also repelled by the idea of hiring another tech bro to join our team. Is this reverse sexism? I don't quite believe that exists but it's the most succinct way to express myself. Thank you. Keep on being awesome." You're awesome, lady. I won't say your name. But you are the awesome one.
Ann: [Laughs] I love this question.
Aminatou: I know, I love this question. Here's my feeling about this in general. I have also hired a lot of women when I have been a hiring manager, and here's the deal: obviously I'm not hiring women over men, even though once we have overladies that's what everybody is afraid is going to happen. But I do think that especially when you are in an industry like me in tech it's really . . . for me it was really important whenever I was hiring to make sure that there was always a woman candidate that was in the final pool because to me it spoke more to we did our job in recruiting and looking for strong candidates. If it ever came down to like there's only three people, it's down to the wire, it's like two or three people, if I didn't have a person of color or a woman I always felt like I had to go back to the drawing board because it meant we had not worked hard enough in figuring out the candidate pool.
That said, it's like hire the best person for the job. But if pound-for-pound the resumes are the same, the people can do the same, you're like it's the same cultural fit, clearly it is nice to hire a woman for that position. But I don't think that what is going on here is you are building your lady utopia and doing reverse-sexism.
Ann: So I wrote an article about hiring and the desire to hire people who are like you a couple of years ago and I interviewed friend-of-the-podcast Sarah Milstein who told me -- she gave me this great anecdote about how she was hiring for a pretty important position and she got down to her last seven resumes or whatever, her top picks, people to call back for interviews. She was like "Huh, these are all 40-something white women who have worked in tech for ten-plus years, who have advanced degrees." Basically she had selected seven people who fit exactly her own description. So I don't know, that's something that this person writing the letter did not raise the issue of race or gender identity or other ways you might want an inclusive team. But for me I think that that red flag, when I have been in a hiring position, it's less is it wrong to want to hire mostly women and it's more about saying "Oh, am I interested in interviewing a lot of women or people who are like me, who happen to be women for example?" And I do think it's good to check that impulse.
Aminatou: Right. It's like if men checked that impulse there would be fewer men who looked exactly like them.
Ann: Totally. And I think especially for white ladies it's very important to make sure you're not being like "Oh, I'm hiring all women so this is an awesome, progressive team," and then you look around and it's all white women who are kind of the same age or demographically similar to you.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, and I think that one way in tech at least that you can look at that is to really look at your team holistically and be like "What am I missing here? What are the roles that are missing? What are the holes that are missing?" And what kinds of ideas are you not getting at the table? The other thing that's good about in general if you're hiring and have a diverse pool, it's also that you get to hire people that are often overlooked by other people, who are hungrier to work harder. You're not competing for the exact same people like in Silicon Valley who are all looking to fit one description. You're actually doing yourself a favor.
I think that thing about having viable candidates that are not people that look like you is really important because it really speaks to your company's strength at the recruiting board. It's like what kinds of people are interested in working where you work? If they all look like you or they all sound like you then your work is cut out for you.
Ann: Right, and then also asking the question of who do you want or who are your audience or clients or things like that? You know, and frequently it's like yeah, you probably want . . . I don't know, there are certain examples. Maybe this isn't true at your company, but probably you want men to use whatever product you're building or whatever thing you're working on too. Not just like in some grand way, like diversity is important, but you want the perspectives of the people who you want your work to reach reflected on your team.
Ann: Yeah, anyways . . . and I also think the interesting thing about this question is she had that little aside about thinking maybe she didn't want to hire men because she was scared to manage them.
Ann: Which we had a question, it was definitely a few episodes ago, where we had a question about managing men. And I do think that that is a legit concern but also you're clearly a boss who's in this job for a reason and not to diminish your own worries but I think there are some good reasons not to hire men but that is not one of them. I'm sure you would crush it. You'd do great as an overlady.
Aminatou: Yeah, you're going to crush it. I'm so excited for you to be a boss.
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 podcasts, or on iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org John Podesta don't email us.
Ann: Don't tweet.
Aminatou: Don't tweet us. You can also find us on Facebook -- you can look up that link for yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. Don't send us messages at any of those places because we're not checking them.
Ann: And because they might get hacked.
Aminatou: And you can just email us. But you can leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.
Ann: Gina Delvac!
Aminatou: Sarah Milstein, if you're listening to this, I hope you feel better.