Episode 81: Six pleats none the richer

Published February 24, 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 a quick update about lady assassins, a brief detour into some chat about pubic hair, Willie J Parker, American Hero, and a tour of anti-choice legislation currently moving through various states in America. A quick update on what we're reading, there's a new Golden Girls café, and we check in with what's for sale on Goop including a Fitbit for your vagina.

[Theme Song]


Aminatou: Ugh. Hi.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: I'm just . . . 

Ann: What was that for?

Aminatou: I'm just imitating you from before we started recording.

Ann: It's true. Maybe in this moment more than others, but in general the just like low moan exhale in the style of Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer, you know the scene where he's slapping the lunch tray, it's like "I don't want to do it."

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Sometimes that's just what I need to do before I embark on work, even work that I love.

Aminatou: What a long day.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: What a long day, and it's only Monday.

Ann: Oh my god, yeah. I was like what day is it?

Aminatou: We're recording Monday which means that the entire government will probably collapse by Friday and we're not talking about politics today because we're taking a break.

Ann: Yes, no Cheeto Watch this week. We are not -- we're not watching, momentarily.

Aminatou: We're not watching. I just like -- I'm too tired to pay attention. Also really we've been paying attention to international assassin news so that's what happened. [Laughs]

Ann: Yeah. A related strain of news but not exactly the total meltdown of US democracy.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: So wait, what's the update on international assassins?

Aminatou: Oh my god, what a mess. First of all can I tell you how upset I am? Like if we were living in any other time this would be the biggest news story of the century. So here's what's going on with these LOL assassin ladies. One of them got caught because this dummy went back to the airport like they don't have her whole face on CCTV, right? [Laughs] She claims that she was recruited for a reality TV show about murdering someone. [Laughs] And that's what she was doing. That's why they had shirts on that said LOL and all . . . this is nuts, Ann.


Ann: Also the woman in the LOL shirt, I love this detail from an article about her. A few days before the attack she had been sighted booking the cheapest room at an airport hotel and carrying a wad of cash.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like if you can spot someone carrying a wad of cash it's like wow, you need to work on your assassin game, your international assassin game.

Aminatou: I'm telling you it's so embarrassing for lady assassins around the globe. I can't believe they pulled it off, they're so incompetent.

Ann: Wait, so is the general consensus that it is just a line to get them off the hook, saying they thought it was a reality TV show? Or did one or more of them actually believe that it was not a deadly spray they were spraying in this guy's face?

Aminatou: Yo, North Korea is so fucked up I don't know what to believe because it's the perfect crime. [Sighs] I don't know, Ann. I don't know. It's like I keep reading the stories over and over again and have to pick up my jaw from the floor because I can't decide what I think is real.

Ann: I can't wait for the miniseries reenactment of this. That's all I have to say.

Aminatou: I know. Lifetime needs to get on top of this. This movie will be incredible.

Ann: It's true. Anything else that's like a callback from last week? I'm trying to like . . . old business first. [Laughs]

Aminatou: What's old business?

Ann: You wanted to tell me about your sexy Valentine's Day.

Aminatou: Yes, my sexiest Valentine's. My sexy Galentine's where I had steak and French fries and I went to see Fifty Shades Darker with Marissa Mouzer (?), best date ever.

Ann: So what is Darker about? Fifty Shades Darker, exactly? For those of us who are not involved.

Aminatou: Oh my God, Ann. Okay, so first of all they actually do have sex, like serious sex in this movie.

Ann: Define serious sex. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Well, okay, I don't know if you've seen the first one. They barely have sex in that movie.

Ann: Sure, it's like tender stroking.

Aminatou: Yeah, for a movie about like BDSM. And so in this one they have the most vanilla version of BDSM you can have. And also I think maybe they swear more in this one and it's hilarious. It's like at some point Dakota Johnson's character says something about how she doesn't like his kinky fuckery and I died in the movie theater. [Laughs] I obviously laugh at these movies but they are so fucked up. One, they make Twilight look like feminist utopias. That's the first problem. The relationship between Christian and Anastasia is so abusive but they write it off like Anastasia's complicit in it, you know? Like that's exactly what she wants. And it's totally okay for your boyfriend to treat you like shit because he's rich.


And you realize that's also the problem with everybody in the audience is that we're complicit in this, right? If Christian Grey didn't have a helicopter I wouldn't give two shits about this movie.

Ann: [Laughs] Christian Grey definitely has purchased property in New Zealand and is working on citizenship.

Aminatou: Yeah. But, you know, at the same time it's like they're like Pacific Northwest rich. It's like how much money does it really take to be out there?

Ann: Wow.

Aminatou: No shade to the Pacific Northwest but you know what I'm saying?

Ann: Doesn't Melinda Gates live in Seattle? She's pretty rich.

Aminatou: You know what, Ann? You're right. You're right. You're right. So yeah, this movie is like really . . . it's so ridiculous. It's like Christian finally opens up about what's fucked him up and obviously it's a family backstory. You know, in some ways he has to become submissive now because he loves her. But also the acting is so terrible which makes me really sad about Jamie Dornan because he's actually a good actor but jury's out on Dakota Johnson. The only thing that's good in this movie is the soundtrack.

Ann: Wait, what's the highlight of the soundtrack?

Aminatou: The highlight of the soundtrack is Taylor Swift and Zayn, that song.

[Music - I Don't Wanna Live Forever]

Aminatou: It's like sweeping views and the whole theater started singing. It was great.

Ann: Are they in the helicopter when the music starts?

Aminatou: Yeah, it's like a helicopter or boat. I think that was the boat. He like takes her out on his yacht. You know, rich people always go sailing.

Ann: [Laughs]


Aminatou: But like Ann, the sex in this movie is really funny though. He's always pulling out these really terrifying restraints and then you're just like oh, this is just a fancy hand-tie. I'm like there is nothing crazy about this. [Laughs]

Ann: Ugh.

Aminatou: And so, you know, if I was in the BDSM community I would be very, very upset at how this portrays my community.

Ann: So I read something recently, I don't know if this is true or not, but it sort of changed how I feel about those books which is that E.L. James wrote them as sort of her personal fantasy, like wrote them almost in the realm of kind of my own personal touching myself me-time fodder.

Aminatou: Yeah, like a Christian lady's fantasy. A Christian lady's fantasy about what super sexy can be.

Ann: Whatever like . . . I mean I don't know a lot about her personally but I just read this thing that it was like she had given an interview where she said "I wrote my fantasy," essentially. And it was kind of interesting to me because as someone who is not . . . I am definitely not very invested in these books or the movies but it made me remember this study that I read about ages ago that had to do with the high percentage of women who have rape fantasies or have that as part of what turns them on when they are in a very safe, just masturbating or whatever context and about how it is . . . like when researchers go a little bit deeper into it, the reason it's a fantasy is because they're still in control in the fantasy version, right? Like it's really not the same thing obviously as like experiencing that.

Aminatou: Totally.

Ann: I mean not that being dominated and rape are the same thing. I don't mean to say that either. But basically fantasies that you kind of want to remain in the realm of the fantasy and that's why it's so hot. I don't know. I was like oh, wow, it made me see the books and movies in this new light of one woman's version of a thing she wanted to just get sexy with herself to and not like a commentary on what culturally Women -- capital W -- find sexy or something.

Aminatou: No, that's fair. That's totally fair.

Ann: I don't know, it was just . . . yeah.


Aminatou: And there's parts of me sometimes that want to go back and actually read these books because I'm so shocked at the screenwriting. Christian says -- just trying to explain stuff about his mom, and then one-liner, "She was an addict. Crack. Fill in the blank." It's like so . . . like there is no nuance and there's no depth. How much is it that the screenplay is terrible and misrepresents what this author is trying to do?

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: The part that really disappoints me though is the way that the Anastasia character is so . . . she's written in this really wishy-washy way like "No, Christian, I want to work. Please don't give me all your money and I don't want to belong to you." But also she has no boundaries and she's down for everything, you know? And I'm just like this is really unfair to people who actually are in abusive relationships and also this is not how real life works. Women just don't say things and then act completely opposite of that in this way that makes them complicit in their own abuse. It's like really problematic.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: But also it's not as sexy as you think it is. [Laughs] Like that's the other . . .

Ann: Wait, you thought it was going to be sexy? [Laughs]

Aminatou: I mean, listen, having never read a Danielle Steel novel and then at some point you're sweating and you're like okay, this is good . . .

Ann: Oh my god, listen, I used to steal -- I used to be a babysitting assistant for a woman who lived in my neighborhood. It was like my very first job. And I would steal . . .

Aminatou: What the fuck is a babysitting assistant? [Laughs] What?

Ann: Basically it was because she was running a home daycare and she needed another body in there in case she got a drop-in from the inspectors to be like "I have two people here." But I would sit there and read her Fabio cover romance novels, like skip to anything vaguely sexy. And so the answer is yes, I totally understand the appeal. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah, you know what I'm saying. Some of that mommy fiction can be hot. Like I don't respect it but, you know, you start biting your lip. The shit is real. In this . . .


Ann: I mean I don't respect my own sexual fantasies. I don't have to respect . . . [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's true. Like that's fair. But also in this when somebody says "Take off your panties," and that's supposed to be the highlight, the climax, you know . . .

Ann: I'm clenching my legs together at that phrase.

Aminatou: I'm like I don't know about this. You know, or whenever one of them says "I want to fuck you," you really don't believe it. You like seriously do not believe it at all.

Ann: I mean yeah.

Aminatou: It's just basically, you know, it's like he's having like "I'm a control freak" sex and she's having like "Girl, you're in danger sex." They're not on the same page. And it's crazy, the only highlight of the movie is Rita Ora and how great she is as a sister and she's the life of the party. Everybody else should take acting notes from Rita Ora in this movie.

Ann: I have nothing to say to that.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Oh, here, I wrote it down. Here's what the line was. "I was being romantic and then you had to distract me with your kinky fuckery." That's a real line in this movie.

Ann: I mean . . . [Laughs] I just -- I just keep thinking about what if every moderately okay-selling romance novel with some erotica overtones got made into . . . got given the kind of blockbuster movie treatment that this did. And it probably would not be any better.

Aminatou: It's true. The only thing that weirdly surprised me in this movie is at some point they definitely show a tuft of Jamie Dornan's pubes.

Ann: Ooh.

Aminatou: And I was like oh. I was like okay, I'm here for this. You know, but then you're like that was probably an editing mistake.

Ann: Queue all of the trend pieces about cubes being back on people of all genders as if they ever went away.

Aminatou: I know. I was like man pubes are back too. This is amazing.

Ann: Were there ever trend stories about man pubes having gone away?

Aminatou: Probably. [Laughs]

Ann: That's a Google I am not going to do.

Aminatou: That's a Google you're not going to do? I am going to say anecdotally I feel like -- I'm not going to tell you my sources but I do feel like man pubes did go away. [Laughs]

Ann: [Laughs]


Aminatou: But they're back now. If somebody's brave enough to do this Google please get back to us. I have a company computer so I will not be doing this Google.

Ann: Oh my god, speaking of . . . sorry, this is just a slight detour into pubes. I was talking to a woman last week, the week before maybe, and we were talking about various stages and levels of pubic hair. And she was saying "I've only had my pubes completely waxed twice and I had to stop because it made my farts too loud."

Aminatou: What?

Ann: I was like I have never heard that. I mean everybody's body is different, right? But she was like "No, no, there was a noticeable difference in the noise level. Like something about the way the air moved when I did not have pubic hair, and so now I must always have it in order to muffle my farts." [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's like I want to laugh but I'm a little traumatized. This is amazing.

Ann: Bodies are wild and wonderful. Anyway . . .

Aminatou: Yeah, no, it's crazy. Jenna Wortham, friend of the podcast, interviewed Marilyn Minter in the New York Times last week and it was really good.

Ann: Great. Will check it out.

Aminatou: They talked about all of her -- like how she was rejected by Playboy because she showed photos of women's pubic hair and pubes are back now and it's totally because she hung in there.

Ann: Does she feel vindicated?

Aminatou: I think so. I think so. I'm three wines in so I like need to go back and read it. Look it up. It was really good. I was just like oh, this is good. Thank you for talking about pubic hair in the New York Times.

Ann: Great. That went in an unexpected direction. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I know. Thank you 50 Shades of Grey. You know my favorite thing though in the movie is there were seven reluctant boyfriends/husbands in the audience. [Laughs]

Ann: Oh my god, on Valentine's Day?

Aminatou: On Valentine's Day, right? You're like oh my god, you are so in love in your mainstream relationship and that's why you're here. Do you think that all of these couples that come to watch 50 Shades then go home and have vanilla 50 Shades sex?


Ann: Maybe. I guess, I don't know . . . and also I have to say that I'm maybe like a handful of those couples discover that this is a thing that really works for them and we have 50 Shades to thank for that. Like who knows, you know?

Aminatou: I hope so. I just hope they do better research than this movie does because it's like terrible.

Ann: Sure. Also just because people appear to be kind of mainstream/are going to 50 Shades on Valentine's Day does not mean they are not already way more experienced at this than what the movie is depicting.

Aminatou: Ann, let me tell you, regular-looking midwestern people are the most adventurous sexual people in the world, okay? I know this.

Ann: Trust.

Aminatou: I won't reveal my sources here either but that's a fact. [Laughs]

Ann: I mean I would say maybe the most boring neighbors I ever had had a receipt from a large shipment of erotic equipment and sex toys blow out of the garbage can and basically blow against my back door. So I opened the door and I was like what is this paper here? And I was like oh, it is my neighbors' receipt for their large delivery. And I have to say it weirdly made me like them a little more or see them as less boring even though they were just like . . .

Aminatou: That's so perfect.

Ann: My totes normsies neighbors. So you know, I buy it.

Aminatou: Listen, all the swingers I know wear Tevas so it's real.

Ann: Isn't that just a Bay Area thing? Like all the swingers in the world are in the Bay Area and so are a lot of Tevas?

Aminatou: No, in the Bay Area all the polyamorous people I know wear Tevas. In America . . . [Laughs]

Ann: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. [Laughs]

Aminatou: The swingers I know wear Tevas. It's to the point now when I see somebody with Tevas I just look them up and down and I'm like this person know what's up.

Ann: You're like I know what you like to get up to.

Aminatou: Alternative lifestyles. [Laughs]

[Music and ads]


Aminatou: Ann, tell the people who Willie Parker is.

Ann: Ugh, Willie J. Parker is a man who made a transition that many of us thought was not possible, i.e. went from thinking that abortion should not be legal and that the state should do everything in its power to stop it to becoming a person who is pro-choice and wants to support people who want to make all kinds of decisions about their bodies. Basically that's their headline, a really long headline.

Aminatou: I love him so much. He's a board-certified OB/GYN who provides abortion care, you know what I'm saying?

Ann: And provides it in a place where not a lot of other people are providing it too.

Aminatou: Alabama, maybe?

Ann: That's right. The other side has more people who are sort of like "I'm going to do a 180 on how I feel about this issue," and I really enjoy his perspective. Also he's very open about the fact that he is a religious person and his views on religion are part of what informed his shift on this issue.

Aminatou: He's so delightful. Like for me at least it really challenges my general disposition to people who are super-religious when they talk about these issues, and he really makes this point too about how part of the problem with abortion and our entire society is because we really prize women's biology and reproduction above all. It just creates this kind of impossible situation where yes, if a woman's entire identity is tied into being a woman and being -- like is tied into being a child bearer and a child rearer you can't . . . it becomes immortal if you stop that in any way. So it's like contraception is a bad thing, abortion's a bad thing, and whatever. He doesn't buy that and I think that he makes really smart points around it. At least for me it has really softened how I feel about religious people [Laughs] and their stances around issues like abortion and reproduction.


Ann: Yeah. And he also . . . I mean it's also very satisfying on kind of a philosophical level. I mean in this New York Times interview from a few weeks ago he was asked about what do you say to people who think that this is murder or this is a life-ending event. And he says "Here's the thing: life is a process, not an event. If I thought I was killing a person I wouldn't do abortions. A fetus is not a person; it's a human entity. In the moral scheme of things I don't hold the fetal life and the life of a woman equally." It's like yes, mic drop. Thank you. Exactly that. So important.

Aminatou: Totally. And I also like the point in that same interview that he makes about how being the descendent of a slave, you really understand what ownership of your body means.

Ann: Oh, yeah.

Aminatou: And how that's so directly tied into control of women's bodies and reproductive rights. And I was like thank you for articulating that.

Ann: Absolutely.

Aminatou: I also love that in this interview he says that he's single and ready to mingle. [Laughs] He's like "I jokingly call myself the best-kept secret in Alabama." I was like somebody snap up Dr. Willie Parker.

Ann: I hope he's mingling so hard.

Aminatou: I know. I'm just like you are, like what a prize.

Ann: Great idea. I don't know if you have noticed as of late it seems like there is a pretty jaw-dropping parade of terrible legislation in many states that has to do with choice and attacks on choice. So reading about him as like a bright spot was really important for me. I don't know about you.

Aminatou: No, it's true. Especially as somebody who was actually a medical provider, you know? He's not coming from this place of being a legislator or just being really emotional about it or whatever. It's like no, this is my life's work which incidentally is the name of his book. I just ordered it on Amazon, Life's Work.

Ann: Which is such a great take back the narrative. He's like "The name of my pro-choice book is called Life's Work. That's right."

Aminatou: [Laughs] I can't wait. I haven't been this excited about a book showing up in a really long time. Choice is under attack almost in every legislature in this country right now and this is such a bright, shining spot.


Ann: Do you want to do a quick rundown of what some of the other terrible . . .

Aminatou: [Sighs] Jesus. Let's go around the US. I think the first place that we're going to is Oklahoma.

Ann: Yeah, a tour. A wild and wonderful tour of anti-choice legislation in the United States.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Anti-choice America. So Oklahoma . . . you know, I know people from Oklahoma and they're decent humans but I also went to college at Texas so I'm predisposed not to like Oklahoma.

Ann: Is that a football thing?

Aminatou: So I'm going to try to keep those feelings out of this but this is really egregious even for a really, really conservative Republican government. So there is a bill on the books in Oklahoma. Basically it would allow men to approve all abortions in the state. The reasoning is that women are just hosts to the fetuses in their bodies.

Ann: Oh my god, can I read the quote actually?

Aminatou: Yes, please read the quote from this idiot dummy.

Ann: It says "But after you're irresponsible then don't claim well, I can just go and do this with another body when you're the host and you invited that in."

Aminatou: Oh my god. Here's the thing.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Men in Oklahoma can decide on abortions if they can draw me a vagina diagram and name two things on there.

Ann: Oh my god, not just the vagina, the vulva, the uterus, the entire -- like the entire anatomy that enables a person to become pregnant. Like if they can do the whole diagram then I'm like maybe we can start a conversation.

Aminatou: Yeah. You know the thing that's always so funny to me whenever these conservative legislators always say that "Yeah, people are responsible and they're not ready for sex and blah, blah, blah?" I'm like "Yes, I completely agree. You are not ready for sex. You know nothing about a woman's body."

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: "And I don't even know how your penis gets near a vagina in general. That is so shocking to me." Stop having sex with people who don't know how your body works. This is crazy. It's so, so completely crazy. And it's so insulting, right? It's like men are allowed to dictate what you can do with your body but if anything goes wrong then you are some sort of deviate, bad person because you participated in having sex with them. Like this just makes no sense to me.

Ann: There's essentially no way to win, and there are -- it must be said there are people who are doing great work on the ground in Oklahoma to pass back against this law and others. But it's one of those things too where how do you get something like positive coverage for all women in the state when you are fighting back against things that are so absurd like this, that are like so far outside the realm of reality and what should be even happening? It's like they've defined the debate as so far away from just like a medical procedure that adult people should have access to. It's crazy.


Aminatou: Totally. And it's like, you know, there's a couple of southern states like Oklahoma and Louisiana and even Texas where all of these anti-choice people know that they can push the envelope as much as they can. So every year essentially they introduce this very, very, very, very restrictive legislation to see how far they can take it with their governors and not get vetoed.

Ann: It's like the raptors testing the fence in Jurassic Park.

Aminatou: It's terrible! And all it does too is send really intimidating messages to the women in those states. And my fear is eventually they're going to start winning some of these legal actions. Unfortunately Republicans rule state legislatures in the majority of states in this country and so reproductive justice is really under fire.

Ann: Do you want to skip and hop over to Texas where there is more about anti-choice legislation and the pushback?


Aminatou: Texas shame. Let's go.

Ann: So here's what is happening in Texas. There is what is unfortunately kind of a run of the mill anti-choice bundle legislation that is saying we're going to make illegal some very safe procedures for second-trimester abortions and then we're also going to do some stuff like prevent you from donating fetal tissue to silence if you so choose. Just classic chipping away stuff. And when a UT student, an intern with NARAL was testifying against this bill . . .

Aminatou: Oh yeah, this story. Oh my god.

Ann: A state senator was basically like "Your time is done. Your time is done."

[Clip starts]

Female: I want to remind you all [interruption], especially doctors on this committee, that a vote for this bill puts women's lives on the line.

Male: Thank you, Ms. Hennessey. Your time is done.

Female: I urge you all to stop playing with reproductive healthcare as if it's your own political puppet. [Loud gavel]

[Clip ends]

Ann: And then dropped his gavel and shattered a glass table.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: And then apparently repeated "Your time is done."

Aminatou: These people are like adult men.

Ann: When I read the story though I was like I understand that this is like him thinking he's running his committee debate on this legislation in an orderly way. I also see it as a commentary on white men running hearings like this like "No, your time is done. Your time is done." In sort of like the grand arc of history, like you, dude, are being rapidly replaced population-wise. So I don't know. That happened.

Aminatou: Oh my gosh. Okay. Let's head over to Iowa where things are just as bleak. [Laughs]

Ann: My home state.

Aminatou: There are several bills right now that are aimed at restricting abortions. They range from the ridiculous to the insanely ridiculous. One of them is a bill that would let women sue doctors after abortions because, yes, that's what happened. Doctors pressure women into abortions and then they regret them and then the doctors should pay. That's how life works. There's also a bill right now to defund Planned Parenthood in Iowa specifically and that's also garbage. Like the first bill is called an emotional distress bill which is so insulting on so many levels.


Ann: I know. I get so angry at this. I mean especially because I hate the idea that you are taking a reaction to what is for many women a difficult medical decision and politicizing it. So if you are at all unhappy or distressed after your abortion, which guess what, you can feel that way and still be happy you made the choice you made, they're going to be like it's a problem that you might want to sue your doctor for. And making it something that is not just you dealing with a choice that you made and the results.

Aminatou: Right. And the truth is there are not enough abortion care providers in this country and all this bill is intended to do is intimidate anybody who is thinking about providing abortions, right? And instead they hide behind this sanctimonious nonsense.

Ann: Yeah, it's just intimidation.

Aminatou: Ugh, this is making me so sad. But it also makes me really happy that all of these really awesome pro-choice advocates in Iowa are pushing back on all of them. People are awake and they're constantly vigilant. They're not letting everybody be intimidated by this stuff.

Ann: Right, and they are showing up. The news coverage of -- I think in every one of these cases also features not just one lone advocate for like the state NARAL affiliate showing up, but the Texas story is like 50 women showed up to testify or like in Iowa it's dozens of people protested at the legislature. You know, it's like the pushback is also really real.

Aminatou: Yeah. You know, and the thing too that drives me crazy about all of these stories is that Planned Parenthood is always the enemy, right, to all of these people. But the truth is that in trying to eliminate Planned Parenthood that they do not have any other kind of alternative that is comparable or that works and that would provide good healthcare for the women in their states. You hate abortion so much that you would let women get sub-par medical care all across the board because of it? That's insane.


Ann: I don't know, I really want . . . I know this is like -- this is a weird fantasy. Maybe not that weird. But the women in the lives of these men who are proposing this legislation, if they all were like "Real talk, here are the choices I've made about my body that you've not been aware of," would their minds be blown? I know these people who are proposing this have been affected in a positive way by a woman who has made a choice about her own body. I know it. It's statistically impossible that they haven't.

Aminatou: Oh, 100%. But I think the big problem with something like abortion that you run into is a lot of women who are unfortunately from these areas are okay with making that choice personally for themselves but they want to -- in their mind they're saving somebody else from having to make that decision which is highly hypocritical and not okay. But that's what happens when you mingle all this weird morality and religion into this stuff. All these people that talk about the smallest government possible, like government is only big when it's supposed to be about women's bodies, you know? And it's so fucked up.

Ann: Yeah. It's like that classic kind of protest slogan, like a government so small it fits inside your uterus.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: That's how small.

Aminatou: Check the string every day and make sure it's there.

Ann: Make sure your legislators are still up there firmly nestled.

Aminatou: Yeah, you know, and it's just like . . . I know that we've talked about this book before on this podcast, Pro by Katha Pollitt. If you're somebody who has a really hard time, like you're pro-choice but you don't know the talking points really or you feel intimidated about debating someone, that book is great for that. I think the thing it did for me was just like really lay bare how much all of this is rooted in hypocrisy.

Ann: Ugh, yeah.

Aminatou: Because guess what? All sorts of women get abortions. All sorts of women. It says nothing about your moral choices or your values or nothing. And now it's become politicized and moralized and you're a monster if you have had an abortion and you're a monster if you support women getting abortions and it's garbage.


Ann: Look in the mirror. Look at the women in your life. That's what I always want to say to these people, at least who are passing these laws.

Aminatou: Right. It's like for any man, it's like a woman in your family has probably had an abortion. Like statistically that's how that works.

Ann: Yep.

Aminatou: And they don't talk about it for various reasons but one of those reasons can be shame because of the way that you talk about abortions.

Ann: Oh my god, completely. It's like the reason you don't know about it is because you've already decided it's terrible.

Aminatou: Totally.

Ann: And you don't actually know.

Aminatou: Ugh. Personhood laws, garbage. Trash. [Laughs]

Ann: Can I hit you with the last stop on our anti-choice legislative tour?

Aminatou: Which deplorable state are we going to now?

Ann: We're traveling to Wyoming where -- this is going to be very brief -- a set of kind of like again another run of the mill chipping away at abortion rights laws passed through a senate committee, a state senate committee. And you would expect that to be maybe a labor or health and social services committee or something that has to do with the healthcare of humans. In fact it was the senate agriculture state and public lands and water resources committee.

Aminatou: What?

Ann: That voted to move forward with a bill to make fetal tissue donation a felony and a bill that would require women to listen to a fetal heartbeat before they could get an abortion. That passed through an agriculture committee.

Aminatou: Oh my gosh, yeah. Republicans don't believe in this stuff until one of them has a disease that requires stem cell research and then my god, where is all the fetal tissue?

Ann: Outrage.

Aminatou: It's like yes, women are livestock. That's exactly how you should regulate this.

Ann: It's a little too on-the-nose but rhetorically useful.

Aminatou: Right. It's just like oh, you think women are cattle? Ugh. Great talking point.

Ann: Yeah. Like I say the headline is the punchline. We don't even need to say anything about it.

Aminatou: [Sighs]



Aminatou: This is just like -- I'm reading Handmaid's Tale for the first time.

Ann: Whoa, really?

Aminatou: Yeah. I had never read The Handmaid's Tale.

Ann: Are you doing okay? I would hate to be reading it for the first time right now.

Aminatou: Yo. It's too heavy, but it's like all of this requires me of when June talks about hoping that woman is carrying a baby, not an un-baby. You know that part?

Ann: Oof, yeah.

Aminatou: With a head like a pin and snout like a pig. I'm just like yep. They just got rid of the machines that let you know all of that stuff so what's the point?

Ann: Ugh.

Aminatou: Yeah, I know. Handmaid's Tale is really heavy. I didn't -- it's like I knew all the feminist jokes about it, but now that I know too much it's really messing me up.

Ann: I haven't read it in a few years for sure but it might be time to go back if I can stomach it.

Aminatou: That's right. Isn't Oprah in the movie? Or producing the movie?

Ann: I don't know.

Aminatou: Because all of her Instagrams right now are in New Zealand with Mindy Kaling and whoever else is in that movie.

Ann: Trying to get citizenship.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. It has to be another one of those books.

Ann: Another one of those feminist dystopian books? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yeah, the feminist dystopian books. That's all they film in New Zealand. Oh, never mind, that's A Wrinkle in Time. [Laughs]

Ann: Oh my god. Like throw out this entire Google.

Aminatou: That's A Wrinkle in Time. Elizabeth Moss is in The Handmaid's Tale.

Ann: Elizabeth "I wish she wasn't a Scientologist" Moss.

Aminatou: Ugh, no comment. [Laughs]

Ann: [Laughs]


Aminatou: Are you reading anything fun?

Ann: Well, I'm reading a friend's book that is not out yet and it's so I can give her notes. So I am, but . . .

Aminatou: Look at you, hipster book reader. [Laughs] Ooh, give us clues. Is it a self-help book? Is it fiction?

Ann: It is non-fiction.

Aminatou: Okay.

Ann: And I think it'll be . . . you know what? We should maybe talk to her about it when it is out, but it is very much relevant to our earlier conversation about sex and it's kind of just . . .

Aminatou: Is your friend Margaret Atwood? [Laughs]

Ann: Oh my god, can you imagine if I was like "I'm reading something in advance from my friend."

Aminatou: From my friend Maggy.

Ann: But I know what fiction I'm reading next. I'm finally going to read The Sympathizer which I haven't read yet. Have you read it?

Aminatou: No, what's The Sympathizer?

Ann: By Viet Thanh Nguyen. It's basically like kind of a thriller vibe but is also about the experience of being a refugee and about identity and has won lots of important prizes including the Pulitzer Prize last year. A big important book of fiction. And I feel like normally it takes me five years to read a book that is an acclaimed book, you know what I mean?

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: I'm ahead of my acclaimed book schedule with this one, so that's what I'm reading next. But I haven't started it yet.

Aminatou: I was around all these people that were talking about that new George Saunders book Lincoln in the Bardo and I swear to god I thought it was a Migos song. I was like there is no way this is not a rap song.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: And they wouldn't shut up about Lincoln in the Bardo and I was like what? [Laughs] Finally the New York Times came and I was like oh, look, George Saunders has a book that's named after a rap song.

Ann: Oh my god.


Aminatou: The other thing that I'm reading right now that's really good though is Morgan Parker's book of poetry.

Ann: Oh, I've heard it's so good.

Aminatou: It's so good. There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé. Like the poems are delightful and Morgan is like a hilarious, amazing human being so you should do something nice for yourself and pick that up.

Ann: I love that. Also I always feel like buying poetry is doing something nice for myself.

Aminatou: It really is. I don't read enough poetry but I like good poets, like Morgan's a good poet so it works out.

Ann: That's great. CYG Book Club.

Aminatou: CYG Book Club forever. You should tell us what you are reading with the hashtag #CYGBookClub.

Ann: Great idea.

Aminatou: That's right, tell us on Instagram or on Twitter.

Ann: It's true, we are both places. I confess though Golden Girls was just added to Hulu and I feel like that's going to be eating into my reading time.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: I find it so comforting. It's one of those things that is a pop culture thing that holds up that I love but that I also grew up watching with my grandma. I don't know. There are very few things that check that box for me.

Aminatou: Yeah, I'm excited about revisiting that. I'm saving it for the next time I have a cold or something.

Ann: Oh my god, did you see this article about someone has opened a Golden Girls themed café in Manhattan?

Aminatou: Every line in the thing is amazing -- in the article is amazing.

Ann: I mean from what I can tell it's kind of like a Hard Rock Café only with like house gowns as the stuff that's there, like the . . .

Aminatou: A.K.A. Heaven. [Laughs] Also, wow, the words Hard Rock Café. Did not expect to encounter that ever.

Ann: I don't know. Next time I'm in New York we have to go.

Aminatou: We'll go. We'll go have a milkshake or something crazy.

Ann: Absolutely. They've got that lots of shit on the walls restaurant vibe.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like things I care about. Not like vintage sports pennants but like headshots of the women who are in that show. It's like yes.

Aminatou: Oh, I thought you were talking about the Hard Rock Café.

Ann: No. Oh my god, no. I don't want to go to the Hard Rock Café.

Aminatou: [Laughs] You mean the Golden Girls Café. Got it.

Ann: I mean the Golden Girls Café which is called the Rue La Rue Café.

Aminatou: I love it. I was just like wow, Ann wants to do a weird thing. Sure, I'll be there. I'll go with you. [Laughs]

Ann: Oh my god, no.


Aminatou: Oh my god, speaking of dumb guitarists and dumb people, I am ready to excommunicate Bono from everything not that he was ever included in anything good. But this is the one thing of news that I saw that really drove me crazy this week.

Ann: What did he do?


Aminatou: He was like praising Mike Pence for his HIV work.

Ann: [Gasps] What?

Aminatou: And I was just like Bono, you know the reason that AIDS and HIV went through the roof in Indiana is because of Mike Pence? So he can't take credit for fixing it.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: And here's the other problem, Mike Pence and his victory lap of "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I fixed our HIV/AIDS situation down here." You know how he did that, Ann? Obamacare. That's how he did it. And I was like you do not get to use Obamacare to do anything good.

Ann: What a snake.

Aminatou: Ugh. Mike Pence, he's the worst.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: In one of the pictures that Cheeto posted the other day his pants had too many pleats and I was like how can you represent us abroad looking like a fool?

Ann: I am pretty fond personally of pants with too many pleats but then again I'm not a foreign dictator so . . .

Aminatou: Six pleats none the richer. That's what happened.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: I was so upset. Also, you know his wife, second lady of the United States Karen Pence and owner of That's My Charm towel charm company. [Laughs]

Ann: The towel charm impresario, Karen Pence.

Aminatou: The [0:43:34] towel charm impresario Karen Pence, her cause is going to be art therapy.

Ann: Wait, really?

Aminatou: How's she going to have art therapy as a cause when your goddamn husband and his boss are shutting down the NEA? You tell me.


Ann: Also ways people have of accessing healthcare which can include mental healthcare.

Aminatou: These people are just out here to make me angry.

Ann: I need to check in with the art therapists in my life and see if they've heard about this because wow.

Aminatou: Yo, I bet you Karen Pence is a very interesting lady.

Ann: Ugh.

Aminatou: In the basket of deplorables of government people right now. If we were living in like normal times I would be down to be excited about her. You know, I feel like she drinks maybe a little bit too much wine but won't talk about it.

Ann: That's how you get to become the owner of a towel charm business is drinking too much wine.

Aminatou: Totally. [Laughs] But, you know, she drinks wine but she can't tell Mikey about it because really she's in the wine charm business but they have to call them towel charms. That's ridiculous.

Ann: The whole party on Saturday/pray on Sunday vibe.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Totally. Party while your husband's away in DC legislating. That's what she's about.

Ann: Party while your husband's legislating other people's bodies. That vibe.

Aminatou: Totally. But, you know, unfortunately we are living in extraordinary times right now so I don't have time to be charmed by this.

Ann: Towel charmed.

Aminatou: Towel charmed.  Yeah. I was just like art therapy? What the fuck do you know about art therapy? Leave us alone.

Ann: Ugh, all right.

Aminatou: Okay. I'm angry again.


Ann: Okay, do you want to talk about the vagina Fitbit?

Aminatou: There is a vagina Fitbit?

Ann: Yes. So let me tell you about the vagina Fitbit. Obviously I read about it through clicking through on the Goop newsletter.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Maybe . . . I forget, we did not cover the minor controversy that was Goop hawking jade eggs to put in your vagina to essentially make your kegels all the more powerful. Did we talk about that?

Aminatou: No. We didn't talk about it, but you want to know the thing that was crazy is that literally the same week that that Goop came out it was featured on Real Housewives of Atlanta and I couldn't handle it.

[Clip starts]

Female: I don't think this is something I want to add to my workout regimen.

Female: They have something called vaginal weightlifting.

[Clip ends]


Ann: So someone in marketing for jade kegel eggs is doing their job.

Aminatou: Listen, everybody in marketing over there is doing their job. [Laughs]

Ann: Okay, so I made a joke -- I was like as you do in a bar with someone and we were talking about the minor controversy that was should you put a jade egg sold by Gwyneth Paltrow into your vagina to help you with your pelvic floor exercises, as you do? And I was like you know, I wouldn't do it unless it was like a gamified Fitbit style so I could look at a watch and see how many squeezes I've done that day.

Aminatou: Oh god.

Ann: It was like a dumb joke. And then she sent me a link to the fact that such a product exists. It is also sold by Goop. It is $200 and it's like a little egg that you insert into yourself as you would a tampon and squeeze to strengthen your pelvic floor.

Aminatou: Okay, I have a question: how do you not lose it?

Ann: I don't -- I mean, look, I'm not looking at the most intricate of diagrams. It appears to be egg-shaped with kind of like a clip folded up around the back.

Aminatou: [Laughs] $200 is also like the cheapest thing on goop.com. This is amazing.

Ann: Yeah, it is called not a kegel egg, not a vagina Fitbit, it's called a pelvic floor exercise tracker.

Aminatou: I hope you buy vagina Fitbit like yesterday and trademark it.

Ann: Trademark it. Yeah. The jade egg was only $66 for the same.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Or the rose quartz even cheaper. Oh my god, sorry, I'm selling the wrong thing. They're sold out. All of the other ones are sold out.

Aminatou: Listen, they were adamant about it on Atlanta Housewives. Maybe this is a dumb question. So why can't you just do regular kegels?

Ann: I mean, listen, good question, right? Why can't you just buy a jar of coconut oil at the natural grocery store? Why do you need to buy it from Goop either?

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Ann: I mean this is not what this website is here for, right? The ones that came up in the conversation originally like the jade and quartz ones apparently are hawking -- selling the healing power of crystals and energy work and also giving you better vaginal muscle tone. So it's basically, you know, whenever I think about some of the health promises of things on like Goop or Whole Foods beauty aisle products I'm like this is where we're no better than creationists.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Where the snake eats its own tail where it's like yeah, put this jade egg in your vagina and you'll increase your feminine . . . it totally includes the phrase "Feminine energy." I'm like no.

Aminatou: It's true. If you read the phrase feminine energy anywhere you should just close the computer and walk away.

Ann: I did. I read that word and closed the browser. But this one -- anyway, this one is making sure you're doing enough squeezes. Like, okay, let's see, what does this say? Track your progress.

Aminatou: Yeah, the other one is like tracking your squeezes. That's weirdly respectable if you can't count yourself.

Ann: Oh my god. So a friend of mine who recently had a kid has like a sticker on her dashboard with just a K on it so she remembers to do her kegels while she's sitting in traffic.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like that is a very low-tech answer to this problem. Just put a K on your dashboard. It's not like you need a $200 . . .

Aminatou: You should just sell that post-it.

Ann: Oh my god, completely.

Aminatou: Don't spend $100 buying a vagina Fitbit.

Ann: Chisel the K into rose quartz and put it on your dashboard.

Aminatou: Oh my god. This is the part, you know, where we've ranted about this before. It's like women who sell other women shit that they don't need but hide it behind this weird empowerment stuff, it's so gross.

Ann: But tell me, like out of curiosity would you test run something like this? Or are you like "Oh, no, get it away from me?"

Aminatou: What? A jade egg or a vagina Fitbit?

Ann: Either. Either. Answer as you see fit.

Aminatou: Literally never. Like there's not enough money in the world.

Ann: [Laughs] Okay. Fair enough.

Aminatou: That's not an endorsement I'm about.

Ann: Yeah. It's just so funny to me that there's a very expensive item for that.


Aminatou: Yeah. You know, the thing that always drives me crazy too is I'm just like imagine if you channeled all the dumb energy that you're putting into this and dumb brainpower that you're putting into this into something that's actually worthwhile, my god, you could probably solve cancer.

Ann: Oh my god, Amina, they're also selling a gold showerhead. I just saw it.

Aminatou: [Laughs] They're selling a lot of really weird stuff. The Valentine's Day gifts on Goop were hilarious. Like one of them was just like a Fendi flashlight. Just like that was it. I was like . . .

Ann: No, that's real?

Aminatou: It's to look for your jade egg when you lose it.

Ann: [Laughs] You can only search for it with a Fendi flashlight. I weirdly do take comfort -- it's one of those things where feeling kind of annoyed or outraged about something so low-stakes, like what are rich people selling to other rich people, is weirdly a source of safe haven to me in these troubled times.

Aminatou: You know, it's not that I disagree but I actually don't think that it is low-stakes. I think that it actually takes up a lot of space, and also the way that it's sold to people, I would be okay with it if somebody was like "Hi, here is all the dumb shit I care about. Buy this." You know? And wasn't sanctimonious about how they're trying to change your life or make your marriage better or provide you with feminine energy or whatever. I was like this is all lies. Just shut the fuck up and say that you have too much money and you want to buy dumb shit and I would respect that.

Ann: Yeah. I mean . . .

Aminatou: It's like watching reality TV, like we do it because it's dumb and we want to turn our brains off. There's nothing redeeming about that kind of programming.

Ann: It's one of those things too where in a weird way after hating on all these legislators who are passing anti-choice laws and getting so mad at the federal government it's like weirdly being like okay, there are total wackadoos on our nominal side as well.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like I'm just, I don't know . . .


Aminatou: You know how you know that there's wackadoos on our side? All you need to know is read about genetically-modified foods. Like that's our climate denial.

Ann: Oh my god. Yeah, it's true. And then also the snake eats its own tail. The anti-vaxxers as well. There's like a whole -- there's like a weird subset of not in my backyard/on my children's dinnerplate people who . ..

Aminatou: Totally, totally. And all these people have the same thing in common: they're all fucking hypocrites and liars. I'm like that's where the Venn diagram meets.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: They're all crazy. Yeah, I know, it's like if you want to know the crazy people of the left it's like genetically-modified foods. People just are . . . it really is our climate denial. Like people are crazy.

Ann: It's food.

Aminatou: But what are you going to do?

Ann: I look forward to all the emails we're going to get about how terrible genetically-modified foods are.

Aminatou: Yo, I grew up in Belgium. I am the number one booster of genetically-modified foods. Like you cannot tell me nothing.

Ann: Wait, what is the deal with genetically-modified foods in Belgium?

Aminatou: We love them. They're totally fine.

Ann: Oh.

Aminatou: They're in the grocery store everywhere.

Ann: Did not know that.

Aminatou: Totally okay. It's like the organic food of Belgium. People are just like "Oh, healthy. Great. Awesome." [Laughs]

Ann: Modified to have way more nutrients.

Aminatou: Totally. Like when I moved to the States I was like what are these crazy liberals talking about? This is the best solution. Yeah, I can't wait. I can't wait until the Monsanto people and the genetically-modified people start emailing us. That's going to be the best.

Ann: Can't wait. Can't wait.

Aminatou: Please if you have something to say about genetically-modified foods keep it to yourself. I don't want to hear it.

Ann: Yeah. And then once we hear from big kegel egg, the PR machine . . .

Aminatou: [Laughs] I bet you if anything's going to sink this podcast it's probably big kegel egg.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Once they take a hit out on us it's done. No more Call Your Girlfriend. They're going to mess up your credit, Ann. They're going to take everything we have.

Ann: They're going to tell the assassins that it's just for a reality TV show about women who try high-end weird lifestyle products.

Aminatou: It's like Ann and Amina were at the pool in Palm Springs and two ladies in LOL t-shirts maced them. It's over.


Ann: Okay, let's be real, if you and I were by a pool in Palm Springs we'd probably be very stoned and have a cocktail in hand and if two ladies in LOL shirts came up to us we'd be like "Hey, what's up?" [Laughs]

Aminatou: Mace them before you get maced. This is what I will say though is that the latest Goop cookbook is amazing. I sent you the recipe for lemon tea. No, sorry, it was called Italian tea and it's literally just lemon water. [Laughs]

Ann: Okay, but let me tell you something that I did not reply to in that email thread because I forgot and it got buried which is it actually improved my hot lemon water technique and it's more delicious now.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Like the whole focus on the peel, don't put the whole wedge in, just squeeze it and put the peel in was revolutionary. It's so much better.

Aminatou: I'm not hating on that. That shit is real. People want to talk shit about Goop all the time, but you know what? We learn shit all the time. Also I am on the record as being a Gwyneth Paltrow apologist and really support everything she does but Goop is amazing.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: But I love that recipe because it's so precise and the other thing is you can tell she's getting really lax with her eating because there's definitely like four recipes for avocado toast and they're all called something different.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: And I'm like this is literally bread and avocado, like another variation. What's going on here?

Ann: Not a bad diet. I mean you have some good fats in there. You've got some carbs to keep you going.

Aminatou: Yeah, and then you drink your lemon water with that, it's like best thing ever.

Ann: Oh my god. All right.

Aminatou: This is the best. Okay, now I'm going to go look to see what's in the Goop store.

Ann: Can't wait. Favorite pastime. Send me all the relevant links you find.

Aminatou: Here's what I will tell you about the Goop store: the customer service is incredibly nice. Like whoever . . . if you listen to this podcast and you work in customer service at Goop, thank you for all your hard work. Those people have solved a lot of my problems.

Ann: They probably got on the phone with a lot of people and explained exactly how to insert the jade egg. Let's be real, probably doing the Lord's work.



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 iTunes 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 or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac. See you on the internet, boo-boo.

Ann: See you on the Internet.