Episode 83: Obama Glow Up

Published March 10, 2017.

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, the women's strike, a.k.a. a day without a woman, and International Women's Day. Plus research says men are more aggro in the Trump era, retired President Obama is wearing less and going out more including in the desert which we love, women are having too much fun to retire, plus we take a listener question.

[Theme music]


Ann: Hey!

Aminatou: Hey!

Ann: Mood check. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Mood check. Your girl is so tired.

Ann: I hear you. I just ruined my manicure, replacing the batteries in this recording device . . . [Laughs]

Aminatou: The real struggle.

Ann: The real struggle.

Aminatou: The real, real, real struggle.

Ann: Yeah, this is the real problem.

Aminatou: What's going on?

Ann: Great question. I don't know. I'm between travel stints so, you know, I'm just reveling in my two days at home in-between. That's what's happening with me.

Aminatou: Same here. Didn't we talk about earlier how we were going to try to travel less or whatever this quarter?

Ann: Lies.

Aminatou: And somehow . . . somehow that was not God's plan for my life.

Ann: Lies. I'm going to speak at my alma mater, the University of Missouri this week.

Aminatou: Oooh, go. What's your mascot?

Ann: The tiger.

Aminatou: Go tigers. [Laughs]

Ann: But, you know, like major college athletics -- I don't want to get in trouble with people who are very into university athletics but I took a class. It was actually a sociology class, but the professor was like the leading campus crusader against the dominance of college athletics and basically used the class which was the sociology of aging to indoctrinate all of us about why college athletics are a financial drain and not actually good for people who come to solely get an education. And it really -- looking back I'm like he really informed . . . he informed how I felt. I mean I'm not generally predisposed to be a huge football fan anyway but . . .

Aminatou: I know, but your school has a really good tennis program.

Ann: Really? Who knew?

Aminatou: You should check that out before you turn everything into big football. Some good small sports over there, good people doing good athletics.

Ann: [Laughs] All right. This is my problem for not getting into the lesser-known sports.


Aminatou: I'm also really pro -- well, two things. One, if you went to a state school it's true that it's very shameful when you look up who are the highest-paid state officials in your state or whatever and it's like the football coach is always top three. It's like that's crazy.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: You know? But at the same time I am super pro student athletes. I think student athletes are some of the hardest-working motherfuckers on campuses and don't get rewarded for how hard they work but it's true football sucks the life out of everything.

Ann: Ugh. So yeah, so that. I'm also -- I'm thinking about going . . . there's a weird thing too about going back to a place where you went to school and speaking there, and I'm like I don't know what . . . I have no wisdom to impart. At this point I graduated more than ten years ago so anything that I once had to say about how I got where I am or whatever is not relevant to people who are graduating immediately.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: I don't know, the gap has gotten big enough. I remember being a student and sitting there and being like this person graduated into a world without the Internet. That's totally different. It sounds like a wonderful fantasy land where they only had to write three articles a month and they had no Twitter. I guess I didn't have Twitter either. This is what I'm saying. You know, it was a totally, like at this point . . .

Aminatou: You're going to do just fine.

Ann: I know, but the bar is high! I need to be, I don't know . . . I feel like . . .

Aminatou: What are you getting? Are they giving you one of those fake doctorates or is this just a speech?

Ann: Oh, please. The only degree I have is the one I paid for. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Don't worry, honorary degrees you have to pay for too.

Ann: Wait, you do? I didn't know that.

Aminatou: You've got to give a significant donation and stuff to the school. It's crazy.

Ann: Oh. Holy shit. I had no idea. Anyway, I am not . . .

Aminatou: Nothing is free, man.

Ann: I'm not donating anything except for my time and also my travel during a week of -- when I'm supposed to be not participating in the economy if I care about women. [Laughs]


Aminatou: Oh yeah, the women's strike. Are you participating in the strike? What's going on?

Ann: Well, for purposes of timestamping we're recording this before the strike but I'm traveling that day and so I think I'm going to make like what I would say is sort of a low-key effort where I'm going to ask a male friend to drive me to the airport rather than take a Lyft or a cab and I might pack my own plane snacks. But that's kind of it. And then once I get to Columbia, Missouri I'm going to have dinner at a woman-owned business -- shout out Main Squeeze -- but . . .

Aminatou: Oh god, I love that place.

Ann: I know. It's so good. But anyway that's kind of it though and I probably frankly wouldn't be on the Internet anyway because I'm not going to be sitting in front of a computer. So weirdly it's kind of a moot point for me, but I don't know, are you participating?

Aminatou: I guess yes and no. It's really interesting, right? Because you're just like man, general strikes, not what they used to be. We don't all work at a factory anymore. So I'm definitely not going to spend any money. Like I had decided on doing that. That weirdly doesn't seem like that hard of a thing to do for one day.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Definitely going to wear red. You know, but I think when you're kind of in our weirdo self-employed whatever mode it's really hard to feel like whatever stance that you take matters, you know?

Ann: Right. No one's going to miss seeing me in my house. [Laughs] At work. Yeah.

Aminatou: Exactly. I'm like already not on the Internet this week for various reasons so my impact will not be felt. But at the same time it's like it's really interesting to watch different kinds of constituencies freak out, like all these people like "Well, the Alexandria, Virginia school system is going to be shut down because all these teachers are striking." And you're just like yeah, public school teachers, so many ladies.


It's really interesting to see how the way that work has changed really affects the way that -- what worker solidarity can really look like. I'm interested to see what the coverage of Wednesday will be and what the impact will be.

Ann: Yeah. I mean there has been -- like I guess by the time people are listening to this we'll have some answers to that, but I found even the conversation in advance pretty interesting especially as it relates to class because much like the actual women's march itself I was like oh, god, this is so ridiculous. The only people who can afford to really strike are people who already have a fair amount of economic privilege or jobs like yours and mine, right?

But, you know, when you read the FAQs and I've read some statements from supporters of the strike like Ai-jen Poo who is the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and read why she is supportive of a general strike even understanding that many of the constituents that her organization represents can't strike, I reconsidered it a little bit. But it's hard for me to grasp how a very general like women across professions and striking in all of these different ways will be felt, like the cumulative impact of that feels difficult. It's not the same thing as a bunch of people who physically work in the same place not showing up and demanding one specific, concrete thing in return.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's also interesting hearing from women in European countries recently, that strike in Iceland, right, just hearing how supportive they are of the strike. And they're just like well, you know what? You actually don't know what the strike is going to look like until you start it and until you do it and see where the momentum goes from there. And that was a little exciting to me where it was like yeah, you're right, we can intellectualize this and complain about it and make excuses or whatever but until we actually participate we don't know what the impact looks like.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Who knows? Who knows?

Ann: No, totally. So I guess it's like one of the many weird privileges of being in our specific role that we don't have to take a hard stance. You know, in a way not spending and wearing red which we are both doing is sort of like the soft strike if you will and the hard strike of I'm not showing up and I'm going to send my bosses this letter that says I'm not showing up because I want gender equality is not a decision that we have to make. So I don't know. I'm also curious to start hearing the stories of what happens -- what happens if women do send that letter to their bosses and how do they react?


Aminatou: Yeah. It's just this whole thing is fascinating to me, and also just thinking about how the last time that we tried to do something on this scale was in the '70s. You know, the women's strikes for peace and equality and all of that stuff. So reading back through what all of that looked like and how the '70s were so chaotic, I think we're all agreed that was like the worst decade ever, it's interesting to me that since the '70s nobody has tried something on this scale. And in some ways we're better organized but we're less organized, you know?

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: So who knows? I'm like I'm just here for the historical ride.

Ann: Right. And I think there's also, because you bring up the international context too, there's a bunch of stuff happening around the world that is related to International Women's Day which is what the strike is timed to coincide with but it is more specific. Women in Ireland are striking to repeal abortion restrictions in their country and that's a pretty specific ask. Apparently in China International Women's Day is a day when women get gifts or something. I did not know this. Have you heard any of this before?

Aminatou: No but China has all those weird holidays like the single lady days, the whatever. I feel like every holiday is like give me a gift over there. No clue what's going on.

Ann: [Laughs] Yeah. And also apparently in Argentina there's like a flower-giving, gift-giving tradition on this day.

Aminatou: Yeah.

Ann: But yeah, but I'm really curious about how in the many other nations that are also planning strikes, how it goes down there, because one of the things about having a nation that's a little less populist, places like Austria and Denmark and Sweden, women are planning to strike there too but you can maybe feel the impact a little bit more when it's overall a smaller population.


Aminatou: Yeah. You know, too, the thing about this strike I think that is a little more difficult for me to grasp and it's also entirely kind of in my own court is that I'm not entirely sure what the demands of the strike are. I think that when you look at the 1970s strike, the Betty Friedan one, it's they were like we want to show everybody what the impact of not having women participate in the workforce could be. So it's like while you have all those amazing slogans like don't iron while the strike is hot or don't cook dinner, starve a rat today, it was so clearly focused towards women's participation at work.

And they had these really clear demands. They wanted free abortion on demand. They wanted equal opportunity in employment and education and these 24/7 childcare centers which we still don't have those. And, you know, they honestly kind of did pretty well for themselves. Title IX passed. A ton of the anti-harassment at work stuff was born out of that movement also. And so I don't know what it felt like in the moment but I think in terms of like wow, you ladies accomplished quite a ton of shit with how militant you were, yeah, it's like when I think about kind of what's happening -- what's supposed to happen on Wednesday -- I'm very clear about the solidarity component. I'm not quite clear about what the platform is. That's definitely my own should look more into that.


Ann: Yeah. And I would say that, like I was saying, I was a little bit more skeptical until I read through all of the FAQs which do outline a platform. But, for example, the first question is "What is the goal of a day without a woman?" which is what the general strike is called and it is a one, two, three, four, five, six paragraph answer basically outlining a general intersectional feminist platform for the nation. You know what I mean? It's like a pretty big . . . you're right about solidarity, and I do think that labor and work has been a large focus of at least a lot of the conversation I've seen around it. But the direct ask is not something like equal pay for equal work or making sure that women of color make as much as white men in America or something -- you know, hiring discrimination. It's all in there but it's not like today is the day that we strike because of this tiny, specific, narrow thing.

Aminatou: Yeah, they're just like we're just striking because everything's fucked up. Take your pick. [Laughs]

Ann: Right, and it's like that is -- it is both true, and when you have a really broad-based movement it's hard to pick just one issue that you're striking for. But on the other hand I'm like this is not a Norma Rae kind of specific workplace factory bargaining situation, you know?

Aminatou: But I think that's also kind of what -- even though I know that I sound like somebody who is really ambivalent about what this movement and moment is, the reason that I appreciate it so much is that it is really bold, you know? I think that at every step of the way people have looked at . . . you know, it's like people looked at the march after the election and were like "I don't know, what is this going to accomplish?" And it turned out to be a huge global movement. And it's like who knows what's going to happen Wednesday also? But I appreciate the boldness of it, I appreciate the vision of it, and at the end of the day it's moving the needle forward.

Ann: Yeah. No, totally. And I also think that it's opened interesting conversations especially about unpaid labor which is not just things like childcare and housework but I think about everything you've ever done on social media is unpaid labor or every time you put up with an annoying thing that a male stranger says to you in public it's unpaid labor. Thinking about striking from all of that stuff too is really, really interesting to me. I'm like whoa, it's a day to read books and hang out with each other and go on walks. [Laughs] Which the organizers are not asking people to but I think it's a pretty interesting thought exercise.


Aminatou: Right. It's like capitalism is so sneaky. It is so sneaky.

Ann: I know, it's everywhere. A day without women on Instagram, what does it even look like? You know?

Aminatou: Oh my god, shut it down.

Ann: [Laughs] I know. A day without women on Twitter? Wow, cesspool.

Aminatou: We'll see. I'm excited about checking back in next week into basically what happened.

Ann: Yeah. And I know we would be curious in hearing your strike experiences or how you did it if you want to send us a tweet or an email. We can maybe talk about the ways -- or maybe this is a good voicemail opportunity, the ways that some of the CYG listeners spent their Wednesday, spent their strike day.

Aminatou: That's right, send us a voicemail. It'll be perfect.

Ann: Short and sweet. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yes, please. Please, by all means.

Ann: Last thing about International Women's Day, did you Sophie Trudeau's post about International Women's Day?

Aminatou: No. Wife of Justin the scammer?

Ann: Wife of Justin the scammer. You're going to love this International Women's Day scam. The photo is the two of them in puffy jackets holding hands and the caption is "Are you ready to ignite change? This week as we mark International Women's Day let's celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are." [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god. Plot twist.

Ann: [Laughs] Plot twist. And then of course I'm like ugh, this is the real Trudeau scam here. It's like we're really just celebrating him again.

Aminatou: All the time. All the time. I can't wait for the day we have Justin on the podcast though and we can discuss all of this.

Ann: Yeah. Sophie, if you want to come defend your Instagram post we're here.

Aminatou: Oh my god, that is insane.

Ann: A day without a woman celebrating men on the Internet. Can't wait.


Aminatou: Let's always make it about the boys in our lives.

Ann: Ugh!

Aminatou: That is so wild. These Canadian liberals, man, I'm telling you, constant vigilance. Constant.

Ann: [Laughs] I know. Just in case you were tempted to think it's better.

Aminatou: I love how much you love me though because I know there's a lot going on so the fact that you're keeping tabs on the Trudeaus for me, that's true love.

Ann: Listen, I saw that link and I saved it immediately. Immediately. [Laughs] I thought about texting it to you but I was like I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait until we're doing it live.

Aminatou: Thank you. I literally know nothing that's going on in the news. We were in Palm Springs this weekend and I did not engage really fully with the news except I heard a rumor that Barack Obama was wiretapping people which I fully believe. I'm just like hmm, our new president might be on to something. And then mostly nothing else. So I feel very uninformed right now.

Ann: Well what can I tell you? I mean obviously lots of Cheeto doings. Like not just accusations of wiretapping but, you know, like new executive order, travel ban update, that sort of thing. I don't know that we really need to get into it. I'm just saying. I'm sure you saw some headlines.

Aminatou: We don't need to get into any of it. It's just the fact that you know that it's quiet means the incompetence is there, you know what I mean?

Ann: Oh yeah, it's always there.

Aminatou: I was like what do you mean you took the photo yourself at the executive order signing because nobody else was here? I see this.

Ann: See, you have been reading the news. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Listen, I see tweets.

Ann: I see tweets.

[Music and ads]


Aminatou: I feel like I was going to ask you something really important and now I can't remember. But you'll be happy to know that I've spilled ice cream all over my computer. [Laughs]

Ann: I am happy to know that. I'm drinking LaCroix, not to be confused with LaQua.

Aminatou: You say this just to hurt me.

Ann: No, it's from the Midwest. It's called LaCroix, okay?

Aminatou: First of all, it's from the Midwest, it's called LaCroix is the most insane thing anybody has ever said about that inferior water.

Ann: Listen, how dare you talk about the juice of my people that way. [Laughs]

Aminatou: The juice of your people. You know, after Justin Trudeau LaCroix water is the other big scam I keep tabs on.

Ann: I mean honestly how is it a scam?

Aminatou: It's a scam for many reasons. One, it's basically a soda replacement. It's like for people . . .

Ann: What do you mean basically? It's 100% a soda replacement.

Aminatou: Okay, thank you.

Ann: [Laughs] Yeah.

Aminatou: It's a controversial stance to have.

Ann: Really?

Aminatou: Well, you know, it's like people don't like being told that they're drinking soda and to be fair to the LaCroix it's not sugary but that's the instinct that it taps onto, right? American people love drinking soda and so when they translate that to the water market they're like we're going to give you every single flavor option that's possible.

Also the bubble situation is disgusting. It's like too many bubbles. And also did you know that in the '90s there was a really shady recall of Perrier water? And that's how LaCroix basically claws its way back to the top.


Ann: I mean, let me tell you, I'm from a place where LaCroix was always on top, i.e. where moms of the Midwest drank it as a diet drink when Diet Coke was not diet enough.

Aminatou: Shout out Tab!

Ann: Exactly, shout out to Tab. It was basically a seamless transition from Tab to LaCroix. And I have read some articles on the full story of how it became like costal cool but I get so angry whenever someone is like "It's from where?" I'm like "It's not from Brooklyn. It's not from Brooklyn. You can't have it." [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god, of course it's not from Brooklyn. Listen, I'm mostly fine with it. The coconut flavor is disgusting.

Ann: You know what? I thought so at first.

Aminatou: I think we can all agree on that.

Ann: I thought so at first, but, you know, I was stuck in a house once where there was only coconut and I sort of . . . I sort of learned to not hate it.

Aminatou: And you were like this is just like drinking suntan oil? Sure.

Ann: I mean, anyway.

Aminatou: Okay, I'll let it go. I'll let it go. This is not the hill I want to die on.

Ann: I know. And there's no way -- I mean, listen, I'm holding a hard anti-LaCroix conspiracy line on this podcast.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: It's like we will remain divided on this issue. That's fine. That's fine. But as an editorial POV we are not anti-LaCroix. I need to say that.

Aminatou: Oh my god. I am keeping all of my options open.


Ann: Maybe we can talk about this study about how men are getting more aggro now that Trump is empowering them to act on their basest impulses.

Aminatou: What? Men are getting aggressive because we have an enabler-in-chief?

Ann: I know. It's shocking, right?

Aminatou: Tell me everything.

Ann: [Laughs] Right. So this is a study about gender differences and communication styles.

Aminatou: A.K.A. our favorites.

Ann: A.K.A. definitely our favorite. The paper that resulted from the research is called Trumping Norms -- LOL academics.

Aminatou: Oh my god, I love when the academics get funny. Thank you.


Ann: But basically people negotiating are more adversarial if they're negotiating over something, like duh, rather than just talking about something neutral. But here's the quote: "In particular men were more aggressive when they negotiated with counterparts that they knew were female, using hardball tactics more often," which is a change from the past when they conducted this experiment pre-Trump era.

Aminatou: That's crazy. So give me an example.

Ann: Let me see if there's one in this article. I don't want to just make one up.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: I know, right?

Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: Where I've just made up an anecdote.

Aminatou: Sexism.

Ann: Okay, so dig a little deeper and you're like maybe the previous situation was not better because essentially before the election when men were negotiating with women they were more likely to "display what could be classified as chivalry towards female partners." Basically were like nice when negotiating with women, but are not nice when negotiating with women anymore. That's sort of the gist of it. I don't really know what it means. It's one of those studies . . .

Aminatou: So this is basically just the spectrum of when someone is street harassing you and they go from calling you hey, princess to fuck you in like ten seconds?

Ann: That is exactly what's happening.

Aminatou: Okay, just to be clear.

Ann: Right, with gender discourse. [Laughs] Yes. Speaking of which, did you see the Saturday Night Live skit about this recently?

Aminatou: No. I did not. Tell me.

Ann: Let me just summarize for you, which is a woman walks into a bar alone waiting for her friend. Woman gets hit on by a successive series of men who are wearing futurist female shirts or talking about how they really love the women's march. And as soon as she says she does not want to fuck them they freak out on her.

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Ann: And it felt very relevant if a bit over the top, and as you point out perhaps it's part of a larger trend also confirmed by academia, not just Saturday Night Live.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's always crazy how somebody will go from like "Hey!" to "I hope you die in a fire."

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Don't want to fuck you. That to me has always been such a mindfuck. I'm like I don't understand how this happens so fast.

Ann: Yeah, the switch flips from like . . . well, I don't know. I mean I think it's just like -- it's one of those things where many men, definitely not all men, are only socialized to treat women like humans.

Aminatou: Not all men.

Ann: Hashtag #notallmen. Many men are only socialized to treat women as humans until they can get what they want from them, and as soon as they realize they're not going to get what they want it's like well I don't have to pretend that I think you're human anymore. So . . .

Aminatou: I know, but the thing is even that, as disgusting as that is, it's like the short amount of time in which it happens is fascinating.

Ann: Oh my god, yeah, like the switch you mean? Yeah. It's like as soon as they find . . . as soon as the vaginal garage door goes down, they can see it closing, yeah.

Aminatou: The muffin shop is closed.

Ann: Closed. No muffins here.

Aminatou: That is wild.

Ann: Anyway, but I will say -- the last thing I will say about this study is that of course it's an economist who did this study and she was basically like "We called the paper Trumping Norms but that was just to suggest it's a shift in norms. It's not a political statement. I'm just talking about the economy." And I was like oh my god, I see you clickbait titling your academic paper. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Mm-hmm, at least own it economist lady. Just own it.

Ann: I know. I know. Anyway, so . . .

Aminatou: Ugh, nobody is brave anymore. That's what happened since Trump is president. Nobody is brave. Nobody will say what they think.

Ann: I mean she doesn't want to get the hate mail. Can you blame her?

Aminatou: Ugh.



Aminatou: Ann, have you seen all these photos of Barack Obama just glowing?

Ann: No, but I know he was near us in the desert recently.

Aminatou: Really? When?

Ann: Weren't they in Rancho Mirage? A.K.A. home of some really good thrifting.

Aminatou: Like months ago.

Ann: No, no, no, I thought -- okay, well maybe I'm mixing up my . . .

Aminatou: You know who was near us this weekend, though?

Ann: Who?

Aminatou: Was the Kardashians.

Ann: Really? Tell me more.

Aminatou: All I saw was what I saw on Instagram. I didn't ask Kim about it personally. [Laughs]

Ann: But I mean in vacation house style? That sort of thing?

Aminatou: I think so. There was also like another wedding for some celebrity who . . . but back to these Obama photos. Like first of all there's this picture of him. I guess he came to visit Malia in New York a couple weeks ago. He just looks like the epitome of that Drake song. It's just like wearing less and going out more.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: You're like what is happening here? He just is so suntanned, happy, and honestly that was one of the first times -- every time I see a picture of him and he's smiling and happy I just think like okay, nuclear holocaust is like . . . you know, we can punt that down the line like three more weeks. It's not going to happen imminently. If Barack's happy, I'm happy.

Ann: You think if he's relaxing you really feel comfortable? I think he's just like I've done my best.

Aminatou: Yeah, I feel comfortable. Yeah, totally. I'm like if Barack is smiling we're going to be all right. But then there's this . . . I guess he was back in D.C. with Michele and they went to a museum and it's just like him wearing these ridiculous boot-cut denim. He's just looking like in terrible dad mode but he's so happy carrying around these shopping bags. And I'm just like how can you be so relaxed right now? The entire western world is going to shit.


Ann: Because for once it's not his responsibility to fix it. That's why he can be so relaxed.

Aminatou: [Laughs] It's true. He just looks so, so chill. So chilled out. I can't even handle it.

Ann: I mean think about it. Think about every time you have left a very stressful job. The feeling of not my problem is one of the most powerful emotions that there is. Like such a powerful, positive emotion.

Aminatou: Yeah, it's crazy. Also I was reading super conservative news so I don't know if this is true because I didn't fact-check it in the middle or to the left about how Valerie Jarrett is moving into the Obamas' house with them.

Ann: What?

Aminatou: Yeah, like she's moving in with them. I'm telling you, do a Google. It's all like conservative news outlets. And then I realized these same outlets said that during the presidency Valerie Jarrett lived in the White House which clearly if all of this news is one-sided we shouldn't believe it -- fake news -- but at the same time I'm like this is news I want to believe is true.

Ann: Oh my god, amazing Fox News headline, Valerie Jarrett Moves in with Obama to Setup "Anti-Trump Nerve Center" in quotes. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yo, their new house is big. The new house is big. Daughter off to college. They'll be just fine.

Ann: Wow. 

Aminatou: But how hilarious? I didn't know this conspiracy theory that Valerie Jarrett lived with the Obamas. That makes me really happy. I hope it's true.

Ann: Listen, I am all for non-traditional co-housing arrangements whether it's the Obamas for nerve center purposes or not.

Aminatou: Yeah, especially if it's a housing arrangement that's going to make sure that the whole world doesn't go to shit. I'm like where do I send you a gift basket?

Ann: Oh my god, do you think Valerie Jarrett is going on strike on Wednesday?

Aminatou: Valerie Jarrett is definitely going on strike on Wednesday.


Ann: [Laughs] I'm just like -- I think we've explained it, though. Obama is more . . . we can put the pieces together. Obama is more relaxed and just hanging out in his dad jeans. Meanwhile Valerie Jarrett is moving in and setting up the nerve center. He's basically just delegated worrying about this particular moment.

Aminatou: Yeah, he's going to be fine. I guess this is the problem when you're a super young president, right? It's like he thought he was going to be retired at 50 and then instead it's like no, fuck, you have eight more years of defending your legacy at least.

Ann: I know. Minimum.

Aminatou: Yeah. Meanwhile also you know George Bush has this new book out so he's on book tour right now and so he's on all the morning shows, weirdly also looking very relaxed and alert which is shocking because . . .

Ann: Once you take the plastic off his head he's very alert. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Totally. You know, also it's like morning shows so I'm just like . . . you know with old people it's like after 4 p.m. you're just like are you going down or is it the sun that's going down? What's happening here? He's like super happy, but it's really weird to see people just like embrace this person that was a really terrible president who did terrible things.

Ann: Right, like forget that he started two wars.

Aminatou: Yeah. You know, it's like, yeah, people are just like his foundation is raising money for veterans. And I'm just like yeah, those veterans wouldn't have lost limbs if he didn't send them into fake wars. Hello?

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: You know, on one hand it's complicated because I'm just like I politically did not agree with George Bush on anything. That's putting it mildly. But I didn't think that he was this nefarious villain that we have now, but at the same time that doesn't excuse that what he did was really fucking wrong. So it's really weird to see people rewrite history and embrace him completely and forget kind of the mess we were in while he was president. That has been a huge mind fuck. Is it like people just have really short memories or is it that the new president is so dire that George Bush is a nice guy now?


Ann: It's totally both. It's like two ex-boyfriends ago syndrome, right?

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: Once you go . . .

Aminatou: Two ex-boyfriends ago they were still villains for me, okay?

Ann: Okay, so maybe three. Your mileage may vary but definitely when you go back enough it's kind of like some combination of time heals all wounds and the current crisis being so much worse. I think both of those things are happening.

Aminatou: Yeah. People are just really inconsistent with this stuff. You know, I'm not like going to demonize him and throw pies at him everywhere he goes or whatever but at the same time don't turn him into a fucking folksy hero. That's nuts.

Ann: Yeah, it's true. I'm not here for that.

Aminatou: It's kind of nuts. But he's also weirdly very self-deprecating which I think that helps.

Ann: Yeah. I mean honestly we know Obama is really relaxed right now but seriously George Bush can be like "I'm not the worst president of the past two decades." Like he can basically have that.

Aminatou: I know. That's actually insane to me.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: That is a plot twist for the ages.

Ann: No wonder. No wonder he is so happy.

Aminatou: Ugh. We're going to be okay. I just wish Obama would tell us more, like what's going on. It's just like just tell us. Send us subliminal messages.

Ann: Oh, hey, P.S., I Googled and I figured out the Rancho Mirage thing which is that they are rumored to have bought  house there. That's what it is.

Aminatou: Oh yeah, definitely. But I thought that you meant they were there this weekend.

Ann: No, no, no, as in they put a stake down there.

Aminatou: Yeah, because that guy that was the social secretary owns a house there. So smart. Rancho Mirage is one of my favorite rich neighborhood names. It's perfect.

Ann: Like this is all an illusion. [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's literally a rancho mirage.

Ann: I know, it's true. Really good thrifting though.

Aminatou: Like most rich neighborhoods, excellent thrifting.

Ann: Not true. I would say that's not a universal truth.

Aminatou: What?

Ann: Yeah, sometimes a rich neighborhood will only have a teeny, tiny American Cancer Society upscale resale shop and that's a problem.

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Ann: Seriously. It really depends on the size of the town and the demo of the rich people. I will go to the mat on this thrift store science. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Listen, I'm down. Anything that makes you break down rich people thrift to me I'm down for.

Ann: Yeah, it's a special combo of it being an area with not a lot of income stratification, so Rancho Mirage is sort of like a rich enclave on its own, where the rich people are really old. Like all the really good thrifting is where rich, old people isolate themselves so . . .

Aminatou: Florida.

Ann: The gold coast of Florida as I like to call it, the gold coast of thrifting, or Arizona retirement communities, or Palm Springs are great clusters of rich people just getting rid of decades of incredible vintage that they've held onto. Just tons of silky blouses. And it being also a hobby for the rich people, right? So rich old ladies working at the charity shop to fill the time in their day is a thing they do and so that's the other reason why it's so good.

Because in a bigger city, you'll have a rich neighborhood in the middle of a big city say, but you won't find those rich people working at the resale shop when they're retired. Like it just doesn't happen. It's a very special combo of things. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Your gifts are really wasted in journalism. My god.

Ann: Listen. Honestly, the vacation that I would love to do to treat myself sometime is just a tour of retirement communities in Arizona or something just for the thrifting. I'll rent a large vehicle and do that. [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's like Ann in a van going around.

Ann: Oh my god, Ann in a van. Which fashion publication can I get to underwrite my silky blouse tour of the southwest? I'm so ready.

Aminatou: Oh my god, you can say that you're going to visit Trump voters and then it's a double whammy.

Ann: Oh my god, yes. Retired Trump voters.

Aminatou: You're like "I'm really trying to understand these retired Trump voters."


Ann: You know, I did -- I did for a long time, a friend of mine was in Florida putting an older relative into a retirement home and working on getting that setup and had so much incredible gossip for me from that area. And I really thought for a long time, I was like I've got to find some way to just go hang out there, like Golden Girls fantasy.

Aminatou: It's my favorite genre of journalism is when they're like people in retirement homes have too many STDs and it's always the same three retirement homes they're writing about but we still read about it all the time. [Laughs]

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: Like sold.

Ann: Right. And I'm sure there's more . . . I mean talk about places that are not seriously covered, right? Like I mean has anyone ever looked into whether sexual assault is also prevalent there? When I think about groups of people who don't have access to information about contraception, and I'm like do they also have info about consent? What else is happening there, you know?

Aminatou: I know. Oh, man, geriatrics journalism. I'm all in. As long as it results in me getting furs and silky blouses I support this. I support this career move for you.

Ann: Okay.

Aminatou: How do I facilitate this?

Ann: I mean I think that we both could really scam our way into separate assignments and I'll be like meet me in Fort Myers or whatever. [Laughs] And then, I don't know, I have a great vision of you and I in a condo. The other thing about retirement areas like this, the road is always super wide, like confusingly wide.

Aminatou: I know, and everybody has a golf cart. I am so down for a golf cart.

Ann: You can drive the golf cart.

Aminatou: Yes! Yes, queen!

Ann: We can play some gin rummy, my favorite.

Aminatou: Ugh, done and done and done.

Ann: Okay.

Aminatou: I'm the worst gin rummy player you know.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: I also have no pride so it's cool.

Ann: If we play a few hands I bet you you'll get better.

Aminatou: This is exactly what Phoebe tried. Not true.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: I don't get -- I play but I don't understand.

Ann: I know. Phoebe is like a gin rummy shark, though. [Laughs]

Aminatou: She is, like Bin 65 her whole life.

Ann: I know. Oh my god, speaking of, did you see this article from last month about women who are "having way too much fun to retire?" Who could afford to?

Aminatou: Yeah, you were telling me about it. Tell the rest of the CYG audience. It's so good.


Ann: Oh my god. Well there's just some new analysis that women in their 60s, like post-retirement age, more of them are working since the late '80s or something like that. Like the numbers have been going up. And when they interview them about why that is, there's obviously some who are like "I need the money, like I don't have a nest egg." Which is the narrative I really associate with women in retirement, right? There's all this data that says because of being paid less over a lifetime and not building wealth in the same way that men do women don't have as much retirement savings.

Aminatou: Yeah, to retire on.

Ann: But apparently these women in this one article are like we enjoy our jobs and we don't want to leave them which I think is shocking. Like this woman says "The money is nice of course but I did it," as in got another job, "because I found I could not just stay at home. I really like the fast pace."

Aminatou: That's so crazy. I could retire yesterday.

Ann: Listen, we just laid out our retirement fantasy. We have golf cart fantasies and yet these women are out here getting real estate licenses and saying they're excited to work at Starbucks. I'm like what?

Aminatou: It's also probably just the social component. When I think about a lot of those women that are profiled there, if they're not married or they don't have, I don't know, traditional families, it's true that being at home is really lonely and you get all your social kicks at work. And it's like if you don't need the money and you go to work, my god, that's like the best scenario for having fun with people.

Ann: Ultimate don't give a fuck.

Aminatou: That's right. You're like I'm not even here for the money.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: That's incredible. That's incredible.

Ann: I mean I do get it. I get being someone who's oriented your ideas of how is your life meaningful, like at least in part, around work for a long time. That's something I relate to.

Aminatou: Yeah, I don't relate to that. I'm like if I could retire yesterday and didn't need the money I would 100% do it. Sit by the pool and read magazines? Sold.

Ann: A retirement without a woman. [Laughs]


Aminatou: Yeah. I'm like there's no nobility in working too hard.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: I would love this.

Ann: Do you want to take a listener question?

Aminatou: Let's take a listener question.


Ann: "Hi Amina and Ann. On the podcast you've talked about calling your representatives in times of turmoil to express your opinion. How would you deal with living in a conservative state and feeling like your representatives are so far up the Cheeto's rear end -- cough, Ted Cruz -- that they won't take your voice into consideration? Sincerely, Stuck in Texas."

Aminatou: Man. Hello, SIT. Sit. I mean so here's the deal, right? All of our representatives are obsessed with getting reelected. That's literally what fuels them all of the time. And I know that it seems that when you live in deep blue states like we do that our representatives are listening to us all the time and the truth is that's actually not true, and kind of the events of the last couple weeks have shown how important it is even for us to just remind them what we care about by constantly calling and by organizing and by getting them to change their minds. Because otherwise all these people do is go to work and buddy/buddy with terrible people.

I was reading that guide online, the Indivisible Guide, that was put out by a couple of people who used to work in Congress and they basically lay out what the . . . you know, people are calling it like the reverse Tea Party techniques essentially for organizing and making sure that your elected officials listen to you. And the truth is there are ways to make these people listen to you. And I know that it can feel really overwhelming and it can feel like they don't share your values or whatever but the truth is if you find enough people that will organize with you and that will show up with you and will be relentless with you you then become a problem for them and they 100% listen to you whether they show it to you or not.


That's why we're seeing all of this incredible footage of these cowardly representatives who are running away from people at their ACA town halls and all sorts of things. Like they care. And it doesn't mean that you need 100 people behind you. Just like five people showing up creating problems for them is enough for them to think about reelection.

Ann: Yeah, and I think that for me anyway as satisfying as it is when my senators and representatives vote the way I would like them to vote it's equally frustrating to sort of say I call Paul Ryan or whatever, and because I'm not a constituent, he can basically say like who cares? I don't need to listen to her. And Amina is totally right that your representatives, even if you feel like you don't have any hope of getting them to vote the way you want them to, they have to at least listen to you.

And so you are in a very powerful position and one that I wish your situation were way more common of someone who is like I'm engaged. I'm informed. I disagree with my representative and I am ready to let them know. And the end of the question, which is what if they won't take your voice into consideration? It's like well, yeah, they have someone who's going to log down what is your zip code and which way do you want this person to vote? So, you're right, maybe there are more people calling in the opposite side. But there's like -- I don't know, I think that that is a hopeful . . . there is space to at least make sure they have to log that you dissent.


Aminatou: You know, and they do. I think that it's also -- this is why I recommend the Indivisible Guide so much because it's written by people who used to have the jobs of the people that you call and yell at now all the time. Which, I want to be really clear, when you call your congressman's office please don't yell at anybody. Those people do not get paid enough money even if you don't politically agree with them for a lot of the frustration they take but they're kind of like the front lines.

And so the reason that the guide to me at least is really powerful is because it really helped me to understand what all the avenues for communicating with my elected officials was. You know, it's like clearly I'm writing letters and -- I'll write letters and I'll do a phone call but showing up to a town hall was something that I had never considered and have now done and realized like oh, this is how. This is how I get in the face of this person that I've been trying to reach on the phone for so long. And it also helps you recognize who all the other people are that are on your side of this issue.

Ann: I'm happy. I'm happy you're in Texas. I'm sorry you feel stuck but I'm personally happy you are there fighting the good fight in Texas.

Aminatou: I know. I am so -- ugh, I am so happy.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Okay, Stuck in Texas, good luck.

Ann: Good luck.


Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, or 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 callyrgf@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook -- look it up yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voice mail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This would be a great way to tell us how you spent the women's strike. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.

Ann: See you on the Internet.

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