Episode 89: The Indignities of being a woman

Published April 21, 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, there's going to be a British election! Can't wait/oh my god, it's so soon. Plus Justin Trudeau is not just a scammer, he's a climate scammer. The EPA executive order that Trump signed is open for comments soon, and there's been some gender trouble in the science march organizing. Plus Barack Hussein Obama, Instagram husband, and we've got a brief interview with Tavi Gevinson.

[Theme music]


Ann: How are you doing?

Aminatou: You know . . . [Laughs] I'm surviving.

Ann: [Laughs] I mean I was going to say I was drinking earlier, but actually I'm drinking right now so that would be not an accurate thing to say.

Aminatou: Great Kanye reference. Thanks. I had another great day of being very productive. That's why I'm recording this podcast at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Ann: Shocking.

Aminatou: Consumer-protected myself some more today. I went to see Six Degrees on Broadway yesterday and it was a revelation. It was so . . .

Ann: Is that starring Kevin Bacon?

Aminatou: [Laughs] So rude, Ann. But, you know, that's exactly what I asked when Bobby and Shawnee were like "Come see Six Degrees with us." I had never seen the movie before but I'm going to watch it after we hang up.

Ann: This is Allison Janney, correct?

Aminatou: Yes, it's Allison Janney. She's great. Every time she opened her mouth you were dying but also the play is really well-paced. Everybody in it is incredible. Whatever the word for cinematography for the theatre is, like stagecraft or whatever, it's done really well. [Laughs] Can you tell I'm a new theatre-goer?

Ann: I know, it's really cute.

Aminatou: I'm just like wow, what an HD experience we're having. I've been to the theatre like four times in the last month so this is like big for me. So I'm about to cancel my cable and just recycle that money into going to plays.

Ann: Ugh. I mean that is like the ultimate -- when people list reasons why they could never leave New York and they list the theatre as one of them, it's never the people who actually go. You know what I mean? It's always the people who are sort of theoretically theatre-goers. And so I love hearing about people, because it is such -- not that New York is the only place in the world where you can see great live theatre but it is uniquely wonderful there and I just love the idea of people who love New York loving theatre.


Aminatou: Yeah. And, you know, also this is big for me because that part of town is just like a hellhole to get to. So if you can get me anywhere near Times Square you know I really want to be here.

Ann: They make you prove your devotion.

Aminatou: It's crazy, but yeah. New theatre-goer, really loving it. Still can't really mess with musicals I don't think. I saw Color Purple and Hamilton last year and I kept telling people how Color Purple was better just to troll them and they'd lose their minds.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: But I kind of mean it, Color Purple was amazing. Shout out Danielle Brooks and Cynthia Erivo, like so good. And I saw that on a Sunday so it was literally like going to church. It was hilarious.

Ann: I think watching The Color Purple, even if it's in digital format on a laptop at home, should count as church.

Aminatou: Yeah. It's just that musicals are a little too much. I don't like exuberance. You know, it's like people are singing at you? I just want to die the whole time.

Ann: I also struggle with musicals.

Aminatou: Whew.

Ann: I have an ex who was very into musicals which sort of wrecked it for me. But also I have a problem I think with the cadence of a lot of musicals where it's like, you know, "Ah, ah."

Aminatou: [Laughs] Please don't do that. It sounded like a musical and I want to die.

Ann: Exactly. There's like everything has an uptick. Like, you know, this idea that the way -- the sing-songy way of speak-singing in a musical? Oh my god. Like really I struggle. I really do.

Aminatou: It's all of it is just very corny also. I'm like are you guys serious? Are we doing this right now? And we're always doing it right now. [Laughs] It's so . . . musicals are . . . but again it's not the quality of the musical; it's really me and my openness to singing and dancing and exuberance. Emotionally I'm not there yet. Maybe like 15 more years of therapy and I will get there, but right now it's too much.


Ann: I mean I'm very into exuberance. I think I'm comfortable just saying as a mode of creative expression musicals are not for me. Like I'm totally fine. I get why other people would like them. But it's like saying you're not into brutalist architecture, or like . . .

Aminatou: I love brutalist architecture. [Laughs]

Ann: Of course you do. Or, you know, like figurative painting, whatever. It's just a genre I'm not that into.

Aminatou: It's true. And before anybody writes me and tells me that I'm like a Hamilton hater, I am not a Hamilton hater. In fact there is one song on the Hamilton soundtrack that I heard one time. I was at the gym and it came on shuffle on my Spotify, and I was like "What is this? This is amazing!" [Laughs] You know how fast I was running? And then I looked down and I was like my life -- this cannot be serious. This is crazy.

Ann: You got got.

Aminatou: But no, it's like a banging song. It could be on the radio. Oh, also, I was telling you offline but I'm going to tell you online on the podcast, one thing about Broadway that is nuts is how much boobs and penis I have seen recently. Honestly -- and every time I gasp and I'm the only person in the theatre gasping. [Laughs] This is worse than HBO.

Ann: You mean better than HBO.

Aminatou: Yeah, who knew Broadway is what would turn me into a prude? But it happened.

Ann: I mean certainly if you're there at all you've engaged into a certain demographic, you know? Or have the wealth of a certain demographic. So you might as well be on the lookout for the sexual mores of a certain demographic.

Aminatou: True. I just bought solo tickets to go see something by myself this summer and I was like that's when I knew. I was like wow, I want to come back to this alone? I'm into it now.


Ann: I love that. I love going to movies alone and so I can only imagine that going to the theatre alone is exponentially better.

Aminatou: How are you doing over there?

Ann: Ugh, I also already ranted to you about this and I'm going to be brief but I'm just going to say that I was body-shamed by my gynecologist today and I'm very angry about it.

Aminatou: I am so angry on your behalf, Ann.

Ann: Okay, we had a slight fight about BMI and whether it's a relevant number. And so that side, because that's a whole conversation that is probably deserving of a whole entire episode, she essentially suggested that I get cosmetic surgery or a cosmetic procedure on my varicose veins. And I was like listen, these have been in my family for generations. You can't really like -- I don't know. It wasn't also that I was consulting her help. I wasn't like "I feel unsecure about . . ." Unprompted about a problem that was not medical. She was like here's a cosmetic thing you can do to air quote "fix" a thing I had not identified as a problem with my body.

Aminatou: You're like is this covered under my well woman's visit or are you just trying to upsell me bullshit?

Ann: And not even her, right? It's not even her upselling me. It's not like she's like "Come into this room where I will cosmetically improve your body." She was just like -- I mean, honestly, and looked a little baffled about why I was clearly getting angry and defensive. It was shocking, truly.

Aminatou: It is just this assumption that it's something you should be insecure about or you should not like because conventional wisdom says we have to worry about everything.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: It's also dumb. It's like hi, this doctor is actually the doctor where you're the most vulnerable at. Like I'm about to show you the inside of my vagina. Please don't comment on other parts of my body unless medically necessary.

Ann: Oh my god, can I tell you . . .

Aminatou: And I just cannot believe the level of insensitivity there.

Ann: I know. My feet -- when she brought this up I was literally in the stirrups. I was doing what I like to call the unhappy baby pose, like if it were a position.

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Ann: And so obviously the most vulni. You know how sometimes -- a reaction that I have occasionally when someone is saying something so outrageous is actually confusion at first, where I'm like wait, maybe I'm not hearing you right. You can't be suggesting . . . so I asked her several different ways is there a medical problem with my veins? Is this a medical thing I should be worried about? I seriously thought about it benefit of the doubt style until I realized what she was actually saying. Then I got very angry, and the end.

Aminatou: You should leave her a review, or when you eventually leave her practice and go see somebody else, that is feedback you can give her over email or let her know that that's why you're not coming back.

Ann: Oh, 100%.

Aminatou: Because I guarantee you she's doing it to other people, you know? Maybe she doesn't realize just how problematic it is and that really . . . that's nuts. That is so nuts.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: It's one of the most vulnerable medical visits that you have.

Ann: Anyway . . .

Aminatou: Of course I don't want to hear about other problem areas.

Ann: I know! Yeah, whatever. And she has said to me in the past -- I'm ashamed to admit I've been seeing this person for a while, so it's not like this is . . . but this is the first time something like this has happened.

Aminatou: It's not your fault, Ann.

Ann: [Laughs] Thank you.  But she said something a while ago where she was like "Oh, I always try to be a little bit more engaged than just with the basic annual exam because a lot of my patients don't see a primary care physician every year and I know they see me every year." Which sounds reasonable to me if you're talking about something medical.

Aminatou: Yeah, but it's not reasonable if she's like "Hey, have you considered cutting your bangs?" That's not relevant. [Laughs]

Ann: Yeah, what if she was like "That lip color isn't really working for you. What if you switch it up?"

Aminatou: [Laughs] Do you ever get this at the OBGYN, or is it just me? Every time you're in the chair they're always like "Can you drop your butt a little more?"

Ann: Oh my god, always. Slide down. Move down.

Aminatou: Always. And I'm like how much further can I slide down on this thing without falling? And it always makes me feel like a complete idiot. I'm like ah, I thought I was ready!


Ann: I know. You know what? It's like the body recoils, you know what I mean? The body's like no.

Aminatou: Oh man, my body totally recoils. I'm at the point now where whenever I go to the gynecologist I always have to be really clear with them, especially if it's for something else, like when you go to the ER or something. They're like "We want to check to see if everything is fine down there." I always have to tell them that I was a trauma victim because I find that if you say that to them they understand why my legs will just not open.

Ann: Right, right.

Aminatou: I get so nervous. But honestly having an honest conversation with your doctor and just telling them what your deal is, for me at least, has been really transformational because I cannot handle a pelvic exam and it's just like very traumatic every time. And now I'm like we have the conversation. They're super-gentle. In fact, recently I had a baby doctor who was a man and the minute I saw him I turned into my mother and was like "Can you even be in here?" [Laughs] It was so crazy. I was so just like no way, no way this person is touching me and no way are they doing a pelvic exam on me. And, Ann, it is honestly the most gentle pelvic exam I've ever had. Like we had a conversation. He totally got it and he was like "This is what I'm going to do." I didn't feel a thing which to me is just nuts and I couldn't believe I had pre-judged him.

Ann: Baby doctor with the velvet touch. I love that.

Aminatou: Yeah, he was great. I like wrote the hospital. I was like promote this kid. He's the best.

Ann: Yeah. But it's so funny how -- I would love to hear more about how . . . because for me, anyway, this is the sort of thing where I'm sure I projected that I was upset or angry in the moment. But it's not until I left that I could be like you know, that was really fucked up, and say it. It's very difficult for me in the room with a doctor to think that quickly or process here's what I'm mad about. There's something about like, I don't know, I don't know what it is. Maybe it is just the . . .


Aminatou: No, it's them not being there. Because I think that initially -- you know, it's not just at the doctor. I think that when you're confronted with information like this, it's the same way where sometimes people will say racist shit in the moment and you're like "Wow, that's crazy." And it's not until you leave that you're like oh my god. Honestly some of it is shock, you know? Some of it is shock and some of it is also just not preparing yourself for having conversations like that in the moment. Like, you know, the racism example is a bad example because I think that that's just fight or flight at this point. But I think that something like the doctor, it really sucks that you have to make worst-case scenarios for yourself. But just thinking through, like if somebody says this this is what I want to say. But also waiting a little bit until you've fully processed it is good too because you're super vulnerable in that moment.

I remember one time I was sick and I had a friend come to the hospital with me and I was so shocked at how having somebody -- she basically turned into my health advocate, and I was like wow, is this what marriage is like when you go to the hospital with someone and literally you have another brain in the room? Because all you are is feelings when you're there, and having somebody who can just articulate all those things for you is so important and it's really a game-changer.

Ann: Totally, or someone who is just not so personally affected who can process things faster or differently. Yeah.

Aminatou: Yeah, having my friend yell at a nurse and be like "Hey, you're going to have to explain this form to her again because you were doing another thing with her arm when you were telling her that," I'm like wow.

Ann: Aww!

Aminatou: Like thank you. And then the form was crazy. It's like "We're probably going to kill you. Sign here." I was glad I read it.

Ann: We really have to get it together to do a medical extravaganza episode.

Aminatou: We do. We have so many CYG docs in the family too. We can just do it.

Ann: I know. We have like a slate of specialists by this point. [Laughs]


Aminatou: Seriously, we have surgeons, we have abortion providers, we've got so many GYNs. I believe we have a cosmetic surgeon also if you want me to inquire. [Laughs]

Ann: Stop, it's too soon. It's too soon.

Aminatou: I'm sorry, baby. You are just right.

Ann: I know, I feel great. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I hate that lady for you.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: Maybe that's the trick is that whenever you come back from a hard doctor's visit it's your friend who gets to complain for you. It's like "Hello, Dr. So-and-so? I am very displeased with how you treated my friend today. Here's the 411."

Ann: "Yeah, she's very upset. She needed a joint and two beers before she could chill out enough to podcast." [Laughs] This is real.

Aminatou: I know. You know, I know that we're making jokes but I'm really sorry that happened to you. It sucks.

Ann: I know. Thank you. I mean also worth -- this is funny, because I thought about this. I was like is this too personal? Then I'm like no, actually this is the kind of shit that happens to women all the time. It's not personal; it is just like a thing. It's a thing that happens.

Aminatou: Yeah. We really crossed a lot of "Is this too personal?" boundaries on this segment.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: [Laughs] You know what? We do it all for our listeners.

Ann: It's true. I also don't feel sad at all to confess to the listenership of this podcast that I have a cluster of varicose veins on my right calf. I'm like there are more personal details about me, you know what I mean?

Aminatou: Aww, you're the most beautiful woman in the world. Don't let that lady make you feel bad.

Ann: Aww. Never.

Aminatou: It's crazy. You know, the indignities of being a woman, I was thinking this today when I was on all fours hunting for my birth control pill. [Laughs] I was like this.

Ann: Did you drop it and have to chase it down?

Aminatou: Yeah, I like dropped it then I looked for it everywhere on the floor, on my wood floors. And then you also know I'm OCD so when I found it I was like "I cannot possibly swallow this."

Ann: Oh my god, what did you do?

Aminatou: Like no, I'm too . . . [Sighs] It's still been sitting here and I've been Googling how to clean a birth control pill. It's been six hours. I have to take it in 12 minutes for it to be 24 hours.

Ann: Oh my god, faith in your immune system. One gulp. You can do it.


Aminatou: Ann, it's dirty!

Ann: I know you can do it. I know you can do it. You've got that good immunity.

Aminatou: This is how I get a baby because I didn't want to deal with a dirty birth control pill.

Ann: I know, do you want OCD or do you want a baby?

Aminatou: Honestly? It's 50/50 right now.

Ann: Dear god. How much is Asahd Khaled weighing in on your war of having a baby at this moment?

Aminatou: Baby Asahd! I love him. He's a mogul baby. Okay, fine, I'm going to take it on the air right now with you.

Ann: Yeah!

Aminatou: You're right, way to tell me. Yeah, you're right, it's like the minute we said baby I'm like this is ridiculous. Okay, here we go. I'm taking my birth control.

Ann: On the air. Is this a podcasting first?

Aminatou: Taken.

Ann: Yeah! I'm so proud of you!

Aminatou: I took it with water, not wine, so you know it's definitely going to work. [Laughs]

Ann: I'm so proud of you.

Aminatou: Yay! Okay. Ugh. The things we have to do today. Check that off of my to-do list.

Ann: Check, check.

[Music and ads]


Ann: Maybe we should talk about the news. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Ugh. The only thing I know that's in the news is how the British are having an election in like six weeks and it made me laugh. It's the only news thing I saw today.

Ann: We actually got some listener mail about this. One of our listeners in the UK was essentially like "Help, I need some advice on being a digitally-active person."

Aminatou: What?

Ann: "To get involved in this campaign, because we've only got six weeks to get it together."

Aminatou: That's crazy. Theresa May is my favorite villain. She's just like Jeremy Corbyn is useless right now so I need to have this election today.

Ann: Yeah. Disney villain strategic.

Aminatou: Problematic bae. [Laughs] I love that Brexit has just fucked up the game where she has to have an election to prove that she is in control so that two years down the line where they actually have to do the Brexit shit and she is no longer in control she's secured a larger majority. It's dastardly.

Ann: I mean also it's not just to prove that she's in control, right? It's because she's like oh -- like she sees the writing on the wall for Labour and is like let's get their sad few remaining seats for ourselves.

Aminatou: So in the UK they don't like digitally organize everything? Because in America whenever we have a problem we tweet about it. What's going on?

Ann: So this listener writes . . . I mean essentially she is not writing as an expert. She's writing as a "Yo, can you point me to some resources?" where she says "I'm a student nurse, a lifelong Labour voter, and I'm starting to work in a sector that is falling apart around us. There's not a chance in hell the Tories will ever do a single thing to help protect the NHS and support it, never mind everything else they get up to too. So my big question is do you have any advice for campaigning online? I've been in touch with my local Labour office. I plan to go out and campaign locally as much as I can. But I also live in a very Labour-safe area, so I'm not too worried about how people locally to me will vote. I would like to be more focused in my personal campaign efforts on reaching non-voters and those who live in areas where their vote will have more impact."


My guess would be that if you're already in touch with the local party office they can probably help you out in doing what you can outside of your local area as well. That would be my guess. But I don't know if someone has better resources.

Aminatou: Yeah. If somebody has UK-centric GOTV resources holler at us which I know a lot of people who are listening to this do.

Ann: Totally. Politically-active ladies in the UK who are hearing this, we know you're there. [Laughs] I don't know. We've got a few podcasts between now and the election so . . .

Aminatou: [Laughs] The election is next week. Just kidding.

Ann: I mean June 8th is practically next week. It's June 8th.

Aminatou: I wish we would do elections like this in America. Like this is . . . it's just like six weeks.

Ann: Rip the band aid off elections?

Aminatou: Yeah, get your shit together.

Ann: We'll update you on that one.

Aminatou: Okay, let's go around the world. In Canadian news somebody else has noticed that Justin Trudeau is Justin the Scammer.

Ann: Oh my god, did they credit us?

Aminatou: I know, give us credit. So problematic weather bae Bill McKibben . . . [Laughs]

Ann: [Laughs] Problematic climate bae.

Aminatou: Oh my god, problematic climate bae Bill McKibben has written an op-ed for The Guardian that is maybe my favorite headline ever: Stop Swooning Over Justin Trudeau. The Man is a Disaster for the Planet. Google it and read every word. Like all of it is hilarious. "Donald Trump is a creep and unpleasant to look at, but at least he's not a stunning hypocrite when it comes to climate change." [Laughs] Bill McKibben, who are you?

Ann: I mean this is fair.


Aminatou: Justin Trudeau seems very liberal but does some really F-ed up stuff.

Ann: He also doesn't mention those women who approached him for a selfie and were like "Gotcha!"

Aminatou: Yes!

Ann: "What are you doing about indigenous rights?"

Aminatou: I love those ladies.

Ann: Yeah, anyway, so it's all about this 173 billion barrels of oil that are estimated to be in the Alberta tar sands and the fact that Justin Trudeau wants to extract them and burn them up and put them in the atmosphere.

Aminatou: Ah! To quote Bill McKibben, he's a brother to the old range guy in Washington. [Laughs] I just can't believe -- it's like the headline made me laugh a lot but it's actually like serious stuff. So there we go. I love that we've had a little international update. Let's take it back home. What's going on at home?

Ann: Oh my god, more sciencey things. Well, you probably have heard that there are some science marches happening this weekend and there's also I think -- in some ways tying in with that, and in some ways tying in with some other stuff that's going on, some organizing around other climate stuff, some letter-writing campaigns to try to keep the US committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. Yeah, there are some petitions circulating and the time is now to call Scott Pruitt at the EPA and say "Please do not abandon the Paris Climate Agreement because we would like to still have air to breathe and to not have crazy, fluctuating climates." I don't know what else to say about that.

Aminatou: Sounds reasonable to me.

Ann: 100%.

Aminatou: Where is a good place to organize all of this letter writing at?

Ann: Well, there are a few gotos, like some of the climate groups. The Sierra Club has a petition to protect public lands. There is a petition also through the Sierra Club to enforce the Paris Climate Agreement. There's a few things going through the big environmental groups. But it's also a period of time when you can comment on Trump's executive order that relates to the EPA, which shout out to our listener who hipped us to this being open for comment right now.


Aminatou: We've talked about this on this podcast before, but the thing about these official comments is that people are required to read them, like people who actually make this policy are required to read them. So if you have something meaningful and smart to say somebody will look at it. It's a really outsize way to make your voice count.

Ann: Yeah. And essentially you could leave a comment that just says "I want to see environmental regulations enforced even if they may inhibit job creation, even if they have some costs associated with them," things like that. Like a lot of the Trump executive orders, I think there is some confusion about how this might actually be applied or how it might be in practice. But I think people are seeing this open comment period as a way to essentially voice general support for an EPA that is a powerful regulatory body that actually has teeth as opposed to just being a thing that sits there and doesn't keep air or water clean. There is a link we will put in the reading links on callyourgirlfriend.com where you can leave a comment. Comments close on May 15th so you've got almost a month.

Aminatou: But don't wait a month. Do it right now.

Ann: Do it right now.


Ann: Are you science marching this weekend?

Aminatou: I am not science marching this weekend but now I feel like I should.

Ann: Have you followed some of the conversation where all these scientists are disagreeing about how to characterize the science march and whether diversity and inclusion matter?


Aminatou: Honestly that's kind of why I got turned off from the science march very early on. It was clear there was a definite inclusion problem when it came to like race, when it came to people with disabilities, and different kinds of perspectives. It was like shocker, white guys try to organize everything themselves. But I notice that Bill Nye the Science Guy has gotten involved and there seem to be some posi discussions. But I was so turned off early on I never went back in to check what was going on.

Ann: Yeah, I mean I also had read a few things about -- not only stuff about inclusion, but debates about how "political" to be which is so funny to me. I understand that part of the reason for a pro-science march is to say that we want facts that are not suppressed because of someone's ideology, but the people who are opposed to diversity inclusion are also not really recognizing that the questions you ask when you approach research and the people you have in mind when you do a study that is supposedly unbiased are actually shaping the work that you're doing. That seems like probably a question that a lot of women who are doing work in STEM fields and a lot of people who are from underrepresented groups who are working in STEM fields face all the time, right? In sort of saying "Oh, you think this is neutral? Actually it's totally not neutral."

One of the organizers pretty publicly this week bowed out of the Science March D.C.'s organizing committee where she talked about some of the problems with the leadership organization and the way that a lot of people were marginalized within it. So I hear your skepticism. I looked at the slate of speakers at my local march in LA and I was pretty excited to hear from them and they do seem like an interesting group from diverse backgrounds and disciplines. And so I'm going to show up. Haven't decided what's going to be on my poster yet.


Aminatou: Okay. I will revisit this issue and we'll just recycle my poster that says "I can do this every Saturday."

Ann: [Laughs] Is there a more scientific way you could say Saturday? I mean . . .

Aminatou: I don't know. I'll look into it. I bet you the posters are going to be off the chain though.

Ann: I know. Totally. But yeah, ultimately I'm going because I really love science and the people I know who are science-oriented are people who are I think working in really interesting ways to improve the world. You know what I mean? It's a very different sort of approach. In many ways it's even more long-game than a lot of political organizing and that's something I want to support.

Aminatou: Okay, that's fair. Also the sentence "I'm going because I love science" really made me feel warm and fuzzy and awesome.

Ann: I mean it is weirdly because I don't consider myself a leading brain in science or anything. I'm like it is almost like religion to me where I'm like how does it work? But I am sort of in awe of people who do science.

Aminatou: Yeah. Like science, yas queen! [Laughs]

Ann: I think you just made my poster for me.

Aminatou: [Laughs] I got you. I got you. There's some good science coverage out there too. I really like -- the BuzzFeed science desk is great actually. I feel like I learn something new all the time.

Ann: Yeah. 100%. Science reporting that does not just link to summaries of studies and actually interviews researchers or goes deep. The best.

Aminatou: The best. Ugh, okay. Que mas? Que mas?

Ann: Oh, one last thing on the science tip. When we mentioned a few episodes ago that we want to see more scientists running for office, and apparently there's an organization called 3-14 Action which aims to do exactly that. So thanks to the listener who hipped us to that. It's at 314action.org and if you have a human who is science-oriented in your life and you want to encourage them to run for office point them in that direction.


Aminatou: Yas, queen! Science! [Laughs] I can say that all night.


Aminatou: My favorite thing that happened this week is so you know the Obamas are vacationing somewhere very exotic and nice.

Ann: Again?

Aminatou: Again. You know, it's the only thing that makes me feel like we're not going to die immediately in nuclear warfare is the fact that Barack and Michele are having a good time.

Ann: They haven't put their capes on?

Aminatou: Yeah. It's like when they come home to hunker down I'm going to worry, but as long as they're partying out there. So they're on this yacht allegedly, or supposedly maybe is the better word, with Oprah and Bruce Springsteen and all these famouses. But the best, best thing that happened is Michele is posing on this yacht as any person on a yacht would do and Barack is standing many feet away from her taking her photo. And honestly I died. I was like you know what? From president of the United States to being an Instagram husband, what a fantastic transition this is.

Ann: I mean I will say that Instagram husbands don't get enough credit for important Internet content and perhaps this photo will shed some light on the great work they do for the fashion blogging industry. [Laughs] And for all of us who go on Instagram.

Aminatou: Honestly, honestly, honestly, honestly, it's like you can't be out there falling in love with picture who can't take good pictures of you in the square, you know?

Ann: It's true. People who don't know your good angles, your good light.


Aminatou: It's so good. I love it because there are also many pictures of Jay Z doing this for Beyonc. [Laughs] Honestly, cis dudes, your number one job is to be a cheerleader to your partners. That's just one way everything works out.

Ann: Here's a question, did the photo that he appears to be taking ever show up on his or Michele's Instagram?

Aminatou: No, it hasn't shown up yet. Obviously I'm monitoring every 30 minutes. Don't worry, as soon as it shows up I will send it to you. My feeling is probably Malia's going to leak it at some point.

Ann: God willing.

Aminatou: This is the best. Also just imagine all the captions for this photo, like kill me, because you know it's Barack just being like "Do you want a full body shot? Where do you want me to stop?" And she's like "Just take it."

Ann: No, I actually picture it the opposite way where she was like "Listen, we did your thing for eight years. Now it's my time to shine. I'm going to pause on the yacht as long as I want and as many angles as I want and you are just going to not only put up with it but actively encourage me and be like yes, it looks great. Try another pose. Yes, that looks great too."

Aminatou: Yas, queen! [Laughs]

Ann: Also when are we going to go on a yacht? I see this photo and I'm just like we need to get on a yacht.

Aminatou: Yo, goals. Goals.

Ann: Ugh, all right.

Aminatou: I mean, all right, late 2017/2018 goals.

Ann: Okay. If anyone out there has a yacht get in touch. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Oh my god. First of all, yachts are impossible. I've been watching Below Deck on Bravo. I know everything there is to know about yacht rental now, don't worry.

Ann: Wait, is that a yacht reality show?

Aminatou: Yo, it's a yacht reality show that is bananas and this season they have the first lady captain on and she's amazing.

Ann: I like that. For some reason I just picture Rihanna in a captain's hat.

Aminatou: Yeah, nobody on this show is as fabulous as Rihanna. But yeah, it's like God bless Bravo. They can make a reality drama out of anything. They're just like this yacht crew, this cruise ship crew, drama. And then I'm like tuning in every week.


Ann: Anything that happens on a yacht is ultimately more interesting than anything that happens on land. I would watch.

Aminatou: Cannot, cannot, cannot wait for our yacht photoshoot.


Aminatou: Ooh, here's a fun thing that happened this week! I caught up with our pal Tavi who has just released a new podcast, or her own podcast, the Rookie Podcast, and it's so, so, so good.

Ann: I've been listening. I love it. I love Tavi's speaking voice. I actually could -- you know, that's a factor in podcasts that I hate to admit to sometimes where I'm just like if I like someone's voice I like the podcast that much more and I love Tavi's voice.

Aminatou: 100% concur. I like her voice, I like her brain, and I like her ideas and she tells me all about it and we get to listen to a clip of her talking to Lorde and it's perfect.

[Interview starts]

Aminatou: Welcome back to Call Your Girlfriend, Tavi.

Tavi: Thanks so much, Amina!

Aminatou: How's it going?

Tavi: It's all right. How are you?

Aminatou: You know, it's not my best self today but we're getting there.

Tavi: Me neither. I'm my best self one day a year.

Aminatou: That's probably not true, but you know what? I'm also learning this at therapy. I'm going to respect how you feel.

Tavi: [Laughs]

Aminatou: So if that's your truth I respect how you feel but I'm sure you're wonderful many days of the year.

Tavi: Thank you.

Aminatou: So you launched a podcast!


Tavi: Yeah! I felt like after years of listening to shows like this, I was like "Hmm, people have been asking Rookie to do something like this." And I had heard enough people like you be such pros at it.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Tavi: I was like I can do this! Then I found out it's harder than I thought it was. But I still think the show is good.

Aminatou: You're imminently competent. You know one of my absolute favorite things about Rookie, and remembering when I discovered it even though I've always felt like I was on the older, is I think one of its best qualities is it makes you feel less alone in the world, like wherever you are or whoever you are. And so I'm happy that it is expanding into a medium that can be just as intimate and just as wonderful and can reach hopefully more people. Can you talk through what the creative process was for coming up with the show?

Tavi: Yeah. So thank you for saying that. That's kind of just all I want to be able to do is make things that make people not feel like trash. I guess when we started talking about doing the show at Rookie, Lauren who her title is our publisher but she basically does a million different jobs at Rookie, we were talking about what our readers really like from the site. So we just thought we would center each episode around an interview and that would be a cool way to feature people that our readers like and are always asking to hear from. And then other recommendations, or this feature, life skills, that one of our writers Krista Burton does like How to Beat Down a Door or How to Look Like You Weren't Just Crying, things ranging from emotional to very practical. And then also on our site people really have liked the Ask a Grown videos we do where we have some kind of famous person answer advice or questions from teens into a shitty little webcam. So we thought we would just do that on the show as well.


Aminatou: I've watched every single one of those videos and I have learned a lot. And Barrack Obama, if you're listening to this, you are way overdue for an Ask a Grown, man.

Tavi: Seriously!

Aminatou: I have been petitioning for this for years.

Tavi: Yes, thank you.

Aminatou: I'm on your side. [Laughs]

Tavi: Thank you.

Aminatou: But yeah, Barack, get on it.

Tavi: I know. I'm like when is the right time? Now that . . .

Aminatou: He's unemployed. He has nothing but time.

Tavi: [Laughs]

Aminatou: And he's sitting on some fancy island.

Tavi: Right.

Aminatou: So he could literally do it on his iPhone.

Tavi: Yes! With a palm tree behind him and showing us he's having a good time.

Aminatou: And many Secret Service agents.

Tavi: Yeah. [Laughs]

Aminatou: This is exciting! Who are the guests on the show?

Tavi: Oh, man.

Aminatou: Besides Barrack Obama obviously.

Tavi: Oh, yes. So he does -- yeah, he does a life skill every time, how to run a country. We have had . . . let's see, our first episode was Lorde. I've also interviewed people for the show like Heben and Tracy from Another Round, George Saunders, Ibtihaj Muhammad, the Olympian fencer.

Aminatou: Oh, she's great.

Tavi: Just blowing my mind. Winona Ryder, Ashley C. Ford, Sarah Ramos.

Aminatou: Hi, Sarah!

Tavi: Hi, Sarah.

Aminatou: Tell me this is cool. You're totally a boss lady. Do you feel like a boss lady? You run a media company.

Tavi: I feel like boss baby.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Tavi: Don't know if you saw that movie.

Aminatou: First of all, twice.

Tavi: Are you serious? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Well, yeah. One time I had to take a legitimate small person.

Tavi: Uh-huh?

Aminatou: And another time maybe I was stoned walking around and I really needed a movie. Like I needed to go inside a movie because I had too many feelings on the street.

Tavi: Yes.

Aminatou: That was the best option. I don't know, it's the comedy of the year as far as I'm concerned.

Tavi: And the most astute political commentary.


Aminatou: I'm telling you, it's the only . . . like people need to stop watching MSNBC and go watch Boss Baby. This is all the political analysis you need.

Tavi: And voiced by Alec Baldwin.

Aminatou: Exactly.

Tavi: The whole thing is a little uncanny.

Aminatou: But you know what? You are. You totally run a media company.

Tavi: Boss baby, boss lady. Yeah.

Aminatou: What kind of boss do you think you are?

Tavi: Gosh, I don't know. I think at this point I have delegated some of the more day-to-day things of the site. It's sort of like Rookie started where I thought of it as a site with these extensions and now I think of it more as a media company and the site is not necessarily the nucleus. The podcast, for example, feels like right now that's more of my day-to-day. And the site, it feels more like a collective. Like I used to write more on it, and I love writing the monthly editor's letter and it's my favorite audience to write for. Like the feeling I have of putting things out into the world of just like fear and what will people think of me and will people misunderstand me and will they take things out of context? Like I don't really feel that on Rookie because it's such an understanding community. What kind of boss am I? You know, I just try to be straightforward and not create more work for anyone through confusing communication.

Aminatou: Ugh, you should be president. [Laughs]

Tavi: I don't know. I really -- I feel like also everyone around me though makes it really easy. Like Lauren who I mentioned has been at Rookie since the beginning and our editors are great and we have a routine. When we work with people like the folks at MTV who are producing and distributing the podcast or at Penguin who they publish our books, in the earlier days of when we started the book series I had to get over feeling weird, like telling a graphic designer at Penguin to make a byline more puffy or something.

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Tavi: I was like does this person hate me? Then I was like I literally don't care. I think not caring about likability has done wonders for me and I try to continue to not care about it.

Aminatou: I think that that's kind of the beauty in some regards of the minute you figure that out, that it doesn't matter what other people think, or that you just don't care . . .

Tavi: Yeah.

Aminatou: All of a sudden it just becomes a little easier. I hope that our entire lives it just becomes less and less and less and less caring because we care too much.

Tavi: Yeah! Oh my god, speaking of how crucial therapy is, I told my therapist more recently, I was like . . . because I guess putting the show out, I felt like I'd kind of take a social media break because Twitter makes me want to disappear forever. On this particular day I was like maybe I should make a vision board of unlikable women who would make me feel better about being unlikable. And my therapist was like "So every woman who's tried to do anything ever?"

Aminatou: No, that's what you realize is if that's the standard by which we judge women, there are no . . . especially after you hit a certain age we've decided they're unlikable and all unfuckable.

Tavi: Right.

Aminatou: And the beauty is we all go through it.

Tavi: Yeah! Oh my god, I saw something. I was reading this great essay on Hazlitt about Winona Ryder called Winona Forever. I forget who wrote it. I'm sorry. But it references some kind of journal that published a study in 2015 that was like "Surveys show that people tend to prefer male actors to be older because they like their faces to have character whereas they prefer women actresses to look younger because of something." And I was like no, because of wanting to fuck them.

Aminatou: [Laughs]


Tavi: It was so crazy.

Aminatou: They're like how do you say that in an academic journal? Just put it in there. No, it's true. I think that you have really both modeled successfully and also shown the possibility of what the world can look like when you make a world for people who are not men, really. And do that in a way that it takes a lot of the self-doubt away and it takes away a lot of the -- you know that feeling of "Oh my god, I'm too much," or "I'm not enough," and you're like actually I'm just me and in my own weirdness and my own -- you've created a space for people to just be themselves, whatever that thing is. If we had all discovered that when we were really young, wow, I would probably be a much better person.

Tavi: [Laughs]

Aminatou: If I'd known that about myself at like 13 or 16 as opposed to I am currently learning this right now, shout out to my therapist, you know? But you just feel like, you know, not to be depressing about it.

Tavi: No.

Aminatou: But it's just you know when you feel good about yourself, you're just like oh, all those years that I wasted not feeling awesome, imagine the possibility of that moment, right?

Tavi: Right.

Aminatou: But I'm letting that go too so it's cool. It's like living right now.

Tavi: It's all part of the journey.

Aminatou: We're all on a journey.

Tavi: We are all on a journey.

Aminatou: That's for our Mary J. Blige podcast that we'll do later. We're all on a journey. I mean that's heavy, and Mary J. Blige. [Laughs] One of the interviews on the first episode of the show that I loved was with Lorde. Y'all talk about a lot of stuff and it made me really happy. Can you setup this next clip for us?


Tavi: Oh, yeah. So the first episode of the Rookie Podcast I went to Lorde's hotel room with two microphones and interviewed her and here she's going to lay out what 2017 is all about.

[Clip Starts]

Lorde: There's a certain type of creative who makes things to survive. It's like the things need to be made.

Tavi: Yeah.

Lorde: This is so intense.

Tavi: No.

Lorde: A couple intense girls sitting at a table airing their intense feelings.

Tavi: So emotional, you can't even believe.

Lorde: 2017's the year of emotion.

Tavi: Oh?

Lorde: 2016 was the year of realizing stuff, as [0:50:48] by Kylie Jenner. 2017 is the year of emotion. Not necessarily skewed good or bad; just this outpouring of emotion. Because 2016, everyone was kind of frozen.

Tavi: Right.

Lorde: It was such an intense year and I felt like everyone had to sort of shelve themselves off from the world in a way so as not to take on too much poison. And I feel like 2017 is like I want to feel everything, good or bad. It's just an outpouring I feel like.

Tavi: What brought you to this conclusion?

Lorde: I don't know. I feel like all my friends and everyone, I'm like this is what's going on this year. Whether it's super good or super bad, if you think about your life I bet you'll be like maybe this is true.

[Clip Ends]

Aminatou: 2017!

Tavi: Yeah, year of emotion.

Aminatou: Tavi, thank you so much for coming back on our show. I think you're our first repeat guest.

Tavi: Really?

Aminatou: Yeah. We'll get you a trophy or something.

Tavi: Thank you.

Aminatou: You can listen to Rookie wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Rookie is brought to you by the MTV podcast network.

[Interview ends]



Ann: Ugh, yes, I love this. I loved it. I love Tavi. I love Lorde. Everything.

Aminatou: Check out the Rookie Podcast, check out the EPA commenting homework that we're all going to do, and if you have a science person in your life get them to run for office at 314action.org, correct?

Ann: I think so. That's right. And see you at the science march, boo. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yas, queen! [Laughs] You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your fav pods, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at callyrgf@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook, look that up yourself, or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All other music you heard today was composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.