Episode 91: Class Warfare
Published May 5, 2017.
Amina: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Amina: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, don't let Ja Rule plan your vacation, don't let Ivanka Trump write a book about working women, and let's try to save Michele Obama's girls education program. Plus listener questions: what to do when your boss calls you sweet, and men who really want kids while their female partners aren't so sure.
Amina: Hi Ann Friedman!
Ann: Hey Aminatou Sow.
Ann: What's going on?
Amina: Not much. I'm like laying down today completely. I feel great.
Ann: I'm in a hotel bed, a.k.a. where I do my best work.
Amina: [Laughs] How's the hotel? Did you order some good room service?
Ann: I haven't actually ordered room service yet because there's a breakfast taco place in walking distance and I was like this is worth getting up for.
Ann: But I don't know, like hotel productivity is real for me. If I ever write a book I'm going to bake into the contract I need several weeks of a hotel stay to write this and . . .
Amina: Here's my adult LOLese writer, please.
Ann: Oh my god, yes, the LOLese writer.
Amina: Oh my gosh.
Ann: So yeah, I have an incentive though. If I want a few pool hours today I've got to get my work done at a reasonable time. You know, this is not true. I mean this is technically true at my house, I could drive to the pool at a certain time, but for some reason at the hotel it's more real.
Amina: Ann, I've had house guests for a couple days including a three-year-old, almost three-year-old, and he's gone now and I actually miss him and I was like man, I have nobody to talk to today.
Amina: This is very upsetting. [Laughs]
Ann: Oh, man. A three-year-old houseguest is some real adult living right there.
Amina: He's the best. He's actual best. He's maybe the funniest human being on the planet and I was like nobody will do today. It's done. It's done. I'm very upset about this.
Ann: [Laughs] Are you like an empty nester? Like the house is so quiet and you're kind of sad?
Amina: The house is quiet. Yeah, the house is quiet, but it was never super loud. It's just we eat the same snack combos. There's like good ice cream in my freezer. And now I'm like man, this has all come to an end, my charmed living like -- maybe I'm just like a big toddler is the problem.
Ann: I mean toddlers, snacks, naps, things that we enjoy.
Amina: I know. I like watched a lot of Disney Clubhouse which is actually hilarious. I had no idea.
Ann: Wait, what is that? One second. Oh, sorry, I think that's room service. Wait, hang on. There's a knock at the door.
Ann: Go on, sorry.
Amina: Not to do too much promo for Disney Clubhouse but Disney Clubhouse is this hilarious Mickey Mouse-driven TV show with all the other Disney characters so like Minnie and Pluto. I didn't even realize there are two dogs in the Disney universe. You know who the other dog is?
Ann: Wait, what? There's a dog other than Pluto?
Amina: There's Pluto and there's -- yeah, there's another dog. He looks like a grown man. He'll definitely kidnap you, the other dog.
Ann: Sorry, one sec. I was out of my room, like I said, feeding my face with breakfast tacos and working by the pool for several hours. And of course now that I'm trying to podcast in here it's like the worst luck. [Laughs] Worst timing.
Amina: Oh, man. One day, one day when we have the portable studio situation, don't you worry, boo-boo.
Ann: Well, listen, when we have our chain of hotels for business lady travelers, complimentary caftans in every closet and podcasting booths on site . . .
Amina: Oh my gosh. Everything we're building towards is for that.
Ann: That's a million dollar idea.
Amina: That's a billion dollar idea. [Laughs] Get it together.
Ann: Yeah, caftans are included in the price of the room and we're like please take it with you.
Amina: What are we talking about today?
Ann: I mean we have had many requests to discuss the debacle that is the Fyre Fest, or Fee-Rey Fest as I like to call it.
Amina: Fyre with a Y.
Ann: Fyre with a Y.
Amina: This story, I'm very baffled by the story. Well, I'm not baffled by the story because it is a scam as old as time. But, so, okay, let's explain to the people what Fyre Festival is. Fyre Festival is a festival curated by one rapper named Ja Rule. You might remember him from the '90s.
Ann: You might remember him.
Amina: And the early 2000s.
Ann: Right, from music videos featuring crotch rocket motorcycle games. That's what I always associate with Ja Rule.
Amina: Exactly. He prominently features in Ashanti and J.Lo hits. So him and this kid whose name I'm not even going to bother to look up, but definitely a scam artist, they decided that they love the beach and they love festivals. Because Ann, why? What was the precipitating event to them figuring this out?
Ann: I believe they had to make an emergency landing on a somewhat difficult to get to island and they were like "This is great! We should glamp here and have an amazingly high-priced music festival." [Laughs]
Amina: So this is actually the real gag, right? Is they sold it as some sort of exclusive island. But these two fools had already landed there so they knew it was a deserted island practically. Like those things are not the same. But so anyway these two fools managed to convince many people to buy tickets to come to a music festival in the middle of nowhere, Bahamas. The music festival industry is booming. Like they've done everything: they've camped at Bonnaroo, done whatever you do at Sasquatch, like all the other ones aren't that exciting so of course let's go to the Bahamas.
Amina: The other genius of this is that Ja Rule and his millennial scam artist friend convinced all of these social media influencers such as Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, and some lesser whos to promote this event. And so everybody is like oh my gosh, I get to go to the Bahamas. Kendall's going to be there. Bella's going to be there.
Ann: Can I interject and note they called these people fyre starters? [Laughs]
Amina: Yes, fyre starter. Fyre with a Y. Fyre with a Y. Don't forget. There's so many red flags. On the entertainment list, so Kendall is supposed to bring the GOOD Music crew with her which that's Kanye's label, right? So everybody is like oh my God, this festival is going to be good.
But they literally just say GOOD Music. It doesn't say who in GOOD Music, so it could've been everyone. And then the other entertainment was very shady, like Blink 182. I don't want to tell anybody how to live their lives, especially these younger millennials, but if you are going to a music festival curated by Ja Rule where Blink 182 is headlining and it's the year of our Lord 2017 you should really look at your life and look at your choices. Like something ain't right.
Ann: I mean I also -- I understand, right? I understand where . . .
Amina: Ann, what about this do you understand?
Ann: Wait, let me finish the sentence. I was going to say if you are the sort of person who has stacks of money that you like to set on fire which is the target audience -- I think that's what the fyre in Fyre Festival is really referring to, the stacks of money that you like to burn.
Ann: I'm like maybe it makes some sense, right? Like those are people and choices that I don't truly relate to. Like I think that is why the Internet and people who did not attend or attempt to attend this thing are enjoying it so much. It's like oh, this kind of abstract rich other who we love to hate, right? Like we love to hate them in Coachella fashion photos. Here it is it's all blown up in their face and isn't it amazing?
Amina: No. I hear you, right? Except a lot of the stories that we heard are from kids who are like "Well, that was my entire rent money. I spent it going to Fyre Fest." And I'm like listen, this is not a good investment of your rent money ever at all.
Ann: Well never make that mistake again.
Amina: I know! It's just like it's crazy. So anyway, Fyre Fest, it turns out that there are weather issues. It turns out there's zero infrastructure on this island and they told all the celebrities to stay away but they forgot to tell the other people to stay away. [Laughs] And for the rest of the story just Google Fyre Fest and go to town. But Ann, some of it is genius, right? Like I saw somebody tweet about how the real thing that we're forgetting here is these Instagram models basically lured rich men to their deaths. [Laughter] And how easy that is to do. Way to go, proletariat. Like this is going to work out for us one day.
But yeah, this festival economy really baffles me because it's one thing to be like oh my god, Kendall's going to be there, like whoever the people are. But it's really wild to think that you have a chance of interacting with them, you know what I mean?
Amina: It's just like lifestyle creep that's really unattainable and actually very dumb.
Ann: Yeah. I mean people doing it for the geo tag, right?
Amina: Do it for the geo tag.
Ann: To feel like I'm here. Anyone can go to all these other festivals now. In the way that I'm sure this was sold as an experience you can't get anywhere else, you know? You're not paying for . . .
Amina: Oh, you should see the deck. You'll die. It's just -- I can't even quote from it. It's like every stereotype you have about that. Like I will never make fun of Coachella ever again.
Ann: Okay, so the real point -- so back to that genius tweet about celebrity ladies luring wealthy people to their deaths. Or maybe not deaths; that's not true.
Amina: Modern sirens. [Laughs]
Ann: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Luring them to an uncomfortable and expensive experience. That's more accurate. I'm like what can we learn from this to actively use? Do we tell people that we're building a luxury golf course somewhere and there's a special deal for donors to Ivanka's dad to come and experience it? I mean I'm like this is actually kind of a genius class warfare technique.
Amina: I know. It's so easy to kill rich people. They're so stupid. Like this makes -- it's like wow, the class wars will be won faster than I thought.
Ann: It's true. And look, just make it a remote enough place that they're actually trapped and you're good to go.
Amina: The thing that is making me laugh so hard about this is how Ja Rule's apology is trash. Like he kept saying in the apology it is not my fault. [Laughs]
Ann: Yeah. They're like we got in over our heads and it's like no shit.
Amina: Yeah. It was like a we had to build infrastructure and roads and everything that happened was -- they kept saying unforeseen circumstances. And I'm like can you really say unforeseen circumstances when you lure people into an uninhabited death trap? That's a foreseen circumstance. I'm sorry.
Ann: Unforeseen circumstances is like a hurricane or, you know . . .
Amina: Oh, which that also happened. It was like on top of the fact they were taking people in the middle of nowhere, also weather occurred. It was really funny.
Ann: Sure. But that was universally acknowledged to not be the reason this fell apart.
Amina: Yeah. These people are, yeah, such a scam. We'll see if everybody gets their money back.
Ann: I can't wait for some sort of heavily-fictionalized version of this in a movie. Everyone would watch so quickly.
Amina: I know. Starring Zac Efron? 100% I would watch it.
Ann: Completely. Completely.
Amina: Oh, man. Speaking of movies I want to watch can I tell you on CNN there was this crazy special about this lady FBI agent -- god, that sounds so condescending, lady FBI agent, but whatever, I'm sticking to my guns -- who they sent her to go investigate this ISIS man who is a failed German rapper who then went to join ISIS. What's up with European bros who can't rap who become ISIS members? It's amazing. But Ann, she's supposed to investigate him and then she married him. And the whole time I'm watching Anderson Cooper talk about this I'm like stop talking and write this screenplay. This is not working for me as a CNN piece. I need Kathryn Bigelow to get on top of this.
Ann: [Laughs] Right. Yes. Oh my god, yes.
Amina: Zero dark sexy. I'm like can you please make this for me?
Ann: I mean where is Lifetime when you need the original movie?
Amina: Oh my god. I was just like glued on the TV and screaming. Our friend Spencer sent me the article that made me watch the thing and I was dying.
Ann: Oh, yes. See? So many things that only need to be lightly fictionalized if at all in order to be perfect, perfect movies.
Amina: Yeah. I want to get all of my news from fictionalized version of scandalous things.
Ann: Speaking of class war and fantasy Ivanka has a book out.
Amina: Oh my god, that's so strange because her father can't read.
Amina: This is blowing my mind.
Ann: Well let me tell you I've ordered a review copy so stay tuned for my complete review.
Amina: Oh my god. Oh my god. What is the book about, being an evil daughter?
Ann: Okay, good guess but no. It's about being an evil like corporate feminist. I'm air quoting feminist.
Ann: It's called Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success. And I'm like huh, okay, so . . .
Amina: Have a rich father. That's a rewriting of the rules of success. [Laughs]
Ann: Totally, right? And also I'm like oh, women who work? Like as if this is a category of women who are exclusively on corporate boards and working for corporations which bear their name? A Fortune article -- which LOL Fortune also published the exclusive excerpt from her new book -- a Fortune article points out that she only mentions her nanny twice in the entire course of the book.
Amina: That's a woman who works. Hello?
Ann: I know, exactly. And that's what I mean about her definition of women who work. It's very clear that it's women who go work in a corporate office and not women who clean the homes up and care for the children of other women who are at corporate offices. So, yeah, one of the quotes is "Some of the best photos of the kids were taken by my nanny during the day."
Ann: And then parenthetically "I'm sure in ten years I'll convince myself I took them."
Amina: I mean . . .
Ann: In the same way that she can convince herself that women who work only applies to women exactly like her.
Amina: What a scam artist, this woman.
Ann: I know. And, you know, I have to say though on this front -- I mean there's a lot that's uniquely evil about Ivanka, but not acknowledging the other women who make her work possible is sadly not a unique thing to Ivanka when it comes to a certain category of books.
Amina: Yeah. I feel like the only celebrity woman who has ever talked about her nanny is maybe Amy Poehler.
Ann: Yeah. I'm trying to think of other good examples. And also here's what I don't understand: as a writer I'm like oh, you know, the thing that makes for good writing is mining things that you are kind of conflicted about or uncomfortable about. That is where the interesting stuff is. It's not aphorisms about "It's hard but we persevere." You know, that's actually really non-specific and boring to read about. I'm like what's interesting is . . .
Amina: Yeah, but that's exactly the books that these women write.
Ann: Exactly. That's why they're bad.
Amina: They're not interested in good writing. They're interested in formulas about how somehow they're superheroes and the rest of us can't measure up to that.
Ann: I know. That superwoman trope applied to just a woman who has a corporate job and children and a big financial cushion is so, so tired.
Amina: I would love for somebody to do a photo essay project on whoever the powerful women are, like the entire teams behind them. I want to see the nannies. I want to see the gardeners. I want to see the glam squad. I want to see everybody.
Amina: And it's like you at the desk and then you surrounded by the entire team. It's so stupid but also there are so many of these books, like I don't know what Ivanka has to add to the conversation of women who work. And much shade to her, but like what exactly do you do? What is it about her work that's not powered by just having a rich dad?
Ann: Yeah. And then also what about -- so there's this whole thread in the book and in the excerpt that I read about how she wrote it to bust the myth of being a superwoman. But it's like nobody thought you were a superwoman. [Laughs] You know what I mean?
Amina: [Laughs] You're like you were a superwoman to yourself.
Ann: Oh my god.
Amina: Nobody is saying this.
Ann: Also can I please read you to that end -- can I please read you another excerpt, or another quote from this excerpt? Just because it will . . .
Amina: Yes, please.
Ann: Okay. So she writes "I began to wonder whether I had been doing women who work a disservice by not owning the reality that because I've got an infant I'm in my bathrobe at 7 a.m. and there's pureed avocado all over me. I realize that it might be helpful in changing the narrative, even in a small way, to for example debunk the superwoman myth by posting a photo that my husband candidly snapped of me digging in the garden with the kids in our backyard, my hair in a messy ponytail, dirt on my cheek. I've been careful not to pretend it's easy, because it's not." Ahhh!
Amina: Oh. My. God. Man, this entire episode is about class warfare. It's like wow, for her class level this is hard work. It's like gardening with your kids in your million dollar garden.
Ann: I know!
Amina: First of all, if you live in New York City and you have a garden -- you know what I mean? You live in Manhattan, sorry, and you have a garden.
Amina: I'm going to make a lot of assumptions about you. Stop.
Ann: Yeah, you're feeding your child pureed avocado? That is like a $5 breakfast for each one. I'm sorry, avocados are not cheap. And then also just, I don't know, the idea that everything about this image where she's like -- like the fact she writes "I had been doing women a disservice and I'd not presented the right narrative because I didn't post a photo of gardening?"
Amina: Yeah, you've been doing nothing for women. You've been doing nothing for women. Nobody thinks you're a superwoman. The only thing we think is you're a failed jewelry designer and a failed teen model so don't flatter yourself.
Ann: [Sighs] I know. And also just this idea of what's changing the narrative is not to acknowledge the work of various types of women who work and in various types of jobs, but what's changing the narrative is talking about spilling avocado on your bathrobe. I can't.
Amina: Yeah. You know, this also goes to the core of so many of the empowerment conversations that we've had before, right? You can always tell whether something is worth it or not by who the person thinks that they're serving. This is completely self-serving. If you are trying to build up your own image or trying to build up your own brand or you're trying to solve your own very specific problem and you try to masquerade it as something that you're doing in service of all women, like everybody will see through you.
Amina: And that's the textbook definition of this is not feminism. It's not. It's like you are trying to sell a book or you think that you're deeper than you are or so many things, but it's like this is empowerment? It's not feminism. It's not the same thing.
Ann: Right. Like write a memoir called like My Life as an Heiress. Don't write something that's called Women Who Work. [Laughs]
Amina: Yeah, it's just like it's so nuts too how much . . . I don't know, it's so condescending, right? This idea that there's something noble about work, like obviously, right? But this coming from people who are so dismissive of any kind of labor organizing or have zero respect for people who are actual Workers, like capital W. And, you know, and they get away with it. They've been getting away with it for generations and they're getting away with it now. It's so condescending.
Ann: Also, guess what? Nannies buy books. Childcare workers buy books. You know what I mean? It's also crazy to me where I'm like part of this is also the system, right, of being like who do we think is actually engaged in issues of work and life balance? It's like there's an assumption not just by the Ivankas of the world where that's definitely true but also I think like in publishing and marketing. It's like I'm sorry, like I know women who do that work too and they are also interested in these questions. It's like it's just so . . . there's a part of me, like even from a purely capitalist standpoint, of being like you're not doing yourself a service by writing these women out of the narrative completely. It's so stupid.
Amina: Yeah, it's so stupid because I guarantee you this book is not going to sell well for many reasons.
Ann: Oh my god, yeah.
Amina: Here's an exclusive in Fortune. You know what also doesn't sell well? Fortune magazine.
Amina: All of this is like a big waste of time. It seems very cool and glamorous and like whatever, but it's my god, you could get so much better bang for your buck. But also this is actually very condescending. It's really insulting.
Amina: And it's just like very much in line with the entire conversation that the mainstream has about work/life balance. It's always through the eyes of white women and through the stories of white women, the conversations that we have about childcare, like all of that, all that stuff. It's like if you start talking to people who come from different backgrounds or who are different races, all of that applies to them differently.
Amina: Women who are not white traditionally have had to work outside the home for longer than everybody else. They've never had a . . .
Ann: Right, so that's not . . .
Amina: It's like they have to work outside of the home and they don't have options. They're watching your kids. Like . . .
Ann: It's like Women Who Work: The Story of Women of Color Forever. Like you know what I mean? The other -- yeah.
Amina: Yeah, like this is not a new concept. It's like actually, yeah, black women have been working since, I don't know, like day one of getting to America because they never had a vacation here.
Ann: Totally. And, you know, this reminds me too of you remember the conversations when Michele Obama announced in 2009 that she was going to first focus on parenting Sasha and Malia and wasn't going to announce a full slate of stuff she was doing and wasn't going to keep her job? And some people flipped out at her.
Ann: I think she eventually, but also lots of other writers, were quick to point out "No, no, this is her actually breaking with a long-held narrative and tradition. It's not the same thing as . . . like don't read her as a wealthy white woman in the situation and try to apply the Ivanka narrative to women like her." And so, yeah, I'm like good job not busting a single narrative Ivanka. [Laughs]
Amina: I know. And here's the other thing, speaking of Michele Obama, the only FLOTUS we'll ever acknowledge, so you remember that girls education initiative that she was working on?
Amina: All of those fly photos from around the world? It's like Michele Obama and Meryl Streep go to Liberia and all the cool vacations she got to go on -- working vacations. Anyway, guess who has dismantled that program from within the White House?
Ann: Oh, let me -- wait, is it . . . it couldn't be Ivanka's dad. No.
Amina: Oh my god! Oh my god, people are saying -- people are saying it's Ivanka's dad with the blessing of Ivanka's stepmom, undocumented immigrant Ivanka's stepmom, that one. All of these fake stories about how Ivanka and her husband are always trying -- they're the moderating voices in the White House. They're the New York liberals or whatever. And this is the stuff that she's saying she cares about, like women's empowerment and women's economic opportunities. Why would you gut a program that literally goes to the heart of educating young girls and makes it a priority?
Ann: Somebody please show up to Ivanka's book event if she's having any and ask her about this specifically. Ugh.
Amina: Yeah. It's not like the White House is pouring money into this thing. It's honestly largely symbolic, it's a priority, and it signals to other countries that it's something that we care about. Yeah, it's like this White House is so useless. They don't do anything, and anything that's good they take away.
Ann: Well listen, those trips to Mar-a-Lago aren't going to pay for themselves, okay? You need to cut some initiatives to up the golf budget.
Amina: Oh my god, I saw this thing about how Congress basically allocated extra, extra money for the security and it was like I have to close the computer and go away. Yeah, scam artists. The whole episode is about scam artists. This is another great scam somebody's running on our country. Oh my god.
Ann: I know. Well and also speaking of totally disingenuous narratives, right? All of that drain the swamp bullshit only to commandeer this massive budget for weekly vacations. That's the sort of thing too where I'm like, you know, oh just because you say -- like you tell people over and over that you're going to change the narrative or that you are taking some kind of stand or taking a risk doesn't mean you actually are. It probably means you're part of the problem.
Amina: It probably means the swamp runneth over.
Amina: This is madness. Okay, these people.
[Music and ads]
Ann: Do you want to take some listener questions?
Amina: I want to take listener questions because I'm really upset about this.
Amina: Let's see if these listener questions will make me more upset. [Laughs] From a reader. Oh, we don't have readers. We have listeners. From a listener, "My boss doesn't understand why I'm offended by being described as sweet. Any advice on how I can be a boss without being sweet?" Woo.
Ann: I have two words, unvarnished opinions. [Laughs]
Amina: Those are two really good words. That should be your memoir.
Ann: Oh my god. [Laughs]
Amina: Unvarnished Opinions: The Ann Friedman Story.
Ann: Oh my god, I'm writing it in my potential memoirs title note definitely right now. But seriously I do think that paying a little bit of attention to how you are couching your opinions in language that might to you make it seem like it's kind of easier to swallow? I don't know. I also think that there's something about listening -- like going back through and reading some of the emails you've sent or trying to pay more attention to the words you hear coming out of your mouth and then picture a man saying or writing it. And if you can't then maybe that's part of what's going on here? Not to say that like, you know, act like a man. I'm not trying to say that. But I think that historically, and we've talked about this before, men do not mediate their opinions in the same way that women do.
Amina: Yeah. And also if you are close with your boss -- because I think this is actually two questions, right? It's like why doesn't my boss understand why I'm offended by being described as sweet? I think if you have a good enough relationship with him just tell him "Hey, it's tough being a young lady in the workplace. I want to be taken seriously and when you say that about me it connotes that I'm not a serious person here. So help me help you help myself."
Ann: And if the boss is a woman, because this listener did not indicate whether the boss was a man or a woman, I think that's another interesting wrinkle, right? If you have a close enough relationship where you're talking about stuff like this. Clearly . . .
Amina: If your lady boss describes you as sweet you should probably murder her. [Laughs]
Ann: Oh my god, come on now.
Amina: I'm just kidding. I don't condone murder, but let's talk about it.
Ann: You should send her to an island festival organized by Ja Rule.
Amina: Exactly. Here's Fyre Fest, organized by Ja Rule.
Ann: [Laughs] But yeah. But yeah, this letter also indicates that the listener has already said "Hey, I'm offended when you describe me as sweet," which doesn't sound like sweet and compliant to me. So I feel like that in and of itself is a good first step.
Amina: That's the name of my memoir. Sweet and Compliant? Hell No. [Laughs]
Ann: Sweet and compliant with like a circle and a slash through it like Ghostbusters.
Amina: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, the only time I'm being sweet and compliant is when I'm trying to scam somebody out of something so that's perfect.
Ann: Good to know.
Amina: Except for with you, boo-boo.
Amina: Okay, next question. "I want to reach out with a question I feel like you're all uniquely-suited to answer." Wow, so much pressure. "Especially as I was listening to your coverage about millennial men's decreasing desire for equitable relationships, despite the small sample size of that study, and your constant reports on how shitty maternity leave and childcare resources are in this country, my question is am I the only one who is instantly turned off when a guy says that he really wants kids? This has become a point of contention between a lot of my female friends and I and I'm not charmed by male coworkers' boyfriends or dudes on Tinder who gush about wanting to take a kid to tee ball or cradle someone else's baby lovingly at a barbecue. I want kids but the prospect is also terrifying, primarily because I know my body will fundamentally change as will my relationship to my career. And no matter how much these men believe in gender equity in the abstract and no matter how much raising a kid can be a partnership I know that they will not have to feed a tiny human with their own bodily fluids. They will not have to recover from an emergency C-section. They will very likely not have to negotiate their career as much as a woman will. Am I taking this all too personally or being too cynical about the prospect of an equal partnership? This becomes trickiest when I talk starting a family with my boyfriend. He's adamant about wanting one, and again I want one too, but I'm trying to reconcile that desire with what I feel are very legitimate careers and also a strong commitment to continuing to build my career throughout my lifetime. The prospect that birthing a child for someone/him is simply a given, and that if I have reservations I can be traded in for a more willing, wide-hipped woman . . ." Aww, that's a slight exaggeration but hey. "It just leaves me more frustrated. I'd love some advice but how to articulate this complicated but I feel important point-of-view."
Ann: Ugh. Friend of the podcast Bryce Covert wrote an article, I think it's a few years ago now, that was very much about this. Essentially hetero couples in which the man was very excited and sure he wanted children and in which the woman was very unsure about this. Like essentially exactly what you're talking about. And, yeah, it's definitely for all of the reasons that you say, of acknowledging that there's a fundamental lopsided nature in hetero relationships when you've got kids to who bears what burden. Basically are you taking this too personally? No. Are you being too cynical about the prospect of equal partnership? No. Are you the only one instantly turned off when a man says he really wants kids? No.
Amina: You know, there's also two levels of this, right? There's the hypothetical of when somebody just says "I really want kids," and you can roll your eyes and feel however you want to feel about that. But I think that if you are in a relationship with someone that's a different conversation that you have to have because the possibility is now very real and it's not abstract.
And so I think that with your own partner you have to negotiate what that means, right? It's like if your partner really, really wants kids more than you then you have to have the real talk of well, would you be willing to be the one that stays home while I continue to work? You know? And seeing what all of those . . . it's like that's where the compromise is, right? It's like what does that conversation mean for your finances? What does it mean for your career? What does it mean for who is the primary caregiver? And I think that for me if your partner is like "I really want children," but then they're not willing to budge on this other stuff, that's the flag.
Ann: Totally. And I think that you're right, there are two different scenarios of someone who you're on a first date with versus someone you're in a relationship with. But I do think that if this is something that is front-and-center that you're worried about in terms of how your life is going to change and you're in a serious relationship with someone who either will not make the kinds of sacrifices that you just described or is not willing to discuss it, then yeah, that's the red flag.
Amina: Because here's the other thing is this is kind of the advantage of being in a relationship with someone who wants to do this, is that then you get to put the ball back in their court, you know? I think it is a kind of wild assumption that every single time women have to be the primary caregiver. If you are so blessed to have a partner who is really thrilled about having kids, that's something that they should consider.
Ann: Totally. Yeah. And the ability to have that conversation is in some ways I think a nice barometer of how is it going to go if you actually have kids, right? Like this is like if you can't have it abstractly before you even make the decision a lot of other conversations are probably not going to go so well for you in real time.
Amina: Exactly. Good luck.
Ann: Good luck. God speed. You're not the only one.
Amina: "Hi, Amina and Ann. I have been binge-listening to your podcast since the election, starting from the beginning, and have loved it all. As a male listener it has been great to hear your perspective on, well, everything. Even though I'm gay and have many female friends, feminism, periods, etc. are not topics that we would normally discuss so your podcast has been an essential learning experience for me. My question is about friendships. I'm turning 30 later this year." Happy birthday!
Ann: Hey, hey, welcome to a good decade.
Amina: I know, welcome to a great decade. "And more and more of my friends are in long-term relationships, getting engaged and married, etc. When my friends enter into a relationship it often means they have less time to spend with me or when they can hang out their less-fun boyfriend/girlfriend is default included." Amen. "Needless to say I'm already dreading when my married friends start having kids. As someone who lives alone and isn't dating anyone, despite earnest attempts, friendships are really essential for my well-being. I'm curious to know what your experience with your friends has been like and if you can help put this in perspective for me. Queue sound of empathizing exasperation from Amina." Rude. So rude. So, so rude. I am not exasperated buy I do empathize.
Ann: Seriously I'm reading along with this email and I didn't know whether that was a note that you had put in or whether it was part of the email. [Laughs]
Amina: You thought I would refer to myself in the third person?
Ann: I don't know. It's just weird. It's not how . . .
Amina: [Gasps] The fact that you said "I don't know" cut me so deep!
Ann: Listen, maybe Gina put this in here. I don't know. I don't know. I'm just saying.
Amina: No, it's from the listener.
Ann: This listener who is very attuned to all of our exhalations.
Amina: I know, it's just like ugh. Okay.
Ann: I mean this is like a when friendships change question.
Amina: That's fair, but it's like when friendships change for very specific reasons.
Ann: Totally. Totally. I guess it doesn't need to be categorized but it seems to me in terms of other questions we've talked about it has something to do with that as well.
Amina: Totally. First of all, welcome to 30. 30 is great. 30/post-30s is great. I'm sure 40s is even better. So, I don't know, one thing is to realize that yes, you're absolutely right. Your friendships will change. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It really doesn't. But I think that what it is going to test is how much your friends value your lifestyle as much as they value theirs and make you kind of realize how important you are to someone. I will say that a lot of my friends are having kids and I am 100% enjoying it. Like that's a thing that I used to be really afraid of in my 20s that has not materialized as an "Oh my god, and then everybody disappears" kind of thing in their 30s. Like obviously their time is very limited. You are definitely on their clock in a lot of things. But, I don't know, that part of friendship for me has been really fun.
Ann: I think what's hard for me about this question is just the breadth of it. I mean for me a friend starting a new relationship or having kids, any of the things mentioned in this email, like the way that has affected our friendship has really varied a lot person-to-person. And you're right, some of it is how much that friend continues to value and ask questions about and remain engaged in the not in a romantic partnership/not having kids/whatever lifestyle applies to you currently. Some of that is just person-to-person, like who is still engaged with you and not completely sucked into this other thing that they're doing now.
But it's also, you know, I mean I think it also depends a lot on the nature of the friendship before the change occurred too. Like when I think about a lot of examples in my life, like friends who I maybe saw quite a lot socially in a bigger group but didn't have a great one-on-one relationship with, they completely disappeared from my life if they couldn't be part of the same group hangs anymore because kids reset the schedule whereas friends that I had a really strong one-on-one relationship with I feel like I've tended to keep after they have kids in a really different way. So I don't know. Part of this to me is it's hard to sort of say there's a blanket truth to how things change, and I think, I don't know . . . and this is maybe why I said I heard this as a changing friendships conversation, because fundamentally part of me thinks that the advice that we've given to other listeners who have other friendship questions applies which is just talk about your needs.
I think it's okay to say like "I've noticed that our friendship has changed since you've gotten into this relationship, or since you have kids." Or "Here's what I would like to see from you," or "Here's what I miss." Or finding ways to articulate that rather than just assume that your friend is gone forever. And then, yeah, expect as well that they shouldn't care about staying friends, like staying engaged with you as a human. I don't know. That's my two cents.
Amina: I mean I agree obviously with all of your advice but I think that there's a reason that it's hard to have those conversations because in this context I think that a lot of people think that somebody having a kid is very, very much more important than your single person, hanging around lifestyle. And the same thing with that. So I think that, yes, on the surface it's really easy to say you should have those conversations. But I think that kind of what you need to get at is to know and to see if your friend respects where you're at in life as much as you respect where they're at in life. It's essentially like you are so compatible that way, and what it means to them, because I think a lot of times where the hurt is is where you feel that kind of what you're doing doesn't matter because you're at a different stage in life than somebody else.
Amina: But all of that said I agree with all of what you're saying. I particularly want to let this person know that you can be pleasantly surprised by people who have kids. It's like once the kids start having personalities it's actually kind of hilarious and fun. Also who doesn't love shopping for somebody else? I do.
Ann: Totally. I mean, yeah. I just want to echo what you said too which is the feeling of it is somehow more important to be spending your time investing in a romantic relationship or investing in your kids, like somehow that's more meaningful or more important or a more noble life choice than whatever you're choosing to do with your time as a single person is bullshit. And if someone makes you feel that way they are wrong. That's all I have to say about that.
Amina: Boom. Call Your Girlfriend out.
Amina: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com. Download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at email@example.com. You can also find us on Facebook or on Instagram at callyrgf. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. 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.
Ann: Ugh, see you in the pool, boo-boo. [Laughs]
Amina: See you at the after party.