Episode 98: No Convictions
Published June 22, 2017.
Aminatou: Support for today's show comes from Squarespace.
Ann: Whether you need a portfolio -- Gina -- to showcase your work -- Gina -- a store to sell your products or services, or a blog to share your ideas, Gina, Squarespace gives you, Gina Delvac, everything you need to make your next move into a reality and get a website finally.
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Aminatou: Gina, get a website!
Ann: Gina, get a website.
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Aminatou: Visit paulaschoice.com and use promo code GIRLFRIEND for 15% off your first order. Paulaschoice.com. 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 politics of The Bachelorette, why Megyn Kelly is the worst, a Wonder Woman breakdown, a story about when Ivanka met Cecile Richards, and lots of stories about when powerful men don't get convicted for their crimes including slime ball Mitch McConnell and senate Republicans who want to gut healthcare without even debating it.
Aminatou: Hey, girl!
Ann: How're you doing?
Aminatou: Oh man, so much is going on. Very exciting CYG announcements. One, there's still tickets to the Philly show so if you want to come you still have a chance to.
Ann: A couple. A couple lucky people.
Aminatou: I know. Did you know that our Brooklyn show is sold out?
Ann: What? I mean I did know that, but what? [Laughter]
Aminatou: I didn't know. It was news to me. But apparently the people want to come so bad we have added a second show on July 15th after the first show.
Ann: CYG after dark.
Aminatou: Exactly. So all you have to do is head to callyourgirlfriend.com/events. Tickets are on sale there. Bring a friend. Tell all your homies. The show will definitely be different from the first show but a good time will be had by all no matter what show you go to.
Ann: Yeah. So I mean if you really are wanting to devote your entire night to us and have no other drinking or socializing plans they will be two different shows, but you do you. They'll both be great in their own way. I'm confident in our abilities. We haven't done one of these live shows in a while so I think we'll be in top form, I'm hoping.
Aminatou: I'm glad that you're confident. I'm very nervous, but I think it'll all work out.
Ann: You know why I'm excited? We only have to pick one outfit because it's two shows on the same night. [Laughter]
Aminatou: Oh my god, I can't wait to Frog and Toad it with you. It's going to be fun.
Ann: Oh my god, best part of doing live shows, 100%.
Aminatou: It's almost like we're best friends.
Ann: It's almost like we both like to wear silk blend sack dresses all the time. [Laughs]
Aminatou: So crazy. What else have you been up to?
Ann: Ugh, I have been on a 12-day reporting/road trip with friend of the podcast Laura Shipley (?).
Aminatou: Ooh! Wait, where are you reporting from?
Ann: A couple of very interesting smallish towns in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.
Aminatou: Real America?
Ann: America. Reporting from America. Let me tell you though, okay, so aside from -- this is totally tangential to the actual project we're working on, but I fulfilled a lifelong dream and I stayed at this place called the Don Q Inn in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which was a place that was by the side of the highway that my family would sometimes drive by when I was a kid. And they advertise on the sign Fanta Suites. [Laughter] Which basically means like themed rooms that are so much more bonkers than like the Madonna Inn or other kinds of kitschy places that I have been to. For example, this hotel room featured a hot air balloon replica with like the bed in the basket of the hot air balloon and a jacuzzi tub that was designed to look like a fake mountain stream. It was like Disney Land in a single hotel room.
Aminatou: It's like I can't tell if what you're saying makes me sound more stoned than I actually am right now or if that's like insane.
Ann: It is insane, and there's like a lunar landing room where you can sleep under . . .
Ann: I'm not even kidding. There's like a northern lights room where it looks like ice blocks everywhere. This is absolutely bonkers. My number one regret about this trip is that the woman working the desk was like very friendly and was chatting to me about the most popular rooms. Heads up, the most popular one is some kind of like Greek court -- I don't even know -- or Greco-Roman thing.
Aminatou: I love a toga party.
Ann: It's a sex thing for sure. But anyway she was like "Yeah, come back tomorrow and I'll give you a tour," and then I just like -- I had other things to do and I didn't make it back. But anyway if you find yourself in rural southwest Wisconsin I could not recommend the Don Q Inn more. It is bonkers. Do it.
Aminatou: Oh my god, that's amazing.
Ann: What have you been up to?
Aminatou: Girl, what have I not been up to? Well, right now I'm trying to get this babka off of my shirt because I've eaten like half a loaf of babka and it's amazing.
Ann: You are the babkadook. [Laughter]
Aminatou: I'm really glad you got to make that joke.
Ann: Thank you!
Aminatou: I was telling you earlier how I still don't know what Babadook is but I'm really familiar with all the Babadook memes and I've seen so many of them at various pride events. So as far as I'm concerned Babadook is a gay icon. I'm just like this is amazing.
Ann: I mean the Internet agrees with you.
Aminatou: I know, but I still don't know what it is. Yeah, I'm still not clear on what the Babadook is but I'll get to Wikipediaing it one of these days.
Ann: So basically you have a stack of things to Wikipedia the way that most average humans have a stack of books by their bedside. You just have both.
Aminatou: [Laughs] It's true, except that my Wikipedia list is very -- like I don't believe in being shamed by your interests but it's pretty ridiculous.
Ann: Wait, so what have you been actually up to?
Aminatou: Oh, I went to this Conference called 99U that's put on by Adobe. Full disclosure I was definitely paid to go. You know, because I'm an influencer now. But I'm going to give it to you straight.
Ann: You're my favorite influencer because you give it to me straight.
Aminatou: I know. 99U is this conference that's put on by Adobe which are the great people from some of the great software that you use, and it's like the conference is all about . . .
Aminatou: Listen, now that I know how to use Photoshop I'm so happy.
Ann: Sorry, keep going.
Aminatou: To our listeners, Ann is like the de facto designer in this family.
Ann: Which is why all of our stuff looks not professional when I make it.
Aminatou: So I've been taking a class and all I know how to do right now is GIFs in Photoshop but I'm coming for your design crown, Ann. Don't you even worry about it.
Ann: Oh my god, I will happily give you my design crown any time. I will step aside.
Ann: Step aside from my Microsoft Paint crown and give it to you.
Aminatou: Anyway, so I don't know, this conference is really fun. It's all about people who work in creative spaces. And there were a bunch of people who I had never seen speak that I really wanted to see speak; a couple of sessions that I went to that I really love like Farai Chideya who wrote this book called The Episodic Career really spoke about creativity as medicine, thinking about your work in the same way that people who do deep kind of care think about their work. It's like people need clean water. Is that creative work to care about that, if people need doctors? And really thinking about the challenges around you. The other person that I saw speak that I was really blown away by was Debbie Millman. Do you listen to the Design Matters podcast?
Ann: I do not. Tell me.
Aminatou: So first of all Debbie Millman has the best voice in all of podcasting which is why I think I always listen to that. Because I don't know anything about design, but she always sounded good. You know when you're like oh, this person seems like they have their whole life together and I'm just going to fangirl about them but I don't really, really know what they're about?
Ann: Oh my god, the whole Internet is built on that feeling.
Aminatou: Exactly. The whole Internet is built on that. You're like "Oh my god, you like Beyoncé. I like Beyoncé. We're friends now."
Ann: We're the same.
Aminatou: We're the same. False. We're not the same. But anyway Debbie Millman is totally a boss lady. She's like a designer, an artist, an educator. She hosts this podcast Design Matters, and she also teaches. She talked about how she was some sort of Russian lit major in college which just means that you got a major in learning how to read a lot, and really late in life, like in her 30s, she fell into a branding career. She was not a designer by training or by trade and then this is what she does now. Then she talked about like . . .
Ann: Okay, can I pause you for one second? Russian lit to branding doesn't seem like fell into. It seems like a generally very reasonable market push. Like no one is desperate for your analysis of Russian literature. People do want shit branded. Like it makes total sense.
Aminatou: I know. But you know how you're in liberal arts, like when you get a liberal arts degree, like I think this is maybe hard for you because you knew you wanted to be a journalist.
Ann: I know. I'm weird that way.
Aminatou: When you're in the liberal arts school, you think your whole life is going to be reading. And then she talks about the challenges of starting her own podcast which charmed me endlessly. She talks about being really embarrassed that she can't listen to the earliest episodes of her podcast.
Ann: Oh, so basically she is us.
Aminatou: She is us, because the audio is so bad. And I was like what are you talking about, Debbie Millman? Your podcast is bomb. I've like never . . . [Laughs] I don't remember a time when it was not good. But she was clearly very affected by this. Her whole message is really about how it takes time to do the things that you care about which seems very like duh Aficionado Magazine. But I think that with our fast-paced Internet culture nobody actually believes that. And because we're so obsessed with like wunderkinds and 30-under-30 lists and 5-under-5 types or whatever and everybody's always lying about their public work you forget that anything worthwhile really takes a lot of time to do. And so, I don't know, I was really encouraged to hear somebody's career who I admire a lot and to see all of the different weirdo zig-zags she's made. And I think also it tracks really well with kind of where we're at right now. There's no real trajectory to work unless you're literally in a field where your degree is the job that you're going to do, which increasingly for a lot of people that's not what happens.
Ann: Right. And even if it is, though, the idea that you're not going to have to reinvent yourself several times is just a lie. And I think most people understand that point, like oh, this degree doesn't exactly match a job description or even if it does I don't get to just do this job for 60 years and then retire. But I think the reality of like oh, how does that actually work, and how do you figure out how to make those changes, is way, way more opaque.
Aminatou: Right. And then also how do you learn from all the different things you're in so that when the economy crashes or market forces push you into something else that you . . . that you're nimble enough that you're open to learning? You know? And I think that it was really interesting to hear about like her career trajectory and thinking about just how uncertain so many things are right now in our worlds. And I was like oh, none of this is new. Like here is this person who is older than me who has had to do this and she does it quite well and she's like also amazing.
Ann: I love that.
Aminatou: Yeah. It was really cool. One of the fun sessions I got to go through was at Refinery29 where the creative director Piera Gelardi talked about creating the conditions for creativity. And on its head it sounds very much like really? I'm going to go to this place for two hours and it's going to create conditions for creativity for me? Ann, my idea journal is popping right now. It's crazy.
Ann: [Laughs] Wait, is there -- I don't understand. Like for two hours of creativity? Or like oh, I'm going to . . . okay.
Aminatou: Yeah, it was one of these like, you know, we got there and then she told us kind of the story of Refinery29 and how it's scaled and how it's grown. But also the real talk of like she is somebody who is hyper creative but she also runs a business, and being able to relinquish the business side of your business to the businesspeople but keeping the creative vision still at the core. Instead of having tension between those two parts of your building, making sure that they're actually integrated.
And the first thing that she had us do when we showed up there was stretch together and I was like god, this seems dorky. And then literally ten seconds into the stretch I was like I am the most relaxed I have ever been. The most enduring thing about all of this is there are conferences that are good for you. You can like actually go to for work.
Ann: We spent our little break well, you know? [Laughs]
Aminatou: We really did. Yeah, but I really wish we were in a hotel room in LA recording this podcast again. [Laughs]
Ann: I wish we were in some sort of rented house with a pool somewhere. Like we could do this all day. But yes, I hear what you're saying. I hear what you're saying.
Aminatou: What are you reading right now?
Ann: What am I reading right now? I'm reading a lot of books based around this project, actually. Like I've been going to these small town bookstores and historical societies in places and getting the stuff that is there and reading that. So I'm not -- it's a weird thing because I feel like a lot of the work that I do is about recommending things to read, and when I'm researching for something I'm like it's actually not that interesting to recommend everything I'm reading this week. Speaking of people getting paid to read, one of the things that I'm really enjoying though is an essay collection called Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes which is essentially like oh, what if you take the history of the Mississippi River and west from there and talk to people who were there before white people settled it and white people encroached on it?
Ann: I know! And it really -- I mean it's one of those things where you kind of know the contours of facts but really get your mind blown by the specifics. Like that's what that book is doing for me. So that's a . . .
Aminatou: Tell me one thing that's blowing your mind from the book.
Ann: Honestly, though, it's not like there is a specific like singular fact. It's one of those essay collections that is all in the synthesis in the same way that you would be like Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts didn't blow my mind about the fact that childbirth is crazy but it's like the way she says it is really changing some perceptions I have.
Ann: And, you know, I would say it's similar to that. It's also really nice, like a well-done anthology is really a thing of beauty. This is some deep work nerding, you know? But when you're like wow, every piece of this is pretty quality and interesting. I'm really into unpacking at this point the history that I was raised with about the place I am from. So, yeah, Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes is my recommendation. What are you reading?
Aminatou: I am not reading. I'm mostly watching television.
Ann: Tell me.
Aminatou: Like tonight I caught up on all of the Bachelorettes I missed and the Bachelorette is crazy.
Ann: I mean I . . .
Aminatou: It's definitely crazy.
Ann: I know this is the first ever black Bachelorette, correct?
Aminatou: I know. Shame on America. 2017, first ever black Bachelorette. And clearly they don't know how to deal with it. So the Bachelorette, Rachel, she has made it very clear that no matter who she chooses it's not going to be about race which God bless, it's amazing. But the producers on the other hand are like we have a black Bachelorette; how do we create black/white tension on the show?
Aminatou: So it's just all very . . . like the fact that this is an ABC show where you really -- like, I don't know, for 20 something seasons now we tell people that you can actually meet the love of your life on a TV show by dating 30 people Thunderdome style, and that's not crazy. But having a person of color on the show, that's actually crazy. They don't know how to deal with it. So in some instances it's like very gauche and very unsettled, and in some other instances you're like did he just say that? What happened? Did he just say -- what? What?
Aminatou: But, you know, I will say that one of the things I enjoy about watching The Bachelorette more than anything is all these classic stereotypes about how catty women are are completely turned on their head. Here are these men that are competing for the attention of a woman and they engage in the exact same kind of drama. They engage in the exact same amount of cattiness. And if anything it is even more intense because you're always like who's going to punch who? It just really goes to show stereotypes about women being catty are like bullshit.
Ann: Well it also goes to show that what if you framed access to power as a thing that could happen through relationships and set men up in the position women have been setup for centuries? Oh, wow, you're right, the behavior looks the same. I mean . . .
Aminatou: The behavior looks the same. It's crazy. One of the conflicts right now is two of the men, like one of them was like "You were my friend and now you've set me up to look bad." And I'm like can you really be the friend of somebody when you're both trying to date the same girl? I don't know about this. [Laughs] Like this is -- it's so intense and like weird. So, anyway, that's The Bachelorette. You know, it's all very strange. But if you listen to CYG and you watch The Bachelorette you should tweet at me who you think is going to win because I literally cannot tell. Like I can't tell who is a top contender. It's so weird.
Ann: How many episodes away from the finale are we at this point?
Aminatou: We are so far away. There is something like 12 or maybe 15 dudes left and seven of them look the exact same so I can tell never tell. Oh, but Ann, here's the best thing that happened on tonight's episode: They had a mini spelling bee.
Ann: What? [Laughs]
Aminatou: The hardest word in the spelling bee is polyamorous. None of them can spell. None of them -- like literally everybody got eliminated in the first round. And I was like you know what? This is where my boner goes to die. I don't care how cute you are, if you can't spell physical this is not going to work out for us.
Ann: Yeah, don't let me hear your body talk. I knew they weren't allowed phones and things like that because I watch Unreal but I didn't know they weren't even allowed to like read books.
Aminatou: They say that they have limited access to media, but one of the guys tonight was talking -- he was threatened that this other guy would win the spelling bee because he's like "That guy reads six books a day." [Laughs] It was like how do you know that? But I think that it's true. They're like limited to media, and part of it, it's like the phones and Internet and newspapers, little magazines, and so they don't know what's going on in the outside world. But I think the rest of it is so you create optimal boredom so all they do is drink. Because also the way that the show is edited, whenever they go on dates and stuff, especially on the group dates or at the end of the night when there's cocktail hours, you can tell that it's not in chronological order because everybody looks drunk at different points.
Aminatou: And you're like aggressive at different points. And I don't know, it's like the level of drinking in Bachelor nation is really problematic. They've had to shut down production on Bachelor in Paradise which is where kind of all the horny rejects go to meet each other.
Ann: [Laughs] I shouldn't laugh but like wow.
Aminatou: I know, but it's just like what do we do with all these rejects? There's so many of them and they're so good-looking. Oh, let's all throw them into an intense situation where they're not all competing for the same person. But they've had to shut down production on Bachelor in Paradise because of a sexual abuse allegation, and they're being so cagey about it. Basically we still don't know what happened, but allegedly a woman on the show was not able to give consent for sex that happened and it's like that's really fucking disturbing. But also you're like this is . . . like one I'm surprised this is the first time we're hearing of this, and two, you're like this show is really evil and these are the conditions that they set people up for.
Ann: I mean I know. I couldn't even make it through all of Unreal because that made me feel bad and that was just a fictionalized commentary on why those shows are difficult.
Aminatou: They're really, really awful. So all of this is to say if you don't watch Bachelorette, don't start now, but if it's your sickness let's talk about it. And then the other thing that I watch is Megyn Kelly's whatever, interview show she has.
Ann: Oh my god, you're the only person in America who watches that.
Aminatou: Girl, I heard it got worse ratings than America's Funniest Videos or whatever which I'm sure that show's hilarious.
Ann: It's not.
Aminatou: So here's the problem, Megyn Kelly is like -- I know that she needed to get out of her little Fox News contract because she had really run her course there, but like what a ballsy move to take a job where you're supposed to come across as a nice person. It's like no amount of acting classes can do that for her.
Ann: Ugh. I mean I'm a little bit -- I didn't watch the whole thing because I was busy doing literally everything else, but honestly I'm just more surprised by people who in good faith think that she is doing her job as a journalist and is not just out to increase her own platform by any means necessary.
Ann: And it's an interesting question, though. You know, like this question of when is covering somebody with reprehensible views giving them more power versus when is it exposing what they're doing to people who weren't already aware? I actually think that's a really interesting question, and there are people like Kamau Bell I think is a great example who do that whole engage people whose beliefs are obnoxious and noxious thing. And they do it with a real sense of purpose and I think they do it with some context. That's really important.
Aminatou: Probably because Kamau Bell is a good person at his core. You know what I'm saying?
Ann: Right, right, who seems genuinely interested in bringing to light the fact that these are people with a following and those who disagree with them should take heed and work against that. So I don't know, there is something though to me about when people use the argument that they're kind of doing this in a Kamau Bell style but actually stylistically it looks more like I'm going to give you a platform on a major news network that I get really angry.
Aminatou: Yeah. I mean, so a couple things. Megyn Kelly's first big interview was Putin, right? And she totally like shit the bed on that one where it's like hi, you have one of the biggest strongmen dictators in the world and all she did was lob him soft questions. But at the same time I was like listen, I know you work at NBC, but you know who would be great at this? Andrea Mitchell, because she knows what she's talking about. It's hard to tell -- you know like sometimes when you're like oh, your boss is setting you up for failure? That's where I kind of want to sympathize with Megyn Kelly on this job. But also it's clearly an NBC ploy for like how do we get real America or whatever to think that this is not just a liberal channel? So the Putin interview was bad for many reasons, but mostly for like you can't interview Putin and just throw him softballs.
Aminatou: The Alex Jones interview was bad for so many reasons, but especially because it like exposed that kind of journalism that she's doing. Do I think that Megyn Kelly is the only reporter who was buttering up subjects in order to cajole them to get them to open up? Absolutely not.
Ann: Definitely not, yeah.
Aminatou: That's why it's called access journalism. Like I'm sure she had to do the same thing with the Russians in order to get Putin. But with Alex Jones it's like what a terrible place to put your reputation. He has reprehensible views that have real life consequences that hurt many, many, many people. So he was really happy that the Sandy Hook parents came for NBC so hard because it was ridiculous. But I actually watched the interview itself -- it was less than 20 minutes. It was definitely edited to make her seem tougher probably than she had been and they cut him off a lot. It's like the best thing to do with Alex Jones honestly is just let him ramble on. Just let him talk and then all of his views are exposed in that.
So they definitely did a lot of tightening up of the interview. But it was just for like 17 minutes of footage I was like wow, was this really worth to gamble your entire professional reputation? And then the other thing that annoys me is clearly they're like Megyn Kelly's neutral. She's not doing Fox News at NBC or whatever. But it's like here are her guests: Putin, Alex Jones, next week she has on the Hillbilly Elegy guy. But the other interview she had in yesterday's episode was with Aaron Andrews who is the sports news anchor who talked about the stalking case that she went through. And it was really upsetting, like she gets really emotional. She cried. I got super emotional.
In the case of Megyn Kelly, Ann, I swear it was so pandering. She couldn't do this human interest story in a way that made sense. But the funniest scene in that entire interview is when they go to the beach in heels and it's almost like the relatable B roll.
Ann: Relatable B roll, the title of our joint autobiography. [Laughs]
Aminatou: It's so insane. And so it's like I definitely struggle a lot with I know I am scrutinizing her more but at the same time I'm just like I'm sorry, there are a lot of people who do this, who do it for a living -- they do it better. NBC also let go of Tamryn Hall, my fav, to replace her with Megyn Kelly. At the time it was just like whoever made that decision was like oh, this is a slam dunk. And now it's like really?
Aminatou: Support for today's show comes from Squarespace.
Ann: If you listen to this podcast a lot you have heard us berate Gina Delvac, our beloved producer, because she does not have a personal website yet. But you know what? It has come to our attention that many, many people have not bought their domain names and made a website using Squarespace which is ridiculous because it is so easy.
Aminatou: First of all, if you're a modern lady you need a first name/last name website. Do it. Do it for yourself. Do it for your SEO. Squarespace is super easy to use. It has award-winning templates. You can create a beautiful website in this really simple and intuitive process. You don't need to know anything about coding. All the features are available at the click of a mouse. And if you have a question Squarespace has 24/7 dedicated customer support to help you. Just think about them as your very own IT department.
Ann: Ugh, it's amazing. This is how we built our Call Your Girlfriend website. It's how we run our Call Your Girlfriend shop. It's how we archive our episodes and all the links to them. Honestly it's kind of indispensable to how we work, and if you like Amina said are a modern lady you probably need your own site as well. You can start your free trial at squarespace.com today by entering offer code GIRLFRIEND to get 10% off your first purchase. Again that's GIRLFRIEND at squarespace.com.
Aminatou: Gina, get a website!
Ann: Gina and everyone else, get a website.
Aminatou: Check out the new series The Bold Type premiering July 11th on Freeform. It's inspired by the women of Cosmo trying to make their mark as they cover sex, politics, and fashion at the premier women's magazine in New York City.
Ann: And that's all while going through the ups and downs of capital A Adulting. It's a show about finding your voice and relationships. All kinds of relationships.
Aminatou: But it also tackles current issues, everything going on in the world right now, and they aren't keeping quiet about it.
Ann: With a friendship that's dynamic, real, modern, and funny, these women lift each other up instead of tearing each other down which you know we are all about here.
Aminatou: Set a reminder for The Bold Type. The series premiers on July 11th and airs Tuesdays 9/8 Central on Freeform.
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Ann: And right now CYG listeners can post jobs on ZipRecruiter for free. Just go to ziprecruiter.com/call. That's ziprecruiter.com/call.
Aminatou: One more time. To try it for free go to ziprecruiter.com/call.
Aminatou: Speaking of more than television have you seen Wonder Woman yet?
Ann: I have seen Wonder Woman.
Aminatou: Tell me all your thoughts.
Ann: First of all I felt misled in that I was like you've got to market this as a war movie if I'm going to watch a bunch of war stuff, even if it's stylized superhero war stuff. But second complaint, can't keep the Chrises straight. Which Chris is this? It's unclear.
Aminatou: Girl, this is the hot Chris. Get it together.
Ann: Which Captain Beefcake am I looking at? It's unclear.
Aminatou: [Laughs] This is the one that cried at the Oscars. It's the one that was in Princess Diaries 2. And like now he's the number one Chris in Hollywood because he like maneuvered it right.
Ann: Okay, setting aside the Chris horserace the first like 20 minutes or so which is all skinny, mostly white Amazons performing like various flips in the air and riding horses was a pleasure in its own way to watch. Actually it was a pleasure mostly because it made me think of what does my own Amazonian island isolated from men, like what does that look like? Because it doesn't look like the Wonder Woman version but it was like kind of a fun mental exercise. I mean I kind of feel like shrug, it's a superhero movie. Number one feeling though is that as you know my cry trigger is women triumphing against all odds.
Aminatou: [Laughs] That's your number one only cry trigger. I love it.
Ann: I know, it's true. And so, you know, I found myself -- do you know that feeling when you're like I know this is sort of edited -- it can be TV or movies or whatever -- edited to elicit a very specific response in me? Like whether it's a swelling strings moment. Anyway, so I was getting emotional even when I didn't really feel that emotional at certain parts of this movie because of the whole woman triumphing alone thing. Anyway, give me your capsule review.
Aminatou: Listen, I got really emotional at this movie because I realized that I had just never seen a movie where like women fight in a way that is -- because we watch a lot of action movies in this family, obviously. But, you know, I just couldn't remember the last time I saw women just be badasses on the screen and it wasn't in the service of like being some sexy kind of Bond girl. Women warriors. That definitely made me super emotional.
I was actually really into the World War I plot because it's like a war that was kind of about nothing. It's like really, you guys destroyed the whole world for like nothing. Also like you can't make people of color villains anymore. Well, at least not Asian people or Arab people anymore because they bankroll all of our movies. I was like this is genius. You just like can't do this.
So I was like okay, Germans as bad guys? I'm down for this because it's just like less offensive. But also I thought that it played really well into the actual story of who Wonder Woman is, right? Because my main beef with superhero movies, honestly, is that they're all kind of like repressed teenage boys. Like no matter how much you like them they're always carrying this like wound from 14. And sometimes it's like a big deal, like Batman, I see you, your parents died. That's sad.
Aminatou: Like I see you. But it's always like this -- they always have this brooding like "Ugh, whatever" story that propels them. And then it's always very cynical, especially in the DC franchise. I feel like all of it is super cynical. And so it was really refreshing to have a superhero who was like "No, I have to say everyone," because there is always the point in the superhero movie where they go "We can't save everyone." And Diana is like "Hell no, I'm going to save everyone because I'm Wonder Woman." And I was like okay, this is ludicrously refreshing, especially in the context of World War I where it's like yes, everyone deserves saving.
Gail -- I think her name is Gail Simone, she's a comic book writer, and she used to have this website called Women in Refrigerators. She created this website in the '90s, maybe like early 2000s, where she talks about how most superheroines, they're always like depowered or raped or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator to really talk about how female superheroes are disproportionately brutalized and how they're also used in the character arc of the male superheroes.
The fact that this was flipped on its head, we'll never go as boldly as to say that Wonder Woman is a feminist movie because it's not but it was interesting to see a lot of these tropes flipped around and what that means. Especially the scenes in the beginning where he's the eye candy.
Ann: Although to that point, and this is one of the most amazing things about the movie, I'm sure you noticed because I did he -- the Chris -- continually is like "Oh, no wait, let me go first." Or "No, no, you stay back."
Ann: Trying to do that protective male thing. And she's like "Um, actually I'm part god and you don't need to do that."
Ann: Anyway, it was too real.
Aminatou: Could it have been 45 minutes shorter? Hmm, I think so.
Aminatou: You know, it was good to have like an earnest superhero for once, you know? And the fact that she's just like "Yeah, I was made from clay by a god," like all of that I actually really enjoyed.
Ann: That's my favorite part honestly, like her origin story. Because you know how when you meet an amazing new woman for the first time and you're like where did you even come from?
Ann: Like her answer to that question is so good.
Aminatou: Have you finished Hand Maid's Tale?
Ann: Oh my god, no. I haven't brought myself to finish it. I'm sorry. But like we can still . . .
Aminatou: Okay, then wait, are you going to finish it?
Ann: I am going to finish it. I just like, I need -- I need four daylight hours. Like that's the thing.
Ann: I don't watch it at night before bed and I don't watch it if I don't have plans with women later. And so it's been hard for me to find four daytime hours where I have plans with women afterwards. I need to schedule it.
Aminatou: Okay. I can't wait until you finish and then we'll talk about it because I have many feelings.
Ann: I know, I have feelings too. I'm sorry. And this is where my TV tardiness is really harming this podcast editorially.
Aminatou: No, it's fine. Now we can pivot from Serena Joy into Ivanka Joy. What's going on? [Laughs] What's going on in politics?
Ann: Ugh. Oh my god, I mean I don't know.
Aminatou: I've been dying to say Ivanka Joy.
Ann: Ivanka Joy is maybe her new name. Ivanka Joy's dad is what we should've made that bumper sticker say, frankly.
Ann: I don't know. Ivanka Joy's out here fighting for her brand/her life because things are not looking great. Did you hear the clip this week of Jared Kushner speaking? Like his voice for the first time?
Aminatou: Okay, so here's the problem: I've seen all of the parody clips. I don't know which one actually is his voice.
Aminatou: And it's on my list to get to it. But every time I click on "This is what Jared Kushner's voice sounds like" it's like not. It's like I know that that's fake. So now I'm like oh, what's real?
Ann: I mean it's hard.
Aminatou: But Ann, as women in podcasting should we really be shaming people about what they sound like?
Ann: Listen, I'm not shaming. I just asked if you heard a video. That's all I said.
Aminatou: [Laughs] Some people are saying, not me, but people . . .
Ann: People are saying -- yeah, I finally read . . . belatedly there was a Caitlin Flanagan long Ivanka essay. I don't know if you read that.
Ann: No? It is like a deep-think about what Ivanka means and basically about her as the steward of the Trump brand and how she has always kind of staked everything on that/her father. Nothing will please me more than watching the consequences for what that is. There was an amazing anecdote in it about her meeting with Cecile Richards who we adore on this podcast who is running things at Planned Parenthood and suggesting to Cecile Richards "So why don't you just, next door to every Planned Parenthood clinic, open a separately-funded Planned Parenthood clinic that only provides abortions? Then you can keep your federal funding for the other one." Like this is a thing that Ivanka suggested for her.
Aminatou: Ugh! And also that's actually not how Planned Parenthood works.
Aminatou: It's just a regular doctor like everybody else and they submit their receipts for reimbursements.
Aminatou: Just like -- ugh, these people.
Ann: So your "Ugh" is basically what Cecile Richards said to her. What I would have given to exactly hear how she responded to that. But it was used as an example of how even though she is supposedly this ambassador for things such as, I don't know, women, she really is pretty disconnected from the mechanics of what it means to go to a Planned Parenthood. Like we all know that Ivanka has never once walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic as a patient or a potential clinic for anything.
Aminatou: Or worse that she maybe has and she's like a hypocrite about it.
Ann: Yeah, I mean . . .
Aminatou: I'm telling you rich ladies are always taking advantage of the system.
Ann: Yeah. Anyway, I'm just like there's that going on. I don't know. What are you seeing in Ivanka land this week?
Aminatou: Listen, I like can't keep up with the news. It's like every time I get an alert on my phone -- thank you Washington Post, New York Times, Apple News, and BuzzFeed, because if you don't say BuzzFeed our friends at BuzzFeed will get angry. Just kidding. [Laughs] But it's like I just can't keep up with what's going on with the investigation, you know? And I also was watching House of Cards so it was really hard to be like okay, which one is reality and which one is House of Cards right now? But I feel like there's so much chaos around the investigation that one day we're going to wake up and people are just going to be in jail. Like that'll be the next news alert. It's just like here's who's in jail right now.
I feel like I can't read any kind of opinion news on the stuff. I'm like I just want the straight-up news. I don't need the Monday morning quarterbacks or anybody who thinks they're suddenly like an impeachment expert specialized in emoluments and obstruction of justice. I'm like I don't care. Yeah, it's like the Robert Mueller investigation, I'm so baffled as to why the president would say that he was under investigation and then send whatever crackpot personal lawyer he has to do all of the Sunday shows to say that he's not. It's just so -- he like continues to be his own worst enemy. But more than anything, like just sows chaos everywhere he goes. I'm just at a point now where I feel less panicked and more like okay, the system is working. It's just not working as fast as I need it to work, and this will be weird for a lot of months.
Ann: I'm glad you feel that way, because frankly speaking of all kinds of things that are happening in the news, in the past week it's always a banner week for men not being convicted for heinous offenses. But I feel like this week was a real banner week for lack of accountability for men who maybe shot black men at point-blank range or who maybe were accused of assault by literally dozens of women who have nearly identical stories.
There is something about experiencing the news and watching in frankly smaller cases than maybe like an investigation into the president of the United States, but just as big when it comes to issues that affect real human lives and being like wow, no justice in this area or that area and then trying to have some faith like you said that it's going to be okay. It's just taking a long time. It's very hard for me to trust the process right now.
Aminatou: I mean I only trust the process when it comes to the president. When it comes to everything else we're definitely like ugh, it's awful. Like watching the Cosby verdict was -- if I'm personally honest, I wasn't surprised at all. I wasn't surprised. I was just really disappointed. And I've always had a cynical view on how people treat women and that just reinforced that for me where I was like of course, we live in a trash town surrounded by trash people and this trash jury wouldn't take Bill Cosby at his own word that he drugs women to rape them.
Ann: Yeah. I mean there's that. There's also even in my not really being that attuned to the news phase I was watching a lot of network television with my grandma and there was some AFI tribute to Diane Keaton on which sounds like should be kind of in the center of our Venn diagram. But then the cap of the night of tribute is like Woody Allen and everyone is standing and applauding. And it's like are you really that surprised when the Cosby verdict comes down the next day? Are you really? I don't know. Yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah, or the cop who shot Philando Castile.
Aminatou: In cold blood in front of his partner and her daughter.
Ann: A camera.
Aminatou: And we all saw it on Facebook Live and it's nobody's fault that he died. Like this is the America that we live in. It's like bad things happen to women and bad things happen to black people and bad things happen to people of color and it's never anybody's fault.
Ann: I mean I hear what you're saying and it actually very much heartens me to hear that you have faith when it comes to some accountability of the president of the United States because I almost feel . . .
Aminatou: Only because the deep state is going to get him, Ann. Hashtag conspiracy theory. [Laughs]
Ann: Oh my god, we're not returning to like Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones. That's not what's happening right now.
Aminatou: I have put on my tinfoil hat and I'm back.
Aminatou: You know, but I don't know, this made me really angry, this week of news, especially contrasted to the shooting that happened at that congressional baseball game practice.
Aminatou: Nobody should be at a baseball practice and get shot at. That is outrageous that we live in a country where that's possible. I cannot tell you how angry -- just like deeply angry and sad I am for the families of those people who were shot. And none of them should be in the hospital and have to deal with that. But it is also like insanely frustrating to hear our congress people say that they are scared now. I was like oh, you didn't realize that guns were a problem when 26 children at Sandy Hook died? Like that didn't get your attention? Or when black people are out here getting gunned down in broad daylight by cops?
Ann: When toddlers are shooting themselves left and right? Yeah.
Aminatou: Toddlers shooting their moms in cars which happens at a rate that is actually alarming in this country. None of that was a problem. But now that your colleagues have gotten shot at the game, now, wow, like welcome to the world that we live in. And it was so frustrating to watch the news that day and congress people from all across the aisle, like Democrats, Republicans, and all the conversation was focusing on how they need more security for congress people now. It's just like oh, so you guys are just going to get bodyguards and the rest of us have to keep living in a world where we might get shot.
The same day of that congressional shooting, literally hours later three blocks from my house there was a shooting at the Barclays Center. You know, like that's crazy. I was like well, too bad we didn't have a congress member here because now we would have better security. We have terrible leaders. It made me so -- I was just seeing red and I was so rage, like angry, that I couldn't believe that they're just going to build basically a security force for themselves. And it's like the same thing is playing out in healthcare. Congress people always get good healthcare and then the rest of us get screwed.
Ann: Oh, yeah.
Aminatou: I'm like I'm sorry. But if you're going to give us like bad new healthcare that Donald Trump is pushing, you should be subjected to that exact same form of healthcare.
Ann: Or you should at least have to defend it to your constituents. I mean evil turtle Mitch McConnell who is at the moment we're recording this refusing to release even the text of the bill to not just his colleagues in Congress but to people like the American Cancer Society or like places that are not partisan, not politicized in any way who are just like we represent the interests of people who might be sick in the future. Honestly, that -- I don't know, I hope by the time this airs something has happened with that because we were just talking about this. Like Democrats are staging some mostly for press attention protests because everyone should be talking about the fact that McConnell is trying to -- and Republicans are trying to pass this.
Aminatou: He's trying to and he most likely will succeed because literally we're represented by spineless people. The amount of disconnect between the actual fear that people feel and like everything they think, like constituents think they're doing, calling their Congress members, marching and protesting. And every time I turn on the TV and these congress people are like -- they're so chill about everything and it's not the end of their world because they're not going to be affected by it. And who cares, because special interest gives them money or whatever. Like they should all be ashamed of themselves.
This bill, it's going to affect everybody. It's like yes, there are people who are sick, and first of all the fact that we live in a country where people think that being a sickness is a weakness or they think they will never be -- it's like what happens if a bus hits you tomorrow? You have to use the same emergency services as everybody else. Having diabetes doesn't make you a bad person. Being hit by a bus doesn't make you a bad person. Also like sickness happens. It happens to people all the time. What kind of world do we live in that we don't want to take care of each other for that reason? Like that's nuts.
But the fact that our congress people don't think the house is on fire and they are not doing more -- like this bill is going to pass in the middle of the night and affect everybody whether you have insurance from work already, whether you're somebody who is planning on being pregnant one day or you're pregnant right now or you're somebody who has a preexisting condition or, god forbid, you get sick also later in life. Like this has consequences that are so, so, so important and we're letting Republicans get away with just like sneaking it in in the middle of the night.
Ann: Right, which is -- sometimes I think about this. I forget that they're not operating like actual human beings, because I get confused, right? I'm like wow, all of us are people who have been sick before or who love someone who has a chronic illness. You know, anything that is under serious, serious threat by what they're doing right now. And I think like okay, I know they're rich and I know they're out of touch but they have to know someone who has been sick before. Then I just have to remind myself that they're fighting this as like a tax battle. They're basically like we want to give tax cuts to really rich people and this is how we get there. That's what they're focused on. It's actually never once is it a question of how do people who are not 100% perfectly healthy in America live their lives? It's just like how do we give money to the people who give us money? Like that is the exclusive calculation.
Aminatou: I know, and it's so disgusting. It's like I was looking at some of these congress people, how much money they get from the gun lobby, and it's not insane amounts of money. It's like $20,000 here, $30,000. Same thing with like insurance people. And I'm like wow, this is literally what it costs to buy you. You are so cheap that you would sell out the entire country so that you can have job security in this shitty job that you're doing.
Ann: But the other weird thing is I was listening to these people with various corners of the healthcare lobby being interviewed on like NPR earlier today and they were all talking about how they've been shut out of the process as well because to let them into the process would be to allow more information about it to become public which would make constituents angry which is the last thing they want. And so to me that just says call the Senate switchboard 202-804-8210. Call the Senate switchboard -- call this podcast and do it -- 202-804-8210. And basically be like do not pass this bill. There needs to be an open debate. Because if you won't even let your lobbyists talk to you, like how bad does this have to be?
Aminatou: It's so crazy. And then I think about all of the ways that they talked about Obama when the ACA passed. Like seeing grown people be hypocrites, nothing makes me want to burn the whole house down more than that. Like it just drives me nuts. But all of the conversations about how Obama snuck this bill in and he didn't consult them and blah, blah, blah, when literally for 18 months all we talked about was the ACA and we went through everything and even that was a compromise for the best healthcare we could get at the time.
Ann: Right, and they all voted against it anyway.
Aminatou: It's so shameful. Yeah.
Ann: They were all consulted and voted against it anyway, so yeah.
Aminatou: They all voted for it anyway, and I'm just like you know what? It's so shitty. It's so, so shitty to be somebody who you're just trying to make your way in the world and there are 400 or 500 people in D.C. who get to dictate how you live your life and they're all assholes.
Ann: Yeah. So . . .
Aminatou: I don't know. If you are Democrat and you live in a blue post, even a state that is really chill, you should call your congressman and tell them to step it up because it's insane. It's so insane to see all of them just be like "Hmm." Like I know that they're all coworkers and they're trying to be civil or whatever but people are literally going to die. Like what is important to you? Comedy, or people like dying? Come on.
Ann: Yeah. I know. How do you answer -- I mean maybe they never have to answer to people, but even people in your own family. How do you go to like a family reunion this summer and run into a family member who has had cancer knowing how you voted on this? It's like there is a part of me that remains genuinely baffled and I want to hang onto that because it shows that I'm not 100% cynical. But like I do picture like Mitch McConnell at the family barbecue with a person who has a chronic illness and I just don't understand how he gets to square that circle.
Aminatou: Or even the fact that pregnancy is a preexisting condition and all these men are like "Hmm, maybe we shouldn't pay for basic healthcare for women because they get pregnant." You know, and all of those men -- a lot of those men have daughters, a lot of them have wives, and the fact that they can think that, it's like you can't tell me that they don't hate women or they don't hate people of color. I'm like it is that simple. And that's how I feel about all these people who are still like "We need to understand these Trump voters and we need to understand where they come from." I don't need to understand them. I know exactly who they are, and they're trash people. Like these are the decisions that we're faced with now. Elections have real consequences. Like I don't actually care that people are racist or not in their heart of hearts, or they're misogynist or not in their heart of hearts. I'm like that's your own problem. But I care when it has policy outcomes, and this is the result of misogynist and racist policies.
Ann: If I ruled the world, another -- if I were writing my Wonder Woman utopia origin story it would include . . .
Ann: Making everyone have to stand up before the world and defend the policies we've enacted. I have had the distinctly unpleasant experience, and I'm sure you've had this experience too, of having to explain to a European who has only ever lived under a single-payer kind of health system what happens if you're a poor person who gets sick in America. It is a super shameful experience, and I'm just like how do these legislators who actually have a direct ability to influence that, what if you had to explain that? What if you had to just say "Well, the state is basically cool with just letting them die?" Like to someone . . . yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah, but you know why? The state is cool with letting them die because regular Americans are okay with letting them die. It's like these are the people we elect to represent us and they do what we allow them to do. There are a lot of people in this country who really think if you are sick it's because God hates you and that was God's plan for your life and that's why we have shitty healthcare. And a lot of those people make it to Congress somehow. Like this stuff is real, you know? And that's something that we don't talk about. People always talk about welfare like it's a bad thing, and it's like sure, when welfare essentially builds the white middle class everybody was okay with it. And the minute those benefits became available to brown people they became a problem. But there is something deeply shameful about living somewhere where we don't believe that healthcare is a right for everyone, that housing is a right for everyone, that education is a right for everyone, clean water is a right for everyone. That's insane.
Ann: Right, or . . .
Aminatou: But this is where we live.
Ann: Right, like the reverse being that if you don't have those things it's through personal failure as opposed to systemic oppression or like genetic poor luck or anything that can contribute to . . . yeah.
Aminatou: Yeah, or the fact that there is literally an entire system that is rigged to keeping rich people richer and making sure that no one else gets within an earshot of that. Like come on.
Ann: Right, and that's what I mean. I mean viewing this as an issue -- a financial issue as opposed to sort of a fundamental moral issue is . . . I can't even relate to it. Like I can't even fathom.
Aminatou: I know, I'm so angry. I just don't know how more people are not angry, or maybe they are, but I just don't . . . like I'm so . . . yeah, it's like sure, the cycles of grief. Right now I'm stuck in anger. But it's really -- like it makes me really ashamed to be part of a society that does not believe in helping everybody.
Aminatou: Ugh, I know. I know, I know. People are trash. What are you going to do? Oh my god, okay, I'm going to hang up because the other half of this babka is not going to eat itself.
Ann: Babkadook it up.
Aminatou: Babkadook, I'm so . . . I'm done with you.
Ann: I'm done with myself. It's fine.
Aminatou: You're fired.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcast, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 and this podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.
Ann: I'll see you on the Internet.
Aminatou: See you on the Internet! And see you on our live shows.