Episode 99: Federal Gaslighting/Wow Wow Wow

Published June 29, 2017.

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Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.

Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.

Aminatou: I am Aminatou Sow.

Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's agenda, horrible legislation all over the place including at the federal level with Republican efforts to take away healthcare and in Missouri with a bill that would allow employers to discriminate against people who take birth control or have abortions. Luckily Rihanna has a new boo for us to discuss and plus we covet the caftan Serena Williams is wearing in this month's Vanity Fair and offer our own sack dress shopping tips. And finally some good news about a court opinion out of California reining in Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Also real quick some announcements. There are still tickets for our late show in Brooklyn July 15th. We're referring to this one as CYG After Dark and it'll be a totally different show from the earlier one that sold out. So Brooklyn get your tickets July 15th. We've also got a couple left for our Philly show the following night on July 16th. You can find links to all of this at callyourgirlfriend.com/events. We want to see you IRL.

[Theme Music]

Aminatou: Hi, Ann Friedman.

Ann: Hi Aminatou Sow. Oh my god, I've got to tell you, I know we have both done events with the incredible Roxane Gay lately but at the event in LA which was this week the woman making the introductions who I will not name by name here, but asked me for the pronunciation of your name. Which first of all I'm like dead giveaway you're not a podcast listener.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: And then I literally told -- I was like "Write it down, A-Mi-Na-Tou-Sow." Was totally like let's do it real simple for you. Then she got up there and she butchered it so bad I was like I don't even know exactly what she said and it was all I could do not to open the Q&A with Roxane by saying "Hi, I'm Ann Friedman, and her name is actually Aminatou Sow."

Aminatou: [Laughs] Justice for Aminatou Sow. Thank you.

Ann: Justice. But I was like you know what? You say it literally every week. If this woman had only listened once she could've saved herself.

Aminatou: [Sighs] Like somebody had recently asked me my name politics or whatever. You know, like Amina versus Aminatou or whatever it was. And I realized that I'm just at a point where I'm just really impatient with people who don't know how to say people's names in general. You don't have to make a big deal out of it. Just be polite and be like "I don't know how to say your name. How do I say it?" I ask people all the time because I do a ton of public speaking and you never want to get their name wrong. But they always make such a big deal out of it and then it's so much to do about them. And I'm like listen, you're coming across as very stupid right now. My name has mostly vowels. It's not that hard. Like you can say it. If you can say Tchaikovsky you can say my name.

I don't know why this is so hard for people, and by people mostly I mean a lot of white people. I'm like stop making it about yourself. Just learn to say people's names or stop talking altogether and either way it's Gucci.

Ann: Like you say with Tchaikovsky it's not like there aren't other names that are hard to pronounce. I feel like even stuff like the whole Hannah/Hanna, knowing how to pronounce someone's name even when it seems normal.

Aminatou: Yeah, names are just hard if you don't say them all the time or you don't know how people pronounce their specific name.

Ann: Exactly, so I don't know. I mean it is one of those things too where I try to ask -- I try to get, when I'm meeting someone, just sort of say like "Can you say that one more time?" at the outset just to be clear I'm trying to get it right. But it's like, I don't know, there is also a level of . . . like I watched her write down the syllables. It's just funny.

Aminatou: I mean it's really not about this one person. My favorite thing in the world, honestly, is whenever I work with -- for some reason I've worked with a lot of Irish ladies who I love. This is when I discovered that on YouTube you can pretty much put anything like name plus pronunciation and it'll pop up for you.

Ann: Exactly, yeah.

Aminatou: And I like live in the Irish pronunciation YouTube channel. It's my favorite thing in the entire world, like now to the point where obviously I know how you spell and say Niamh (Nieve) but I'm still going to listen to it because I love it.

Ann: Oh my god, yeah. It is one of those things too where it's not just like "Oh my god, that's a confusing African name," sort of thing. It's like no, no, this is just about what your level of cultural familiarity is.

Aminatou: Yeah, I don't know how to say Katie Smith. I just YouTube listen to it and now we're here. It's cool.

Ann: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly.

Aminatou: Oh my gosh.

Ann: Anyway, I feel better clearing the air on that. I'm just like if anyone was at that event know that I was dying to correct that person.

Aminatou: I'm so glad you had fun interviewing Roxane. I interviewed her in New York a week ago and it was awesome.

Ann: She is the most charming person. I feel like when I was on stage with her she is like a bright, shining light and I was thinking about how our live shows -- I'm like how can I bottle this energy that she is so good at in front of a crowd? Because we need to like, I don't know . . .

Aminatou: It's like she's so charming.

Ann: Working on it.

Aminatou: But also she's a fucking rock star. It's not like very often that I'm around somebody and I'm like "Oh, you have star quality," even around famous people. [Laughs]

Ann: Totally. Totally. She has that special something.

Aminatou: Like we know famous people in this family. But Roxane, I was like wow, is this how people who fill up stadiums except with amazing, intelligent reading feel like all the time? This is crazy.

Ann: Oh my gosh, precisely. Precisely that.

Aminatou: Yeah. People have brought old books to sign, magazines. It was crazy. I was just like this is -- yeah, I don't know. She's like the Rolling Stones of writing. It's kind of nuts.

Ann: I mean one of the audience questions was legit "What kind of women are you interested in?"

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: I was like that is a very direct say over the people who are in this room. I was like someone is like, yeah, getting in line.

Aminatou: That's amazing. Yeah, take a number. Get in line.

Ann: Yeah. And also I mean Hunger, obviously. I feel like we're talking about her so much but the book is also really, really well-done. And she made this comment when we were talking about how someone recently dismissed it as just like her journal. It made me so angry because I read a fair bit of memoir. This in terms of the structure and what she's doing on a literary level is so, so ambitious and so interesting and writing it off as a personal journal or merely a book about trauma or a book about bodies is kind of selling it short on the quality, you know?

Aminatou: You can't please everybody but you can please enough people that you can be a New York Times bestseller like three times over. So that's fine.

Ann: [Laughs] Totally. Totally.


Ann: Here's a thing that I'm thinking about, which is the fact that when everyone's listening to this we'll be about to head into 4th of July weekend here in the United States of America and . . .

Aminatou: USA! USA! USA!

Ann: Yeah, and so there are a lot of Republicans who are really excited about taking away the meager healthcare that Americans already have and they're like "Don't worry, we'll be back after this long weekend."

Aminatou: Ann, Obamacare is in a death spiral. It's dying. It's awful. It's a carcass on the floor. I don't know what you're talking about. Why is it so bad that Republicans are trying to take away our bad healthcare and give us worse healthcare?

Ann: Oh my god, it is -- honestly, this is one of those issues. And I felt this way very much around the time Obamacare was being debated originally, where I just don't understand. First of all there is no Cheetocare. That's the other thing. It's just like Obamacare or nothing. It's not like "Oh, we have a better way to do healthcare and to keep Americans from going into medical debt and dying and becoming chronically sick." No, no, there is no Cheetocare.

Aminatou: There's not. The other thing about this that is maddening, whatever the Senate is doing right now is making me feel like I'm taking crazy pills because I fully remember circa Obamacare how it's all we talked about for at least one full calendar year.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Like all of the time. We all became healthcare experts, hearings all the time, the president was doing press conferences all the time. Like crazy.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: And Mitch McConnell, evil turtle, in like five business days he thinks he has come up with a better healthcare plan. [Sighs]

Ann: And I don't think he actually has, and that's what I'm trying to say. He doesn't think he's come up with something better. What's better is tax cuts for people who are already rich. It's not like better healthcare. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I know. But this is what's so maddening about it, right? Is you can't run for like seven years -- literally for seven years Republicans of all weird stripes, like everything from schoolboards up to presidents have been running on the fact that they're going to repeal Obamacare.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: You would think that in those seven years they had, I don't know, some type of iOS note tucked away somewhere that had the plan.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: But no, no, it turns out that for seven years it was all talk and then last week somebody was like "Shit, can you put a PowerPoint together in like five business days?"

Ann: Yeah, I mean . . .

Aminatou: It's just -- this is the thing I don't understand about politicians also is that, you know, like supposedly the Senate is a more independent body. They think of themselves as these very high-minded, lofty politicians. Like it's like Cicero and the square basically. And they're also very collegial and so everybody gets along here even though we don't have the same politics. And they're still trying to fuck all of us over. All of them.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: And it's just like I don't get how you can prize collegiality with your colleagues over the fact that you're going to make a decision that is going to affect people for generations to come. Like maybe the most consequential vote of your career, and it seems like not a lot of thought and care has gone into it. You know the one thing that the president and I agree on is that the healthcare plan is mean. Like there's no other word for it. It's mean-spirited. And I don't understand how grown human beings can think this way.

Ann: I know. And grown human beings -- and this kind of goes to the collegiality thing -- but a lot of the Republicans who are on the fence about this bill who we should all be calling are the ones who have long been labeled as centrist or reasonable like Susan Collins. And, god, in this day and age, even like Lisa Murkowski. People who are like . . .

Aminatou: I know. Lisa Murkowski is like chill now. Can you believe 2017? [Laughs] She is like chill now. This is crazy.

Ann: I know. Lisa Murkowski is like a living testament to the fact that everything is relative. Do you know what I mean? In another era she would not be looking so reasonable. But anyway, yeah, so if you are in Ohio and Senator Portman represents you and Nevada where Senator Heller represents you and Maine and West Virginia or Alaska or Kentucky. I mean call the evil turtle, please, if you're in Kentucky. Call these people because they are kind of in core decision-making positions. But I mean call your senators and either thank them if they are already opposing it or push them even if they're not on that short list because wow, wow, wow.

Aminatou: Yeah. Wow, wow, wow is the way to -- now I have Wild Thoughts stuck in my head. But it's just like it's insane. I watch the news every day now and I'm at the point in the grief cycle where I'm just like what is actually going on? And words don't mean anything anymore. But they're like grown human beings who for the sake of politics want to destroy the entire country. That's like -- I'm like that's a lot to take in.

Ann: I know. I know. And also it's one of those things too where we talk about being a critical reader or finding good information. If you visit right-wing sites or if you look at the ticker on Fox News no one is like "Hey, guess what? Your senators are trying to take away Medicaid right now." It's not exactly a blaring headline. There's a lot going on where you're right, it's very crazy, but there's also this feeling of like I'm in a glass case of emotion. No one else is seeing what's going on here. Or everyone I know already sees it but there's this unreachable other that is not aware of what these senators actually want to do. It's trying times.

Aminatou: It is. It's really trying times. Not to discourage anyone. Like by all means call your senators. If anything show up to town halls because that's what recess is for. But there's something really disempowering about yes, I'm in a glass case of emotions. Everything is crazy. You look towards the people who can supposedly make it better and they're making it worse. Like I don't know where to go from there.

Ann: Or they're just like tweeting too. That's the thing, my congressman Adam Schiff who I love, I'm like sometimes I see his tweets and I'm like "Whoa, he's doing exactly what I'm doing. Just frustrated tweets about what's going on."

Aminatou: I know. We're just tweeting through the pain together. But also love Adam Schiff. Like forever, forever.

Ann: I know. I know.

Aminatou: He's like the only reason I'm watching cable news right now. I'm like is Adam on? If Adam's on, I'm watching. What's going on? He's like making sense.

Ann: I know, I know. Obviously he and Maxine Waters and a few others are not just tweeting about this stuff. I get it that they're actually working. But I don't know, there's this perception of like nothing can be done even from the inside that I think even if that feels real in the short-term it's pretty important to feel that.

Aminatou: I know. I was watching this like walk-and-talk interview with Lisa Murkowski yesterday. [Laughs] 

Ann: Mm-hmm?

Aminatou: And talk about like we've all gone through a lot of personal growth. It's really bad that I'm looking to Lisa Murkowski for comfort.

Ann: Yeah, for reason.

Aminatou: Right, you know? Because she looks hip and cool. She dresses like she wouldn't take your healthcare away. You know what I'm saying? You're just like oh, in an ideal world I would see you on the subway and we would see each other. She's like walking and talking with all these reporters and the MSNBC reporter is like "Hey, would you work with Democrats?" And she just stops, like stunned, and is like "Of course! Absolutely." Like I'm watching this and I'm like oh, yeah, remember how also only half of the Senate is working on this thing and the other half is just tweeting through the pain with the rest of us?

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: This is like attenable.

Ann: Yeah. It's also some federal government-level gas lighting when Ivanka's dad will tweet something like "Zero Democrats have weighed in on this bill." And it's like hello? No Democrats have been asked to weigh in on this bill. You tried to do this in a closed door setting. This idea of oh, it's actually on you and you are the crazy one for thinking you are shut out.

Aminatou: You break it, you bought it. You know what I'm saying?

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's just Amina rules of politics. Can we talk about Cheeto though? He tweeted some very funny things. At best he's just like a complete fucking idiot and at worst he's actually probably senile and it's scary that we have a person that doesn't have it all together ready to blow up the whole world. But his tech tweet, "Amazon Washington Post, sometimes referred to as Guardian of Amazon, not paying Internet taxes which they should is fake news." I can teach an entire class on this tweet because one it makes no sense. But two, first of all, the Amazon Washington Post is amazing because Jeff Bezos owns the Post, not Amazon. Also Amazon can't buy Whole Foods -- like they're trying to buy Whole Foods -- without getting the blessing of the government essentially. And now the fucking person who is in charge of the government is gas lighting all of them. It's like amazing.

Ann: I know.

Aminatou: Also what the fuck is Internet taxes? Because I too do not pay my Internet taxes.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Like are you kidding me? I'm like this is another reason you know this man is out of touch. First of all, if you had an Amazon Prime account, sir, you would know that you are 100% paying taxes on like everything you buy on that goddamn website.

Ann: I mean I know, right? Also when listening to you talk about this I'm picturing like what is the Washington Post Amazon Prime equivalent? It's got to be push notifications, right?

Aminatou: [Laughs] It's like -- it's so crazy. But the tweets are like . . . if you just read the tweets out of context, context being like fascism is in the land, we are going to war with somebody imminently, they're kind of hilarious. "I just finished a great meeting with the Republican senators concerning Health Care." And healthcare, the H is capitalized, the C is capitalized. Only a sociopath does that. "They want to get it right!" I'm like okay, exclamation point. "With zero Democrats to help and a failed, expensive, and dangerous Obamacare as the Dems legacy the Republican senators are working hard." This man's comma game is insane.

Ann: I'm still stuck on punctuating healthcare upper case as if it's a brand and then I'm like that's actually probably pretty revealing. It's an expensive product now that only the wealthy can afford. It's not like a right, which is maybe lowercase, or a fact of life, lowercase. It's like, yeah, an expensive thing that maybe you can get if you're wealthy.

Aminatou: It's so crazy. Or he's "Very grateful to the 9 to O, not zero, like actual letter O, decision from the Supreme Court. We must keep America safe." First of all, it's not a fucking decision. That's not what happened.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: Take the phone away. Who are the people who are still letting this man have a phone? When this whole thing ends, however, whenever it ends, I don't think that we will collectively like fully understand the Trump years we went through. This is insane.

Ann: And the thing is it's not just there is one unhinged person sitting in the White House right now. It's like some of the state-level news, like did you see this Missouri news this week?

Aminatou: Girl, you know I'm not reading Missouri news. Tell me.

Ann: Okay. Basically it's proposed -- it's not passed legislation yet, but the fact that it has any support is terrifying. The Missouri State Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers to basically be like "Eh, we can fire women who use birth control or have had abortions."

Aminatou: Whew. Hand Maid's Tale.

Ann: People who use these things. I know. I know. Which is pretty amazing. Also the way the crossover language works in the debate over this legislation referred to St Louis which still has abortion providers as an abortion sanctuary city. Which the conflation of these issues -- part of me is like yes, those of us who are in the struggle for collective liberation understand that things like the rights of immigrants and the rights of people who need abortions are related. It's like a similar struggle. But when I see the other side do it like that, like dog whistling? It's not even dog whistle. It's literally being like we're going to connect people you hate -- immigrants -- with other people you hate -- women -- by referring to this city as an abortion sanctuary city. It's like everything about it is just reprehensible.

Aminatou: Ugh. That's a lot.

Ann: I'm quaking. I don't know what to tell you. I'm just angry about it. There's really nothing to -- I mean if you're in Missouri let your state senators know but like wow, wow, wow.

Aminatou: Every time you say wow, wow, wow, all I think is Wild Thoughts.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: It's really messing with me. Wild, wild, wild, wild.

Ann: I don't know why that's my refrain today. I'm just -- ugh.

Aminatou: What are we going to do? What are we going to do? You know, I love how some weeks we're like "Okay, here's the game plan." Like we are energized. And then other weeks -- this week -- I'm just like wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. This is how we live now. This is wild.

Ann: I mean honestly though, like isn't that how -- I mean that's how I feel. I go through some periods where I'm like "Okay, we can do this. There are all these really engaged people who want justice in the world. We're going to do it. It's just going to take a while." And then I have other weeks where I'm just like I can't.

Aminatou: I know. I just try to check in on where in the world are the Obamas? And they're somewhere on vacation fantastic this week. And I'm always like you know what? If Barack and Michele think it's safe enough to take the girls whitewater rafting or whatever it is they're doing down there, we're fine. It's fine. But I get worried when it goes too long and we don't hear from them and I'm like uh-oh.

Ann: It's true. Looking at the Obamas on vacation is like the current iteration of like -- it's like a step above Googling your ex or something.

Aminatou: [Laughs]

Ann: It's like I guess you're happy but I somehow still feel worse that you are on a whitewater raft and not protecting our healthcare even though I understand why.

Aminatou: I know, but let's not get twisted. We're not Googling our exes; our exes are Googling us. [Laughs]

Ann: No doubt.

Aminatou: Oh my god.


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Ann: Can we talk about Rihanna? Well, I had some conflicting feelings this week where I was like A) very interested in the hunt to identify Rihanna's new boo but also feeling bad about looking at paparazzi photos of her in a private canoodling in a pool moment.

Aminatou: I know. Like, you know, honestly I thought that was the first thing we were going to talk about today and I was going to be like I don't know, Ann, it's Rihanna's business who she's with. But at the same time leave it to the black Twitter detective agency to solve any mystery in 24 hours.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: So I was like I want to know who this is but I could pretend that I didn't want to know because I knew that some entrepreneurial teen on the Internet would figure that out for me.

Ann: You don't even have to pretend you don't want to know. The world knows the truth. Everyone wants to know.

Aminatou: I know. Well, except that in my "Who is Rihanna dating?" pool we all thought he would be a soccer player that we could identify. But, no, it turns out he's a Saudi billionaire. But again that's her own business. I hate intimate paparazzi shots. It reminds everybody that you're kind of a piece of shit for looking in on this. It's like you know the tela-lens is happening. You know you shouldn't care about other people's business even though I'm very happy that Rihanna is getting her swirl on.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: You know, but it's just like -- it's like the tabloid industry is like capitalism everywhere and it makes you complicit in very disgusting ways.

Ann: I know. I mean this is not a photo of like Rihanna with her Starbucks getting out of a SUV where I assume she steels herself every time she does that because she knows what's going to happen. This is clearly a very well-appointed private pool. And, yeah, I clicked and then I felt shitty about it.

Aminatou: I know. I was like these Spanish villa's security is very lax. These shots are crisp and clear. This is not okay.

Ann: Maybe if Spain had a celebrity as big as Rihanna they would lock it down.

Aminatou: I know. Well, you know also the other problem is when you live in the Kardashian universe of tabloids you get a very warped sense of what is private and what is not private anymore because early Internet Kardashians -- and still a lot of famous people do this when they call the paparazzi on themselves like all the time. You wanted me to see this in Daily Mail today. I get it.

Ann: Of course. Yeah.

Aminatou: I hate that the lines are blurred that way, but this was clearly a private moment. I'm very happy for Rihanna. It is her own business. But also like I hate tabloid culture so much.

Ann: I know. It also came -- I mean I think it's not unrelated from the previous conversation about how terrible everything else in the news feels, and so it's like Rihanna looking absolutely perfect and enjoying herself to the max is something that it's like . . . I don't know, maybe I would've been strong enough not to click in another moment but I was weak this week.

Aminatou: I know. You know, my only Rihanna paparazzi shot rubric I'm actually really into is Rihanna leaving a club or a restaurant with a wine glass.

Ann: Oh my god, the best. Yeah.

Aminatou: There is like a hundred of these shots. I hope that in her house she has like a trophy room that's like "Got them. Stole this one from a five-star Michelin restaurant." She just has like wine glasses displayed everywhere. Those generally make me really happy.

Ann: Yes, exactly.

Aminatou: But we're definitely going to get Beyonc twin photos imminently any moment now.

Ann: Of course.

Aminatou: Because I follow her stylist on Snapchat and she posted photos today from Beyonc's house. So I'm like when are you . . .

Ann: It's happening.

Aminatou: It's not a social call; it's like a styling call.

Ann: [Laughs] Yeah. Oh my god, and also in sort of related news this week we also got that Serena Williams Vanity Fair cover.

Aminatou: I have been hunting down the caftan that she is wearing in that at every Issey Miyake store in this country and every retailer that carries Issey Miyake's Pleats Please line because it's all I want.

Ann: I mean please describe it for people who have not seen this caftan.

Aminatou: It's like the most luscious pleated probably some sort of like silk, buttery brown color. It looks amazing.

Ann: Yeah. And also the photo was so incredible. I mean really good use of a fashion photo shoot fan, for sure.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Definitely. The cover is definitely a recall to you know that famous Demi Moore on Vanity Fair  like very, very pregnant photo?

Ann: Yes. '90s iconic I believe.

Aminatou: I believe so. '90s iconic. So Serena, you know, we hear all about her boo, her tech boo that she's with and how they met, and it's like 100% modern romcom. It's amazing, the whole story. And then about like being pregnant and still winning Wimbledon and achieving your goals.

Ann: I saw a fair amount of eat your heart out Demi Moore captions with the cover.

Aminatou: Really?

Ann: I saw a few. I saw a few.

Aminatou: I mean I'm thinking of one. No, you're right. Okay. Never mind. I walk back this commentary.

Ann: Which is . . .

Aminatou: Which is literally dumb, right? It's like sure, pit pregnant photoshoots against each other but also why is the pregnant photoshoot even a thing?

Ann: I mean it's just a funny . . . it is a very kind of artful -- not so much the caftan photo, that feels new and fresh, but the like I'm cradling my belly and looking regal is very much like a trope not just of celebrities but I'm sure we all know someone who has done a pregnancy photoshoot like that. You know what I mean? It's a thing. It's a thing.

Aminatou: For sure. You know, like Beyonc had this photoshoot. We know her.

Ann: [Laughs] Oh my god, hers was leveled -- hers was styled differently though. I'm talking about the like totally stripped-down, like basically exactly that cover and the Demi Moore cover pose.

Aminatou: 100%, right? But the thing about all of those is they're for private consumption, right? You're not like a noted celebrity for being pregnant. And so the Washington Post actually -- speaking of, I don't actually know how to say her name. Robin Givhan, I want to say?

Ann: I always say Gi-van, but maybe not. I actually don't know.

Aminatou: Gi-van, I know, right? Because she's fashion. You know what? We'll look it up. We'll look it up on YouTube. But Robin, if you're listening, tell us how to say your name. She writes all the style coverage at the post and has this really interesting piece about -- the title is literally like let Serena Williams's naked pregnancy photoshoot be the last of its kind. And so she goes through the history of the pregnant photoshoot and kind of what it means. I think she's very nice to Annie Leibovitz and how she does this because my criticism of this Vanity Fair photoshoot is that it's just like ugh, another Annie Leibovitz photoshoot? Like god.

Ann: Woo. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Like how many of these -- they're like beautiful photos. Are you kidding me? Like very elegantly-lit and framed. But there's nothing fresh about them. It's like 100% like Vanity Fair and then throw in like Buzz Bissinger to write the piece that's like classic Vanity Fair package. And so I didn't think there was anything amazing about them.

Granted I love Serena Williams. I think it's like badass that she is demolishing people and winning tennis tournaments while many weeks pregnant. The piece is about how there's nothing really that makes a pregnancy newsworthy. Like there's nothing about a celebrity pregnancy that is newsletter. And that's actually something I've been thinking about a lot, including with the Beyonc photoshoot and whatever. It's like I'm very happy for you but there's kind of like nothing remarkable about this. In the way we want to celebrate the pregnancy itself, I think it should be like a wonderful private moment. You know, it's like all of the gross commentary on "Oh my god, Superwoman and Wonder Woman and you're better than most women," or whatever, I struggle with that a lot.

Ann: Yes and no. I mean I guess I just kind of accept it as a reality that any life moment if you are a celebrity is potentially something that you can own as a moment, you know? And I think that that's part of it too. I feel a little differently where it's something where Serena Williams is participating or Beyonc is engineering a photoshoot that is depicting themselves presumably how they want to be depicted with their body as it is in this moment. I feel a little differently about that versus a lot of the like tabloid size of the bump, post baby body. That feels a little different because it is like -- sometimes I think people are complicit in that, the way their bodies are talked about there too. But mostly I'm just like I don't know. The problem seems to be largely as well how other people interpret it as an achievement.

Like I agree with you. The achievement was winning the Australian Open while she's pregnant. The achievement is not like seeing a pregnancy through to term necessarily, although I don't know, if Serena were my personal friend I would probably see it as an achievement. I see it as an achievement when my friends have kids, whether or not that's right.

Aminatou: Again, like a private, personal moment. Not like a celebrity moment to be elevated. But I do think that all of the points you make are really valid. And to be fair to both Beyonc and to Serena and to a lot of people, part of the reason that they have to pose for these things is because they want to control the narrative on how people will talk about them and how people will depict them.

Ann: Exactly.

Aminatou: Like Beyonc famously has been accused of not carrying her own babies which is the most ridiculous thing you can accuse somebody of. But on a personal level that is also deeply hurtful. Like people are really despicable in all the ways they can talk about your life, especially for famous people who do and don't sign up for public consumption as they are. You know, it's like yes, just because you buy a Beyonc album doesn't mean you're allowed to talk about how she lives her life or her pregnancy. That's kind of none of your fucking business.

Serena's like this cover insures that nobody will say it was a fake pregnancy, like for one. But also I would love to see the person who to Serena's face will say something shitty to her. I'm like she will kill you and I won't . . .

Ann: I'm sure that person exists. I'm sure that person exists, yeah.

Aminatou: But I think that the thing that is -- that I enjoyed at least about the Washington Post piece was kind of the history of like . . . there was a time where like you would invite the public into your life because you were trying to destigmatize an illness or normalize something that was weird or unfamiliar. And literally because we are such a fucking basic society, now that thing is pregnancy.

Ann: It's become its own trope. And like I said, it's like anything that people do privately. I mean in a weird way it's just like they're stars that are just like us in the same way that non-famous humans will do pregnancy photoshoots. It's like there is an appetite to see the famous person equivalent to that. I think it is interesting to consider it in terms of what gets you a cover. Was it achievement in her chosen field or her like undeniable athleticism or accomplishment in the sport? No. It was like being pregnant. I don't know. I kind of ask questions about that. It's not like the pregnancy photo is bad or like I'm against it. It's more like how are women getting portrayed and for what sorts of achievements?

Aminatou: Right. And how much agency do they have over it, right? And is this a story you want to tell about yourself, or is it a story that other people are telling about you? And all of these things. And none of this is today that you can't be happy for people who are pregnant or you can't be happy for people who have children. That's like ludicrous. It's just that we're all critical thinkers here and so you should complicate your understanding about everything.

Ann: Right, yeah. And I think the question too is what sorts of depictions of women aren't we seeing on the covers of these things? I mean if it's always either women are kind of like in "I'm very young and like sexy," or like "I'm also very sexy but pregnant," there's not a lot of like the . . . and there have been covers but there aren't a lot of them where clearly this woman is being depicted for an achievement that has to do with her skills and her mind as well as just something about her that's appealing physically.

Aminatou: Totally. And I -- listen, I will take a Serena cover and photoshoot of anything she wants to give me like any fucking day of the week because she's beautiful and she's amazing. And to me that is the achievement is the fact that Serena Williams can be on the cover of a magazine.

Ann: Totally. Totally.

Aminatou: Because of the trash world that we live in and the fact that she has accomplished so much and she is so much and she is more -- and she's more than a tennis player and she's more than just her athleticism and her brawn.

Ann: Right.

Aminatou: And she's amazing. I think that's pretty cool. Basically, moral of the story, being a woman, it's complicated. [Laughs]

Ann: And also call us about that caftan, Serena.

Aminatou: Yeah. Call us about the caftan. Well, call us about the caftan Issey Miyake Tribeca store because I have called you five times.

Ann: Oh my god. Wait, have you really? I can't even. My . . .

Aminatou: Ann, I've been hunting it down. It's not on any of the online stores that sell that line. Like you know my ability to sleuth the outfit that I want but this is confounding.

Ann: I just can't believe like -- all of the dollars. That's what I can't believe. I'm just like I can't bring myself to pay that much for loungewear, even really nice loungewear.

Aminatou: Well we don't know how much it costs, first of all. Issey Miyake is a very reasonably-priced [Laughs] line in general.

Ann: I can't even. I can't even with you.

Aminatou: It's true! It's true. I own one of the Pleats Please things, and it was like -- please, it was not as offensive as you think it is and also it was really not that expensive.

Ann: Okay. Good to know.

Aminatou: But anyway, back to this Washington Post thing, I think you should read it because there's so many things I didn't know about the Demi Moore photoshoot itself. You know, because I was a very young child when it came out. This is my new thing, reminding people of how young I am, because a 15-year-old tried to make me feel bad about how old I was. And I'm like excuse me, I'm very young, sir. [Laughs] But it was right after she had done Ghost so it was like at the peak of her celebrity at the time and also she had the short, cropped hair, all that stuff. And the '90s were basically the time where if you were pregnant you had to retreat into terrible maternity wear and also if you were a woman who was pregnant you kind of had to go away for a little bit.

Ann: Yeah, I mean . . .

Aminatou: There was no celebratory baby bump photoshoot which I did not realize at the time. And so I was like okay, the elevation of this thing, like this makes sense to me in this context.

Ann: Right. And also you can't win. Like you shouldn't have to hide your body if you're pregnant, but you shouldn't feel obligated to reveal everything in a very calculated photoshoot. Like I feel like it's one of those things where I'm like oh, god, it's different but it's not better. [Laughs]

Aminatou: I know. But isn't being famous just like one calculated photoshoot after another?

Ann: I don't know. I wouldn't know. [Laughs] 

Aminatou: 2019, you're about to know.

Ann: Oh my god.

Aminatou: The year Ann makes it.

Ann: Stop.


Ann: So on a related note do you want to take a listener question?

Aminatou: Sure.

Ann: I will read it because it's sort of directed at you.

Aminatou: Oh god.

Ann: I know. The question is "Amina's caftan game is so strong. Can y'all do a segment on where to shop? I remember the Of a Kind and Miranda Bennett shout outs from earlier episodes but summer is here and I need to stay breezy!!!" with three exclamation points. [Laughs]

Aminatou: Okay. For the purposes of this question we'll just refer to caftan as everything that is some sort of sack dress. Does that make sense?

Ann: Sure. I would argue that a caftan is in the sack dress category but now all sack dresses are caftans. I'm with you.

Aminatou: Okay, I'm totally with you. So where do our favorite sack dresses on the Internet live? In general, yes, Of a Kind has featured a caftan I'm very fond of. I'm still not the owner of it, but I will own it very soon. I'm still on that shopping fast I put myself on.

Ann: Yeah. Sack dress is also a good search term combo that I employ frequently.

Aminatou: Sack dress is great. But, yeah, where are good places? Etsy is a really good place to start, honestly, especially if you're looking for something that is pre-owned or vintage, like soft or cotton, like well-worn. Etsy has never steered me wrong and I think it's one of my preferred drunk Google searches.

Ann: Yes. The only advice though is read the composition, the fabric composition first.

Aminatou: Yeah. I mean my advice mostly is don't drink and shop because then things that don't fit you will definitely show up at your house, and many sunglasses. For some reason I buy sunglasses all the time. But yeah, definitely read the description for everything. I love the Miranda Bennett dresses also that I've written about and talked about before. Where else? Garmentory also that Carlie has turned me onto definitely has a ton of sack dresses.

Ann: I have a sack dress that is Curator brand that I'm very into. It's like tinsel or something but it is super soft and super breathable and it has pockets. It has like a slit up the front that's breathable but not too high. It checks all my boxes.

Aminatou: Yeah. The Black Crane also that's sold many places. It's sold many, many places from Totokaelo to Garmentory to many places has some really sack dress options as well. I'm trying to think where else do I go? That store Cos, C-O-S, also has some decent sack dress options. And then one of my local Bay Area favorites, Gravel & Gold, also some solid dress options there. Pretty much the entire Internet is here for this.

Ann: It's true. I mean I actually feel like the search terms of the material you want like cotton or linen or whatever, or searching by color, kind of like sorting -- giving some other search term other than just caftan will probably lead you closer to the sack dress of your dreams.

Aminatou: Exactly. It's like caftan, vintage caftan. I am like mostly happy in just linen, cotton, or like silk sometime options. Just go wild.

Ann: One of our friends, and I'm failing to remember who right now, was talking about how she only wants to wear garments that hit her body in three points or less. [Laughs] Like both shoulders and maybe the boobs, if it doesn't touch anything else. I was like yes.

Aminatou: Listen, there is a dress from Black Crane that I want that does exactly that. I'll send it to you. And as soon as I'm allowed to buy things again I will buy it.

Ann: Yeah, when does your shopping embargo lift?

Aminatou: Technically the end of this month but I cheated for four days this week so I have to make them up on the other end.

Ann: Four days? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Yes. I like went a little crazy. Well, no, I didn't go crazy. I only bought two things. But for four days I was obsessing over -- it's like I had a wedding to go to and so it's like I couldn't concentrate. I treat the shopping fast like that's my Ramadan. So I'm like you know what? I owe four more days so I'm going to tack them back on.

Ann: Okay. Ramadan shopping debt.

Aminatou: That's right, my Ramadan shopping debt. But it feels -- you know, honestly it feels good. It feels good to be like I didn't buy anything for almost 60 days.

Ann: Totally. I mean that is an achievement.

Aminatou: I know. And you know me, like it's my sickness so it's like the best.

Ann: I mean I'm not going to talk about what the mail delivery service is like at your house. You and I know what it's like.

Aminatou: [Laughs] Well here's also the dirty secret of going on a mail fast: maybe do all of your shopping upfront and then it'll show up as you're not allowed to buy things.

Ann: Wow.

Aminatou: But, you know, here's the other thing Ann. Because I'm an almost online-exclusive shopper I return I would say two-thirds of the things I buy. Like I'm really good at returning.

Ann: Sure.

Aminatou: So it doesn't stress me out to get things at home.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: Because if I don't like it or it doesn't fit right, I'm never one of those like "I'm too lazy to return it. Where's the post office?" I'm like please, I live for returning things to stores.

Ann: I mean it feels good, right? Only keeping what's perfect.

Aminatou: Yeah, only keep what's perfect. Also, you know, at the Sow household we have a one comes in, one goes out rule so it's like . . .

Ann: [Laughs] I mean New York closet rules for sure.

Aminatou: What's the point of owning so many things that you can't wear all of them in a year? Makes no sense.

Ann: I mean I am a maximalist who does not believe in Kanmari and my feeling is if I wear something and it's the perfect thing for one day out of 365 it was worth it. So we're different.

Aminatou: I will never forget looking for a scarf in your closet one time and getting engulfed in it.

Ann: [Laughs]

Aminatou: When you lived in the bungalow. I was like I need one thing. If I were an Ann Friedman scarf, where would I live? And then it was like the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on the other end of it.

Ann: It was like if I were 300 Ann Friedman scarves where would I live? [Laughs]

Aminatou: Exactly. Aw, miss you bungalow.

Ann: I know. My closet situation though was tough.


Ann: I have one final posi-note shout out before we go which is about a positive court opinion released by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California about Crisis Pregnancy Centers basically saying . . .

Aminatou: What? CPCs? What's going on?

Ann: So if you're not familiar, Crisis Pregnancy Centers are places that like to pretend they offer a range of women's health services but in fact offer exclusively propaganda that is anti-choice. So due to a big push led in part by a friend of mine at the San Francisco City attorney's office, shout out to Aaron Bernstein . . .

Aminatou: Woo! Aaron!

Ann: I know. This court case came down basically saying that Crisis Pregnancy Centers can't false advertise. Like they cannot advertise themselves as offering women health services because they do not, which is huge.

Aminatou: Yeah. This is amazing.

Ann: It's just like, you know, I've had the feeling many times lately that I'm like lawyers are going to save us. This was a really long game. I mean this has been in motion for years and years. But honestly . . .

Aminatou: Yeah, because when I was at Google was when they ruled the CPCs couldn't advertise, like use Google Ads anymore, because they were all lying about their services.

Ann: Yes. Yeah, and they really went out of their way to say too that actually this decision is not about the politics of choice or the legality of abortion. This is just a false advertising case and you are advertising falsely.

Aminatou: Yeah, stop lying.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: They're all liars. And it's always like those ads, you know, like on the side of the highway or on the Internet banners that are like "Are you pregnant? Do you need help? Are you 16?" And they bamboozle you. And it's so infuriating because people who actually look them up are people who do need help and are the most vulnerable.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: That's really cool about that ruling.

Ann: I know. I know, and so, anyway, I just wanted to end on a posi-note. I know caftans are a posi-note but I wanted to end on an extra posi-note.

Aminatou: [Laughs] That makes me really happy actually.

Ann: I know. Me too.

Aminatou: Wow, wow, wow. Lawyers? Really? Earning their keep out here.

Ann: I know, really saving us all. So happy 4th of July I guess. I don't know. I mean it's like hard to feel much . . .

Aminatou: Wait, is that this weekend?

Ann: Yeah. Well, it's like coming up, you know? It's technically 4th of July weekend.

Aminatou: Listen, when you work at home every day is 4th of July weekend.

Ann: I know. You're just out here barbecuing on like a Thursday.

Aminatou: My god. How is it already July?

Ann: I can't. I can't.

Aminatou: There has to be a German word for like the older you get the faster time goes by or something because this is like . . . it's like terrifying.

Ann: Yeah. There has to be a German word. I'm sure someone has made that Tumblr already. I'm going to look for it. I'm going to look for this word.

Aminatou: While you're looking up Tumblrs I'm going to call back to figure out where I can get my hands on this Serena Williams caftan when I'm allowed to shop again.

Ann: Ugh, great news. Please report back once it's on your body. I want to do an episode in the future where you're actually wearing this and the dream has been achieved.

Aminatou: My fear, Ann, is that it's gone. [Laughs] This is very similar to the time when I watched the Adele music video for Send My Love to Your New Lover. Is that what the song is called? Yes, that song. That song is great. It's like we don't watch music videos anymore. Twice a year I get together with friends and we watch music videos. And so this song had obviously been out for like six months and she was wearing this amazing dress and I was like I must have this dress. What is this dress? I must have it.

Ann: And?

Aminatou: Setup Google alerts, eBay alerts, called like every store in America. Did the whole thing. Finally it came up in my size, maybe like six months later. There was one on what's that website called, Lyst? L-Y-S-T? That I've been trying to unsubscribe to for a year now, but magically I still appear on the email list. People who don't take you off their email list, there's a special place in hell for them. This time it worked out. It's like the dress was there. There's one left. It's like this weirdo British store to get it, and I couldn't pull the trigger.

Ann: Ugh.

Aminatou: But I realized that it's all about the chase. I was like I was happy that I had found it, then I was like I don't actually need this in my life because I love Adele but I don't have buying an Adele dress kind of money.

Ann: Exactly.

Aminatou: So, you know, be smart.

Ann: Oh, man, I'm sorry. I have not said what I was going to do. I'm now down a Google Image hole for Issey Miyake caftan and it's beautiful.

Aminatou: It's beautiful. It really is.

Ann: Yeah.

Aminatou: And there's some very good vintage options in there too.

Ann: I know, that's what I was just looking at. I was like "Hmm, maybe that's in my budget."

Aminatou: Listen, I'm telling you, when we're billionaires one day I'll buy you an entire Issey Miyake store. How about that?

Ann: I can't wait. That brings a tear to my eye.

Aminatou: I'm just like if I started adding up all of the things that I've told you for when I'm a billionaire I'd probably have no more billions left.

Ann: I don't know. We can rent out our yacht on the weekends and stuff, like when we're not using it.

Aminatou: It's true. It's like a yacht. You think we can rent out the giraffe also?

Ann: Yeah, children's birthday parties? Sure.

Aminatou: Yeah, because I don't think you're rich unless you have a giraffe at home.

Ann: I can't wait until we live like African dictators.

Aminatou: [Laughs] On that note I'm going to go finish my homework for the rest of the day.


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

Ann: Oh my god, see you on the Internet.

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