Your Right Not To Vote (And why it’s bullsh*t)

As I clicked the share button on my tenth or eleventh status update on the last election day urging my friends to “VOTE!”  it felt a bit like tweeting that they should “BREATHE OXYGEN!” or that “CANCER IS BAD!”  It seems so obvious and so simple that being pro-voting almost feels trite.

It isn’t   I was surprised to find a number of my friends boasting about not voting.

Choosing not to vote isn’t edgy or provocative; it’s intellectually lazy and disrespectful.  Voting for the lesser of two evils is better than not voting at all, hell, writing someone in is better than not voting at all.  If you don’t see a candidate who represents your views and you don’t participate because of that, you will never see a candidate who represents your views.  If the candidate with lukewarm support for gay rights won with bigger margins, the party might consider backing a candidate with actual support for gay rights.  If there were a significant number of write-ins, it would signal a base willing to come out and support something big if they had the option.  But when those “lesser of two evils” candidates barely eke out a win or lose, the offerings will get safer and safer and more disappointing.  

There may not always be a good choice, but there will always be a better choice. Opting out doesn’t put you above the ugly political game; it makes you complicit.  


Douchebaggery is not constitutionally protected

Many of the people who vehemently shout about our constitutionally protected right to Freedom of Speech (usually as a reaction to public backlash against shitty behavior) have absolutely no idea what that means. That seems like an ironic little integrity test for those who actually care about the First Amendment, doesn’t it? Le sigh.

Things the First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Against:

  1. Revealing the identity of a Reddit poster who was internet-famous for posting fetish shots of minors.
  2. Public backlash against Daniel Tosh’s rape joke
  3. Individuals encouraging each other not to spend money at a restaurant that supports hateful views

Freedom of speech means that you can say what you want without the government arresting or fining you. Hooray! But it does not mean that people won’t respond to that. That is also freedom of speech.

I absolutely do not understand the mentality that artists can say whatever they want without people getting hurt. You can say what you want. And you can choose whether or not to care if people feel hurt by it. But no where in the artist contract did it say that people don’t get to call you out when they find your work offensive.

Freedom of speech does not protect your right to speak anonymously. And while I support sites like Reddit choosing to allow anonymous posting, it is still a public sphere. If a journalist figures our your identity, too bad so sad. You put your shit out for the world to see. Don’t complain when you receive negative commentary. That is, in fact, the same justification you used to post photos taken of women taken without their permission. This is almost exactly a perfect example of comeuppance.

Boycotts, public backlash, and media criticism are not infringing on your rights. They are actually an awesome example of how free markets can sometimes regulate themselves. Please don’t invoke freedom of speech unless your actual freedom is in jeopardy.

Five Facts about Female Bodies from the Todd Akin Anatomy Textbook

Renowned Fertility Specialist and all-around Learned Person Todd Akin recently informed the public that victims of Legitimate Rape cannot get pregnant because the female body can “shut it down,” so we don’t have to worry about exceptions in abortion bans. You didn’t know that? Funny, neither did I. In light of this important scientific1 discovery, I did some serious research2 about what other awesome tricks the female body can get up to when threatened.

Prepare to be enlightened.

  1. When approached by an unwanted suitor, either in a bar or a dark alley, women can spit a paralyzing venom from a gland found at the back of their throats.
  2. Ovaries will emit an Electromagnetic Pulse with a half-mile “blast” radius.
  3. If pursued by a predator, a woman will shed her breasts, much like a gecko sheds its tail. The breasts will continue to wriggle on the ground to confuse the predator. It generally takes 6-8 weeks to regenerate.
  4. Progesterone can serve as a crude form of chloroform.
  5. Under extreme duress, five women can band together to form Voltron.

If, perhaps, these facts don’t quite sit right with you, you may want to throw some money toward Claire McCaskill, Mr. Akin’s Democratic opponent.

1. Not actual science
2. No actual research was completed

It’s not scratch ‘n sniff, guys

During a recent trip to Las Vegas, my girlfriends decided we should have at least one “Wooo, Vegas!” night, so we gussied up (I knew I’d find a use for you, $3 Sequin Skirt!) and hit the Strip.

The definitive “Girls in Vegas” photo

By virtue of being a group of women, someone put wristbands on us and waved us through a velvet rope. I was the last to go through, and as I was about the pass, the bouncer grabbed my wrist and yanked me back. “I’m found out,” I thought, “I am not a person who gets ushered past lines into clubs! You caught me!” Still holding my arm, the bouncer said something I couldn’t hear over the bass (“Does it have to be so loud in here?” say the Old Lady in My Head). I shrugged and pointed to my wristband with big sad eyes, hoping he would take pity on me since my friends were already inside. Then he flipped my arm over and stroked the inside of my forearm, circling my tattoo and mouthing “What is it? I like it.” At least, I think that’s what he said, because when I shouted “A Phoenix. PHOENIX,” he smiled, winked at me, and let me go. I should be used to this by now.

I got my first tattoo this summer. I’ve wanted one since I can remember, and I finally took the leap as part of “Summer of Yes,” a manifesto my friend Annie and I conceived after both of us had particularly rough springs, and it was basically permission to live every day like it was Spring Break. I had a really fun summer.

Still red. It’s all healed now.

I was prepared for it to hurt (it did, but only about as much as waxing my eyebrows) and to have to conceal it at work. I knew it would bleed, and I knew my skin would “reject” some of the ink over the first few weeks (weird! but ultimately fine). What I did not expect is that my tattoo would turn my forearm into an interactive museum exhibit.

People love to touch my tattoo. No. Sorry. Guys. Guys love to touch my tattoo. Sometimes, it makes sense. Every dude I’ve gone on a first date with since I got it has used it as an open to caress my arm, which is pretty reasonable first date material. After swapping a few stories and last names, the gesture feels flirtatious, not intrusive.

It’s the strangers that irk me. When I’m standing on the bus, hanging on to the overhead bar for dear life, the last thing I want is to feel an unknown fingernail tracing lines on my arm. Maybe I’m unusually sensitive about personal space. I know I have watched mouth agape when my pregnant friends have cheerfully endured people in line at Starbucks rubbing their bellies without asking, because I cannot imagine a world in which pregnant-me would not FREAK OUT about that.

Are there unspoken cues that tell strangers it is acceptable to touch one person, but not another? A girl in middle school had Pantene-glossy hair down to her butt. People used to touch it constantly in public and were always surprised if she (or her parents) balked, as though her decision to have extraordinary hair made it public property. Does having art on my arm make it perceived as up for public consumption? These touchy strangers must be the bane of museums everywhere, rubbing up on the Warhols and licking the still life.

Things That Irrationally Piss Me Off: Lizzy

For months now, I’ve been emailing back and forth with a dude, trying to decide whether I might want to meet him. We’re a high match (whatever that’s worth), he’s cute, and he’s extraordinarily persistent. But something about him pisses me off. I can’t lay my finger on it (hence continuing to speak with him at all–I feel sort of unreasonable), but I find myself annoyed after almost every exchange. Today, he sealed his fate though. He called me Lizzy.

I have nothing against the name Lizzy as a derivative of Elizabeth, just as I have nothing against the names Beth, or Betty, or Eliza, etc. etc. and so on (there are a ludicrous number of Elizabeth derivatives).

But that is not my fucking name.

I do not find it endearing. You will not be the one person I let get away with it because, gosh, you’re so cheeky and special.

Even the few people in my life who do it to tease me, knowing I will scowl at them, are dear, close friends. Presuming to call me a diminutive nickname before we’ve even met seems excessively intimate. (Clearly, I watch a lot of Downton Abbey and favor the Dowager Countess.) My own mother can’t get away with it.

It’s not that I have anything against nicknames in general. I have my own, and I certainly employ them in speaking to others. But they are from or for people I know well, with whom I have some shared history.

Was I looking for a reason to put this business to bed? Probably. But calling me Lizzy was definitely the last straw. It’s not like I’d chuck a friend I already knew and liked for calling me Lizzy (at least, not consistently) but man, if there is any question about whether I like a person or not, “Lizzy” casts a weighted vote against them.

Are there nicknames you can’t stand? How well do you tolerate them?

Never Gonna Give BNY Mellon Park Up

Occupy Pittsburgh to cops: prepare to be rickrolled

When faced with eviction from BNY Mellon’s greenspace, the protesters are going to…meme them? An outdated meme? Really?

Good thing the Occupy Movement doesn’t have a PR problem being taken seriously… 

Honestly, this is the first time I have rolled my eyes at the Occupy Movement. I get that it’s a joke. It’s just not a good one.

How Customer Service Ruined America

I appreciate good customer service. I also give good customer service.

But good customer service turns people into assholes. Hear me out.

Much as we like to believe in maturity, at heart, humans are toddlers. We learn behaviors* based on positive or negative reinforcement. As anyone who has dealt with the voice on the other end of a customer service line can tell you, bad behavior is encouraged when dealing with customer service reps. Speaking calmly and reasonably generally gets a response of “we’re so sorry you were inconvenienced, but…” It’s the screamers who get refunds.

I was working in Development for a company that also had a sales department (I’m being intentionally vague, though my 15 readers probably know what I’m talking about). There was a large sale one day, but purchases had to be made in person, not on the phone or online. A Patron pulls up, parks her car uber-illegally, and gets in line to make a purchase. A number of staff members note the illegally parked car and suggest, then cajole, and finally beg her to move it, lest it get towed. She refuses. It (surprise!) gets towed. And that woman raised such hell about it that my former company paid for the impound fees and ticket. You read that correctly. They paid her impound fees.That was the moment I realized that customer service was ruining society. That woman was not only not punished for being an absolute, maniacal asshat, but she was rewarded. Handsomely.

It becomes a cycle. We see it work for someone else. We try it once (I’m guilty! I admit it!). It works! Suddenly everyone is a jerk because, well, it gets things accomplished.

There has to be a middle ground between waiting patiently on hold for 5 hours and screaming your way to free cable. There must be a way to serve your customers without creating monsters. Address the reasonable requests with reasonable solutions and take the loss of a customer now and then when the occasional screaming lunatic rolls through demanding the world. Normal customers will feel less screwed because they aren’t seeing their crazier counterparts walk away with free loot and companies will feel less screwed because they aren’t paying ludicrous “fines” to spoiled nutballs. Thereby being kinder to their reasonable customers? Oh, I’m giving corporations way too much credit, aren’t I? There’s no going back now, huh. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

*Not trying to spark a Nature v. Nurture debate. My opinion lies somewhere in the middle, both inherited and learned.