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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Arachnaphobia and Other Southern Pestulence


I'm not really afraid of spiders.  I think they're cool little dudes and I'm totally fine with peacefully coexisting with them so long as they respect boundaries and keep their creepy crawly little asses outside.  Or well-hidden deep in the crevices of my home, even, so long as they're earning their keep by eating the more obnoxious insects and not looking at anyone in my household like sample platters or all you can eat buffets.

And guys, I'm actually pretty proud of myself, as a transplant to the South from Colorado, where the winters were cold enough to kill of most Hell spawn that sported more than 4 legs and generally the only time you encountered a creepy crawly was when you were in an area you probably weren't supposed to be in anyway.  Even then, I think I only know of once that my Mom encountered a black widow (digging in the garden), and anything else you encountered in the wild typically wasn't designed to rot you from the inside out with its bite or sting.

I legit never knew so many creepy crawly things existed until we moved to Oklahoma.  What the hell is a tick, and why are you strip-searching your children with a magnifying glass like the most over-zealous TSA agent ever?  What do you mean you're rubbing used chewing tobacco on your calves because it helps with the chiggers?  I don't know what chiggers are, but that doesn't sound like a very nice word and I'm not really comfortable with you using it in my presence. WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU MEAN THAT WAS A MOSQUITO??  YOU LIE! THAT WAS CLEARLY A PTERODACTYL AND F*CK YOU FOR LAUGHING AT ME WHEN I WENT FULL SPAZ-NINJA JUST NOW.

Seems about right.

Everything's bigger in Texas?  BIGGER?  Oklahoma’s like where God keeps his shrinky-dinks.  Nothing is normal here.  Everything’s huge, fanged, venomed, and mutated in the most accidentally-dunked-in-radioactive-waste ways imaginable, and the heat only seems to make it worse.  BIGGER?  F*ck Texas then.  Texas and Australia can keep their awesome accents and beautiful landscapes and everything in them designed lull you into awe and then brutally kill you. I'm just going to chill here in Oklahoma with my flame torch and not have my broken and battered remains dry-humped by something that Satan himself would be startled by, thank you.

Anyway, it did take me a while to get used to all the bugs.  Seriously.  So.  Many.  

For some back story - years ago, not long after we moved here, my dad came across what he thought at first was a small tarantula.  No big deal, right - he was just going to scoop it up and escort it outside.  But then he got closer to it.

What he described in order to get my mom's and my attention sounded like something out of a pretty awful horror movie.  The spider looked super fuzzy - and was breathing.  Pulsating.  Like, its entire body was moving, but not in any kind of sync, just kind of... rolling.

Now, anyone who lives in the South or has any real experience with spiders already knows where I'm going with this.  See, certain species of spiders carry their babies on their backs, like the most horrifying carry-on luggage you can imagine.  Hundreds of teeny, tiny, wriggling baby spiders hitching a ride on mommy because f*ck your sanity and ability to not have to cry yourself to sleep, that's why. 

Sweet dreams.

And you can laugh, because we were silly city folk, and didn't know that the writhing nightmare before us was a totally normal occurrence in nature (!).  So my dad, being the logical, level-headed person that he was, did the only rational thing he could think of in the split second before you think your entire family is about to be devoured by a creature that’s terrifying and makes no sense and has no business being in this realm – he jumped, with both feet and his entire weight, right on top of this thing.

My Dad, for anyone new here, was about 6 foot 7 and a good 250 plus pounds.  The walls shook.  There was an audible “boom” as the floor bared the sudden, harsh impact of his weight.  The house itself moaned in protest as I’m sure the foundation was shifted, if even just a little bit.

And the spider…. F*cking exploded.

Worst.  Pinata.  Ever.  It was like one of those horror movies where you think they got the bad guy, only instead of going up in flames he suddenly turns into thousands upon thousands of tiny bad guys, coming at you from every angle imaginable. There were teeny tiny spiders scrambling for their lives in all directions, and all my Mom and I could do was stare on in horror, as surely this was the beginning of the Apocalypse and we were powerless to stop it.

This is it.  This is how the world ends.  Not with a bang, but with a nerdgasm.

And my Dad, still not fully understanding what the hell had just happened, began doing the most insane Mexican Hat Dance I’ve ever seen in my life.    Or, more accurately, like Riverdance performed by Andre the Giant on LSD and blindfolded, with someone steadily shooting bottle rockets at his ass as he screams random, frantic expletives.  It was both magnificent and deeply terrifying and, I’m sure, pretty embarrassing for my Dad once we figured out that the erupting Hell beast was nothing more than a momma spider carrying her babies.

Poor b*tch probably just thought she was taking a happy stroll with her little ones to the park or something.  She never saw it coming.

So this morning, when I encountered a similar pulsing nightmare in my kitchen, I knew better than to try to Hulk-smash it with the shoe I’d just retrieved from the living room.  No, this would require strategy.  This would require stealth and focus, and a little bit of luck.

Raid, guys.  It’s creepy crawly genocide in a can.  5/5 stars.  It seems to work best if you squeal like a little girl while spraying it in nonsensical sweeps toward the general vicinity of the spider-volcano.  Crying and whimpering may or may not help, but a sudden, shrill warrior cry is much more empowering.  Would definitely recommend.   

But the point of this post is that, after my victory and the subsequent sweep and mop so that my kitchen floor no longer looked like the sad and squishy aftermath of a really low-budget Scy-Fy movie, I got a little squirmy and started Googling natural ways to repel spiders.  And as I was looking through all the pictures of spiders and the recommendations for citrus and peppermint (because spiders don’t suffer from scurvy and hate Christmas, obviously), I’m thinking about how silly I feel for being squirmy.

I’m the human.  I just annihilated an entire family of spiders with a pump of my finger, like freaking Don Corleone.  Sure, I lost my shit a little, but I left no witnesses.  I’m the master of my domain, the queen of this castle.  I’m at the top of the food chain, dammit.

And then a fly landed on my hand and I almost pissed my pants.

Perspective, guys.  We may be hundreds of times bigger than they are, but they still manage to illicit a certain, um, respect, if you will, because we know on some primal level that the little bastards could easily take us down with a few well-placed nibbles on our puny human flesh.  It's a bug's world, and we're just living in it.

Dammit, Disney.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Catcalls, Compliments, and Outright Hypocrisy

So I've been seeing a lot of conversations about gender roles lately, specifically the objectification of women and how catcalls are absolutely not compliments.

As a woman, specifically as one who has dealt with her fair share of harassment, awkward flirting, and compliments, I kind of feel like someone needs to step in somewhere and throw some actual logic in.

"Learn to take a compliment!"
"Shut your face-hole, you slobbering, chauvinistic caveman!"
"I can clearly see your lady curves, so you obviously wanted attention!"
"Your attention was uninvited, as was your commentary!"

Men, women, sit down.  Shut the f*ck up.  You're both wrong.

Before you get offended and report this page, allow me to explain.

Ladies, raise your hand if you spend an extra couple of minutes in front of a mirror before you leave the house to make sure that your appearance is at least slightly less than horrifying.

Now feel extra silly because you're sitting in front of a computer in a room by yourself.

Okay, now answer me this: what are your personal criteria, for yourself, of what is and is not acceptable for your physical appearance to be seen by anyone who lives outside of your household?  

Next question - why?

Objectification and Beauty Standards

 Alright, so I know that not every woman feels that she needs to put on makeup or do anything special with her hair before leaving her house, and there are plenty of women out there who are totally content wearing sweats and hoodies without worrying about what anyone thinks about it.  There's not a damned thing wrong with that, either.

But, for the majority of women, there are at least a few rituals that we hold on to just as tight as tooth brushing and showering.  We pluck, shave, tweeze, style, moisturize, exfoliate, and contour our way into feeling human in the mornings.  While we can all stand here until we're blue in the face and swear that we only do those things for ourselves, there's a little part of us that does appreciate when someone notices.  In the right context, of course.

Anyway, we're all familiar with the term "sex sells."  And right as you read that, you were probably grimacing as you pictured a bikini-clad supermodel sitting on the hood of a ridiculously expensive sports car deep-throating a bacon cheeseburger while washing said sports car with some kind of magic hose that dispenses already-soapy water that somehow manages to splash and drip just right on her barely-concealed bosom.  Objectified women only sell things to men, right?


But wait - when women do it, it's called empowerment.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  If this were a Maxim cover, it would be sexist; but since it's a women's magazine - well, there are probably still plenty of women giving poor J-Lo the side-eye and calling her a whole bunch of not-so-nice synonyms for "hooker," because women are crazy - but the acceptance is still different.  It's a women's magazine, so it can't be objectification.  Erm... yes... yes it is.  Cosmo is still using half-naked, photo shopped, mysterious-smirk-wearing J-Lo to sell their magazine.

It's called a double standard.  The only difference is perception.  

Let's also address the issue of beauty standards - ladies, do you really think (straight) men are behind fashion, makeup trends, hair trends, diet fads, or any of that other mess that we put ourselves through as fairly typical women?  Do you really think that every man in the world wants a blonde haired, blue eyed, perfect size 2? Does everyone in the world love sushi?  F*ck no.  Just like anything else, people have different tastes.  So tell me then why it is that we have all these "impossible beauty standards" in the first place?

Ladies - you might want to sit down, I'm about to f*ck you up with some truth:  WE DO IT TO OURSELVES.

We can blame men all day long for having to look at Kate Upton staring back at us from the front of magazine covers and claim that we have low self-esteem because these standards have been shoved down our throats since we were old enough to watch television - but ladies, these are the standards WE buy.  These are the supermodels and singers and actresses WE idolized and decided we wanted to emulate.  These are the women WE objectified.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

And while we idolized and objectified these women, it became normal to look at these women not as people, but as pretty faces and fabulous bodies and mascots for products we wanted to buy to be more like them.

Those aren't men's shoes, guys.

And you know what?  If we can placate the green-eyed monster long enough to get over our own insecurities, we could admit that there is nothing wrong with a woman being comfortable enough in her own skin to dress in ways that show off her figure, her sexuality, or shit, however in the damn well she pleases.  Which brings me to:

The Hypocrisy

There are a couple parts to this.  I went off a little in left field earlier, but I haven't forgotten that the original intent of this post was to address the issue of harassment vs. compliments from the opposite gender.  I'm getting to that, but first I think we need to look at the idea that women who wear even slightly revealing clothing breathe are whores.

Rape Culture

Again, this is something that a lot of people want to peg on men in general.  But ladies, let me ask you this:  how many times have you, or a friend, or any female you know, declared that another female was a "whore," "hussy," "slut," "bitch," or was "asking for it," based on her appearance or what she was wearing?

Let me clarify:  how many White people do you know who can't understand why it's okay for Black people to call other Black people the "n" word, but not okay for White people to do it?  Let's forget for a minute that generally, when a Black person says the "n" word, it isn't meant with the nasty connotation it would have if a White person said it, while when a woman calls another woman a name like that, it's clearly venomous.  Point is, to people who have never experienced racism and don't know how deeply a word like that could actually cut, hearing it used so nonchalantly by the very people it slurs somehow takes the sting out of in their minds.  "It doesn't bother them," they think, "so it must not be as bad as I thought it was."

So if we always know that "fucking bitch" is always on the tip of men's tongues, do you think that maybe, at least for some of them, we put it there?  Or at least suggested it?

Why would you expect men to be hesitant about throwing those words out there, when we as women are so quick to use them as weapons against other women?  Saying "she's begging for it" is victim-shaming before anything has actually happened to her and sends the message that men aren't in control of their own behavior when lady lumps are present - which is both ridiculous and frankly a pretty harsh insult to men in general.  Men have been controlling their primal urges around scantily-clad women for generations, let's not assume that men have suddenly devolved into brainless, helpless sexbeasts when they're aroused.

My God, the one on the right is foaming at the mouth already!

That's not to say that it's all women's fault that our society is more inclined to blame the victim, but the overall perspective is obviously extremely flawed and it's going to take a major shift in attitude from all of us to fix it.

F*cking 50 Shades of Grey

Ugh.  I hate that this keeps coming up guys, but sweet baby Jesus.  Ladies - I just - and I'm just going by numbers here - but based on the success of these books and movies, let me just say that you're all full of smelly, steaming dog poo.  Why?  Because these stories are nothing but smut and objectification.  Yes, I realize it's fiction.  But what's the point of a good book?  To get lost in the world of the story.  To live vicariously through the characters in the book.  

And holy cheeseballs, ladies - you know what?   I'm just going to get right to the point.

That guy you just flipped the bird for whistling at you - was he good looking?

Don't look at me like that, you know what I'm talking about.  And I already know the answer.  See, it's okay for Mr. Magic Mike to whistle and hoot and holler, and you might blush and giggle and roll your eyes, but you probably won't get mad.  You might even be a little bit flattered, even if what he just said made your stomach lurch a bit.  

Wait, that's not what syrup's for...

Just like it's totally okay for Christian Grey, a handsome, wealthy sociopath, to do all kinds of awful, unmentionable things, in a f*cking murder room sex chamber.  You skipped right over the sociopath part, huh.  Because he's handsome, and wealthy.

But what if he wasn't handsome?  Or wealthy?  Ick, right? 

That's a whole different movie, ladies.

So those "uninvited" come-ons might be more "invited" if the guy looked like Channing Tatum, yes?  And I know, not all of you think that way, but ladies, I know at least some of you have been doing it, maybe without even realizing it.

It's f*cked up, is all I'm saying.


So... I could probably write another 200 words on this one, but I think this video clip sums it up pretty damned well. 

... point is, ladies, there's nothing wrong with flaunting it if you've got it, but for goodness' sake, expect that some men are going to openly admire it.  

Are there some jerky guys out there?  You betcha.  Do they make up the entirety of the male species? Likely not.  So before you get uber-pissed at that guy that just shouted some lame line at you and then dodged behind a mailbox, stop to consider that maybe he saw a pretty girl and, in his nervousness, what was meant as a smooth Nicholas Sparks line popped out sounding more like a pervert with Tourette's.  

"Smile," is sometimes more of an attempt at an icebreaker than a skeezy come-on.  Or maybe, just maybe, a stranger saw your resting bitch face and thought you were having a bad day, and was trying to cheer you up.  "Wow, you're really beautiful," is a f*cking compliment.  It's what comes after that should determine whether you respond kindly or kick him in the balls.

Look, I get that it's exhausting some days when you're being bombarded by predatory stares and awful come-ons that run the gamut from slightly awkward to file a f*cking restraining order.  But, can we maybe try to be fair and acknowledge that not every dude who crosses our path is two seconds from dragging us in an alley and doing unmentionable things to us?  


And sometimes, it takes guts to approach a beautiful woman, so sometimes dumb shit falls out.  It's okay to turn men down politely when they're not being outright douchey, and you might just make some poor schmuck's whole day by being kind to him even after he had a total derp moment.

Here's the thing - actual compliments don't have to be invited.  That's why they're compliments.  But men, a compliment is generally defined as something nice that you tell someone that makes them feel good.  

Here's a good rule of thumb:  if you would punch someone in the throat for saying what you're thinking about saying to your mother, your sister, or your daughter, then maybe just keep it to yourself.

Hey, you!  Are you full of Beryllium, Gold, and Titanium?  Because you're Be-Au-Ti-Full!  Why don't you join me on my Facebook page and...  eh, I suck at this.  I post stuff on there sometimes.  

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