Elder Millennials: Watching the World End, Over and Over

War Of The Roses

Even they started out happy!

“A civilized divorce is a contradiction in terms.”  So says Danny DeVito’s lawyer character, narrating the 1989 film The War of the Roses. This dark comedy was released the same year my parents divorced. Mom has told me she can’t watch it, “It hits too close to home.” Such drama, Mom.

Personally, I think it’s hilarious. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner chew the scenery and DeVito twists the Greek Chorus he loves so much. A farcical gem and definitely one of the best comedies of the era.

The divorce rate peaked in 1981 and has been slowly declining since, for everyone except Boomers. So I venture to say that my experience is a pretty common one. I can think of two friends my age whose parents were still together by the time they turned 20. A couple had parents divorce in high school. Contrary to common wisdom, this seemed to hit hardest.

Pin-up with a teddy bear and a gun

Elder Millennials: When the world finally ends, we’ll be ready!

As a kid, your family is the world. I guess these days, kids have access to much more that informs them but, well, the 90s were rougher than people let on. We’re talking card catalogs until 10th grade. Regardless, if your parents break up, that means lots more confusion and arguments and travel. Probably moving house. Maybe a new school. Split holidays and vacations. Your parents’ failure to get along embedded into your childhood, fossilized by time.

And I don’t really need to quote those life outcome stats for children of divorce, do I?

Just as life claws its way back after this Extinction Event, the Millennium rolls around. I was 16 on December 31, 1999. Just old enough to not be quite sure if Y2K was about to break the world or not.

It didn’t, of course. Totally overblown. And overshadowed before we could catch our collective breath by September 11, 2001.

This time, it was not a drill. This time, the world really was crashing down. It was all over the TV, which everyone still relied on for information. Cable pumped into every modern classroom.

We went to war but, somehow, life marched on. Most people weren’t directly involved in Iraq. College, jobs, Spring Break 20XX, rent, bills, car repair. All tuned to the imperceptibly pervasive background hum of parents, condensed word clouds of slowly dissolving trombone echoes, “Go in and shake their hand.” 

Internships proliferated and the good jobs were always just over the horizon. Then the 2008 Financial Crisis pulled a Tonya Harding just as we were eyeballing the real estate market. The parenting market. The adulthood market.

A little girl pretends to cook

Like this, Mommy?

The world said it was ending. Well, part of it. There was quite a bit of chatter about foreclosures and bad stocks, but very little talk about what happened to all those people who had been swindled into homelessness.

“Millennials never really recovered from 2008” is a statement I have heard so often, especially lately, that it seems beside the point to source. Everyone knows it’s true, and I sure hope the Department of Education changes its policy soon to accept payment in the form of hot air. The Financial Crisis was summed up in a movie starring Christian Bale, cultural books balanced and closed.

The next decade was a dreary attempt to carry on. If you made the mistake of reproducing in your 20s, the descriptor Sisyphean probably applies here. Do you pay rent and childcare? Do you pay rent and student loans? The average couple is not going to be able to square this circle with kiddos at home. Because, don’t forget, wages suck. And everything else? Movin’ on up, baby!

Do you buckle under and live with your parents, eliminating rent and maybe childcare, but dropping the carrot of Adulthood further off your event horizon?

Do you spiral into existential depression and fitfully attempt about half of the above? I’d say the odds are 50/50. You may have gotten somewhere if you managed to find a decent partner.

Heathcliff and Catherine cling to each other under a tree

The tree might be dead, but at least we have each other!

That’s right, I said it. Who you decide to share your life with is a big goddam deal.

“When it comes to your wife,” DeVito’s divorce lawyer sagely advises, “I’m going to urge you to be generous to the point of night sweats. The all-important thing is to get you through this as quickly and cleanly as possible, so that you can begin rebuilding your life.”

Because that’s what it is; assuming you had the chance to build a life in the first place.

“Or, you can get up and go home, and try to find some shred of what you once loved about the sweetheart of your youth. It’s your life. Take a minute.” Too close to home, indeed. For fuck’s sake, you can always get divorced another day.

“Maybe because of what happened,” the lawyer moralizes the film’s ego-driven double-homicide, “I’ve become too traditional.” Something of an outlier for his generation and chosen field, Danny DeVito has been with the same woman since 1971.

Call it whatever you want, but I do believe people my age have a gut understanding of this that other age groups apparently tend to lack.

Anyway….

The world limps onward. Wages suck but jobs are stable. Facebook allows you to find every girl from Middle School, and you are all too busy to keep in touch. The online marketplace is finally making it possible to launch a small business from your (Mom’s) living room. Instagram morphs from pictures of dinner to a TitCoin generator powered by infamy. Almost everyone has a “side hustle.” Some of them are beautiful, hand-made items. Many of them are Multilevel Marketing scams.

A little girl sleeps in a chair as a dog looks on questioningly

The days start coming and they don’t stop coming!

But slowly, the trickle of experience accumulates into a pool of knowledge. You might get a promotion or a better job, a decade’s work history on your CV. The school schedules and bill statements slowly resolve from Greek to something resembling English. Maybe you dabble in getting a certificate or two. Maybe you even carve out a little something for yourself in a still-depressed housing market. Maybe the world is never really going to end after all. Maybe this is just life.

Then 2020 comes along. If you live in the United States, buckle up, because Fall is not going to be any better.

My husband is working from home. We live on the edge of Nowhere. My kids are safe and well-fed through local connections. As a teenager, I marveled at the trend of disaster movies (Deep Impact, Armageddon, Twister, Volcano, on and on) — Why would anyone want to watch the world burn??

But now, my cynical ass is reading up on Boomer politics and kicking back with popcorn.

Racism? Total nonsense! Fuck it. 

The Military-Industrial Complex? Government-eating hydra from Hell! Fuck it.

The Stock Market? A graph of rich peoples’ feelings! Fuck it.

An old woman holds up two giant mushrooms

Reporting for duty, darling!

We are tired. We stare through the bars of a gilded cage called debt at our elders eating the American Dream. We have been watching the world end, over and over, all our lives. One facade falling after another, until we are left without edifice. Without artifice.

We are unmoved to save a status quo fueled by stealing from us while lying about it (Can you say, ‘Recycle, Reduce, Reuse’??) The 21st century has been the dry heaves behind the garage at the friend’s house party of History. Let’s hold each other’s hair back and get it over with.

Let it end. If the coming decade sees this sick system burn itself down while the Baby Boomers wring their hands and gasp their last, so be it. Let them choke on the smoke of the fire they started, while we down in the trenches weather the turmoil our upbringing trained us for. Call me fatalistic, but I don’t think I’m alone. So far, only a few are actually saying it.

Give it time. When the world finally does finish ending, the Elder Millennials will be ready.

Father’s Day Madness: Guns, Guns Everywhere

A woman bandages a man's arm

There has to be another way!

Just popping in to bring attention to something I noticed in the news this morning.

This weekend was Father’s Day in the United States. Usually, this holiday passes with little more fanfare than some cards at the drugstore and persistent Home Depot commercials.

This year, as we will all have noticed by now, is unique. This year, Father’s Day was marked by random outbursts of violence across the country.

I’m not even talking about the protests. Or the riots. Or the looting. Or the brutal acts of political pageantry.

Chicago had it worst, with 60 people shot across the city. Nine of them have died, in unrelated situations where someone decided to start pulling a trigger. New York City has seen 18 shootings this weekend.

12 people were shot in Minneapolis, one of them killed. Smaller cities were not immune to the wave of violence, with Albany, NY (pop. 97,279) seeing four, Peoria, IL (pop. 111,388) had three. Syracuse, NY had 12 people shot but none of them fatally.

Philadelphia saw eight shootings over Father’s Day weekend. Cleveland, OH had six. And, just to bring it home for Yours Truly, someone was shot this afternoon at Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, a personal favorite afternoon destination at about four years old.

Lexington, KY, Charlotte, SC and Columbus, GA all saw shootings this weekend, too. At least seven were shot across Austin, TX. There were even two shot and one killed inside the Autonomous Zone in Seattle!

Woman holds gun in shadows

We’re all on edge, but remember who the enemy is!

What is going on out there??

According to the Gun Violence Archive, “May had the highest total for mass shootings in one month (59) since we began collecting data …. June is now on pace to eclipse that number by over 20.

So, what? The world is starting to fall apart, so y’all have just decided it’s every man for himself? You think because you don’t respect the police, suddenly rules don’t matter? Rules from that precious book I hear so much about!

In Chicago, a baby was shot through the back and died, and an old lady was shot through the arm. Neither of them was actually involved in whatever was going on. This affects all of us, and we cannot allow the US to descend into chaos.

For one thing, that will just make the authorities crack down harder. On all of us. Maybe especially those who chose sides back when it was still “Peaceful! Peaceful! Peaceful!”

Please, guys, put the guns away. Just for now. This moment is too important for this nonsense.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Chevalier d’Eon, Transvestite Extraordinaire

Hey, all! Your faithful Brazen here, still around but busy with so many things. Lots in the works in this weirdest of years.

But yesterday, a morsel slipped across my plate too juicy not to bite.

The Black Lives Matter protests have given me a strange glimmer of hope. On the front lines of Feminism, JK Rowling published an eloquent essay last week quintupling down on her flagrant support of women’s rights. These two events have dragged me back to some familiar spaces, fresh air in my lungs and a bitchy twinkle in my eye.

Making a special effort to check in with the opposition, I stumbled upon a reference to a “trans” person from history, in the form of a portrait in the National Gallery in London.

Chevalier D Eon By Jean Paul Mosnier

Quite the fashion plate!

“This painting of the celebrated soldier, diplomat and fencer, Chevalier d’Eon …. (1728 – 1810) was an important acquisition for the National Portrait Gallery as it is the earliest representation of a transgender person in the Collection,” claims the Gallery’s website. Along with a paragraph barreling from d’Eon’s negotiations during the Seven Years War to reminding us that the past was not kind to those who transgressed gender roles, the site insists, “The decision to acquire the portrait was largely based on the sitter’s importance to the history of transgender people in Britain.”

Frankly, this struck me as revisionist bullshit. There wasn’t a concept of transgender as we know it today, even 20 years ago. This minor French noble was probably a transvestite, who thought himself terribly liberal and interesting.

But it’s so much better than that!

For one thing, this appears to be a recent edit to the Gallery site, by someone who forgot to change the label at the top of the main page. This reads, “Chevalier d’Eeon (1728 – 1810) Diplomatist and transvestite.” The message is further muddled by the description, “d’Eon used secret letters to blackmail the French king, Louis XVI, and was paid an income from 1777 on the condition that d’Eon wore women’s clothes.”

Oh, dear! That sounds like…. a bribe!

I was off to Wikipedia before I could stop myself, giggles welling up in my belly. What was the temperature like in the middle of the pool? “Madam Campan writes in her memoirs: ‘This eccentric being had long solicited permission to return to France; but it was necessary to find a way of sparing the family he had offended the insult they would see upon his return; he was therefor made to resume the costume of that sex to which in France everything is pardoned.

“The desire to see his native land once more determined him to submit to the condition, but he revenged himself by combining the long train of his gown and the three deep ruffles on his sleeves with the attitude of a grenadier, which made him very disagreeable company.'”

Oh, dear me! Such scandal! I’m still leaning heavily towards troublemaking transvestite. There is a story about d’Eon as a spy in Russia weedling his way into the Empress’ court, disguised as a woman. An uncited line claims this isn’t true, just d’Eon trying to illustrate the utility of his quirk to espionage.

Whatever the spark, another page at the National Portrait Gallery describes how his flame burned hot as a woman in England, “D’Eon’s new identity as a woman brought even greater fame. The Chevalier returned to Britain in 1785 and forged a new career performing fencing demonstrations.” In a dress. So woke. So stunning and brave to make a living as a novelty act.

There had been rumors for years that d’Eon was really a woman, which he encouraged. I guess that’s why, when he died in England in his 80s, the doctor noted his feminine characteristics such as “breast remarkably full” (we used to call them man-boobs….) as well as “male organs in every respect perfectly formed.”

So, a transvestite. And quite a troublemaker, it seems.

All this next to the fawning at the National Portrait Gallery, “This portrait is an unprecedented historic document of the sitter’s acceptance into British society at a time when people who wore clothing not associated with their assigned gender were viciously persecuted.” Sure, if you’re looking at it in 2020 and don’t know anything about the guy.

It strikes me as more of a testament to the decadence of the late 18th century. This is the Enlightenment we’re talking about! The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions were taking root, alongside those of the political kind. Ironically, this is what put an end to d’Eon’s allowance –  Louis XVI stopped paying him after losing his head.

Another example that pops to mind is Christian Davies (1667 – 1739) who joined the army in disguise to look for her husband and ended up serving a long, fairly distinguished career before being wounded in the groin and discovered. Far from “viciously persecuted,” Christian became an instant celebrity and went on to publish a best-selling novel about her experiences. She even drew a military pension.

So, yeah, England had Puritans and Witch trials, but there have always been countervailing forces. The US inherited our culture wars from Mother England.

Maybe this bit of nonsense is a poetic continuation of that tradition. Maybe I needed a good laugh.

This eccentric being, Charles Genevieve Louis Auguste Andre Timothee d’Eon de Beaumont, fancied himself a lady man.

Kissingmarilyn Monroe

Y’all are crazy, but I luv ya anyway!

He was evidently unashamed of his unusual habits and used them to his advantage whenever possible. He sure doesn’t seem like a poor, sad, beleaguered transwoman.

But it’s okay, trans activists all seem a little confused. Wandering through RowlingGate, I dug up this gem: “‘Cis’ is short for ‘cisgender,’ a variation of a Latin word meaning ‘not transgender.'”

Mwa! Goodnight, everybody!

Does A New Depression Mean A Sharp Turn Right?

We have all developed our little quirks in dealing with daily life during lockdown. Your faithful writer has been vacillating between following the pandemic and its politics like a sexy murder trial, and avoiding anything remotely topical to cover the smell of my brain sizzling. Last night I was pulled from panicked reverie by the compulsion to respond to an article on Medium. 

Hilda Underwater

I guess I’ll just learn to breathe water!

We’re Watching An Economy Die is one of those rare treats that is both inescapably enjoyable and deeply disturbing. Umair Haque goes to great lengths to convince us that we are seeing the death throws of democracy in the United States. That the inevitable, eternal outcome of widespread poverty is a hard turn Right. We will blame minorities, elect fascists and become “the world’s first poor rich country.

“Inequality has skyrocketed and surged. The pandemic produced a class of winners, too. Bezos made billions — and his lieutenants, millions. So too did Zuck, Sergey, and the managers of their Google and Facebooks and so on.

“The economy has been divided into a kind of caste system …. Beneath them isn’t the broad, expansive middle class of the 1950s American Dream. There’s just a vast, vast pool of the new poor.

” the 80% of Americans who can’t make ends meet, live paycheck to paycheck, can’t raise a tiny amount for an emergency, and struggle to pay basic bills like healthcare and housing. The pandemic, though, made all that much, much worse — and it destroyed any hope that people beginning to be trapped in this class of neosurfs had of ever escaping it.”

Way to hit below the belt there, Umair. In many ways, his assessment mirrors my own fears for the next decade. Following on from the last decade, screwed over by other unseen forces no one had warned me about.

I’m an Elder Millennial, and I’ve always lived on the crumbling bottom edge of the middle class. That my generation is doomed to do worse than our parents is not a surprise to me.

I See You

I see you, muthafukka!

But I resent the notion that we all possess a latent racism just waiting to be evoked by some dictator. I don’t blame the instability of my circumstances on random Hispanic children or Chinese factory workers, as Umair suggests. I do not see the logic there at all, I consider them more akin to myself than those I see hoarding resources and forcing the rest of us to fight over scraps.

Even more perplexing, he’s right. This is the reaction of some people.  Through history, times of hardship have resulted in wars, witch hunts and persecution of all kinds. 

Umair says Trump and his movement are the result of “the relationship between poverty and authoritarianism.” Seems to me Trump is president largely because the system has been slowly rigged in his favor for decades before he ever ran. I don’t believe people who think this way are actually the majority.

And I don’t agree that this outcome is inevitable.

New Post Pic 1

Are we sure this is necessary?

The immediate example that comes to mind is the French Revolution. They took the wealth back from the oligarchs by force. A cursory glance around the Internet tells me I’m not alone in making this connection. It did famously lead to a dictator for 15 years while the country lost its mind. But eventually they settled on a secular democracy and have fostered a culture of art and literature appreciation. 

It’s not perfect, but it does happen.

And while Europe in general has a hellish, bloody history, until more conservative elements began agitating as if we all forgot who Hitler was, they had a good run there for a minute.

Opinions on Hitler may be mixed, but I don’t think anyone has forgotten him. Another reason I believe we may see a different outcome than Umair insists on is because of something totally unique in human history – Yes, there is such a thing – Recorded media.

Reading Yellow Couch

I have to burn this journal before I die!

We take it for granted, but think about it – before about 100 years ago, once you were dead, your true likeness was

gone with you. People who were unlucky enough to live in a later time would have to settle for some scraps of paper and stories and, if you were really wealthy, a painting.

These days, anyone can broadcast whatever is in their heads to anyone, and it will be there for, theoretically, ever. 

You can hear Churchill and Roosevelt give their great speeches themselves, almost alongside those listening live on the radio. And Hitler, too. You can take a tour of Neverland Ranch lead my Michael Jackson, chat with Elvis and hear Nixon’s defense from his own mouth. They are not flat words on a page, they are real, in front of us, still speaking with their own voices from beyond the grave.

I suggest that this has already had a marked effect on culture. I see hand-wringing in fancy mags about the minutia of what has become an ever-churning, choppy sea of ideas. Sudden waves capsizing big boats has become commonplace. The Internet is obviously a big player here, making the interactions instant. 

But I really think it all comes back to having it there in front of you, moving forward through time. 

Imagine if we had recordings of Bach playing his own concertos. How would that affect interest in his music? Imagine if we had recordings of Plato, how would that affect the development of language and culture?

You get the idea. The world feels more crowded because it is, but also because those who leave these days never really leave. We have achieved our dearest dream, in a way.

It’s instant, and it’s accumulating. And it’s changing the way we see ourselves and the world. No one has forgotten Hitler, and I really believe many of us have learned the lessons of the 20th century as it’s been remixed across media for the past 20 years.

Time will tell.

 

 

Class War! America’s False Choice

Muh Poor Oil Fields

Muh poor oil fields!

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal has done us the service this week of openly arguing that their bottom line is more important than our lives.

It’s behind a paywall, but Fox Business was kind enough to provide a free version for our perusal. The headline, ‘Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown‘ vaguely presages its thesis subheading: “No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its economic health.

Yes, yes they can. Many countries around the world are running a skeleton crew of essential services to stave off, ya know, a pandemic.

Even worse, this is a false choice – Other countries are pumping capital into the pockets of their citizens, so they can keep on buying things. Because consumer spending is the engine of this whole thing, remember?

In the US, our government illustrates the lie here by dragging its collective feet on this option. Congress would seem to prefer posturing for their vested interests, and Democrats have proven themselves almost as drenched in corporate sludge as their Republican counterparts. Each side tried to pack the emergency bill with ideological goodies, apparently forgetting that this is an emergency. 

Meanwhile, we have President Trump echoing the sentiments of the donor class. The New York Post quotes him as saying, “We lose thousands of people a year to the flu but we never turned the economy off. We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We didn’t call up automobile manufacturers to say, ‘Stop making cars, we don’t want them anymore.’

Black Magic

Oh, great Market! Favor us with your bounty!

Classic whataboutism. Putting aside driving deaths as a long-standing problem that needs addressing, these examples are nothing but distraction.

Those deaths don’t happen all at once. If hospitals are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, you better hope you don’t break a bone or have a heart attack.

But the forcing of this false choice – Do we save the people or the economy? – Begs the question: Why won’t they just donate a few billion to keeping the damn thing afloat? Our tax dollars have certainly done enough to keep their precious market running.

It betrays their perspective. To the monied class, the economy is not for the health of the nation. The economy is for lining their pockets

And us regular people, we drive the economy with our labor, not our purchasing power. It’s never been more evident that those baubles are to keep us busy. They are talking about sending the lowliest among us back to work, because a recession is worse than tens of thousands of dead Americans.

Sending the young and underpaid back to their assembly lines and waitressing sections won’t protect the old and overpaid. The young are simply carriers, who will ferry the virus home to their parents and grandparents. This is no kind of protection. This amounts to human sacrifice at the altar of Capital, the most flagrant display in recent memory. 

Whither My Castle

Whither my castle?

One anonymous cog on Reddit put it best: “Oh hey honey, I’d love to feed the kids, but I’ve been rethinking the food situation. No family can safeguard its children’s food needs while sacrificing its bank account!” 

Our politicians are so indebted to the market, they essentially work for it instead of the people who elected them. When the rubber meets the road, there are two distinct sets of concerns – 

  1. How will I keep my house/feed my kids/pay my loans if I lose my job and can’t find another?
  2. How will I maintain business growth if the global economy tanks?

This demonstrates the stratification of our society we have all heard about. Stepping outside the bubble of American cable news, voices from all over the world are expressing and discussing what this quarantine means to them. Missed hair appointments, canceled track meets. Personal milestones that will never be. Canceled weddings, home purchases reconsidered. Lives put on hold.

And the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal had the tone-deafness to say this out loud. To suggest that American lives are less important than the GDP. The market is at odds with survival, and we have all been struggling to collectively come to terms with this. Now, with resources suddenly contracting, the market and its minions are trying to talk us into handing over what little we still have.

But only in America. Only in the US are our leaders weighing our lives against Capital. Even the UK, under a conservative

Boobie Gun

Come and take it from me, Capitalist!

government with recently renewed isolationism, is stepping up to help its citizens – the living, breathing people – not just its corporations.

Of course, they don’t live under the enlightened notion that corporations are people. How we didn’t all see that those “people” would miraculously find the front of the line when the time came is an embarrassment to a nation still enthralled with its Bad Boy persona like Marlon Brando in 1972.

Decades of living off the goodwill generated by our past without creating anything vital have caught up with us, and it’s plain for all to see. 

It’s shocking enough to beggar belief. But the message is clear. It’s not just that they don’t care about us, they actively see us as living for their convenience.

Despair was creeping up on all of us anyway, living in a system that has been rigged against us since before most of us were born. This writer is hopeful these shots across the bow will function as the emergency flare that alerts us something is terribly wrong.

As of this writing, the United States has taken the global lead in Covid-19 cases. In a few weeks or months, when thousands are dead and the Toilet Paper Riots look like a charming memory, will we regroup to hold our leaders accountable?  

 

Coronavirus Exposes Personal Weakness, Too

 

Candelabra

There’s some scary shit out here, guys! Guys??

Around the world, the spread of the pandemic has illustrated the existing social patterns in real time. Here in Tennessee, we are some of the last to see people getting sick. West Virginia was recently declared the 50th state to see an official case of coronavirus.

Watching it take over the conversation on Reddit, Twitter, and finally YouTube, was like watching a bowling ball from the perspective of a pin. I got to learn which of my friends pay attention to the outside world. Which of my friends, whether on purpose or not, had been absorbing right-wing talking points.

My state was also one of the last places to roll out closure rules, closely following President Trump’s timing. The US’ lack of readiness appears poised to puncture our arrogance. We’re about a week away from getting to see just how bad it might get. Our patchwork, overpriced healthcare system is about to be the center of a lot of unwanted attention.

In anticipation of this, some people are freaking out.

If corona virus affects my top surgery plans I will set something on fire I have been waiting years for this so if a VIRUS fucks it up I am going 2 be so pissed” [sic]

All unnecessary surgeries have been put on hold in cities around the world. Publicly melting down over a longer wait for “gender-affirming” treatment while cancer patients miss their chemo is not a good look.

Meghan Murphy, Feminist heroine, has nailed it as usual. In her article titled, ‘What If Your Identity Doesn’t Matter At All?‘ Ms. Murphy quotes a transwoman senior citizen, “My wondrous weaves need adjusting…. If I can’t get to the salon safely before the end of April, my lovely new ‘do will be flapping around like a tarpaulin….

She wags her finger squarely in the face of netizens found lamenting the frivolous while people are dying. “Now is not the time to complain…. I [would not] fall to pieces if someone failed to recognize, based on my outfit, what my relationship to gender was inside my head.

The Boomers, in true Boomer fashion, are refusing to “live in fear of some virus.” Not everyone over 60 is behaving like a spoilt teenager, but a predictably large number of older Americans are ignoring any risks to public health, under the banner of noble rebellion.

Laser Bitch

Don’t worry babe, I got you!

Every so often through history, things take a sharp left turn and everyone is suddenly struggling just to get by. War, weather, pandemics, different situations beyond any individual’s control demand we acknowledge we all live on one planet together, whether we like it or not. That we are affected by each other, whether we like it or not.

Events like this reach into every life, even here on the edge of Nowhere. The practical demands of Objective Reality bang at the window. If you don’t heed the needs of the day, you might not live to regret it.

Pressure from external forces to rely on the collective social contract exposes which of us are the most sick from the narcissistic drivel we all live on. The ones who really believe their own hype, in a world where we are encouraged to love ourselves to the point of expecting everyone else to.

A world where Individualism is sold to us as a progressive ideal where everyone is their happiest self, when it’s actually a regressively conservative framework built on personal alienation for the benefit of Capital.

As recently as a few years ago, I would have felt like a conspiracy theorist saying these things. But it’s growing increasingly obvious that powerful people have spent years sowing division and ignorance, of various kinds. We didn’t end up with 1% of the population owning 20% of all wealth because they’re just that much better than the rest of us. That only happens when someone is cheating.

The United States has gone from a world leader to a glorified third world country. My fellow Americans, we have been fleeced. They take our money and feed us garbage.

Barbed Wire

What vibe was I putting out to manifest this??

And in the coming weeks and months, as we live through the aftermath of the denial, the lack of tests, the failures in communication, we will get a demonstration of just how effective their divide-and-conquer strategy has been. Low wage workers are already being highlighted as among the most important. Everyone has to self-quarantine, except the cashier at the supermarket.

As unemployment soars, the absurdity of connecting everything we need to live to wage labor becomes obvious. If you’re unlucky enough to get laid off and hospitalized, you may wish you had died when you get the bill. And as the market dries up, the shallow areas will become parched long before the deepest pools. When the 80% of us who were getting by paycheck-to-paycheck suddenly have nothing, the few left standing with anything will be unable to deny their advantages.

And some of them will step forward claiming they had no idea. A few will probably even be telling the truth, that’s the nature of privilege, after all. But the Individualist, Randian, Orwellian cognitive dissonance the monied class has written into the culture is how they rationalize hoarding wealth like dragons.

Greed is Good.

Merit is rewarded with success.

God shows his approval through material wealth.

And, if you’re poor, it means God doesn’t love you.

Robot Scan

You will submit!

It’s a cultural philosophy that doesn’t care about us. But we are enticed to follow along. Promised that, if we work hard enough, we will get to be one of the worthy ones.

Ignoring how the “worthy ones” have rigged the system in their own favor. They don’t actually want us in their club, y’all.

They make their money off us working ourselves half to death. And if we decide we don’t care about accumulating wealth, that’s too bad, because you can’t have food, shelter or healthcare without a job. These days, a full-time job.

Pumping ourselves up with affirmations, Manifestation and Hustle Culture is not going to solve our problems. We don’t need to Be A Boss. We need to work together.

And those who can’t get past their need for personal validation, or their fear of collectivism, should be herded together for the therapy they desperately need. 

Once it’s safe to get together again, of course.

On Being Straight: The Trauma That Bonds?

I would bet good money that every straight woman, at some time in her life, has asked herself, “Why do I put up with their crap?

Haystack Captive

I think I love him!

Do We Need Men?

Walking away is tempting sometimes, but something holds us back. Something more than comfort or children or poverty or all the social pressure in the world. None of these stop a determined woman.

On the intriguingly titled blog She Has The Power, I finally found analysis with some meat to it:

“This need for women to be with men begins to reveal itself as a means for surviving male violence. This becomes even more evident when you read that even men display “feminine” behaviors when they are dominated. What if women have adapted to male domination and violence by ‘sleeping with the enemy’?

There’s definitely some truth here. Performative femininity is enfeebling and servile, which does look like grooming and ‘behaving’ in an abuse framework. But She Has The Power, and others like her, are saying that we go through all the effort of learning to cook and keep up a home and navigate other people’s feelings and keep a goddam calendar…. Because men make us. By their very presence as individual men alive in the world. Whether they actually engage in any of the behaviors in question or not! But I’m skipping ahead.

Aside from being plain insulting, this rare contemplation of this subject studiously ignores the obvious. The elephant in the room is that our readiness to deal with men doesn’t come simply from having to deal with men.

We have to deal with men because humanity depends on it.

Nature has made (most of) us attracted to them because survival of the species insists. Hate to break it to you, but we as individuals don’t have ultimate control over anything, even ourselves. Do you think Mr. Mantis wants to lose his head? He just can’t help himself. Life finds a way and, sometimes, that way is through you. Something I think many women understand better than most men.

The author uses the word “unnatural” several times. Labeling heterosexuality unnatural is absurd, because procreation. Because the species as a unit is driven to perpetuate itself, and many of us come with preset impulses for this. And I’m not comfortable letting men off the hook en masse by asking, “why don’t we just leave?

Whatever Happened to Kinsey?

Group Thing

Okay guys, how we gonna do this?

Every so often, I find myself thinking the Kinsey scale would be really handy. Many out there in Genderland seem totally unaware of the origins of our modern popular understanding of any of this.

Alfred Kinsey developed the oldest scale to measure sexuality. He and a team of researchers conducted thousands of interviews at Indiana University, publishing their findings in 1948. Their book challenged a lot of cultural ideas at the time. It also laid the foundation for modern studies of sexuality.

Kinsey did away with that binary everyone hates, replacing it with a 7-point scale between Hetero and Homo. A person who identifies as a 3 would, theoretically, be perfectly bisexual. 

Healthline does a pretty good job of defining and describing the Kinsey Scale. Freelance writer Sian Ferguson also calls it “outdated” 3 times, while repeating how our entire modern understanding of sexuality is based on it.

Ferguson lists the scale’s shortcomings:

  • Doesn’t account for differences between romantic and sexual orientation

True. Possibly because they are different things, and Kinsey left romance to psychologists.

  • Doesn’t account for asexuality

Because a key rating factor was experiences subjects had, not just how they felt. Most adults have at least attempted to follow the life script, or had intense encounters, of some kind, with others.

  • Assumes that gender is binary

Gender…. or sex? More on this in a moment.

  • Many are uncomfortable identifying with (or being identified as) a number on a scale

Oh, suddenly this matters?? I have been “identified as” plenty of things recently against my wishes! If you are (almost?) entirely sexually attracted to the opposite sex, and have had/want to have relations with them and not your same sex, guess what?

On His Lap

Whatever you call it, I love you in that shirt!

-You straight!

Congrats! Get in line. How this preoccupies anyone but you, your potential partners, and your family is beyond me. I recommend birth control and separate bank accounts. Good luck!

But the Healthline article hoes the Trans row carefully, going so far as to redefine Hetero- and Homosexuality:

  • Heterosexual – You’re only sexually attracted to people of a different gender to you
  • Homosexual – You’re only sexually attracted to people who are the same gender as you

Having already established that gender is not “binary,” it seems that Heteros are attracted to lots of people I had no idea about! So long as they are not your gender, they qualify. 

So, wait, are Heteros the new orientation sluts? Sorry, bisexuals!

  • Bisexual: You’re sexually attracted to people of two or more genders

Woah, never mind, that doesn’t even make sense! ‘Bi‘ literally means ‘two!’

….Moving right along….

Sian’s best point against Kinsey, in my opinion, is that placing bisexuality as a point between two extremes robs it of the possibility of its distinct existence as a sexuality in its own right.

Although Kinsey’s team did acknowledge it’s possible for an individual to move along the sexual continuum across their lifetime.

So, Do I Have to be Straight, Or Not?

Which brings us back to the political lesbians: “We need to start asking ourselves these questions so that we can begin to analyze our relationships with men if we ever want to have healthy ones or, further, decide not to….

“We may find that there is no good reason. That our relationships are not based on reciprocal respect, but instead based on our own terror.” No good reason? That’s not even a possibility worth getting worked up about. The reason, like it or not, is self-evident. It’s the reason there are men and women in the first goddam place! Additionally, respect and terror are not the only options here. These urgent questions won’t be answered without admitting nuance into the discussion.

Beer Swiller

More elixir, wench!

Unless, of course, our verdict is predetermined: “We may find that we kid ourselves we need them or want them, but this is just covering up the inherent memory, cell memory, of our violent enslavement at the hands of men.

Actually, I think she might be onto something here. And not just because epigenetics is fascinating. I touched on the touchy subject of selective breeding in humans once before. Well-behaved women may not make history, but they tended to have the most children. Blame for the maddeningly involuntary capitulations and machinations we find ourselves acting out in our roles as wives and mothers doesn’t only belong to external forces. While we lack ultimate control, our actions in the moment are where our power lies.

And anyway, this implies the entire reproductive history of the human race has been one long case of Stockholm Syndrome. When did it go from simple animal reproduction to a hostage situation? When we became self-aware? When we became Homo Sapiens? I don’t see why Neanderthal women would have been so much better off!

It might have been the day women invented agriculture and men said, “Thanks for the food, we’ll be taking the wealth, too!”

She Has The Power continues, “Another factor is most male violence against women is done by men women know, not by strangers. We are inundated with threats of violence from male strangers, but the truth is stranger male violence is rare.” This frightening-sounding factoid is analogous to most driving accidents happening within 5 miles of home, simply because we use those roads most often. The people in our orbit are the ones with the most access to us! 

I believe the reason for this [inundation] is that patriarchy has a stake in keeping women terrified of the strange man out there. This terror keeps women in their place, within the confines of the nuclear family and on a societal level.” This is a new angle to me, and I’m stoked to finally find some real commentary on how the macro interacts with the micro, instead of lazily smearing the system onto the individual. 

Self Inflicted

Who needs whom, exactly?

How To Even the Odds?

Lots of women buy this one, too. Too many forum threads take the familiar form of women huddled in a corner, asking each other in panicked whispers what to do. They’re so much bigger than us! They are naturally more violent! Inevitably, someone puts forward the idea of self-defense classes. But how many of us actually take any?

It’s high on my list, after the ever-growing pile of stuff the kids need. The older I get, the more convinced I am it’s something every young woman should learn. SHTP is right to say we are brainwashed to fear men. Most of them are bigger than most of us. They win at arm wrestling and sprinting. But our lower center of gravity makes us more balanced, and they will tire out before we do. 

Women’s self-defense feels like an oddly impolite thing to bring up. Don’t blame the victim! Men should learn not to rape!

Yes, absolutely they should. But here is where the brainwashing shows itself – Why is it considered “empowering” to learn pole dancing, but self-defense classes are akin to victim-blaming?

Could it be because one serves Patriarchy and the other doesn’t? We have been conditioned to ignore our one great physical advantage – What they portray as their most potent weapon,  with which they terrorize us and each other, their preoccupation and proudest possession, is actually their greatest weakness. 

Nature gave them an OFF button!

I wonder if a repressed fear of women leveraging this weakness is responsible for the common nonsense of our “feminine wiles,” their perception of us leading them around by their dicks. 

Oscar The Slob

Remember what we’re fighting over, ladies!

Misters Before Sisters?

Anyway, then SHTP pulls out her big brush, “women tend to dislike themselves and other women because they are seeing themselves as weak, stupid, petty and deserving of male punishment” Perhaps unconscious self-hatred stems from denying yourself for survival. But, in the context of Stockholm Syndrome (which, I would add, is not even an accepted concept in modern psychology!) this does seem like blaming the victim. Women hate each other because we are trained to compete for male favors. Yet another Feminist concept I had thought was settled. The one place it really is best to just put men aside is in service of Sisterhood.

Patriarchy teaches women that men are important and women are not.The message I have spent my life studiously ignoring is that rich, beautiful women matter so much that I should do everything I can to imitate them. (Men are simply more important.) This works to activate the competition programming. Keep us jealous of other women and preoccupied with male value. Divide and conquer.

SHTP has a different take on this: “Women then see themselves and other women as weak, stupid, petty and deserving of male punishment. This is also why women tend to compete when it comes to male attention.” We compete for their favors because we think we deserve punishment? This point is sort of muddled. “To be important, women must be with men thereby getting attention or importance through osmosis.

It often plays out that way. Women have been stifled for millennia, and many a Regent has ruled through her son. But I don’t think most women actually believe men are intrinsically more important. Certainly, most modern Western women don’t believe this.

Some Women Are Straight

Rounding out her interesting essay, she states her thesis question, “If we take these factors out of the equation, would women want to be with men?

Baby Slap

How do I raise you to be a decent human being?

Strange phrasing, since she was clear near the beginning that fear is the only possible motivation for this arrangement. Another piece I found goes further, insisting, “emotional or sexual attachment to men can always only be trauma-bonding, because for it not to be, men would have to not be our oppressors.” So, no little girl innocently loves her Daddy?

It’s that confusing the individual and the system problem again! The tire is not the car. It may be part of the car, it may be integral to the car. It may be forever marked by and identifiable as part of the car. But the tire is, without question, not the car.

Not the strongest metaphor, maybe, but this was silly already. This is kid’s stuff, ladies!

Besides, making lesbianism a reaction to men is insulting to lesbians.

Many of us put up with men because, on a deep level, we don’t have much choice. But if we succumb to tribalism, we fall victim to the same arrogance that allows men to behave badly. Someone has to be the adult in the room. Maybe volunteering for this is playing into the stereotypes but, dammit, this has got to end somewhere. Let it end with us.

Astroturf Populism: What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?

Last Fall, I was planning to throw all my little weight behind Elizabeth Warren.

Woman and child

Lady, You have got to kidding me!

She speaks my language, about families and ground-level economics. I was excited to have a woman candidate whose policies I could actually support. Her background with disabled children and low-income families seemed to indicate a person who understood some issues that have been ignored by mainstream politics for way too long.

But recently, readers may know, she has pushed herself as a vocal supporter of Trans Rights.

I was disappointed by this because I had not gotten around to doing any real digging. I was hoping adding pronouns to her website was lip service, but she has been pro-Trans for a while.

An argument

You don’t know everything, Gary!

It’s kinda infuriating that a woman would endorse the idea that men can become women. We have a front row seat to the absurdity of this. Many of us struggle with our womanhood, expectations and assumptions of ourselves and others. All while dealing with the complex reproductive system that shapes our lives whether we have children or not. Someone with no experience of this can’t fully understand how it forges us as people.

It’s hard enough to understand ourselves! Much less someone whose experiences you can never share.

But, at the end of the day, Warren is a politician. I suppose I was foolish to expect integrity.

Krystal Ball has an excellent analysis of the failure of Warren’s presidential campaign. Not to insult Krystal, but this wasn’t difficult because there isn’t a lot of it going around.

It’s hard to know why some candidates are pounced on when they fail like a fox in the hunt, while others are written off and gleefully forgotten. Elizabeth Warren has been a media darling this season, notorious Good Friends with the other lefty favorite, Bernie Sanders. Rousing footage of her speaking about poor families and the fabled Middle Class made the rounds, she was polling well. There was talk of a 3-way race – Biden, Sanders, and Warren.

Spankingq

This is so undignified!

But she bombed in Iowa. Then again in New Hampshire. No one seemed to have much to say about this, focusing on Amy Klobuchar’s “surge” and apparently forgetting about their last girlfriend as soon as she became inconvenient.

It sure looked to me like a few other women were disappointed with her inconsistency on the subject of Women’s Rights. I still think this is part of it (if only because I vote!) but Krystal makes a strong case that the issues with Warren’s candidacy go much deeper than this.

“Astroturf Populism” is a new one to me. She and cohost on ‘The Hill’ Saagar Enjeti contrast it with what they call the Astroturf Liberalism that has eroded the Democratic Party – Prioritizing access to power over principle while pandering to liberals. This is rampant on the Right too, to the point where Mitt Romney is the voice of reason.

These are dark times. I still have reason to hope Bernie Sanders is not a total hypocrite, aside from my need to hope for something.

Woe is me

If only there were something I could do! Alas!

Mainly that he’s said the same things for 50 years. And the things he says sound a lot like what I read and hear about other countries around the world. American TV seems to forget about the Internet. When they describe Sanders as radical, they undermine their own credibility.

It’s disheartening that talk of helping the poor, from someone who has helped the poor would be used as a front to gain access to power. But Krystal reminds us that Warren “sat on her hands” during Sanders’ 2016 campaign, when he could have really used some strong backup. I remember being frustrated about this myself at the time.

I was unaware that Biden actually asked her to join his ticket, and she “demurred.” Not exactly the all-hands-on-deck, “many hands make light work” attitude of someone who understands poverty.

Krystal reflects on an old piece of her own from 2014, where she made the case for Warren to run in what would have been the race against Donald Trump. That’s a fun fantasy, but Krystal is disillusioned about Warren as a candidate, and as a person.

A lady reads

We can be intellectual and fabulous!

She accuses Warren of “abandoning the movement” by “sitting out” 2016. Choosing to be a “player in the game instead of a revolutionary.” She quotes Zaid Jilani’s analysis in the Washington Examiner, “The problem with modern progressivism is how much it looks down on people who disagree. It’s a kind of elitism that makes populism impossible.

Worse, it’s the same Insider-Outsider bullshit the Right uses to manipulate poor conservatives to vote against their interests – Kiss their ass, tell them what they want to hear, and then take money from lobbyists representing the industries that are ruining those peoples’ lives and land behind their back.

If we want to think of ourselves as smarter than that, we have to do our due diligence. I had no intention of coming out in support of Warren without first embarking on an epic research journey. Plans change, and one of the things that makes a true liberal, a marker of those who lean Left, is a readiness to incorporate new information.

And when our impulse is otherwise, integrity demands we interrogate that.

“Populism” as a concept sort of annoys me, anyway. Appealing to common interests should be the basis of politics, not a specific ideology. Compartmentalizing that allows for the hypocrisy of corruption – As the pullies and trap doors of the theater Public Office has become. Whoever’s playing the role this season comes out, says their lines to get votes for the next round, but it’s an act. And we are childish to think they mean anything they say.

At the show

It’s just a show, Karen! Let’s go get some air!

To stretch the stage metaphor a little more, the mechanistic way the DNC has again closed ranks against Sanders is chilling. They so obviously didn’t want him to win Iowa. Somehow, tying in delegates while getting the most votes isn’t seen as “winning.” But we can see the trap door from the cheap seats.

It all shades Sanders in credibility and mainstream Democrats as corrupt cronies. I generally roll my eyes at the “both sides are just as bad” refrain, but delivering lines about structural rigging against the lower classes is meaningless when you use donations to prop up the Military-Industrial Complex. The Obama Administration was a wakeup call to many in this regard.

So Warren’s support of Trans Rights may very well be pandering. Sadly, it’s just the latest in a list of actions that betray a calculus of self-interest. Which results in confusing inconsistencies in a candidate’s platform. Also known as hypocrisy.

You can’t support poor mothers while promoting those who would take their Rape Crisis shelters away.

Pragmatism is great, but should be applied to itself. Which is to say, moderation in all things. Prizing ideas for their utility over their universality should not be applied to everything. Cordoning off religion from government gives citizens spiritual breathing room. Disconnecting what you say from what you do makes you a liar.

 

OK, Boomer: Daddy Was A Gerrymandering Villain

….OK, Boomer.

Two words have crystalized our generational friction as we slip into the second decade of the 21st century. The “entitled” Millennials and our

Haunted lady

I feel a lingering presence!

Gen X cousins are beginning to see we are in for a struggle to inherit the world.

Stephanie Hofeller has it worse than most. Her Dad, Thomas Hofeller, was the architect of today’s political landscape. Called “The master of the modern gerrymander” by The New Yorker, Tom died in 2018 and left a lot of interesting things behind.

Stephanie has been using her father’s files to chip away at his work. She was instrumental in the Supreme Court ruling against including a citizenship question in the 2020 census, after Tom’s cache revealed a study showing the question to be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.” Which, obviously, is a faux pas.

But her first legal victory was in North Carolina. Advocacy group Common Cause brought a suit challenging how districts were drawn. Stephanie provided proof of what many of us have seen for a long time – Republicans like to redraw local maps to limit the impact of people who probably won’t vote for them.

Instead of, you know, trying to win them over. And it’s just a coincidence so many of them are black.

Thomas Hofeller was the bureaucratic psychopath who cobbled together the Rs’ base of support. He created spider-districts all over the country, in states including:

Garroted pulp cover

The Invisible Hand strikes again!

 

  • Arizona
  • Florida 
  • Maryland 
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri 
  • Ohio 
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

This was no small operation. It took decades.

“His work is really having a profound effect, and has had, long before anybody really noticed on a broader level,” Stephanie says. She was totally estranged from her father for four years following a personal legal battle involving her children. I can only imagine walking into his office after learning he had died, finding things as he left them, forever.

“I think from the historical standpoint, this slice of life, this little snapshot, is going to prove very valuable,” she told NPR. “I originally started sharing them with journalists as a direct response to the assertion by the legislative defendants through counsel that they should be destroyed.”

That’s right – Attorneys from Dear Ol’ Dad’s company fought hard to keep this stuff from going public, claiming “trade secrets”. This failed. Stephanie sent copies to The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Intercept, in addition to NPR.

“I won’t be satisfied that we the people have found everything until we the people have had a look at it in its entirety.”

You can read them for yourself athehofellerfiles.com.

In mourning

What the hell, Dad??

This is the kind of citizenship that makes me a little misty-eyed. I sympathize with the predicament of an unbelievably malignant paternal figure. Stephanie Hofeller is a very brave woman and I’m grateful for her incisive action.

Old Tom wasn’t technically a Boomer, being born in 1943. But so were Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Sharon Tate, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Michael Palin and Eric Idle…. You get the idea.

Did the Counterculture of positivity, individualism and environmentalism fizzle out? Or was it squashed slowly over the past 50 years by a sneaky campaign of ruthless, precise cheating?

The carbon-rich legacy of the 20th century hangs over all our heads. But we have to wait around for them to die before we can even start to see exactly how these entitled whackos scrambled the system.

 Ah, Republicans – Break something, then cite its brokenness as grounds to shut it down. (Don’t forget, they literally shut down the Federal Government several times under Obama. The national parks closed, workers went unpaid. Although, they never did let it go long enough to stop Social Security payments. Hmmm….)

Stephanie Hofeller is riding the thin edge of the wedge. Robert Reich, a more friendly Boomer, has a video titled, “The 6 Ways Millennials are Changing America.” He does a great job concisely illuminating the differences in the two big population groups, and draws interesting conclusions.

Basically, get used to this. Our parent’s generation seems to have felt entitled to do pretty much whatever the hell they wanted. The craven conservatives appear to have triumphed over the spineless liberals at the end of the day, even if they had to break democracy to do it. We have our work cut out for us.

Thank you, Stephanie.

Sex and the City is (supposed to be) Satire. Yes, Really.

Ah, Female Dating Strategy! This section of Reddit is always good for a laugh and some insight into what makes a good partner. A fair amount of male-bashing does go on there, but nothing I would be surprised to hear when mature women gather.

Sex and the City group shot

Perhaps the most famous gathering of mature women in popular culture is the foursome from ‘Sex and the City.’ This show was once so ubiquitous, I had absorbed more of it than I realized.

Why do I suddenly care? Funny you should ask.

Woman as Cultural Icon

I was 15 in 1998. Women in my age group are known to say things like, “It changed my life!” I did not want my life changed by a grown woman in a tutu, so I stayed as far away as I could.

Okay, it allowed women to be raunchy in public in a way that was far overdue. And Sarah Jessica Parker is just so goddam charming. But, even as a teenager, it struck me as shallow. I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time to articulate that it looked like a group of rich white people trying desperately to validate their own existence through dating and clothes.

In the years since, this impression was reinforced. Every spoof or clip showcased its vapidity. ‘The Sopranos’ came along on its heels and stole any clout ‘Sex and the City’ had accumulated by jump-starting HBO. Honestly, until I started looking into it, I had forgotten all about that part.

Then, I stumbled upon the post in Female Dating Strategy describing the romantic arc of this “romance comedy.” The implication being that Carrie did not make wise choices.

Reading on out of morbid curiosity, I learned more than I had picked up in the last 20 years. After a few comments about what terrible decisions Carrie made, how she was a bad friend, how her entitled existence really hadn’t aged well past the 90s, how she spent her rent money on shoes…..

Carrie is shocked

I think I figured it out!

I found myself thinking of Patrick Bateman. The main character in ‘American Psyho’ is a gorgeous, over-the-top personification of all that was wrong with that world. But people tend to mistake that one for glorification, too. Because Christian Bale just makes him so damn charming.

Wait a minute…. Is ‘Sex and the City’ a satire??

By this point, I was really hoping it was.

The show was based on a novel, by a woman who actually did live the Single Life in Manhattan in the mid-90s. Candace Bushnell shares her initials with Carrie Bradshaw but, at this point, has little else in common with her former fictional avatar. She created the character as a sock puppet for her column in the New York Observer. Which was, according to Time, “A biting satire.”

Halleluia!

Sex and the City laugh

And so many people take this so seriously!

Enter: SJP

Sarah Jessica Parker almost didn’t accept the role because she thought the original concept was just that bad. Showrunner Darren Star made the changes she wanted, so she stayed on.

She was apparently just so damn likable that it changed the trajectory of the property.

One wonders how bad the first draft was! Having never seen more than a few minutes of any of it, I went in with fresh eyes. I got the entire first season and the movie. I made it through two episodes.

I ran across several 20-year retrospectives in my research. They all touched upon the same few points about how the racism and consumerism don’t translate well to the modern palate.

Forgotten Moments, Missed Opportunities

Nobody mentioned the guy in Episode 2 who secretly films the models he sleeps with. And shows it off to Carrie as his “real art.” And how her friend, the lady from ‘Mannequin’, was disappointed he didn’t want to film himself fucking her, as she’s not a model.

Dafuq did I just watch??

Middle finger

You have got to be kidding me!!

Filming women without their knowledge is something of an epidemic these days. South Korean women have taken to the streets over it! And this guy gets treated like the lovable pervert at the fashion show.

I was reminded how, in interviews regarding his most infamous film, John Waters, the King of Trash, talks about how everyone walked out after the “singing asshole.” Apparently no one made it far enough into the film to notice a man stick a chicken up a woman’s vagina.

Yep. You really gotta go to the source material, people!

But I don’t think ‘American Psycho’ meets ‘Pink Flamingos’ was the feel they were going for. The show is bad. The acting is good, and I always enjoy Cynthia Nixon, for whatever reason. But the actions of the characters hang together in a flimsy backdrop spun from ambiance and wish fulfillment.

She just happens to get offered a ride by Mr. Big. He just happens to ask where she works, then just happens to stop by. Are we supposed to believe any grown woman would be this clueless?

Carrie Bradshaw writes

I wish I was as self-confident, but I’m still cooler than she is….. Right?

I’m not the first one to shit on this show, and probably won’t be the last. It seems that Sarah Jessica Parker is only so charming through a screen – Kim Cattral (I do know her name lol) recently told her to piss off and that “we are not friends” after SJP reached out on Twitter to offer condolences.

But Carrie and I seem like natural pals. She is also a writer who flatters herself as having a unique take on womanhood. The trope of woman hunched over laptop mining first-person narrative for gold suits.

And, while I may disagree about which topics warrant the full treatment, I have no idea how much her being given the full treatment – As the star of a long-running show on a major network, as a pusher of boundaries, as a woman permitted to have flaws, or just as a writer – has affected the world we now inhabit.

I wager I do owe a little something to Carrie and Candace. Carrie’s cheesy, punful rants about hookups, waxing and shoes definitely set a precedent for discussing parts of women’s lives that had been untouchable.

But, with such solid source material, why is the show so BAD?? I want to watch the rest of the season, at least, and I will update you, Dear Reader, if I find any more surprises. But I’m not holding my breath.

Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big

Anyone can look glamorous and fun if you tell the story from her point of view!

The show is bad because they played it straight. Carrie is not supposed to be likable. She’s supposed to be the Patrick Bateman of shoe shopping.

I’m not sure who missed the memo here. Whether Darren Star mistook Bushnell’s novel for earnest snark, or if SJP’s edits were what defanged this bichon-frise’ of a show. It makes me want to read Candace’s book, and yearn for the female anti-hero that could have been.

But the worst part is how many people HAVE NO IDEA! Millions of women (and a few men) salivated over Carrie’s clothes or boy toy, and totally missed that she is selfish and shallow! Only upon rewatching years later did many of them notice that she’s not a nice person. Like, at all.

What does this say about us?

For one thing, when it’s suddenly brought to your attention that, until five minutes ago, you were totally unrepresented in media, that’s a big buzz. Middle-aged women don’t have a lot of representation even to this day (That’s why y’all have to deal with me!) and it’s usually as the doting/cruel mother of the protagonist. Or the wife of the protagonist. Or the bitchy office manager of the protagonist. Perhaps a member of an ensemble. Or maybe a cellmate.

Here was a group of women who were no one’s mother, wife, or manager. They were in charge of themselves. It’s telling that the main antagonist of the entire series is how/whether they try to push themselves into these roles, and how guilty they do or don’t feel about it.

Carrie Bradshaw is tired

This looks glamorous but it is exhausting!

This is deep stuff! But it’s framed as the drama between cosmo parties. The focus is on Carrie’s supposed insights, her every-woman persona, which conflicts with the glorification of consumption.

Maybe this is how many women view their lives. Strangely, I find myself hoping for a reboot.

A reboot as 2020s as the original was 90s. That skewers the consumerism and shallowness that have brought us to a place where kids fundraising for cancer treatment is “heartwarming.”

There’s plenty of material here. Let’s hope the next person to bring it to life has a sense of irony.