Readin’, Writin’ and Rantin’

To my readers, I know a majority of you are fully woke (or whatever the vernacular is called these days) and keep abreast of social issues. And in the age of #Metoo, #Timesup or as I like to call it The Days of Weinstein and Roses, you probably heard of a less than pleasant date and sexual encounter a young woman named “Grace” had with actor, stand-up comic and author Aziz Ansari (more on Mr. Ansari later).

This incident was first reported by Katie Way for the website Babe.net. Babe.net, a website whose existence I was not aware of until several days ago. You can read Way’s article here.

But to sum it up, Grace and Asiz went on a date. Later they went back to his place where they proceeded to have sex. Grace wasn’t exactly too enthused to have sex and expressed herself using both verbal and non-verbal cues. Aziz would stop and then proceeded in ways that are both awkward and icky.

Not surprisingly Way’s article, not to mention Babe’s existence, became the ultimate clickbait and was fodder for all kinds of media, including Jezebel.com, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Samantha Bee from “Full Frontal,” and TMZ.

One person who made her opinion on this article and the murky world of dating and sex, included legal analyst Ashleigh Banfield who made her opinion known, not just on the situation but on Babe.net and Katie Way.

With her feelings hurt, Way stomped her little feet and sent a childish, snot-nosed email, which insulted the color of Banfield’s hair and her burgundy lipstick. Way also insulted Banfield’s place in journalism. Banfield wasted no time responding to Way’s hissy fit in a way that made me cheer. Here it is:

Hey, Ms. Way, when you were eating paste, Banfield was proving her journalistic mettle from ground zero at the ruins of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Okay, Katie I’ll let you off easy for insulting Banfield’s looks and age. I’m not exactly fond of your some your generation’s use of vocal fry, up speak and thinking a quick tweet is the same of doing the hard work of fighting for women’s rights.

However, I must instruct you on Banfield being a product of second wave feminism. Banfield was a child during the heady days of second wave feminism. She came of age of the third wave a feminism, which included books like Susan Faludi’s Backlash and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. It was a time of Sassy magazine and when both Bust and Bitch were being launched by Generation X feminists. It was also a time of Riot Grrrl. It was a time when Generation X women were doing everything from starting their own bands to fighting for their reproductive rights. Such notable names when it comes to third wave feminism include Kathleen Hanna, Carrie Brownstein, Amy Richards, Jennifer Baumgardner, Liz Phair, Ani Di Franco, Margaret Cho, Janeane Garofalo, Jessica Valenti, Inga Muscio, Queen Latifah and Salma Hayek. It was a time of Lilith Fair, the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, movies like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and books like Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. And it pretty much kicked ass with a well-worn Doc Martin.

Furthermore, Katie. What is up with your solipsistic view that nobody under the age of 45 has heard of Ashleigh Banfield? Girl child learn your herstory. If I had told the advisor of my college newspaper I had never heard of women like Barbara Walters, Katherine Graham, Jane Pauley, Eleanor Clift, Nellie Bly, Linda Ellerbee, or Martha Gellhorn not only would I have been stripped of my title of editor I would have been kicked off the staff.

Now as for Aziz. As a fan of his, I must admit I am disappointed in his behavior if Grace’s story is true. He’s always come across as a male ally and totally feminist. But I find his behavior with Grace disturbing. It isn’t exactly rape or sexual assault, but it isn’t exactly the kind of behavior I would want from a man during sexy time. At best, he seems to a be a man in a state of arrested development who hasn’t built up the skills to decipher a woman’s words and gestures properly, which perhaps is something he should have a bit of handle on at 34 years old. At worst, he is rude and not respectful of a much younger woman with not as much life experience including when it comes to dating and sex. Aziz needs to keep that in mind.

As for Grace, part of me wants tell her to put on her big girl panties and tell her what she had was a bad date and regrettable sex. Next time be more assertive in her words and actions. Then I remind myself I’ve been in her situation and I forgot all about putting on my big girl panties and being assertive, too.

Relationships, even in our more enlightened times are still blurred. There is black and white, and murky shades of gray. Sexual situations often resemble a pot of noodles in various curlicues of confusion. And I hope as time goes on men and women will open up and discuss our individual experiences situations with compassion, mutual respect, open-mindedness, and a willingness to listen fully. I truly want all of us to get along.

 

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Writer’s Block

Writer's Block PhotoWell, it’s been one crazy week. We started a new project at work and had a bunch of ducks to get in a row before we could proceed with the project. I had a meeting after work Monday night. And tomorrow I start my work as a teaching assistant for my church’s religious education classes (I’m going to be working with 3rd and 4th graders).

And beyond the personal, this past week we observed the 13th anniversary of 9/11 (seems like yesterday, yet longer than 13 years). President Obama gave a speech on ISIS. We discussed Ray and Janay Rice and the complex and thorny issue of domestic abuse.

Apple released several new technological products, including the Apple Watch. Guardians of the Galaxy continues to dominate the box office. And a little girl was bummed because President and Mrs. Obama visited her school, not Beyonce.

And because I hate Sarah Palin with the fiery intensity of ten thousand suns, I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off when I found out she and her family were involved in a huge brawl at a party. In fact this one of my reactions. And here is another:
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Once again, I want to congratulate Lisa Brown for winning the This Is Where I Leave You giveaway and thank my readers for their participation in the giveaway. Speaking of This Is Where I Leave You, the movie’s star Jason Bateman showed up on David Letterman this past week. Here is a clip of Mr. Bateman discussing how his Kristy McNichol hair got him some tail. Millennials, ask your parents about Kristy McNichol.

And though insomnia sucks, I was able to catch a rerun of Charlie Rose featuring Jonathan Tropper, the author of This Is Where I Leave You, the film’s director, Shawn Levy, and two members of the cast, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. Sadly, at this moment Lord Google isn’t very helpful in finding me a clip. I’ll update once I find one.

Have a great week-end!

The Marriage Act-The Risk I Took to Keep My Best Friend in America, and What It Taught Us About Love by Liza Monroy

MarriageActIn 2001 writer Liza Monroy married her best friend Emir. You’re probably thinking, “So what? People get married all the time.” Sure, they do, but Emir is gay and an immigrant from the Middle East. Furthermore, it was right after the tragedy of 9/11 when anyone Muslim was seen with suspicion.

Emir was desperate to stay in the United States, and a green card wasn’t exactly forthcoming. He despaired going back to his home country where he could be abused or even killed for simply being gay. So Monroy asked Emir to marry her in hope it would speed up him getting a green card and becoming an American citizen. And she writes about their friendship, marriage and other personal experiences in The Marriage Act-The Risk I Took to Keep My Best Friend in America, and What It Taught Us About Love.

Monroy met Emir when they were students at Emerson College in Boston. They spoke three languages, had lived in various locations around the globe, and desired creative careers. They clicked immediately and developed a platonically loving relationship with no expectations that it would become romantic. As you already know Emir is gay and at the time Monroy was engaged to her high school sweetheart Julian.

Monroy and Emir remained friends after graduation, navigating the adult world of jobs, money, relationships and other assorted stepping stones to hard-won maturity. Both aspired to be screenwriters or doing something else that would fulfill their artistic ambitions.

Then the horror of 9/11 occurred, and Emir feared he would be deported to his native country (which is never named, and Emir is a pseudonym). So Monroy, whose engagement to Julian busted up, did what she felt she had to do to keep her best friend in America. She asked him to marry her.

Despite some reservations from Emir, he and Monroy went out to Las Vegas where they were married by an Elvis impersonator (nearly forgetting to procure a marriage license in the process).

After this quickie wedding, Monroy and Emir “settled” into domestic bliss (granted one that is based on a sham and one where they get to date other people-oh, wait, a lot of legit marriages are like this). They also moved from place to place, went out partying and clubbing, and worked various jobs while wondering if their hopes and dreams would ever reach fruition.

Of course, Monroy and Emir dealt with a situation that is far different than their peers dealt with-their so-called marriage. They tried desperately to make sure their marriage looked like the real deal to co-workers and acquaintances. Another complication for Monroy and Emir? Monroy’s mother worked in the Foreign Service focusing mostly on immigration issues. Can we say awkward? Oh, and let’s not forget that Emir also had to hide his sexual orientation from his homophobic father.

And then there is that pesky INS who needed to Monroy and Emir about the validity who needs to question the couple about the validity of their marriage. At one point an agent asked Monroy if her husband is circumcised. Of course, Monroy doesn’t rightly know considering Emir is gay and she’s never seen his penis.

Just as Monroy and Emir are wondering if they can continue to fool their families, friends, and co-workers Emir lucks into winning a green card through a lottery system. Their marriage ends, yet their friendship stays strong. Emir is free to be who he is (and stay in the United States). And Monroy ends up marrying Julian, yep, her old fiancé.

Does this lead to a happily ever after for Monroy and Emir?

Well, after reading The Marriage Act, I was too blasé to even care. The Marriage Act is well-written. Monroy has a distinct and engaging voice, which are traits so necessary to keep a person reading. At first, I really got caught up in Monroy and Emir’s plight. I had to ask myself if I could have done the same thing, and I don’t think I have the ovaries for such an undertaking.

But as The Marriage Act unfolded then I didn’t find myself caring about their situation. I never truly felt that Monroy and Emir were in danger for faking a marriage despite Emir’s father’s alleged homophobia and Monroy’s mother’s job. In fact, I think Emir’s father’s money and Monroy’s mother’s connections may have helped them in the end.

And then there is Monroy and Emir themselves. Monroy comes across as flighty and irresponsible. She’s desperate, clingy and despite her lackadaisical work style keeps getting promotions at her William Morris job. At times Emir comes across as a cardboard cut-out like a gay best friend seen in countless romantic comedies.

Still, The Marriage Act is not a horrible book. And I did appreciate how it brought up thorny issues like immigration, bigotry, homophobia, politics and the possibility of same sex marriage. I just wish it would have delved into these topics with more depth, but perhaps that’s something Monroy didn’t want to broach. Perhaps some readers of this book will ponder these topics further…or maybe Monroy will do that in a future book now that she was some time and maturity under her belt.