Don’t Judge a Woman by Her Assless Chaps*

I wrote this post at six a.m. on August 19.

A debate surrounds the famous linguistic study that Eskimos have far more names for snow than non-tundra-surrounded cultures, but true or not, it’s hard to deny that an onlooker can tell a lot about a culture by the words it uses for what they love—and, of course, for what they hate.

I have a friend in Vegas, about whom, if you didn’t know her, you’d make assumptions regarding her life style and behavior. She has a lot of tattoos and several piercings, and a good word to describe her clothing is sparse. (Though, to be fair, given how I personally like to dress plus how fucking hot it is in Vegas, I’m given to dressing sparsely too.) My friend is a stripper, but she also has an art degree and paints murals for corporations and draws dogs and cats (including my long-gone kitty, Ollie) in her spare time as she works on building her career as a painter and an illustrator. She is, in two words, a complex human.

But anyway, per her recent Facebook status, she was on a plane back to Vegas when she got into a fight with a mother who was “talking smack” to her daughter about my friend’s dress and purple lipstick. I’m not sure what exactly was said, but my hunch is that it was something to the effect of:

Now, little Dandelion Eliza, that is what you don’t wear if you want to be a lady.

I don’t really know what parents are naming their children these days, but I thought Dandelion Eliza had a nice ring to it, especially for the day when that child goes to EDC wearing only dandelion pasties on her nipples.

This is baby me, back when I looked like a male version of Little Orphan Annie and didn’t know what stilettos were.

The words that exist to call women nasty nouns (slut, hussy, etc.) are about equal in number—if you’re in the thesaurus section of the bookstore—to the nasty nouns for men (Casanova, womanizer, etc.). The difference, to me at least, is in the connotations of (aka our gut reactions to) these words. And aside from whoremaster and lecher to describe “slutty” men, the male nasty-nouns-that-aren’t are . . . actually sort of pleasant-sounding. Casanova? Romeo? Gallant? Amorist?

A lot better than bimbo, chippy, wench, and tramp, and, of course, the ever-popular fancy woman. That one, as I suspected, first came into use just shy of the Victorian era, when everyone was trying to be superproper when they spoke about their whores—and also because they were too stifled creatively to come up with slore.

This is me now—on my best behavior.
Hi, Mom!

Words aside, when I read my friend’s status update, I felt . . . wronged. I’ve often sat on planes, wearing a short dress and heels, heavy black cat-eyed liner around my lashes, and had some woman pointed me out to her daughter as the kind of woman she shouldn’t grow up to be, simply based on how I was dressed, I would be furious. I’d want to say that if she doesn’t want her daughter to be an educated, well-traveled business owner with tons of friends, a great boyfriend, and a kick-ass relationship with her parents, she’s the meanest mother I’ve ever met.

Men might sometimes slobber over us, figuratively and literally, and shout out such compliments as “Nice tits!” but other women, not men, are women’s biggest enemies.

I wrote a blog last summer about why women shouldn’t be afraid to be sexy, or to want sex, and why women name-calling other women has to stop. Here I am again, not because I’m out of ideas but because I’m impassioned, talking about the same subject, albeit from a different angle.

Believe it or not, although I am in an open relationship, and my boyfriend and I don’t plan to get married, we both want children. At (almost) thirty-two—ack!—I have many friends who are either pregnant or who already have a child or children, and so lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ll approach certain topics when I have my own kiddos, including the topic of this blog.

My

My “office” a few weeks ago, plus the sun hitting at a nice angle (Runyon Canyon).

If it were true that our professions and attitudes always rubbed off on our children, Jessica Simpson and Katy Perry (both daughters of ministers) would be nuns, so I’m neither deathly afraid of nor pushing for my unborn children, the children of pickup artists, among other talents (remember: complex humans), becoming Casanovas and harlots.

I also can’t imagine ever, ever pointing out someone like my friend and telling my daughter that the tattooed lady on the plane is the wrong kind of woman to be. But I’m not a mother, and one thing I never like to do is pretend to know how I’ll act in a situation in which I’ve not yet been.

Vegas, as usual, just being fucking weird.

Vegas, as usual, just being totally fucking weird.

But what I hope, then, is this: I hope when I have children, be they boys or girls or someone in between, my guy and I are good role models for how to act as plain old people in general, regardless of gender. I hope we stress confidence, strength of character, bravery, independence, drive, and open-mindedness, and encourage both passion and compassion, empathy, creativity, adventurousness, and innovation.

I’m also okay with encouraging purple lipstick.

But . . . shit. That sounds like a lot of work! Good thing I have an excellent work ethic—even if you wouldn’t think so by my outfits.

*And no, my friend was not wearing assless chaps on a plane. But how fun, right?

“the only sea i saw / was the seesaw sea / with you riding on it. / lie down, lie easy.”*

back in may, i was in vegas with one of my best friends, as well her husband and another couple who they both knew but who i had met only a day before. the five of us were standing in the taxi line outside encore, and the little bitch of a queue had snaked around the ropes about five times, as the club had just closed and everyone was buzzed and grumpy and horny and ready to go home. for some reason (please don’t ask me, because i don’t know why), i had decided earlier that day to start counting random things i saw in the voice of, who else, the count from sesame street.

thecount

for example:

one, two, three drunk idiots!

ah, ah, ah, ah.

one old lady blowing her retirement on slots!

ah, ah, ah, ah.

 

it was at the time (as well as in my head at this moment) hilarious.

in vegas at around three a.m., if not earlier, in any given venue that serves alcohol, girls not accustomed to wearing sky-high heels are drunk, their feet are swollen, and their formerly sexy-looking platforms have ended up as spiky stumps in their hands. so while we were waiting in line, i started counting girls sans heels. . . .

one, two, three shoeless sluts! ah, ah, ah, ah.

now, i don’t like the word slut, not really, but it worked for the joke and anyone who knows me would have been aware that i was having a little harmless fun. but my best friend’s friend, the female half of the couple i had essentially just met, nodded toward the girl in front of us (shoeless!) and then looked at my friend and whispered, “wait, she knows that girl right there isn’t wearing—”

and my friend simply replied, “yeah . . . kaitlin doesn’t really . . . yeah.”

so i’ve now established that i have no filter. and apparently a severe lack of tact.

at least in person.

because usually i keep it pretty pg for my posts, aside from a few fucks here and there. but today i’ve decided that i don’t fucking feel like keeping it pg!

(and, for the record, that girl in line was sucking face with a large-muscled, overly tanned dude and was so intoxicated, she hardly could have associated her lack of shoes with my barefoot transylvanian muppet parody.)

i have a friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend of insert long, long time that makes most people gasp, and who has been going on a bit of a rampage since. drinking, blackouts, a sprinkle of what she deems promiscuity thrown in there, losing important things like licenses . . . you know, all sorts of responsible shit.

i have become her go-to for advice and reassurance (and i’m more than happy to be, of course), because i went through a similar shitstorm post-breakup, and she knows this because she had the unfortunate role of being my friend during this time. i made lots of “interesting” decisions that caused most people in my life both to worry about me and/or think i was kind of an asshole with no morals.

recently this friend told me that she feels like a whore, getting drunk and hooking up with guys, and as this was via text, i wrote back:

why?!

dual punctuation is acceptable in text messaging but pretty much nowhere else. the end.

she said that she gave some guy (who she has seen several times, mind you) a blow job.

ever basking in my slutty glory, i wrote back: that’s it?

then she pinged me some self-hating comments and finally, i’m just not that type of girl.

i wondered, then, what this means: that type of girl.

because to many, you’re either a saint or a sinner. and if you’re a woman, you have sex with no one, one person, or a few people—or you have sex with a lot of people. an in-between exists, but it’s not generally cited when it comes to making sweeping generalizations and stereotypes.

if you’re finding this hard to believe, then i literally can’t even with you right now.

so i’d call myself the s and w words back in the day too, when i went from loyal lover to bed-hopper, and sometimes my response to doing something i deemed too hasty and not well-thought-out was to drink some vodka and eat peanut butter and cry about what a piece of filth i’d let myself become. sometimes i’d just eat ten clif bars, or however many it took until i felt like throwing up.

if i binge, i nearly always binge on clif bars, and any type of clif bar will do. i do not know why.

men are generally taught it’s cool, and expected, to bed binders full of women, and during coitus rehashing, a male will go stifler on his friend in a ceremony of congrats. i don’t necessarily agree with the idea of sex as a prize or a triumph, but i do think that sex, and having it, is a good thing. for both sexes.

i have female friends who’ve never had an orgasm, be it via masturbation or via someone else. and it’s not because they don’t want one, but because they can’t relax or they’re self-conscious. or they don’t know how. they have sex because they’re drunk or lonely or sad or because, at this point, after however many, why the hell not? i’m for why the hell not? as long as it’s safe and fun. if both those factors don’t exist, however, it all just makes me sad.

i don’t think i have to say that i don’t have any male friends with this problem.

and it is a problem.

so after my friend bashed herself as a sexual transgressor, i sent her this text:

you are used to being the girl with one guy, and that’s it. and that is fine. this new way is also fine, though. you should be able to act on impulses and do what you want as long as you’re being safe. it’s okay to have sex or near sex. men do it all the time. give yourself permission.

the whole point of this moment in your life, being single, is to figure out what you really want, and unless you talk to and date and hook up with guys, you might not discover what else is out there. there’s more than you think. whore it up a bit, though i don’t think of it like that at all.

i had originally written four exceptionally long-winded diatribe-like paragraphs about sex after i’d retyped the text message above, but after reading them over i was boring even myself, which is always a bad sign. so now i’m going to close (that’s a euphemism for sex) with five paragraphs that are still long, but i hope not long-winded, yawn-worthy, or pedantic.

my friends have told me, since about middle school, that i think like a guy. i used to believe this was a bad thing, that i was wrong to be so forward about sex and my sexual habits. now i’m inclined to believe otherwise. it’s been said that women actually want sex more than men do; we’re just too repressed and programmed to shun it for pleasure’s sake to realize or embrace it.

or maybe we’re worried that some girl speaking in puppet language will judge more than just our shoelessness.

i want, outside of jokes meant to entertain, for us to stop calling ourselves sluts and whores, and to stop feeling guilty for wanting sex and having it. after all, as betty friedan said, “no woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.”

so, friends, go have sex. i just did, and it was tops.

 

*dylan thomas (the last line of that poem, by the way, is “let me shipwreck in your thighs.” oh, baby.)

in defense of pickup artists

my boyfriend first told me, in june 2013, that while yes, in a general sense he was a motivational speaker and life coach, his job title actually had another, more specific name:

professional pickup artist

while i’d heard of the term, having heard about it was the extent of my “knowledge.” my ideas of what a pickup artist was came from:

  • the show on vh1 aptly named the pickup artist, which, ironically, my ex-boyfriend and i watched together
  • having heard the term pickup line, which conjured thoughts of one of my male friend’s favorites: how much does a polar bear weigh? enough to break the ice. hi, i’m . . .
  • the book the game by neil strauss, of whose existence and bible-esque cover i vaguely remembered from college

and that was it. so when my boyfriend asked if i knew what it meant to be a professional pickup artist, something i now simply refer to as a pua, both in print and in person, i said, verbatim:

you lie to women and manipulate them into sleeping with you.

so then we talked into the night about his job, about us, and about men and women and society in general. the next day at work i googled this:

how to date a professional pickup artist

shockingly, few relevant results surfaced, and of those, even fewer (semi) positive results popped up. the two non-overt-pua-bashing sites were articles highlighting two well-known puas who had gotten married (one of these couples has since divorced after four years of marriage), and one of the headlines read something to the effect of:

is this girl crazy?

this question has been put in the second person, phrased in a variety of creative ways, and posed to me multiple times since last summer by my family, my friends, coworkers, strangers . . . yeah, okay, let’s just say everyone.

shit, i’ve even directed it at myself a few times, though i haven’t done so recently—until this weekend.

if you’ve seen the news, you probably know that a guy named elliot rodger murdered six people in santa barbara, california. you’ve probably also seen the association made between him and the pua community, particularly that he was on a site called “pua hate,” which is devoted to actively despising the pua industry, believing that it preys upon vulnerable, desperate men. its members do not, however, necessarily hate on the pua philosophy and lifestyle. as a woman, and in particular as a woman who has a serious romantic relationship with a professional pickup artist (no laughing, please—i’m going to be moving across the country to be with him), i felt as if i had to say something about the comments and beliefs that label pua’s as misogynistic, hateful toward women, interested in only sex, etc., etc.

i consider myself to be of above-average intelligence. i also consider myself to be successful, likable, attractive, and worldly. i don’t think i’m a masochist. i don’t think i’m naive or malleable. i wouldn’t define myself as pro-feminist or antifeminist. i would say i’m nontraditional, being that: i’m an atheist, i probably won’t get married, and i don’t work a nine-to-five. but i’m not living in a commune for alternative lifestyles, i don’t sell my lack of religious beliefs door-to-door, and i’m not into whips. or chains. or hot pokers (if that’s a thing; i’m sure it is). taking all this into account, i’d like to think that if something were truly evil or wrong—though both words are defined according to those who define them—i wouldn’t be dating, or in love with, someone whose career centers around a truly evil, wrong thing.

do i like all aspects of pickup? no. do i think that some men take a kernel of pua ideology and blow it out of proportion? of course. do i think people everywhere do this with everything? communism, violent video games, the bible, the second amendment . . . yes. do i think because some unhinged college student with low self-esteem took what he wanted from pickup and used it to blame women for his unhappiness, that pickup, in general, is evil and wrong?

no.

this is not meant to be a glowing defense of pickup artists, and i will never—and i won’t do this with anything, actually—give it my full stamp of approval. i’m too doubtful, and curious, of a person to ever believe wholeheartedly in something. even my relationship—and i love my boyfriend, pua and all, as he says, “more than anyone has ever loved another person. ever.”

my boyfriend isn’t just some guy who practices pickup. he teaches it. his first mentor was the guy on the vh1 show. he appears in the game. he isn’t a random chode, to use pus terminology, who posts on pickup forums, skews the information he’s given, expects women to lift up their skirts for him, and pouts when they don’t. my boyfriend has a degree in mechanical engineering. he’s phenomenal at soccer, he does yoga, and aside from sometimes forgetting to eat, he has the best, most disciplined diet of anyone i know. he’s well read. he’s ambitious. hardworking. determined. loyal to a fault to those in his camp, including me. he takes care of me. he reads my writing and encourages it, and asks me to correct his grammar. he even pays me to write for him. we are in a long-distance relationship, but we talk every day. he tells me i’m beautiful and sexy and smart, none of which are lines. but he almost always thinks he’s right. he can’t multitask. he’s forgetful. we agree on most things, but some of our ideologies, both meaningful and trivial, don’t always line up. he misses more flights than anyone i know. sometimes i think he is wasteful with money. i think he is overworked to the point of exhaustion. i think he needs friends who aren’t pua’s. i wonder how he somehow thinks he’s perfect but also thinks that he constantly needs to improve. he puts two spaces between sentences and doesn’t understand that words like the and to should be lowercase in headlines. getting him to even consider taking time off is a painful struggle.

would i trade him in for someone else? nope.

i’ve watched many times since september, as he takes men out to bars and clubs in various cities, men who are successful and kind but shy and awkward, and helps them to talk to women, gain confidence, and improve themselves as people in general, not simply with respect to women. and i’ve had the pleasure of not just watching my boyfriend coach, but assisting him in doing the same, albeit on a smaller level. to get a thank-you from these men, these (shock!) pickup artists, none of whom have resembled that santa barbara gunman in terms of character or creed, at the end of a long weekend, feels pretty good. i’m happy to help them, because this big positive well outweighs any negatives.

in fact, i believe that my life is far better because of pickup.

i also don’t believe that six people are dead because of it.

“nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.”*

IMG_3856

the lobby at the wynn around 5:30 a.m. because it’s pretty and i’m tired.

this post was written on november 27 on three hours of sleep.

so yesterday i six-degrees-of-kevin-baconed myself via google out of curiosity and to see just what kind of public virtual trail i leave. while a lot of people are afraid of the internet—a fair amount friends and family members weren’t on board with donating to my marathon charity via the web, for example—i’ve given up trying to control it, and instead i’ve embraced it. when facebook first unleashed timeline and nearly everyone i knew groaned about having all content from 2004 and beyond visible to six hundred of their closest friends, i honestly didn’t mind so much. as someone who kept a handwritten diary for thirteen years and the adult version of a diary (the blog or, back in the day, my supercool xanga online journal) for nine, i saw facebook’s timeline as another way to look back on my life and its events, my interactions, and of course, my slightly idiotic musings about mundane occurrences. or grammar. i have no illusions about the fact that i can be an obnoxious over-poster, something i used to feel guilty about in this increasingly me, me, me world, or i guess the i, i, i world of iphone, ipod, ipad, and imac. but i’ve realized that, more than anyone or anything, me is what i know best. so i might as well cover the topic thoroughly.

the web i’ve woven is complex but not too difficult to pull apart with a bit of elbow grease. when facebook changed its default posting audience to public (the company loves doing that sort of thing and not telling you about it) and i didn’t realize it, i posted a blog about why i quit my job to not just my friends, but to everyone. the next day the head of my (former) department told me she liked my blog. we aren’t friends on facebook, and when i asked how she found my post, she said a coworker sent the link to her. i wasn’t friends with him, either. to be honest, the situation alarmed me at the start. then i discovered the status update with the blog post link had been set to public. and then i checked my wordpress stats to see that in two days more than five hundred people had looked at that particular post. my best day previously was a pathetic sixty views. . . . i’ve been keeping all my posts public since.

this increase in transparency comes with a price, i suppose, because if you can find my facebook account, you can most certainly find my blog. the blog links even the most lightweight stalker to my linkedin, instagram, twitter, foursquare, and pinterest pages, all of which contain both my given and surnames. google me and you’ll see that i write for my local community newspaper, raised money for and ran the nyc marathon, and am a member of the new jersey state golf association’s caddie alumni committee (that one is certainly a head-scratcher if you don’t know me).

when i began blogging, my site wasn’t private, but by no means did i publicize it. it wasn’t until july 2012 that i abandoned that blog, and it was almost exactly a year ago that i began linking the new one to facebook and twitter. there was only one reason for that: i wanted, and still want, to write and publish a book—about what else? my favorite topic: me. i know that many of my friends see this as narcissistic and self-promoting, and i’ve often heard, even from people i know well: “you have a blog, huh? you and everyone else.” but i don’t sit here and think, how can i make myself sound good or look good? i’m thinking more along the lines of can i be okay with admitting and detailing a deep personal problem or flaw or emotional issue? and not just launching it into the abyss of the internet or into the in-boxes of my parents and best friends but to my extended family, friends of my parents, former teachers and coworkers, clients, and the like? do my middle-school spanish teacher (hola, señora) and seventy-two-year-old aunt really need to know about my dating life and drunken mishaps?

maybe not. but the beauty of good writing is that it knows no boundaries. anyone from co-eds to grandmas read 50 shades of grey, after all. two of my biggest triumphs, in terms of crossing boundaries, have been 1). when a girl i went to high school with followed me on twitter after having unfriended me, refriended me, and unfriended me a second time on facebook (she’s clearly not a fan), and 2). when a guy who once called me a lying cunt told me my posts were brutally honest and therapeutic for him. when even your enemies can’t help but be interested (or, okay, maybe just nosy) about your life? excuse the hash tag but . . . #winning.

i have written 32,000 words of my book, which, according to the huffington post and amazon, is about halfway to the total word count of brave new world, the median (i haven’t used that word since high school math) of book lengths. the closer i get to writing a pitch and a query letter, researching agents, and approaching my buddies in book publishing, the more holy shit it all becomes. i think about authors like chelsea handler or tucker max and the contents of their books and wonder about their thought processes. did chelsea tell her family to do themselves a solid and not read her book? did tucker max say, hey, mom, unless you like explosive anal sex and graphic details of sushi-and-alcohol-filled vomit, don’t go past the dedication? okay, i’m not that scandalous, but i’m going to include, and have already penned, moments of humiliation as well as incidents that don’t, in any way, paint me in a positive light. in fact, they might even blur the line between hero and villain. thus, the blog: my method to slowly warm myself up to the idea that the world could someday see the raw, unabashed version of me.

the reason i’ve been thinking about this is because recently someone i don’t know somehow stumbled upon my blog and therefore my linkedin page and, i’m guessing, the rest of the social media sites on which i prostitute myself. after getting to know me on the web, this person said that he/she feels sorry for me. (don’t ask how i know any of this; it’s so unbelievably convoluted and ridiculous that i don’t want to get into it). this began my research into my online presence: looking at the public version of my facebook page, googling myself, and seeing just how much i refer one site to the next on each platform, how i weave an intricate series of online stiches. i wanted to see what everyone else sees, if they care to look. and the fear i’ve been having recently, about what it will be like to put an uncensored version of my life in print, about what it is already like and will continue to be like to have a boyfriend with a very public presence and a following that is consistently growing, was overwhelming.

but then, when i took in my online persona (which is, shockingly, akin to my real self, scout’s honor), i realized what a well-rounded little nugget i am. i have a great relationship with my parents, i have a ton of friends, i’m a good writer, i’ve worked for two of the biggest publishers in the world, i started my own business, i’ve traveled alone and often, i’ve run a marathon, and i’m kind of cute in a childlike, garden gnome type of way (not my words). and now, instead of sitting behind a desk, about to call it quits, i’m in las vegas, typing this blog, knowing that i can go for a run in the middle of the day, do my work at three a.m., or hop on a plane, a train, or a bus to meet my boyfriend or my friends in various cities around the country pretty much when i want, depending on the proximity of a mail center (those kiddie books have to get back to new york city somehow).

last night i was in a club in the bellagio, feeling slightly out of state (that’s the pickup artist term for not feeling in the zone or in a place of ease, playfulness, and diversion), and i took a minute to shut my eyes and really concentrate on where i was and what i was doing. the bass thumped in my eardrums, my boyfriend’s arm snaked around my waist, and i thought, i’m lucky. and i’m having more fun than i’ve ever had in my entire life.

sorry for me? hm.

and then i saw this quote from *chuck palahniuk and decided that it needed to be my headline. scroll up, and enjoy.