Archive | October, 2017

Me too, son.

15 Oct

The mainstream media has collectively lost its mind in the past week over the “shocking” revelation that a movie producer would abuse his power over the careers of aspiring actors in order to sexually harass and assault them, then scare them into silence with the exact same set of implied threats that allowed him to commit the crimes in the first place. Since the vast majority of my readership is female, I’m sure none of you were floored by the revelation, given that this kind of shit goes on literally everywhere all the time and has since the dawn of the age of homo sapiens (and, of course, earlier). While it’s heartening to see the dark and dirty truth blip into the public consciousness, it’s likely that the furor will die down in short order and that everyone will resume the charade. Everything is cool, ladies. We caught the bad guy.

I moved to Hollywood in 1999, just after I turned 21. I had zero interest in being an actor (or having anything to do with the film and television industry); I just moved there because it was an affordable neighborhood (this was 1999) in the closest big city to San Diego, where the people I was hanging out with were such degenerates that I decided I had to jet in order to avoid jail or an overdose. I’d like to say that situation improved after the move, but I just traded in a crew of reprobate upper-middle-class bros for a city full of predatory gutterballs with more money.

One needn’t seek employment in the entertainment industry to attract the attention of unctuous perverts in LA. One of my first jobs on arrival was as a waitress at the semi-infamous Mel’s Drive-In, where James Woods propositioned Amber Tamblyn, 16 at the time, with an impromptu jaunt to Vegas with him and some other senior citizen. He must have made a serious habit of propositioning women a third of his age at Mel’s, because he did the same thing to me (though I had at least reached the age of majority; he was 52 at the time). The remainder of the transaction was as awkward as you would imagine. James Woods was — in my mind — only marginally famous, yet he felt like he was a big enough deal that teenagers ought to jump at the chance to be molested by him. Andrew Dice Clay, the epitome of a has-been at the time, had been 86ed from the establishment for groping waitresses just months earlier.

But it wasn’t just the town’s well-known actors, producers, and talent agents who considered the city of Los Angeles a smorgasbord of potential victims. At that same restaurant, I had two male coworkers who had moved to the city to become famous and were just waiting tables until the entertainment elite recognized their mediocre looks and revolting personalities as star material (the cliché is real, y’all). One was a dude from somewhere in the Northeast named Anthony who insisted on being called “London.” Most interactions I had with him consisted of him pointing at bananas and then at his own dick. (You can find this specimen in the archives of the dating show Fifth Wheel if you’re interested.) The other one, Reagan, managed to behave like a reasonable (though dorky) person at work most of the time, but once put on a Frank Sinatra song and tried to make out with me, despite my obvious lack of interest (that quickly morphed into mortified laughter once he tried to Swingers me).

Then there were the mystery men who sat in my section and, shortly before paying their bill (and just before they decided what kind of tip to leave), would ask me if I was an actress. When I replied that, no, unlike every other young woman in town waiting tables, I had no interest in acting, they would say something like, “Well, you’re gorgeous and you should be. Why don’t you give me your number and I can introduce you to some people.” The conditions attached were unspoken, but were louder than a Miami bass war.

I had to “grow up” sometime, so I left Mel’s and got a job at the corporate office of a national chain of lingerie stores headquartered in Hollywood. The office was mercifully free of men, despite the fact that the company produced clownish lingerie ostensibly designed for men’s entertainment and titillation.  (I mean, I couldn’t see the draw of a red bra with underwires but no cups, so men must have been the target market.) Still, I spent at least 2% of my time at work fielding obscene phone calls.

It got so old that, while perusing online job ads at work one day, I decided to apply for a job as a receptionist at Creative Artists Agency, a fairly influential organization in the entertainment world. The interviewer was about 60 and I was still 21. He spent the entirety of the thirty years or so that I was in his office alternating between licking his lips and telling me I would look good up front and lowballing me on the job’s pay. He kept dangling the promise of becoming an assistant to one of their agents, assuring me that one day I would be a big deal Hollywood agent provided that I was up to the task of working there (and would accept poverty wages). The task was in his shorts. I still don’t know what this asshole’s job title was, or why he was selected to interview me, but I have to assume the intent was to weed out the kind of spoilsports who couldn’t handle a little sexual harassment.

All work and no play makes for a boring account of the wide world of Hollywood sexual misconduct. Through some very odd circumstances, I ended up spending a lot of time with a couple of *dudes who had been famous as teen heartthrobs in the early 90s. They were decent people (they had probably endured some sexual abuse themselves, having been child actors) despite the fact that one was a Scientologist (wasn’t everyone in LA in 1999). But their friends were unbelievable. A crew of trust-fund twentysomethings whose only connection to the entertainment industry was their parents, they were brazen and merciless in their tactics of manipulating hopeful young women into having sex with them by pretending to have connections they didn’t have and promising opportunities they had no access to (and no intention of following through on if they did).

They once took me to a club that was nigh impossible to get into at the time, Barfly, where I stood around picking at my clothing while Corey Feldman (he wasn’t there with us) made an ass of himself on the dance floor and an old fat man chased attractive young women around the room with handfuls of hundred dollar bills. Though it was an odd sight, the only reason anyone made sport of his behavior was that he made plain the (usually) unspoken but pervasive assumption that all young women in Los Angeles are for sale. (Hey, loser, get some game and quit being so extra.)

Then there’s the kid we all used to refer to affectionately as “little Will.” We found it amusing to see a 13-year-old trying to breakdance while in a K-hole. You might know him as The Gaslamp Killer, who has raped who knows how many women now that he’s all grown up and famous and has access to roofies and female fans.

Then there was ol’ “shocked and apalled” Ben Affleck, who regularly staggered his way around my neighborhood breakfast cafe, drunkenly sexually harassing the female staff at 7 AM because he could.

Then there was the *globular millionaire son of a director who had no friends whatsoever and would invite young people (male and female) to his house when the bars closed, shove piles of “free” cocaine at them, and then demand that they perform sexual entertainment as payment at the end of the night, later sending them big-screen televisions in the hopes of a repeat engagement. And the *”photographer” who actually made his living selling ecstasy at Garden of Eden and used the proceeds to lure women half his age to his apartment down the street, where he fed them drugs and bullshit until they acquiesced to his sexual demands (free headshots, anyone?).

These vignettes all derive from the outskirts — if not from outside of — the entertainment industry. You can imagine — and have learned in the past few weeks the specifics of — the heights of sexual menace inside the offices of people with actual power in Hollywood. A city brimming with young women (and men) intent on becoming famous makes a great hunting ground for manipulative sexual predators up and down the payscale.

And let me tell you, I’ve got a lot more where this comes from involving men who are about as closely connected to the entertainment industry as I am to Richard Spencer.

Harvey Weinstein isn’t an outlier. He’s an example of the entitlement of nearly all men in positions of power over women’s careers, and all men who know the threat of violence, rape, and public humiliation keep women polite in the face of harassment and quiet about what happens to us after the fact. Men like Weinstein are a dime a dozen. Every woman I know has a list as long as The Brothers Karamazov of stories of sexual harassment and assault at work, on the street, at school, at parties, at the liquor store, on the subway, at Jimmy John’s, at Home Depot, in court, at a funeral, at a wedding, in line for tickets to see Cats, while shopping for diarrhea medication, and so on ad infinitum.

I’ll dip out with a plea to everyone who can safely do so to come out with their lists in every public forum available to them. I may even recount my workplace sexual harassment stories from my teenage years in a sequel-as-prequel to this post.

*I’d include these people’s names, but I’m sure they Google themselves constantly and would instantly guess who wrote this.

Bratty, stupid male children are going to kill us all.

8 Oct

“Your all pusseys i have the right to protect my family. Ypu can keep being faggots and ill keep my guns.”

— Some guy I hung out with in high school in a Facebook comment thread about gun control (quoted without permission)

Yet another angry white man has made his frustrated sense of entitlement the public’s problem. Whatever “motive” the police ultimately release to the media to explain Stephen Paddock’s decision to shoot over 500 people at a music festival in Las Vegas last week won’t touch upon the actual reason he or any of the other violent men that hold the world hostage behave the way they do.

Before I get into what that actual reason is, let’s have a look around. Who is in charge of the world and its governing institutions? Outside of Rwanda and Bolivia, no nation on Earth is governed by a legislative majority of women, and even in those two countries, a man holds the presidency. Globally, in nations with parliamentary systems, women hold an average of twenty percent of those seats. In the US, women hold 19.4 percent of congressional seats and 21 percent of senate seats. We’ve yet to see a female president, despite the fact that several nations most Americans would consider “backward” when it comes to women’s rights (India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Ecuador, the Philippines, Mozambique, Liberia, Jamaica, and — again — Rwanda) have had female heads of state (though even they were stymied by male legislatures in all but one case).

Note that nowhere in this world aside from the Rwandan or Bolivian parliaments do women hold enough seats to get in the way of a male majority. In fact, men hold a supermajority of 60% or more of the parliamentary posts in every nation in the world but twelve out of 195 (Rwanda, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Finland, Iceland, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Senegal, South Africa, and Sweden). I don’t suppose I need to inform anyone of what role women play in non-parliamentary/autocratic governments.

Even the UN, which is ostensibly focused on the inclusion of women in world governance, can only muster about a third of General Assembly seats with women in them. Among the major corporations based in G7 nations (the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy), 39% operate without a single woman in upper management, while women make up only 22% of upper management among the firms in those nations in which they are represented. And that’s after decades of campaigning that shamed them into allowing a few women upstairs.

Tokens aside, this is a man’s world, which is painfully obvious to every woman in it.

So, who are these “men” who run the world as they see fit? Are they gun-licking conservative Christians who believe women ought to be jailed for aborting fetuses? Yes. Are they gun-licking Islamic fundamentalists who hope to destroy as many people as possible before ascending to a heaven in which the population is made up of a miraculous 72 (suddenly willing) virgin females per male? Yes. Are they gun-licking vodka-swillers who believe domestic violence ought to be legal and long for the days when they mattered in the geopolitical order? Yes. Are they gun-licking rocket enthusiasts who do whatever the fuck North Koreans do with their days? Yes. Are they gun-licking, pillow-fucking, fedora-wearing nascent school shooters who spend their days issuing death threats online because women aren’t DTF on demand? Yes. (Even these cretins have somehow emerged as a political force that can’t be ignored anymore.)

But they’re also your dad, husband, brother, cousin, friend, neighbor, and cat trainer. The problem is, even most of the men who aren’t completely insane and reside closer to Tom Brady than Peyton Manning on the asshole scale (hey, it’s NFL season) end up throwing their lot in with other men when pressed, because men trust other men to represent their interests more than they trust women to. That’s because very few men can imagine a world in which women — given the reigns of power — wouldn’t seek vicious revenge on men for what they do to women. That says more about their behavior than ours, but it’s their reality, whether subconscious or not.

How did men get this way? Let’s leave biology aside and assume this is a nurture rather than a nature-derived problem (if only for the purposes of avoiding openly pushing for a mass culling). The cult of masculinity spans cultures and geographical boundaries. The specifics may be culturally situated, but in most cultures in the world, that cult urges boys to voice their opinions, to take up space, to impose themselves on the world, and to refuse to take no for an answer, even if it requires violence. Popular media teaches boys that assuming such a role will result in an embarrassment of material wealth and the poontang that flocks thereto. Men’s emotional development ends when they fail to move beyond the cult’s confines, which means we’re all surrounded by entitled children who are angry and have access to weapons.

This isn’t a problem that’s limited to the US. Our culture industries have coated the globe in media (action movies, video games, porn) that — while the shitty jokes may not compute — manage to teach the message that one becomes a man by fucking and either shooting a bunch of people or convincing everyone that you might. The pockets of the globe in which this violent cult of masculinity does not hold sway are infinitesimal and shrinking.

Here in the US, where we hold the patent on this globalized vision of masculinity, we’re seeing it play itself out to its bloody, gruesome conclusion. A huge generation of boys raised on violent porn, SSRIs, and first-person shooters is coming of age and realizing that a resume comprised of Call of Duty stats and a sick collection of unopened, limited edition energy drinks doesn’t bring in the babes. And they’re fucking PISSED.

Not all men are this guy:

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But not all of them aren’t. In fact, I’d surmise that thoughts like these lurk beneath the beards of most male feminists and more than 95 percent of the general male population worldwide.

It isn’t as if I haven’t written before about an adult brat killing a bunch of people because he didn’t get his way, but it’s only gotten worse and looks like it’s leading the species off a cliff. People like ol’ “nasolabial folds” (who I’m sure would bro down with Elliot Rodger were he still with us) above have elected Donald Trump to usher us through one of the tensest periods in modern history, and the result is as terrifying as everyone predicted.

While earnest dorks stop elderly men in Army Veteran hats to pat them on the dick for their “service,” then bop over to the gun shop to pick up a bump stock for their AR-15 before heading home to jack off to a swastika and anime “tiddies,” their God Emperor is leading the world toward a nuclear war and the next Stephen Paddock is planning how to exercise his Second Amendment “rights” on Jason Aldean fans (contrary to what most people think I believe, bad taste in music shouldn’t be punishable by death).

Several optimistic journalists have argued that Trump’s presidency and the epidemic of mass violence are the “death rattle” of white male supremacy. I’d be jazzed if they’re right, but I doubt that white men will go down (i.e., accept anything other than a position at the top of a hierarchy ordered by their whims) without taking the rest of us with them, which is what I’d bet all of Dennis Rodman’s Potcoin will turn out to have been Paddock’s* motive. This right here is what the cult of masculinity and the worship of male violence leads to: the end of the fucking world.

I suppose we could all move to Rwanda or Bolivia, but that seems logistically problematic.

 *Even if you believe any of the many conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas shooting, my argument still holds. (Unless you’re treading into new territory in which feminists are carrying out mass shootings to make men look bad.)

 

 

The Shape of Stuff to Come 

1 Oct

I’ve been absent for, like, years. I apologize to anyone who cares. I promise, I wasn’t just sitting around smoking DMT and listening to Power Station (at least not the whole time).

What actually happened is that I moved overseas to open a business and ended up embroiled in a legal lutte à mort with some fucking Trent Reznor idolator who was willing to ruin his entire life in a failed attempt to ruin mine. Since that Single White Female-esque situation is ongoing, I won’t say anything else other than this: beware the pointlessly destructive spite of the delusionally arrogant.

Just when that literal travesty began to turn around, I found out my dad (a life hero of mine despite the fact that he’s male) has stage-four lung cancer. In sum, life of late has really — as the Chinese say — knocked my dick in the dirt (don’t worry; I’m not transitioning). It didn’t leave much time for blogging unless I wanted to turn this site into a whiny public diary or a long-form version of one of those Facebook posts that are broadcast to 1057 people but designed to be read by only one of them.

Being overseas also left me feeling out of touch with the American political landscape and enmeshed in the petty local corruption and wide array of societal dysfunctions in my new home country, which would probably be of little interest to the average reader (at least of this site). But now that I’ve been here in Don’t Tread on Me, Oregon for six months helping my family, I’ve found myself with the spare time and observational attention span to re-engage with something or other. Still, I didn’t write anything until I dashed off that blurb about Hugh Hefner the other day because I’m paralyzed by what feels like an insurmountable political/philosophical conflict. (I’m not deluded enough to think it’s anything novel, though.)

In sum, we’re fucked. People are too stupid and mean to survive as a species. There’s no escaping the reality that is unfurling before our eyes. There may at one point have been a moment at which that fate had yet to be sealed, but the ol’ Rubicon has been crossed and the plane has crashed into the mountain and the shit has hit the fan and the ship has sailed. I am convinced — even if Vandana Shiva were made dictator of the Earth tonight — that we couldn’t turn this project around.

Political culture in the US is so fucking ludicrous now that I almost can’t believe it’s real. The coming Civil War (I mean, there’s obviously going to be one) is going to feature Pantera roadies and MRA pillow-fuckers shooting AR-15s at Against Me! fanbois and crying furries wielding nothing but Judith Butler essays.

If there was a plot, it’s been lost. I wandered away in 2014 and came back in early 2017 to find that Jay and Silent Bob have taken over every position on the political spectrum and that the culture makes as much sense as a sentence written by William S. Burroughs read backwards. Literally everyone is on drugs, be it amphetamines, opiates, benzos, or some combination thereof with fashionable hallucinogens, and it’s showing like a dick on a forehead.

Contemporary reality has stripped me of any hope that global capitalism or patriarchy can be stopped. You know what’s required for someone to get a grip on a system as vast and insidious as global capitalism or patriarchy? A healthy mind that has been taught to think broadly, critically, three-dimensionally, and empathetically. That’s a rare confluence anywhere on Earth. It’s a goddamned miracle in the US. 

Still, I’m not one of those expats who will tell you that people who live in developing countries could teach Americans a thing or two about living simply and in harmony with nature. They could, but that isn’t the point. Lose the NFL, level-nine consumerism (Japan is on level ten), political clownery, wanton environmental destruction, and jingoism, and the US doesn’t compare that badly with most other places. It’s kind of illegal to rape or beat women and children here, at least. 

The idea that we can approach a global critical mass of critical thought requires more optimism than I can muster anymore. So, how does one reconcile emotional political idealism with empirical political realism? I’ve come close to accepting the idea that human consciousness has been irretrievably corrupted and that I ought to assume the worst of everyone around me for my own safety. I’ve tried retreating from blathering on the Internet to focus on being kind to people who need and deserve it in the course of my daily life, but that doesn’t feel like enough. I have zero hope that the world won’t implode in short order, but I also feel immoral and irresponsible for having retreated from it. Re-entering the fray seems simultaneously necessary and pointless. 

I’m sure it’s just a phase.