essays, my truths, tv, write it out, writing from the heart

On ‘Girls’ American Bitch & having your shoulders rubbed


Last night, as I do most Monday nights, I crawled into bed, gummy bears in hand, and watched the latest episode of GIRLS. Usually it makes me laugh; sometimes it makes me rage-y (MARNIE IS THE WORST). So I  wasn’t expecting anything too extraordinary. (I mostly watch because I love the recaps and commentary on the Man Repeller.)

But this episode was p h e n o m e n a l. Phenomenal in its timing. Phenomenal in its social commentary. Phenomenal in its telling of millions of women’s stories. Phenomenal in its response to so much of today’s public discourse and victim blaming.

To sum the episode up: A prominent author asks Hannah to come over to talk after she publishes an article about his predatory ways. He plays the victim card over and over again until winning Hannah’s forgiveness. Then he abuses it.

Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker of course, puts it a thousand times better than I ever could.

The key to “American Bitch,” Sunday’s scathing and timely episode of “Girls,” is the compliments. “Hannah, you’re clearly very bright,” Chuck Palmer, a novelist celebrated for his confessional work, says. “I could tell that from the first sentence you wrote.” He reads the sentence, as Hannah struggles to hide her pleasure: “ ‘If one more male writer I love reveals himself to be a heinous sleazebag, I’m going to do a bunch of murders, create a new Isle of Lesbos, and never look back.’ ” “You’re funny!,” Palmer says. “That’s a funny sentence.”

This initial intro scene was enough to make me put the gummy bears down and pay closer attention. As the episode progressed, the more I wanted to crawl inside myself and cry, while simultaneously wanting to run outside and scream THIS THIS THIS.

Nussbaum continues:

In certain ways, it’s a classic exchange between an older artist (rich, decadent, in print) and a younger artist (poor, moralistic, online). Chuck scores some points: it’s the women who throw themselves at him, he argues, because they are seeking stories to tell. Who really has the power, he asks: the zitty older virgin—him—or a beautiful young model? Hannah resists those arguments; she scores her points, too. “I’m tired of gray areas,” she tells him in disgust, when he waves off any sense that he’s even powerful. She shares a story about having being groomed by a grade-school teacher, another older man who selected her, making her feel chosen and special (a story that’s one of Lena Dunham’s own real-life stories, which she wrote about in her memoir). Chuck sympathizes. Eventually, he asks Hannah about herself—as, he suggests, a form of ethical payback for the exploitative relationships with his fans: he never really listened to the other young women, but now he’ll listen to her, see her as a person, in order to make up for it.

This scene made me cry.

Because I can count not one, but two teachers (one a professor), and a boss from a restaurant I worked at in high school, who would all rub my shoulders or touch my waist without my consent.

The first time it happened I was in elementary school and didn’t realize how inappropriate this behavior was. I’m lucky in that it never went further, and I was ignorant to know what this meant.

The second time was when I worked at a restaurant and the regional manager came over as I was working on the cash register and placed his hands around my waist. I immediately turned to him and told him to “please don’t touch me,” and I was fired a week later for a random reason. When I was fired I told my manager about what had transpired, and what was no doubt the reason for my being fired, and asked if I could have the contact information to file a sexual harassment suit, he told me “no such thing exists.” Though my parents encouraged me to take it to the corporate offices, I decided to just let it go.

A few years later, in college, a professor came over to my desk while I was working on a story and put his hands on my shoulders and rubbed them. I spun my chair around and told him to not touch me. He laughed it off. I reported it to the Dean. I have no idea if he was ever disciplined. But I’m glad I said something. Both to him and the higher ups.

These weren’t the only occasions this occurred, and I’m sure they won’t be the last (what a tragic reality to admit).

Being a female in today’s world, though we’ve come incredibly far, continues to be a incredibly difficult thing to be. Often I’m asked why I so strongly believe in the women’s movement and why I march. My response could be summarized into one simple sentence:

I march because I never want my nieces or nephews to have their shoulders rubbed predatorily.

Because this one sentence says so much more than the words used. Because this one sentence says everything.

funny women, tv, wise words, words from wise women

Thanks for everything, Mary!


I grew up watching the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I remember admiring everything about her — her tenacity, vivaciousness, independence, and of course, her amazing fashion. She showed that independent women could be just as strong as women in relationships. That notion has really stuck with me throughout the years. I’d be lying if I said she didn’t influence my decision to study Journalism.


“In 1970, after having appeared earlier in a pivotal one-hour musical special called “Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman”, Mary Tyler Moore and husband Grant Tinker successfully pitched a sitcom centered on Moore to CBS. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a half-hour newsroom sitcom about a thirty-something single woman who worked as a local news producer in Minneapolis; Moore’s show proved so popular that two other regular characters, were also spun off into their own series. The premise of the single working woman’s life, alternating during the program between work and home, became a television staple. All in all, during its seven seasons, the program held the record for winning the most Emmys – 29. That record remained unbroken until 2002 when the NBC sitcom Frasier won its 30th Emmy. The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a touchpoint of the Women’s Movement because it was one of the first to show, in a serious way, an independent working woman.” – Words of Women

Mary-Tyler-Moores-Legacy-is-More-Important-Than-Ever-Man-Repeller_Feature.jpg“Can we talk about how Moore created a new definition for what it looked like to be a woman in America? Or how she pitched a television show about a divorced woman when the subject of divorce was still forbidden on network television? Or how she depicted something other than a wife or mom or witch or genie in an era when that image of womanhood was considered the limit?!” – Man Repeller

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” – Mary Tyler Moore


Thanks, Mary.

blog love, blogosphere, favorites, found it loved it, recommended reading, tv, words

Slaughterhouse 90210: The Intersection of Screen and Books.

I am not ashamed to admit that I spend probably far too much time in front of the TV and have gone one too many nights without sleep to finish just one more chapter of a book. It is then no surprise that I was absolutely ecstatic when I came across Slaughterhouse 90210, a blog that pairs television and movie scenes with quotes from literature of every genre. I love the parallels–the pairing of unlikely sources together in a way that somehow works. The intersection of screen and books; a brilliant match.

“We had put almost all of our possessions in storage, which was a metaphor for being twenty, as were so many things.” ― Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs

“The thing is, dating jerks—and most of us have experienced at least one—isn’t all bad. Dating jerks can help you learn who the good guys are, as long as you pay attention and stop dating jerks.” — Jen Doll, Save the Date

“Communication is truth; communication is happiness. To share is our duty; to go down boldly and bring to light those hidden thoughts which are the most diseased; to conceal nothing; to pretend nothing; if we are ignorant to say so; if we love our friends to let them know it.”― Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader: First Series

 “The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances on any subject cross like interarching searchlights.” — Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance

“This was before voice mail, recorded phone messages you can’t escape. Life was easier then. You just didn’t pick up the phone.” ― Joyce Carol Oates, Beasts

“I count too heavily on birthdays, though I know I shouldn’t. Inevitably I begin to assess my life by them, figure out how I’m doing by how many people remember; it’s like the old fantasy of attending your own funeral: You get to see who your friends are, get to see who shows up. ” ― Lorrie Moore, Anagrams
“There was an inevitability about the road towards each other which encouraged meandering along the route.” ― Zadie Smith, NW
“You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better.” ― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

“You will always be loved, and you will always be in love with love. A grande passion is the privilege of people who have nothing to do. That is the one use of the idle classes of a country. Don’t be afraid. There are exquisite things in store for you. This is merely the beginning.”― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

 P.S. There’s going to be a book made from the blog. Rad, right?!

blessed, heartbreak, hope, love, tv

With a little help from my friends.

I’ve been watching Friends, Skyping with friends and family back home, reading and appreciating the messages you all have sent me.

And even when I feel just awful, my God, what love surrounds me.

Obsessed with this site right now. 

“Ross, hi.  It’s Rachel.  I’m just calling to say that, um, everything’s fine.  And I’m really happy for you and your cat – who, by the way, I think you should name Michael.  And, you know, you see there, I’m thinking of names, so, obviously, I am over you.  am over you.  And that, my friend, is what they call closure.”

Also, I am the kind of person that has to have closure. Has to. I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not, but really, it helps me. So who cares what everyone else thinks? 
downton Abbey, saw it loved it, tv

Downton Abbey.

-images via tumblr.

I decided to find out what all the Downton Abbey hubbub was about, andoh me, oh myI am so happy I did. In one week I finished both the first and second season. Holy guacamole. How can they just up and leave us hanging like this? I miss it. So much.

At least I still have Everybody Loves Raymond. Right?

Also, here are some hilarious Downton Abbey themed tumblrs:
Downton Abbeyoncé
Downton Pawnee
Downton Tabby

and best of all:
Miss (Conan) O’brien.
(this, too.)

fall 2011, favorites, get your giggles on friday, happy friday, laughter, saw it loved it, tv

get your giggles on friday part II.

i love me some will arnett. even more than i love him (if possible) i love me some new sitcoms. up all night is original, brilliant & and made me pee my pants a little. on three different occasions. (yeah. i’ll admit it.)

also, the new girl (with the ever-adorable zooey deschanel) is pretty great as well. mainly because i relate to the main character on a freakish level.

example- in the episode last week she yells at her ex: 

“no we can’t rap it out! we’re not together anymore- it’s not the same!”

– i feel like i’ve said something obnoxiously similar to an ex before.

yes. yes i have done that.

this too.

happy weekend!