Beautiful Attorney Generals, Gay Marriage, and That Old Adage About the Personal Being Political

What a week for plucky lady commentary!  First we have the hullabaloo over Barack Obama’s comment that CA Attorney General Kamala Harris is “by far the best looking attorney general” at a DNC fundraising lunch.  The interwebs exploded with feminists calling out Obama, Obama apologizing, and men freaking out about that age oldest of questions “How am I supposed to have sex with women if I can’t constantly comment on their beauty/bodies/boobs?” Well hetero gents, Garance Franke-Ruta over at The Atlantic and Lindy West at Jezebel have some answers for you!  The primary answer being, of course, women are not in the workplace to have sex with you unless they are in fact sex workers.  They are probably in the workplace to accomplish tasks, thrive intellectually, achieve prominence in their chosen field, and generally be productive individuals.  They may also be in the workplace to make money for themselves and their families.  Does this prevent the possibility of a workplace romance developing?  No, of course not.  But your best course of action is probably to be decent to women so they will want to spend time with you and possibly, yes, even have sex with you.

Which brings me to another bone I have to pick with the world.  Gay marriage.  Let me begin by saying that if a couple wants to get married, they should be legally entitled to get married.  However, when we focus on civil rights as a strictly marriage issue, we tend to miss inequities that exist even within the gay rights movement.  For example, the Human Rights Campaign, the source of the red equals sign you see all over facebook, is well-known as a transphobic organization.

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The queer movement argues that we have an ethical and political obligation to imagine other ways that we could organize rights and privileges in our society beyond marriage (think tax breaks, relief from social stigma, health and childcare benefits, etc.).  Would it not be ideal for two unmarried sisters to decide to raise their families together and still receive all of the legal benefits conferred on married people?  Does this family arrangement seem less stable, meaningful, or important than any other arrangement?  I will sum up with this awesome graphic from the MacArthur Bart in the SF Bay Area:

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Lastly, the personal is political.  Marriage, sex, equality, bodies.  There is no real space between our legal rights and our embodied experiences, and that means we need to think very carefully about how we organize our emotional, familial, and sexual lives.  But fear not, dear readers, we now have a new form of activism: the candy graph!

The Hazards of Internet Love

March.  March is the month of dating.  So I told myself in January and February anyway.  But now that March is here, the prospect seems daunting.  Does one go to bars and stand around looking available?  Does one respond to cat callers on the street?  Does one ask out a co-worker and hope it doesn’t end badly?  None of the above appeal to me in the least.  So, being a single twenty-something lady, I find myself faced with the temptation and terror of the online dating world once again.  

A few years ago, I experimented with OkCupid because it was free, and well, investing actual money in online dating seemed like a poor choice before I knew what it was all about.  So I joined the site, uploaded three decent pictures of myself, crafted a sweet profile, and went about the business of answering some of the hundreds of questions that help the site determine compatibility with possible matches.  And just like that, messages filled my inbox.  10-15 a day!  Imagine the thrill!

But look, I’m an academic.  My first impulse is always to look for the catch.  This impulse of course, is not common to all academics.  Consider the case of The Professor, The Bikini Model, and The Suitcase Full of Trouble.  This is the love story of a lonely but brilliant physics professor at UNC Chapel Hill and his fake girlfriend who gets him jailed in Argentina for four years on drug trafficking charges.  And there’s always Manti Teo’s fake dead girlfriend which you can’t have missed.  You may have missed this autotune masterpiece though.  You’re welcome.

Anyway.  Some pitfalls for online dating based upon my personal experience.  

1) You love information and you think information gives you power.  

OkCupid provides tons of information if you are willing to spend enough time looking.  You get sucked in, and often you find something seriously creepy, or just downright sexist (nice guys of okcupid).  Then your faith in humanity plummets.  

2) You can fill in all the gaps.

This guy and I have sent each other messages back and forth.  I know he likes Battlestar Gallactica and Iron & Wine.  I know he has a college degree.  Now’s where the fun begins.  I start imagining us watching BSG as our future baby lies asleep peacefully in the other room.  I assume we share values and sleeping habits, beliefs about friends and work, hobbies and food preferences.  But I don’t actually know.  I have just invented a person who does not exist.  Talk about unrealistic expectations.

3) People on the internet lie more than people not on the internet

It is true that trust is a fundamental part of any relationship.  But the internet just makes it so easy to stretch the truth.  Maybe you post pictures that are a few years old.  Maybe you exaggerate about your salary but just a few thousand dollars.  OR MAYBE YOU FORGET TO MENTION YOU HAVE A WIFE.  

So there you have it.  My major problems with internet dating.  But the funny thing is, the eternal optimist will always try anyway.  We shall see if my inner optimist or my inner pessimist wins out.Image