“It Was and Is Horrible”

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S1: This is the waves.

S2: This is the wave is the wave. This is the way. This is the way. This is the waves ActionScript.

S1: Hello and welcome to the Waves Slate’s podcast about gender, feminism and catching up with old friends after two years that felt more like 10. I’m Kristina Cauterucci, a senior writer at Slate, and I’ve got to say it. It must be the season of giving because the powers that be here at Slate are maybe, maybe a little help from Santa have given me the thing that was at the very top of my wish list this year, a reunion episode with two of my very favorite thinkers and podcasters. So this week I’m joined by Nichole Perkins and Marcia Chatelain. We haven’t actually recorded together since April 2020, and I know a lot of new listeners have come into the fold since then. So why don’t you to reintroduce yourselves?

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S3: Hi, I’m Nichole Perkins, a writer and podcaster, and I have missed the waves. So, so, so very much.

S2: I’m Marcia Chatelain, a professor of history at Georgetown University and a constant source of hot takes. Based in Washington, D.C.,

S1: both of you had big years in 2020 and 2021 in spite of the global tumult. Give us the rundown. What have you been up to?

S2: Well, I will start in this order. I got a masterclass subscription and I started making a bunch of recipes from Thomas Keller. I bought a house during the pandemic. I won the Pulitzer Prize in history. Sounds really weird to you, but that was an incredible moment and I adopted a baby boy. My son, Michael came to us on April 1st of 2021, and he kind of erased the pure garbage year of 2020 with his giant cheeks.

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S1: Nichole Tell us about your year years.

S3: I started a new podcast called This is Good for You, and that’s where I talk to people about the things that they do for pleasure, just for themselves. Then I went to Dublin Ireland as a special treat to myself because I had published a book in 2021 in August. It’s a memoir called Sometimes I Trip on how happy we could be. Those are the pretty big things that happens.

S1: I mean, your book also received a lot of props from very well-known people. You were part of Roxane Gay’s Book Club. I mean, the book itself is amazing. I too bought a house actually Marcia. So I spent a lot of the pandemic winter getting into interiors, doing a lot of furniture, scouting. I now have a lot of opinions on accent lamps, which is not something that was part of my personality before, but now occupies a large part of it. Something I did at work that I was really excited about more recently was an episode of One Year, one of Slate’s history podcast. It was about this fertility clinic that was exposed in the mid-1990s for stealing women’s eggs. They were taking some women’s eggs, eggs from some of their patients and putting them in other women’s bodies without the consent of the patient whose eggs they were. That was my first time writing an audio script. It was a lot of fun. My brain was extremely stimulated, but I have to say I’ve missed this group. So much has happened over the past two years that I wish I could have processed with you. Two. Did you miss the waves? You know, I’m sure there were good things and bad things about saying goodbye to this monthly show. How have you been feeling about that? Well, you

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S3: know, I missed being exposed to news items that were kind of outside of my usual areas of interest. And I definitely would have loved to talk about the whole. All too well. Taylor Swift’s Jake Gyllenhaal bit of gossip and people’s reaction to it. I am fascinated by who gets to share their personal lives and who gets to create art from it without criticism.

S2: Oh, that’s interesting. I miss the fact that all of you are so thoughtful in your responses to things during the like worst parts of lockdown. I felt like I wasn’t really talking to people. Some of it is the depression of the moment, but I felt like the places in which I could go back and forth about something and think through them were just kind of shut out. And so I miss that conversation.

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S1: We’re going to take a break now, but when we come back, I’m excited to hear from you guys on some of the major stories from the past two years, though. Stay tuned. All right. A few things have happened since last we met, to put it extremely mildly. Marcia, I know you’ve tweeted about this from time to time that there would be a news event or some sort of cultural product that made you think, and I really wish we could unpack this on the waves. So what has happened that you really wish we could have done an episode about?

S2: Oh, there’s so many things. So I was particularly missing all of you after the Jan. six insurrection because just the framing of all of it. There’s so many elements of it, but the the participation of white women, the line ization of Ashli Babbitt and the whole kind of world that was available to people on television about what extremism looks like in the United States right now. I think that would have been such a thoughtful conversation from this group and in similar veins of people who have been galvanized by extremism. Cunanan has also become this space for women and conspiracies, and that kind of dovetails into some of the anti-vax anti-mask stuff we’ve seen. And a lot of it has been under the cover of like mothers and, you know, women united against, you know, the government as well as authorities. So I think that would have been an amazing conversation, probably really depressing. And then we would have pivoted to lighthearted fare like the Lulu, the Louvre scam. I know that Nichole would have been compelled by a lot of the Housewives scamming issues that we’ve had with Erika Jayne allegedly and Jessica allegedly on the Housewives franchises. And I have a lot of feelings about Mommy Wars stuff that I see on the socials, and I would have been very curious for us to have a conversation about the nighttime do La Tick-Tock war that exploded a few weeks ago about employing like someone to help take care of a baby at night and why that inflamed everyone’s feeling on social?

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S1: And I didn’t even know that this happened.

S2: It was. It was kind of a black Twitter thing to Nichole. Were you aware of that?

S3: I saw that. Yeah, love this woman. You know, she posted some tweets, and I think maybe in picture two of her nighttime dula and was just talking about how much of a help it was. And then people just attacked her for saying that was a joke, that having a dollar is a luxury item. Some people aren’t able. I think that the reason she posted that was to show how accessible it could be and how helpful it is and how everyone should have this. You know, this ability to have someone come into help because the immediate time after having a child is very difficult, but people were just so resentful and just angry. It just really went to some ugly places. I was actually very surprised and I feel like I’ve seen everything on Twitter, but that really surprised me.

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S2: You know, part of it, if we could just dive into, I guess we are talking about it. The discourse was really interesting because it went from like, this person’s so privileged to this work as exploitative and that any work that takes you away from your own family and community that you have to do that. That is, you know, exploitation. And then people who are trained as doulas and midwives said, you know, we are trained professionals who advocate for a good wage like we don’t feel exploited. And then some people say, Well, be honest, yes, some of us are. And it was like bananas. And I think that, you know, when I read stuff like that, it’s it’s always from a perspective of feeling kind of one toe in one toe out as someone who parented and did not give birth. I try to like just shut up about people talking about the experience postpartum. And at the same time, you know, I started parenting a child on day three of his life. So there’s some aspects of it that I can really relate to, and then I just throw away my phone. And I think that’s always the right answer.

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S1: Marcia, you actually mentioned the two topics that I would have really wanted to talk about on the waves that I think are related. Q and on women and Lula Row spurred in my mind by the Lula rich documentary because before that I wasn’t really aware of exactly what Lula Roe was. But I think both Q and on and multi-level marketing schemes, they have a lot in common. They they sort of function through disseminating misinformation, largely on Facebook misinformation, low quality goods, whatever, like both of them going through Facebook and they’re kind of seizing on these. Gendered anxiety is whether it’s like real or manufactured scarcity. There’s like Housewives, you know, living in these post-industrial towns where there are very few jobs and no affordable child care, and yet also they’re like encouraged to take on that caregiving role in their families in addition to they need to make money. And then on the human side, there’s like white people scared of what happens when their votes aren’t the only votes that count. And I just feel like the Venn diagram between people who fall into these two really exploitative cultural products is like mirroring a circle, probably. Or there’s at least a lot of overlap there. And I I would have loved to do a whole episode on that Nichole. What’s the topic that you wish we could have talked about?

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S3: I would have loved to talk about the constant generation wars that happen millennials versus Gen Z and how they seem to be very white woman focused. I mean, I’m not a millennial generation X, but it still just seems very specific to white women, like talking about parting your hair on the side are certain kinds of bangs or the jeans and things like that. And then I’m looking at my friends who are black women, millennials, and they’re just like, I have no idea what they’re talking about, you know? And then I’m like, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And so these kinds of this is so millennial, and it seems just really to be a very white woman thing. I would have liked to have talked about that and figure out like, why? Why is that? Why is this so narrow in its focus when talking about the things that make up a generation? And I would have like to examine that a little bit more. Definitely that Lula ro Lula thing, because I had never heard of it at all. And I had no idea what people were talking about, and I was like, This is such a thing that actually needed to be a documentary like, like, what is this? I have no idea what that was. So that was really interesting.

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S1: Are there generation wars happening specifically with black women, like with hair, with other trends or something like that that don’t have to do with the middle part of the sidebar?

S3: Not really. I don’t think so. I mean, there are a lot of things that, you know, we could see

S2: that

S3: women younger than us were doing. But I think because black women’s hairstyle is so fluid and so many women can wear a hairstyle where well beyond their years, I guess you could say, you know what I mean, that we don’t have a lot of things that are like super dated beyond, like a roller set or something like that, like, you know, that kind of thing. So style and like food and things like that, just all kind of blur. The lines blur and generations, I think, for for black women.

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S2: This is such an interesting point that you make Nichole because I’m trying to think of like the thing that you’re talking about is like a kind of nostalgia that, you know, like gives birth to the, you know, full house reboots and, you know, like jeans and like the the like white tennis shoes with the thick soles. I’m trying to like visualize what you’re talking about. I know exactly what you’re talking about. And this question of like where those generational wars exists for black women. I can’t think of a single place in terms of cultural products. I guess there could be like attitudes towards, you know, gender roles or attitudes towards respectability issues broadly. But that thing that you’re talking about, I have such a hard time like visualizing it. I think that’s so interesting.

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S3: Yeah, because even now, like Megan Thee Stallion, she’s been wearing French rolls. This hairstyle, French roll. When she dresses up and stuff like that, which is something that was popular when I was a teen in the 90s for us as teenagers, also our moms, also our aunties and things like that. So it was just like whatever was popular was something that all of us wore at the time across our whatever our generations were, you know, in our families. So then to see it come back, we’re just kind of like, Oh yeah, we were all rocking this style. So there was there’s no like super delineated thing of this is ours and this is ours and this is ours because we were all wearing it. And it’s just it’s just been really interesting to see these kinds of breakdowns, like with women on TikTok, like millennial women on Tik Tok, making these whole like musicals to shame. Gen Z, it’d be like, you’re going to get older, too. And it just seems like millennial women. I love y’all are just having a problem with aging right now, and I just I just want to take them to the side and say, it’s OK.

S1: As a millennial woman, as a millennial white woman, I feel like my peers are misinterpreting changing styles as a referendum or insult on our styles, which is not how it has to be. Millennial women were really attached. To our side parts, and now people are partying there in the middle and like one person, made Tik Tok saying middle parts look better than side parts, and now all of a sudden like, we’re sort of cranking our outrage up to 11 and feeling like, Oh, now you’re alienating and marginalizing me because you’ve said that the way I park my hair is no longer like the hip way when you don’t either change your hairstyle or just accept that you’re not. You know, you don’t. You’re not wearing the Tik Tok trend, which your friends probably are. If they’re watching Tik Tok, they’re watching it on Instagram anyway. So like, you don’t have to be young and I think you’re right, Nichole that so many other things are happening. A lot of millennials were in our early 30s, in our mid thirties, and a lot of things are happening. We’re having kids or our friends are having kids. Parents are getting older. It feels a little bit like we’re entering middle age in a lot of ways. And I think this parting of the hair is like the acceptable way that we have, quote unquote acceptable way that we’ve found to deal with our angst about that. All right. On the flip side, is there anything that’s happened that you were glad we didn’t have to talk about something that you thought definitely would have been a? We would have thought, OK, we have to talk about this, but that you would have been dragging your feet on.

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S3: I am so glad that I did not have to pass through the good friend, bad friend donating a kidney story for the public. I mean, I did maybe like one quick tweet or something like that about it, and then I let it go. But it was just a really incredible story in like the original meaning of incredible as in this is like, this cannot be real. This cannot like this is this has to be a lie. And unfortunately, it seems to have been true, but true enough. But I’m glad I did not have to make anything to public about my thoughts.

S2: Can you imagine if your text messages among your friends had to be used in a deposition or were subpoenaed? I would be done for like I have certain friends after that that article came out that we had to come up with like a plan if something happened to one of us. What kind of like our group text? Because I mean, that was part of the story, like the kind of shit you talk on a group text and, you know, guilty as charged. And I was like, Wow, I, you need to throw in. Yeah, I

S1: I felt that way, too. Nichole And just to clarify for our listeners, we’re talking about who is the bad art friend? A piece that ran in the New York Times magazine in October, where, you know, one person made an altruistic donation of her kidney. Another person who was sort of loosely in a circle of acquaintances thought she was being cocky about it or seeking attention, and then ended up writing a short story, in part inspired by this person who donated her kidney anyway. Even just having to explain

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S2: that none of it makes sense. It doesn’t,

S1: and it made me feel like I sense that as has happened with so many stories during the pandemic, it sort of became amplified beyond what it should have been in terms of its effect on like online conversations. I felt like we probably would have thought that we had to cover it, and it would have been very unwieldy to discuss and probably wouldn’t deserve a segment. The things that I’m glad we didn’t have to talk about were a lot of the sort of men behaving badly stories or men committing sex crime stories. I definitely reached a point and not even just with the waves, but in my own writing. After the MeToo movement and Kavanaugh and Trump and everyone else in the Trump circles, you know Roy Moore and where I felt like I can’t write another story about sexual assault. It was I was very frustrating for me. I felt like I put a lot of myself into my work, and I would get very emotionally invested in these stories. And at a certain point, I kind of felt like what is left to say about some of these men. It’s funny that I say that because I actually did do a Waves episode about Andrew Cuomo a couple of months ago, which I was happy to do because I wasn’t having to talk about it all the time when we were doing the waves more regularly. I felt very resentful when a man would do something terrible or there would be a development and, you know, the Harvey Weinstein case or something, and we’d have to cover it. And it was like, You know, why are you making us talk about you? It felt like they were hijacking the topics of the episode. Marcia What about you?

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S2: Any non-white leads on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, the Matt James saga? I mean, where to begin? This guy goes on. The Bachelor. He’s the first black bachelor. He ends up with this young woman who decided to dress like a Confederate like princess as part of. Already, party. Oh, yeah, and then Emmanuel Acho has like a sit down with them, it’s like the worst everything on television. Will they reconcile? How racist is she? I mean, everything involving The Bachelor and Bachelorette like move towards a more diverse lead structure after Rachel Lindsay has just been the worst thing that’s ever happened. So Tayshia as the lead Michelle Susan is happening right now. I mean, it’s just so cringy and painful that I’m glad I didn’t have to subject people to my discomfort in discussing it. A lot of them that I picked were about television. The Netflix show Marriage or Mortgage, where people in Nashville have to decide whether to buy a house or have an expensive wedding. Everything about it made me so uncomfortable, and it would have been great fodder for us and the Sex and the City reboot, which I did watch the first two episodes and I was filled with just all sorts of discomfort. So those those highlights from popular culture, I’m glad I was spared.

S1: Yeah, it’s hard because sometimes the discomfort makes for the best segments, you know, like it makes the Sex and City reboot makes me uncomfortable, too, in a way that many recent TV shows have been making me uncomfortable in that I’m just talking specifically about Botox and its effect on women’s faces and how we’re like no longer able to see women emote on stage. I was watching Tampa Bay’s B.S. on Amazon, which is a reality show about lesbians in Tampa, Florida. These are like 20 something year old women who have so much botox that they can’t move their face. It’s preventative botox. I think I would have wanted to do a whole show on preventive botox and its effect on pop culture and our ability to read human emotion, because I think this is a topic that’s going to get more and more relevant as more women in their 20s start having Botox. Anyway, that’s a topic I did want to talk about, not when they did it. All of which is to say, if we were still in the weeds together, Marcia, I would have forced us to talk about all the things that you just said.

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S2: I would have happily done it.

S1: All right. We’ve got to take another break now. When we come back, we’re going to talk more about the culture we missed in 2020 and 2021. So I’d love to hear from you, too. Has your understanding of feminism changed at all over the past year and a half? Nichole what do you think?

S3: I think I have been more open to broadening my views of feminism and making sure that more voices are heard and that we are not all just kind of saying the same thing. I feel like there needs to be more diversity in the experiences of feminism because I think for me, the most important aspect of feminism is choice and having choices and being able to make a decision, maybe away from what the majority of feminists are doing, but still enjoying the opportunity to make that choice. When we were talking about things like women’s sexuality that we give space to, those who are asexual are those who are deemed sexual or something like that so that we can hear more about their perspectives. So I would like to hear different perspectives more often. I think when it comes to talking about the ways that feminists navigate the world,

S2: I think that the one maybe feminist issue that has for me kind of crystallized into the real limitations of it is this idea of feminism in its most ideal form, provides this kind of big tent kind of like what Nichole was talking about for a diversity of experiences. But when we try to use a feminist lens or perspectives on contemporary issues or challenges, it’s always fascinating to me to think about how we’re coming from a place of this vision, but we’re missing the mark. So, for example, I was listening very carefully to some of the conversations about COVID and reopening and this issue of the disparate impact it was having on moms, right? Like these stories in the New York Times about the mom? Unlike for Zoom calls like she’s doing Zoom school with her kids, she’s doing her job. And, you know, she’s like taking care of an elderly family member and her husband’s in like the one spare room in the house working peacefully. And he’s getting, you know, like a few hours in on the Peloton, and she’s like screaming in a closet. And so when I, you know, when I would read things like that, I’m like, Whoa, you know, this is a feminist issue about work and about family and roles. And at the same time, I think that a lot of people’s fears about going back into the workplace is about privilege and the kind of advocacy position of like schools need to reopen for the greater good of kids. But I don’t have to go back to a school and I don’t have to work in a school, but some other women have to like, teach my kids and be the school nurse. And we know that, like most of the lunchroom staff are women, and the bus drivers like these are the people who have to absorb our kind of general idea about, you know, risk and proximity and work the whole thing. It’s hard. And I don’t think that as someone who can be very like a little too certain all the time, how I feel about everything. I think it’s called obnoxious. I just the debates about COVID and vulnerability and risk and work, I think, really were a wonderful way to just challenge our ideas about making feminist arguments that might be about ourselves and what we want to see versus the greater good and really like pushing ourselves to imagine that it’s not so easy.

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S1: And that definitely was an issue. One of the few issues that I’ve come across in recent memory that really felt like good people are making good arguments on both sides, you know, which is hard because it’s a it’s a very intractable and important problem that is like impossible to solve and is creating a lot of tension and a lot of communities. Speaking from a place of non parenthood just from the outside. Really interesting to see people try to work through these problems that were challenging their own beliefs under extreme stress, to which it’s really hard to make informed decisions under extreme stress or, you know, generous decisions under extreme stress. The thing that I’ve noticed over the past couple of years in discussions of feminism that has really stuck in my craw has been what I believe to be an overuse of this sort of girlboss critique of feminism. The term Girlboss in particular, has been used to criticize women who are, you know, making choices that are good for themselves and that maybe like elevate them within male systems of power and white systems of power, but that don’t necessarily help other women, but they’re cloaking their own success. As in the rhetoric of feminism, that’s basically what Girlboss that term has has been used to describe. But in the past year, I’ve seen it used almost as a sexist slur by leftist feminists in a way that I think is very unseemly and unproductive. You know, right now, we’re at a point where particularly white men control a lot of spheres of power and make are making a lot of decisions. And there would be something good about having gender equity because you know what? Gender equity leads to a better distribution of power, like economic and cultural power, which would help a lot of women if women were seen as capable of being the breadwinner. And if women were seen as strong leaders, there would be good trickle down effects from that. We’re in a society where women have to work, and so wouldn’t it be nice if we had jobs, if women had jobs where they made more money and had more power? That’s basically what I’m trying to say.

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S2: I find this fascinating, though the girls I because I can’t get enough of a girl boss takedown, but I always see it in terms of, you know, like the CEO who, you know, the bad behavior CEO stuff.

S1: I think those are valuable

S2: to right, but it doesn’t always apply. Yeah.

S1: So I feel like the criticism of, you know, hollow feminism has now become hollow in certain ways itself. Nichole. I know if we had been on the air over the past two years, I would have loved to talk to you about dating life during the pandemic because I wasn’t doing it, but I was paying a lot of attention to other people’s experiences about it. What was it like for you? What did you learn?

S3: It was and is horrible, and it is. It is. It is somehow even worse than before. You know, everything is like pre-pandemic and post-pandemic and pre-pandemic wasn’t great. But now it’s even worse. This has been some of the emptiest experiences of my life, of my dating life. You know, you would think that people be like, Oh, life is short now. You know, they’re like face to face with their mortality, and they would be more willing to be open and vulnerable and honest and just kind of like live life to its fullest. But they’re not. And obviously, this is just my experience and the anecdotal stuff from info from, you know, my group chats and everything. But it just seems like as women dating men, they’re just even more internal. They’re even more like sheltering from their emotions and their feelings. They’re just like so closed off and hard to read. They’ve lost even more social skills that social media hasn’t taken away, like, it’s just been really difficult. They don’t even want to finesse anything, you know, they just kind of want to show up and be like, OK, I’m here, let’s let’s go. And it’s like, Hello, you got to warm the pot up a little bit like this. It’s just like, what’s going on? So it’s been really discouraging. Actually, that’s been where there have been some times where some some guys that I’ve, you know, tried to talk to get to know a little better. They were rushing things and in a different kind of rushing way and like wanting to like immediately. Skip to the let’s just curl up on the couch and have a lazy Saturday kind of thing, which is not my speed, which is not my vibe at all. I’m not very cuddly at first. Like, I have to like, feel very comfortable with you to get to that stage. And some of these guys wanted to get to that stage like immediately. And it’s just like, it’s weird.

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S2: Let me ask you again the sociological elements of this really kind of mind blowing. So there are two things that I’m curious about. From what I remember about dating, that dating is often a kind of like deep desire to submerge like the low grade depression or anxiety you’re going through at that particular moment and you fill it with like stories about stuff, right? So like you go on a date you talk about like the person at work you don’t like and the trip you went on, like the stuff that like gets in the way of like deeply knowing someone is part. If I remember correctly of the dating dance until there’s like greater intimacy. So do you think that like with COVID and people doing fewer things, there’s less of the kind of superficial stuff that’s part of both the charm and the dread of dating? And then do you think people are so starved for human touch that there is this kind of recalibration of like kissing and kind of feeling out where a person is in terms of physical intimacy?

S3: Yeah, I think we’re all having issues with trying to figure out how soon is it to touch and how can I touch and that kind of thing. And I think a lot of people have kind of regressed to wanting that cuddly Freudian mommy, you know, kind of like thing, right? Which, you know, that’s that’s fine. But I guess because they’re still not the right amount of communication to get us to that point. It just feels really jarring. And I do think that because people aren’t getting out as much or they’re not having these kinds of work discussions or things like that, they don’t have anything to talk about. So then you just end up looking at each other or, you know, you want to talk about pop culture stuff, but then there’s just still a lot of awkward silences or just like really weird communication happening. And I try not to really talk about what I do for a living because it’s I don’t know, men just don’t. They can’t seem to wrap their minds around it. Like, you know, I’ll tell the guy that, you know, I’m a writer and he’s like, Oh, so what else do you do to earn a living? And I’m like, Well, that’s what I do. This is how this is where my money comes from. And they just have a really difficult time because it’s not something nine to five or it’s not steady enough or because it’s a creative pursuit. They just don’t think it makes money, right? So when I do finally start to tell these guys more about what I do and I try to open up about it and then they like they google me and they’re like, Holy shit, you’re famous. And I’m like, I’m not famous. I’m nowhere near famous. You can just easily find me online, right? I would say three out of five guys disappear after that once they see that I am. I don’t want to say someone, but once they see that I have more going in my life or that I’m an ambitious person, or that I’m doing something that you can find online. I don’t want to say it intimidates them because I don’t know what they’re thinking, because they disappear. It just really it’s been really odd navigating that where someone finds out that you are a person with goals and that you can find them online or on a podcast or in, you know, these different magazines or something like that. And then they disappear. And it makes me feel really, honestly, really weird and sad. Like like, it goes back to this idea that women are not allowed to be more than a man. And, you know, in the sense of like, heterosexual relationships, obviously, and just like professional career disappear like I was dating this guy who worked at a library. And when my book came out, I showed him that the book was listed in the Brooklyn Library system, and then he was just like, Oh, wow, that’s so great. And then I never heard from him again.

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S1: You think that that would be a selling point? Like, look at this

S2: amazing woman who wrote this book. Are they afraid that you’re going to write about them? Like, I just. Does everyone think that like your life is like sex and the city and that you have to date in order until like they are just mining? You have no separation and that everyone’s so inspiring that you will write about them?

S3: Yes, but sometimes they want that to happen, right?

S1: So little did they know you’re actually going to talk about them when they go to you.

S3: Yes, right? And you know, like this one guy, we had had a really good time together and he, like, leaned down and whispered in my ear, You can write about this and I, Oh,

S2: that’s all right. Goodbye.

S3: So I’ve had a little bit of all of that where they tell me not to write about it or they’re afraid that I’ll write about it or the ones you like, really try to show out and think that I’m going to write about them because, you know, we had a nice time or whatever. Anyway, so it has been a mess. It has actually made me real feel really lonely and sad. A lot of the times, you know, and also then you have the experience of watching other people who are like, Oh, we met online and we went out for a month and now we’re getting married because life is short, you know, and it’s just like, Oh, OK, well, fuck you, but it’s like, Okay, so it’s just been really weird, and I’ve been taking a lot more social media breaks to avoid that. And also just to kind of like get my mental health back together, you know, because it’s just, I don’t know, it just made me feel really, really sad and lonely.

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S1: That sounds really trying, and it actually echoes a lot of what I’ve heard from single friends, especially. Yeah, the part about like people not knowing what to talk about or people just feeling like they want comfort. So trying to accelerate the relationship to the let’s just watch TV and cuddle and smoke weed, which is like, that’s the whole point. Well, I would think that the whole point of a lot of dating is wanting to, like, have fun together and like do things as much as you can during a pandemic. So I want you guys to tell me about one piece of culture good or bad that you spent the most time talking. Now, during the pandemic, or maybe that you spent the pandemic wanting to talk a lot about,

S3: I was late to this, but Ted Lasso on Apple TV, the series starring Jason Sudeikis and he is this American guy who gets brought over into London to coach a soccer team. He has no idea what he’s doing. He’s never taught soccer, coach, soccer or whatever. It’s a comedy. It’s very funny, but it’s also like kind of dark because you realize that he has this like toxic positivity thing going on where, like, he’s very optimistic and stuff. And, you know, it’s really sweet. But also you realize it’s a coping mechanism for something that’s tragic happened in his life. And so it’s actually a really beautiful show. I was surprised at how great it was, and but I really wanted to talk about something that most people were not talking about was like to see this mediocre white man come into this new industry that he has no idea what he’s doing and yet gets chance after chance after chance in order to, you know, perform his job and do his job well. And everybody loves him because he’s so charming, even though he has no idea what he’s doing with his job. So I just think that it’s just really something to that, and no one is talking about that. No one one’s talking about how emblematic that is when it comes to white men at work. But anyway, it’s a great show.

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S1: I love actually hired to do a bad job, right? And then that kind of twist was that he ends up

S3: figuring out, yes, a job, right? And he wins everybody over with, you know, with his his feel good attitude. And I think that’s just so that’s what happens. A lot of times that a guy can come in and just be like, make you laugh and make everybody smile. You just forgive him everything. So you can forgive the fact that he even ruined your diabolical plan to ruin your ex-husband’s favorite team, right?

S1: Marcia What about you?

S2: I actually will say, you know, it started with Tiger King, and I can’t remember if I told you all this on our last show. But you know, I’ve been to that zoo, so I used to live in Oklahoma. And when we first moved there, we should just drive around the state and we were going to a real zoo and we went off the wrong exit. So we thought that we thought that zoo was the zoo and we’re like, This is weird. And so that was like all I could talk about because I was telling people like, Yeah, I’ve actually been there. And it was really creepy and I was confused why there was all this antipathy to stuff there. And then I realized we did not go to a sanctions zoo. We went to an illegal zoo. But that was part one of the pandemic. Posh part two was only murders in the building on Hulu, which was a delightful watch. And the thing I liked about that, a lot of people liked, a lot of people enjoyed it. But I have been stuck in the true crime podcast Vortex for many years. And the thing I liked about this show, it was doing two things that I think a lot of TV shows and movies are failing to do correctly. One, It was a show about New York City that actually had people of color, and there was a way that they really kind of walked through some of the kind of generational issues about where we are in terms of being an inclusive culture without demeaning it and without being like so heavy handed to Sex and the City reboot. So like, if it did a really good job of saying, like, what would it be to create this world where there are people of all sorts of racial and ethnic backgrounds? There’s a lot of different ways that we can frame character without being on a high horse and without, you know, kind of making fun of, you know, these woke times that require X, Y and Z. So I love the intergenerational spirit of it, and I love the skewering of those of us who spend too much time listening to true crime podcasts.

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S1: We’re coming up on the end of the episode, unfortunately, but before we go, let’s give our listeners some recommendations. I’m going to start because mine is pretty low brow. I’m going to recommend sheer text heights. I swear this is not a paid advertisement. If your algorithm looks anything like mine was like, Yeah, I guess millennial woman or whatever, you know, you’ve probably seen someone dropping a kettlebell into a pair of pantyhose or something like that. The novelty of those ads caught my eye, but then I saw the tights were really expensive and I was like, No. But then one of my colleagues recommended them and said, They’re actually really good. The classic black tights are often on sale for like 40 percent off, so I got them then I think they’re still like 50 bucks or something, but they’re truly indestructible. And I, in wintertime go through a lot of pairs of like sheer black tights because I like the way they look. I’ve recently started buying thicker tights. I experimented with white tights, which are fun, but I really wanted that sheer black pantyhose that I’m not going to ruin with my like, scraggly winter feet or my fingernails and sheer tex tights are those tights. I don’t know what they’re made out of. I’m pretty sure I don’t know if it’s like leeching some sort of chemical into my body or if, like someone had to kill an armadillo to make it, but you can’t ruin them. So I highly recommend you guys bring to the table. Hopefully, it’s something a little more brain stimulating than that.

S2: No, maybe

S3: it’s so much pressure. So candles. I have just really been trying to create an atmosphere of peace and just like coziness at home. And so my candle collection has exploded. It’s just ridiculous. It’s out of control. So I would like to recommend two places Brooklyn Candle Studio and Posh Candle Company. I love both of those websites. They have an incredible range of scents. Posh candle company is a little quirky. A Brooklyn candle studio is a little softer, more subtle. I love them both. I have a candle going almost as soon as I wake up. It’s probably not good for my sinuses, but I just, I don’t know. It’s just like, I just need a little and a little peace. Let me pretend I’m on the beach and let me pretend I’m in, you know, a nice little Japanese garden and just being quiet so that those are my recommendations. Those two candle companies Marcia.

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S1: What are you loving right now?

S2: I 10 out of 10 recommend being Michael’s parents. And if you don’t have the opportunity to, that’s fine. The one thing I will say, but seriously, I recommend taking a look at the children’s section of your bookstore. If you have not been purchasing children’s books in a while, they’re not terrible anymore. They’re like, they’re not all racist and like, have strange gender stuff. They’re so lovely. And our friends were very, very kind in sending Michael books when he first came to us. And you know, there’s books like Julián as a Mermaid about a little boy who wants to be a Mermaid, and everyone doesn’t have to be awful about it. They’re books about feeling your feelings. There’s books about all the ways that families are comprised. And so I just think that everyone has a great opportunity to think about how for generations to come. We don’t have to be as terrible as we are today. So I highly recommend just perusing and really enjoying the excellent new content in children’s books.

S1: Is it the men that Nichole is dating? Is it too late to give them the feeling your feelings, books you feel like other generations could possibly benefit?

S2: If you have dated Nichole, you may be entitled to a free book and an opportunity to do better.

S1: All right, that’s our show this week. The Waves is produced by Shane A. Roth Susan Matthews is our editorial director with June Thomas providing oversight and moral support. If you like the show, please subscribe. Read it. Review it wherever you get your podcasts, and consider supporting it by joining Slate Plus, members get benefits like no ads on your slate, podcasts and bonus content of shows like this one. It’s only one dollar for the first month. To learn more, go to Slate.com. Flash the Waves Plus. And if you have feedback for us or ideas for future topics, you can email us at The Waves at Slate.com. We’ll be back next week. Same time. Same place. Marcia Nichole. It was such a joy to be back

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S2: with you to see so much fun.

S3: I had so much fun. This was great. Thank you.

S1: It’s time for our Slate Plus segment. First of all, thank you for being a Slate Plus member. Very grateful for you this year. And since you’re a member, you’re getting this weekly segment, a revival of the classic question Is it sexist? This week, we will talk about whether gift giving and particularly mandatory gift giving as many of us experience over the holidays. Is that sexist? I’m not going to say any more because they don’t want to reveal my position on this, but Nichole Marcia. Are you feeling about gift giving? Sexist or not?

S3: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think gift giving itself is sexist, but I think when someone constantly turns gives a task to women, of course, that’s when it becomes sexist. I remember when my parents were still together, my dad would just be like, Here’s some money. Can you go and get gifts for everybody like his in his family and his extended family? So, you know, my mom is shopping for our other cousins and aunts and uncles and stuff like that, and it just she had no idea what to get these people because she wasn’t raised with them, you know, she didn’t know what to get them. And so it was all on her. And that has stayed with me since I was a child. This feeling of like, I’m not going to do that. You know, if I had ever gotten married and been in this place where we had to give gifts to everyone. I just remember thinking, I’m never going to do that. Maybe is because I do know, like when you do Secret Santa at work, a lot of the guys would just be like, I’m just going to ask my girlfriend to help me with this. So I’ve I have seen that kind of thing. And then when you look at these gift guides that go out online and you look at the stuff that’s supposed to be for the man in your life and they’re always the same thing, you know, straight whisky stone and make like a tool belt or something, you know, that kind of stuff, a tie and whatever. So I think those things are pretty gender essentialist. Yes. So yes, I’m going to say yes.

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S1: And that thing you said about the office Secret Santa guys asking their girlfriend that sort of triggered a yearly memory for me of my family. On my dad’s side. I have like a million cousins. My dad had 10 siblings and we do a huge Secret Santa. It involves like 40 people, and every time somebody opens a good gift and it’s from a man, you know that that was their Secret Santa. Somebody will be like, Oh, you know, did your wife

S2: check that

S1: out? Or if you know, a man chose a really nice gift for a woman that was like a nice sweater or beautiful candle or something, it would be like, Oh, you’re getting in touch with your feminine side. There’s always some sort of snide comment that either, like, demeans a man for choosing a nice gift or assumes that he didn’t choose it at all. And it feels like something about that process of it’s almost like people think that being thoughtful and knowing what someone would like or taking the time to be kind to someone is not manly or that, you know, there’s something feminine about like caring for somebody and and why I’m happy Marcia. What do you think?

S2: Oh, I hate holiday gifts just because I’m a Grinch. No, you know, I think what I don’t like is the culture of expectation and people overextending themselves financially. That always makes really uncomfortable. And we didn’t really grow up having the financial resources for like Big Christmas gifts and Santa and all that kind of stuff. I will say that, you know, the gift giving stuff kind of falls within the like mental load issues. And I think a lot of heterosexual couples and families where mom and dad, even if they share the work, there is a mental load about worrying about the gifts, making sure the gifts come in and time wrapping the gifts that always kind of bothers me. Interestingly enough, my husband is an excellent gift giver like he is outstanding at gifts. I am very bad at gifts. And so I think what happens often during, you know, conversations about, Oh, what did you guys do for the holidays? I talk about an outstanding gift my husband has come up with and I’m like, Yeah, so I wrapped, you know, like a loaf of bread. But again, then it’s like, Well, your husband’s amazing and you’re probably like a garbage spouse. So I don’t like all of the baggage with it now that we have a child. I really do not want him to be sucked into the Christmas gift giving vortex. I kind of just want to like wrap some of the gifts that people have given to him already and present one gift to him and teach him like a moderate gift kind of culture because he’s already got like he has so much already right. Like the privileges abound that the gift stuff makes me really uncomfortable. I’m sure our listeners will have like, Yeah, that’s do people.

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S1: Have you told people like, don’t get Michael gifts?

S2: No one listens to anything we say. You know, it’s so sweet, right? Like, so a realtor sent him a gift because she’s so sweet. And I think that is fine. But we’re not going to be in a household where Santa delivers Michael 9000 gifts for existing. And I also wanted to say, I just hate that he has to work for them, you know? I mean, I think I think. The gift is being able to share stuff with other people, so when he’s a little older, like we’ll go to target and he picks up gifts for children, and he’s just going to understand that this is a season for sharing our resources, not hoarding them. And then he’ll grow up to be like the worst because this is what I’m trying.

S1: Yeah, I mean, in a perfect world, the idea of gift giving is so wonderful. You know, the idea of of being prompted to think about the people in your life that you love and what would make them happy. That experience does bring me joy, and I think there are few things that have sort of crept into. Obviously, I’m not saying anything new here, but like even just the ordering online, part of gift giving has brought in some new concerns about labor abuses, for instance, that have always been there. Like also, things have been made in sweatshops for forever, even, you know, long before Amazon was making its workers pee in bottles. There is a way that gift giving doesn’t have to be sexist, but I think in order for that to happen, men would have to read some of those books that you were talking about that you’re getting for Michael about, you know, being a good person in the world and being in touch with your emotions, which involves paying attention to the people in your life and what they love and what makes them happy. I’m happy that there are some men who are doing that and hopefully keeping lists in their minds about who needs the gift this Christmas and blah blah blah. But yeah, so I would say moderately sexist gift giving in this world is moderately sexist for old time’s sake. Let’s let’s assign a numerical value to the sexism of gift giving. I’m going to say six point five.

S3: Yeah, I would say six.

S2: I’ll give it a seven. Make it work for us. Okay.

S1: All right. Well, six point five I win. I actually get sexism reading listeners. We love to hear about your gift giving experiences and how sexist or not they are. You can email us at the Waves at Slate.com or.