Dolls and Democrats

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S1: Hello and welcome to outward for the month of October. I’m Christina cutter Ritchie a staff writer at Slate and host of the ways Slate’s podcast about women and gender.

S2: And I am a big juicy ball of adolescent emotion this month because I’ve been listening to the new Tegan and Sara album crying inside.

S3: I’m Brian Lauter editor of outward and I just parallel parked under duress yesterday for the first time in 12 years in New fucking York. Wow. So I need to hold space for that achievement just for a minute here on the podcast snaps for you stops for me. Thank you.

S4: Thank you. Pretty Ricky is what they call me and I’m here. Guest hosting and trying to figure out why people think Lizza is a rapper.

S5: We could do a whole episode of that.

S4: I’m so flummoxed by that. Have people been saying yeah. That she’s categorized as a rapper and I’m like Yeah. Her words rhyme but doesn’t every musician. Yeah. So what. Okay. Huh.

S2: Huh interesting. So listeners you might recognize Ricky from our episode on icons. He came on to talk about drag king wing show production icons of masculinity and the Subversion thereof. And we’re so happy to have him back in the studio today to guest host. We have a really good show planned for today. Plenty of tasty topics on the docket. For one we’re gonna be talking about the LGBTQ townhall that the Democratic presidential candidates participated in.

S5: We’re recording this just mere hours after the town hall wrapped up so we’ll discuss that. We’re also going to talk about the new gender neutral doll for children from Mattel. We’ve got a couple examples of the dolls here in the studio. And we’re going to have fun playing with them. But first Brian take us into our intro segment.

S6: Yeah we have pride and provocations just like every episode. And so I was wondering Ricky if you would like to start us off do you have a pride or provocation this month.

S4: I guess I kind of already did that when I talked about LIZZA But you’re allowed to be provoked multiple times. I am I am provoked by that multiple times. Pride definitely in seeing how much LGBTQ representation we’re starting to see on television right now. The new Batwoman show is coming out starring Ruby Rose who is deaf has definitely become a queer icon. I’m also a big fan of Black Lightning also a superhero show featuring a lesbian a black lesbian superhero. So take that all of you racists out there. She’s black and she can kick your butt. So that’s my pride. Yeah excellent.

S2: I’ve got a provocation this month. So by the time the show airs it’ll be maybe a week or so since this was really a hot topic but a lot of people have been talking about it this month.

S7: So I wanted to address it. Talking about Ellen DeGeneres who was photographed having a little L’Oréal with George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. That’s football for an unaware thing.

S5: Sure yeah. That was for you Brian. She got some criticism for it. So she did a little segment on her show to defend herself because people are like you know hey why are you hanging out with this war criminal and noted homophobe. And she said in her segment I’m friends with George Bush. I try to teach you on this show to be kind to everybody not only the people you agree with. For example I’m friends with people who wear fur. And I don’t agree with wearing fur but we’re still friends. And you know there’s a lot of discussion these days about cancel culture and civility and you know being able to accept people with different perspectives. And I think some people are starting to realize that political positions or even party affiliation aren’t necessarily indicators of benign differences of opinions. You know they carry the weight of lives and livelihoods. They’re flesh and blood their pain. They touch on the deepest questions of morality and decency and when we talk about we’re not talking about kindness and unkindness I think about my little niece who’s 3 who has recently learned the word kind and what it means to be kind. And you know my sister is doing a great job teaching her about how to treat other people. Well we’re not talking about kindness here like the reason why people don’t like George Bush is not because he’s unkind or they’re not being unkind to him when they don’t when they criticize a public figure for giving him her stamp of approval. We’re talking about justice and injustice. It’s not about kids sharing on the playground this is a person with political power wielding that power to harm and vilify and oppress. And then another person Alan with cultural capital using that capital to paint over those injustices that he’s perpetrated. And I think the people who are moved to defend Ellen DeGeneres or George Bush are trying to say like can we get along. There’s all these like you know rifts in the in the political landscape right now. And I wonder what kind of person you have to be. How I wonder how out of touch you have to be from members of your own community or how thoroughly like your own wealth must insulate you from the threat of discrimination in order to enjoy a football game with the man who literally tried to change the U.S. Constitution to explicitly shame you into second class citizenship just to put aside all of the actual war crimes that he committed or or and tried to paper over in his administration. I just wonder. So that’s that’s what I’ve been provoked by this month.

S4: Are we allowed to make commentary on that. First off I want to. Hallelujah. Hands to everything that you just said. This idea that we have to put our humanities aside so that we can so that we can be nice to each other. Racists aren’t necessarily mean toothless. You know suspender wearing dudes in some swamp somewhere right. They can be your neighbor your boss your co-worker. Right. Totally detectable rig. They can be respectable and they can be kind and they can be funny. But that doesn’t mean that I have to to somehow put aside your your racist homophobic viewpoints too. To what. So that we can share coffee. First off I don’t want coffee. There’s plenty of other people to have coffee right. I have other people in my life to have coffee with who don’t think that I’m a second class citizen. So no thank you to that and all the props to you for bringing that up because that has been quite a thing and I think this idea that people can still sit in the middle on things like this makes me angry. Yeah. You are not allowed to be in the middle on this. There is no you know at what point are children in cages kind of okay. Right. Where’s your middle ground on that. There is. There is no middle ground on that. So let’s stop with this. We have to be nice to one another. I can still be nice to you and also tell you that you’re a terrible human being so weird.

S2: Yeah. Brian. How are you feeling this month.

S6: I loved all that so I am feeling pride actually about a TV show as well so on a run Netflix.

S8: I don’t know if y’all watch big mouth at all which is the the masturbation show as well.

S9: It’s a it’s a show about puberty. I know I. Yeah I watched a couple episodes. I think it was like a little bit much for me. It’s a lie. I was a child who was like too prude for rent and Stimpy.

S6: So yeah it’s a lot. It’s definitely so. Yeah fair for our listeners who haven’t seen it necessary. It’s a sort of middle school age characters obviously written with much more adult sensibilities. Cartoon about puberty. There is like a hormone monster for everybody. It’s great. It’s really funny and smart this season which just dropped. I think maybe two or three weeks ago has a lot more queerness in it especially around bi and pan sexuality which has been really exciting. There was there in past seasons there’s been a gay character Matthew and he’s getting getting a little bit more play and this season with a boyfriend and things like that but really the focus is on on the non minus actuals and the school. J is a sales guy who has lots of funny aspects to his character but he is by. And that’s been like a huge and increasingly big focus of the show and how he’s navigating that. And then it all sort of late in the season there’s an episode where a Pan character moves to the school and she’s a girl. And that episode is a lot about how non minor sexuality is treated differently and men and women which is all smartly done. Yeah. And so yeah I just highly recommended it smart it’s very funny and it’s I think it’s a show that really gives the lie to this like dumb comedian discourse right now that says that you know there’s nothing that can be transgressive in comedy anymore. The shows as you pointed out Christine are extremely transgressive in many ways. And that is super smart and I think socially responsible and progressive so I highly recommend the new season of Big Mouth very proud of it. Sounds really good thanks.

S4: I couldn’t watch it. There were too many penises in here for me.

S3: There’s there’s all kinds about it.

S4: Yeah seems like all this but I only saw the first episode where the penises were playing basketball. Yeah it’s like I don’t know. This is a show for me. Yeah. Yeah that’s a little bit much. That’s very fair.

S2: Okay. On that note our first topic for today at the presidential townhall on LGBTQ issues. It aired on CNN on October 10th. It was co organized by the HRC. Bernie Sanders couldn’t make it because of his recent heart attack but all the other usual suspects were there plus a couple unusual suspects like Tom Stier who’s you know billionaire who has now made it to the Democratic debate stage. But his segment aired really late at night and will mostly be talking about the more viable candidates who were up on stage. So the point of this town hall as far as I saw it was not necessarily to show that they were all like on the right side of the issues so to speak. I mean there were a few substantive differences between some of the candidates on sex work on talking about the tax exempt status of religious organizations that discriminate but I’m going to play a little clip from Joe Biden explaining what the actual point of the debate was in his view.

S10: And by the way I suspect that you’re going to hear this is going to be one forum where you’re going to very far very little agreement among the Democratic candidates. I’m proud of the position they all have because every one of us sir if there’s differences they’re just in degree an emotional concern.

S5: So I’m not sure if I would quite explain it that way that it was about degree of emotional concern. But I will say I saw it more as an opportunity for candidates to show how fluent they were. So I watching the town hall it seemed to me like a real collision of timelines like in in the way that you know Joe Biden. To quote him again he’s so quotable. He was like You know you could get married on Saturday and fired on Tuesday. I think that’s an extremely stupid way to talk about the state of LGBTQ rights but it’s not stupid it’s it’s a little bit reductive. But I think it does explain the how a lot of people who aren’t necessarily living LGBTQ lives day to day see things they’re like wow you know look how far the public has come even on acceptance of gay marriage and you know gay marriage the Defense of Marriage Act was still around when the last major forum on LGBTQ rights happened in 2007 where like almost none of the candidates running for president even said gay marriage was a thing that they could support. But then even watching the town hall last night there were some moments that struck me as incredibly not progressive. And it was like they were all coming together in this one space. You know Kamala Harris coming out and saying My pronouns are she her and hers. And then Chris Cuomo coming out and saying mind do like it though it was a moment where I felt like she was in like the most minor way trying to say like I understand the language that you guys use.

S2: And then the moderator treating it as a joke. What do you guys think about the town hall.

S11: That was such a cringe worthy moment. And already like I know that we’re going to probably start talking a little bit about how we feel about the candidates in general as perspective you know front runners.

S4: But this is a problem I have with Kamala Harris. She seems like an aunt who’s out of touch who’s trying to use words to connect with you. She’s like everything’s lit isn’t it. You’re like you’re on to Kamala. It’s very live. And just watching her talk it just it feels like she’s just missing something to connect with an audience.

S11: So so even if she did have good points I was oftentimes just kind of turned off by her presentation on stage in general now as a black woman. I would like to root for the only black woman who is running for president.

S4: But you know we all have issues with her in general but cringe worthy moment for sure but if we talk about how they handled the protesters I would actually say that they did a really good job letting people say the things that they wanted to say.

S12: I am forgetting her name.

S4: She was the one that interacted with Don Lemon Blossom Blossom. And. I thought he did a fairly decent job of letting letting blossom talk. And at one point he too did take the mike from her. But then he gave it back to her. Yeah. So it’s a it’s a hard thing to do especially on the spot live in front of a bunch of people but for the most part I thought they did a fairly decent job letting protesters speak and reiterating the things that they were trying to say. As for the audience that was there and the audience I was watching at home.

S13: Yeah I was I was really impressed by that too. I mean I think we’ve seen protests at other debates and events like this and it’s just the way it was handled here was was by and large like refreshing. So that was that was definitely a positive thing. Amid all the gay bath house cringe moments referencing another one yeah. Yeah.

S2: Before we before we get into that which I think is we should definitely talk about I I will say the the two major moments where protesters sort of came to the front end and everyone had to pause to take in what they were saying and it was you know about black trans people not having a voice at the debate. And I think after blossom spoke and said that there were at least a couple of black trans people who did get to speak. But at the time she was like you know this is anti blackness. You’re only letting you know not black people of color who are trans ask the questions. But I was like exhilarated by those moments. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen at a presidential debate where protesters have stood up to say something and they’ve actually been given the chance to be heard. It felt like a total power shift. And this actually explains kind of how I watched the rest of the debate too. It felt like a shift in power from the usual way that these events are conducted. It speaks to the power that LGBTQ people have demanded for themselves where we were able to have this entire town hall where candidates weren’t just pandering to us but recognizing that that that that we have a lot of things to teach them.

S14: Yeah. To that point I feel like I was most maybe surprised or impressed by Cory Booker on that point.

S15: I was I was not to be you know maybe it is not politics or I’m not like this every day like Christine I might be but I. I hadn’t heard him speak on these issues before. And I found him to be almost maybe beside Warren like the most sort of conversant and comfortable. He felt like if comfort is a as a metric we’re using what I think is a good one. He just like seemed to really get it. And I was I was really won over just by his sort of handling of of the various questions that each candidate got sort of sort of the same questions phrased slightly differently I mean he handled I think all of them pretty well but also his ability to kind of pivot from the direct question and to like larger issues too about health care and about other things like that. It was striking just to see that happen from him. So I really enjoyed that experience for sure.

S7: I want to talk to you guys about this moment that Elizabeth Warren has been getting a lot of praise for. She made a joke sort of mocking homophobes. So someone in the audience asked her what would you say to somebody on the campaign trail who said I’m traditional and because of my faith I think marriage is only between one man and one woman. And she said I’m going to assume it’s a guy or you know for the sake of argument and I would say just marry one woman then and then everyone laughed and clapped and then she goes assuming you can find one. And oh my god did everyone just erupt in praise for her.

S16: I you know I got a chuckle out of it but I actually feel a little bit a little bit uncomfortable with that.

S5: I mean first of all I don’t think that’s true.

S2: Like women marry homophobes all the time and are homophobic and you know you’re like I felt like she was sort of implying that homophobic views are so beyond the pale that somebody will be socially ostracized if they have them which you know Joe Biden said something similar. I just don’t think that’s where America is right now. There are homophobes everywhere. And it felt good in the moment it felt and a lot of the town hall felt like this where there was sort of a looser vibe. I think because LGBTQ people are so much fun the candidates felt like they could joke a little more. There was a little bit. It didn’t feel as sort of stayed as a typical debate. And I don’t know the I just picture a lot of people on the right taking that clip and playing it to people and you know even even some people who are like yes I support gay rights. We’ll look at that and think like how how rude do you have to be to mock a hypothetical constituent. But I guess it just goes to show what what the thing what what the town hall was which is like making statements of values within a community not making persuasive arguments outside of it. How did you guys feel about that moment.

S4: If I came. I actually. I didn’t actually have an issue with what she said. I see your viewpoint one hundred percent but that was a moment that she showed personality that I think a lot of the other candidates struggle with and whether what she said was appropriate or not. It showed off a fiery ness in her that we need right now and we need somebody who is willing to make very you know strong opinionated stances on things and whether her stance is right or wrong. You know we can definitely debate that but that was the moment that I was like Yeah I I messed with Elizabeth Warren. Like she was it it it was the thing that kind of won me over. I was already like leaning towards her. But for me that was the thing that kind of won me over for her. And I get what you’re saying 100 percent the right side. Well 100 percent but regardless of what she said they were going to twist it anyway so might as well have a little bit of fun with it.

S7: I guess it’s also like I’m not an Ellen DeGeneres. I don’t suffer fools.

S4: Yeah and I like that about her and the fact that she stated it so plainly I think was also like the first part of her little quote unquote joke right. The second part. Again we can we can talk about that probably for a few hours but the first part of what she said then just marry one woman for me was like so simplistic and profound like then just marry one woman. Like if that’s what you feel then you do your thing. We’ll do our thing and they don’t have to meet in the middle in any way shape or form what you do doesn’t have to do anything with what I do.

S6: So I think it is sort of a good corrective to this line that Biden was sort of espousing a lot which was like the the people just don’t know. They just Americans just don’t know they don’t understand.

S17: You know like homophobes just need to be like educated which I feel like is a very I mean I hate to say it but just like older person kind of way of thinking about this stuff and like and I agree Ricky that we’re like past that.

S13: Like I want a candidate who is is not fucking around that kind of stuff anymore.

S15: Like we’re about where we don’t need to do that like we’re we’re the time for sort of outreach to those folks. From my point of view it’s sort of over. And so I appreciated it for that. I also think it’s funny but I found that that particular comment from Warren to be the kind of thing that I wish Merapi might have said as a member of the community. And instead I found him completely lacking an emotional connection to this subject matter which continues to be like the bizarre est experience ever to watch like the one gay candidate seemed like. He just wrote a fact sheet about being gay. I don’t know maybe we can dig into them to him a little bit because I think that you know he’s he’s the the the the home team and this and I don’t I don’t feel like he captured my my attention the same way that Warren or Booker.

S2: I want to play a little devil’s advocate here please. I think in the same way that Obama had to tiptoe so softly around the issue of race during his campaign. I think that had Mayor Pete come out with a sassy retort to you know somebody who’s who said that they were opposed to gay marriage. I think that would have been like the ultimate nail in the coffin of his presidential campaign. I I don’t think that I’ve come to appreciate a little bit more I think the fine line that he is trying to walk whether or not that that fine line speaks to me as a queer person is another story. You know like I too would love to see a candidate who was who would engage a little bit more honestly or emotionally or complexly with their you know coming out story for instance. But I I understand why he doesn’t do that. The other thing I really wanted to talk to you guys about was Joseph Biden and what I took to be an incredibly bizarre way of trying to connect with queer people which is by sort of tiptoeing up to the line of pretending he was queer. Yeah you know thank you. Having multiple times during his segment each candidate got half an hour. He at first was reenacting a moment. You know he he made much of this moment in his past where he said he supported gay marriage before Barack Obama did. And then he went to reenact the moment when he told Obama you know I said this thing and then he he goes up to Anderson Cooper he’s like and then Barack gave me a kiss and he sort of put his hand on Anderson Cooper’s shoulder and acted like he was going to give him a kiss. He also you know a good looking man stepped up to the microphone to ask a question and Biden goes wow he looks like you just stepped out of Gentlemen’s Quarterly like which actually GQ doesn’t go by that anymore.

S18: And I think I’ll take a second. I’m like I’m totally I how do they find this publication. Yeah that wasn’t an anachronism.

S5: And then at another point he and he he tried to make this joke one time before but then it really landed up later on in his segment where he was like saying that he came out in support of gay marriage and so he’s like when I came out came out right. Right. And Anderson sort of like Elwell that would that would be news. And then Joe goes over and puts his arm around Anderson and says Yeah I’ve got something to tell you. Like nobody actually thought he was going to come out.

S2: But the fact that he his way of saying you know I’m cool with all this gay stuff was to sort of be like Look I’m so cool with it I’ll almost pretend to do it myself like look I have no prejudice against queer people like I’m not grossed out by the idea of touching another man was seems so off off tone to me like he was making a little bit of a gay joke. Yeah like what isn’t the concept of me Joe Biden coming out as gay. Hilarious. And it it felt like somebody was you know blasted in from another time period. I was going to say it’s very 90s progressive of him isn’t it. Because that’s how.

S4: You would portray yourself as being progressive like 80s and 90s. Right. Like I’m sort of living for I’m like I don’t find other men. GROSS look at this. SOKOL Yeah.

S17: And then also the like when he was telling a story about like I think was his dad for something like sensibly first telling him not to be homophobic or what I write.

S7: His big thing was you know I’ve never been homophobic my in my entire life because my dad wasn’t homophobic.

S17: And he tells a story about like seeing to. And he said this twice. Like a well-dressed gentleman like get out of a car. And his dad I guy says you know they love each other son like you. It’s fine. But just just like using well-dressed both times to lie to like indicate to code gay ness was as they say it is modeled for Gentlemen’s Quarterly as indeed perhaps they came just from a shoot. But it was it was just this like old fashioned way. It’s a well man. It’s not like I’m not like mad about it.

S9: But he did say like limp wristed man. No.

S17: But but but it’s funk it’s like feels just like oh gosh like you know grandpa likes to stop doing it like you can just say man.

S9: Yeah right and right. The next part of story is they kissed each other right. We could have been further than that. RATH Right.

S7: And we have assumed they were well dressed also. I would have loved to hear Pete like say something like hey you know what Joe Biden not all gay men are well dressed.

S4: Like I respectability politics that’s what is about to say is that it’s it’s interesting how you often hear respectability politics when talking about like you know people of color specifically black people and respectability politics there. But it’s interesting to see this kind of creep in with gay people with Jim like. To be honest I didn’t even realize it was a thing like. Like some of the most respectable well-dressed people that I know are gay as so are some of the most slovenly dressed people that I like there is there’s a there’s a gamut there we are. And you know surprise surprise straight people are also like that. And by people and gender nonconforming people so like what is what is this about being well dressed you’re not gonna take me seriously unless I’m wearing a tie.

S2: Yeah yeah. I wish we could talk about this for five more hours but we should probably move on. Listeners please tell us what you thought of this presidential town hall. We would love to hear we thought about it. I’m so glad that we got to watch it. You can email us at outward podcast at Slate dot com All right.

S14: On to the next segment.

S15: Late last month Mattel the famous or infamous toy company behind Barbie introduced a new line of dolls intended to be gender neutral. The first from a major manufacturer called Creative a world. The collection features six dolls of varying skin tones and hair textures in Each kit contains different hairstyles of different links and clothing options that span the additional gender spectrum. The executive behind the product told The New York Times that they are meant to quote celebrate the positive impact of inclusive city.

S13: While a spokesperson for Mattel cautioned that they see them as quote something that’s all about play and not about politics. We’ll see about that. But first we’re joined in the studio by some citizens of the creative a world of resident resident scuse me residents yes of the creative world.

S8: So I thought we should just start with how we are living. Humans feel about these dolls as toys. You’ll have one what what are you thinking about so.

S2: Well I’ve chosen my dolls bottoms. No pun intended. I was trying to figure out here. Ricky why don’t you pick the adults top. So that we can have a truly democratically dressed doll. These dolls are so interesting to me. The first thing that I think is pretty exciting and radical as a former lover of Barbie dolls is that it comes with a wig. As you mentioned. So the doll. It’s hair. Our character shall we name our doll. Ricky.

S19: Yes. What I love about it is that the names on the box is like normally they name their dolls like oh this is the Ken. This is the skipper and these are just like the E D dash one two one.

S9: Yeah. Yeah yeah.

S2: I think that those gender neutral slash interplanetary ID numbers that came with the doll are exciting as is the fact that our doll who I’m going to call what’s a good gender neutral name Brooklyn or Brooklyn like Brooklyn because it’s very it’s very new age right.

S4: We name we need more kids after we’re there can see you. Yeah. People after places and things that they do like Hunter. Yeah. Like when did that become a name.

S7: Why is Fisher not this little Fisher So Fisher has a head that is mostly shaved all around the side. AK. There’s no hair on it except for a couple little would you call them incisions like razor lines in the neck. Yeah. Yeah. And a little like mini afro on the top of their head but then they come with a wig that has very long braids. And I used to spend a long time thinking about cutting my Barbie’s hair and then sometimes actually cutting my Barbie’s hair. I remember trying to give one of my Barbies layers once I learned but liars swear that was a disaster.

S9: So Jennifer Aniston of you. Oh my gosh. 100 percent inspired by Jennifer Aniston.

S2: So I was really excited that this doll would have a wig because I think I in talking to I’ll get into this a little bit more later. But I talked to a person who created the gender neutral emojis and they told me that a lot of times when you’re trying to think about what people code as gender. The only thing they look at you know in a split second is hair length. And so I think that that was a really good way to signal the fact that this doll could be any gender. But the wig that comes with this doll is I thought it might be like elastic or something like that. It No it’s a hard helmet with hair on it. It looks like a bike helmet. And I’ve actually seen people wearing bike helmets like this with like fuzzy little protrusions which I think takes away from the verisimilitude of the long haired version of my doll. Brian what do you think.

S20: Well this is where I confess that I am I think maybe the the rare gay guy that did not ever play with dolls as far as I can remember.

S9: Yeah I like how did you become gay.

S3: I don’t know. Yeah. I didn’t have you know whatever crossed gender like toy playing. So that’s there’s no reason for me to be gay. No. I don’t know why. I guess I remember playing just with like blocks and stuff. I think I was whatever it is that this is not about me. This is about the doll. The doll is fun. I’ve never played with one so this is so exciting.

S9: Like you’ve never even held a doll like I’m sure I’ve held one but I’ve not.

S13: Not like in any intentional way. No not that I maybe my my like Mom can comment on this but I don’t think so.

S6: I’ve chosen to dress as a mine has I don’t know what an intergalactic number they are. But mine has sort of a side shave like pompadour thing.

S5: That’s very like queer no matter the gender.

S6: Yeah yeah. No it’s totally that. And then I chose to put this very like Texas like like church lady wig on big hair but blended it with the bangs of like the the the other piece that’s under it and then gave them a kind of I think like I sort of brunch Look it’s like fashion sweats cameo zip up jacket.

S7: We saw a cameo item to our camo pant.

S6: Yeah yeah. Camo jacket and then some like brown boots and a nice like fedora you know cocked to the side. So that sort of look and it’s fun. I like playing with it. I you know I don’t know what it’s teaching me about gender exactly but it is it is fun to put clothes on this small person.

S4: That’s the thing. Like it it just feels like a doll with more accessories to me it doesn’t really feel much more than that to me and I to also never really played with dolls I was an American.

S5: It makes sense why you’re gay. Yeah. Also how. Like little you know assign female people get assigned straightness.

S4: Yes. And I never found them very interesting. I did when I got older I became a big comic book nerd and I was like into like collectible action figures which are not dolls now. Right. Right. They’re serious business. And I was really into stuff like that but like those are the kind of things that you buy and never take out of the package right. Like you’re not you’re not taking them out and using all the accessories with them so it just feels like an overly accessorized toy to me like. I don’t know if there’s I am going to echo what you said. What is it teaching about is it. Is it teaching anything about gender and is that its purpose. Like Mattel seems to think that it’s kind of not like it.

S2: Yeah Mattel but they’ve also been marketing this doll as a way to welcome like gender non binary or gender nonconforming kids into the world of non play. I am a little bit more bullish on this doll I think than you all are. I don’t necessarily see this doll as like foray into our gender neutral or gender queer or gender nonconforming future but I think it’s more of a way to decouple the hyper masculine and hyper feminine characteristics that are normally associated with dolls. So you know our doll. Yeah like I guess you you don’t know what sex or gender the you know Fisher is the the people at Time magazine who got the exclusive on this doll and ran the first big feature on it said it looks like a seven year old child. And I think it’s that says pretty much everything you need to know about the way dolls are normally manufactured where they have like extremely exaggerated secondary sex characteristics. So it’s Barbie with her enormous boobs and her like big eyes and cheekbones. And it’s Ken with his like enormous shoulders and pecs and like a small bulge in his crotch area. And it’s like a it’s almost like America thinks that if a doll can’t fuck it’s not a real doll you know and why she kept playing with it and so it put this doll you know I don’t think there’s anything about Fisher that says child other than the fact that you know they don’t have any of these extremely visible secondary sex characteristics. And so I see this as a meaningful step toward just like mitigating a little bit of the hyper gender ization of existing dolls more so than like a gender querying it’s more like an on gender thing.

S3: No I wanted one question I wanted to just piggyback on that for a second like I wanted to ask you again as a person that hasn’t played with us so I just Kristen Christine is the only person I her dog right Yeah like like I sort of wanted to just like zoom out really far more like what are dolls for like philosophically but I think you’re getting out which is like for kids they’re probably for all kinds of things right they’re probably just for fun for for decoration for you know expression but it seems like when once you become an adult like it’s hard not to look at them as these enforcers or constructors of like gender norms.

S13: Yeah. So in that way I guess you know maybe this is helpful but I don’t know. I don’t have that question is too absurd to ask but I was wondering about it.

S7: No I think that’s exactly the question that this doll demands we ask.

S4: So my wife is she’s a nanny and she has been for a very very long time and she’s been with the same kids for about 10 years. So she’s been with them since they were about six months old. And it’s interesting that you bring up the point about you know what kids see especially a fab kids what they see and how they interpret that and how they play with dolls. So there are two older kids that she has that are 10 and when they play they play like traditional house right. So one of you has to be the husband and one of you has to be the wife until my wife stepped in and was like you can have you can have two wives. And so sometimes depending on what game they’re playing sometimes it’s a husband and wife sometimes it’s a wife and wife. But the youngest one who’s eight has already decided that she is going to be a fabulous woman who has no children and spends all her money. So while the other two are like work like you know these are my babies and what’s your baby’s name. And she’s just very staunchly like I’m not having any babies shaking a martini right. So I think that’s just to illustrate the point that like when kids can see that as an option right. Like I think oftentimes we don’t show kids that that there is an option to be anything other than this caring nurturing you know mother in training right. Like. I can distinctly remember that his kids were always given baby dolls right. Those are the things that quote unquote girls want to play with they want to pretend they’re a mom. I never wanted to do that. So. I think it’s interesting to have a toy like this that. Kind of bucks that norm of like where we’re training your child either to be the manliest man or the most motherly mother ever and also giving kids the option to have their dolls changed gender expression like like what I was saying before.

S2: I mean the all the clothes that we’ve been given with Fisher I think tend a little bit more flamboyant. I don’t want to say necessarily feminine but definitely not like hyper masculine. Even the camouflage pants are. Let me touch them. Are like you know skinny pants like yeah.

S9: HILLARD know I’m a fan of this varsity jacket I really like mother and I get this in my size with me now.

S2: But even the idea that a single person can change gender expression can look different depending on how their hair is that day. I think that is is a good way to teach kids that even even one person you know doesn’t have necessarily a stagnant gender expression or even just way of being in the world or maybe making people more comfortable with the fact that people can look one way one day and in another way the next day without you having to make commentary right.

S4: And I think black women are especially familiar with this within corporate America. You know you get your hair done one day and you come in and everybody’s like oh my goodness what did you do. None of your business. I just it’s the same as just putting on a different you know outfit the next day. Why why does this have to be commentary. So I think that’s also something that shouldn’t be missed is is this idea that we can change ourselves quickly like that and it doesn’t change who we are as individuals. It’s just the thing that we that we wear and what we feel that particular day.

S20: Well it sounds like from everything that said that we all want to move to the creative world. No I think I was I was prepared to like not be impressed by this but I think I think they’re great. I think I think do we all recommend buying them for you know the the the kids in our lives.

S2: I think so. Yeah it’s there 30 dollars which I think is a pretty good deal considering all of the clothing options that you get with the doll. And yeah I mean certainly better than most of the other dolls out there.

S4: The more hyper sexualized ones there are some super lesbians issues though in here like yes like a pair of slip on vans.

S9: Yeah. These are pattern so seek out the kit with the super lesbian shoes and yeah enjoy.

S2: All right. Now it’s time for our gay agenda. Brian what do we want to send our listeners off with.

S14: So I just was in Houston Texas for the first time and I want to call out a specific place there but also a general thing that happens many places that happen there. So there’s a bar called Michael’s outpost great bar name. It’s great. You’ve seen them.

S13: Yeah. And it is like a bar that is in is kind of a strip mall like between like a Thai restaurant and like a laundromat. Like that kind of thing. And it’s a old old school like piano gay bar which I think we need to appreciate while we have them around so because they probably won’t be for too much longer. But it’s it’s it’s like you know red curtains and little lights on the tables and like that kind of thing. But the night that I happened to visit was a drag show called carbonate cabaret. Amazing name hosted by violets are blue. Think about that drag them for just a second. And how great it is and what I liked about visiting this bar and seeing this particular show was that it was it reminded me that there are many different kinds of drag performance that are different from anything about cleaning in particular here that are different from the performance on like Raphael’s dry grass which is like death drop you know a complex look like super super loud kind of drag this drag was much like moral fashion. The music was actually from all before the 1950s that they chose to do so sort of like American Standard performances and just like little slip dresses like like just like a quieter kind of drag and it kind of that is a style that I appreciate where people the queen instead of not dancing so much just sort of walks around the room collecting taps instead of you know performing too overtly. It was just really refreshing to see a different style and again like an older style of drag put on here and surviving and this and this little gay bar so I just wanted to recommend Michael’s outpost in Houston and you know check out different kinds of drag and wherever city you have.

S7: That sounds lovely.

S4: RICKY What do you have for us. Am I allowed to like repeat something that I said earlier. Because I really would love for people to tune into some of these shows that are that have complex gay characters on them and I highly recommend if you like superior shows black lightning is available on Netflix right now and I think they’re either two or three seasons on there. It’s it’s a very it’s a family of black superhero. So when I’m gonna recommend that anyway but also like one of the main characters is gay and it’s not like a storyline right. It’s just who the character is. And I I love seeing that on television where it’s not you’re not an accessory to to another cast member or you know your story is not important to tell until that one episode every season where we suddenly are talking about gay issues. It’s very fresh and refreshing to see that in a show that a type of show that that typically is very very gendered and very like very heterosexual. And you know when they do have gay characters it’s it’s a little bit more overt and tends to be some sort of like I said an accessory for the rest of the show. So check it out. Black Lightning. I love it. And also she’s a lesbian and she really hot is a cartoon or a live act.

S7: It’s live action.

S4: Yeah. I can’t remember the actress’s name who plays her but it’s a it’s a it’s a little cheesy every superhero show is a little cheesy you can’t help it. What you put on an outfit like that there’s not a way to to avoid that but yeah. And then also like again Batwoman is coming out with a Ruby Rose So support our support our queer characters on television and the world saving the world. Yes.

S2: My gay agenda item is a piece in The New Inquiry titled On hetero pessimism it’s by an author named Indiana Saracen and it The piece gives a name to something that I’ve thought about a lot over the past year or two. And I think I actually mentioned it on the last episode this sort of trend of straight people specifically straight women sort of lamenting the fact that they’re straight or talking about heterosexuality as a prison trying to performative Ali reject straight culture while still living as a straight person. So this I thought was a really interesting piece and it explored a lot of different aspects of that phenomenon and and effects of that phenomenon and sort of underpinnings of it. The author likens it to white people sharing stuff white people like means while trying to sort of redeem themselves from whiteness or from heterosexuality by these distancing mechanisms and yeah i it’s. There’s a lot of ways this sort of pops up in contemporary culture. There was that responses to the straight pride parade. Even the author even talks about in cell culture. You know. And you know these quote unquote involuntary celibate men who are saying that heterosexual culture is denying them the sex that they deserve and sort of hating women while also wanting to be with or have sex with women. Ricky you look so disturbed right now. Yeah it’s really fucking disturbing. But in general it limits the problem of you know heterosexuality to men you know and not even broadening it out to the idea of misogyny or you know hetero sexism or homophobia or anything you know not institutions that incentivize exploitation or cover up sexual abuse just the plain fact of heterosexuality it limits the sort of problems that people are trying to get at. When they say like Oh screw Man I hate men like actually I still love men. There’s a lot more to the essay than I can explain here. And I highly recommend reading it. I’m still thinking about it. It’s called on hetero pessimism by Indiana.

S14: Saracen sounds fantastic. I think that’s about it for this month.

S15: Please send us your feedback and topic ideas to our podcast at Slate dot com or via Facebook Twitter at Slate outward. A huge thank you to Ricky for joining us.

S4: So fun. This was awesome thank you so much for having me.

S15: Yeah. Thank you. And thank you to Melissa Kaplan provided production assistance for this episode. Our producer is Daniel Schrader. June Thomas the senior managing producer of site podcasts is aspirational any way you dress her up if you like outward. Please subscribe in your podcasts app tell your friends about it and written review the show so others can find it. We’ll be back in your feeds on November 20th. By Christina. By Bryan.

S21: And by to our little gender neutral friends yes. Fisher Bye bye.

S22: Thanks everybody and stay.