S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. The following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Hello and welcome to the Waves for Thursday, March 26, the Corona Virus Everywhere edition. I’m Christina Carter Rugy, a staff writer at Slate and host of the Slate podcast Outward. I’m Marcia Chatillon, a professor of history at Georgetown University. I’m Nicole Perkins, writer and host of Thursday.
S3: And I’m June Thomas, senior managing producer of Slate Podcasts. It’s so great to hear one’s voices.
S2: We are all recording from our home recording studios a.k.a. I’ve barricaded myself into a corner of my living room with couch cushions. What are you all set-ups?
S4: I’m in my office and my biggest fear is that I’ve excluded my cat from her usual morning space and that she’s going to find some way of exacting her revenge.
S5: I am in my bedroom kind of on the floor, using my night table in bed as a multi-layer desk for right now.
S2: So innovative.
S6: Marsha, what’s your setup?
S7: We have a guest room, which I’m so grateful for, and I have a white noise machine outside the guest room because I’m done recording. My husband will do therapy clients remotely. And so we use a white noise machine to preserve confidentiality in this household.
S8: That’s a smart, nice. Everyone get one before we get into this week’s topics.
S6: I want to share a bit of feedback that we got from a listener. We got a lot of emails from folks about our segment on Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. So one person who wrote in is a Warren voter. She said, I consider myself a high information voter. I knew Sanders would readily win Colorado, where I vote. As such, I wanted it on record that Warren’s point of view had support. So I voted for her, knowing she’d lose the state. If I had thought Biden had a chance, maybe I would have voted for Sanders because I do align myself more with his policies. But a big part of why was supporting Warren is that I had way more faith in her ability to get things done. A big part of this faith stems from her ability to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in place with little support seemingly from anyone in government, including the Democrats. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, hadn’t really spearheaded any major bill in his 13 years in the Senate. So this person is trying to present an alternative explanation for the Warren to Biden voter, she says. Clearly, their reasons are mixed. Maybe this is one of them that some people who supported Warren and are now supporting Biden are making decisions based not solely on policy, but by their competence of their candidate’s ability to get things done in the executive branch. So thank you so much for that perspective and I appreciate everybody who wrote in. I haven’t responded to everybody yet, but I will get to your emails. I have read all of them. So we’ve all social distanced from each other responsibly. And we’re going to start off this week’s episode with a check in about the coronavirus. This might become a new normal for us, depending on how this pandemic plays out. Just because this really is the story in the news that is developing quickly by the day and it kind of drowns out all other stories, both in the news and in our own lives. For most of us, it’s kind of upended our work lives, our home lives, our social lives. So we’re gonna talk about that. Then we’re going to review the new TV adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere. The 2017 novel by Celeste Eng, the TV show stars Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. And our last topic is a doozy of an article from The New York Times magazine about two women, a married couple in academia, who found themselves the targets of bogus sexual harassment allegations, and they discovered the culprit who had very specific motivations. All right. Our first topic of the week, the month our lives is the coronavirus June. How have you been doing?
S4: I’ve been doing, actually, I think as well as anyone can do. Oh, good. I don’t have kids. I’m a hermit by nature. But I know that I’m unusually fortunate in that regard. As listeners may have noticed, our universal definition of normal has completely transformed in the last couple of weeks. Those of us who still have work, those of us who work office jobs at least are now working from home, often with our kids or partners or roommates alongside us. This is one of the great periods of readjustment in our life. I hope I hope there won’t be bigger ones. Christina, you wrote a great piece for Slate about the kind of the etiquette of working from home when you share your space with your partner and how you really get to see a whole new side of them. Arshad talked about this. Alongside her husband and I really loved that piece because I think the one part of this whole experience, I have to say I’m not really into reading, I’m not really into like sinking into television. There’s been a lot of talk of comfort television that’s not really appealed to me. I guess I have a little bit of an attention problem outside of where I can actually focus on work just fine.
S9: I can craft just fine, but I’m not reading or really watching TV. But I’ve been very aware that there will be so many bad poems, so many mediocre novels that come out of this experience because it’s so weird and so different. Like you don’t have to be particularly sensitive to confront all the changes that are being forced into your awareness. And I think that the closeness with which many of us are now living with other people kind of 24/7 is just really come home. And as somebody who is doing that with my partner, your piece really resonated with me. We had done it before because I was freelance for six years. She also worked from home and we also don’t go out much. So we had been constant companions before. But in this weird time where everybody’s been very sensitive, everybody’s, you know, checking in. And it does feel slightly different. And where everybody everybody has got to work. If you’ve got work and you’ve got somebody in your space, you’re working from home. Yeah. This kind of strange.
S10: And when you never have any opportunity, just sort of go off and have your own life. Yeah. You know, our lives are, for the most part, hemmed in in our tiny apartment that has a bedroom and a living area. And, you know, we try not to work in our bedroom. Of course, sometimes we do. She’s working in our bedroom right now, so I can record this podcast. Ditto. We’re both just working out in the same room every day. And I had a tweet about it. I just sort of tweeted a joke like, oh, we’ve already had a conversation about like how not to annoy each other with our heavy breathing noises.
S11: And some people responded to me, just a couple of people who were like, don’t you love the person you married? Like, yes, I love the person I married. Thanks for checking.
S12: However, it’s not normal for us to literally be in the same room 24 hours a day in a stressful situation where we’re both trying to get work done. And I think in most cases, my instinct would be, you know, just sort of figure it out as we go along. We’re both courteous people, but that’s not really enough right now because we both feel that we need to come up with some sort of structure to make this new normal sustainable because we don’t know how long we’re gonna have to do this for. So we can’t just sort of say like, oh, you know, if we’re annoyed every now and then with so and so’s conference calls or the music someone’s playing or, you know, if one person feels relegated to the couch while the other person always gets the dining table, like we’ve had to talk about it a lot more pointedly and deliberately, then I think we normally handle our living differences we might have. So yeah, I put out a call on Twitter for advice from people and a lot of people wrote in and I found it soothing to hear from people who had worked with their partners in small spaces for years at a time. And, you know, now we’re kind of getting into a rhythm that works for us. But yeah, it was kind of surprised because we had worked together before, just like a couple days every now and then when it would be really snowy outside or something like that. But things like get some time alone, like go on a walk or even just like read in the bedroom for a little bit just to not feel like your entire life is your partner. Tips like that I found really helpful so far.
S13: How about Unical? What have you been thinking about?
S5: Well, I live alone and I am an introvert. I have been dealing with depression for a very long time. I work from home. I freelance full time. And I work from home outside of the signs that I go into the studio to record the waves. And Thursday, kid and whatever other job related thing pulls me out of the home. So I’m very used to being by myself.
S14: I’m also a middle child, so I’m very used to being able to entertain myself.
S5: So it’s not so bad for me as far as like being alone and enjoying my own company. I love to read and I have a cross-stitch craft that I do so well. You know, I’m not diving into a re-watch of murder, she wrote, or, you know, poro or something like that. I am starting to feel a little restless now because I’ve actually been self isolating a little bit longer than I think most people have in America. It’s going on almost about three weeks for me. So I am reaching the limit of my stay at home. This is not even like I want to have a party or anything, but I would really like go to a restaurant with my girlfriends and. You know, have some wine, a couple of drinks and laugh and be silly and then like, come right back home. You know, like, I don’t need too much crowd or anything. Too much interaction. But it’s just looking at the way people were reacting after like day to me, you know, I was just like, what is wrong with y’all? Like, I really didn’t understand the way people seem to be so uncomfortable with their own company. It seems to become another performance for social media. You know, where people were exaggerating their experiences because now they have Twitter, they have Tick-Tock, they have Instagram. They have Instagram live. And it got to a point where, like someone I was following on Instagram, he kept going live every day. The first week that we were all supposed to be self isolating and he kept going live every day for like a whole workday. And I eventually en followed him because I was like it was just really annoying to me. There is a bit in the movie Friday where Jon Witherspoon’s character is talking to ice cubes, characters, characters, ice cubes, character has come into the kitchen. And John Witherspoon, who plays his father, is in the kitchen. And so he tells Ice Cube, he’s like, how come every time I come in the kitchen, you in the kitchen? And that’s how I felt.
S15: I just felt like everyone everywhere that I went to, which was just Instagram, I saw this person and I was like, I can’t keep seeing this. So I followed them.
S5: So when I see people are like, they have to be on live every day. They have to have somebody looking at them every day. I felt really uncomfortable that just because it’s not what I’m used to. But I also worry what people will do in order to get that social interaction. Like, I feel like some people are just going to do the proverbial yell fire in a movie theater to get attention. And I’m like, that makes me more nervous than anything else. I feel like people are going to go to extremes in order to have some sort of social interaction. And I just wish everybody would kind of do want to say relax. But I wish everybody would not use up all their coping mechanisms so early in the game.
S16: Well, that’s an excellent transition to how I’ve been dealing with this.
S17: I think I feel like in the stages of grief about this whole situation.
S16: So the beginning of this was in the middle of my book tour. So first I was like all gratitude journal about it and thinking, OK, I’m lucky. I have very good friends who have books coming out this week and had books coming out last week. And I said, OK, I got to do so many events. I’m so grateful for that. I had 17 successful book events like, Wow, that’s amazing. And then it was like, oh, wait, let me start canceling things and let me start, you know, dealing with the travel stuff. And then I was like, oh, there was 17 more events that I had in the next few months. And then as a book, I’m just grateful. And then I took out a calculator and started to realize how much money lost in some of these speaking events. And then it’s like, OK, I’m grateful. I have a steady paycheck. I’m fine. And so the first week of this, I was like, wow, this is the break that I’ve always dreamed of. Like, I’m not in a hotel and not on a plane.
S18: I’m just going to really enjoy this. The first week was fantastic. I talked to friends I talked to in a while. I got so much work done.
S8: I love that you’re using your free time for getting work done by me.
S17: That’s like that’s what I’m hardwired for. But then my husband came and he couldn’t use his office and he is now working from home as well.
S16: And a person that happened, it’s like, well, this. And I can’t believe that happening to me. Why does God hate me? No.
S19: I adore her husband and I’m glad that he is home and safe. But it was a very different feeling. And it’s kind of what you talked about, Nicole. Like, I am very extroverted, but I do really appreciate that a long time. And that first week I had it. But now the two of us are in this apartment. And just for a little context, we live on campus at Georgetown as faculty in residence. And so we are in an empty dorm. And it’s not very creepy about it. It feels like the conceit of like a Stephen King novel kind of eeriness of being in this giant building. And there’s only two other people living in it. And the other thing that was just really hard is that I was mostly isolated in the apartment. I wasn’t going out. But like an hour a day, I would go and take a walk. And it was really hard because when they made the announcement that students had to move out of the dorms, I was just seeing all these students crying and like trying to say goodbye to their friends and their parents, trying to pack them up.
S20: And it’s so rushed. And that deadline to get out of the dorms kept on moving up because there was more concern. And so that actually kept me in my apartment as well as the kind of. General fear, of course, it was just the sadness that had engulfed. And what’s really hard when you live on a college campus is that you kind of set your clock to the rhythm of an academic year and to see how beautiful campus looks with gardening and the flowers and all the stuff to get ready for graduation.
S7: And it’s essentially m._d has been like a lot said this week, I have a feeling anything but kind of sadness just for all that.
S21: And I think as more people are reporting that they have the virus and you’re getting more news of the deaths. Yeah. That initial feeling like, okay, maybe this is just like a little break away from time. I think the seriousness and the realness of the implications of what this break means have finally gotten to me.
S5: I wanted to go back to events being canceled. I’ve lost about three months worth of events. So, again, as a freelancer, that makes me nervous. But I’m also a little used to having a precarious income. Sometimes I worry that I’m a little broken, that, you know, I’m not reacting in the same way that I see other people reacting about their job loss and things like that. Even though I’m definitely nervous about I’m definitely anxious about it. And the more that we stay inside. And I think about what’s going to happen once. Thursday, Kate goes on a brief hiatus before we come back. You know, things like that definitely bother me. It is very frustrating. And, you know, I’m the only single person here on the wave. And right as this started to escalate, I deleted my dating apps because I was like, I do not want to see what men are going to be doing. You know, in response to this and I’ve been following this woman on Instagram, her handle is vile. It’s Claire C.l.A. I are. And she has been receiving submissions for people who are dating. And, you know, people are just like, hey, do you want to come over and quarantine with me?
S2: And, you know, it’s just like. GROSS. That’s not what quarantine means, right?
S14: And also, just like, you know, everybody definitely still has their physical needs right now. And, you know, some people react differently. Sometimes your libido completely die. Sometimes it heightens, whatever. That’s fine. But the way a lot of these subset men are responding, it’s very selfish when the women are like, hey, we’re supposed to be self isolating are you know, it’s a little dangerous for us to be hooking up. I’m not about to hook up with a stranger in the middle of a pandemic. Most of these men, according to things that people are sharing on social media, are just being like, well, I can’t believe you’re letting fear get to you. I can’t believe you’re being a POC. I can’t believe you just, you know, like being really aggressive. And, you know, a lot of women are responding like, I’m not concerned about you getting your dicks up. Right now, I’m trying to stay healthy. And these men are just like, well, sorry for you. It gives you a really clear look into people’s psyche. I think, you know, just figure out what’s most important to them. And, you know, I understand panic, sex, hey, do what you gotta do.
S8: But I think you’ve actually never heard that phrase before. Panic, sex. Oh, yeah. One for me. Happy to learn a new genre of sex.
S22: I think, you know, if people were more empathetic about their approach, maybe they would be more successful. Maybe people would be more willing to like step outside of the roles of self-isolation in order to get some. But anyway, it’s just been interesting. And I you know, of course, I’m a human being and I want this to be over with soon. But right now, I’m not reacting in the way that I think I should be. So I’m a little worried about that.
S9: I think that one thing that a lot of people at Slate have said is that different things have hit us all at different times. I mean, I think people with kids I mean, Moment Out of Fighting Slate’s parenting podcast has covered this extensively. But, you know, basically all parents are home schoolers know it’s been so completely disruptive. Those of us who don’t have kids, we’re living such a different life.
S4: I actually really do feel like there’s certain things about my situation. No. That are more fun than they were before. That is such a minority opinion. And I’m almost embarrassed to say what I. Like I can get my work done better when I finish work. I can just go and do my fun things like the parts of life that I don’t really enjoy. I don’t really have to do anymore. You know, Dan Kois wrote a piece in Slate a little while ago. I think it was called America is a Sham. And it was more about like the really serious things that were relaxing that, you know, maybe we should never do, you know, like maybe we should never have cash bail. Maybe we should just have sick pay for people. Bigger things that are not just about my personal enjoyment of my situation. I will say that one thing that has started to creep into my consciousness that I kind of feel bad about because I don’t want to confront it, although it’s very much still a very privileged discussion that I’m having with myself. But I am kind of wondering why am I in New York? Like, why am I paying you? Prices things up when there’s nothing to. I can’t go to these wonderful, you know, amenities that we have. I can’t go to Broadway. I can’t go to you know, there are many advantages to living in a big city, especially New York, L.A., D.C. Maybe if you’re a journalist, especially if you’re kind of a you know, a culture journalist, stahp doing the kind of journalism that benefits from actually having face to face meetings with people. Right. No, those meetings aren’t happening. And yet I’m paying, you know, five times at least what I could be paying if I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And if we’re all just inside our apartments, what does it matter where we are? We have.
S10: I mean, you’re definitely right. But hopefully at some point these books will reopen.
S6: So the sort of like down swing of my Corona virus emotional cycle has been tracked with Donald Trump’s appearances and statements, because the human aspect of this, you know, thinking about all of the people who are losing loved ones who have to mourn them without giving them a proper funeral, who aren’t able to visit them in hospitals like that, kind of sadness and grief I can deal with.
S10: And right now, it hasn’t affected me personally, but like the general sadness and grief that I feel for what other people are going through. Yeah, I can deal with it’s the anger that has really been difficult for me to deal with. And I get angry when I see what Donald Trump is saying and doing about this when he just this morning took the opportunity to insult Mitt Romney on Twitter because Mitt Romney tested negative for coronavirus. You know, he thought he had been exposed. My brain is responding to very strange things right now. Like I didn’t expect it to be so angry that Donald Trump tweeted. Mitt Romney, I’m so glad he tested negative, even though he’s a terrible senator, was a bad presidential candidate.
S13: And this that and the other thing and just the fact that in this moment of uncertainty, fear, loss, suffering, we have a president who is promoting medication that already one person has overdosed on and died because he took taking the moment to insults people and reporters.
S10: There was that one reporter who asked him, what do you say to Americans who are scared right now? And Trump said, I would say you’re a shitty reporter. I mean, the fact that we can’t even look to some sort of authority figure who if even amid all this lost, we can think, oh, at least there’s somebody in charge doing things. Instead, there’s somebody who’s preoccupied with his own ego and his own personal vendettas. That is what really has taken me to my lowest points in this moment.
S8: And the fact that now his approval rating is higher than ever, 60 percent of Americans approve of what he’s doing.
S10: And I just get in this cycle where I can’t ever imagine our way out of this.
S23: Yeah, I’ve been really concerned about what’s going to happen with the election because it seems like the Democratic candidates that we have left maybe are not as viable an option anymore.
S24: And I am concerned what that means for the election in November.
S9: Yeah, same big Sam.
S13: Why don’t we end this segment on a happier note? Do you guys have any tips for how to get through isolation and how to stay, if not positive, at least sane during this time?
S4: I will just share one tip that I think also came up in your piece about working very, very closely with your partner, which is to just be like super communicative about things that you would never talk about with a romantic partner like your work schedule start the day by going through when you’re going to be on zoo meetings and when you’re going to be making a noise so that you can make accommodations for each other. We have a signal when my partner wants to like do deep work and be able to concentrate. She’ll just put something on my desk so that I see that if I have some dumb question or I just want to make a silly joke, now is not the moment. Just so that we can at least have that possibility of concentration. Just silly things like that. You are in that situation can really make things go smoother. What does she put on your desk? It’s just a bookmark.
S10: That’s a great idea. That reminds me of one of those restaurants where you like put a little flag up when you have the server to come over down. Marcia, what would you recommend?
S16: I would recommend that when you start feeling really anxious about everything that’s happening, go through your phone and text someone you haven’t talked to in a while and send them a heart emoji helped me.
S10: I’m going to recommend riding a bike for people who are able to ride bikes. And if you don’t have a bike, honestly, you could probably get one pretty cheap right now on Facebook. Marketplace or Craigslist? This is a little bit of a tangent, but I did a contact lists Facebook Marketplace Exchange the other day, I had a bookcase that I had been trying to get rid of from before quarantine. And this woman was like, can I get it from you without interacting with you? So I put it outside like, salt it. And she showed up. We stayed like 10 feet apart. Venmo, me. And she took it away. You could do the same with a bike if you don’t have a bike. But the most normal I have felt this is also because I commute on my bike every day and now I don’t have a commute, has been riding my bike because I’m outside and I can get places faster than walking. So even when I go on my daily walk, it’s only around the blocks around my neighborhood. So I just feel like my prison cell has expanded a little bit. But when I’m on my bike, I can go down to like a park in D.C. that is a lot of long straightaways.
S8: I can feel wind on my face. The pollen can coat me and I can feel allergies again, which is a strange comfort during this time to remember that, you know, plants are still happening.
S13: And I think it’s a great way to get endorphins to which I badly need at this moment. Nicole, what’s your tip?
S22: I was suggest that people download this music app called radio. It’s got like one, two, three, four, five O’s at the end.
S5: And you can find any like decade, any year for any part of the world. And so if you’re looking for 1940s jazz that was popular in Paris, France, at the time, you can set your little configurations for that. So, hell, yeah. So I would suggest using that to maybe find the music of your childhood, the music of your adolescence, and just go for nostalgia to a time that feels good for you and listen to some music either as you’re working or just give yourself a little dance break or just like an hour just to kind of sit still and listen to music or read or whatever. Use this app radio and set it to a time period that makes you feel good and listen to that for a little bit and just kind of give yourself a break.
S6: So, listen, that sounds great. Listeners, we’d love to hear how you’re dealing with the new strictures on your lives. The self-isolation, the pandemic, or if you still have to go to work, if you’re a health care practitioner or something. We’d love to hear how you’re dealing with this. You can e-mail us at the waves at Slate.com and let us know what you’d like to hear from us in this moment. I think we’ll be rethinking this with every episode. All right. Our next topic, little fires everywhere. It’s a new Hulu show based on the 2017 novel by C-list Eng Nicole. Tell us about it.
S25: It stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, both of whom are producers as well. Reese plays Elaina Richardson, who is a married mother of four super suburban wife. She has a part time job at a newspaper that she is very proud of. She loves it. And Kerry Washington plays Mia, who is a mixed media artist. Mia has a teenage daughter named Pearl.
S24: And they have been, you know, living a very migrants’ life. They have a, you know, very old Chevette, a car that they practically live out of. And so Olina sees Mia and Pearl living in the car. And, you know, it touches her in whatever way that she wants to help them. And she feels very connected to them somehow. And so this is all about their relationships together and their connection and what it means. And it really it kind of boils down to Alina wanting to help Mia in order to feel good about helping someone like she says at one point, you know, I want to feel good about it.
S22: But Mia is very wary because Alina is trying to help her, comes off very much as like a white savior, benevolent white lady kind of thing. And so we see a lot of their children interacting and trying to figure out their place in the world and that kind of thing. You know, Mia at first doesn’t really want to be a part of Elaina’s life, but she sees that Pearl needs some stability. So she stays she becomes a, quote unquote, house manager for them, which is a nice way of saying maid. And then we kind of go from there. And Mia, because she’s so much of an outsider herself, because she has been running from her past. She kind of gravitates towards other people who are dealing with some troubles. So she has a coworker at the Chinese restaurant, Beeby, that she gravitates towards. She sees Bebe working through something terrible. She gravitates towards Elaina’s youngest child, Izzy, who is dealing with a lot of teenage angst and being like the black sheep of the family. She is the only one who is kind of like, you know, we have all this white privilege and we’re terrible with it. And it’s just, you know, she’s constantly pushing back against her mother and the expectations that Elaina has on her children. And so everyone has all these different secrets and, you know, all these undercurrents in their lives. And I found this show takes us so far more seriously than it needs to. It was very hard for me to get into it. I’ve barely finished the three episodes that are currently available on Hulu. Maybe it’s just at the wrong time. You know, as we’re dealing with everything, everything just seems so fraught. And I did not think it was necessary. It’s supposed to take place in the late 90s. It doesn’t really look like the late 90s with the exception of the communication devices. Like every now and then you’ll see a corded phone. Right. Or you’ll, you know, you’ll see a telephone, a car, telephone or something. Our fax machine and that kind of thing. But every high waisted jeans. Yeah. But everyone just kind of looks like present day. The language is very present day, which is another concern that I have.
S10: Do you have any examples of that? Because I agree with you, but I’m having trouble explaining it to myself almost why it felt that way at one point.
S16: They’re making fun of the kid and they said he makes dad jokes. I don’t know.
S18: Yeah, I don’t think tempter said dad jokes back then because that is right in the wheelhouse of when I was in high school and people didn’t say that. Yeah.
S24: And there is a teen age, the oldest daughter, l.a.’s oldest daughter. I forget her name. I’m sexy. Lexie. OK. Alina’s oldest daughter, LEXI, is dating a black guy and he has this very tall, high top fade that looks like kid from kid and play group. And that is not how black boys were wearing their hair in 1998 at that point. That style was going out your style. It wasn’t really a part of the culture at that point. So things like that, you know, kind of throw me off. You know, I tried to give it a little bit of a benefit of the dogs. I’m like, OK, this is Shaker Heights, Ohio.
S22: So maybe they’re a little behind the times when it comes to those kinds of things. You know, this is not like a coastal town where you get everything, you know, fairly critical.
S16: Are you suggesting something about the Midwest?
S14: You know, I’m from Nashville, so we didn’t get those things like those trendy things right on time either. We were very much behind the times as well.
S22: So that’s why I’m like, OK, maybe the show I just think is just much too serious for me right now. I haven’t read the book. I own the book and I haven’t read it. And it’s not making me want to reach out to the book because I feel like it’s a little heavy handed and overly wrought.
S9: I read the book. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t remember it after the point. Like, you know, my partner was asking me, well, what’s it about? And all I could remember was Shaker Heights. The events of the book didn’t stick with me. My experience of the show was different from my experience in the book. Like I was really into the book. I was not really into the show. I too had to kind of force myself. I mean, not because it was painful or anything. It just like wasn’t that fun. My kind of take was that this was one of those examples of something that was a good property that would have made a good movie, but that was too stretched out to be even an eight episode show.
S10: Yeah. I’ll say I also read the book and really liked the book. And in fact, we interviewed the authors listing for the waves at the Miami Book Fair in 2018. You can find that episode wherever you get your podcasts.
S13: I really enjoyed talking to Celeste about it, particularly about the themes of motherhood in the book, which, you know, there are many about. You know what makes a good mother? What’s it like to parent in an interracial adoption? What role does class and race play in raising a child and and how mothers interact with each other and in how children evaluate their own childhoods? But the show and if you didn’t read the book, you wouldn’t know this added to other sort of aspects of identity to the story in the book. Kerry Washington’s character, Mia Warren. Her race is never mentioned. And so listing has said, you know, I sort of imagined her as like a working class white woman. I I kind of wanted her to be a woman of color. But I thought the plot line with the Chinese immigrant, it would’ve been a little too neat if I had written her as an Asian-American woman and I didn’t feel like I could credibly write her as a black or Latino woman in this TV show. She’s black. And that really colors every episode of the show. To its credit, it wasn’t just like, let’s put a black woman in this role and then kind of not change the story about it. Like I think they did a good job making sure that it actually mattered. And there’s a new storyline about queer sexuality, too, which was not in the book. So I think that’s part of what made it to me feel a little heavy handed with all of the identity issues where every single episode felt like every possible like homophobic, racist, sexist thing was happening at once. And I. Felt like there was a little bit less room to think about the other themes that I really enjoyed thinking about in the book. I don’t know. I I did watch I had the screeners and I watched all the episodes available and I found myself going through them in part because I didn’t remember the book like you do. And I don’t know why I couldn’t remember, like how it ended. I still found it enjoyable to watch, in part because I love Carrie Washington so much. And it was just really fun to watch her in this role of like a woman whose motivations I don’t always understand. And that’s kind of the driving theme of the story is how hard it can be to understand another person’s motivations and reasoning and that you can never truly put yourself in another person’s shoes. But at some point, you have to trust that they’re doing what’s best for them. Mm hmm.
S7: This is interesting. So I don’t know how much of my feelings about this is shaped by global pandemic because I do it all in a day. Instead, I watch all seven episodes and then I was upset that we didn’t get the last one. And I don’t know if I watch because I enjoyed it or because I felt like so depressed that I was just like, well, I’m going to commit to something.
S17: But all that being said, I usually hate everything and I really hate this, but I didn’t entirely like it either. The two things I appreciated, I thought the young actors were really good. They played teenagers. Well, I have to say that I didn’t read the book, but then I went back and learned about the differences that they made for the series.
S26: I think the thing that they did really well is writing white liberals. I thought the writing of white liberals was really excellent because if you know anything about Shaker Heights, Ohio, and because it was a planned community and because it was a community that was lauded in the 80s for having a commitment to racial integration in their schools, and then later people became more critical of some of the ways that race and education were yielding inequality in those very schools.
S27: If you’re from the Midwest, like when you hear people talk about being from Shaker as a point of pride, because it was supposed to be different than other parts of the country where these suburbanization lines and race lines often led to kind of more segregation. And so there’s these cities that people are really kind of fixated on them in this really kind of flat way that I did appreciate that they wrote about the ways that not only the parents talked about race, but the kids as well. And I felt like that rang really true for someone who was in high school in 1997, who went to high school with a lot of privileged white people and interacted with their families. I felt like they did that extremely well. The problem is, is when they try to move away from the subtlety and do big is, I think, where the series collapses. I am not a Kerry Washington fan. I just do not enjoy watching her. And I felt like the episodes that had less of her were better than the episodes that had more of her. Wow.
S18: I think she can’t do range very well.
S7: You know, it was like, why is Olivia Pope life-like fighting?
S24: Okay, so here’s the thing with that. I said I was not going to talk about this on the show.
S28: My son of a friend of mine told me, you know, we were talking about Kerry Washington in Scandal Langstaff, and she was like, the scandal ruined Kerry Washington as an actor. Oh, that’s interesting.
S22: Yeah. So watching little fires everywhere, I went back inside looking at clips of Kerry’s performances before scandal and she did not do that. Very intense grimace acting that really matter. I Twitter is a little and the moliere’s where she was just like sneering at everything. So she did not do that before scandal. And now, huh? It seems like maybe she’s stuck in that scandal direction, which is no shame. The Shantha Land and all those lovely directors and all that kind of stuff.
S28: But I think that maybe the problem with Kerry’s performance in little fires everywhere. So I just wanted to possibly throw that out there.
S22: Maybe, you know, that’s an assignment other people can look at. I go back to her performances before scandal.
S10: That is really interesting. And that sort of face you’re talking about is so recognizable to me. And I think maybe that is one reason why I really liked her performance in this, because I found comfort in it, because I did watch all of scandal and loved it. At one point, there’s a younger actress who plays her in flashbacks and she she doesn’t say that.
S8: And I like how it’s become such a hallmark of Kerry Washington’s performance that even the person playing younger, Kerry Washington, has mastered it.
S13: I want to talk about the ideas of motherhood and especially biological motherhood in this, because the sort of climax. The series comes when this Chinese immigrant, Bebe Chow, is trying to reclaim the daughter who she had left at a fire station in a moment of desperation. And there’s the white lady who’s a white couple. I mean, the father figures in all of the families here don’t really play a large role. But so the white couple, but mostly the white lady who is trying to adopt the baby and who has been caring for the baby for several months goes up against Bebe Chao in court. And there’s something that made me a little bit uncomfortable with the way they talked about what makes a mother, because I think the way the story is written, I felt very torn when I was reading the book about whose side I wanted to take. I think in the show it’s very clear that you’re supposed to empathize with Bebe Chao because Reese Witherspoon’s character is so terrible. I thought Reese Witherspoon was the worst actor in this situation. Unlike you, Marcia, and I didn’t like her in the morning show either. And so now I’m wondering if maybe I’m just not a Reese Witherspoon fan, but I felt like it was portrayed as a little bit more cut and dry.
S11: And there were a lot of moments of like, well, but Bebe, this child’s mother. It’s like she’s her actual real mother.
S13: And I felt the same way with The Handmaid’s Tale, too. And that’s obviously very different because, you know, people’s babies are being taken away by the government. But it’s this idea that there’s something magical and special about the actual carrying of a pregnancy and physically giving birth. That that makes somebody who’s true, mother. And I appreciated that this story forces the audience to consider, you know, what children need from a family and the challenges of interracial adoption from an adoptee’s perspective and you know, is the best family for a child, the one with the money or the one with a poor single parent who shares the race of the baby. I don’t usually think the government should be in the business of taking people’s children away. And I know that there are situations where conditions of poverty are mistaken for abuse. And that’s a value system and a system that’s biased against, you know, families in poverty and parents of color. But in this case, she did give the baby up. The what kind of parental mistake? Can you forgive? You know, is that the kind where your child gets frostbite because you left them outside a fire station in the snow? I appreciated that. The show made me sort of uncomfortable with my own judgments that I was making. But I also wish that it left a little bit more room for that nuance where I think the, you know, adoptive family was being demonized as like not the actual parents of the child.
S4: Know, it’s funny, as an only child, I very rarely respond to that kind of family dynamics. But I was very taken, you know, just to find some other positive aspect to the show. I did find the presentation of the Richardson family, which is, as people have mentioned, have fourth kids. And the way that, you know, parents prefer certain children who to me like why did they prefer the shitty ones? Why are the nice ones not getting more attention? You know, just getting me to have that connection with the characters felt like a success, although I still don’t understand why they like the kids that they want.
S9: I won’t go through that process, even though there are often, you know, multi kid families on television and in movies. So that did feel like a win. I appreciated that. It made me question things about family dynamics or how parents show or don’t show preference or how they hide when you actually kind of can’t really connect with one of your kids. How do you deal with that? So that also felt very interesting. Yeah.
S22: The other a moment at the dinner table with the Richardsons, where the oldest son, Tripp, is teasing Izzy.
S28: And he’s like, no wonder people call you Alan. Enzo Allina finally realizes something’s going on. That is, he is being teased and they’re trying to explain to her without explaining to her why the kids are calling her. Alan. And the look of confusion on Elaina’s face as she processes everything and Joshua Jackson plays her husband and he just looks, you know, kind of resigned like, I know this is gonna send her off, you know, on some weird little tangent that she has. So I appreciated those moments like that where the kids are communicating and are more knowledgeable than the parents and, you know, are trying to get that across. And I I don’t typically like teenagers on TV shows. It’s like I am just not interested in Seeney’s dynamics and stuff. But I like that. You know, and they’re trying to teach Olina that it’s OK for her to say black.
S22: Now, she doesn’t have to keep saying African-American. And then Olina is like, well, Jesse Jackson says we have to say African-American. And he’s on television. And, you know, she just completely disregards the fact that there is like an actual black person saying, no, you can’t say that. Black, though, those kind of moments, I really liked seeing Olina kind of falter a little bit and the kids be more knowledgeable. But overall, I just it was just a really difficult show for me to get through.
S6: I think that’s about all the time we have for this show. I’m sure a lot of our listeners have read the book. I know it was not only very popular, but big in book clubs. So I’d love to hear from people who have read the book and watched the show. Or if you’ve just watched the show. Did you relate to any of the characters? What did it make you think about motherhood? You can e-mail us at the waves at Slate.com. Right. Our final segment this week is a first person piece in The New York Times magazine by Sarah Veyron. It left me a guest. Marcia, please explain.
S17: Oh, my gosh. It has everything. It has it has academics behaving badly. It has some, like detective work. It has a probing analysis of policy and application. This was my favorite read of last week.
S29: So the piece by Sarah, it looks at an experience she had recently. She is a creative writing professor at Arizona State University. So she and her wife were in the process of trying to negotiate for two academic positions at the University of Michigan. She discovers as she is trying to negotiate this offer, her partner has been accused of a series of sexual misconduct. And so as she continues the process of negotiating her job, her wife keeps on getting accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with graduate students of sexual harassment and intimidation. And what Sarah Viren discovers as she is trying to help her wife respond to these accusations is this kind of unsettling feeling of whether she’s one of these people who is being ignorant to some aspect of her wife’s character that she doesn’t know about second guessing herself. And then eventually they go on a journey to figure out who is making these false accusations and what she discovers.
S18: It is, in fact, a colleague who has become jealous of her and who is second for the Michigan position and who has essentially created these false accusations in order to tank both of their careers.
S30: And through the piece, she does something that I really appreciate is that she talks about this very difficult process in negotiating the university’s Title 9 process, but she doesn’t necessarily say that.
S27: Therefore, Title 9, which governs sexual harassment, sexual assault on campus. Therefore, it’s bad or it’s the worst or people or liars.
S18: But how hard it is to navigate a system that has some very sometimes draconian rules about evidence and about information. She eventually gets a lawyer to help sort this out. And in this process, I think she really raises a lot of awareness about that gap again between policies and rules and then their actual execution in people’s lives.
S31: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good summary of it for me.
S13: It really drove home the fact that Title 9 investigators are not necessarily lawyers or certainly not detectives like they don’t have subpoena power.
S10: It’s not a criminal proceeding yet. So much rests on these investigations. I mean, people’s ability to stay at school, their jobs, their reputations, students safety, of course. And it’s all riding on this system that’s like sort of approximating a court of justice.
S13: There are rules about, you know, what each party gets to have and the privileges and responsibilities of each party and everything. But without any of the power of a court system or actual mechanisms for due process, it was really clarifying to me actually to read a piece by someone who was a victim of a demonstrably false accusation, because I think the best way to determine whether a process is just is to put an innocent person through it and see how we feel it treats them. And in this case, the facts that none of the accusers actually had to, quote unquote, accusers. It was actually just one person making up multiple different identities that nobody had to show up in person to actually say, like, yes, I am a grad student. Yes, I am who I say I am. And this happened to me even to the Title 9 investigator, you know, much less the person who they were accusing. That literally it was just an anonymous letter that set off this whole investigation seemed incredibly unfair to me. But on the other. And you know, it was investigated and the investigation landed on the correct outcome.
S9: At the same time, though, I was very relieved that Sarah Viren was a creative nonfiction writer who, you know, was able to place this piece is fantastic in The New York Times magazine, because another part of it that was chilling was that, you know, if once a Title 9 investigation has been launched, according to the piece, like either the accused is found to have violated policy or that there is insufficient evidence that a policy has been violated. So unless you can get this very public piece, you know that I’m sure every person in academia will be reading. So not only kind of establishes that this is a possibility, but also very much clears her wife’s name because due process is always required. You know, there are definitely people who abuse their students or who harass their students. But, you know, I still did feel that. I’m glad she’s able to get at that, because just that knowledge that somebody who is themselves desperate, you know, the person invariance account who they discovered to have, you know, just started this whole false train moving was a gay man, I believe, but a gay person who was feeling just in a terrible situation where there was a lot of homophobia in the location where they were currently working and really also wanted to get to the promised land of the University of Michigan, which for very none are white men. You know, Small-Town life, a place for her kids to go to public school, closer to their families. And for this person who she calls J meant a place where there could be more out who then used homophobia for these accusations. I mean, there’s a kind of a brilliance to it, which is also super, super scary, because there is always this possibility of false accusations. And when you yourself are conscious that false accusations could be made, you know which false accusations to make, this piece was fascinating.
S28: And I wondered what kind of training the people who investigate Title 9 accusations go through, because it doesn’t seem like they’re experts in this kind of investigation, this kind of situation.
S6: No, I think that a lot of cases they’re not.
S32: Yes. I’m like, what gives them the right? Like who says, yes, you can be the one to investigate this?
S28: You know, how did they make sure that these people are not going to be biased themselves?
S32: You know, when talking about Jay, the person who launched all of this, you know, the couple, Sarah and her wife ended up sadly because it was going to be far too expensive to continue to pursue this matter in court. And part of their settlement was that they could not name this person like they could tell the story, but they could not name him in order for him basically to continue to have a life, a livelihood. And that is fascinating to me in the way that there’s still this need to protect the person who was wrong in this situation. And like, he almost effectively ruined their lives and yet he’s still being protected. And I just don’t understand why, no matter what the situation may be, whether it is the man who has perpetuated something or the man who is the victim of it, why it just ends up that the most important thing in court cases is that the man be protected through all of this.
S13: So it’s just I mean, it was probably just the way that they were able to settle it. I’m assuming they got some money out of it. And so maybe they were willing to say, like, yes, fine, we won’t name him it just to let’s have this over with and you can compensate us for this, this and that.
S33: The role Title 9 coordinator varies at universities. And so sometimes the Title 9 person is an attorney and sometimes they are not. But it’s one of the roles on campuses that has one of the highest turnover rates. Bell Wow. The Chronicle of Higher Education did a story about this problem of Title 9 and they talked about the coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. That role, first of all, they had a title line coordinator actually sue the university because she believes they were doing in terms of failing sexual assault survivors. One of the things that they found was that that role in the past three and a half years, there have been four different people, as I Title 9 coordinator right on this campus. And so when you have that kind of turnaround, that is usually like a huge red flag that it isn’t necessarily the person isn’t committed. It’s because they’re so hemmed in by procedure. And then the question is whether or not their colleagues want to take these things. Seriously? And I think that this story also highlights two things, right, like as parents, they become very concerned about the implications for them. And I am sure as like queer parents, there’s always this added layer of concern about how people are thinking of you as a parent and that kind of intervention. And then the second part of it is this is not cheap. Like this had financial cost to them. And I won’t spoil the ending of the story, but they don’t get everything that they were seeking.
S13: All right. That’s about all the time we have for this piece. The title of it, if you want to go read it, which you should, is the accusations were lies. But could we prove it? By Sarah Viren at The New York Times Magazine.
S10: All right. Now it’s time for our recommendations. I know we already did our current Harris recommendations. Mental survival for physical survival. You should socially isolated wash your hands. But what are your other recommendations for this week?
S9: I am not a knitter. I’m a very keen crafter, but strictly paper crafts. But I have fallen in love with the ANA and Carlos Daily Quarantine Knitting podcast, which is actually a daily video on YouTube. Or at least that’s how I experience it. I know Ana and Carlos, who are Scandinavian knitters and designers and very prolific publishers of books. I have one of their books called Make Your Own Idea book, but they are I think Ana is Norwegian and Karlis is Swedish. They live in Norway and they are just charming guys. They were actually, I think in Britain are on a boat or somewhere. So they have been told to quarantine for 14 days. So while they’re isolated, they are doing a daily podcast where they just talk and they talk about their lives and what they’ve had in their porridge that morning. And then they also have knitting patterns, which because I don’t. That’s not really all that relevant to me. I just enjoy them. They have a lovely dynamic. I like their Luke. And I imagine it would actually be really useful and actually significant if you were a knitter. So I really recommend the ANA and Karlis Daily Quarantine Knitting podcast on YouTube.
S10: And that’s a really high recommendation that you’re not even a knitter and you enjoy it. I do. Marcia, what do you have?
S19: I have a Corona adjacent article in this week’s Jeden magazine.
S7: Burack Stassen wrote an article about a survivalist mom called Advice from a Proper Mom on Surviving the Unthinkable.
S19: And it’s actually a woman who got into some of the survivalist stuff after the financial crash in 2008 and her family’s financial situation changing.
S33: And I think it’s a very reasoned and measured look at prepping ideology.
S34: I usually don’t look at prepper type stuff because it sometimes skirts a little too close to something like white nationalist stuff. But this is just like, you know, rice, beans and lentils. Good advice. And also the way that she frames preparation as just a way of life so that when things like this happen, it doesn’t like hyper freak out her kids, which I thought was a really interesting way of creating a family life in which people just feel very prepared and not panicked.
S19: And so I highly recommend it. It’s in this week’s Jen Advice from a proper mom on Surviving the Unthinkable by Mira Pettersen.
S6: I like that. I’m going to recommend a book about bread baking. I know a lot of people who have started baking bread during this quarantine. I started just a couple months before, so I felt very well prepared because I love fresh, crusty bread and I can’t get it right now or I’m not willing to leave my house to try to go get some.
S10: The book that I’ve been using it actually, my friend lent it to me and Upside didn’t get to give it back. Quarantine happened. It’s called flour, water, salt, yeast, which is all you need to make bread. It’s by Ken 40ish, who owns a pizza place in Portland. The book covers how to bake all kinds of things, how to make your own dough starter, how to make crusty breads, how to make pizza and focaccia. And it’s kind of longer, I think, and more in-depth than it has to be. There are the recipes. But he also really goes into like the science of why bread works the way it works and how it forms and you know, all the different things that water and temperature and yeast and fermentation do to the flavors. So even before I started making bread, I’d say about a week before I even made my first loaf, I just read through a lot of the book and found it very interesting and I would say comforting in these times to be doing something that has a predictable outcome. And also just to be playing around with dough with your hands. And it’s a good way if you’re somebody who. Is trying to get yourself on a schedule and maintain a sense of normalcy in this time. Oh, damn, I said this wasn’t supposed to be about coronavirus, but I think not now. Bread requires a type of schedule that you need to be home at certain times in order to like flip it over, put it in the fridge or do this or that. And now you are and it’s a good way to schedule your life is to say like, well, I need to be up by 8 so I can put my bread in the oven. So I highly recommended it’s called flour, water, salt, yeast, and none of the recipes have let me down so far. Nicole, what do you have?
S24: So I would like to recommend a nuther app. I don’t know what the equivalent would be on like Android. I have an iPhone.
S22: I’m sure it’s the same thing, but the screentime feature on your iPhone so you can limit how much time you spent on your apps.
S35: You can, you know, put like an hour on Twitter, two hours for Instagram or something like that so that you can limit your aimless scrolling. You can also use it to turn off your phone. I do from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. so that nothing can get through.
S22: I’m not tempted to, you know, play well on the phone until, like, fall asleep because clearly being on your phone affects your sleep time. And I do recommend it before these times. We’re trying to get away from talking about Corona and the pandemic, but I do recommend it for these times because it’s very easy to overwhelm yourself with too much information and trying to make sure that you stay well informed.
S35: But there are also a lot of bad information out there and that can aggravate your anxiety or your fear or anything like that. So I just recommended to not only limit, you know, the kind of information you’re receiving, but also to get back on a nice sleep pattern, because I think a lot of people that I know are struggling with a proper sleep pattern right now. So the screentime feature on your iPhone, which will help you, limits how much time you’re giving to your different apps. And whoever you have is like your emergency contacts and like your start contacts or whatever they’re always able to get through. And you can program. Who else can get through at certain times. But other than that, it’s going to turn off your text messages and stuff like that. So the screentime feature on your iPhone and whatever the equivalent may be for Android or any other device.
S6: And depending on your personality, you might also want to take my recommendation, which is to not use the Screentime app.
S8: It was sending me automatic notifications on day like here’s how much time a day you spend on your screen. And that was stressing me out because it was so much higher than normal and it just made me feel terrible about myself. So what I’ve done to keep myself sane is turn it off.
S2: So to each their own. That’s our show for this week. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you to our new producer, Rosemary Bellson.
S3: We’re so happy to have her. Her Marsha Chatwin, Nicole Perkins and June Thomas. I’m Christina Cutter Ritchie. Thanks for listening.
S6: Now it’s time for our Slate Plus. Is it sexist? Segment. This one comes from a listener who writes, It’s been a few years since I was divorced. I’m now in my mid 40s on several occasions. Women I work with who I consider friends and who have known me since before I was divorced have said to me, you’ve really blossomed since your divorce. Well, I think their intention is to be complimentary. I find it insulting.
S8: And since I began listening to your podcast, I began to wonder if it’s not only insulting, but sexist.
S10: For the record, none of my closest female friends have ever said anything like that to me. It’s only been women that I work with. Also, for context, my husband and I used to work together as a freelance creative team. So many of the women I work with only really knew me in the context of that dynamic. But when they say you’ve really blossomed, it feels like a personal assessment, not a professional critique. And it makes me feel like they can only now see me as an individual that somehow with my husband by my side, I was not a complete or vibrant self. This offends me because I feel like I was then and am still a strong, smart, creative and radiant woman. I also wonder would the women who have said that to me also say to my former husband that he has blossomed since we divorced with the thought even crossed their mind. What do you guys think? Is this sexist?
S9: First of all, I’m absolutely sure that she is indeed a strong, smart and confident woman. What I’m about to say is in no way any challenge to that. I’m just tempted to be generous to the people who are trying to pay a compliment. I think it’s very hard to be kind to people like it’s all very well to said don’t mention people’s appearance. Like we know that you’re not going to say, wow, your skin’s really cleared up, you know, whatever. Like you. So there are some things you’re not going to touch. People want to say something nice to people. It can be challenging to find something that’s OK. And so I tend to suspect that we should maybe be generous to them and that, yeah, maybe they are being kind of internally sexist. But really, I think there’s a good chance that these people are just trying to find a way to say you’re looking good. And you seem to be happy and you seem to have confidence. And since you’re no longer with your ex-husband, you’ve shed some insecurities or anxieties and that you just seem to be in a better place. So although saying you’ve blossomed yet, it’s kind of weird language. I think there’s a good chance that these friends are just trying to be nice and they really can’t find another way to do it.
S5: Yeah, I would agree with that. I think they’re trying to say without undermining their professional experience, that maybe the ex-husband was dead weight. You know, and they can’t say that because they work with him or have worked with him or, you know, those kinds of things. Given the context that she further explained. So I think, you know, it’s very possible, like because you no longer have to carry your ex out, because you no longer have to live a life that you were unhappy with. You’ve really come into your own. That’s how I read it. I mean, it could be about appearance. You know that it’s still possible. Like June, say it like maybe now that you are no longer in a stressful relationship, your skin is cleared up.
S14: But again, once you’re in a professional environment, you can’t say that, you know, like you can’t say, oh, you look so much better now that you’re out of that loser relationship. I agree with you. And I think the letter writer should be a bit more generous about it.
S35: But I do understand why it would make her uncomfortable. Because on the flipside, I don’t know that men get told, oh, you look so much better now that you’re divorced or you know that you blossomed now that you divorced. But I don’t think that the letter writer needs to necessarily think that it’s sexist necessarily. I think people are just trying to let them know that they see her and they see the changes that she has made in her life. And they want to acknowledge that for her.
S10: I’m caught in a little bit of a loop where I feel like it’s either feminist or sexist, like it might be. So feminist, it’s sexist. Where I feel like there’s this stereotype or cultural narrative. When people get divorced, the women is like, Stella got her groove back and the man is like King of Queens, you know, like this guy. You can’t do anything for himself. Klotz Maybe, like, depressed. Actually, I think King of Queens was married, but whatever. Just like sort of Kevin James kind of character. And the women are like strong, powerful, beautiful, like all of a sudden, like getting what they want out of life. And I can’t decide whether that narrative is sexist or not. I do understand why the letter writer is offended by this, though, because. Well, if you think I’ve blossomed. Now, what were you thinking of me before? Like, it seems like she doesn’t feel like she’s changed at all and that she was just as competent and in bloom or whatever when she was with her husband. And the idea that her ability is or ideas might have been muted somehow by her husband makes it seem like maybe she was like subjugated in that relationship. And no woman wants to feel like that’s what their relationship was like.
S13: It doesn’t seem like she feels like that that was the case here. So I do think it’s a bit sexist. I don’t know how much, though. Marcia, what do you think?
S30: This one’s a tough one for me, because I think when relationships and I think when people are trying to help you manage the grief for the confusion or the anger about it, the narrative has to be. And now you are better for it.
S29: And so I think when women often get in heterosexual relationships as well, he was holding you back because we think of relationships as being in the service of a kind of a man’s authority, her desire or whatever.
S19: And I think for men, they often get the feedback.
S30: Well, you can do better now or, you know, she was controlling you. She was ruining everything. So I think that there a gendered narrative about the ex that goes both ways. I think it’s mildly sexist only for the fact that there is a belief that when a woman ends a relationship, it’s for her own self-improvement rather than a woman ending a relationship for a number of reasons.
S18: I think it’s part of the kind of narrative of break ups that is embedded in people’s thinking. And so the nice or the polite or the kind thing to say as well, you are going to be so much better without him, which might be true.
S30: But I also think it makes it really complicated because I think it puts people in a position where they feel a lot of pressure then to kind of overperform.
S19: The next relationship is better or I am better. And breakups are hard just, you know, like. It’s usually something a little bit more in the middle.
S9: Yeah, I just want to bring up. This is completely my projection because I have no idea the age of the letter writer. But I think there’s one dynamic that I wonder if it might be an element, which is that and I speak now as a middle aged woman, perhaps even in late middle age, that there are some people who kind of they do blossom in middle age, like there are some people who really come into their own physically. They seem more relaxed. They just seem like they’re happier as they get older. It’s not true for everyone, but it is true for some people. And in some people, the transformation is particularly strong. And so there’s a possibility and obviously I have no way of knowing, but there’s a possibility that that’s what’s going on, that there’s also an element of your aging wonderfully.
S8: So you’re saying that maybe she really has blossomed? Yes. I think it’s a pity.
S4: There’s a slight possibility that she may have blossomed. I’m sure she’s an amazing person and I’m sure she was amazing earlier, too. But yeah, it’s possible. It’s possible.
S10: All right. Let’s put a number on this. Jin, since you just finished talking about you go first.
S9: Yeah, I’m gonna give this a low number because everything is sexist. I think we all will acknowledge that this is the universal fact. But I am minded to kind of give this a low mark. I’m going to actually just give it a three. Mm hmm.
S25: Nicole Yeah, I’m gonna give this a for for much the same reason as June. I think that there are a lot of factors at play. Yeah.
S17: For Marsha I’ll do it for in three quarters.
S31: Okay. Four point seven five. And I’m going to give it a.
S10: 5.5, because I think it has almost completely gone around that cycle to be so pro-woman that it’s sexist, and I can not imagine anyone saying that to a man. So our average is 4.3 1 2 5 woo more not sexist and sexist. This was a great question. Thank you so much to the listener who wrote it in.
S8: And I’m so happy that the waves is making you think everything in your life is sexist. Thank you. The job here is done everyday.
S13: Thanks to all of you for your slate plus memberships. And please keep sending us your questions at the waves at slate.com.