Tag Archives: Idiots

There Will Be Blood

9 Aug

There’s an old cowboy song called “Red River Valley” that includes these lines:

For a long time, my darling, I’ve waited
For the sweet words you never would say
Now at last all my fond hopes have vanished
For they say that you’re going away

Y47AjNow history tells us the title probably refers to the Red River in Manitoba, but as someone who almost completed a minor in Feminist Literary Criticism, I can tell that this is a lyrical explanation of the mood changes that can be caused by menstruation.

Menstruation. It’s a word we don’t say very much in polite society. Is it because of that weird u that doesn’t really get pronounced even though it seems like it should? Is that why we rarely say it despite close to two billion people on earth spend two months a year doing it?

Of course, that’s not the reason. It’s more likely because it has to do with downstairs lady parts and even though there’s about three and a half billion of us walking around with said parts in our pants, they don’t come up too frequently in conversations, until a scared man gets called one or a strong man feels like pounding one.

Isn’t that lovely?

Anyway, I am going to talk about menstruation for a moment. It’s relatively simple: the uterus has a lining where an egg, if fertilised, hangs out to get nutrients and whatnot. Now uteri like to keep a tidy shop so if there’s no blastocyst in need, it cleans house, abandoning that lining and getting to work on a nicer one with a little more kerb appeal for the next month’s possible buyer. (Please note: this is a metaphor. Do not consider burning candles or baking bread in your uterus to increase the chances of a fertilised egg moving in.)

That’s all menstruation is, the shedding of the uterine lining. Nothing magical or mystical or mysterious about it. Just like we shed thousands of dead skins cells each day, women’s bodies are just eliminating something that is no longer needed.

Except it’s not quite as simple as that, is it? No.

Firstly, because it’s gross. Let’s be fair, it is. The endometrium is a mucous membrane, and when the word mucous makes an appearance, it’s never pleasant. What’s expelled each month is basically blood and tissue, which is, for most people, kind of disgusting. And painful too. Unlike with a nose, a good blow won’t clear this passage. It often takes uterine contractions, and those can hurt.

So what comes out and the process of getting it out aren’t the nicest. Plus the place out of which it comes is generally a private, members-only club, so could that be why people (and when I say people I mean men) struggle to talk about it? No, because those things could describe urine and excrement as well, and god knows, men love talking toilet business.

What makes menstruation different is because men know hormones are involved. Some men get confused by the concept of hormones. They think there are two hormones and each functions only as an excuse: the male hormone makes them think about sex at inappropriate times and the female hormone makes women bitchy once a month (or when moderating presidential candidate debates).

Some men think this because they are idiots.

The human body is pretty fucking complicated. With the greatest respect for and the least amount of interest in the complexity of science, let’s just boil it down to this: the human body is full of chemicals that move around our bloodstream telling different parts to do this or not do that. Essentially, they regulate us — all our systems, our sleep, our growth, our metabolism, our behaviour, and our moods. There’s a whole mess of them in there, and they control a lot.

So yes, sometimes oestrogen can affect a woman’s mood. It’s true; sometimes you’re just going to have to keep waiting for those sweet words I’m not going to say. But guess what, men? You’ve got oestrogen in your body as well. So there. And that testosterone you’re so proud of? It does more than just explain your boner, you know. Just to pick one example purely at random, some studies have shown a connection between testosterone and risky financial decisions. And women have testosterone in them as well, which may explain why I gave Christopher twenty pounds for his taxi ride home even though there’s a chance I’ll never see the change from that. Perhaps it was testosterone what made me do it.

Except probably not. Because even though our hormones do affect the way we act and feel, there are some things that we can control. For example, in stressful situations, our autonomic nervous systems use hormones to prepare a fight-or-flight response, but most of us don’t punch the television or run out of the room and hide just because the news upsets us. We don’t always eat when we’re hungry or leave the Sunday sermon early just because we’ve had a rush of sexual arousal (except that one time, but he was flying back to Uruguay that afternoon so time was of the essence). Even if my oestogen levels are playing havoc with my mood or I’ve got blood coming out of my wherever, I’m still a professional at work, and I will keep signing books until that queue is gone or I’ve at least earned enough to cover the costs of this new dress.

As you all know, I’m no scientist and the few I’ve slept with didn’t do a lot of talking while we were together, so I know my explanation does not reflect the full intricacies of the human body, its processes and their effects. However, I’m hoping I’ve at least made you realise that menstruation, while not the loveliest part of a woman’s experience, is natural and nothing to be afraid of.

Unless you’re a misogynist billionaire racist. But if you are, I imagine you’ve got quite a few items on your list of things to be worried about, like maybe why do I continue to embarrass myself and other Americans on an international stage or if it’s really true that the taller the tower, the smaller the penis. How about you get those other issues sorted before you start sharing your views on menstruation, yeah?

Memo to All Idiots: Stop Being Idiots

10 Aug

This morning a friend sent me an email letter to which was attached a ‘hilarious’ photograph of something she saw on her travels across the US (I won’t say which state it was in, but if you assumed it was a Midwestern one, you would not be wrong). It was of a bumper sticker that read:

If I pass you on the right, your in the wrong.

The car displaying this sticker was unsurprisingly red and had hubcaps on its wheels which spun even when the vehicle was stationary.

Unlike in England where two-way roads are so narrow bicyclists barely have the space to travel down them, most roads in America are multi-laned in each direction. Americans drive on the right side of the road (and before any Britons assume that I mean right as in correct, rest assured I mean right as in not left: you will not find me in any motoring-based morality arguments like that). The general rule is that those driving the speed limit should drive in the right lane, and that the left lane be used only by those who are speeding (which happily makes it quite easy for coppers to spot lawbreakers).  The left lane therefore is also known (by twats) as the ‘fast lane’.

Clearly the driver in the red Ford displaying said bumper sticker feels strongly about this guideline. He is clearly so outraged by those in the left lane travelling at the speed limit that not only does he feel the need to overtake them, he also takes the opportunity to remind them that they are in fact wrong’. I can only deduce from his placing of a non-removable decal on his vehicle (not even on the bumper, mind, but across the rear window) that the ‘fast lane’ issue is a passion of his, something he feels in the very pit of his soul.

Perhaps I should admire his commitment. However, I do not. Because he is clearly an idiot, and idiots do not deserve admiration for anything they do.  There is one simple clue to his idiocy—though I’ve no doubt there’s plenty more evidence available—and I trust that you all spotted it instantly within my unbiased description above.

It’s the word your.

Not driving fast in the ‘fast lane’ may be frustrating and naive, but if you need a clear cut example of something that is across-the-board, out-and-out wrong, you need look no Stop Sonfurther than the word your.

Your means ‘belonging to you’. I assume the driver meant you’re, meaning ‘you are’. While I acknowledge the two words sound the same, they are in fact two completely different words. The bumper sticker might as well as read ‘tomato in the wrong’. Tomato does not mean you’re and your does not mean you’re.

God gave us the English language to use to communicate with one another. It’s a great language. It’s got words like crumbly and delicate and trumpery, fantastic words that incorporate a range of sounds and many shades of meaning. But the language only works when used correctly. Using words incorrectly destroys marriages (my darling, our love is so holey) or results in incarceration (I have the head of that old dear hanging over my fireplace).  Using words incorrectly is wrong.

If I ran the world (which as of yet, I do not), people driving slowly in the left lane wouldn’t give me much pause. But people who say your when they mean you’re would immediately be banished to Idiot Island (formerly Molokai) where they would be exiled until they learned to speak correctly. If that took their entire lifetimes, then so be it.

Look Pretty, Talk Pretty: Advice for the Presidential Debates

2 Oct

As an internationally known expert on public speaking, I have been inundated the last few weeks with requests for my debate advice from campaign managers on both sides of the US political battle. Listen, people, I am just one woman. I simply cannot do everything others request of me. Even if I wanted to (which is only about half of the time anyway). I’m going to be honest with you: sending me multiple emails on the same day you’ve left two answerphone messages already does nothing to hasten my reply; actually, it just irritates me.

However—despite the hassles, not because of them—I’ve been moved to share some of my insights with the candidates. Why? Because I love my country and I hate stupidity. Please listen carefully as I intend to say this just once.

Let’s begin by looking at what you can learn from others. From my thorough analysis of the 2010 British election, we can take away important lessons from the three candidates there:

  • David Cameron teaches us that if you look doughy in life, you will look five times more doughy on television. Get yourself camera-ready, but don’t go crazy with the hair product or make-up (or fake tan).
  • Gordon Brown  teaches us that doing things that don’t come naturally (in his case smiling) is not going to fool anyone.
  • Nick Clegg teaches us that if you make promises that you cannot keep, you will end up curled in the foetal position because an entire nation sees you as pathetic and/or bastard-like.

One thing that is important to remember is that this is a debate—not a campaign speech. This means you are going to be required to actually listen to what the other person is saying. I know it’s hard to listen to someone else besides yourself speak, but it really is quite important. First of all, not listening appears rude and no one wants a rude president. Secondly, if you’re going to argue against something, it’s relatively important to know exactly what that is. Just arguing against everything a person says simply because they’re a Republican or Democrat just makes you look like an idiot. Even Republicans know that.

It’s also essential that you actually listen to yourself when you speak; after all, the voting public will be listening as well. Use key terms like “community,” “responsibility” and “logic.” But use them wisely. Let’s say you are arguing against raising taxes, saying that it’s more “logical” that when financial resources are low to stop spending (on foolish things like health and social care) and save instead. Fine. So surely you’ll be applying this same “logic” to green issues as well, arguing that we should save our environmental resources (especially since we can’t replace them), yes? See? See why it’s important to listen to the things you say? Come on now, THINK.

Don’t interrupt the other person by saying “Imma let you finish but…” Once something becomes an internet meme, it’s no longer funny. In fact, no jokes full stop. Leave the political humor to Todd Akin—that guy is hilarious with the stupid stuff he says!

Lastly, President Obama, no singing. I mean you’re good and all, but a debate is just simply the wrong venue for an impromptu concert.

Best of luck to you both!