Saturday, June 28, 2014

Matt Lauer should not be allowed to talk to women on TV. Or anywhere. Ever.

A couple of years ago, Matt Lauer grossed me out so much, you guys. So. Much. I don’t watch morning TV because it is relentlessly banal, but my newsfeeds just lit the eff UP over this interview. And then Anne Hathaway was SO kickass about the whole thing. It was worth seeing her dominate that sad little man, even if it meant I had to accidentally watch a little bit of morning TV.

For a minute there, I even thought, well, maybe Matt Lauer will learn from this experience about how to interview lady humans as if they are just regular humans and not talking vajayjays. Maybe he will get better at this high-profile job, for which he is paid a great deal – this job of talking to humans and not making everyone around him vurp every time he opens his face hole.

Maybe, I thought, Matt Lauer will grow as a person.

But I probably thought that because I am a woman. Women, you know. We’re prone to naiveté. And wearing skirts in public with our actual bodies beneath the fabric. Plus, shouldn’t we be home with our kids making sandwiches or something? So we’re pretty much asking for it, emirite?

Anyway, I did have the vapors there for a while, but my sweet little lady hormones eventually settled down about the whole thing. And I happily returned my life, supporting my family like a champ, teaching my sons about feminism, wearing skirts in public (with my actual body beneath them) and never, ever watching Matt Lauer do anything. But then a friend of mine at work emailed to ask: Did you see the interview with Mary Barra this morning?

Well, no, I didn’t. Because morning TV, emirite? But then I went out on the endless interwebs and found it and OMIGOD NO HE DIDN’T. Oh, yes, he did. He did. HE DID ask the CEO of General Motors if she could run that great, big, scary car company AND be a mom at the same time and not suck terribly at being a lady-type person.

“Can you do both well?” he asked in a totally serious way that suggests he really thinks that’s a real question he should ask a CEO. Of General Motors. Really. REALLY.

Holy hell, y’all. Holy HELL.

Oh, and he ALSO said – after squirming around and using the pitiful, cringe-worthy phrase “I want to tread lightly here” – whether she maybe, possibly got that great, big scary job at the car company because she is a lady-type person and we are “softer,” apparently?

Mary Barra, of course, responded with great equanimity and poise, because she is an incredibly accomplished and intelligent person who does not need to waste her time and energy annihilating a banal little morning TV host man. She’s kind of busy, yo. Being a BADASS and dealing with a massive manufacturing crisis in which people died.

Matt Lauer is a bug on the windshield of her life, y’all, because she has to talk to employees at General Motors and say this:

“We failed these customers, we must face up to it and we must learn from it.” Which is a brave and smart CEO thing to say and not especially SOFT.

Matt Lauer later got all defensive and insisted he would have asked a man that question about whether you can pay adequate attention to your offspring AND be a CEO, which is utter bullshit. He did not, for example, ask that question of this Ford CEO guy, who has FIVE kids. Three more than Mary Barra, for those of you who are counting.

Not that any of this has a damn thing to do with the reason she’s on the TV in the first place. I may have mentioned: GM CEO managing huge freaking crisis.

Hey, Matt. I hope Mary Barra’s softness and momness made it easier for you to get the message: You failed, you must face up to it and you must learn from it.

Instead of going on the defensive, try accepting the possibility that you’re a creep who has work to do on how he talks to female humans. Do the work, Matt. Say, hey, I sure am sorry about that, and I will think carefully about what I’m saying before I open my face hole on TV in the future.

In other words, man up.

But there I go again, being a silly lady-type person and thinking Matt Lauer will grow from this experience. Probably I just think that because I’m on my period.

Just because we CAN be polite to Matt Lauer
doesn't mean we should have to.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

English doesn't care what you do to her. She's a badass.

Sometimes people begin emails to me by explaining apologetically that they are not writers, and that what they're about to write will not be perfect or probably even good enough for my writerly eyeballs to behold.

To them I say: Relax, yo. I'm bad at many things, and good at only one. I do not expect everyone to be a writer, just as I do not expect me to be an actuary (say what?). I do not get all uppity about the finer points of writerliness in everyday communications. 

For that matter, I pretty much never get all uppity about the finer points of writerliness unless the topic is writing and the people are writers. (Which means about 5 percent of my life and 0 percent of most other people's lives.) If everyone could write, what use would I be to the people who employ me? No use at all. Which would be terrible for the checking account.

There are about 86 million ways to kindly and constructively communicate with people about how to write well. Every single one of those ways assumes it is more important to be kind and constructive than it is to smite the trembling ignorant among us with almighty writerly rightness.

But there are people out there who do not share my chillax on this topic. The indignant language scolds. You know them. You may have even been indignantly scolded by one. That's who hurt you. That's why you are afraid. And I'm really sorry about that. 

Don't listen to them. They suck. If it makes you feel any better, they always lose. Here's a column about why.