You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
This has nothing to do with travel or writing, but everything to do with a bubbling rage, a widespread disgust felt by anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes reading about “Hollywood mogul” Harvey Weinstein’s thirty years of sexual harassment and assault against women.
This afternoon and last night, a best friend and I stoked the fires of rage across countless furiously-typed text messages, exchanging our disgust at how women could be so mistreated, not just by a wretched man but by a system meant to silence them. Before long we were asking ourselves where Hollywood ends and society begins, and the line is unfortunately far too blurred to make any sort of clear distinction.
It comes down to that “chicken and egg” thing; which came first? Do we diminish and intimidate women because of their diminished roles on screen, powered by a Hollywood machine led by men who made it happen? A machine that gives the majority of significant speaking roles in films to men? Or demands that most films need a sexy girlfriend but not the other way around? Or dictates that Tom Cruise’s female lead in a movie will be 25 years his junior because that’s totally normal? Or creates countless movies about a male loser’s “coming of age,” where he “finds himself” and becomes a better man thanks to the “quirky magical girl with the cool personality,” who somehow had no needs of her own, but only existed to “show him the way?” (I am so sick of those movies I will stab my eyes out if I have to see another one)
Or…did the Hollywood machine create all of this because we wanted it? Are we being too hard on the (mostly) men who run Hollywood–excluding Harvey Weinstein who is clearly an evil asshole–because they’re simply responding to demand with an adequate supply?
I started thinking about this and I couldn’t come up with a clear answer, at least not one that I’d be able to fit onto Twitter. I’m not even sure if the unlimited character-count of a blog will help me formulate an answer, but I find myself asking: how did we get here?
When I break it all down and try my best to organize everything I’ve read, observed, and experienced first-hand, the one common thing at the root of it all seems to be that women are interpreted as objects for male pleasure. This may not be a “100% all the time” thing that overwhelms my sense of self all day long, but in some form or another, isn’t it here, there and everywhere? If you’re squinting your eyes and struggling to find this problem, let’s not forget that Hugh Hefner built an entire industry on this very concept. He LITERALLY had a mansion full of ADULT WOMEN called “bunnies,” whose ONLY role was to be fully available as pleasure objects. And let’s not pretend he was some rogue eccentric, like “oh Hef, that ONE crazy guy who views women this way…” Yeah right. In fact, mainstream celebrities and wannabes would trample over each other to get invites into those Playboy mansion pool parties, and all the while middle-class “normals” would happily envision the fantasy.
Beyond the universe of the late and gross Hugh Hefner, we live in a society where so much comes back to the orbit of male pleasure (see: Viagra and lack of surefire women’s equivalent). If you’re unconvinced, think about one of the first things anyone says when a women is harassed on the street, or assaulted, or faces unwanted advances on the subway, or in an elevator, or at a bar, or in the office, or in a cave (please insert any location in life). The first and most common question is “what was she wearing?”
Seriously, how many bajillion times is this stupid question asked?
The only way to explain this question is that society orbits around male pleasure, a.k.a the uncontrollable, inevitable, probability that a dude will get a boner.
“If you didn’t want to cause “street boners,” you shouldn’t have worn that.”
“If you’re showing cleavage at the office, don’t be surprised when you turn around and find a “corporate boner.””
Obviously the wording in dress code policies or rape case courtroom trials is different, but the thinly-veiled implication is always there. It’s never about a man somehow figuring out a way to NOT harass a woman, or to NOT have a boner, but instead it’s always about what a WOMAN can do to limit the number of boners she’s responsible for, like maybe if she didn’t go out so late at night, she would reduce the risk of triggering spontaneous boner syndrome. I mean…what?
I don’t have a direct solution to this problem, and I do acknowledge that a lot of men are respectful, cool, and trusted allies (and I’m happy to know a few of them!). There are however far too many men who live in a bubble of entitlement; entitled to the Victoria’s Secret models as seen on TV, despite having nothing to offer in return, entitled to hooking up with a girl just because he bought her one drink, or entitled to a conversation on the subway, just because he graced some unsuspecting woman with his leering smile.
To these wretched, wayward entitled fools, I offer you a check-list, because after the scandalizing demise of Harvey Weinstein, a (tiny) optimistic part of me believes that your horrible behaviour won’t fly anymore, so here is some advice to improve yourselves:
Checklist for treating women like human beings with the most basic level of respect:
If you’ve spent any time in the last month on my Facebook page, you’ve seen me talk about the impending book release inspired by my two stints in Paris (as well as by this blog). As of this moment: it’s alive, it’s out there, but all I care about now is sharing some of it here. Sharing is important when it comes to this book, since this book is my attempt to write something that’s in “some way” a guidebook, but that’s in another way a jaunt, a fun escape that has nothing to do with being practical and planning a trip. The fact that it’s indeed useful when planning a trip to Paris (with over 130 places vividly described along with a summary), well that’s just the icing.
And so, what I’d like to focus on now is the “meat” of the book, and who doesn’t love a slab of meat with their icing? So here are some meat slabs and meat shreds, which represent what this book is all about: being there, seeing it through my weird-ass eyes, and living it through my weird-ass tangents (kind of like this blog, now that I think about it…)
Read on and enjoy!
On trying to make your first French friend at a quiz night:
“The French woman and I were on the same team, and one of our teammates was a very intense mega-dork. I’m sorry but there’s no other way to put it. Like he would accuse nearby tablemates of copying our answers, slam his fist on the table when none of us knew the answer to an obscure question on cinema, and one time I even caught him foaming at the mouth. As all this was happening my eyes would go wide or I’d raise my eyebrow or I’d roll my eyes; basically I was having a lot of eye-related reactions. Letting you know I don’t like you via my eyes is one of my biggest flaws; I just can’t hide it, so it’s a wonder I got a business degree and spent several years in the corporate world. Little did I know that the French woman was having a similar “eye-related” tic, and when our eyes finally met, I knew right away that we’d be friends. Mutual distain for other people; it’s the cornerstone of all great friendships.”
On the sort of intense poser you’ll see on the Seine River boat ride:
“The consistency of the posing on the boat ride impressed me, as the wife always had her one thumb in her jeans pocket, I guess as a way of saying that her face might be stern, but she’s pretty casual and likes to have fun.”
On resolving not to like a falafel place just because Lenny Kravitz liked it:
“The word of Lenny Kravitz’s endorsement must’ve spread, since this one always has a bigger lineup than the one across the street. Did he even go there? I don’t know; it’s all word of mouth at this point. Even if he is the official ambassador for L’As du Fallafel, is his endorsement enough to sway me? I think not. Like I will NOT “go your way,” Lenny Kravitz, not until I’ve tried it for myself.”
On meeting new people at a wine-tasting, particularly a French man with murderous “laser eyes:”
“With each new wine we sampled, either I was getting fatter or he was getting fatter; what else would explain how our bodies kept getting progressively closer? Weird. The other thing of note was that he’s one of those people who not only stares directly at you the entire time he’s speaking, but also stares directly through your eyes and out the back of your head. Like why are you trying to kill me with your psycho laser eyes? (Oh I’m sorry; did you think this was turning into a tale of Parisian romance?)
Not long after that, the tasting concluded, and as I gathered my stuff from the basement, laser-eyes cornered me and asked if he could take me out for ice cream. All the various wines I’d tasted added up to a full bottle, so I was really in no position to be having a sexy cold dessert with this man I’d only just met. That’s the thing about Paris; adventures aren’t hard to find, but it’s always important to check yourself before you wreck yourself. I mean come on, ladies, none of us wants to be drunk on a first date. Class before ass. That’s enough sayings for now.”
On trying to reconcile the outrageous price of a simple dessert at the restaurant beloved by “celebs:”
“I was tempted to ask our super-model waitress if perhaps the berries had been pickled in unicorn tears, thus explaining the hefty price.”
On drinking wine by the canal versus drinking wine at the riverbank:
“The area by the canal gets very crowded on summer nights, and as it’s pretty small in width, the buzz of conversation tends to permeate the air. The difference here compared to the river, is that here it’s mostly just friends hanging out, with less of that insidious agenda defined by “trolling for ‘hos” (see: riverbank drinking at night).”
On the group dynamic you’ll encounter in the Catacombes ossuary:
“Once you’re inside and down the many stairs, you’re basically left to your own devices. They let people inside in small groups at a time, so it’ll just be you and a handful of people navigating the tunnels together; let’s hope they’re not A-holes.”
And later…the conclusion of the group dynamic in the Catacombes ossuary:
“The picture-taking reflex is normal, but the standing in front of skulls, hugging your boyfriend, and smiling as someone takes your picture? Smiling whilst posing amongst the dead? What the hell, boys and girls? These two posers were a couple of the people in my “group.” I guess there are two A-holes in every bunch.”
On the strangeness of the TV subliminal messaging at the Japanese/Chinese buffet:
I can’t forget to mention something very weird about Matuya Panda. In the back of the restaurant, there’s a flat-screen TV mounted to the wall. The volume was muted, but over and over on a loop, this infomercial for a weight-loss contraption kept playing. It was one of those scenarios where you can actually lose weight by being a lazy turd, via a vibrating elastic band; all you have to do is wear it around your belly for like an hour a day. So there we are (this time it was Carlos, Tara, and I), eating a huge Japanese buffet, while this super-model woman in the infomercial (who is clearly not the same woman in the “before” pictures”), looks all hot and sexy, due to this vibrating elastic band she’s wearing around the house. She wears it while she’s reading the newspaper, watching TV, painting her nails…she wears that stupid band and it gives her a six-pack of abs. As I ate the fifteenth chicken dumpling, I started to wonder if a conspiracy was afoot. So their plan is: I’ll eat the buffet, feel guilty with that infomercial playing in the background, run home and call the number, order myself a vibrating weight-loss band, and then Matuya Panda will get a 10% kick-back from the manufacturers. You sly devils.”
On my close-call with Bradley Cooper at the Luxembourg Gardens:
“Twenty-four hours after one of my “lie in the sun” recovery days in the gardens, I learned that Bradley Cooper was now lying on that very same lawn. I’m pretty sure some of my alcohol sweat that was still attached to the lawn had now absorbed into his body.
Bradley Cooper IS WEARING MY DNA.
This sounds like a very random fact I shouldn’t care about, but listen my friends, in the summer of 2013, Bradley Cooper was a big deal in Paris. It had nothing to do with his movies, and everything to do with him being the official spokesperson for Magnum ice cream bars. I have no idea if this advertising contract extended to North America, but in Paris at least, he was on bus shelters in every neighbourhood in Paris, wearing a tuxedo, looking at me seductively, and offering me a Magnum ice cream bar. And to think I missed him lying on the grass by one day! In these times of “missed connections,” one can’t help but ask oneself: with just one different decision on how I’d chosen to spend my time, could my life have gone in a completely different direction? (And yes, I’m completely ignoring the fact that he was lying on the grass with his girlfriend)
Picnics on the lawn and soaking up the sun; these two things are relaxing. Yep, that’s basically what I was getting at.”
I hope you enjoyed what you read so far. If you’d like to buy the book, the links are below; it’s a full-length book of 79,000 words (i.e. 70 times more what you read right here), so definitely some good bang for your buck. If, alternatively, you’d like to start by reading the first few chapters for free, you can do that on Wattpad here. And if, alternatively, you’d like to eat a sandwich, you can do that too (there are no fixed options on my blog; I believe in freedom).
I’ll return to the blog in the new year, but now I am rather excited to bake cookies and brownies and other sweet-tooth things, to be merry, and to catch up on my reading; it’s what the winter solstice is for…
À bientot in 2015!
Amazon US link (also available at all international Amazon websites):http://www.amazon.com/Vicarious-Paris-account-insights-nightlife-ebook/dp/B00R3RZ6RA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1418821869&sr=8-5&keywords=romi+moondi&pebp=1418823072163
Epub version for you Nook or iPad at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/502498
It starts with the beginning of a brand new year. For people who indulged too much over the holidays, this means an end to the guiltless consumption of chickens stuffed in ducks stuffed in turkeys (it’s called turducken and it’s real), and the beginning of joining a gym so you can buy into the Richard Simmons lie, the supposed promise that your legs could ever be as toned and oily as his, or that silky striped short-shorts are available en masse.
For those of us who are pretty much the same weight all the time and pretty okay with that—isn’t it cool how I sound like a zen person who never even wrote about a weight-conscious protagonist in her first book?—we’re thrust into reality in different ways. There’s less sweat and less “trying to like kale” involved in this latter case, but it’s equally likely to exhaust you and stimulate your gag reflex.
I’m talking about those of us who managed to embrace our dreamer selves in the year just past, floating under the radar of “I’ll settle down and straighten out in 2014, don’t worry.”
And now, my friends, it’s January 2014 (dun dun dun!—>it’s hard to convey dramatic music in text, which is why I regard writing as the most inferior of the arts; I wish I’d learned to play the piano, but this is what I’ve got, so I will pimp it like a hooker with an enormous bosom).
While living in Paris last year, I was surrounded by dreamers all the time. They would come and go but the theme of our journeys was the same; we’d left something secure for the quest of something different, which manifested itself in many ways: inspiration, enlightenment, and a high concentration of connecting with incredible people.
But then we all left that world, and hanging on to our inspiration HERE makes us seem like we’re “koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs.”
Luckily the new year offers up a slap to sort us out, along with the encouragement of family, which most recently sounded like this: “Send your resumé to a bank; even if you don’t like the job at least you’ll be making money.“. Right, the money lie. It’s so much worse than the Russell Simmons lie, because unlike the oily toned legs of a sixty-five-year-old man, the signs of money are everywhere. Don’t let that statement confuse you; I’m a huge fan of money. I mean how the hell do you think I got to Paris in the first place? On well wishes and group hugs? I even cheer whenever the Canadian dollar drops in value, because my book royalty checks are in US currency (hopefully by cheering heartily for Canada in the Olympics I can right this wrong).
Yes, I’m a huge fan of cold hard cash, but the difference between some of it and a lot of it is usually happiness. Some people make a good amount of money and are also really happy. I mean of course they are, because it’s not like their constant Facebook updates about how happy they are represent a lack of satisfaction that can only be cured with the validating power of the “like” button, of course not!
But forget the ones who have it all…what about the ones who have to choose? How do you choose between doing what you love for most of your awake hours, vs. doing what’s expected of you so you don’t make people uncomfortable because your path isn’t easy to explain? Or easy to brag about? Or easy to not be embarrassed by? (again, I am referring to the hooker career choice).
I am now at the six-hundred word mark of this post, and I’m wondering if I’ve inadvertently written a glowing endorsement for prostitution.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s no balance and routine and security to being a dreamer, so the sensible thing to do is just stop, especially when you’ve already had a taste of what it could be like; that should be enough, ya know? Hang on to the memories, kid!
Or you could be insane and keep reaching for insane goals, because there’s one thing you know how to do better than any other thing, and expressing yourself in that way, and connecting with others in that way is essential to your existence. So you just keep going, even when there’s no clear path, even when you know there might not be many more days to do this if something big doesn’t happen, and even when it means you might go back to a job you don’t like at some point, while you brainstorm revisions to your strategy for happiness.
Well, I have to go now, ’cause I’ve got big honkin’ plans and there’s lots and lots to do.
[You may now decide which path I’ve chosen and imagine what happens next:
1. bank teller
3. lady of the night]