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Thursday, July 25, 2013

226

I Just Wanted to Fly Solo: A Night at the Sugar Ray Festival

At 6 p.m. on a Sunday night I’m driving an hour outside of Ann Arbor to attend the Clarkston, Mich., stop of the Under the Sun tour, which celebrates “the golden age of nineties pop rock ‘n’ roll with Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon and Fastball.”

I am alone and wearing jorts and a baseball T-shirt, onto which I have Sharpied “MRS. RAY.” I am only slightly depressed that none of my friends in town seem to see the Under the Sun tour as the can’t-miss cultural event that it is. Mostly I’m glad, because now it'll be much easier for me to really get in there and be a Sugar Ray superfan for the night.

On the way to the venue, I play the same two Disclosure songs for 30 miles straight and get into character. “No one’s done anything like ‘Every Morning’ since 1999,” I say into the rearview mirror. “Such a chill song. Perfect for summer. We’ll never get another Mark McGrath.”

I sincerely believe all these things to be true.

When I get to the parking lot, I pause in my car for a second and smoke some weed, feeling like a loser. Fastball is already on—I can hear “The Way” from the parking lot—but people are tailgating, and near me, someone’s blaring Sugar Ray.

Suddenly self-conscious and also suspecting that I have overestimated the number of attendees who think this event is in any way funny, I walk into the DTE Energy Musical Theatre, which is a 15,000-cap venue, and get a beer from a guy standing over a cooler at the base of the stairs leading to the general-admission lawn. He asks for my ID. When he hands my license back, he says, “You’re a lot better-looking in person.”

“Cool,” I say. “Cool to know. Do you like Sugar Ray?”

“Sure,” he says. “Whatever.”

I climb the stairs in a hyper-aware state, entering a sea of earnest, clean-cut white Midwesterners jamming out with incredible enthusiasm to Vertical Horizon, who have taken Fastball’s place. I make my way around the arc of the lawn surrounding the covered pavilion and sit down at the very left edge of the grass.

Surrounded by groups, I start texting. You’re never alone when you have technology, I tell myself, and then look around, wondering how I’m going to get my journalistic in with the Sugar Ray crowd.

Then a guy taps me on the shoulder: “What’s a pretty girl like you doing here by yourself?”

•••

For the minute it takes us to walk up the lawn to this guy’s group of friends, I think about the advantages conferred by my physical self, which is such—small, smiley—that I’ve enjoyed years of valuable impunity in two of my most fond pastimes: consuming substances in public and soliciting personal information from strangers.

We sit down in a loose knot of people, and this guy—Scott—introduces me to his friend Jake, who’s wearing a polo shirt and a goatee. “You’re gonna love this, actually,” Scott says. “We’re here with like the only black guy in this whole place.”

“Why would I, in particular, love that more than anyone else?” I ask sweetly.

“Seriously, he’s the only black guy here,” Scott says, motioning to another friend.

“You should be proud of yourself,” I say, and watch him nod as I introduce myself to Jake.

“Gear?” Jake queries.

“Jia,” I repeat.

“Jeeyar?” he asks, perplexed. The music is not very loud on the lawn, and it’s still daylight, but we are conversing at a volume and confusion level that I associate with last call.

“Ji-a,” I shout.

“What—like, what sort of—what is that origin—”

“It doesn’t matter,” I say. “Hey, who are you here to see?”

“Sugar Ray,” says Scott. “Mark McGrath is the dude.”

“Totally,” I say. “A few weeks ago I was listening to Sugar Ray in a pool and wishing that a plane would skywrite 'MARK MCGRATH' in big loops across the sky, and then he’d parachute into the backyard and shotgun a beer.”

They look at me, jarred.

“Sorry, I’m pretty stoned,” I say.

“Damn!” Jake says. He holds his fist out for me to bump. “I’ve never met anyone like you. Damn, that’s so badass. You’re just here by yourself and you’re stoned? Damn, I’ve never met another girl who would do anything like that.”

My hackles go up. Jake's game is basic. But I am curious about him, so I ask him what sort of music he listens to—normal stuff, he says, motioning to the stage; stuff like this, good stuff—and then I essentially interview him until the seventh time he tries to hit me with a combo fist-bump/appearance-based compliment after I voice a very pedestrian opinion (“Summer’s the best,” is what I’d said, blandly).

I decide to stop talking for awhile. After a few minutes of watching the people on the hill, I say spontaneously that everyone looks pretty in this light—it was truly lovely; golden, limpid and warm, fireflies starting to light up everywhere in that Midwest summer way—and Jake looks at me as if I were a tiny dog that just did a trick and pronounces, “You’re, like, a goddess. I’ve never met anyone like you, a girl who just thinks these things.”

“I think that's on you,” I say. "I get the feeling you're pretty sexist."

“That’s a really mean thing to say,” he says.

“I’m sorry,” I say. The sativa blend is making my thoughts feel like Tetris pieces as they come out of my mouth. “I’m not trying to slight you. I’m just getting a read on you as the type of person who expects women to be dumb.”

He looks at me sadly. “That’s not true at all.”

“Okay,” I say. “I’m sorry if it’s not. But anyway, like I said, I have a boyfriend.”

“But he’s not here.”

I repeat myself: he's home teaching a class.

“You love this music so much that you came here all by yourself?”

“Yeah,” I say. “I just… really love Sugar Ray.”

“Some of the best music ever made,” he says, initiating our eighth fist-bump.

Under the pavilion and close to the stage, a huge group of people sway to a Vertical Horizon song, waving their hands on the one and three like air traffic controllers. Then the song’s done, and the band bids us goodbye. “This was our tenth time at this venue,” says the lead singer. “The first time was 1992!”

They are immediately replaced by Gin Blossoms, who come out on stage yelling what’s up Detroit! The lawn erupts with cheering as the lead singer’s voice echoes: “This is real Detroit, the real deal right here!” The guys around me are yelling "DE-TROIT! DE-TROIT!"

We are 40 minutes away from downtown Detroit. It’s time to go.

“Great to meet you,” I say, and walk down the lawn. I go to the bathroom, where two girls are crammed into the stall next to me. I think they’re rolling a joint. “Which end do I lick, bro,” one of them stage-whispers, and they start giggling.

Here are my people, I think, feeling warmth in my heart. I wonder if they’ve grown up here and, if so, if they're accustomed to guys acting amazed at their personhood.

•••

With a new beer, I walk to the bottom-middle of the lawn section, leaning against a railing and resting my cup on the ledge. After a minute, a guy in plaid cargo shorts comes up to me, introduces himself as Brian and asks me what sort of music I’m into.

“I really love Sugar Ray,” I say, motioning to my shirt. When he holds out his fist, my reaction comes out as a stifled yelp. Did Jake put you up to this?

“What about you?” I ask.

“Lot of hip hop,” he says.

“Me too!” I say happily. “What’s been your favorite release this year?”

“You probably wouldn’t know it,” he says. “But, a guy called J Cole.”

“Uh, sure,” I say. “Yeah, I’ve listened to that album a bunch. I wish the Miguel song weren't 1,000 percent better than anything else on it.”

“You actually know your shit,” he says, impressed. “You actually really like music. Hey, you’re not like most girls, are you.”

I jump to the immediate conclusion this man is an inferior rube whose favorite things are Macklemore and chicken nuggets. Then I try to remember I’m wearing tiny jorts and a T-shirt that says "MRS. RAY." Don’t be such an asshole, I tell myself. Don’t be such a snob.

“So, why are you here by herself?” he asks.

“I like doing things by myself,” I say.

“You should have someone here to take care of you.”

“What specifically do you mean by that?” I ask. “You know, I’m going to be honest—I'm not feeling this at all. I’m here mostly because I’m a writer and I thought this would be interesting. Which it is, but not how I thought.”

Brian looks sad. “You don’t actually like this music?”

“It's not my current thing,” I say. “I mean, I can appreciate it for sure. We are currently living the American Dream.”

He holds out his fist again as Gin Blossoms breaks into “Hey Jealousy.”

“But even in a technical sense,” I add, one hand resolutely on my beer and the other on my water, “these bands are not good. I don’t know if the original arrangements just sound outdated and they’re afraid to deviate, or—”

“Deviate,” he says. “Big word. You know your shit. I’m a musician.”

I ask what he plays.

“Everything.”

I ask what he’s best at.

“Vocals,” Brian says. “Definitely vocals. I kill at vocals.”

I ask if he’s in a band.

“No,” he says. “It’s hard to be in a band. But I know I’d kill it if I was.”

“It’s hard to be in a great band,” I say. “But it’s not actually hard to be in a band. And the music industry is tough for sure, and it's changing, like anything, but I sort of think that music is like the current writer's market, where good people can get noticed very quickly.”

“You’re too smart for your own good,” he says.

I cough on a mouthful of beer. “That’s so rude,” I say. “Would you ever say that to a guy?"

“I don’t know,” he mumbles.

“You probably think I’m a big hater,” I say, and he nods. “I’m not actually a hater at heart. Just in my head sometimes.”

“Well, right now you’re definitely using your head too much,” he says ruefully.

I realize I am only still talking to Brian because I’ve been too lazy to stand up. Then Sugar Ray takes the stage.

“Booty call!” shouts Mark McGrath, looking well-preserved in a black short-sleeve button down and white pants. “Detroit, I’m coming tonight!”

I say goodbye and walk away as the band wrenches itself pitchily into the raucous yell of “Every Morning.”

•••

During Sugar Ray’s set, this great expanse of white people in colorful summer clothing gets frisky and wild. Girls are dancing barefoot, couples are holding each other prom-picture style, bouncing back and forth with their hands clasped together in the air. Hundreds of mini-universes are contained around me; lots of teenagers are bidding for affection and sneaking beer. I finish mine and jump into a circle of dancing twentysomethings, bumping hips with a girl in red shorts. But when the song ends, I feel awkward and walk away quickly, taking a seat at the opposite end of the lawn, close to where I came in.

Mark McGrath is shouting out the troops. “I know it sounds a little strange to go on like this,” he shouts, his hair gelled perfectly vertical. “But these 19-year-olds, out there, protecting us so we can do this—” His voice cracks with sincere emotion, and the crowd goes wild again, and suddenly he breaks into “Fly.” It's an extended version; when I think it's ending, McGrath drops into an interlude where he chants “fly, fly, fly, fly, fly, fly, fly” over a (pretty badass) vamping bass, and then embarks on what feels like a seven-minute coda.

I've got some space. I'm into this. This song is a good-times classic.

As "Fly" ends, a man in his late forties comes up to me and without introduction tells me that I need to get with his son. “He’s really hot,” he says.

“That’s a weird thing to say,” I say.

“Well,” says the man, “I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but you’re beautiful. And you should be with someone beautiful.”

“Like Mark McGrath,” I say, pointing to my shirt.

“Where are you from? Like, what ethni—”

“Yuck,” I say. “Hey, can you take a picture of me really quick?” I want to prove to myself that I didn't imagine all of this.

He does, and then pulls out his own phone. “Let me—”

I don’t hear the rest because I’m walking away, up the soft green grass. Sugar Ray is covering “Blister in the Sun” and the arena has achieved Peak Midwest Summer Joy. The sun is dropping behind the lawn. Smash Mouth hasn’t gone on yet, but I am suddenly very aware that I need to leave. Nothing has actually transpired here, but this has not been the chill night I had hoped for; these guys have not been chill bros. The Under the Sun tour has unexpectedly turned into a reminder of what often happens when you are a girl and you go someplace alone: you are (at the very least) objectified, which leads to being (at the very least) underestimated, and the times that that has served me well as a writer are far outweighed by the times I have been harassed, roofied, groped in public, followed or forced to hide in foreign grocery stores as the person who's been stalking me lopes ominously by.

At the same time, the overt aggression of those events made them easier to quantify—less, or at least differently insidious than this tomfoolery tonight. These guys at Sugar Ray Fest, if they read this, might flat-out call me a bitch for bridling at what was just them trying to be nice, trying to see what a nice girl was doing there alone. But I wasn't actually alone, because you are never alone when you're with Sugar Ray, and anyway I couldn't actually be alone because of all my new sexist pals. All night I've been wondering if all the women in these dudes' lives get treated like talking mannequins or if it's just a few of them, or what.

As I drive home through the dark hush of Michigan farmland, I pull the thread of my discomfort and catch out the night that I was 13 and snuck into a hotel pool in Galveston and a paunchy man in his fifties gave me my first drink of alcohol ever—a Jack and water in a clear plastic cup, delivered with a gender-specific grin and a pronouncement conferred to be as much of a senses-dulling gift as my tasty cocktail. “You’re pretty,” he said, and I was young and I still thought that was the most important thing, and for a second I was desperately, sincerely grateful.



226 Comments / Post A Comment

klemay

"At this, I jump to the immediate conclusion this man is an inferior rube whose favorite things are Macklemore and chicken nuggets."

*dies*

iceberg

Oh, Jia.

Life is a rich tapestry, isn't it?

People... people are complicated, even when they're very very simple. I mean, there you are, so beautiful and tiny and using BIG WORDS like deviate, and all these dude-bros gallumphing around with NO IDEA that women can have thoughts and preferences of their own and being completely oblivious to your not entirely unjustified disdain. I just kind of wish there had been someone you met there who didn't end up saying something awful and clueless to you.

iceberg

@iceberg that's probably not very clear. I just mean every person is more than the stupid things they think, the things they've been trained to think... I ended up feeling more sympathetic for the idiot bros than I like to, generally.

j-i-a

@iceberg Oh I totally get you. I don't hate those idiot bros at all. I just do. But I don't at all. Basically yes the world is a rich, lovely, weird fucking thing

iceberg

@j-i-a It's sort of like, you can't hate a Labrador for jumping up and slobbering on you, but you'd rather not have your pants covered in drool and dirt.

rathermarvelous

@iceberg Yeah, especially since to me a lot of these interactions seemed tinged with intellectual class conflict. Like, sure, they were surprised that Jia was smart, but that might be because being *smart* is not only a gendered but also a classed (read: liberal arts-y) phenomenon. To put it bluntly, I think they can be forgiven for being confused that anyone at a Sugar Ray concert would use words like "deviate." Which doesn't mean that anyone who went there was dumb, but that they didn't care about seeming not-dumb.

Edit: Sorry, this sounds kind of fucked up and problematic. Words.

Ee Gads

@iceberg Eh, granted this is Jia presenting how they were in all their bro-ness and it's not their side, but I bet each of them was like, "I'm talking to you and calling you pretty and trying to have, like, a REAL conversation with you. And you're not appreciating it. Bi---."

Re: "I just kind of wish there had been someone..." I did totally imagine a scene where I appeared and rescued Jia from one of the terrible bro-mans, and we had gleeful, stoned, ironic times together. I WOULD HAVE BEEN THE COOL ONE! Um, probably not though.

j-i-a

@Ee Gads yeah totally. i was aware the entire time of education and general cultural milieu as huge factors in this experience - but i don't know, i grew up in texas doing a lot of weird rural stuff, and have spent a lot of time in non-creative class industries, and i also want to be able to assert the separation between someone who grew up in a certain environment and someone who i think deserves to be actively called out on pointless sexism

rathermarvelous

@j-i-a That's awesome, and I'm in total support of that. I guess in my own experience, I tend not even to try to correct folks I assume don't have the capacity to understand, based on their they way they were raised or how their own insular social environment tends to operate. Which is a failure on my part.

Ee Gads

I wanted to comment on this again. I find your (@iceberg and @rathermarvelous) more offensive than if Jia HAD gone to the concert to feel all "superior" (which I don't believe she did, but like some commenter said below) and was sharing this to hold them all up for derision. Why are we assuming these men are from some underprivileged class? Sexism and a sincere like of 90's pop/rock are things only the poor/uneducated exhibit? And we're going to compare them to a poorly trained dog? I guess the second was more meant to be funny, but....

iceberg

@Ee Gads wait, what? I don't think they're poor, I don't necessarily think they're uneducated (although it sounds like they have a lot to learn about women). My comment was more about how Jia's disdain for them was shiningly obvious and they seemed so clueless and oblivious, before AND after she called them out. The labrador analogy (ANALOGY, not actually saying they are like dogs) was meant to indicate that it seemed none of the men were malicious or ill-intentioned, which made me sympathetic to them, but at the same time did not excuse the stupid thoughtless things they said to Jia (represented by dirt and drool in the analogy))

rathermarvelous

@Ee Gads Yeah, the emphasis was on *intellectual* in my use of the phrase "intellectual class conflict." What I meant to articulate was that Jia's correcting these bros was an instance of possibly non-productive dialogue not only because of entrenched and unthinking sexism on the guys' parts, but because the language Jia used was likely not one they would understand. I did not mean to imply that unintellectual = poor or poor = sexist, or even to evoke "the poor" at all, merely point out a difference of the intellectually initiated and uninitiated.

Ee Gads

@iceberg it was rathermarvelous, "because being *smart* is not only a gendered but also a classed (read: liberal arts-y) phenomenon". And then your comparison. The combo rubbed me the wrong way.

Gulfie

You know how sometimes you want to believe something so you purposely misread nuance? Because man, I really do love Sugar Ray...

Heat Signature

I'd like to know what sort of wizardry Mark McGuire is using to convince people that he can sing well. Also Jia, I LOVE your hair. Also, maybe you should do more of these sort of things and then write about them, because this was fascinating.

RebeccaKW

@Heat Signature I never really thought he could sing well. I just always found those songs to be mesmerizing. There is just something in those songs that make me happy.

Biketastrophy

@Heat Signature I know this was unintentional, but I'm now imagining big roided up baseball player Mark McGuire singing Sugar Ray terribly, and its pretty funny.

itiresias

@Biketastrophy Same and it's so beautiful.

Heat Signature

@Biketastrophy HAHAHAHA Oh man. Clearly I'm not paying attention (it happens frequently, and not just in relation Sugar Ray).

RebeccaKW

I loved this. And the baseball story...Anytime I'm around new people and I'm talking about the NFL draft or the baseball game or whatever, the men always act amazed. "I can't believe you know this stuff." Dear men-the next time you are surprised by a woman's knowledge, the best thing to do is to continue speaking to her about it, in an intelligent way. Do not act like she's a newly discovered creature you are visiting at the zoo. Do not act like she memorized an ESPN article and it is your job to interrogate her until you prove that is her sole knowledge.

sophia_h

@RebeccaKW I think what's even more upsetting to me about that phenomenon is that they're only impressed that you know stuff that they care about. Because most women know plenty of things, it's just not things men value or respect. So they're really saying "I can't believe you know information I find relevant and important, not just stupid lady crap."

iceberg

@sophia_h This must be why I never get this type of comment, because I know about things, but not generally traditional dude-bro things like sport or video games. How annoying it must be!

sophia_h

@iceberg It is, especially because baseball stats have no more intrinsic value than celebrity info, it's just hallowed and approved by dude culture. Bonding with your mother over old movies is cheesy; bonding with your father over baseball history is sacred.

RebeccaKW

@sophia_h Exactly. They can't just appreciate that you know it. You'd think a guy would happy he found a woman with whom he could enjoy a football game. Instead he acts like there's something going on-I'm really a man in drag or something.

RebeccaKW

@iceberg I was a geology major. My fellow (male) majors and I would go out, play pool on Fridays. We'd usually end up playing against some random guys. They'd ask my friends, what do you study. Not seem surprised when the answer was geology. "Oh, cool." Then when I answered the same way, it was always shock. "Really? Isn't it hard?" WTH. Why don't you ask the guys that question?

Sassafrass

@sophia_h Thank you!! This is the best explanation I've read of why that type of response/behavior from men can be so aggravating.

Citizen Christy

Love this. Made me miss Michigan and haphazard-feeling music festivals. Did not make me miss going out alone, in Michigan or otherwise.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I don't envy you this brotastic experience. Sounds brotally bro-utal.

But I like the idea of looking at how women's looks affect our experience in this world, in both positive and negative ways. You mention that your looks have allowed you to get away with imbibing in public, and they help you delve into people's lives, so that's of benefit to you even if it stems from a sexist place ("she's so small and pretty, and it's not like a girl can actually write anything important,"). Then, there's the downside, of being treated like a cardboard cut-out of a person. Different sides of the same coin though.

RoxxieRae

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Yeah, I was thinking about the looks thing too... I am hugely into going to things alone (music festivals and shows in particular) because it's fun to meet people and not worry about waiting for your friend in the bathroom. However, I am also 6' tall, look like i was built for farmin'/fightin' and have a full head of gray hair. While I am sociable and have no problem making the connections to imbibe with strangers, I rarely have to deal with any unwanted attention of the "what are you doing here alone, beautiful?" variety. I would honestly be super pissed if i did.

iceberg

@RoxxieRae A few years ago, I used to get street harassed so regularly that seeing a dude on the sidewalk made me physically flinch in dread, but it stopped after the kids were born, even if they're not with me. Now I could imagine doing things alone and not worrying about that shit!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@RoxxieRae Well, not to be too creepy about it, 6-feet tall, strong build and real hair sounds quite beautiful to me. So I'll say it: "what are you doing here commenting alone, beautiful?"

RoxxieRae

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose LOL you are totally making my day. The description was not to suggest that I'm not great-lookin', just maybe less approachable by the kind of people who are confused/aroused by a lady on her own in public? @iceberg that is HORRID. Horrid! I feel really fortunate that i haven't had to deal with that bullshit for the most part. And now that you feel better about doing it, may i just say... DO IT. It's THE BEST.

Faintly Macabre

@RoxxieRae I've had somewhat similar experiences. I am almost 6' tall but I'm also young, usually wearing a dress, and have resting sadface. So I get a weird mixture of normal harassment for being a girl, more intense creeping by guys who see the dress and sadface and think I'm vulnerable, and merciful avoidance by creepers who note that I'm bigger than they are. It's a strange intersection of privilege and oppression (for lack of a better word).

RoxxieRae

@Faintly Macabre Same here, but with SEVERE resting bitchface. And i'm pretty young (early 30s), but went gray at like, 19. I had a great, violence-free run of about 6 years as a bouncer at a rock and roll club that i believe was based solely on my size... punching a girl as big as me is such a lose/lose for a guy at a bar, even given the likely outcome that i would probably just fall down and cry.

itiresias

@RoxxieRae Wait, you sound awesome.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Faintly Macabre "You're tall!"
"I know."

(I'm 5'10")

RoxxieRae

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose AHAHAHAA isn't that the weirdest thing people say? Am I supposed to say "thank you?"

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@RoxxieRae "Your legs are really long!"
"Thanks, I grew them myself."

Want to start a tall, strong ladies' club? We can stand around together and be tall.

cminor

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
YES. I get this all the time and I'm only 5'8".
Also, the dreaded, "You're actually pretty". (Always with mild surprise). WTF am i supposed to do with that? Thanks strange man. Glad to know I "Actually" fit your definition of attractive.

Faintly Macabre

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Better than what my friend said a few days ago when I was trying to catch a frisbee: "It's such a shame, those long limbs that go to waste." (5'10" high five!)

@RoxxieRae I could have used that fierce-face-ness when I ushered. I think being a girl kept some guys from being as nasty/angry as they might have to a man, and I could easily physically block people (yay playing ultimate in high school, even if I can't catch), but I sometimes had to use my meanest voice and face to get them to realize that I actually meant business.

When walking alone at night, being tall and putting on a mean face usually keeps men away, which is good because I am slow and have no upper-body strength.

RoxxieRae

@Faintly Macabre Word, stomp your feet and look mean and AWARE. As my high school anthropology teacher told me, "Predators are like anyone else, they don't like a hassle. Make yourself look like THE BIGGEST HASSLE."

rathermarvelous

This was amazing and true. I go out alone all the time, and the only way I can avoid this kind of reception is to give off a distinct get-the-fuck-away-from-me air. Broey behavior is usually harmless, but it definitely puts our supposed progressiveness as a society in perspective. Here as in much of the developing world, an unattended woman is a cause for concern, if not an open threat to male dominance. Thanks, Jia!

RebeccaKW

@rathermarvelous I will go pretty much anywhere by myself. The only places I don't go are bars (b/c I can drink at home alone and use my own bathroom) and dance clubs. I used to go dancing by myself, b/c once on the floor, no one knows. But a man tried to follow me home once, under the pretense of being a cop. I decided that those types of places are not the best environment for a single lady.

rathermarvelous

@RebeccaKW Ew. I'm sorry that happened to you. Also, drinking at home with your own bathroom is the bomb.

avocadosandwich

@rathermarvelous Yeah. A woman has the right to be in a public place on her own. re: "an unattended woman is a cause for concern". I've definitely had to defend to strangers why yes, I am okay being in this bar without a chaperone.

thelittledeath

@rathermarvelous - This. I go to most things solo, even though I may meet up with friends later, planned or spontaneously. Being able to leave when I went, go where I want, is to important. BRF is a magnificent weapon in the war against dudebros. As is befriending all the servers/bartenders/bouncers/owners.

RebeccaKW

@rathermarvelous It is, especially now that I'm older and can really appreciate the joy of drinking in your yoga pants.

That event happened pre-cell phones. Nothing bad happened, but I thankfully was smart enough to never get out of my car. It has just made me more cautious, even in groups, when I go to any bar/nightclub.

cminor

@avocadosandwich Yes. Why do dudes think this okay? I honestly do not understand it.

avocadosandwich

@cminor Yeah. It feels very insulting.

j-i-a

@rathermarvelous Yeah, the "get the fuck away from me" vibe - up till this point, like literally this comment, it's not really a thing that I have felt warrants outwardly acknowledging as something I don't like doing (because all things considered... whatever) but yeah, it does make you sad after awhile, and I don't like feeling guards come up in day-to-day situations here that I had to, out of necessity, keep up 100% of the time in, say, Peace Corps.

Love drinking in any sort of sports wear, gotta say. Also, at home.

testingwithfire

@rathermarvelous I've found that I've mostly been left alone in the many years I've been going to stuff by myself. I'm tall and OK looking but nothing special, and I'm not very smiley at all; I think the combination is offputting/just not that attractive to most bros. And the incidence has definitely slackened off as I've gone through my forties.

This bothered me back in the days when I thought I had to pair off with someone; now it's more of a relief than anything else. When I'm on a bike trail by myself in a tank top and not-short shorts and I pass by three 18-year-old guys and they don't look at me at all? Now my reaction is more "whew" than anything else. It's nice to feel that you're being admired but often the "admiration" is something else entirely. Better just to be invisible to a lot of guys, I've found.

avocadosandwich

@testingwithfire Amen sister

grizzle_bees

@rathermarvelous I love to just go to a bar with a book by myself...but sadly do not often, because I allllwaaayyyss end up getting hit on, no matter how much resting bitchface I try to project. Because once a dude starts chatting to me, I get that brief instant of hoping "hey, maybe dude just wants some basic human connection," and when he leaves at the first mention of Mr. Shart, I feel all angry-relieved-sad and that's too much to process when all I want is some damn whiskey and some damn literature.

I realize this is a very privileged sort of complaint (UUUGHHH I'm too pretty and too nice!) but I know you ladies feel me. *fistbump*

RoxxieRae

Jia, this is gorgeous and hilarious; I also feel fucking terrible that this happens to you when you go to shows alone. Is this how it is everywhere? Was it just this crowd? This section of the country? Going to shows alone is one of my favorite things in the world, but I am (generally, mercifully) left alone.

meetapossum

JIA I LOVE YOU FOR DOING THIS.

And now I will actually read the article.

meetapossum

@meetapossum Ugh, those dudes were terrible. "Deviate" is a big word? I've been lucky enough to have really nice conversations with guys I've met when I've gone to shows alone. But perhaps it's the bands that bring these types of fans.

But, for what it's worth, summer IS the best.

RoxxieRae

Also, this:

"Where are you from? Like, what ethni—”

“Yuck,” I say.

...gave me such a great laugh!!

j-i-a

@RoxxieRae hahah good. that is another dimension for another time (actually probably for never because i think i have permanently exhausted all my fucks for "flirty ethnicity guessing game," no more to give on that one ever)

RoxxieRae

@j-i-a Right? Fuck that. Also, it displays such a VOID of game. "Um... i am super un-creative, so i will talk about theeeeeeeeeeee FIRST THING I NOTICED ABOUT YOU that has nothing to do with who you are." Ugh, go home with that shit.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@RoxxieRae "Hey, I noticed you have skin."

tangocharlie

I love this. I have thoughts, but they are mostly superficial (like, I love your hair), so just thanks for writing this.

Jaya

As another small, smiley girl with a nearly-identical name that people just MUST know the origin of who also gets infuriated at guys calling me "impressive" with the tone that my interests are only cool because I'm a girl, thank you, so much.

And now I'm listening to "Fly"

meetapossum

@Jaya "Follow You Down" literally just popped up on my Spotify shuffle.

Mila

@Jaya Just feeling so much solidarity with my "enthic" J name sisters. Which I am very white (just have hippie parents), so it is particularly funny when people try to place my enthicity via my name. (Once in a job interview, FOR A GOVERNMENT JOB, they asked my the origins of my name, I said it was a middle eastern name, because my father is muslim, and they said "so are you legal to work in the United States?" OMG). But so many weird creepy pick up lines around my name! "Oh, that is so...exotic." Said like exotic has a particularly dirty meaning. Or they ask me what my name means, and it has a complimentary meaning relating to appearances, and they say "oh, that is a really fitting name for you" and I want to snort "You think you are the first person who whipped that cheesy line out?" So, stay strong, J sisters!

LMac

I can't handle this. Jia, you are the level best, and your responses to those woefully bland, uninteresting and toxic dude-bros were spot-on. I raise a cup of lukewarm festival beer to you.

talaria

Jia, you are amazing, and I want to be your best friend. I say this as someone who used to make a habit of calling out sexist bros while drunk at parties -- and someone who has been known to go alone to various events. There's something very melancholic about having no one to turn to afterwards and say "Remember when?" & you feel as though you've just had this experience that may as well be imaginary.

rathermarvelous

@talaria Re: "There's something very melancholic about having no one to turn to afterwards and say 'Remember when?' & you feel as though you've just had this experience that may as well be imaginary."

This is why I have a Twitter feed.

anachronistique

@talaria This is why I both love and dislike going to concerts alone. Taking the train home by myself is vastly inferior to riding home with a friend and gushing over how they played our favorite songs or how the impromptu cover was the best part of the night.

j-i-a

@talaria Yo what's worse is when you actually do forget things you don't share with anybody right? I forget almost everything, I think; I wrote most of this on my phone in the car before I drove home, and thank goodness, because I was looking at the notes the next morning like OH RIGHT OH RIGHT OH SHIT, THAT GUY

talaria

@j-i-a yep. I am terrified of forgetting. There are whole swathes of my life I don't recall but I guess that's what therapy is for? But maybe if you forget they aren't really worth remembering after all, and you're always going to be left with a ~feeling or whatever's strongest anyway.

Phones. What would we do without them.

Julia duMais

@j-i-a ha ha Oh maaaaaaan yes I am so super-forgetful, it is terrible/sad. But also partly I am just lazy? Like, I live just far enough out from the nearest city that if I don't have someone else to hold me accountable, I will probably go "ehhh it's too nasty out for that schlep". I don't MIND going to things alone, and sometimes it is super-nice, but the odds of my actually going to them are much higher if there is another person.

pterodactylish

Ahhhh yes so many times over. This was beautiful.

I wonder, Jia/other ladies, if you notice the flip side of this: when you're with a dude (even just a friend!) do you ever feel like people are ONLY leaving you alone because of the dude? I do. It sort of drives me bonkers, because, no, I'm a person! You should bother me either all the time or not at all, but not just when I'm dude-less. At the same time, I sort of revel in the break of obnoxious looks, conversations, touches, etc. whenever I'm with dudes. It's a bummer.

blueblazes

@pterodactylish For many years, my primary wingman was a dude. Those years encompassed a very long, dry period in my "picking up guys in bars" career. However, one night I was hanging out with aforementioned wingman at the bar and a dude came and talked to me anyway. And that's the dude I married.

itiresias

@pterodactylish Yes, but another thing I hate is that I find myself using it as a reflex when I'm alone and being bothered - "sorry, I have a boyfriend." Even when I've been single, I've heard it come out of my mouth because I feel like it'll be the best way to drive this creep away without making a scene, and that is not the fucking excuse I should have to give when I just don't want to be harassed.

@blueblazes I am dating my former wingman because he was the one that got it.

fallopian princess

@pterodactylish YES. There are times when I actually find myself getting angry that my boyfriend is taking too long getting a drink / going to the bathroom because of the unwelcome attention that comes my way if he’s gone for more than 5 minutes. I hate that I feel like I have to have a man around to just stand alone in peace in certain spaces. It’s fucked.

pterodactylish

@blueblazes Nice! I used to use pig tails as my dude repellent, because they look crazy nerdy on me. Then one day a dude was like 'man, you look awesome in braids.' Still with him, two years later.

The keepers are just like that, I think.

Kulojam

@pterodactylish Yes. And then dude friends/boyfriends don't believe you when you try to describe how much harassment you get when you're alone because they've never seen it. Because you don't get the same level of harassment when you're accompanied by a dude.

And I hate that the "I have a partner" excuse works to make creepers go away. I mean, I've used it before, but it also drives me nuts that if I'm at a party talking to someone new and he finds out I'm partnered up, he hightails it out of there. Oh, I am no longer worthy of conversation because I'm not sexually available to you? Thanks, buddy.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@blueblazes Reader, I married him.

adorable-eggplant

@Kulojam Except when it doesn't work. # of assholes (not dudebros, usually older gents) who have come back with: "I don't see a ring." > 0

Maura Johnston

This all feels a bit... fish-in-barrel.

Maura Johnston

Like, I wonder what would happen if it wasn't set at such a "funny" show?

Maura Johnston

(Probably a lot of similar interactions, only with different "better than you" dynamics.)

Maura Johnston

@polka dots vs stripes Well I guess we'll never know, will we.

j-i-a

@Maura Johnston I understand what you're saying, totally. If I had gone out seeking material about sexism or bros or even gone out w the explicit intent to mock people, I would agree. But this is literally just a (toned down) account of the events of the evening. I was ready to just hang out, maybe make some new pals, but only intended to people watch and eavesdrop really, and enjoy some summer tunes

j-i-a

@Maura Johnston I also want to be clear that I don't consider myself better than the show's fans at large:just more apprised of gender equality than these three misguided guys, which is one specific thing I will assert as better in a way that I wouldn't about my everyday taste in music. These dudes, their mothers would probably hate me. Etc

Caitlin Podiak

I want to chime in to say that I just commented below about a similar experience I had at a screenwriting conference in Austin, and the vibe was very similar to what Jia is describing here, without any hint of "fish-in-barrel" or "better than you" dynamics, so I don't personally see that as being a determining factor in her story.

hollysh

Thanks for writing about this, Jia. It's scary how fast naive bro-ness can turn into aggressive and intimidating behavior. At a bar a few months ago I sternly (but courteously) asked a dude bro to let a friend in I finish our conversation after he interrupted us to make a sleazy move, and he later came up and yelled at me for being "an impolite bitch". I'm very impressed with how you managed to question and call out these bros while maintaining an air of respect and politeness.

polka dots vs stripes

@hollysh It's sad how often I don't call bros out on their behavior because I'm afraid of how fast and how far they'll take it, especially if they've been drinking. "Oh, what, we're just being friendly" can turn into "You're a dumb bitch" and threats of physical violence frighteningly quickly.

adorable-eggplant

@hollysh Impolite bitch for enforcing a rule of basic etiquette? o.O

j-i-a

@hollysh Calling a bro out is a delicate art, and I hate that doing it successfully often involves a certain amount of - since there's not a better word for it - flirting, or whatever it is when you are pleasant-faced and implying that you'd like to talk to them more. I sometimes get really aggressive, especially in response to certain types of catcall, and it rarely feels good or works (although sometimes... it feels great)

hollysh

@j-i-a I hear you. I think when someone says something sexist in the manner of these dudes - where it's not overtly malicious or aggressive, or at least not to them - if we can stomach it, it's worth the trouble to call them out in a friendly way so they might think about this stuff more intently. I think of it as humouring them, I guess? But yeah overt catcalling warrants a hearty "FUCK YOU", always.

polka dots vs stripes

Jia this is a gold-medal effort in ending casual sexism. "I've never met a girl who just THINKS THESE THINGS"??? ugggggh

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

Going to shows alone, why am I so scared of it? I don't have anything like these dudes to worry about!!

itiresias

As soon as I got to you smoking in the car and feeling like a loser, I was like "ha, that's exactly what I'd do...or not, because then I'd be more cynical, and I would be obvious about it if I met people, and I would find ways to hate them all even if they didn't mean it."

I'm really sorry you had to miss Smash Mouth (dead serious) and that people really suck sometimes, even when they don't mean it. Also, how vulnerable it feels to be small, and the mix of good and bad when you know you're capitalizing on it.

Caitlin Podiak

@itiresias Your comment reminded me of when I went to the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Conference last fall, which was an extremely rare occurrence of me having to navigate numerous social interactions by myself, since I'm a bookworm homebody in a decade-long, somewhat codependent relationship. Anyway, you wouldn't necessarily assume a screenwriting conference would be full of shallow, sexist dummies, but I had so many of these kinds of conversations, and was acutely aware of the whole vulnerable smallness thing.

By the time the wrap party on the last night of the conference came around, I was getting grumpy and exhausted with the whole thing, so I ate half of a sativa hash oil lozenge to perk myself up. That, plus a few drinks from the open bar, and the obvious disdainful cynicism started pouring out of me in an uncomfortably bitchy yet also enjoyably satisfying kind of way. But my weird inebriated feminist-y aggression actually led to some decently worthwhile exchanges that maybe even resulted in a tiny bit of enlightenment for the random screenwriter bros I decided to drunkenly lecture.

ohbladi

@Caitlin Podiak Sidenote- would you consider going to the festival again despite all the (disappointingly shallow) dude bros? Was it a good experience? I'm asking because I'm in Dallas ATM and thinking about going this October.

Caitlin Podiak

@ohbladi If you are interested in the screenwriting conference specifically, I think it's worth checking out, but I wouldn't go again unless I were a semifinalist or higher in the screenplay competition, and could afford to buy a producer's badge and stay at the Driskill. More thoughts here: http://caitlinpodiak.com/post/34547290537/the-best-thing-about-the-austin-film-festivals

If you are just talking about the film festival part, I didn't have a chance to go to any movies so I couldn't say, but I'm guessing it would be fun.

honey cowl

THIS IS SO GOOD. And so smart. Jia. You are so smart! I can't manage to casually call out sexism with that much eloquence and class. I splutter and flail my hands. Gonna write some of this down for real.

hollysh

@honey cowl The more you try the easier it gets! It's so frustrating to try and articulate this stuff at first, but if you start doing it in friendly circles, you get better and pointing out sexist (and racist and classist and abelist and homophobic and transphobic and on and on and on) stuff in a way that isn't so confrontational it makes people freak it out, and isn't so weak-willed that they don't have to think about what you're saying.

honey cowl

@hollysh With all due respect, spluttering and flailing my hands has not gone away in 10 years of pointing out -ist stuff. I am not as well-spoken as I would like to be and that is just that. Maybe I'm misinterpreting this statement but I am overly sensitive to being talked down to, which is what your comment felt like. Sorry if that's not the case!

yeah-elle

Gosh, this is good.

yeah-elle

@yeah-elle I keep going back and re-reading:

“That comment is rooted in severe sexism,” I say.

“That’s a really mean thing to say,” he says.

BECAUSE IT IS SO GOOD (and awful but ughh just the way you present it, BAM)

Amphora

@yeah-elle "That's a weird thing to say" is a phrase a lot of people approaching strange women need to hear more often.

yeah-elle

@Amphora Yep. That and "Why would you say that?" which actually leads some idiots to say "Cause girls are usually dumb/boring/stupid/slutty/prude/ugly/etc" straight out of their mouths.

Pound of Salt

Maybe I need to reread this, but I'm not sure what the intention of this piece is - am I supposed to feel sorry for the author because she went to a show feeling superior (liking the music somewhat ironically, not earnestly like the unsophicated fools she encounters) and then had those feelings confirmed? Ok, so?

j-i-a

@Pound of Salt I did not go there feeling superior. I have a lot of appreciation for things like the under the sun tour that any amount of irony will ever touch. There is no intention to this piece, it's just the story of one night I failed to chill

j-i-a

@Pound of Salt also mos def don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, that would be very dumb of me to want that

melis

@j-i-a THE NIGHT SHE FAILED TO CHILL: THE JIA TOLENTINO STORY

adorable-eggplant

@j-i-a But there was a brief glimmer of chill in the restroom! That was my favorite part. The glimmer of chill.

I thought it was wonderful and internally fist pumped all of your responses. If you'd felt superior, then why would you have interacted at all? It takes some faith in humanity (and the intelligence of your audience) to engage and respond.

This was by far the best piece I've read on the 'pin (the internet all week? Whatever the appropriate level of compliment) and I'd love to hear more: make them give you a concert attendance budget.

For the record, I say this as someone who will turn 'Hey Jealousy' up on the radio, insipid as the melody might be (being drunk and crashing on exes' couches though is deep, man, and I mean that with all sincerity).

j-i-a

@melis my friend texted me today and was like if you'd died at that thing, that's your tombstone: THESE BROS WERE NOT CHILL BROS

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@j-i-a I think it's "Yasiin Bey don't want anyone to feel sorry for me" now

j-i-a

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict hahahahahahahahahaha

j-i-a

@adorable-eggplant I KNOW but here's the thing: I totally wanted to be like HEY GIRLS U SEEM COOL WANNA BE FRIENDS FOR THE NIGHT and then my brain made this Escherian stairwell where I was like "The bros have made me one of them"

adorable-eggplant

@j-i-a Sisterhood is powerful. Or weed. Both?

j-i-a

@adorable-eggplant
♪♬ imagine all the people ♪♬
♪♬ sisters, bros, and weed ♪♬
♪♬ woo ooo, ooooo ♪♬

adorable-eggplant

@j-i-a Was that the encore? I'm picturing Sugar Ray crooning it at me with perfectly frosted hair, icy blue eyes and rippling washboard abs. War is over.

Pound of Salt

@j-i-a I'm sorry if that was rude, which was not my intention. Maybe I just wanted to be the one voice of dissent in the comments :)

Pound of Salt

@j-i-a Also, I'm curious about pieces written in this style, like straightforward recollections without really reflecting on the experience - I've heard it described as affectless realism (in relation to Marie Calloway's writing, which is a much more extreme example of the style). I'm terrible inarticulate, so I apologize if this isn't making sense - but it's kind of like, what's writing without a purpose?
I'm not trying to be critical of YOU as a person, just wanted to get some thoughts out there on these kind of intention-less pieces. Thanks for your earlier response, I appreciate that you took the time.

j-i-a

@Pound of Salt I think there is a distinct difference between writing without the intention to provoke any specific reader reaction (which is what you implied originally, that I might want people to feel sorry for me) and writing without purpose or reflection. I don't ever intend to be deliberately artless or non-reflective, and like a lot of writers I more often have to keep myself from moving towards the didactic opposite

redridinghoodrat

“You actually really like _______. Hey, you’re not like most girls, are you.” Music/science/video games/comics/burritos/algebra/leathermaking/Egyptology/opening doors/swordfighting/cooking with a wok/breakdancing/trains/being alone. I desperately wish women weren't so often treated as...frosting. Yuck. Take our picture and GTFO.

hollysh

@redridinghoodrat FROSTING. That's it exactly. You are brilliant.

mariko

My heart kind of swelled after reading this. The writing was excellent and even moreso, the complicated sense of humanity and compassion contained within this piece.

I'm also loving the direction the 'pin has taken this week - so solid with its longer-form pieces, interviews, and comics.

j-i-a

@mariko <3 you guys are great

foxbat91

On behalf of men: sorry. Some of us are not assholes.

j-i-a

@foxbat91 oh dude I know. for a decade, friend wise, i have been in a cloistered environment of awesome, feminist bros, which is a big part of the reason that I was so taken aback by this night. so many men are truly amazing and respectful and equal opportunity and I love them all for it

justjoined)

You're a pretty good writer - I really enjoyed reading this.

I also think it's awesome how many guys can't talk to girls because they view them as objects and not as actual people with their own goals and lives; makes it way easier for me :)

I think that you're too arrogant though.. “It’s hard to be in a great band,” I say. “But it’s not actually hard to be in a band. And real talent gets out somehow. The music industry is tough for sure, and it's changing as dramatically as any other creative field is right now, but music is like the current writer's market in that it's possible for good people to get noticed very quickly, and both are more meritocratic than, say, the movie system.”

Ok cool..

Still you're a good writer but just tone down all of your arrogance and passive aggression

yeah-elle

@justjoined) I think it's awesome how dudes like yourself openly, vocally, glibly enjoy the way systemic misogyny results in your (alleged) decency coming off as way more impressive than it (allegedly) is. It makes it way easier for me to feel secure in calling you a juicebox.

Inkling

@yeah-elle
I was trying to figure out whether to use my words or just type out the sound of me hate-laughing.

j-i-a

@justjoined) Yo I stand by that statement 100%. What is arrogant and passive aggressive about it? That is a perspective I have thought through and talked through repeatedly with people in both fields, which make up a majority of my friends and work relationships; it wasn't just something I said to slight Brian, not even remotely so. Are you Brian?

Caitlin Podiak

@justjoined) I think it's awesome how many guys interpret any kind of thoughtful or intelligent commentary from a girl as being arrogant or passive aggressive. It makes it way easier to pick up on their sexism and insecurity, and then quickly dismiss and ignore them. (That last bit was a little arrogant, admittedly. See the difference?)

j-i-a

@Caitlin Podiak Also... the instinct to say something that's like "Hey, you're all right! Just do this one thing and I'll like you even more" is such a commanding, gendered thing in my perception

Caitlin Podiak

@j-i-a For sure. Sometimes it's intentional "negging" but I think more often it's an unconsciously ingrained reflex to protect their own egos.

NotFace

@justjoined) It strikes me -- and this is just my opinion here -- that telling someone to "tone down" any aspect of their writing style, to better suit your specific reading style, makes you sound like a bit of a knob. I'm not sure if that's what you were going for, but hey.

justjoined)

@Caitlin Podiak C'mon just because I'm a guy and I say something remotely mean about a girl doesen't mean that i'm sexist!! That's so overused these days haha

You really don't think that Jia was arrogant at all?? Why keep talking to these guys if the whole time you're thinking about how useless they are and why bust out a whole paragraph comparing the music, movie and writing industries - you know it's just going to make them feel stupid. That's totally arrogance! doesen't matter if you're a girl or a guy. Anyone who approaches conversation with that kind of mentality isn't going to make friends or seem humble

yeah-elle

@justjoined) You know what's really overused? Men telling women to change the way they act so they can be more comfortable. So they don't have to feel stupid! So they can "make friends."

Jia "busting out a whole paragraph" isn't arrogance. It's her voicing a well-informed opinion relevant to the conversation. The other options: keeping her mouth shut? humoring him by praising him? dumbing herself down so to not "make them feel stupid" by comparison? Are you kidding me?

karenb

@justjoined) i wasn't going to jump in, because you all are doing so well, but i would point out that none of these conversations were initiated by Jia, and were she to keep the conversation to 'their level' (now who is being condescending?) that would have been dishonest and manipulative in so many ways. not to mention totally boring.

Caitlin Podiak

@justjoined) I really don't think that Jia was arrogant at all. There is a social expectation for women to dumb themselves down in order to "seem humble" and avoid making men feel threatened or insecure about their own intelligence or lack thereof, but choosing not to do so is not the same as being arrogant. It isn't our responsibility to humor you by giggling and twirling our hair and downplaying our own substance or intelligence.

Jia never indicated that she was thinking about how useless this guy was prior to her comment about breaking into the music industry, which, for the record, sounds like a sincere, genuine, and straightforward effort to make conversation. Approaching conversation with that kind of mentality is a great way to make friends with other thoughtful, interesting people. Maybe it reads as pretentious if you actually are stupid, but that isn't Jia's fault or her problem.

j-i-a

@justjoined) hahahahahahaha you think that the ball-busting act of speaking for "a whole paragraph" about big topics like "INDUSTRIES" is arrogant enough to prevent me making friends. hahaha oh no i'm not going to "seem humble."

hahahahahahaha this is so funny; i think you're trolling, but 1) all things considered i only want to be friends with people who can handle full paragraphs and 2) tbh i could befriend a brick fuckin wall

j-i-a

@justjoined) it's also excellent humor that you think I'm arrogant for talking like I would to any of my buddies but Brian being like "I play everything" and "I kill at vocals" and "I'm not in a band but I'd kill it if I was" is somehow par for the course

adorable-eggplant

@j-i-a Unless he's secretly the Edge from U2 on hiatus and just being modest about his own achievements and expressing some angst over the fact that if given a chance, he'd kill at vocals, you know, if someone let would only let him try.

Also, if someone saying intelligent, challenging things to you makes you feel stupid, than it's worth considering that maybe you are stupid (in that particular area). In which case hey, listen, you may learn something!

ETA: And I also have zero respect for the "I'm not in a band, but..." weasel because I live in a place where it's more common to be in a band than not. Have a funny pun name and a friend who plays bass? You are in luck: insta-band. But seriously. So simple.

Julia duMais

@justjoined) oh bless your little heart

stonefruit

@j-i-a dude Jia I really do think this is Brian?

j-i-a

@adorable-eggplant yeah. i am in a band called truman chipotle because of EXACTLY, literally, those two reasons

adorable-eggplant

@j-i-a I was in a band (since dissolved) because I had the idea of playing screamo covers of Fiona Apple songs. We were 'Applecore' and it was glorious for a brief glittering moment. But it turns out I do not like screamo.

justjoined)

@j-i-a Brian's obviously an idiot and you're not so he's held to a lower social standard then you; he can be stupid and arrogant but its because he doesn't know any better. But you do know that you're being cocky and arrogant and are making him feel stupid. I don't know why I even commented on the article, its all good. You're a writer and a feminist and i'm obviously not a feminist so there's nothing i can do to change anyone's minds on this forum

j-i-a

@justjoined) you are not a feminist? You don't think women deserve equal pay for equal work? Do you think women should control their reproductive rights? Do you think women are somehow lesser than men? I have a lot of ultra bro friends that are feminists through and through, in attitude at the least if not in the overt bumper sticker way, and I'm genuinely curious about why you are specifically averse to the term. But you are right! It's obvious you are not a feminist

justjoined)

@j-i-a Obviously I respect women and think that they deserve equal pay, control of reproductive rights, etc. Women are definitely not lesser than men in any way. Neverthelss I won't actively advocate for any of these things because even though women for sure deserve to be equal to men, ultimately women are just not men. They're more emotional, more caring, more sensitive (and just as smart, i am not saying that men are smarter) - I don't know why women want to be equal to men in everything when they will never be because men and women are never going to be the same type of person!

First of all I think that women and men were meant to be together because only women and men as a couple can naturally have a baby.. and no i don't have anything against gay people. I just feel really bad for them because I think they've just got a different set of DNA by accident (like add or being born with 1 leg. I personally do not want to be with a woman who is the same as me: I don't want a woman who makes as much money, who is as ambitious as i am, who like the same things as me. I don't want to be a couple with myself! I want someone different, someone who can complement me and help me grow instead of a copy of myself. So while i personally think that women definitely deserve equal rights, that it's the right thing and that obviously every women in the world is going to be in support of feminism - I still personally would be happier with a woman who is more mellow, doesen't like to get fucked up with her girls all the time, and will complement me instead of compete with me.

yeah-elle

ohhhh wow

paging @Inkling, time for your hate-laughter, please.

AnalogMetronome

@justjoined) oh my god. no.

@yeah-elle hi, i'm here for the hate-laughter! (also your commenter pic seems particularly apt right now)

leonstj

@justjoined) - Yo all those "girls" who like to get fucked up and compete, tell them to call me. I mean not like romantically/sexually 'call me', but they sound like fun people who are confident in their own steez and might be fun folk to chill with. And, fuck, maybe romantically too actually if I hit it off with one of them, cuz ain't nothing undateable 'bout a woman like that.

As for equality bro. Think about it this way: Two human beings of the same race, class, gender, and education and whatever are generally thought of as "equal" - yet, nobody would ever say that "these two people are the same." All individuals have their own different dreams & histories & favorite jokes, pizza toppings, fuck positions, and songs. Equality doesn't mean a lack of differentiation, it just means freedom in choosing where you get to be different.

I'm not trying to slow your roll and shit - you can prefer mellow women, romantically, to wild & crazy ones. Romantically, I prefer women with more ambition than me. But whatever, that's only a personal compatibility preference. You gotta not like, prescribe that all women act in the ways that make them desirable to you, romantically.

Also ps: if you think dating a woman who just exists to complement her man is better than a strong lady with her own money, just think about (a)how much more awesome the vacations you take together will be when you both have equal incomes or (b)the fact that if you are treating a woman like a lesser fucking species instead of an equal human being who you share your life with, doesn't that mean you're basically into bestiality?

iceberg

@j-i-a TRUMAN CHIPOTLE best band name ever.

Blue skies

@leon s YES okay I'm reading this days later but thank you

commanderbanana

@justjoined) You ain't from around here, are you, boy. If I was you, I'd get back in that fancy car you got there, I'd turn that fucker around, and I'd drive the fucking fuck out of here. Else I can't be responsible for what might happen to you later.

Lu2
Lu2

@justjoined) hahahahahahahhahaa!

Just doing my part for the "men fear that women will laugh at them; women fear that men will kill them" aphorism. Tell you what: keep saying that women and men are made different and complement each other, with the subtext that women should be more like your internal picture of them rather than what their lived experience in society has made them, and you won't need to waste your words with the phrase "I'm not a feminist," for sure.

Lurkasaurus

I want to love this. I'm trying to love this. The things those guys said were fucked-to-the-up, and I think it is beyond awesome of you to point it out to them instead of doing the "aw shucks" thing just to keep the peace and not make the guy uncomfortable, as we are so strongly culturally urged to do.

((However, as an overweight and socially awkward lady, I am having a hard time fighting off a weird sort of jealousy. When I go to an event alone, especially one full of these sorts of dudebros, I don't get invited to imbibe with strangers and then told patronizing and sexist things. I get ignored at best. At worst, fucking mooed at, or similar things. This has led to a rapid decline of things I am willing to go to alone. Ughhhh I don't even know what I'm trying to say, it sucks for all women when our worth is predicated on our attractiveness but in different ways? Sure, that. But um if anyone else was reading this with this terrible little voice in their head going "I wish that would happen to me, just once..." I am there with you. And if no one else was...*throws self away, apologizes for the inconvenience*))

anachronistique

@Lurkasaurus I didn't have that with this piece in particular, but I've had that horrible little voice pipe up in the past, so. We can throw ourselves away together. It's fucked up how society makes us feel jealous for not receiving this mandated unwanted attention.

yeah-elle

@Lurkasaurus Oh hell no, no apologizing here. That jealousy is the insidious voice of patriarchy and misogyny that worms its way into so many women's internal monologues, no matter what they look like on the outside. We're not going to let that divide us. Your feelings are totally fucking valid. This sucks for everyone, for every woman who has ever felt like she needs to be some kind of weird boner beacon to be worth anything, even if it was just for one fleeting second on the street or for hours at the bar or for years alone in their own homes.

nina!

@Lurkasaurus You shouldn't apologize for feeling that way! Your feelings are completely legitimate, and I've often felt similarly in certain social situations myself. So, no apologies, no throwing yourself away.

Inkling

@Lurkasaurus
Gah, I feel the opposite of that way and feel bad about thinking it.
In reality, we have valid bodies and males have invalid opinions, and it's good to keep that in mind.

j-i-a

@Lurkasaurus Oh man, I get this so hard. Also I appreciate that you and everyone else is reading this piece in good faith that I know the limited nature of my perspective. We all fall somewhere on this matrix of perceived hierarchies, along so many dimensions, but the looks axis, which shouldn't be an axis, determines way more than it ought to, and in such a gendered way - girls would NEVER fucking MOO at a guy, are you kidding me. That is, just, I can't.

I'm reading comments below and I get that a person could (and that thankfully you guys have not) arrived at the conclusion that this piece is a "DAMN LIFE'S SO HARD WITH SO MANY PEOPLE TRYNA HIT ME UP Y'ALL" type of thing. Obviously it's not the worst "problem" to have if someone thinks you're cute and stops seeing you as a full person as a result - it's a good side of this ruthless grading girls get on their looks nonstop. And although I do think that the overall framework of looks-prioritizing (and thus all perspectives within it) is important to consider as wholly related to aggression or violence or just the general human tendency to separate and use, I definitely do not see my relationship to weird bros as some cross I have to bear.

Almost, I don't even see this stuff as being hit on as much as being projected upon; I think you can be hit on and looked at as a person, but when you're not, it feels so fucking sucky. Not anything like being mooed at, but it's still a weirdly sharp thing, and I can take outright aggression and even contact with barely a thought. Maybe I was just really out of it that night but all the notes I took on my iPhone are just imbued with this deep, bland, self-abnegating sadness

Faintly Macabre

@Lurkasaurus You're not alone, and there's nothing wrong with how you feel. I've been on both sides--the harassed and the ignored--depending on the setting and who I was with. That women are treated so differently based on whether they meet society's current beauty standards, and that most women end up feeling like crap at some point, are two sides of the same sexism coin.

(I hope this makes sense--my stupid fingers hit the cancel button just as I finished typing an earlier version of this comment!)

j-i-a

@Faintly Macabre @Lurkasaurus Ditto this. I got sidetracked reading comments and thinking self-centeredly while I was writing the one above, but yeah... ugh, never feel bad about feeling anything that lame people made you feel

Lurkasaurus

@Faintly Macabre @j-i-a yes, absolutely, both of you are making a lot of sense!! I think the "two sides of the same coin" idea is really important. Because I feel like what I've experienced and what Jia has experienced are really both coming from the same horrible, horribly pervasive attitude of reducing women to their looks instead of just approaching them as people. I don't measure up to these dudes' conventional-attractiveness standards, so I get dismissed (or mocked :/); Jia does, so she gets hit on, relentlessly, obliviously. NEITHER of these things are okay for women to have to put up with (and major kudos, Jia, for articulating your experience so well and carefully--I could feel your frustration and sadness very clearly).

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Lurkasaurus Shit. Come sit by me: I'm tall, awkward and have the resting face of a strip club bouncer who hasn't gotten enough sleep. But I'm fun, I promise, and together we will rule.

Passion Fruit

@Lurkasaurus YES, oh my God, yes, thank you for saying this. I was feeling the exact same way and getting disgusted with myself. But it's my true reaction, and seeing it in light of a larger patriarchal shit paradigm, as @yeah-elle and everyone pointed out, made me understand it better. And I wouldn't have if you hadn't voiced your feelings, so thank you.

Ophelia22

@Lurkasaurus I really wish I could plaster this exact conversation on the face of everyone who's ever complained about that worst of all stereotypes, women are all just jealous bitches who hate each other.

I really feel for both of you. My personal experience as a young ethnic lady more closely aligns with Jia's, and I think it's really fucked up the way that any time a woman even mentions the fact that she receives a lot of unwanted attention, it's often dismissed as some kind of backhanded self-compliment. Honestly, WE REALISE THIS IS NOT THE WORST PROBLEM IN THE WORLD GAIZ, but can we please still have a conversation about how it is genuinely problematic. Because, like previously discussed, it all comes from the same patriarchal place of valuing women completely based on their sexual appeal to men. Unfortunately some women are highly 'valued' by that metric, and by that token you're not allowed to have any real problems because C'mon guys, you're a Hot Lady, therefore the world rains sunshine, rainbows & puppies on you all the time. Well, as much as I'd like that to be true, it is a sad fact of reality that the world shits on us all.

Ee Gads

@lurka-ur-so-awesome. I can totally see that reading. "Ugh, girls, look what I have to put up with. MULTIPLE douchey guys hitting on me. Like, so many guys. All of them. Hitting on me. It was the worst."

yeah-elle

@Ee Gads I think Jia was pretty self-aware about the social benefit (and even the career advantage as a journalist) her appearance affords her. I read this as a pretty straight-forward recollection of "I went to this thing. This is what happened. This is what was said." without much whinging, even subtextual whinging. I think the heaviest implied feeling in this piece is actually a self-deprecating exasperation with her inability to just go with it, for once, if only people would make it a bit easier. These comments are mostly focusing on the parts where guys hit on her, and completely glossing over the parts where she encounters casual racism, not just casual sexism.

Ee Gads

@yeah-elle Oh yeah. I don't agree with that reading and my "in quotes" summary is deeply unfair to Jia at a minimum, and crude and flippant. You and @anachronistique had the much better responses above. But gosh. Jia got to laugh off an experience many woman would never have but wish they were in a position to write off so easily.

Lurkasaurus

@Ee Gads Aah wait what. I just wanted to be clear I don't think Jia was bragging or brought any kind of snotty attitude to this piece at all! What I was feeling was all on me, and far from the most important thing to be said about this excellent article. But I was feeling it, and feeling bad, and then feeling bad that I felt bad, and if anyone else out there was in the same boat I thought maybe by writing it out I could help them feel a little better. That's all.

Ee Gads

@Lurkasaurus No, no, no. I'm shutting up. I'm sorry. I'm putting words your mouth and being the ass.

Ee Gads

Ah, apparently editing the @ thing makes it a new thread?

Ee Gads

OH NO ANOTHER NEW THREAD! I fail at commenting at the Hairpin.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

1. Fantastic reading, insight from a perspective that I don't have very much exposure to.
2. I'm so, very sorry.

iceberg

@ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS Hahaha, you're having the man version of what happens to me when a CoC (Commenter of Color) talks about experiencing racism from a white person, like (ohhhh godddd we are the worrrrssstt) "I'm so sorry on behalf of my people!"

j-i-a

@ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS no no no, thank you and you're so nice to say that but no one has to be sorry. i would never turn around on an experience like this and think that all dudes have, or any dude, has an obligation to apologize for these dudes. this sort of thing is also so self-selecting; the only guys that approach so aggressively are people for whom that's their best option, etc

runner in the garden

@j-i-a no, what dudes have an obligation to do is watch ourselves for this kind of behavior and stamp that shit out. Like, both on a self level (silencing our inner dudebro) and on a collective level (policing our friends).

DullHypothesis

Jia I love this and also we have almost the exact same hair cut and color. PINK HAIR DON'T CARE.

Wonderful piece, exquisite writing. Spot on, I can picture these men in my head with clarity because I met so many of them.

Deb of last year@twitter

This is beautiful.

Also: why do bros always say stuff like, "I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but you’re beautiful." Like, yeah dude, I'm a grown ass woman. I've been told I'm beautiful before! Did they all read that it's a good line to open with in Maxim or something? Or do they just spend too much time trying to pick up self-conscious teenagers who haven't yet been told they're beautiful?

j-i-a

@Deb of last year@twitter yeah it's sort of a sussing out of bad self-esteem, i think? i wrote a piece today about that one direction song, that "you don't know you're beautiful, that's what makes you beautiful" song that makes me so so tired. "HEY BABE, REALLY ATTRACTED TO THAT LOW SELF-ESTEEM RIGHT NOW BABE"

iceberg

@j-i-a omg I will have Things to Say on that piece! (yeah like I don't already comment too much on everything)

hollysh

@Deb of last year@twitter Key response to "blah blah you're beautiful/sexy/hot/etc." is "I know. I don't need you to remind me, asshole."

j-i-a

@hollysh Not to say that this is as foregone a conclusion for me as "hi, you are wearing ballet flats today" (it's really not) but I do like to think of appearance compliments in as bland and inconsequential of terms as an observation like that. "You are pretty." "Thanks, this is my face." It's a very tiny way of fighting appearance prioritization and it's specific to a certain level of conventional acceptability but it's helped me just holistically not give nearly as many shits

Miss Maszkerádi

"I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but you’re beautiful."

Someday, I want some dude to say that to me. So then I can give him a haughty stare, say "You think you're the first? Tell me, do you think the entire world is blind?", take a pointed sip of my cocktail and walk imperiously away. Perhaps surreptitiously holding a mirror to watch his facial expression. /evilcackle

TheMole

Have to ask .. were you surprised by any of these reactions / interactions? I mean, your crowd at basically *any* summer concert amphitheater is never going to provide anything close to an enlightened or even civil group of people to chill with for a night.

adorable-eggplant

@TheMole Some audiences are better than others. I went to see Ladytron in an amphitheater setting a few years ago, and it was chill (xanax by the case) and mostly enlightened, i.e. nobody would've been surprised to meet a woman who was knowledgeable about music, for example. Entirely civil. Unlike the Reverend Horton Heat show where my friend got his nose broken in the pit: not complaining (fun was had by all), just pointing out that there is some natural variation.

j-i-a

@TheMole nah!! i love crowds, summer theaters, weird concerts, making festival friends and have met tons of civil, chill, awesome people, dudes and women, in these environments. i like making friends with strangers. so, although i wasn't surprised in a larger sense (i.e. life is generally unknowable and of course there are tons of people who think in this way) i was very surprised at how one-dimensional this night in particular was

geek_tragedy

@TheMole

Totally disagree. I go to lots of shows, many alone, and you can meet cool, chill people (even bros). But not in this case, apparently.

afg5

Jia, you are fabulous. It's like you're writing everything that goes on in my head, in a much clearer and more eloquent way than I ever thought it.

thatguy

A great read. As is typical, the comments are smart, honest and insightful. This is a good gut check for any male trying to mitigate the influence of deeply seated sexism in all of its various forms. I would hazard a guess casual sexism is but one of the clumsy attitudes these "dudebros" express.

Interrobangda

I had a very specific idea of what this piece would be about from the title, but I was surprised and impressed at the direction it actually went in. It's interesting how casual sexism effects our lives; it's unavoidable, even when we go searching for something else entirely.

erin interrobang

Yo this is fantastic and immediately reminded me of that time that John Jeremiah Sullivan went to the Christian rock fest: http://www.gq.com/entertainment/music/200401/rock-music-jesus

Not to diminish Jia's piece in any way, because Jia's piece is rad and gave me a lot to think about wrt Authenticity and Sincerity and Truly Loving Kinda Dumb Things and Being Embodied as a Cute Lady in the World, but they're complimentary in my head in a very appealing way.

Also Sugar Ray is probably way more appealing than Christian rock, but I am not a hater, shine on y'all crazy diamonds if you dig on Christian rock.

bitzyboozer

I really liked this but I was a little confused about what your intentions were going in. It gradually became more clear, but at first I really couldn't figure out whether you were there to actually enjoy the music or just "going undercover" for ethnographic purposes (or a mixture of both).

Diana

“Where are you from? Like, what ethni—”

“Yuck,” I say.

I have been working on being way more aggressive in shutting down these douchebags because I realized that if nobody tells them then they just won't know and the world gains nothing by the interaction except more frustration on my end. I'll try to remember this going forward. Jia you're the beeeest.

amitygardens@twitter

Jiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaa, you're a goddess. ;)

LadyPuns

jia this is great!

christopher hart

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Jen Jekel@facebook

Loved this. Articles like this are the reason I come to The Hairpin, in addition to all the hilarity of course. So relatable, so sad, and so well written.

shawnagong

I think the whole thing is frustrating, it's not just bros that objectify us. I see women do it all the time, playing into the cute girl without an opinion. The thing that is most hard to understand is, why wouldn't anyone want wit and intelligence over a pretty, but flat picture?

hansdotcom

Thoroughly enjoyed this article and empathise with all of the above, but any respect I had for you evaporated when you drove home after smoking and drinking. Taking that kind of risk with your own life is your prerogative, but as soon as you get behind the wheel of a car you're taking that risk for people that didn't sign up for it. Really disappointed.

Kylee Hill

I've experienced the weirdness described in this article so, so many times during conversations with strangers over the years and I've never seen it written about so trenchantly, THANK U. It's such a bizarre and alienating experience to inhabit a body and an appearance that is seen by so many people as being in odd and astonishing contrast with the actual person inside of it. Interactions like this make exuding a constant "fuck off" shield-vibe seem like the most attractive option even though it's way more effort and never any fun.

"Why would it ever be better for me to be dumber than I am?” is the best line.

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premiersh

Tell you what: keep saying that women and men are made different and complement each other, with the subtext that women should be more like your internal picture of them rather than what their lived experience in society has made them
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296248062@twitter

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Kennedy

I am very surprised by the reaction of some commentators. Whatever faults law school resume might have, at least she's someone who's actually done something significant, unlike a lot of the people criticizing her. I Just Wanted to Fly Solo falling into the age-old trap of timidity in the face of an insidious enemy that has no such qualms about lying and other underhand tactics shocker. A Night at the Sugar Ray Festival? What country are we dealing with, that sounds shoddy and crazy. Even the Minotaur might get lost in this labyrinth.

pinky88

Totally disagree. I go to lots of shows, many alone, and you can meet cool, chill people (even bros). But not in this case, apparently.
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keeping her mouth shut? humoring him by praising him? dumbing herself down so to not "make them feel stupid" by comparison? Are you kidding me?
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Đoàn Ngọc@facebook

I think the whole thing is frustrating, it's not just bros that objectify us. I see women do it all the time, playing into the cute girl without an opinion.
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idrathernot

Yep. Jia's the god.

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