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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

162

Saying Sorry Is a Pretty-Girl Trick

When I count the times I’ve taken trains without tickets, or cabs without cash, or snuck onto subways with an open bottle of wine, or nicked $8 nailpolish from Rite-Aid while smiling at the security guy on my way out, or paid rent/bills/my friends back late, or been the last person on an airplane with luggage 10 tons over the limit, or crossed the Canada-US border without a passport, or climbed the fences of public pools or parks or private property while high on coke or molly or mushrooms or, once, all of the above, it occurs to me that even if Lindsay Lohan is forgiven her sins I’m still on the hook for mine. She has done nothing categorically worse or more careless than I have, or—all evidence considered—would have. It’s only a matter of scale.

Lohan is larger than life in the realest sense. She has never seemed removed from, or better than, or above life, the way other very famous or beautiful people do. Even her first name is neither classic nor cool nor strange, just a hundred percent Suburban America. She is the movie star of my demographic: A pretty, funny, once-precocious and precariously spoiled white girl whose hopes and feels define the upper edge of “millennial.” When Mean Girls made her a $7-million-per-movie actor, my cohort’s aims for the future were highest. Two or three years later, we had graduated or dropped out and were watching the job market crash like a borrowed Porsche.

I remember betting cash that LiLo would win an Oscar by 30. I also thought I’d be out of debt, on a book tour, and running a six-minute mile every day by then.

Watching Lindsay live on Oprah Sunday night, while my fiancé sat in the other room screening Almodovar and searching “how to un-propose” on his phone, I felt no sympathy, no pity, only the steady sick pulse of recognition. (Raise your hand if you’re unable to count on it the number of close personal friends who’ve done coke less than, as Lindsay swore, “10 or 15 times.”) I think it’s the first time I had watched OWN. Maybe I’m not a fan. It seemed right, though, that Lindsay would be atoning for all of us across from Oprah, not Barbara or Diane. The national conscience isn’t a white bitch.

Sure, a generation of liberal feminists told us to work hard and be selfish and buy ourselves diamond rings and “support each other’s choices :)” while remaining wholly oblivious to those who by birth or fortune have fewer choices than we do, or different choices, and in consequence we have a credenda that permits full-fledged social media campaigns to be waged against… catcalling, and 22-year-old Bard College graduates named Samantha to sue for stop-and-frisk, and Bushwick artists to reframe unsolicited dick pics as “assault,” while colorless, apolitical (albeit sometimes great) TV shows are titled Girls and an entire summer is spent debating the sexist implications of a Robin Thicke song versus our right to dance to a Robin Thicke song that isn’t even good—like have you tried actually listening to “Blurred Lines,” looking in the mirror while listening, and being like, this is my problem in life? I recommend it.

Lil women like me remain “addicted to the chaos” of Liloland not because her problems—with liquor, pills, bills and rent, relationships, “the work-life balance” —are so unlike our own, but because they’re exactly like our own, only writ big enough to seem very, very bad, and therefore interesting. They’re not—“anymore,” as Lohan said to Oprah, and maybe they never were. Scale is one thing; perspective is the important thing. That’s why Lohan’s best line on Oprah was the one she never said: I’m sorry. Whether clichéd and true or clichéd and not true, the things she said were only ever about doing better.

With great privilege comes an equally great ability to be irresponsible and yet succeed, be cared about, get out of jail free. The other week my friend Sheila told me I should stop apologizing and not start again. “Saying sorry all the time is a pretty-girl trick,” she wrote. Then she said nice stuff that doesn’t matter, because the/my point is that being a girl—pretty or not-pretty, white or not-white—is still tougher than being a boy, and yet other things have been far too easy for too many of us. Certain things have not been risked at all. In the commercial breaks, I scrolled through the aftermath of #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen until I couldn’t roll my eyes at another white girl apologizing publicly. “Sorry” is always saying “please still like me.” Doing better is more like deserving it.

 

Note: An earlier version of this post mistakenly linked to the tumblr blog Catcalled instead of Catcalled NYC.

Previously: The "Real Thing" of Women's Writing: A Note for Stephen Marche

Sarah Nicole Prickett is a contributing editor at The New Inquiry and a writer for The Globe & Mail, Hazlitt, ViceBULLETT, The Aesthete, and more. She lives in Chinatown and tweets at @snpsnpsnp.



162 Comments / Post A Comment

LaLoba

Sarah Nicole Prickett, I am a fan.

Also, the best advice I've ever had I learned in 9th grade drama class: "Don't apologize for yourself." Not for what you're about to do or for what you've just done. Move.

Martha33

Gotta side with frogma. I kept reading these and just cringing at the neediness it projected - I would not think very highly of someone using this, though it's possible to reverse that feeling early on, as OP seems to be good at.@me

Jolly Darling

I second this for Sears. I worked there for 4 years (2008-2012), and the amazing tv deals they always had was typically a model that was a couple years old with very few features, something we would never normally carry. @cook

RoRobert

Honestly though, if anything I'm the complete opposite, I find it difficult to 'sincerely' apologise to people. Or at least I used to, now it's a little easier to spot when to say sorry, and how to say it.

Mae
Mae

"“Sorry” is always saying “please still like me.” Doing better is more like deserving it."

This, right here.

bonymaroni

I...am not sure what the point of this piece is.

bitzyboozer

@bonymaroni I think maybe there is a kernel of something in there. Not sure what it is though.

Peppermint

@bonymaroni Same here. Women of suburban America should check their privilege, rethink their love of pop culture, but also never apologize? Not sure how these are connected.

supernintendochalmers

@bonymaroni I'm having a hard time with this one, too.

deethepea

@bonymaroni oh gosh! what a relief! i got lost a little there somewhere then i found my way back but still didn't know wtf she was 'saying about.'

cardiganboots

@bonymaroni Saying you're sorry is not enough. Do better. Also, we all have problems.

RoxxieRae

@bonymaroni I'm with you... And my question is this (partially in response to @cardiganboots' summation of the article): Why is the author invested in Linsay Lohan going on Oprah and apologizing? Did she fuck the author over somehow?

Just because apologies are something society really believes celebrities should be handing out doesn't make that true. It's just that when we all get together and "tsk, tsk, tsk" over this person's actions, we can feel better about our own.

Linsay Lohan would only owe me an apology if she said she was going to help me move and then flaked, or something similar. "Why are we duty-bound to give a fuck?" is a much better question than "why didn't she apologize?".

Of course people behave this way ALL. THE FUCKING. TIME. Without being terrible people, even. It just really sucks for the people who make news when they do it.

Not sure how I'm supposed to feel, here.

RNL
RNL

@bonymaroni I think the point is: we white girls are a naval-gazing, privileged, entitled crowd, who apologize without changing when confronted with our failings. And in our apologies, we give away our true power, which doesn't come from being pretty and getting away with shit. And it's a good point.

social theory

@bonymaroni yeah, i thought this was going to be about how "sorry" is a pretty girl trick, but only if the pretty girl is white, BUT ideally also a comment on how "sorry" only works if pretty = dumb ("woopsies, i didn't know i shouldn't be climbing over a fence into private property!"). but i, too, got lost in the middle (right before she tried to make her point).

Urwelt

@bonymaroni Care about catcalling less, do coke more?

TheGirl123

@bonymaroni I think the idea for this piece is clever, but it was written poorly. I kept having to go back and read sentences because they were slapped together so... oddly. e_e

JAC
JAC

@RNL I have a tripartite question about what you mean by, "[I]n our apologies, we give away our true power."
1. Does this mean the insincere apologies the author is referring to?
2. Whether sincere or insincere, how does apologizing give away the true power?
3. What IS the true power? I feel like I missed a Lost season ... I must know!

hurts

@bonymaroni on the second pass I got: 'us white women have it much better than women of colour, we focus on this 'trivial' stuff rather than their problems, we were/are so interested in Lilo's problems because they were "exactly like our own, only writ big enough to seem very, very bad, and therefore interesting." (So her having the same issues amplified made us feel validated?)
On Oprah, she never said she was sorry. Instead she said she would do better now. This is very important and interesting because usually people like her (me) just say 'sorry', meaning 'please still like me' - it's just a word and doesn't atone for anything.
This is relevant because it's what a lot of white feminists on Twitter did in response to that hashtag - 'sorry' is nothing, we need to just do better'.
It's Vice-y?

ElaineBenes

@hurts @bonymaroni

I hate to hate on anything on the Hairpin really, because I love the editors and everyone here so much. And I think this piece does have valid points that are relevant, what with the discussion on intersectionality and feminism that’s been happening here the past few days. White women certainly benefit from their privilege, and the author shows how she’s benefited from privilege here (just like LiLo!). Offering a quick, faux-sincere apology is a cop-out to actually owning up to being an asshole (and an option that’s only available to white ladies because privilege).

But the Vice-y tone didn’t really help to carry on the great conversation that’s been happening here and elsewhere the past few days. I mean, Jia’s interview with Mikki and Flavia was just light years ahead of this for me as far as nuance and thoughtfulness on such a complex topic, and I think that’s why it felt so weird to read this piece following that one. I also got the too-cool-for-school vibe that a lot of people were noting from this piece, and that just made it fall flat for me. And the fact that it’s been cross-posted at the Awl makes me feel like it’s even a little link-baity in that Vice-y manner (that first paragraph, eesh). The Toast killed it today as far as white privilege and feminism goes, while still bringing the snark.

KJH
KJH

@bonymaroni I'm dubbing it a "douche-brag"

Heat Signature

Raise your hand if you’re unable to count on it the number of close personal friends who’ve done coke less than, as Lindsay swore, “10 or 15 times.”

Looks around nervously, slowly raises hand

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Heat Signature I can raise my hand as well. Easily.

fabel

I basically can't, & that was pretty much what I got out of this piece ( finally, someone else admits that's the reason they find Lohan's "confession" unbelievable )

janeeeee

@Heat Signature I read this sentence three times and I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to raise my hand if my friends do a lot of coke or if they don't.

TheMnemosyne

@Heat Signature I don't hang out with a bunch of substance abusers, like occasional cocaine use is something that's perfectly normal to do, soooo.

**raises hand**

lasso tabasco

@Heat Signature Right? Is everyone doing a bunch of coke and I just don't know about it? I don't have friends who casually use hard drugs... but maybe doing so is normal and I'm a freak.??

stonefruit

@janeeeee YUP. Also, I went to law school, where I was friends primarily with Law Nerds, and we were not a cocaine crowd. So, I think I get to raise my hand?

Lu2
Lu2

@janeeeee Uh-huh, I'm with you.

Rosebudddd

@Heat Signature Yeah, me too, read it 4-5 times. I need 2 hands to count my friends who've done coke less than 15 times, so I feel like I should raise my hand? But I don't think that's what this sentence is supposed to mean.

stonefruit

@Rosebudddd I think I also need my feet? and possibly someone else's appendages? I'm very confused.

packedsuitcase

@janeeeee Right? Ummm, I think I could count on one hand the number of people I know that have done it ever in their lives, so...what do I do here? Raise my hands high or sit on them?

RNL
RNL

RAISE YOUR HANDS IF YOUR FRIENDS DO A LOT OF COKE.

Lu2
Lu2

@RNL I don't even know if I know anyone who does or did coke. It's never come up.

Brunhilde

@fabel (finally, someone else admits that's the reason they find Lohan's "confession" unbelievable)

This. Nobody has done coke "10 or 15" times. It's either less than 5 or ALL OF IT ALL THE TIME.

Rosebudddd

@RNL Thank you!

RNL
RNL

@Brunhilde I, myself, have done coke 10-15 times I'd estimate. But you know, I'm special?

@Lu2 - On that basis, don't raise your hand. :)

libbybeth

@Heat Signature My friends have never done coke to my knowledge, however I'm Canadian so it might be less prevalent up here? I think you have to be pretty unconscious to be a cokehead. You're basically financially supporting drug cartels who go on murderous rampages.

MagentaGalaxy

@Brunhilde Not really. I've done it more than 10-15 times but still only really occasionally. I mean, *obvs* Lilo is lying through her teeth, but I think there's a wide spectrum between nothing/almost nothing and all of it all the time!

jenjenboben

@janeeeee Same here. The more I read that mishmash of a sentence, the harder it is for me to tell what she's trying to get at.

Brunhilde

@RNL Okay, I retract my original statement :)

Maybe this is just representative of everyone I hang out with. (It's definitely representative of everyone I hang out with.)

Tafadhali

@Brunhilde The only person I consider myself friends with who I know for sure has done any coke is my mom.

So...

Rubyinthedust

i never realized her lips were so altered until I watched her speak during this interview. permanent duck face! it was distracting.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I'm trying to digest this piece, but I keep getting stuck on the entire fifth paragraph being one sentence.

likearollingpin

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I hereby challenge someone to diagram that sentence!

(I do like the piece, and Sarah Nicole Prickett's writing in general.)

Kath

Like Lohan's career, I really, really wanted this to be better than it was.

Legal

@Kath Ha!

kaydeel

This piece should be re-titled: #sorrynotsorry

Also, not apologizing when you've been an asshole is a dick move.

fondue with cheddar

@kaydeel Yeah, you should definitely apologize when you've been an asshole. But you should also try not to be an asshole in the future (in the same way, at least), otherwise your apology doesn't mean a damn thing.

Judith Slutler

@fondue with cheddar YEP. "Sorry" is often a crap apology. I'm kind of a fan of John Scalzi's three steps of how to apologize:

1. Briefly, specifically and factually recount the action you’re apologizing for. You’ve done something wrong. Say what it is. Don’t try to mitigate or defend, just get it out there.

2. Acknowledge that you wronged others. Again, don’t mitigate or defend. Acknowledge it and say it.

3. Apologize unreservedly. Don’t drag it out. Don’t qualify it. Say it, own it. Let it be there.

I personally tend to always assume I'm probably in the wrong if someone's mad at me, and so apologizing is one of the first things I automatically do in an argument. Guess what, automatically saying "I'm sorry" and backing down is pretty meaningless and does kind of boil down to saying "please like me"! My current boyfriend told me to stop apologizing so much in arguments with him and it's been a struggle for me to do so. But it's taught me how many apologies in the world aren't actually that great.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Judith Slutler Yes. My undergrad communication professor harped on this way of apologizing, and it has proven invaluable to me.

fondue with cheddar

@Judith Slutler I'm the same way. That's a great apology how-to, and definitely something I should make a point to revisit periodically.

Justine Musk

Good points here, especially how the whole idea of so-called girlpower can be coopted or corrupted into an excuse for doing whatever the hell you want when you want, and how looks and class privilege and a heartfelt "I'm sorry" can get you a lot more than it should. Celebrities are blank screens on which we can project various distorted images of ourselves: who we want to be, who we fear we really are, who we can't admit to being. So I don't quite know what it means when I feel the need to stress that Lindsay Lohan is an ADDICT (and, like all addicts, manipulative and deceptive and wildly distorted in her thinking). She has two personalities: her real self, and her addict self, and her addict self sits at the center of her being and burns away everything else. It dominates her self and her life in a way I think it might be difficult for non-addicts to wrap their minds around. She's not just another spoiled pretty white girl who got too much too soon, life imitating a reality TV show (although that's tragic enough). She is sick and desperate and -- unless she turns her life around, and gets the hell out of LA -- doomed in one way or another. Because that part of her is *not* something that most of us in her audience can share or truly relate to -- because most people aren't hardcore addicts -- we don't stress that part enough, or really try to understand it. It's easier instead to mock and scorn and roll our eyes at her, the same way we do at ourselves.

Blushingflwr

@14388420@twitter The thing that constantly strikes me about stories like Lindsay's or Amanda Bynes or any other celebrity who goes through a public spiral like this is that instead of seeing them as real human beings who are in pain, we see them as entertainment, as object lessons, as symbols.
Lindsay's not a girl who occasionally does a bump of cocaine at a party on Saturday but still shows up to work on time and functional on Monday, she's an addict whose drug use has had a genuine negative impact on her ability to function day-to-day. Recreational drug use is not the same as addiction, and to equate the poor life choices of someone in their 20s who knows they can get away with it to the struggles of an addict is problematic.

fondue with cheddar

@Justine Musk You're totally right. I can't relate, but I have known addicts enough to at least recognize the signs and know the patterns addicts can and will fall into if they don't purge their life of the enabling people and situations. I really hope she gets better.

gulleyjimson

Why should a self-absorbed person who knows that they are better than others apologize when they've harmed someone? That's tantamount to recognizing that your victim might be your equal. "Doing better," on the other hand, acknowledges your acts while giving you license to continue bad behavior. While insincerity is the currency of celebrity and public discourse these days, I'll take an insincere "sorry" over some self-affirming mantra to "do better" any day; at least "sorry" acknowledges that someone has been harmed, and that someone has done wrong. (Of course, apologizing and then actually doing better in the future would be optimal, but that appears to be too much for the author to handle.)

aphrabean

@gulleyjimson xo to you, yes. I mean, I hate an insincere apology as much as the next person, but dealing with someone who doesn't apologize or even acknowledge the harm they've done is just the worst.

perryjoyce

I read, listened, and hope learned a lot from the #solidarityisforwhitewomen conversation and what I gathered is that for those (rightfully) offended by mainstream white feminism's lack of concern over feminist issues outside the mainstream bubble, an apology is useless because it's self serving. The author here makes the same point. An apology, when it isn't asked for, is saying 'please still like me.' 'Pretty-girls' like the author, Lindsey, and admittedly myself expect that to work and be enough - because it always has. What's really vital is action. The 'doing better'. Not just saying, "I'll do better," as a an alternate plea for being liked, but being AWARE and actively making sure the offenses do not happen again, not under your watch.

I'm trying to abide by the 'shut up, listen, and learn' advice when it comes to this conversation but this is my understanding of the point of the author's piece.

aphrabean

@perryjoyce Ahh ok ok, I think I was misunderstanding the gist of this piece, for sure. Actions-not-intent, which is my own particular rallying cry/ reminder to myself.

j-i-a

just wanna say I LOVE THIS

muhrade

@j-i-a ditto. love me some snp.

Judith Slutler

@j-i-a Agreed, I think this is kind of an underexamined aspect of femininity and has a lot to do w/ the viciousness that can come out in woman-woman relationships

Lucienne

The "sorry" problem is also my issue with the Tenth Doctor.

needsmoresalt

I'm so sick of people acting like shoplifting is fucking cool. I kind of hated this piece in general, but I really don't understand the need to admit to shoplifting like it's no big deal. If something doesn't belong to you, don't fucking take it. You're not settling some score or being anti-corporate. I know that's not the point of this piece, but I just hated the weird bragginess of her list of "bad" things. Also, it's a pretty girl trick, so the author's obvs super-hot, because she gets away with so much? Ugh.

fabel

@needsmoresalt but why is it considered bragging? So many people are reacting badly to this piece (& I agree it was kind of weirdly hard to follow & grasp the point of) but calling it a humble brag (which you didn't say in SO many words) is kind of flimsy criticism. I basically interpreted it as the author owning her own Pretty White Girl privilege, & that's valid.

(disclaimer: I read a bunch of Cat Marnell pieces yesterday, so maybe after reading this... where she's owning it... is a relief to me?)

RNL
RNL

@needsmoresalt I don't think she's bragging, exactly. I think she's telling an embarrassing truth. Pretty white girls get away with all sorts of bad entitled absolutely immoral bullshit, and nobody ever bats an eye. IF anyone ever bats an eye, they just say sorry, and keep on trucking. That's the whole point. We get to obsess about Robin Thicke while we carry on enjoying almost every privilege society has to offer, which includes getting, without "paying" for them, far more than our share of material wealth.

cardiganboots

@RNL Yes! This, a thousand times.

AnnaO

@RNL The author doesn't seem embarrassed in the least. I find her tone quite smug, and the implication is the people her actions bother are rather petty. In part, this is because the underlying argument of the piece is "I get away with all this shit because I'm a pretty white girl." Then she addresses the reader, assuming that the reader will understand and identify because she, too, has friends who do a lot of coke and shoplift Essie's. I think this is disingenuous, though, a pretty blatant example of casually mentioning what "everyone" does to say instead what fabulously naughty things she does. I wish there were a term for name-dropping practices and habits instead of people.

AnnaO

Is this piece a humble brag or is it me? Beyond that, I can't really follow it.

journie cruz@twitter

@AnnaO Let me walk you through this one - it's totally easy.

Look at what a bad bad girl I am, I shoplift and screw over cab drivers, I burn my friends when they do me favors, I tresspass and have done LOTS AND LOTS OF drugs. Impressed yet? I am also ENGAGED to a man that is too lofty for Oprah and totally gets Almodovar.

I can get away with all this because I am a pretty girl. And despite everything I've said about what an asshole I can be, apparently my friends also think I am really self effacing and over-apologetic.

Where am I going with this? LL is a pretty girl too. And while she's not specifically known for being a huge asshole to other people, I suspect she too has done LOTS and LOTS of drugs. But she didn't apologize to Oprah. And she doesn't even HAVE a fiance, let alone one that is SO DOWN with Almodovar.

To wrap it all up: I am pretty and treat people badly. I apologize a lot (too much some would say) but I don't think I mean it because wouldn't I just try harder instead? LL is pretty and has made a fine start out of flushing a great career down the toilet. She didn't apologize to America OR Oprah for being such an asshole to herself. But that was good, because she should just try harder instead.

AnnaO

@journie cruz@twitter Genius. Thank you.

kaydeel

@journie cruz@twitter
Ah! Got it now! Not being a pretty, white girl, I was admittedly lost.

Flaccido Domingo

"...the/my point is that being a girl—pretty or not-pretty, white or not-white—is still tougher than being a boy..." And yet way, way easier in terms of making generalizations. Your gender doesn't make your life inherently easier or tougher than anyone else's. We could bat generalities back and forth trying to prove your point right or wrong, but the whole process would just prove that when you step up to a generalization, you should step back because it is dangerous, unsure footing, and every step you take from there gets worse and worse.

skyslang

@Flaccido Domingo Thank you. How does the author know what it feels like to be a boy in this society? How does she know it's MORE difficult to be a girl? Why are we even rating the difficulties of different genders?

packedsuitcase

I feel like everything I feel about this piece includes a major "BUT". You know, I like this line: '“Sorry” is always saying “please still like me.” Doing better is more like deserving it.' BUT I feel like doing better does need to be prefaced with an acknowledgement that what you've been doing has legitimately hurt people. It's not the "sorry" that gets you off the hook, it's how you act afterwards, but it's a jackass move to not say it.

I like the writing, but I think the connection it was trying to make came too late in the essay to be effective.

I like the voice, but it is hard to follow at times and made me feel like I was drunk at a bar and trying to follow a philosophical rant.

I don't know how to articulate my feelings on this, except that I like it. (But.)

alabee

I agree with others' comments. This in particular was baffling to me:

". . while remaining wholly oblivious to those who by birth or fortune have fewer choices than we do, or different choices, and in consequence we have a credenda that permits full-fledged social media campaigns to be waged against… catcalling, and 22-year-old Bard College graduates named Samantha to sue for stop-and-frisk, and Bushwick artists to reframe unsolicited dick pics as 'assault,'. . "

In what way is it a poor use of feminists' time to combat microaggressions like catcalling and unsolicited sexual advances? They shore up and support the sexist society we live and breathe in. How is it a failure borne of privilege to find those things important and to fight against them? I'm an adult and I'm capable of holding multiple complex thoughts at once, and of championing diverse causes. Why can't feminists work both to deconstruct the enormous institutional barriers that women of color, and lesbian and trans women, and immigrant women, etc. face while simultaneously acknowledging the microaggressions caused by lower-stakes propositions like the ludicrously white-washed Girls? These microaggressions don't arise fully formed from the ether; they're born of the culture we interact with every day.

I agree wholeheartedly with the message of #solidarityisforwhitewomen, but this seems like a bungling of its premise.

(Also, count me in as a young urban woman who can count with, like, three fingers the number of people she knows who have done coke 10-15 times.)

Urwelt

@alabee Yeah, privileged white women shouldn't speak out against boring white people problems like sexual harassment and stop and frisk. We should use our privilege constructively, to do important work like watching Oprah and writing vague, navel gazing personal essays.

alabee

@Urwelt Heh. I usually don't get too bothered by opinion pieces on the Interwebs, but this is just. . .it's so smug! And wrong! Man that combination slays me. There are shreds of an interesting argument in there pertaining to the forgiveness our media bestows *far* more willingly to white women than to women of color. There is also potential for a deconstruction of the gross, voyeuristic pleasure we as a culture glean from watching those same white woman beg for said forgiveness (after fucking up to the most public degree possible, of course!) But then, apart from the fact that those threads of an argument are not argued clearly, they're further mangled by arguments that it's an indulgent waste of time to care about street harassment (and yeah, the implication that this is a white lady problem in effect erases the street harassment experiences of women of color! UUUUUGHHHH).

commanderbanana

@alabee Seriously - jeez, my neighborhood is not bad, but in the larger metropolitan area in which I live, catcalling and street harassment are huge quality-of-life killers for women, and I think it's really ignorant and disgusting for this writer to say that fighting against it is unimportant. Oh, it's just your personal autonomy! Welp that's not important, what is important is picking apart an interview with a washed-up celebrity. Excuse me.

nyikint

1) taken trains without tickets
2) cabs without cash
3) snuck onto subways with an open bottle of wine
4) nicked $8 nailpolish from Rite-Aid while smiling at the security guy on my way out
5) paid rent/bills/my friends back late
6) been the last person on an airplane with luggage 10 tons over the limit
7) crossed the Canada-US border without a passport
8) climbed the fences of public pools or parks or private property while high on coke or molly or mushrooms or, once, all of the above.

Wow, the list gets progressively worse; this isn't all just "careless" behavior like it's being presented.

Sometimes I feel like such a square.

Megasus

@nyikint I have no idea what molly is supposed to be.

sox
sox

@nyikint
Yet they also seem like things a young naive person may do I et the course of an entire adolescence. Put together I think the sum of "badness" equals more than the badness of its parts.

It'd feel different to me if this is currently her norm and she is not self sufficient/ burdening others as a result.

All that said, I could not connect all the dots she presents here. Could have used editing and reorganizing. And a clearer line to Lindsay Lohan, that part completely lost me.

bonymaroni

@nyikint Thank you! I was a bit of a wild child but I've never done any of those things because they're just plain inconsiderate/rude/dickish. Ok, the passport thing is mild, but taking cabs without cash and shoplifting? That's not cool.

sox
sox

@Megasus If you google it, you'll learn that the chemical compound was originally used as an antidepressant in the mid 20th century. It's a psychotropic drug that was taken off the market, though I have no idea how it differs or is similar to psychotropic drugs currently available via Rx.

Experimenting or not (which contains the risk of becoming addicted) with mind altering substances does not merit sarcastic shaming the same way sexual experimentation (and risking STD, pregnancy) does not merit slut shaming. Just saying.

adorable-eggplant

@sox Cabs without cash is hurting people: people who drive cabs for a living. People who support their families and often work multiple shifts. And I'm getting angry just typing so I will stop. But really, it's not even remotely a victimless crime. Even just not tipping is pretty gross in my book.

There's a whole lack of empathy thing that bugs me. Ugh.

AnnaO

@bonymaroni The taking cabs without cash really burns me (and more than once, especially when I was a broke college kid in NYC, I've had car service drivers give me a much-appreciated deal). You're taking money out of the hands of someone who needs it, and their time is money too. And you're clearly quite impressed with yourself for pulling this off.
I'm also not convinced they let you out because you're pretty.You know how often entitled white girls pull this shit, especially in these parts on weekend nights? They're likely annoyed but don't want to deal with you.

sox
sox

@adorable-eggplant I certainly hear you, that one is absolutely an example of hurting someone directly, so maybe nyikint should have put it further on the list, but I think she has them in order of appearance.

I don't mean to imply that what she did wasn't wrong, but these things she listed sound like things an obnoxious teenager would do. One time my freshman year if college I was out with some new friends (and in my own version of a rebellious stage) and when we finished they wanted to dine and dash. I thought it was ludicrous but I also wanted to fit in and didn't have the money to pay for the whole meal so I did it. Who knows who had to pay for that meal? I certainly lacked the gumption/ maturity/ whathaveyou to rectify it at the time but I also don't consider myself a bad person now because of it.

Anyway, I think there's a whole other convo that could be had regarding the morale that pop culture offers up to youth and Lindsay Lohan is a good example. She IS too old to be so inconsiderate. A 16 year old? Maybe, maybe not.

ETA: my point being that an obnoxious teenager would do these things because they lack the maturity to understand the direct link to someone's well being or income.

fabel

@sox "Experimenting or not (which contains the risk of becoming addicted) with mind altering substances does not merit sarcastic shaming the same way sexual experimentation (and risking STD, pregnancy) does not merit slut shaming"

Yes to this--- I see why people are bothered, & can't quite connect to this, but some of the comments are bordering on shaming in a way that's rubbing at me.

Mira

@fabel I don't agree. Cocaine use is not a victimless crime either. I have no problem making moral judgments about people who decide to use it because they think it's cool.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Mira co-signed. Can we really not say anymore that hard drugs are bad (for the person taking them and frying their brains, and for the people whose lives get fucked by the drug trade) and taking them to the point of addiction is simply a stupid thing to do? Are we so concerned with avoiding "shaming" that we can't even shame the terrible life choices that maybe SHOULD be shamed?

(Flameproof armor: of course I would like to see drug addicts receive compassionate medical care to overcome their addictions, I'm not a monster. I just want to reserve the right to believe and say that using cocaine, heroin etc is a fucking stupid thing to do.)

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Miss Maszkerádi I like the cut of your jib.

mauritia

@Megasus Molly is just ecstasy, rebranded.

Mae
Mae

@Miss Maszkerádi What earthly purpose does shaming serve, except to make addicts feel like pieces of shit who don't deserve to get better?

sox
sox

@Miss Maszkerádi

I'm not trying to oversimplify or confuse the issue here, but experimentation with mind altering substances can he done responsibly. There can be spiritual benefits to altering one's conscious state. There is also a very unfortunate and sad drug culture that ignores any part of this and is every bit as disgusting as you describe. The effects of crystal meth on my rural hometown have been devastating, though more devastating has been the number of people from my hometown who have OD'd on Rx painkillers. I believe it is a societal illness that people need an "out" to whatever they perceive as pain in their lives and turn to drugs to solve it. But not everyone experimenting is on such an extreme path.

I just really wish that some of you would acknowledge that it's a complex issue, not black and white, and not all experimentation equals "terrible life choices that maybe SHOULD be shamed."
Some may, some may not.

I defend this so strongly bc there's a weirdo holier than thou vibe in most of comment thread for this article and it's icky as all get out considering how Fair and Righteous and Respectful the commentariat seems to have become around here.

Bluh. I'll just see myself out now thanks

skyslang

@sox Yeah, I agree with you. A lot of us on here have tried cocaine, or even used it 10-15 times. I didn't like it much, personally. Whatever. I've got friends who do it once or twice a year.
There is a difference between a drug experiment, occasional recreational drug use, drug abuse and drug addiction. Just like there is a difference between trying beer once and getting drunk every day.

skyfall

@sox Thank you for saying this. The smug comments that seem to aassume that all who use drugs are doing so "to be cool" is really irksome. Many people who use drugs are attempting to escape an inner anguish. The societal ramifications of how that drug came into their hands is not a factor, if they are even aware of the process of how cocaine is processed (not a single heavy drug user I know has a clue). Not every one who does drugs fit into a Girls archetype of an educated, priveleged, brat trying to be cool. Perhaps instead of shaming people who made poor life decisions we should address what drives people to make such poor life decisions.

Mira

@skyfall Well, I feel like I should clarify since I kind of started this - I don't care if people want to alter their consciousness or whatever; it's none of my business. I enjoy a drink, so I have no leg to stand on there.

In the context of the article the casual coke use just seemed like another flippant way to, yeah, be cool, like shoplifting, sneaking wine on the subway, and not paying for taxis. I don't get an "inner anguish" vibe from anything in this piece, but maybe you've seen something I haven't.

I was pretty specifically not implicating all drug users in my comment, and I think it would be hard to argue that there aren't a lot of educated, privileged, bratty cokeheads who do use drugs to be cool. The ones I know aren't trying to experiment responsibly with altered consciousness or escape terrible lives; they just want to get high and they feel they're entitled to do so no matter what they're funding with their throwaway habits. They could stop any time they wanted to. I've spent time in San Pedro Sula, I don't think that's a morally neutral decision, and I really don't think it's "shaming" to say so.

So that's where I'm coming from. It's not meant as an indictment of all people who use less-than-ideal coping mechanisms to deal with our problems (i.e., pretty much all of us).

aphrabean

@Mira There is no such thing as fair trade coke, basically, which has always been my biggest problem with the handful of casual users in my own life.

tuitui

@Mira I read this very differently. I struggle with substances and with boundaries and uh.. life, I guess! And I think the author was saying she does, too. Not as badly as Lohan, but in a way that is enough to worry her. And I feel similarly when I hear about Lohan. I think, if I'd had her money at the age she did, what would I have done? Probably go down in flames, too. Hence the sense of recognition the author mentions. I think it's the furthest thing from saying that all these behaviors are cool.

Every time I read a Lohan interview she spends the whole time saying "yes but...". "I'm totally fine now," "I was immature then", etc. And then goes back out and runs into the same problems. I think it's easy to empathize with that. I think a lot of us do it and the author is pointing that out. And saying, OK, so why don't we take a lesson from this woman and stop trying to excuse our behavior? If we regret it, we should change. Save the words and work on the actions.

Cliterary Device

May I be a jackass for a brief moment? I see words on the page, but I can't connect them together in a meaningful way to the title statement.

It actually made me feel a little sick to read about someone else's thrills of shoplifting + doing coke 10-15x when other people in "less cute" bodies/identities have been aggressively punished or worse for doing the same. Since Lohan's antics and tabloid fodder have always been irrelevant and absent from my daily digestion, I was really hoping to get an overarching message here apart from the orange window dressing.

Also, if this is what was taken away from the productive conversation about Feminism a few days ago, then I don't think #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen means what you think it means... if I'm going by anything in this post.

#SorryNotSorry

Megasus

"She has done nothing categorically worse or more careless than I have..."
Ummm but hasn't she tried to steal multimillion dollar jewelry more than once? Maaaaaybe not entirely intentionally, but still.

Ophelia

@Megasus Somehow, stiffing a cab driver bothers me more than stealing jewelry from Tiffany's or wherever. Not that either one is good, I just feel much worse for an individual trying to make it.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Ophelia It's like how I can't get too bothered about people downloading huge-budget blockbuster movies over the Internet but I get stabby when they do the same thing with new/experimental/independent/the director is broke ones. It's like taking a cup of water out of the ocean vs. a tea kettle.

frumious bandersnatch

@Ophelia But like, she also tried to steal incredibly expensive jewelry from Elizabeth Taylor's old nurse?

beanie

@Megasus I agree-her DUI and the one time she took those two people on a highspeed chase in her car against their will? I would say categorically worse than the list this author has.

bevrockin

I keep coming back to this to see what all of you brilliant ladies are saying (love y'all, mean it), and I agree with so much of it, even if some of the arguments seem to contradict each other. What I'm trying to genuinely discern in all of this, and bear with me here, is:
1. What does it even mean to be sorry?
2. What does it even mean to "do better"?

Seriously.

Miss Maszkerádi

Well goddamn, all this time I've been trying to be an ethical, moral and law-abiding citizen, I don't hang around cocaine addicts or steal things - am I doing being a white girl wrong? ( /sarcasm)

Sorry for the crankiness, I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who seems to be trying to write about societal justice issues while simultaneously so brazenly admitting to being a petty thief herself. Stealing doesn't make you a rebel, it makes you a jackass.

frumious bandersnatch

NOPE FIGHTING CATCALLING AND MISOGYNISTIC MEDIA IS NOT WORTHLESS.

I mean jeez like isn't it pretty obvious that a pervasive culture of sexism is a Bad Thing and that fighting it at the edges is important too? Trying to lessen the generations of men growing up thinking that women are sexxxy friendzoning bitch objects? And the same standards of beauty and entitled male gaze that lead to me being catcalled in one way lead to horrible insults and threats against those who don't conform (overweight, butch).

Obviously, OBVIOUSLY, those of us with the luxury of privilege and safer platforms need to remember that feminism = getting rid of the patriarchy for the sake of all women and young white feminists have a problem with that and we need to get our shit together. And I would be so interested to see a piece exploring way that growing up privileged (race, education, looks) filters one's feminism and how to counteract that insidious bias. But holy hell this piece was not that. The last paragraph had such a kernel of possible good meaning, but I'm heartily annoyed by some of the implications in the middle.

Also, this isn't super well-thought through, but she sounds spoiled and inconsiderate, not just privileged. (Maybe I'm a square, too.) Like, 'privilege' is worse and more deeply entrenched in society, but it's not the same thing as manipulating people? For example, privilege is what allows her to not be suspected as the type of person shoplifting; smiling at the security guard to distract him is personal wiles manipulation. Maybe I'm totally wrong on this, but it feels like a conflation of two things, and in a way an abrogation of moral responsibility because of this underlying terribleness of inequality in society.

What she really should be concluding is that she gets to get away with things with just an apology that other people wouldn't get to get away with. So not "don't apologize and also do better" but also "don't do those things needing apologies and also work to change the system so that some types of people can get away with an apology while others can't."

Mira

@frumious bandersnatch Yes! Privilege isn't the fault of the person who has it, but making the choice to wield that privilege in inconsiderate, harmful ways is a personal moral failing. That's exactly what bugged me about this, and you parsed it very usefully.

alabee

@frumious bandersnatch So well-stated! I agree with everything you wrote.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Mira With your permission, I would like to frequently and in many discussions take and use your sentence "Privilege is not the fault of the person who has it, but consciously exercising it is a moral failing." It's succinct and brilliant and somehow the distinction is not frequently enough made in discussions of prejudice and privilege.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Miss Maszkerádi and of course I didn't even quote it verbatim, fuck this tiny screen

Mira

@Miss Maszkerádi I think your version makes more sense, actually. Use at will!

commanderbanana

@frumious bandersnatch I think it's interesting that this piece mirrored the same arguments as people who 1) discount feminism because if we're complaining about things as "petty" as street harassment we must really not have much to complain about and 2) decide, carte blanche, what is and isn't important for women. There's no difference between this and some entitledouche dude saying that HE wouldn't mind getting catcalled, or it's JUST harmless flirting, or can't be THAT bad. This whole article reeked of thinly disguised humblebrag (look at me, I'm SO cute n'pretty that I don't even have to pay cabbies! teehee!) and frankly, I found it gross.

KB2
KB2

If the author spent as much time editing herself out of this piece as she did complaining about her good looks and self-mythologizing, this might have actually evolved into something other than an incoherent, meandering handjob.

hurts

I'll admit that I'm cynical as fuck, but I really feel like some people are 'not getting this' because they don't want to.

alabee

@hurts I mean, I get what she's arguing (though I personally find the style in which it's written difficult to read -- not because the content is hugely complex, per se, but because it reads as stilted to my ears.) I agree that any discussion of privilege can be hard to swallow, but I've read much more compelling/progressive/well-articulated analyses of "beauty privilege" (scare quotes because I don't quite know the right term) elsewhere. Autumn at The Beheld comes to mind, as do some older posts on Shapely Prose that tie in thin privilege as well.

aphrabean

@hurts You know, maybe I'm a dummy but this was absolutely difficult for me to understand. I went back and read it a couple of times, and I read everyone's responses, and I think at this point I nailed down what bothers me the most about the piece. For all the author's condemnation of liberal white feminism, she managed to write a response to #solidarityisforwhitewomen that once again centered white women.

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Yet they also seem like things a young naive person may do I et the course of an entire adolescence. Put together I think the sum of "badnessvipit

aphrabean

@Mira There is no such thing as fair trade coke, basically, which has always been my biggest problem with the handful of casual users in my own life.

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goodness me. The main thing that seems to be getting everyone down here is that she's saying she's pretty. why do people hate that so much?

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I couldn’t roll my eyes at another white girl apologizing publicly. “Sorry” is always saying “please still like me.” Doing better is more like deserving it.
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Kept him from being too pure. Similarly, I'm glad (for social history reasons!) that Peggy's arty boyfriend turned out to be a misogynist jerk.
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