The Power of Your (Bad) Words

Jonah Hill has come under fire this week for yelling homophobic remarks at the paparazzo who was stalking him. While it appears relatively unprovoked, I do believe that he was being followed and harassed for a long time. As such, I support Jonah in his right to tell this guy to “Fuck off.” (Although, if I was in that situation, I’d be asking myself What Would George Clooney Do? And the answer, obviously, would be smile, laugh, wave, and walk away.)

Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "The Watch" - Arrivals

I believe Jonah when he says he’s not a homophobe. I believe that he has gay friends and family members whom he loves very much. But I believe that with his insult he wanted to, from a position of superiority, convey the most vitriol he could muster. And so he told this paparazzo, “Suck my dick, you faggot.”

In Jonah’s mind (a writer, actor, and improvisor’s brain), the most demoralizing thing he could think of was demanding another man to suck his dick. So while he may not be outwardly homophobic, the societal belief* that gay men are of less worth is clearly deeply ingrained in him.

* I wish I didn’t have to call it a “societal belief” but look around, we’re not past this yet.

I was dating this guy a couple months ago. (Not Jonah Hill… We’ll get back to him.) We had been seeing each other for a couple of weeks; things were going well. He ‘we’-ed us. There was potential. But he had causally dropped “retarded” and “faggot” into two different conversations. I didn’t say anything in the moment (for various reasons) but I flagged it to bring up later. So one night, we’re out drinking with a couple of my friends and he drops the r-word again. Finally! My chance to set him straight. I quickly pipped up and told him that not only do those words make me uncomfortable, but I find using them in conversation morally irresponsible.

Naturally I assumed he’d say something along the lines of, “Oh. You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll never say them again.”

Nope. Instead he told me that he used to avoid these words, but recently decided that as he’s not a bigot, he is allowed to use these terms in jest as long as those people aren’t around. FUCK THE WHAT?! Then he started arguing some sort of backwards rhetoric about my believing the term “retarded” to be demeaning to a group of people was in itself demeaning. Let’s not forget to mention that he was also throwing the n-word around too.

Later, as I was endlessly conversing the matter with several girlfriends, I received mixed feedback. A few people told me “that’s just the way guys are” and that I should give him another chance. What?


Listen, I get it. You don’t mean any harm. It’s always been a part of your vocabulary. You’re just so used to saying it — you don’t mean it; it just comes out. That guy I dated, Jonah Hill, your boyfriend, your girlfriends, that loud dude at the beach, none of them are bad people.  Some of them might be mildly bigoted, but most of them simply aren’t conscious enough to understand what they’re saying and what it means.

What those people — you? — need to realize, and I’m saying this to those that are kind, thoughtful people (I don’t think even my bold italics could sway real bigots.), I’m saying you need to understand that your words have repercussions. Although you mean no harm, you are propagating the degradation and humiliation of other human beings. You’re selfishly choosing to keep something in your vocabulary because it’s familiar, you like the way it rolls off your tongue, and it conveys your point in a manner that you have yet to discover a better word for.
This is what Urban Dictionary has to say about the word “retard:”
1. retard
A person born with a mental condition and therefore has to work a million times harder to be able to do simple things (such as learn and communicate) that we take for granted. On top of this, a retard will usually suffer a lot of ridicule from society because people fear what they do not understand. The people who choose to make fun of the mental retarded tend to be complete morons and cannot comprehend that these people have feelings and emotions just like anyone else.
I find it amusing that saying somebody has cancer would not be taken as a joke and yet, using another disease such as mental retardation as an insult is common among society, and many do not realize that it is very offensive and that there is something seriously wrong about it.
-Urban Dictionary
If Urban Dictionary, Urban-fucking-Dictionary, thinks it’s wrong (along with, not to mention, EVERY OTHER dictionary: “often used as a general term of abuse” “a contemptuous term” “ used as a disparaging term”), then you probably shouldn’t be saying it.
Faggot isn’t okay. Neither are Chink, Nigger, or Injun. Do those words make you uncomfortable? Retard and Retarded should make you uncomfortable too.
In summation:
You are being insensitive, insecure, and frankly a massive ASSHOLE if you ever choose to use any derogatory words. Even in jest. Especially in jest. Even if you’re Jonah Hill. Pull your heads out of your asses, kids, and CONSIDER what you are saying. Or don’t. Keep dropping retarded and faggot and whatever other antiquated derogatory term pleases you into your conversations; type ’em out in your Facebook posts; yell them at your buddy for chickening out; relay them to your friends to describe how drunk you were…
And one day, when you have children, whom I sincerely hope are healthy and happy (regardless of how, from their births, they happen to experience the world), I hope that they are kinder and more thoughtful than you. I hope they choose to see the world as a place full of people just doing their best and trying to get by. I hope they embrace everyone they meet with respect and empathy. I hope they teach you how to be a better person, because if you are still so careless with how you regard other human beings that you choose to use these hateful, hurtful, selfish words, then you’re not doing a very good job yet. 

Why I’m not going “makeup free” on Facebook

Let me start by saying that when anyone looks at themselves in the mirror and is happy with what they see, that is a beautiful thing. And when a woman chooses not to wear makeup because she’s happy with her face the way it is, that’s great too.

But what is this whole “no makeup nomination” business really about? Is it about feeling comfortable and happy in our own skin? Or is it yet another way to base our self-worth on our appearances?

I don’t have perfect skin. I am 26 years old and I still break out all the time. I deal with rosacea and dry patches and puffy skin and, on especially bad days, an atrocious double chin. Now let me make myself very clear: I am not fishing for your sympathy, empathy, your pity compliments, honest compliments, or your feedback. I am extremely happy with my face, faults and all. At my 26 years I have learned to appreciate it for exactly what it is and when it doesn’t make me happy I let it go.

But letting it go isn’t something I’ve always been able to do. I’ve struggled for years over body image issues. This isn’t some huge confession. I’m no different from any other young woman. My friends and I speak about these things nearly every day. I see these issues in every woman I know. I see it when they try on clothes; I see it when they do their hair and makeup; I see it when they choose their meals.

They (we) are all beautiful, healthy women, yet we spend so time obsessing over our looks. Forgive me if I don’t think a makeup free selfie is going to fix that. 

Because what about the woman who doesn’t feel comfortable taking a no makeup selfie? What about the woman who is nominated and, like EVERY celebrity “makeup free” photo, touches up a little bit here or there, covers a spot or two, puts on some shimmering moisturizer and then snaps a pic? What about the surely tens of thousands of teenagers who are experiencing this trend all over their social media who don’t feel comfortable with themselves and are inundated with beautiful young women, somehow blessed with clear skin, who don’t know how to respond to their nomination because they aren’t confident enough or don’t feel beautiful enough to show their naked face to the world?

And for the women who do, do we really need to pat ourselves on the back and give ourselves a hearty congratulations for having the bravery, the audacity to post a picture online sans makeup?

Apparently this trend has raised 2 million pounds for UK Cancer Research. Well, that’s fucking fantastic. But I only learned that today. Most of the pictures I’ve seen haven’t mentioned anything about that. And while I would never want to condemn something that is raising money for a good cause, what on earth is the correlation between not wearing makeup and raising money for cancer research? Oh, and did you donate?

I hesitate to even post this as some of the selfies in my newsfeed were posted by some of the loveliest people I know. They radiate inner beauty and that’s why I’m so blessed to call them my friends. (But they’re also really pretty. Like, really naturally pretty.)

So why must we continue to base our self-worth on our looks? Where are the nominations to spread happiness? Do good? Plant flowers? Buy a stranger coffee? Tell someone you love them?

I’m aware this is a silly battle to fight. It’s relatively well-intentioned and at the end of the day, it’s raising money for good. But I’m also trying to be aware of what this means for us as women, as a society. Let’s work on being happy and comfortable with ourselves for exactly who we are — NOT what we look like.

In lieu of posting a makeup free photo I’m going to donate $10 to cancer research. Then I’m going to step in front of the mirror, cover up that ugly zit right under my nose, and head out into the world. I nominate you to do whatever the fuck you feel like doing, but doing it with kindness and the intention to improve others’ lives through your actions.

To donate to the BC Cancer Foundation click here.

This was supposed to be about wedding dress shopping but it turned into a long rant about shitty romantic movies.

Another day came and went and I only took two photos: this one for Instagram, extolling the beauty that is cheap, American-bought alcohol and this one:

the vowOooh, so impressed. NOT.

It’s kind of timely actually as last night we were driving around and we stopped at a red light next to a poster of A Winter’s Tale. Go ahead: watch the trailer; I dare you. So I groaned when we pulled up to the poster and Ryan asked me the (very valid) question of, “Why do these movies keep getting made (if they’re so shitty)?”

The reason I took the above picture is because I watched The Vow, in theatres, no less, and I f*cking HATED it. It is a bad, bad film movie. So the thought, to me, of marketing a film by associating it with The Vow is laughable. WHY WOULD THEY THINK THAT WOULD MAKE ME WANT TO SEE IT?! Oh, right, because The Vow grossed 125 MILLION dollars.

There is it.

Both A Winter’s Tale and Endless Love are being released on Valentine’s Day: in a month that is already statistically proven to release awful movies and on a day where the entire marketing world pulls at impressionable women’s heartstrings. To be honest, I have no sympathy for women who get sucked into that crap (Eat some chocolate and get over it.) but it irritates me to no end that this is all we’re being offered.

No, I haven’t seen A Winter’s Tale or Endless Love and, yes, they’re two slightly different genres (fantasy-romance and thriller-romance, respectively). But they’re both made for and marketed to women on the assumption that we’ll watch anything with romance in it; and they’re right.

I LOVE romantic movies. I want to watch romantic movies. I want to watch historical ones, hilarious ones, ensemble ones. But the films that are coming out these days are almost uniformly sycophantic, offensive, and straight-up BAD.

Okay, confession time: I kind of liked the trailer to A Winter’s Tale. Ohmigawd, I know! I’m sorry. I’ve been ranting for minutes and it’s all a lie! I totally want to watch a bad romantic movie! But you know why I won’t watch it? The romantic leads are 13 years apart. And I just can’t do that anymore.

Because it’s not just this one film. It seems like 90% of films released, genre be damned, the female lead is SIGNIFICANTLY younger than the male lead. I mean, Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale? 16 years. Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara? 11 years. Leo Dicaprio and Margot Robbie? 16 years.

And, listen, I know I’m leaving out Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock, but those talented ladies are the exceptions, not the rule. It’s not all awful. There are tons of brilliant filmmakers making movies with women of all ages. It’s getting better, slowly. But until there’s equality in the gender of the leads of films, until women stop getting described by their looks and men by their personalities in scripts, and until the age discrepancy between leads is equal (unless necessary to the plot), I will keep ranting.

I will not see Endless Love because, frankly, it looks like a shitty movie. And I will not see A Winter’s Tale because of the age discrepancy. But I bet they’ll both recoup their budgets and AWT will make some significant profit. Oh, how I wish they wouldn’t.

So what are we going to do about it? Don’t pay to see a romantic movie just because it’s romantic; wait; read the reviews; make an educated choice. And if you’re a writer, write something better. Be aware of how you’re describing your characters. Ask yourself why you’re making the females in your script younger than their males counterparts. AND, SCREENWRITERS, WRITE US SOME GOD DAMN AWESOME ROMANTIC MOVIES!!! (I’m looking at you, little Sam.)

Be conscious about what you’re choosing to watch. And this stuff bothers you like it does me, say something about it. We’re living in a day and age where social media matters and right now, we’re the target market.

Because let’s face it, ladies (and gents), we deserve better!