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Oct 19, 2017

See you at 2!

Hi Everyone -- thanks for stopping by to a chat that has been filled for many of you, I'm sure, with lots of #MeToo's. I hope everyone is still standing. We'll start at 2.

I think I have mentioned this before in this chat, but I am a male with a name usually given to females (Leslie). Aside from some teasing in elementary school it never really was an issue... until email came along. Time after time, I get highly condescending messages from other men that either 1) Patiently explain things, things that I learned way back in college freshman year or 2) adopt a "don't worry your pretty little head" about some problem or issue I raise. The payoff is when I meet them in person in technical meetings, and they see this burly 50-year-old male.

This is so fascinating. My former colleague Neely Tucker used to report the same thing. Neely is a male motorcycle-riding football fanatic, but readers would regularly send him emails along the lines of, "Your article completely missed the point, but what else should I expect from a woman."


After you met in person, would the tone of the emails change? (And does anyone else have experiences along these lines?)

currently in a stop work government contract with literally nothing to do, need new website material, or ill just continue to get paid to read my book.......

How's your Halloween costume game going? I lost a good 30 minutes last night scrolling through Buzzfeed's 27 articles on costume suggestions. Particular useful was this one -- suggestions for people who are always cold.

Your colleague Ms. Petri's column this morning (whose primary analogy I enjoyed greatly) made me wonder if "we" (American society) are especially looking for bad behavior to shine the light on because of who the President is? Without minimizing the idea that unacceptable behavior is just that, I wonder if (consciously or not) we've kind of collectively "patted ourselves on the back" for the 8 years of the past President, and this is our reaction to the current one, or current culture? May be a stretch or too broad a suggestion, but I wondered what you think, if it's even reasonable to attempt such a connection.

I don't know if it's fair to say that it's a reaction. Certainly, it's easy to get complacent and assume that we have made big, major problems on big, major issues, like racism and sexism. And then there's a bubbling up revealing that those problems are all still there, the insidious underbelly of America. What do you all think?

Taxes I: How do we reduce taxes for wealthy at the expense of general public when we know that in the range of 400 corporations don't evern pay20% of the standard 35% Corp Tax . Trillions are parked overseas and we have no money to invest and rebuild here. Do the math it's a loser!

Hoo boy have you wandered into the wrong room.

I need ghost stories! What's a good book (or short story collection--I realize the mood and tone of a good ghost story is hard to keep up for the long haul) for this time of year? I especially love *reliable* narrators--I find the I'm-perfectly-sane-it-could-happen-to-you type story even creepier.

I realize I've recommended her before, but Sophie Hannah is a master of the modern psychological drama. She has one full-length ghost story, "The Orphan Choir," and a collection of short ghost stories, "The Visitor's Book." Start there and see what you think.

A pig in a blanket. How did I never think of that. Also, when will people finally stop dressing up as Harry Potter? Seriously, the costume is 20 years old now.

I hope people will never stop dressing up as Harry Potter. It feels less to me like something you wear because you think it's a great costume idea, and more like something you wear because you really like wearing your Hogwarts robe, and you really only get the one chance per year.

1. I can't remember a year ago. Is "me too" the same as "yes all women" or different? 2. Does the prevalence of social media, hashtag based movements like these ever give you a sense of Animal Farm type propaganda, with masses of people chanting a single slogan over and over again?

I think most people have taken #metoo to a more personal level than #yesallwomen. With #yesallwomen, I was seeing broader statements along the lines of "Of course women are harassed, duh." Whereas this round sees women sharing things on a much more specific level: "I was harassed, and here is what happened."


I do think that there's a perpetual sense of hoping that a hashtag will suddenly shed light on a problem and lead to revolution. And then it doesn't, because it can't, and it does get exhausting. But I still hope they lead to interesting discussions, and that eyes are opened on an individual level.

"it's easy to get complacent and assume that we have made big, major problems on big, major issues, "

Yes, thanks! (We have also probably made major problems).

The day after they stop dressing up as Princess Leia? It's not a fad any more, it's a classic.


I used to work with men named Sandy and Robin, and they both loved working with our British partners, who invariably assumed they were men, unlike all our USA-an colleagues.

Leslie, too -- much more understood as male across the pond.

I think Harry Potter costumes have transcended "fad" status and are now Costume Canon, like Wizard of Oz or Star Wars. You can always dress up like Dorothy or Princess Leia or Han Solo.

I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, for several years. The apartment complex I lived in for part of the time there had (somewhat heated) underground walkways that connected sections of each building, to minimize the time that the kiddos had to venture out in the sub-freezing temperatures to trick-or-treat (average HIGH temp on Oct 31 there is 19 F). Needless to say, it was interesting to see how easily parents could incorporate long underwear and gloves into Halloween costumes.

I am picturing Little Mermaids wearing parkas, and on top, seashells.

High Spirits by Robertson Davies. He wrote them to be part of his College's Christmas Party but they are fantastic. And then you can become a fan read everything else he ever wrote.

Thank you much.

I get that a bit. It's not really the same thing, but when I post comments on this website, something about either my screen name or my avatar has people assuming I'm a woman, which I'm not. From users who don't "know" me, I get a fair amount of initial "you must hate men" and "you wouldn't think this if--" and "you obviously don't know the first thing about it"... And then, if I choose to correct them, it magically stops. Funny the assumptions people make, isn't it? (Though I admit, if I saw an email from a Leslie, I'd probably assume, too. I just hope I wouldn't behave any differently toward him.)

So interesting!

I think it's kind of a brilliant movement, in that responders have a lot of latitude, since it covers harassment and assault, so one can reveal as little or as much as one wishes. I admire everyone who told a story - I didn't, because I'm almost 60 and there are too many to choose from, which is obviously a story in itself.


You touch on a whole other group of folks, who didn't want to participate in the hashtag not because they didn't have stories but because their stories just felt too heavy.

I never ever dress up or pass out candy. Valentine's day and Columbus day were always shams. I quit Christmas and Thanksgiving last year and don't even celebrate my birthday. The only holiday I can remotely get behind is the 4th of July because I love fireworks, but not all the foofaraw that usually goes with it. I'm really not a curmudgeon, as I have lots of fun and am giving and thankful on many, many days during the year. I just don't do it when I'm "supposed to". So I guess I'm just a rebel. Maybe I'll wear a Halloween costume to work tomorrow!

Aw, man. I never dress up either, but passing out candy is the best. My old neighborhood had a lot of immigrants, and I loved watching families come through, trying to wrap their heads around this weird thing that was happening. Plus, if you don't pass out candy, how do you acquire your stash of leftover Butterfingers?

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. It will scare the pants off you (if you're wearing any.) Also Something Wicked This Way comes, if you have somehow never become acquainted with Ray Bradbury.

Heart-Shaped Box is just a scary title and I don't even know what we're talking about.

All classic ghost stories are secretly garbage living on reputation alone. The worst of all is Turn of the Screw. I love the title so much, and it's a classic, by a super intellectual cachet author, but it's unreadably boring, 50 pages feeling like 5,000, just like all other Henry James books, just like all other classic ghost stories.

I...am glad you said this, not me. I've tried to get into Turn of the Screw many times and assuming I must be doing something wrong since it seemed so boring.

This comment confused me at first until I remembered that it's not still in the 90s most places like it is in the Phoenix area. I guess I have truly left my Minnesota roots behind.

Man, living in a warm climate would have been a game changer when I was growing up.

The last movie was released July 2011, so even if there's some sort of time limit, we're at 6 years past current and not 20.

My wife went all out in decorating the yard this year. It subsequently looks very inviting for T & T-ers, but it turns out we won't be home on the 31st. What do we do? An unsupervised bowl of candy will probably last less than five minutes...

Eh, leave one anyway. Make a sign imploring people to listen to their better angels and not take the whole bowl. Parents who are bringing around little kids, at least, will probably try to obey.

This idea reflects the underlying misogyny of society. "Boy names" start being used for girls because it's "cute" or "cool" or "to prevent people on the other side of emails treating them like crap because they assume they're women" and then boys stop being named those names (same thing for gender neutral names). It doesn't go in the other direction, because once something is coded for girls it's definitely not ok for boys anymore, but it's still ok for girls to do boy things because it's a step up.

There is, indeed, a very long list of names that have traveled from boy to girl -- and none I can think of that have gone in the opposite direction. Man, in a generation or so, the only names available to boys will be, like, David, Seth, and Monster Truck.

Besides male Robins & Sandys, i worked with a Les, who signed everything that way. I was surprised to find out after years that he was Leslie and not Lester.

Or maybe, given the bias, not surprised.

I co-moderate an on-line classic literature reading group, and occasionally someone new pops in with a suggestion that we read an author who is younger than I am. When we gently point out the meaning of "classic literature," we usually get a hurt "but isn't it just like cars, where 20 years old is 'classic'?" (We have the same trouble with people who confuse best-sellers with classics.)

What do you consider a literary "classic"? My gut would say, 50 years.

"...there's a perpetual sense of hoping that a hashtag will suddenly shed light on a problem and lead to revolution. And then it doesn't, because it can't, and it does get exhausting... I just couldn't get behind sharing really personal information on the internet, even though I have stories like - I believe - every woman does. Seems it would do me more harm than good.

That's fair enough. A lot of people felt that way.

is great! (Admittedly I read it a long time ago). Also very good is Portrait of a Lady. On the other hand I have tried 3 or 4 times to read Wings of the Dove, and every time I get a few chapters in and realize the words and sentences are just passing in front of my eyes and no information is being transmitted into my brain. Sad!

Cupcake- when social media things blow up (like #metoo at the moment, though my question is broader) but you are That Person who can't stand it for whatever reason, is there a best practice for how to proceed? Like, should one use the same platform to share why you don't like the thing or find it problematic (on your own page- not crapping in people's responses)? Or do should one just shut their trap and let everyone have their cathartic web moment? I usually just do the latter, but then sometimes later end up discussing it with friends who either agreed and thought they were the only one, or that hadn't even thought about whatever point I found sticky.

I usually think letting everyone have their cathartic web moment is the best strategy. If staying quiet made me uncomfortable, I would probably first ask myself a couple of questions. i.e. "Why do I feel the need to speak out? What am I hoping to accomplish? Do I think that other people are being hurt by this social media thing, and me speaking out might comfort them? Or do I just have a pendantic dislike of hashtags?"


And then, just be open to the idea that you speaking out might result in other people being upset with you, because it is the internet, after all. 

You might want to have a relative/friend (or if desperate a hireling) come and house-sit that night.

Well, sure, but then that relative/friend is leaving their own house unattended. 

(Seriously, it's not the end of the world to not be home for Halloween. Kids might be more hooligan-y these days -- but when I was growing up, you just skipped the houses that were dark, and visited the houses that had pumpkins)

The best and only reason to pass out candy is to snack on it yourself in-between doorbell rings while watching cheesy horror on TV. That, and "having to" eat the leftovers afterward.


I am a woman with a somewhat gender neutral name (it became popular for girls in the mid-70s). I have a relative, who is a man, who has the same first and last name as me. It can make Facebook fun, because people instantly change their tone when they think they're talking to the male version. Much more deferential, even when we're discussing topics I'm more knowledgeable about. And if someone is talking to him, but thinks it's me, they're much snarkier and more dismissive. I guess what I'm saying is, if you're a man who thinks sexism isn't a big thing, pose as a woman on Facebook for a day and report back.

We like to keep the books in the public domain for our members who can't get them through a public library or keep them out for a suitable length of time (do you know how long some of Dumas' novels are?). We occasionally make an exception for a Nobel Prize in Literature winner like Pearl S. Buck or Somerset Maugham. Your question generates a lot of discussion -- like does anything by Harriet Beecher Stowe count, when "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is an awful book but it's the best of her fiction?

Oh, I just meant, time-wise. Like furniture is considered "vintage" if it's more than 50 years old, but only "antique" if it's more than 100. I wondered what it was for books.


Actually I am pretty sure that's not true for furniture and that I completely just make it up.

Sometimes when I'm flipping channels I will come across a "Nationals Classic" replay of a game... that quite often is less than one year old. Why don't they simply call it "Nationals Replay?" Need some truth in advertising here...

Ask a Manager (www.askamanager.org) (job-related advice); Eli's Warriors (http://www.warriorelihoax.com/) (uncovering blogs that fake diagnoses); and what was that absolutely bonkers blog that recounted a teen's stalking/murder at an excruciatingly slow pace, and then people accused the blogger/mom of faking the whole thing?

Thanks for these. 

And you're thinking of Morgan's Stalking (which we discussed here at length, I think). And I don't believe that people thought the mom had faked the whole thing. She undeniably believed in what she was saying. What people thought was that the mom deeply believed in something that didn't really happen, as a way to explain the devastating and unexplained death of her daughter. IIRC, there was no evidence of a murder or break-in, or even of the stalking the rest of the family completely believed had happened.

Man. I need to go back and reread that blog now.

I think the cavalcade of Me Too was cathartic for me because it's a reminder I am not alone. Even though it was hard to rip my guts open. My aggravation has been men who are all, "Oh, I didn't know it was that bad, why didn't you tell me?" Like, dudes. You were told, more than once, but every time you refused to hear it. You said you "needed all the evidence" because your desire to pass a verdict mattered more than my pain, or you asked if I was overreacting, or you said it wasn't a big deal. Even the "good guys" did this for so long. I mean, I know if you're raised a fish you won't see the water. But they kept saying the water wasn't a big deal, all while the women around them drowned.

I didn't share a story, just said, "Me, too," because I didn't want to host (on my FB page) a discussion of whether this was the right or wrong way to do activism. THAT'S been exhausting the last few months, so I just said enough to participate.

Talking a dirty bomb, widely dispersed enough that you have to shelter rather than just go in the other direction. I can think of what to do if I were home - move my car to the lowest level of the garage in my apartment building; bring water, my stash of tuna and almonds, a few books, a flashlight and some batteries, and some blankets to said car and camp out for a few days. No idea how bodily functions would work, but I own a bucket and some bleach. If I were at work? I'm about a mile from the Capitol. Figure I'm screwed on that one no matter what.

This is in response to this article, which I had come out today.

I dunno what I'd do. I've spent some time thinking about this. If the Capitol was the target, then I, like you, would be totally out of luck: the Post's building is less than a mile away. My house is about 6 miles as the crow flies, and with traffic and warning time it would be impossible to get much further away. I guess I'd huddle in the basement, but survival chances don't look great there, either.

This is brilliant. I'm saving this metaphor.

Is this from Alex Petri's column? (Everyone should read it).

They're classic because so many members of the team have since moved on. I'm watching one now. (sniff) Denard Span! (sob) Ian Desmond! And as of next year (((WAAAAAIIIIILL))) Jayson Werth!

I assume these are sports people names? (Kidding).

You are right. A law was passed , around 1923 I think, saying something has to be at least 100 to be antique. It's to combat sales of pseudo "antiques".

I am shocked and stunned that I was right on this.


To have a nuclear preparation plan?

 In the 1950s, everyone did. But nowadays, maybe.

It's the equivalent of Californians prepping for earthquakes or Midwesterners doing tornado drills.

I think it's origin is a speech by David Foster Wallace.

I know the speech in which you are talking about, where he talks about how a fish doesn't recognize being in water. But I guarantee that the line quoted there was not a DFW quote.

I've never seen "boy themed" cooking play sets or EZ bake ovens but there are a ton of male chefs. (maybe there are now, but not when the said male chefs were kids)

Cooking is a weird thing. In homes, I'd wager it's still women who do more of the cooking. But yes, being a top chef (or Top Chef) is totally an acceptable male aspiration.

I asked you for Amsterdam recommendations a few weeks ago. You suggested to make sure we did a Rice Table. My husband, lover of all things spicy, loved it and the meal was a highlight of our trip. I must admit, I didn't even sample the four spiciest dishes. I was burning at the medium stuff! Thank you!

So glad you liked it! The spiciness level must depend on the restaurant. I'm a big spice wimp, and I was able to eat everything brought to our table. We also ordered an entirely vegetarian version; maybe the meat dishes tend to be spicier.

As a native Illinoian, I was stunned a few years ago to find out that the "go down to the southwest corner of the basement where you keep your canned goods, blankets, and a radio" advice during tornado warnings was an old wives' tale. The SW corner is no safer than any other spot in the basement; the advice was based on an inaccurate generalization of the way tornadoes generally moved. I feel like my childhood was based on a lie.

I never heard the SW corner direction. But we did go to the basement, and we did bring the radio. And I feel like we weren't allowed to turn on the TV down there? Or maybe it was just that if we were in the basement, the power had already gone out. 

...as classics, would include a lot of pulp fiction - Hardy Boys, Louis L'Amour, etc.

Oh, I'm not saying that every book over 50 should be a classic. I'm just saying that books should not be in the running to be classics until they are at least 50. 

That went fast today--and now I've got to scoot. See you next week, same time and place? GSTQ.

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Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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