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December 2, 2013

Quickie: Lizzy Caplan is bringing feminism back

I was flipping through the November 21 issue of Rolling Stone yesterday and saw a Q&A with Lizzy Caplan, star Showtime's much-talked-about series Masters of Sex. I've been a fan of Caplan's acting for a long time (ever since Freaks and Geeks to be honest, but also loved her in True Blood, Bachelorette and of course, Mean Girls) so of course, I'm happy that she's getting a chance to play a meaty role like Virgina Johnson in Masters of Sex.

After reading her Q&A I have to admit I love her even more. After Rob Tannenbaum baited her with "warning" about feminism, she didn't succumb to the usual misunderstood feminism-bashing that too many female stars have been doing lately:
The show takes place in 1956. Were you surprised by the differences between sexuality then and now?

Yes. It's strange to realize how much of my modern outlook on female sexuality was informed by a woman and a team of scientists I had not heard of. The world saw female sexuality as problematic and nowhere near as important as male sexuality. It's funny to think about [William] Masters [played by Michael Sheen] as a feminist icon, but he sort of is. It's certainly not what he set out to do, but the science, the truth, set a lot of women free.

Then again, a lot of the public reaction to your show has amounted to "OMG, boobies!" Maybe we aren't as sophisticated today as we think.

Big-time. It's glaringly obvious to me. Just the word "sex" makes people uncomfortable in America. I thought we might go through a period of people saying, "Oh, my God, this is exploiting women, look at all these breasts! It's just smut and porn." But people quickly figured out that it really is a feminist show and not just an excuse to show a bunch of titties. 

Careful. If you say it's a feminist show, some people won't watch.

But it's a feminist show with lots of boobies, so it's a win-win! And I've taken it upon myself to make "feminism" not a dirty word.
I'm not going to comment on whether Masters of Sex truly is a feminist show and I'm sure Caplan is an imperfect human being (like all human beings) so I won't necessarily put her up on a pedestal as a beacon of feminism based on one line... but I will say that making feminism not a dirty word is a great goal and I applaud her for owning the word, when so many others are afraid to do so.

November 28, 2013

I Read While He Plays Video Games...

We know that we left the 'I Read While He Plays Video Games' comic site untouched for quite a while... well, your requests have been answered! It's a Thanksgiving miracle! Starting soon, we will be tying up all those loose ends and posting the final comics in the series.

Yes, we said "final".

After we learned that people liked the comic, it grew and included more characters and more situations, which have spun off into other comics and stories. As much as we loved this series, we wanted to move on from the "based on truth" concept (since it hasn't been in so long) and felt it was time to put the relationship to bed. While "I Read While He Plays Video Games" will never die completely, we do not have any specific upcoming plans for this particular strip in the near future.

So we have moved all of the old comics over to the brand-spankin' new website ESCcomics.com and will be releasing the final comics shortly. (Every good story needs an ending.) We hope you enjoy the final moments between our crazy, unnamed couple.

In the meantime, check out the archive of the previously published 'I Read While He Plays Video Games' series here and as a special Thanksgiving treat here is a special NEVER BEFORE SEEN strip!

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your support all these years!

Cross-posted: www.ESCcomics.com 

November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Lil' Lilith and the F-Word

Even though Evil Slutopia is VERY far from a "Mommy Blog", I am a mom and I've written about my daughter Lil' Lilith quite a bit on here... (She has even written the occasional guest blog!) But now she is officially a teenager - not even a "tween" anymore - and it's kind of hard to still call her "Lil' Lilith" when she's as tall as I am and we wear the same size clothing.

I was inspired by a blog post that Don't Speak Whinese tweeted today... "WTF Did You Say!? About Curse Words, You Tube and My Little Ponies" to reminisce about my daughter's good old cursing days. So even though she's as big as I am - and will probably be taller than me within a year - I thought I'd celebrate Throwback Thursday by sharing a few of my favorite inappropriate memories of her.

I believe her first "curse" word was "friggin" which isn't really even a curse, except for the fact that she was two. She looked out the window and told her grandfather to "look at that friggin' squirrel." (Turns out she had heard him complain to me so often about the squirrels that were stealing from his bird feeders that she thought that was the actual name of that specific animal:"Friggin' Squirrels".) 

It was at that point I decided to just let her curse. I think curse words are just words and what really matters is the context. (Note: I don't confuse curse words with slurs which are never acceptable. Of course, I do believe in reclaiming language - like the word "slut" - but certain words aren't ours to reclaim. Just for the record.) I wanted her to understand that it isn't necessarily the curse words that are "bad" but just that there's a time and a place. I wanted her to know what the words were, what they meant, and when not to use them. For example, she couldn't say them at school, she wasn't allowed to teach them to her friends with less liberal parents, she wasn't allowed to say them to her great-grandmother, etc. But otherwise, they were fine.

We would pick one word at a time, I would explain it's meaning and usage, she would say it about a million times in a row and then the novelty would wear off and she rarely said it ever again. It was a pretty good system. When she learned the word "crap" she called up all of my friends and sang them "Crappy Birthday". (Jezebel can attest to this, I think she got one of those calls.)

In Pre-K, she came home from school and insisted that her teacher had said the word "shit" in class. She claimed that her teacher had said "David forgot his shit."
Lil' Lilith: She said Shit! She said "David forgot his shit"!
Mama Lilith: Are you sure?
Lil' Lilith: Yes! She said that David forgot his "helper shit."
Mama Lilith: Wait, was today David's turn to be Class Helper?
Lil' Lilith: Yes! He forgot to help though!
Mama Lilith: Did she say "shift"? Helper shift?
Lil' Lilith: Oh... she might have said "shift". I know it started with "shhh".
My favorite potty-mouth memory though was one day she was in the backyard playing with two friends and I overheard them arguing over what the F-word was. One girl didn't know what it was and the other said she did but she wasn't allowed to say it.
Lil' Lilith: You can just whisper it to us, we won't tell anyone.
Friend 1: But God will know.
Lil' Lilith: I'll just ask my mom later.
Later she asked me...
Lil' Lilith: What's the F-word? I think I know what it is but I'm not sure.
Mama Lilith: What do you think it is?

I was actually impressed that she mastered a compound curse-word. I always told her that curses are not "bad words" they're just "grownup words" and since she wasn't a grownup she was only allowed to use grownup words with my permission. Now that she's practically a grownup (or at least looks like one) she still curses - although still not at school and not in front of her great-grandma - but but it's less cute than it used to be. (Lil' Lilith if you're reading this - sorry, but it's true, your cursing was cuter when you were little. But I still love ya.)

October 25, 2013

The Vampire Diaries Recap: Bye Bye Bonnie

On last night's episode of The Vampire Diaries, Bonnie is still dead, Stefan has amnesia and Damon is pissed off at somebody. Also, find out what happens to this dude...

October 22, 2013

Once Upon A Time... There Were Lots of White People

We recently wrote about Once Upon A Time's first LGBT character, Mulan, and realized that Mulan is also one of the few minority characters on the show. So we thought about it and we had trouble naming more than a handful of characters of color from Storybrooke or anywhere else in the OUAT-universe.

 Sir Lancelot was portrayed by Sinqua Walls

October 18, 2013

The Vampire Diaries Recap: Original Sin

In this episode of The Vampire Diaries, Damon and the doppelgangers go on a road trip, Stefan spends some quality time with Qetsiyah and Matt has no idea what is going on, as usual.

October 13, 2013

Once Upon A Time's First Gay Character?

After a season of subtle hints and foreshadowing... Once Upon A Time may have finally introduced their first LGBT character!

The character of Mulan, played by Jamie Chung, is a warrior based on the character from the Chinese legend Hua Mulan (as well as the Disney movie). When Mulan appeared in earlier episodes of the show, there were hints that she may have a thing for her traveling companion Prince Phillip. However, after she helped Phillip rescue his love, Aurora, the writers started to hint that Phillip may not be the object of Mulan's affection after all...

(Check out 7 Reasons Why Aurora and Mulan are in Love from wetpaint if you want a reminder of all those little hints.)

Finally, in tonight's episode "Quite a Common Fairy", Mulan is invited to join Robin Hood's band of merry men (as the first official female member). Mulan tells him that she is honored, but "there's something I need to talk to before it's too late." "A loved one?" he asks. She replies "we shall see."

Then we see Mulan pay a visit to Aurora, who asks if she should get Phillip. "No that's not necessary, it's you I wanted to talk to," she tells her but before she can say what she has come there to say, Aurora reveals that she and Phillip are expecting a baby. You can see the pain in Mulan's eyes...
Mulan: "That's excellent news."
Aurora: "It's like a dream come true. Now please, please tell me your news!"
Mulan: "I'm joining Robin Hood's band."

Heartbreaking, but also groundbreaking. Is Mulan the first lesbian (or at least bisexual?) character on the show? It's sad that there's an LGBT character but she isn't able to be with the woman she loves... but it's a start at least. Mulan also happens to be one of the few remaining minority characters on the show and she's a badass, strong woman to boot. Good for you Once Upon A Time. Now let's get Mulan a girlfriend!

Cross-posted to ESCTVblog.com

October 11, 2013

The Vampire Diaries: True Lies

This week's episode of The Vampire Diaries teaches that honesty is the best policy. Honesty and... violence?

Read more at ESCTVblog.com

October 4, 2013

The Vampire Diaries: The College Years

Not every television show can survive the transition from high school to college, but since the kids from the Vampire Diaries didn't spend much time in school in the first place it's not a huge issue.

In the season five premiere, everyone has some 'adjusting' to do. Read more at ESCTVblog.com.

Just two normal teenage vampires going to a frat party!

September 3, 2013

The ESC Reads 50 Shades of Grey: Chapter 11

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. But, of course, that's kind of the point.

We decided to tackle the Fifty Shades of Grey series one book at a time and give everyone chapter-by-chapter summaries and critique. We're going to read Fifty Shades of Grey... so you don't have to.

Chapter 11

Note: They're baaaaaaack! Yes, it is the long awaited return to our 50 Shades recaps. We're sorry it's taken us so long to get back to these... but we JUST DIDN'T WANT TO! We're convinced that reading this book was slowly making us dumber, so we just needed to take a break. But we've gotten a bunch of requests for us to continue, and now that the casting choices for the 50 Shades of Grey movie have been announced we felt like it was the right time to start torturing ourselves for your entertainment again.  So from now on when you read these recaps, you can picture Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele:

Summary: In this chapter we finally get a look at this contract we've heard so much about. It's long and boring and full of vaguely sexual-but-not-sexy parts, much like this book itself. Christian buys Ana a laptop so she can "research" BDSM (something E L James maybe should have done before writing this book). They email each other a lot and nothing else really happens.

Sexiness factor (scale of 1-10): 0... unless you find legal paperwork exciting.

BDSM Analysis: Oh the infamous contract! We've been hearing about it for so long... and now we finally get to see it! It's...... totally unimpressive, and definitely something that would never hold up in court, which makes the excessive legal jargon seem even sillier. (In fairness, neither of us has ever signed a BDSM contract, so if you have and this looks legit to you feel free to school us in the comments.) Here are some of our "favorite" parts... 
The following are the terms of a binding contract between the Dominant and the Submissive.
Ah, only one line in and already a problem! We're not lawyers or anything, but even we know that this is not a binding contract. A binding contract is a written agreement that can be enforced by the power of the law. This "contract" could never be legally enforced, so therefore it's not legally binding. Of course, knowing Christian he probably means that he's going to bind her with the sheer force of his hotness or something.
The fundamental purpose of this contract is to allow the Submissive to explore her sensuality and her limits safely, with due respect and regard for her needs, her limits and her wellbeing.
Really Christian? Is the fundamental purpose of this contract really to allow Ana to explore her sensuality? You sure about that? It seems to us that the actual fundamental purpose of the contract is to allow Christian to explore his sensuality with Ana. That's not to say that Ana's needs are completely disregarded, but let's not pretend that this little arrangement is for her benefit, when obviously he's the one pushing for this kind of relationship. What better way to convince her to go along with it than to pretend that it's for her, right?
Any breach shall render it void with immediate effect and each party agrees to be fully responsible to the other for the consequence of any breach.
Fully responsible? In what way? Since the contract isn't legally binding, there's no way to be fully responsible for any breach of said contract, and no explanation for what 'being responsible' would actually entail.
The Submissive will make herself available to the Dominant from Friday evenings through to Sunday afternoons each week during the Term at times to be specified by the Dominant (“the Allotted Times”). Further allocated time can be mutually agreed on an ad hoc basis.
 We think they should've called this part the "Beck-and-Call Clause". And is there any more romantic phrase to describe spending time together than "ad hoc basis"?
The Submissive accepts the Dominant as her master, with the understanding that she is now the property of the Dominant, to be dealt with as the Dominant pleases during the Term generally but specifically during the Allotted Times and any additional agreed allotted times. 
Property? Ick. We understand that there are real D/s relationships where the participants might use language like this with a full understanding and agreement of what it means for them, but it doesn't come off the same way in this context since E L James went out of her way to make Ana so inexperienced and so clearly in over her head with all of this.
The Submissive shall not touch or pleasure herself sexually without permission from the Dominant.
No problem here since we already know that Ana doesn't do any of that anyway, since ELJ was so determined to tell a story in which Christian "owns" every last drop of Ana's sexuality.
The Submissive shall submit to any sexual activity demanded by the Dominant and shall do so without hesitation or argument.

The Submissive shall accept whippings, floggings, spankings, caning, paddling or any other discipline the Dominant should decide to administer, without hesitation, enquiry or complaint. 
Yeah good luck with that "without hesitation" part... this is Anastasia Steele. (And "enquiry"? Yet another example of E L James failing to update the language from British to American English. Sloppy editing.)
In case of illness or injury the Dominant shall care for the Submissive, seeing to her health and safety, encouraging and when necessary ordering medical attention when it is judged necessary by the Dominant.
So if she gets injured or sick while she's with him, he gets to decide whether she needs medical treatment or not? Is Christian a doctor in addition to being a super successful millionaire businessman who plays the piano brilliantly and is the most gorgeous man on the planet and a sex god blah blah blah whatever...actually, I wouldn't put it past E L James to say that he was.
Sleep: The Submissive will ensure she achieves a minimum of eight hours sleep a night when she is not with the Dominant.

Food: The Submissive will eat regularly to maintain her health and wellbeing from a prescribed list of foods (Appendix 4). The Submissive will not snack between meals, with the exception of fruit.
One thing we've noticed (that continues throughout the entire book) is the very problematic combination of Christian's controlling food issues and Ana's borderline disordered eating. Her eating habits are horrible and his attempts to police her eating habits are almost as bad - even though he has a point about the way that Ana eats (or doesn't eat), the crazy control-freak way he handles it is creepy.
Clothes: During the Term the Submissive will wear clothing only approved by the Dominant. The Dominant will provide a clothing budget for the Submissive, which the Submissive shall utilize. The Dominant shall accompany the Submissive to purchase clothing on an ad hoc basis. If the Dominant so requires, the Submissive shall during the Term wear adornments the Dominant shall require, in the presence of the Dominant and at any other time the Dominant deems fit.
Okay we're not going to lie, he almost had us at "clothing budget", but can you imagine anything more annoying than shopping for "approved" clothing with Christian Grey?

Exercise: The Dominant shall provide the Submissive with a personal trainer four times a week in hour-long sessions at times to be mutually agreed between the personal trainer and the Submissive. The personal trainer will report to the Dominant on the Submissive’s progress.
Personal Hygiene/Beauty: The Submissive will keep herself clean and shaved and/or waxed at all times. The Submissive will visit a beauty salon of the Dominant’s choosing at times to be decided by the Dominant, and undergo whatever treatments the Dominant sees fit. All costs will be met by the Dominant.
The trainer part is actually not a terrible idea - Ana's going to need to get into better shape if she's going to keep up with Christian Grey in bed, but it's still kind of hard to reconcile the type of D/S relationship that Christian wants with the concept of body autonomy. Bondage, discipline, etc... sure, I get it... but when it gets to the point that your Dominant is choosing not just the style of your pubic hair, but who your bikini waxer is, it's too much for me. (No disrespect to anyone in this kind of relationship, but that's where it would definitely cross the line for me.) On the plus side at least he's letting her choose when she wants to work out with the trainer - there would be no clothing budget big enough to get me out of bed for early morning workouts.
Personal Safety: The Submissive will not drink to excess, smoke, take recreational drugs or put herself in any unnecessary danger.
Okay, it's a good rule of thumb to do any of the above... but if he's so against drinking to excess, why does he keep filling her full of wine all the time? And who gets to decide what constitutes "unnecessary" danger? Knowing how controlling Christian is, letting Ana leave the house might qualify as unnecessary danger in his mind.
Personal Qualities: The Submissive will not enter into any sexual relations with anyone other than the Dominant. The Submissive will conduct herself in a respectful and modest manner at all times. She must recognize that her behavior is a direct reflection on the Dominant. She shall be held accountable for any misdeeds, wrongdoings and misbehavior committed when not in the presence of the Dominant. Failure to comply with any of the above will result in immediate punishment, the nature of which shall be determined by the Dominant.
 A "respectful and modest manner"? Is that the 'don't act like a slut" clause? As ever, Christian is a dick. It also doesn't make much sense - if their D/s relationship is a secret, how will any "immodest" behavior of hers reflect on him? And how will he know about "misbehavior committed when not in the presence of the Dominant"? Is he planning on having her followed 24/7? Actually knowing Christian, he probably is planning on doing that. Never mind.

Hard Limits
No acts involving fire play.
No acts involving urination or defecation and the products thereof.
No acts involving needles, knives, cutting, piercing, or blood.
No acts involving gynecological medical instruments.
No acts involving children or animals.
No acts that will leave any permanent marks on the skin.
No acts involving breath control.
No activity that involves the direct contact of electric current (whether alternating or direct), fire or flames to the body.
Did he really have to specify that children and animals were off limits? One should hope so, because that's illegal. And he says no fire play, but also no "fire or flames". Okay, we get it. He hates fire. No fire! (Also, the fact that he specified no urination, defecation or the products thereof is a nice touch. It's all about the closing those potential loopholes.)

Also - continuity issue: In chapter 7 when we're first introduced to this part of the contract, it says "needles, knives, piercing, or blood". Now it says "needles, knives, cutting, piercing, or blood." Sloppy proofreading!
Soft Limits
To be discussed and agreed between both parties:
Which of the following sexual acts are acceptable to the Submissive?
• Masturbation
• Fellatio
• Cunnilingus
• Vaginal intercourse
• Vaginal fisting
• Anal intercourse
• Anal fisting
Ana better get a dictionary because we're pretty sure she's never even heard the words "fellatio" or "cunnilingus" before, let alone know if they are acceptable acts to her.  Which, again, and we know we keep bringing this up, but how can Christian expect her to agree to some of this stuff that she's either never experienced, or barely experienced only with him?
Is swallowing semen acceptable to the Submissive?
We already know it is, because she already did that... who can forget that soapy blow job?
Is the use of sex toys acceptable to the Submissive?
• Vibrators
• Dildos
• Butt Plugs
• Other
I think this is indicative of E L James' lack of research, because Christian Grey is supposed to be sexually experienced and he can only think of three kinds of sex toys? And Ana is supposed to agree to "Other" or discuss whether other sex toys would be acceptable when she's never even seen a vibrator before?
Is Bondage acceptable to the Submissive?

• Hands in front
• Hands behind back
• Ankles
• Knees
• Elbows
• Wrists to ankles
• Spreader bars
• Tied to furniture
• Blindfolding
• Gagging
• Bondage with Rope
• Bondage with Tape
• Bondage with leather cuffs
• Suspension
• Bondage with handcuffs/metal restraints
Zzzzzzzzzzz...see above. There's a whole chapter of this!
What is the Submissive’s general attitude about receiving pain?
Where 1 is likes intensely and 5 is dislikes intensely: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5

How much pain does the submissive want to receive?
Where 1 is none and 5 is severe: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5
This is kind of interesting. Pain is pretty subjective... that is, we all have our own individual thresholds for pain (and those who have never experienced much pain, don't even really know what theirs are). So if she says that she wants to receive pain up to level 3, how is Christian really supposed to know what that means? How do either of them know what "severe" is means to the other?
Which of the following types of pain/punishment/discipline are acceptable to the Submissive?
• Spanking
• Paddling
• Whipping
• Biting
• Nipple clamps
• Genital clamps
• Ice
• Hot wax
• Other types/methods of pain
Too bad he didn't ask her all of these questions about her pain tolerance before he 'slammed into her' the first time they had sex.

Ana's subconscious, inner goddess and other invisible friends:
I stare at myself in the bathroom mirror. You can’t seriously be considering this… My subconscious sounds sane and rational, not her usual snarky self. My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old. Please, let’s do this… otherwise we’ll end up alone with lots of cats and your classic novels to keep you company.
So the subconscious and the inner goddess really aren't the same fictional person. And Ana's subconscious is apparently literally talking to her, if she actually sounds a certain way. (It's also a little concerning - but not surprising - that "sane and rational" is not the usual state of her subconscious.) And really, I'm sorry, but fear of becoming a spinster cat lady is not a good enough reason to enter into a relationship that makes you uncomfortable. Period. This is especially true when you're still in college and have no reason to be worrying about becoming a spinster cat lady anytime soon. And these three-way conversations between Ana, her subconscious, and her inner goddess remind me of the DID storylines from One Life to Live. (You know you watched it too, don't lie.)
Well, at least I got my way this weekend. My inner goddess stops jumping and smiles serenely. Oh yes… she mouths, nodding at me smugly.
Oh, I wish I’d never met him. My inner goddess shakes her head at me. She and I know it’s a lie. I have never felt as alive as I do now.
Here's a question to ponder: Ana's inner goddess is inside her (hence the term 'inner').  So when she shakes her head at Ana, is she looking at Ana from the inside? Is she nodding and shaking her head at Ana's spleen or whatever?

Plot Holes, Fact Checking Fails, and Just Plain Old Bad Writing:
Holy Fuck. I can’t bring myself to even consider the food list. I swallow hard, my mouth dry, and read it again.
Hilarious, that after reading all that, the innocent and inexperienced Ana barely bats an eye at "anal fisting" or "genital clamps" but can't bring herself to even consider the food list. (Of course it does go back to our earlier thoughts about her eating issues.)
My head is buzzing. How can I possibly agree to all this? And apparently it’s for my benefit, to explore my sensuality, my limits – safely – oh please! I scoff angrily. Serve and obey in all things. All Things! I shake my head in disbelief.
Okay, as annoyingly dramatic as Ana is... we're actually glad that E L James at least had her object to some of the same stuff we objected to. It's ridiculous for Christian to expect Ana to agree to this contract given the circumstances.
Every weekend? That’s too much. I’ll never see Kate or whatever friends I may make at my new job – provided I get one. Perhaps I should have one weekend a month to myself. Perhaps when I have my period, that sounds… practical.
Yeah Christian, Ana needs time to hang out with all the many many friends she's going to make at her new job that she doesn't have yet! Not that it's an unreasonable request. But of course she's going to tell him it's about her having her period and not because she just wants some time to herself.
Am I submissive? Maybe I come across that way. Maybe I misled him in the interview. I’m shy, yes… but submissive? I let Kate bully me – is that the same?
I don't know, Ana, do you let Kate fist you or put genital clamps on you or tell you what foods you can eat? Then no, it's probably not the same.  But you are weak and a pushover. And a moron.
 “Okay, what is it?”

“It’s a MacBook Pro.”

“Of course it is.” I roll my eyes.

“These aren’t available in the shops yet, ma’am; the very latest from Apple.” How come that does not surprise me? I sigh heavily.

“It’s got the latest OS and a full suite of programs, plus a one-point-five terabyte hard drive so you’ll have plenty of room, thirty-two gigs of RAM – what are you planning to use it for?

“Uh… e-mail.”

“E-mail!” he chokes, bemused, raising his eyebrows with a slightly sick look on his face.

“And maybe Internet research?” I shrug apologetically.

He sighs. “Well, this has full wireless N, and I’ve set it up with your Me account details. This baby is all ready to go, practically anywhere on the planet.” He looks longingly at it.

“Me account?”

“Your new e-mail address.”

I have an e-mail address?

He points to an icon on the screen and continues to talk at me but it’s like white noise. I haven’t got a clue what he’s saying, and in all honestly, I’m not interested. Just tell me how to switch it on and off – I’ll figure out the rest. After all, I’ve been using Kate’s for four years. Kate whistles, impressed when she sees it.

“This is next-generation tech.” She raises her eyebrows at me. “Most women get flowers or maybe jewelry,” she says suggestively, trying to suppress a smile.
I don't even know what to say about this entire exchange. Next generation tech! It's still really hard for us to believe that Ana has made it through four years of high school and four years of college without a computer. But she's so fucking stupid. "Just tell me how to switch it on and off - I'll figure out the rest." Really? If you can't figure out how to turn the computer on yourself, then how the fuck are you going to figure out how to use it? Also, the "all ready to go, practically anywhere on the planet" part is pretty funny. This laptop is special because it can be used anywhere on the planet... like all laptops.

We were also skeptical about the tech aspect of this exchange, so we did a little research. The general consensus is that at the time that the book takes place, it would be very unlikely to find a MacBook Pro, even one that isn't in stores yet, that has storage space for a hard drive that large and that much RAM. Yes, we know what it says about us that we took the time to do this.
“Ana,” he smiles his dazzling toothy all-Hispanic-American smile, and I can’t be angry with him anymore.
What the fuck is an all-Hispanic-American smile? We know that "All American smile" is an expression, but it no longer makes sense if you add Hispanic- in front of it. You can have an All American smile and be Hispanic-American, without having to specify. (Or do Hispanic-Americans have different smiles?) The whole thing is fucking stupid and vaguely racist. We get it E L James, you want us to remember that you have a "Hispanic-American" character in your book.
“Hey, Ana,” he murmurs. “You’ve really forgiven me?”

“José, you know I can never stay mad at you for long.” He grins.
Yeah, what's a little attempted date rape among friends? No biggie.

I can’t wait to get home. The lure of e-mailing Christian, and maybe I can begin my research project. Kate is out somewhere, so I fire up the new laptop and open my e-mail. Sure enough, there’s a message from Christian sitting in the inbox. I’m practically bouncing out of my seat with glee.
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Working for a living
Date: May 23 2011 17:24
To: Anastasia Steele

Dear Miss Steele
I do hope you had a good day at work.

Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. 
I hit reply. 
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Working for living
Date: May 23 2011 17:48
To: Christian Grey

Sir… I had a very good day at work.
Thank you.

From: Christian Grey Subject: Do The Work!
Date: May 23 2011 17:50
To: Anastasia Steele

Miss Steele
Delighted you had a good day. While you are e-mailing, you are not researching.

Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. 
Dude. He emails her, she answers, and he basically yells at her for wasting her time on email. Hello! She wouldn't be emailing instead of researching if you hadn't emailed her first, dumbass. If she hadn't answered, he probably would've been like "why haven't you answered my emails?" Is this ELJ's idea of romantic, witty banter?
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Nuisance
Date: May 23 2011 17:53
To: Christian Grey

Mr. Grey, stop e-mailing me, and I can start my assignment.
I’d like another A.

I hug myself. 
From: Christian Grey
Subject: Impatient
Date: May 23 2011 17:55
To: Anastasia Steele

Miss Steele

Stop e-mailing me – and do your assignment.
I’d like to award another A.
The first one was so well deserved. ;)

Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. 
No, you hang up first.

Can we just acknowledge that half of this chapter is filler - the contract, the endless and pointless email exchanges, etc. Lazy, lazy, lazy writing. Also, every time Ana emails Christian he answers right away - good to know that running your own huge successful business isn't that time consuming.

I fire up Google. 
How do you "fire up" Google? She typed "Google.com". It's a search engine, not an actual engine.
From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Internet Research
Date: May 23 2011 17:59
To: Christian Grey

Mr. Grey
What would you suggest I put into a search engine?


From: Christian Grey
Subject: Internet Research
Date: May 23 2011 18:02
To: Anastasia Steele

Miss Steele
Always start with Wikipedia.
No more e-mails unless you have questions. Understood?

Christian Grey
CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.

Christian really is a dick. One- That was a question. Two- He didn't fucking answer it. She's asking for keywords to search for (since she clearly knows nothing about this sort of thing) and he basically tells her to use Wikipedia, but still doesn't tell her what to search for in Wikipedia. Although really, once again Ana is the stupid one - she has a whole contract full of terminology to look up. Why is she asking him?

But also... Wikipedia! Hahaha! Way to get serious about that research guys!

Have you ever actually typed 'Submissive' into Wikipedia? No? We're guessing E L James didn't either. When you search for 'Submissive', it redirects to 'Deference'... HOT! There's very little reference to sexuality at all, let alone BDSM.
Half an hour later, I feel slight queasy and frankly shocked to my core. Do I really want this stuff in my head? Jeez – is this what he gets up to in the Red Room of Pain? I sit staring at the screen, and part of me, a very moist and integral part of me – that I’ve only become acquainted with very recently, is seriously turned on. Oh my, some of this stuff is HOT. But is it for me? Holy shit… could I do this? I need space. I need to think.
Ewwww. We don't want to know about any of Ana's moist and integral parts. Now we're feeling kind of queasy ourselves. We need space. We need to think. Especially if we're going to consider recapping Chapter 12 in the near future.

Conclusion: Christian Grey is still a controlling jerk, Ana and all of the voices in her head are still clueless, computers are fun, E L James is still a horrible writer, and this book still sucks! We can't wait for this upcoming film to sweep the 2015 Academy Awards.


June 17, 2013

True Blood Season 6: How Much More Ridiculous Can This Show Get?

The Season Premiere of True Blood was last night, so we thought what better way to revive our ESC TV blog than to tell you all of our feelings about it...

It was a weird-ass episode. Of course, they're all always weird-ass episodes, but this one was particular weird. I'm not sure how I feel about the show anymore. Maybe the show has just gone on for too many seasons, so they have to keep topping themselves with crazy storylines... but it is getting ridiculous already.

May 20, 2013

Plenty of Fish Uses Age Discrimination to Avoid "Hook-Ups"

I've been trying out the online dating scene again and joined Plenty of Fish (POF.com). On May 20, I received a message from the creator, "markus" (Markus Frind) telling me about some of POF's newest policies. The short version is that the site is trying to make a shift towards focusing on finding relationships by making it harder for users to look for "hookups". Of course, Markus and the POF team have decided that the best way to do this is to jump right into age discrimination!

This was the message from Markus:
When I created POF, I wanted it to be all about finding relationships with the right person. For the first 7 years this worked really well, I got the site to 10 million users without any employees people and POF was generating a ton of relationships. Around 3 years ago, everyone started using the website via mobile phones. Today about 70% of POF use is via a mobile phone and unfortunately about 2% of men started to use POF as more of a hookup site mostly due the the casual nature of cell phone use.
In sticking with my vision that POF is all about Relationships, I'm going to make a bunch of changes to ensure it stays a relationship-focused site.
Markus wants to blame mobile phone use for why people are using POF for casual hookups instead of relationships (not sure where he got that 2% of men statistic, doesn't seem like a high enough percentage to worry about). But let's take a look at POF for a moment and examine the real reason people are probably
using the site for casual hookups:

1. They're people. I've been on a variety of dating sites over the years and there will always be a percentage of users who just are looking to hook up. They may be open about this in their profiles or they might pretend to be looking for more, but there will always be people like that. Just like there will always be people that you meet anywhere (at the bar, at the gym, at the grocery store, wherever) that will just be looking for sex. It's a fact of life. POF can change their settings all they want, but there will still always be that 2% (or whatever the real numbers are).

2. POF's own settings are conducive to casual hookups. POF asks you for both your "Intent" and what you are "looking for" (which are sort of the same thing, but okay). Under "I am looking for:" you can choose "I am serious and want to find someone to marry"; "I am putting in serious effort to find someone"; "I want a relationship"; "I want to date but nothing serious" and "I'm looking for Casual dating/No Commitment". Under "Intent" you can choose "Hang Out", "Long-term", "Dating", "Friends" and "Intimate Encounter".

If Markus's original vision of POF was to be relationship-focused, why did he give people the option to select things like "No Commitment" or "Hang Out" or "Intimate Encounter" in the first place?

Getting rid of "Intimate Encounter" is #3 of the three changes Markus has announced he will be making in order to try to steer the site back towards Relationships. I don't have a problem with that - there are already plenty of sites devoted to finding "intimate encounters" so if he wants POF to be all about relationships that's fine. But the other two changes are really hard to grasp:
1. Any first contact between users that contains sexual references will not be sent. Anyone who tries to get around this rule will be deleted without warning. This rule has actually been in effect since last month and it's made the site so much better.

2. You can only contact people +/- 14 years of your age. There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact a 18 year old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hookups. Anyone who tries to get around this rule will get deleted.
3. Intimate Encounters will go away in the next few months. There are 3.3 Million people who use the site every day, of those there are only 6,041 single women looking for Intimate Encounters. Of those 6,041 women, the ones with hot pictures are mostly men pretending to be women. Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.

#1 is somewhat concerning... I guess I can understand why they might want to discourage people from sending sexually suggestive messages for the first message. I certainly prefer not to receive those from guys I'm not interested in (which is most of the guys on POF). But I'm not really sure I understand how they're going to enforce that. Are they reading our messages (totally uncool) or are they just going to flag any messages with certain buzzwords they deem inappropriate? I would love to see that list.

But my real issue is with #2 and I think we should all have an issue with this. Read it again:
2. You can only contact people +/- 14 years of your age. There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact a 18 year old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hookups. Anyone who tries to get around this rule will get deleted. [emphasis mine]
Isn't that age discrimination (or at the very least, forcing us to be discriminatory?) Fourteen years is really not that much of an age difference. One of my exes is fifteen years older than me and our relationship wasn't "all about hookups".

I'm in my mid-30s and I have a kid. I come across a lot of guys my age who are freaked out about dating a woman with a kid. You know who tends to be less freaked out about that? Older men. They're more likely to be parents themselves or they're at the point in their lives where they're okay with the idea of being a part of someone else's child's life instead of pushing to have their own. Obviously that's a huge generalization, and I'm sure there are many many exceptions, but Markus is making a pretty broad generalization too. I'm sure there are plenty of younger guys who would love to raise someone else's kid and I'm sure there are even more older guys who are gross, sleazy jerks, but I'm just speaking from my own personal experience. So how exactly can he claim that the majority of messages sent outside that age range is all about hookups?

One of the perks of POF that I do like is that you can set very specific restrictions on who can or can't contact you. For example, you can filter people based on gender, age, location, and other details. Check out what my profile settings currently look like:


Aside from the obvious fact that the reason I'm still single is probably because I'm super picky, you'll notice that you can get very specific on the age range you're willing to date. So if you don't want older people contacting you, you can stop them from contacting you without having to control what everyone else on POF is doing.

Also there's Markus's logic that there is "no reason" for a 50 year old man to contact an 18 year old woman. That's a 32 year age difference, not 14! And okay, while I'm sure that there are plenty of exceptions, I will go out on a limb and say that maybe there's something a little odd about a person who literally just became an adult and can't even drink yet dating someone who could be their parent, but if it works for them, who are we to judge? But it's quite a stretch to compare an 18-to-50 difference to say, 36-to-50. If I'm 18 (or any age) and don't want 50-year-olds contacting me, I can set my settings to prevent that... or here's a crazy idea, I can just not reply to them! And if someone persists, you can easily block them. There's really no reason to get so strict about the rules.

It just feels like POF is trying to take more and more control away from their users and if they really want to do that, fine, but this crosses the line into age discrimination and I'm not okay with that.

Markus's final words:
In short the vast majority of people will not be impacted. This is because the vast majority of people are not going around spamming women saying "let's have sex tonight". I can't change POF alone, I need your help to get the word out there that POF is all about relationships!
If he wants to steer POF to be "all about relationships" that's fine, because there are plenty of websites that are geared towards those who are looking for casual hookups. But I don't agree that preventing people from dating outside of the age range that Markus deems appropriate is necessarily the best way to prevent guys from spamming women saying "let's have sex tonight".

If you disagree with POF's new policy and feel that it amounts to age discrimination (or is just a stupid, unnecessary idea) let them know.  
Plentyoffish Media Inc.
701 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5400,
Seattle, Washington 98104
Fax: (604) 648-9521

Media Inquiries:

We know haven't been blogging much lately (have been so busy with awesome ccon planning) so it's a little funny that the only two things we've written lately have been about online dating... but oh well...


May 13, 2013

Online Dating Surrogate

I was looking at Craigslist the other day at the 'writing/editing' jobs section (hey, even the evil sluts need a little side work from time to time) and came across a really disturbing job offer for an Online Dating Surrogate...

Successful entrepreneur needs discerning woman to handle online dating communications for him for roughly an hour per day

1. Review profiles of women on 3 or 4 dating sites
2. Per criteria you will be provided, mark as "Favorite" all potential women to contact
3. You'll let me know when to review Favorites periodically and I'll delete those I'm not interested in
4. You'll write to and exchange messages with the remaining Favorites and try to set dates
Up until Step 3, I actually was almost okay with this. He's a busy guy, so he doesn't have time to weed through multiple profiles just looking for someone who might interest him. 
But Step 4 freaks me out. He wants someone to pose as him and exchange messages with women in order to set up dates? That's so creepy. And then I started to feel uncomfortable about the online dating attempts I've made... It made me wonder if the reason that really cool guy I was messaging with turned out to be a dud in person was because I was actually being written to by a surrogate. Or if the reason that guy who clicked "I want to meet you" on my profile never replied to my follow-up message was because it was his surrogate who picked me instead. The whole situation is really disturbing and it's concerning that someone would go into a potential relationship, automatically starting off with dishonesty.
Ideal candidate for this job is similar to dating candidates sought: Pretty, thin, educated female in her 20s or 30s (with great taste and strong writing ability)

If This Part-Time Job is For You:
Email to craig0519nyc@hotmail.com your picture, resume and lengthy enough response to assess your writing ability. Indicate why this job will be easy and fun for you and describe why you believe that you have great taste and a discerning eye.
 So now it gets weirder. Why do I have to look look a certain way in order to help this guy lie to women online and include a photo? Does he think that my being pretty and thin will somehow make me more able to attract other pretty and thin women?

This whole situation freaks me out. At the very least - this guy is either lazy or too busy to date anyone (if he's too busy to exchange messages with them). And he is definitely dishonest. But sadly, that's the best case scenario. There are darker, scarier alternatives... He's not interested in talking to these women online to see if they have anything in common or any chemistry, he wants someone else to do that and try to set up an in-person meeting. Is that because he doesn't care about whether or not he's at all compatible with these women because he's just a dumbass... or because he has some ulterior motive to meeting her? Maybe he's trying to manipulate them in order to get laid, or maybe he's a predator and is luring these women to dates for some sinister motive. I know I might be overreacting, but in this day and age, it's certainly possible and anyone who took on this "job" would potentially be an accessory to whatever creepiness he has in mind.

The whole thing is just sad and pathetic however you want to swing it. And it makes me want to reevaluate online dating altogether. And the final kicker? This job pays $100/week for "roughly seven hours a week", meaning that you'll only make about $14/hour for the privilege of deceiving and manipulating unsuspecting women.

Related Reading:

March 3, 2013

Would You Want to Know He Cheated?

We already just wrote a very very long post about all the crap that was printed in the February issue of Cosmopolitan magazine... but would you believe it, we're not done! In the Love, Lust & Other Stuff section there's yet another pile of garbage article entitled "Would You Want to Know He Cheated?"
Maybe not: Sometimes the confession can be as cruel as the infidelity. Benjamin Anastas tells us why he wishes he had never come clean.
This is so bad, it's hard to believe it wasn't written by Jessica Knoll or Ky Henderson. Really, it's that bad.

First of all, the article itself never really address the question in the title. The title asks "would you want to know"? But the question that the article answers is actually "should you tell?" which is very different. They don't ever consider the point of view of the person who has been cheated on. It's told from the point of view of a man who cheated and the entire page is just one long self-serving rationalization for dishonesty. 
Then I cheated. It happened far away, at a high-rise hotel in a cold European city, in a white box of a room with thick curtains that blocked out light and sound. Those curtains stopped time. In the security line at the airport, it hit me: I had to walk through the door, put down my suitcase, and tell her. I thought I owed her that. Every time I'm in an airport now, I can feel that feel that old panic returning, and then I remember: That's what it felt like when I cheated on my fiancee. Before she became my wife.
He doesn't explain what led to his infidelity. A rash decision? A drunken mistake? A calculated choice? Only that it happened and it didn't occur to him that he might need to tell his fiancee until he got to the airport.

Of course, it doesn't happen that way.
To be honest, I wasn't strong enough. So I went back to work, brought groceries, cooked her lavish dinners, went to the gym an extra day a week.
Nope, he doesn't walk through the door, put down his suitcase, and tell her.  Instead he keeps it a secret.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.

"No nothing's wrong," I lied.

It was two months before I finally let it all pour out. I hadn't been sleeping. I couldn't concentrate on anything. I had a persistent rash that I thought might be an STD (it wasn't). It seemed like a golden dream now, the safe and comfortable life we'd had, and I was convinced that the only way for us to get it back would be for me to open up.
He waited two months to tell her. Just want to make sure that's clear. Two months. He didn't tell her because it was the right thing to do or because she deserved to know. He did it to calm his own guilty conscience. He couldn't sleep, couldn't concentrate... he hoped telling her would help that. His telling her was as selfish as cheating in the first place was.

That's the thing about cheating. It's not just that you're breaking your commitment to be faithful. It's also a betrayal -- lies and secrecy. He didn't just sleep with someone else; he lied to his fiancee (either directly or indirectly, by omission) every single day for two months. That's not just one indiscretion. That is at least sixty lies (if you estimate one lie a day for two months).

It's also extremely disturbing that he says he thought he had an STD because it implies that he waited until he got the rash to get tested. No, wait, he waited until the rash became persistent to get tested. So he cheated, possibly exposing himself to an STD, and instead of telling his fiancee immediately (or at the very least, secretly getting tested right away just to be sure), he potentially risked his girlfriend's health for two months.
I can still see her, propped on her pillows, squinting at a copy of The New Yorker. She was wearing an ancient, frayed U2 concert tee shirt. She had no idea.

"We need to talk," I said.

She looked up. 
Again, he leaves out the details, that might be relevant. How did he tell her? Did he just blurt it out? Did he tell her matter-of-factly? Did she cry? Did he cry? Did he get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness? We have no idea if he did an adequate job of apologizing or if he was insensitive about it. We have no idea if he gave her all the details or just left it as a vague confession. Maybe it shouldn't matter, but in some ways it does. Since this whole story is about whether or not one should confess to cheating... isn't the quality of that confession relevant?
That was nine years ago. We've been divorced for five. She tried to forgive me and went through with our wedding, but on the other side, she got me back by having an affair. We tried to reconcile, but it is not easy to rebuild trust once it's been violated. 
No, it's not easy to rebuild trust once it's been violated. Of course, yet again, we have no details on whether he actually made a decent effort to regain her trust. He says "she tried to forgive me" but what did he do? Hopefully, he does realize that the rebuilding of trust should've started on his end. Did he do anything to prove himself? A confession alone isn't enough to fix things; an apology means nothing without actions to back it up.

There's often a big misconception in relationships that the confession/apology is supposed to make everything all better. 'I told you what happened! I said I'm sorry! What more do you want from me?' But that's not how it works. You confess, because the other person deserves to know and deserves the right to make an informed decision about whether they want to be with you. You run the risk of them making a decision that you don't want; you run the risk of losing them. But if you can't be honest with them, then you shouldn't be with them in the first place. We all make mistakes and it is in coming clean that you give yourself the opportunity to make amends for your mistakes and be forgiven. If you are worth forgiving - and do the work that is required to earn that forgiveness, to rebuild that trust, to prove yourself - then you may be rewarded for your honesty. But lying for two months doesn't exactly foster confidence. A confession that comes two months after the fact is going to be too little, too late for a lot of people.
I wonder, standing outside, if we'd still be married if I'd just let her go on reading her magazine that night and kept my infidelity to myself. It's not an appealing thought, that dishonesty can sometimes be the answer--that it can be less damaging to maintain a lie--but I know that being honest about cheating can wreck lives.
No. Dishonesty is not the answer. It was the two months that he maintained the lie that was damaging, not the decision to reveal it. It was the cheating that wrecked their lives, not being honest about the cheating. Way to learn the wrong fucking lesson asshole!
I felt guilty, and I wanted to be forgiven before we married. Was telling her the right thing to do, or did I compound my infidelity with another selfish act? Some part of me thinks it would have been bigger of me--and better of me as a future husband--to walk down the aisle with her as if nothing had happened in that hotel room. 
He has a point. His confession was motivated by selfishness. He confessed for the wrong reasons, but that doesn't mean it was the wrong thing to do. Of course, it was the wrong time. He should've told her immediately after it happened. Keeping it a secret for two months was selfish. Keeping it a secret forever would've been even worse. In no way would that have made him "bigger" or "better"... except maybe a bigger asshole. I do understand that the motivation to confess secrets often comes from a selfish reason ('I need to free myself of this guilt') instead of doing what's right ('she deserves to know the truth'). But that doesn't mean that the act is wrong, just the motivation is wrong. The truth - given kindly and appropriately and timely - is always better than a lie. When it comes to infidelity, there is no scenario in which I think that lying and secrecy are the better choice (nor do I think that it would ever make the cheater a 'better person' for lying).

Anastas is making the wrong connection here. He thinks that his marriage ended because he confessed, but the truth is, it ended because he didn't confess soon enough. The message of the article is "don't tell" but I think the real lesson should be "don't wait to tell." Cheating is bad, but it is one impulsive act (unless we're talking about an on-going affair, which is a whole other issue). The real hurt and betrayal come from the continued dishonesty. The repeated act of dishonesty and disrespect every single day. That is a bigger slap in the face than anything.

It reminds me of a line from the movie Love Actually, when Emma Thompson's character discovers that her husband may have cheated. He says "Oh, God. I am so in the wrong. The classic fool." And she replies: "Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me, and you've made the life I lead foolish too." Every day that Anastas declined to tell his fiancee what happened, every day that she had no idea what he had done, was one more day that she was made to feel foolish about. When she said "I love you" or asked "what's wrong?" and he said nothing, it was a repeated betrayal so deep that it's almost like he's cheating on her all over again.

I know this much: There is no way to press rewind and undo the hurt you've caused another. I lost a marriage when I cheated and confessed. Who knows? It could have been a good one.
No Benjamin, you lost a marriage when you cheated. Period. You could have saved the marriage if you had done right by your fiancee, but you didn't. It would never have been a good one, because you are not a good one.

February 26, 2013

Cosmo Quickies: February 2013

We have been slacking on the Cosmo quickies every month, sorry... we just got the March issue in the mail which is the signal that we better get fucking back to the February issue before February is over! We already went off on their "Fake Chastity Belt" advice (UNDER THE BATH MAT!) but oh boy, this was a doooooozy of an issue... It's the LOVE issue!

So of course that means:
  • Epic Confessions
  • A Cheater's Diary
  • Obsessive Office Crushes
Yep, sounds like true love to me!

The sexy cover model is Julianne Hough and there's a little arrow pointing at her head that says "On Success and Sexy Time With Seacrest!" Ugh, again, the most fascinating 'fact' about the woman on the cover is her connection... to a man. Let's recap the last two months - Carly Rae Jepsen's cover said "The Secret Bond She Shares With Bieber" and Taylor Swift's cover said "Crazy for a Kennedy!" But Seacrest? Barf.

Also on the cover: Ohhhhhhh! CRAZY HOT SEX: 10 Secrets to Intense Action

You can tell it's going be really crazy and intense because they used SEVEN h's! We cannot wait to hear what their ten secrets are. We're pretty sure it's definitely going to be brand new secrets that no one has ever read about before ever in any past issue of Cosmo, right:?

Then Cosmo does a weird little juxtaposition / math equation: 
Fun Fearless Lingerie
Try the Sex Diet & Curb Your Carb Cravings
"I'm Marrying My Gay Best Friend"
(and yes...he's great in bed!)
You can only wear your fun, fearless lingerie if you first lose weight on the "sex diet"... plus, marry your gay best friend. We do not know what the total of that addition problem is.

We don't usually address stuff written in the "What You Thought of the December Issue" section (letters from readers) but we have a few things to say this time:

These were good:
Progressive Props
"I was so impressed with your inclusion of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi in 'If They Break Up, We Quit Life!" Articles like these are helping to normalize homosexual relationships." - Claire M., Worcester, Mass.
Sweet Shaming
"The blurb on the cover, 'So You Are a Cupcake? Fast Moves to Burn it Off!' really bothered me. You made it sound as if eating a cupcake is something to be ashamed of. I try to work out regularly, but I do it to be healthy, not to burn off something I ate." - Elizabeth K., Halifax, Penn.
These were annoying...
Nervous Flier
"Reading my Cosmo magazine; turn to 'Late Night Sex'. The man sitting next to me on the plane looked horrified. #Priceless." -@annadwyerr
Young and Gifted
"I love that Taylor Swift was on the cover of the December issue. It's so amazing that she has accomplished so much by 23....Wow!" - Laken M., Auburn, Ind.
...because like we said above (and in our December Quickies) Swift has accomplished so much by age 23. So why the fuck is "Crazy for a Kennedy!" the only fact they could think of for the cover? (Especially since she wasn't even still dating him by the time the magazine went to print.)
And then this... oh fuck this:
A Few Good Men
"Cosmo's 'The Only Kind of Man Worth Marrying' is a must-read. Good guys are out there, I promise!" - @_meredithanne_
We had a lot of strong feelings about that article! One thing we can say is that it is not a must-read. It's common sense plus tips from an attempted murderer.

This month's "hot topic" from The Cosmo Question is "Can Two Alpha Females Be Friends?" Um... yes. They discuss Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's success and real-life friendship:
But perhaps the greatest takeaway from their pairing is a reminder that powerful women can be friends, share the spotlight, and not be viewed as competitors.
That's the greatest takeaway from their friendship? Really? Why do we have to continue to portray this stereotype of women as always being "competitors" pitted against each other, to the extent that we even have to ask if it's even possible that two successful women can be friends? Of course they can. And maybe they'd be able to more often if Cosmo and the world didn't continuously tell us that we're supposed to be competing with each other.

Then of course, there's this:
How often are we told to choose between two amazing women, as if we can only like one? Gaga or Madonna? Jen or Angelina? Carrie or Samantha or Charlotte or Miranda? Pick only one!
Yeah, Cosmo, it really sucks when we the media continuously pits Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie against each other. So um, why do you do it every fucking single issue? (Twice, last month.)

Fun, Fearless... FAIL! Cosmo calls the trends like they see them "from wow to WTF". Honestly, it's not even worth the time to write about how stupid and arbitrary this section is, just take our word for it. We don't need Cosmo to tell us which celebrity's "super-smoky eyes" are the best (spoiler: Berenice Marlohe beats Ke$ha, OMG!).

Then, "in honor of Valentine's day", Cosmo introduces their PDA Awards:  "we reveal stars at their touchy best (and worst!)". It is of course, filled with arbitrary and hypocritical slut shaming.

For instance, this photo of Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake isn't that much different than the one next to it, of Dough Hutchison and Courtney Stodden. So then why is the latter described as "Ickiest Grope Fest" and "put the scene in obscene"? For no fucking reason, that's why. No reason other than Stodden is known for being sexy and the couple's "controversial" relationship was the focus of a reality show "Couples Therapy".

Note: These aren't the exact pics used. They're pretty similar but were cropped in Cosmo's version.

Speaking of slut-shaming, Sexy vs. Skanky doesn't disappoint this month!

Yet again (as usual) they've taken two pretty similar situations and just focused on one photo to decide which one is sexy and which is skanky - but the tables could easily be turned if you looked at another pic from the same day. That's because it's really about who the photos are of, and not what's happening in them.

Cute Vacation Lovin' (Rumer Willis) vs. Gross Seaside Humpin' (Model Suelyn Medeiros)

These are the photos that Cosmo used:

Not completely sure why making out in the ocean is totally cool and picking up your girlfriend on the beach is gross humping, but it probably has more to do with the fact that Suelyn Medeiros is a sexy model/actress who dared to wear a thong bikini at the beach than anything else. Because here are some other scenes from the same day, that Cosmo didn't choose because they don't make the same point of Medeiros being "skanky"...

What's the diference between this pic (below) and the one of Rumer and her boyfriend kissing in the ocean? Nothing.

Or how bout this... See below how Rumer's boyfriend is picking her up and being playful? That's what the "gross seaside humping" was, if you'd look at the whole scene (also below). 


So what's really the difference? It's the bikini bottom. That's it. 

Also in the Sexy vs. Skanky line-up was:
Sexy: Derek Jeter, with or without a few extra pounds
Skanky: Derek Eater jokes. It's the off-season; cut the guy some slack!
We agree, but seriously Cosmo... did you forget that half your magazine is about telling women what they can/can't eat and how to burn off that single cupcake you indulged in?
Flirty bird - love the feather peplum, Jess! (Jessica Biel) vs. Dirty bird - cheesy, crotch-y, just plain wrong (British personality Katie Price)

Note: The photo of Kate Price is not exact picture used in the magazine, but it's the same outfit and similar pose and the same background... so it's close enough. Now we won't pretend that Katie Price's outfit isn't a little bit over the top... but as usual, it's taken out of context. Cosmo makes it seem as though Price wore that on the red carpet at the Oscars or something, but it's really from a photo shoot to promote her newly launched jewelry line KP Rocks (hence the KP Rocks url and logo behind her). That's why it's over-the-top. It's a costume, not an outfit. Here's are some other pics from the shoot:

In the man-thro-pol-o-gy section, Cosmo yet again tells us how to "decode" some aspect of a man's life or behavior. We've seen them try to decode his text messages, how he holds his beer, how he grabs your ass... but this one really takes the cake. "Decode His... Bed Linens." Yes, you read that correctly. His fucking bed linens! Apparently, if he has bright colored sheets he's a rebel and if they're neutral, he's a "straight shooter". Satin finish, silk or Egyptian cotton? Too high-maintenance. Cartoon characters? "Run for the hills", he's a man-child. Cosmo, this time you've just gone too far on the decoding.

Also in this section, is "Confessions of a Player". A "famous athlete who, shall we say, gets around" gives them some tips on how to identify if your man is cheating. Just the intro already annoys us - he "gets around". There's a difference between someone who is a jerk (in this case a "player" which they've decided is synonymous with "cheater") and someone who sleeps with a lot of people (someone who "gets around"). It's not always the same thing Cosmo.

In the Fun, Fearless Work section, an article "Can Looking Too Young Hurt You at Work?" suggests that although "most women would kill to look younger than they are" it could jeopardize your career because people don't take you seriously. Okay, maybe that's a valid concern, although we think the author's story is a bit over-exaggerated. However it was the side bar "5 Ways to Be Taken Seriously at Work" that irked us. Specifically this tip:
Unplug at Key Moments
In a meeting, take notes on paper, and look up and nod. "Unless everyone else there is doing so, don't use an electronic device like an iPhone," Keener warns. "It can look like you're texting or sending personal e-mails."

So you should take notes in a way that is both less efficient and more harmful to the environment (paper waste!) just so people don't think you're texting? First of all, I'd be surprised if no one else was taking notes electronically, but even so, that should be an opportunity to use your "youthfulness" to be a good example and show how much more tech-savvy you are. This should be an asset to the company. No reason to dumb yourself down and go back to pencil on a legal pad when there are better ways to go about it.

Sometimes we do have to give Cosmo a little credit for their political section, "The Real Power Players of D.C.", which highlights five new female Senators and "Fun, Fearless Females" on women who are "kicking ass and making a difference".

In SEX on a desk: worth it? Cosmo tells "true stories" of women who have had workplace affairs. Of course, they had to include some famous examples in a "Affairs to Remember" sidebar such as Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton and the complicated Petraeus scandal. But mixed in there, of course is this fucking garbage:
The Celebrity Swapperoo
Ever since Angelina snagged Brad from Jen on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we can't get enough of this tabloid-y triangle.
You know what, we actually can get enough of it. In fact, we have had enough of it! We're pretty sure that everyone on the planet "had enough" years ago, including the "triangle" themselves. Just a few pages ago you asked why we can't stop pitting women against each other? And you used Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston as an example of two alpha females, did you not? Well, here's your answer - we learned it by watching you Cosmo!

In "The secrets to super passionate sex", Cosmo gives us tips to have "richer, more connected sex that makes you smile every time you think about it". And you'll never believe what their advice is...

First, they blame adult films:
There are a few reasons that you may not be having as much passionate sex as you deserve. The first? The rise of mainstream porn. "It's become the model of what people think sex is supposed to be," [...]

"Women become convinced that they should emulate porn stars, so they try to do all these wild, man-pleasing moves rather than paying attention to their own satisfaction and taking the time to find out what they like too" [...]
Now wait... aren't like, 90% of Cosmo's sex tips about "wild, man-pleasing moves"? So it's okay when women use Cosmo as the model of what sex should be, but not porn? Yeah, they have a good point that adult films shouldn't necessarily be sex ed, but isn't it possible that some women might find out what they like to do by watching porn? And maybe some couples are turned on by watching porn. And maybe there might even be a porn star out there who is bridging the gap between porn and sex ed in a really innovative and interesting way? Oh wait, there is and her name is jessica drake. But why discuss that when we can just rehash the same oversimplified "porn is ruining your sex life" theory from the last five or ten or fifty articles on this topic, right Cosmo?

And of course, to back up their bullshit claims about porn, they've included a sidebar called "Meet the Woman Who's Bringing Sexy Back" on Cindy Gallop's new website MakeLoveNotPorn. We think Gallop has good intentions, but no, we're not buying it (literally). Her MNLP business model doesn't seem particularly workable to us at all, and we definitely wouldn't go so far as to say that she's "bringing sexy back" or doing something particularly unique or revolutionary. There are a lot of other women they could have interviewed (like, say, Tristan Taormino) who have actually been breaking new ground and doing cool stuff in the area of feminist porn.

Then later in the article, they again use the ableist term "lame", just to round-out of the offensiveness of the whole piece.

In "Can Sex Make You Skinnier?" Cosmo has actually suggested something almost as crazy as hiding your panties under the bathmat. They're suggesting that having sex (or just thinking about it) can substitute eating carbs, sweets or other diet no-nos. The author (oh look it's Jessica "UNDER THE BATH MAT" Knoll again!) tested the theory by doign something sexual every time she had a carb craving. Spoiler alert: it doesn't work.

"I'm Marrying My Gay Best Friend" tells the anonymous "true" story of a woman who literally married her gay best friend. And it's not a marriage of convenience, they allegedly have all the romance and sex of an actual marriage, except he's gay and she's a woman. It's kind of hard to know how to feel about this story. On the one hand, we don't agree with putting people in boxes with strict rules. Sexuality is fluid and just because someone primarily identifies as homosexual doesn't mean they can't be attracted to certain members of the opposite sex. On the other hand, it's kind of hard not to at least wonder if this marriage is legit or if they're living a lie. And then of course, there are plenty of stereotypes about gay men (and straight men) thrown around for good measure...
Dating a gay man has its upsides. (Dave still considers himself fundamentally gay; he's attracted to lots of different types of men but to only one woman--me!) While I wouldn't call myself a slob, Dave basically organized my entire life. When we're out shopping, he knows when to ask, "Will you really wear those shoes?" He's not just my date to weddings: He helps me pick out the perfect dress and even does my hair. I know some women may prefer a more traditional show of masculinity, but I love Dave as a partner. Straight guys might give their girlfriends flowers once a year on Valentine's Day. Dave gives me flowers every week.
It's like one step forward and two steps back - she makes an interesting point (for Cosmo at least) about how guys don't have to conform to mainstream standards of masculinity to be "real men" or great partners, but she does it in the middle of a "he does my hair and shops with me!" cliché-fest.

In "Are You Your Best Friend's Worst Enemy?" Cosmo gives advice on how to be give unsolicited advice to your friends without sounding judgmental. Some of the examples given are valid, but there were a few that we think crossed the line from sounding judgmental to actually being judgmental. For example:
Be Honest When... Her over-the-top outfits are attracting the wrong attention.
You love going shopping with her, but she insists on buying every cleavage-baring top she can find. She's a gorgeous girl, but her face isn't what's making people stare.
Here's How To Do It: Focus your convo on the potential for embarrassing situations, rather than zeroing in on her outfit, says Bonior. If she dresses too sexy for work, say, "I think that outfit looks great on you, but I wonder if some old-school coworker might think it's not right for work." Then spin your next shopping trip as a wardrobe upgrade for both of you.
There's so much about this advice that is judgmental and slut-shamey. Look at the choice of words "over-the-top" ... "wrong attention" ... "too sexy" ... they're really making a lot of judgments on what is or isn't appropriate dress. How do we know she's getting the wrong kind of attention without knowing what kind of attention she's looking for? And who is to say what is "over-the-top" or "too sexy"? Since when is cleavage baring so bad? Haven't they seen the clothing that Cosmo advertises in their editorial photo spreads?

The Cosmo Interview was with cover model Julianne Hough. The feature itself is as stupid and boring and boyfriend-centric as most of the interviews, but "The Cosmo Quiz" they gave her really was extra dumb this month.
The accomplishment I'm most proud of is:
a. Starring on the big screen in films like Safe Haven and Rock of Ages.
b. Recording a country album.
c. Landing Ryan Seacrest.
d. All of the above.
e. Other:
Landing Ryan Seacrest!? Hough was as surprised as we were by choice c... she handwrote in "OMG for real?" (Her actual answer was e - "starting my charity", good for her.)

Another props-for-Cosmo moment (it's so rare when they do something right, we have to acknowledge it when they do)... in the Hot & Healthy section, there's a feature on emergency contraception called "So, the Condom Broke..." It explains what EC is, how it works, and how to get it. Nice work.

And finally, the Cosmo Quiz... "Are you Self-Sabotaging on the Web?"

When you hear that your frenemy from college started a successful blog, you:
A. Visit it, realize it'll only make you mad, then go back to browsing Zappos.
B. Bookmark it and hate-read it every morning.
C. Scoff at the naive idea that a blog is any indicator of success.

And... fuck you Cosmo. A blog, is like, totally an indicator of success! Everyone knows that. At least, it's a way better indicator of success than landing Ryan Seacrest.

Note: There are two other articles in this issue that we were really pissed off about - one about how it's a mistake to admit when you've cheated and one about women going to strip clubs. Not shockingly one of them was written by Jessica "UNDER THE BATH MAT" Knoll and features quotes from attempted murderer Hugo Schwyzer, so you can just imagine how we feel about them - but we had too many feelings to fit in here in Cosmo Quickies. So you can look forward to more, coming soon...