Well, here we are then. The gifts have been given, there’s a new year on the horizon, and we’re all living in that wonderful in-between time of leftovers and not giving a flying fuck about work, the world, or really anything that doesn’t involve pajamas. I mean, I’m sitting here at my desk, “writing” — but I’m barely checked in, to be honest. I showered, I put on pants, I’ve got a Doctor Who marathon cleverly bleating away in the background. What I’m saying is: it’s the perfect time to dispense some half-assed advice!
And luckily we’ve got the absolute greatest questions to end this year with. Seriously — these were my personal Whichever-Holiday miracle!
(Reminder: blah blah send us your questions at [email protected] and we’ll answer them in 2018, assuming our world isn’t retconned because editorially it’s just too ridiculous to sustain viewer interest anymore)
First up is a wonderful note that, admittedly, is barely a question. It’s more like a PSA with some baffled queries at the end. Take a look:
I am on a road trip with my momma. We are talking about road trippy things. Up comes the topic of vultures, natch. Where do they sleep, what are their offspring called and, of course, how should one refer to a group of them? So, while mom drives, I ask Siri, “What is a group of vultures called?”
Well… this is the point where you need to view the attachment…
Did you see it? Did you?
No, I didn’t photoshop it! I’m on an iPhone in the middle of Indiana for crying out loud. It’s just a screenshot of Siri’s well thought out and measured response to my question.
We are dying. Our sides are splitting. We ask Siri again. And again. And again. Always the same response. Please help us.
What does this mean? For us? For the internet? For innocent vultures everywhere?
Overlords, please. My mom doesn’t even know who John Mayer is. We could die in this truck if we don’t get answers soon.
For the record, the email didn’t come with any attachments (rookie mistake!). So being the intrepid Lois Lane-type that I fucking am, I picked up my iPhone and recreated the question myself. And guess what?
IT’S ALL REAL.
The best part isn’t just that Siri seems to think John Mayer in the technical term for a group of vultures, but the matter of fact bordering on condescending way she answers. Like, I know “Siri” isn’t a person, but for a computer program she seems kinda judgy. There’s a distinct air of “Of COURSE it’s called John Mayer, why are you even asking me this?”
So, to answer EduKate’s questions:
- It means exactly what it says. Language is a wonderful thing. And also John Mayer is a bunch of vultures that have come together to bang chicks and play guitar. MY PHONE SAID IT SO NOW IT’S SCIENCE FACT.
- What is means for YOU is that the world is a stranger, more wonderful place than you ever imagined. Going forward, you should definitely ask Siri literally any random question that pops into your head. And then continue to tell me what strange answers you get, because this shit made my day. It also means you may wanna play some John Mayer songs for your mom so she knows what vultures sound like.
- What it means for the internet is literally nothing. There’s probably a dank corner of 4Chan dedicated to photoshopping John Mayer faces onto vultures or whatever. Though if it means that someday we’ll get Sir David Attenborough referring to a group of vultures as a “John Mayer” in Planet Earth 3: Planet Earthier With A Vengence, and then that is turned into a .gif that I can use every day for any situation… well, the internet will finally justify its existence.
- What it means for vultures is that they probably need to be tested for STDs. If koalas can get chlamydia than who KNOWS what’s happening with those flap-happy carrion munchers.
I hope this helps, EduKate. And I hope you didn’t die in that truck. Though I’m sure if you were in serious danger, you could have asked Siri to get you some help. And she’d probably summon Captain Planet or something.
Next up is a question that actually DIDN’T come to the Advice inbox, but Dustin shared it with me so now it’s mine. You’re welcome, whoever sent this:
Hi! I need to become a writer about Feminism and have zero experience. What do I do first? Any suggestion would be most welcome… unless you go all TK on me and tell me to eat a bag of putrid dicks. Thank you!
First off, only TK is allowed to go TK on anyone. It’s in his contract, under “branding stipulations.” The rest of us can only mutter to ourselves about who needs what bag of dicks (which we do, constantly).
But anyway, you came to the right place! We are not only fully-trained writers of the feminist persuasion here, but we’re also adept at reading between the lines. And what I’m picking up is that someone is forcing you to create feminist ramblings. Are they with you right now? Do they have a weapon? Nod once for “yes” and twice for “no” - or email me with a thumbs up or thumbs down emoji or something. I will do the best I can to get you out of this situation, but to be honest that is exactly how I ended up here in the first place. One minute I was recapping kids cartoons, and the next I was a semi-professional feminist.
But to get back to your question, we put our heads together and whipped up a quick guide to help you on your path:
Step One: Burn all your bras. And if you didn’t have any to begin with, buy a couple of new ones, try them on to see how they look, and then burn them. It’s a little old school, but lighting shit on fire never goes out of style.
Step Two: Adopt a few cats. And by “a few” I mean at least 3-5. They will help you channel your energy. Also nothing fuels feminist rage like the scent of kitty litter that’s needed changing for at least 2 days. Well: kitty litter and chauvinism.
Step Three: Practice creatively cursing in obscene and nonsensical ways. If anyone asks you why this is a necessary part of your process, explain that it has something to do with smashing the image of the quiet & pristine female ideal. Do NOT, under any circumstances, admit that it’s just fucking fun. Fun feminism is the great feminist secret.
Step Four: Ask your husband or nearest male superior for permission to embark on this endeavor.
Step Five: PROFIT!
Ok, I know — none of that is helpful except for maybe the swearing bit. Honestly, the way you say you “need” to become a writer about feminism is the way most of us say we need to get our oil changed. It’s annoying and perfunctory and yet still weirdly intimidating if it’s your first time. There are different waves of feminism, and arguments about what makes a “good” feminist, and it can feel like a mine field if you don’t have a degree in Women’s Studies. But even though you think you have no experience, just look at your life. Are there women you love, admire, look up to? Do you yourself identify as a woman, even? Do you believe in equality, and recognize that women are often at an institutional disadvantage?
Then write from your own experience. And do some reading, so you can see the nature of the current discourse. Don’t let fear of saying the wrong thing stop you, because we only learn from trying. I’m ashamed of shit I said five years ago, but by engaging and listening I’ve grown, and I’m sure in five years I’ll know even more. It’s easy to feel like there is a feminist standard to live up to — that it’s this monolithic THING carved in stone — but keep in mind that the power of the movement comes from the fact that it impacts basically everyone in different ways. It’s a living, breathing thing. It’s an issue AND a reality. So find the reality of it for yourself. And write honestly to the best of your ability.
While not wearing a bra.
Ok! We’re almost done, and this last question is a DOOZY.
I changed some of the details so nobody will recognize me.
I am a gay man. I have a really nice apartment in Tallahassee, but I’ve lived there for ten years and it’s time to move. I wanted to move to New York, and coincidentally met a man who lives in New Jersey, just two hours away. We dated for a while before he went home, and then I went to visit. While I loved New York, I was absolutely horrified by his apartment in New Jersey: as is apparently common there, it was full of fake flowers and “artworks” featuring penises. I found both equally horrifying, but the sheer proliferation of the penis art overwhelmed me. We’re talking at least twenty per room, with the “artier” stuff in the living room, hallway and kitchen, and the “edgier” stuff in the bathroom and bedroom.
Which is fine. I mean, to each his own, people act weird when they’re single too long, and maybe that’s the way folks in New Jersey are. I wasn’t going to live there, so I had no problem with it. Then we found a nice apartment in New York, and we bought it jointly, with the understanding that I would live there, he would stay in New Jersey for his work, and we would see each other on weekends and occasionally during the week.
Call me stupid, but I kind of assumed I’d get to decorate the New York apartment, for three reasons: it will be MY primary living space, he already has an apartment he can decorate and I don’t, and his apartment is horrifying and mine is great. Instead he’s constantly talking about all the stuff he’s going to put in the New York apartment. He has PILES of things ready for the New York apartment. So far none have fake flowers or penises but I know it’s just a matter of time.
I realize he owns half of the place but surely he should see my point of view. Is it my fault for politely telling him his apartment is really pretty when one quick glance could kill people with weaker dispositions?
I’m depending on you. We move in next month.
Dear Tasteful, can I just commend you first and foremost for casting the most glorious shade at New Jersey? I have spent time in New Jersey, and while I can attest to a certain amount of trashy taste, the idea that fake flowers and penis art is “apparently common” there makes me SO happy. I don’t think it’s true, necessarily. But I want to believe it. That’s MY New Jersey.
I love this question because it combines so many of my interests: being judgmental of poor taste, Jersey bashing, and of course — penises. Just for reference, were any of the dicks his own? Because I’ve had friends with artsy photos of their own dicks all over their apartments, so this question had an extra layer of realism for me.
To answer your question: Yes, you probably should have been honest from the start. But I can understand why you weren’t. When you’re still in the “getting to know you” phase it’s easy not to want to upset the apple cart with brutal honesty. And then when you’re past that phase, it’s hard to course correct from the dishonesty that has already taken place. We all do that in our own little ways, and before we know it we’re romantically invested in someone who thinks oral sex means trying to shove their chin entirely up your vagina just because you faked an orgasm that first time.
I mean. Hypothetically speaking.
Anyway, the damage is done. So let’s look at the reality of the situation. You’re both financially invested in this apartment — and at NYC prices that’s no minor thing. Even if he doesn’t live there, a good chunk of his money does. You had to know he’d have opinions. So perhaps you can start by giving him his own area to decorate. Like, a room. Or just a wall. A penis wall, tucked away somewhere it won’t be seen much. That space is his, for all his penises. And slowly, over time, you can edge in on his space, reclaiming it piece by piece (penis by penis?) until before he knows it — it’s gone.
Or better yet, negotiate on each decoration! As Dustin says: “You gotta treat it like voir dire, I think: Each piece of decor can be inspected by both sides, but each side has at least 12 chances to reject something.” Sure, this means he’ll have a chance to veto some of your decorations, but it will bring you closer as a couple — and will give you ample chances to say no to dick art. And let’s be honest — if you do that enough times, he’ll probably get the message without you having to say “I HATE YOUR DICK ART TASTES.”
As it stands now, your boyfriend isn’t even suggesting fake flowers and penises for the new apartment. So this might all be much ado about nothing. Still, you can head things off at the pass by bringing the topic up and focusing it on YOUR OWN tastes. Instead of talking about how you don’t want dicks on all your walls, you can talk about what you DO want to see in the new place. Start by sharing your own preferences, while pointing out that this is going to be primarily your space so this is what makes you comfortable — but leave it open for discussion. Once he knows what you’re looking for, he’ll have guidance in how to inject his own personality into that scheme. And if you’re lucky, it won’t be a hot meat injection.
Anyway, if all else fails and he’s got a bag of dicks ready to hall over to your new place, just remember the nuclear option: “Sorry — my mom may visit, so I’m not gonna hang up a bunch of penises.”
And that’s all for this week, folks! We’ll see you in the new year!