Monday, September 16, 2013

This is a post about body hair and sexism in marketing.

...So, you know, probably don't read this, if that's not what you're into. 

Yesterday, I went running. Or, more accurately, I went "sad slow jogging while sweating a lot" because it's the South and I'm, at this stage, more potato than person. But I was out and I was active, so I was proud of myself in my own sad slow jogger way. On the way home from the running trail, I stopped by CVS, because I needed some hair dye to cover up my ratchet roots. 

While I wandered CVS, exulting in the air conditioning and not exulting so much in the feeling of sweat drying and making my shirt all crinkly, I saw that lip gloss was on sale. Oh, I thought, obvious lip gloss-fiend that I am, I should definitely buy, like, all that lip gloss. 

In the end, I bought two, but I discovered, upon holding them up to see how the color swatches looked next to my face, that, without makeup, having run a couple of miles in the excruciating heat, I looked like one of those red-faced rainbow baboons from the zoo. My whole face was just beet-red. So the moral here is it's really hard to choose an appropriately red lip gloss shade when your face is the hue of a fire truck. 

An aisle over, I found another item I needed: an electric razor. Now, I was at CVS, remember, so the selection wasn't overwhelming. But they had men's electric razors on one side, and women's on the other. 

And here's where I got super confused. Because women shave their bodies more frequently, at least generally, than men do. Some men shave their legs and that's awesome, but overall, that's a chick thing. So women's body electric razors should be super powerful. They should be the ubermeich of razors, durable and amphibious and self-sharpening and shit. 

But they weren't. All the women's razors looked like Barbie accessories. Pink and magenta and white and clearly poorly assembled plastic. But the men's razors - they were all blue and black and metal and spinny and worked in water and in air and there were covered in little black spider symbols and I'm not sure what spiders have to do with shaving but they looked like they could handle my body hair. The Barbie shavers looked like they were meant to sit and They couldn't have shaved a butterfly, let alone the stubborn leg hairs of a Valkyrie, as all women deserve. 

In the end, I decided on a men's spidery razor thing designed for "trimming and shaving below the head," because that sounded like it meant business. Here's the thing, though: why does my gender or sex mean advertisers should target me for a razor that looks like the very sight of body hair frightens it, while men are targeted for products that are all about serious shaving, not Barbie-esque artifice? In what world is that fair? Because I was born with certain secondary sex characteristics, I obviously want a razor that's pink and has white flowers on it. Bitch, no. I need to shave my legs; I need a razor that's covered in spiders and shit that can actually shear my leg fleece, not just look like I wanted to match my toilette utilities to my AA-powered Corvette. 

I know this is a futile rant, but I'm really tired of sexism in marketing and advertising. (This is different than sex in advertising. I am aware sex sells. That's a topic for another time.) I'm tired of little girls thinking that they can't play with guns because they're not pink and glittery. Because Nerf is frigging awesome. And I'm tired of women thinking they can't have the ubermeich of razors because there's a sign over it designating it for a different gender. That might not ever change, but it's sure as hell exhausting. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The day there was a lizard in my classroom and everyone lost their shit about it.

I like lizards. Lizards are my friends. Not in a sit-together-on-a-Sunday-afternoon-and-have-tea-while-we-talk-about-the-church-ladies'-big-floppy-hats way, but in a you-eat-bugs-and-I-hate-bugs-so-you-and-I-are-cool kinda way. I think lizards are neat, like maybe they're Time Lords, with all that regenerating-limbs stuff. I think it would be neat to regrow my arm. Or to grow a tail. I think having a tail would be fun. Great way to start conversations at parties. 

Anyway. Lizards. I teach 7th grade, and 7th graders have a tendency to go absolutely apeshit crazy for little or no reason, all of the time. They are tiny vibrating balls of hormones and undeveloped homunculuses, likely to burst into a tornado of badly communicated feelings if anyone so much as looks at them funny. It's a strange thing to watch them, one moment writhing and spitting like a pissed-off cobra, the next sunny and helpful, with no explanation and no transition between the two. But it's a fact of life, I guess, when puberty is lighting fires all over your brain. 

They struggle, sometimes, in the midst of their neurochemical haze, to focus on their work. If something interrupts routine, everything can go to hell in a handbasket in the time it takes to blink. I've learned, in my time in the classroom, to teach through interruptions. Last year, a student in the middle of the room projectile vomited, with no notice, all over the damn place. It was kind of impressive, actually. He didn't even look queasy, and then desks and jackets and other students and about 6 square feet of the floor were covered in bile. I managed not to break stride and kept right on talking about commas while I opened the windows and paged for someone to bring some kitty litter or sawdust or something to absorb the rancid mess. The students who were vomited upon were reasonably disturbed, but once they removed the stricken garments they stopped spazzing. 

So today, when a student pointed out a tiny lizard on the floor of my classroom, I was nonplussed. Like I said, I like lizards. This one was green and red, speckled with black, with a white and black striped tail. He was itty-bitty. Like, tooth-pick thin and shorter than your thumb. He was a quick bugger, though, and soon all the students were up on their desks, books abandoned  yelling and crying. You'd have thought I was periodically and mercilessly electrocuting them. 

I walked over to the sink and dumped out the dregs of my coffee, rinsed the glass, and proceeded to pounce around the floor like a deranged chinchilla, attempting to trap the poor little dude. But he perceived his salvation as a giant dome descending from the sky Stephen King-style and refused to cooperate. 

Eventually, one of my students, a kind and gentle young man who loves lizards, too, caught the lizard in his hand and set it in my cup. It took, like, a brutal 7 minutes from sighting to entrapment, and another 3 or so to get everybody sitting in their desks again, instead of reenacting Dead Poet Society. 

It took me another three minutes after class to convince the lizard to vacate my cup. ("Seriously, little dude, I drink out of that and I need you to understand that I'm trying to help. Step onto the leaf you adorable little monster. I have things to do.") 

I think the worst interruption to my teaching I have ever experienced, though, was during my first year, when I was not yet used to the heat (and terrifying insect life) of the South. I was teaching The Hunger Games, and a student decided that that particular moment was a great one to start eating Cheetos out of her backpack. And then she screamed, a blood-curdling, horror-movie scream, throwing the bag across the class and flipping her desk backward. Everyone panicked. Papers flew. Books landed with thuds on the concrete. Desks screeched across the floor and students scattered. 

In this instance, I was not calm and collected. I did not handle this crisis well. I was rapidly standing on top of my own desk, abandoning the students to their fate, as dozens of massive, hissing, orange-dusted cockroaches flooded out of the foil bag. 

And that was a day I shall nightmare about I am dead and buried. Preferably in a roach-proof coffin. Oh, God. *shivers*