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So I was reading a post on Pound yesterday, in which Wendy linked to one of her old posts about Bad Times retail locations, which incidentally is hilarious and totally articulates something that I have always found disconcerting yet totally inarticulable and also I totally used to live near the Andersonville Bad Times Jewel and would go out of my way to hit up the Good Times Dominick’s on Broadway and Thorndale instead, that is how sensitive to Bad Times I am, and then she linked to another post about Hair Question Men.

I like to fancy myself a generally nice person. I smile, make eye contact, and politely say, “No thank you,” to people who want to save the children, people who want to know about my feelings on the environment, people who want to sell me a copy of Streetwise, give me menus, or give me literature on any number of social justice causes, whether well founded or totally fucking paranoid. But those awful, douchey, shitbag Hair Question Men really, really, really piss me off.

My first HQM encounter was actually with an Hair Question Woman. I had just moved to the city and was in the middle of my first year of law school. As I scurried along to class in the loop, exhausted, stressed out, wind blown, unkempt, make-up free and sans accoutrement and probably about eight months out from my last haircut, a nice lady stopped me at a light and said, “Can I ask you a question about your hair?” My ego, which law school had been systematically destroying, jumped up and said, “Really? My hair? Sure! Sure! Do you like it? Are you going to say something nice to me? Can you validate my existence as a human being? Please! Please ask me about my hair! ASK ME ABOUT MY HAIR!!!”

The HQW started in on her sales patter and, this is a genius move, really, extended the coupon book she was trying to sell toward me. I, being a total idiot plus also really not wanting to hurt this nice lady’s feelings, accepted it. And then? The HQW put her hands in her pockets, leaving me holding the item she was attempting to sell me in my hot little hands, with nowhere to put it. BRILLIANT. I forget how I extricated myself from the situation, but once I realized she wasn’t my new best friend but was actually selling me a product in which I had zero interest (not to mention zero time or money to use it), I started rambling about being late for class and being broke and haircuts being against my personal religious beliefs and being legally prohibited from being within thirty feet of all the stylists at the salon for which she worked and then I tucked the coupon between her arm and her coat and ran ran away as fast as my little legs could carry me.

And I’ve held a grudge against the whole endeavor ever since. But it’s not just a personal grudge. The enterprise feels eely and dishonest and really rankles me from a feminist standpoint, too. My first HQW was also the only woman I’ve ever seen working that particular gig. In ever other case, it’s opportunistic men exploiting gender hierarchy to sell a basically worthless coupon book by using women’s socially inculcated insecurities about their looks to get their foot in the door and employing a really distasteful “no means yes” hard sell, plus guilt, plus emotional manipulation, plus sometimes straight up physical intimidation to part women from their hard-earned 76 cents on the god damn dollar. And it makes me just furious.

I’ve basically made it my life’s work, or at least a hobby of mine, to be as unpleasant to HQM as humanly possible. Once, after a woman had declined to discuss her hair, I watched one of these slimy jerks flick a lit cigarette butt after her retreating form and call her a bitch. I asked the name of his employer, intending to call and report his actions and probably report the salon to the Better Business Bureau for putting assholes like him out on the street but can you believe it? He would not tell me unless I bought a coupon book. Another time I called building security on a HQM making the rounds in the food court of a public building where I was trying to eat lunch and read in peace. A few days ago, I responded to some shitheel’s entreaty to question me about my hair with an unimaginative but heartfelt, “No! Go fuck yourself!” Lately, perhaps because of the increased foot traffic in the summer, or because times are tough and the HQMs have been downsized from their regular douchebag day jobs, the HQMs, like summer’s ubiquitous piles of abandoned dog shit, are just everywhere.

I don’t know if it was the heat, or the fact that I was both hungry yet, due to the heat, disgusted by the thought of food, or because last night’s crazy mother fucking weather forced me to put on a bra after seven p.m. (in case I had to leave the house in a hurry; didn’t want to be running in a panic down the street with my melons a’bobbling) AND literally scared the pee out of our smallest cat (all over our bed), but today when I got hassled by a HQM, I totally lost my shit. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those stories where I talk about how awesomely witty and cutting I am, because I was really neither, but I think it does show exactly the kind of men who think accosting women on the street with a bullshit sales pitch would make a really rewarding career:

HQM: Can I ask you a question about your hair?

OTM wheels around to face the HQM, who launches immediately into his sales pitch.

HQM: I work for one of Chicago’s premiere salon’s and we are offering a fantastic deal on–

OTM: Shut up! Shut up! What is wrong with you? You have the most annoying job in this entire city, do you know that? Why don’t you quit this and do something that doesn’t totally fucking suck? (See? Not witty.)

HQM: This job is annoying? I bet I make more money than you do.

OTM: Seriously, you have the most bullshit job ever.

HQM: Well, I bet I make more money than you do.

OTM: You probably do, but you are still the most irritating person on this street right now. (walks away, throws her hands up in a gesture of frustration.) You all make me nuts with shit. Can I ask you about your hair. What a bunch of (yells over her shoulder) HORSESHIT!

HQM (yelling after me): You’d be surprised at how many girls I lay!

So there you have it. A little insight into the psyche of hair question men: they are better than me because they make more money than I do and they “lay” a lot of “girls.”

Hey Female! Are you a runner? An athlete? Do you kick ass and take names? Are you competitive? Do you have drive? Do you feel powerful and strong in mind and body because of your amazing physical capabilities?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should sign up for the Skirt Chaser 5K Race because clearly you are an uppity bitch who needs to be knocked down a peg. The Skirt Chaser 5K Race seeks to remind woman runners of their status as delicate, sexualized, pink-clad objects to be pursued by eager men.

Ladies first!

Catch Me Wave
The women’s start will kickoff the event, with all women wearing a SkirtSports Skirt. Race Skirt included with entry!

Pink!
And it’s pink!!! Wait, not pink: Flirtini/Smooch.

While the men have fun eagerly watching all the ladies in their short skirts before they take off in hot pursuit of their objective: FEMALES.

SkirtChaser Wave
Catch us if you can! The men will eagerly watch as the women have a three-minute lead before their start.

Presumably, once the men finish pursuing their be-skirted quarry, they ply them with booze to lower their inhibitions (and keep those li’l gals from running away again) so the girls will willingly strip to their underwear for public display!

Block Party
The Red Bull post-race party includes block party style food and drinks, dating games and a fashion show- all the way down to the skivvies!

What, no wet t-shirt contest?

Hot running sluts who enter will receive the dainty selection of pink, er, I mean Flirtini/Smooch running gear, including a SKIRT, pictured above. Men will get powerful red and black (no cutesy names for the colors of the mens’ clothes?) gear that portrays those lady runners in sexxxy poses, to take home like hunting trophies.

Hott!

So there you have it, ladies. A race designed to remind you that you: 1) can run but you can’t hide; 2) should be wearing a skirt at all times; 3) aren’t wearing enough pink; 4) are nothing more than men’s hunting quarry; and 5) should not be exercising to be strong and fit, but to have a hot little body to put on display for the men who eagerly watched you run away from them.

Oh and men? You live to chase women. And pink is totally for girls.

Unsurprisingly, this whole farce is sponsored by Red Bull, mixer of choice for idiot frat boys everywhere. Unfortunately, the event is also sponsored by SkirtSports, the providers of the gendered Flirtini/Smooch-colored running gear, a company founded by just such a badass, strong, woman as described in my first paragraph:

Nicole DeBoom grew up in the Chicago suburbs and started swimming competitively at the ripe-ol’ age of 5. By high school Nicole was running and swimming in national competitions. She qualified for the 1988 Olympic Swimming Trials in the 100m breaststroke, and shortly after, headed to Yale, where she swam varsity and wrote her senior thesis in sociology on problems women have with body imaging.

Always one to put passion ahead of parental pressure, Nicole parlayed her expensive Ivy League diploma into a career as a swim coach, instilling on others what she had learned through her athletic experiences, and meanwhile dabbling in triathlons. In November 1995, she met her husband, Tim DeBoom (2001 & 2002 Hawaii Ironman World Champion) on an airplane en route to her first World Championship as an amateur.

Nicole’s triathlon career was a remarkable and quick climb to the upper echelon of elite racers. She made her pro triathlon debut in 1999 by competing in the US Triathlon Series. In 2000, she competed in her first Ironman distance event (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.3 mile marathon run), finishing third in the California Ironman and 12th at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship.

Since 2002, Nicole focused mainly on short distance triathlon racing, including first-place wins in major events in Boulder, Colo., Memphis, Tenn., and Chicago.

Apparently, DeBoom came to different conclusions in her paper on women and body “imaging” than I would have, as her impressive academic and athletic career led her to this:

On a training run in December 2003, Nicole jogged along, desperately wishing for a little inspiration to help her through what felt like her millionth workout of her triathlon career. As she glanced at her reflection in a store window, she realized something was missing. It wasn’t the performance in her apparel. It was the attitude. Her apparel had no sass! When she got home, she immediately scribbled the word “Pretty!” on a piece of scratch paper, hereby taking the historic first step toward what is now the culture of SkirtSports, a company that lives by the idea that fun and fitness is a lifestyle choice that nurtures confidence and happiness.

That’s what the world of competitive sports for women is lacking! Sass! Not funding or equal protection under the laws or promotion by the media or sponsorship. SASS!!!! Well, sass, the reinforcement of oppressive gender norms, and a little misogynist objectification.

Nice work.

LOLOLOLOL

My apologies to people who, having never experienced a CTA bus passin’ up your ass, may be unable to relate.

Via the ever informative CTA Tattler.

Hey Chicagoans – don’t pass up the chance to see official excerpts from still black: a portrait of black transmen, playing this weekend at Northwestern University, The Center on Halsted, and Columbia College. More info at blac (k) ademic and the official film website. I’m excited!

Peter Sagal is alright with me.

I’m a fan of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (although as I could not be sure that Peter, Carl, and the panelists would limit their interaction with Maureen Dowd to demanding that she STFU, I did skip her Not My Job segment a couple of weeks ago) even though sometimes I think they go for the cheap, and occasionally sexist, laugh. But after seeing a link on Feministe to Sagal’s All Thing’s Considered commentary Gender Inequity in ‘Whoville,’ I find that I love Peter Sagal almost as much as I hate Jim Carey.

Wait, that is impossible. My hatred of Jim Carey is unparalleled. But I do find myself feeling happier, warmer, fuzzier feelings towards Mr. Sagal than I ever have before. Read a wee bit for yourself:

In a new subplot added by the filmmakers, the mayor of Whoville has 96 daughters. He has one son. Guess who gets all his attention? Guess who saves the day? Go ahead, think about it, I’ll wait.

No I won’t. What’s so irritating about this casual slap at daughters is the sense that the makers of the film didn’t really mean it. They seemed mostly interested in riffs on pop culture and jokes about violating bodily integrity. But what writers are told, you see, in Hollywood notes meetings, is that every character has to make a journey, towards something he needs and ultimately gets, and what they decided the Mayor of Whoville needs was a better relationship with his son. Here is a father with 96 daughters — 96 amazing, beautiful, unpredictable, mysterious, distinct, glorious human beings — but gosh, what in the world is he going to care about? I know, let’s give him a moody silent uninteresting offspring, but this one’s got a Y chromosome… that’ll be boffo box office!

Huggles!

Ah, melodrama!

1. Monday night, as I was dishing up some delicious rice pilaf with black beans and fried plantains for dinner, I put my delicate inner arm directly on that 350 degree pan handle and got this little souvenir of culinary ineptitude:

Burn, baby, burn.

2. Then yesterday morning while walking to the bus, a bird pooped on me. I did not take a picture of my misfortune, but I did immediately tell myself a story about how Chicago’s pigeons are planning a revolt, and are marking those who will be spared, to console myself over the indignity of starting my day by getting crapped on.

3. Yesterday afternoon, I wandered into Rainbow near my office because there were so many bright colors on display, plus dresses, and I’m already planning ahead for the stultifying heat of the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival (OMG Dinosaur, Jr.!). Now, I hate Rainbow. The clothes are hideous and cheap and made of cast-off children’s Halloween costume fabric and they smell bad but I have this idea in my head to make a sundress out of pre-smocked fabric, but with some fluffy eyelet layers under it, because I am really into fluffy multi-layered skirts, and Rainbow had some smocked sundresses already made and selling for less than the fabric would probably cost and I had an idea that I would buy two and stick them together somehow. FRANKENDRESS. So I’m poking through the stinky dresses and I recognize a brand label, Mlle Gabrielle, for which label-recognizing ability I absolutely have Live Journal community Fatshonista to thank, and the dress was cute and $14.99 and made of 100% cotton, can you believe it, and is pre-fitted with a fluffy multi-layered skirt so I bought it and I’m wearing it today and I look super cute, if I do say so myself.

4. Too bad I wasn’t wearing this dress last night when I was in the laundromat because who did I see but Steven Rosengard, of Project Runway Season 4 fame, doing his own laundry and thus disabusing any notion I may have had that being on a reality TV program means nothing but drop off service from here on out, baby! I was a fan of Steve’s designs (and thought he was consistently funny in a low-key, dry witted way), but declined to approach him because I was wearing what Colleen has termed a “Brady Bunch dress” and rather than fight the 70s-era upholstry look, I decided to take it to its logical conclusion with bright orange tights and brown flats and really, was it going to make this guy feel any better about getting kicked off PR for being saddled with a wedding dress to have somebody dressed like this accost him while he washes his own unmentionables and tell him that she likes his style?

Brady Bunch set piece come to life, doing laundry.

Sweet merciful crap!

Also: Oh CPD.

fatcop1.gif

Full article here.

Honestly, the moronic puns in the headlines make it sound like Weis intends to implement a more hardcore weight restriction on officers, but then the article itself says that he plans to “pay closer attention to body fat content as opposed to weight to judge if an officer is fit” which means… what? BMI? Calipers? Waist to hip ratio? It’s pretty clear that Weis (like the rest of the fucking planet) doesn’t know how to make people lose weight, but he’s damn well willing to try… things! If I were that faceless fat cop on the front page of the Sun Times, this would make me consider a transfer to building security (emphasis added):

“We need to develop a mind-set that taking care of yourself, being fit, being nutritionally sound, being as healthy as you can be is what you need to be a police officer,” said Weis, who is a body builder and is married to a trainer.

Because we all know that you can’t be fit, nutritionally sound, or healthy as you can be if you’re fat, right?

Also? I seriously love the Sun Time’s front page weather blurbs:

IT NEVER WILL END.

Very optimistic!!!

You know, I always thought it was normal, even desirable, to feel full after eating. That’s how you know you did it right! But I guess in this time of rampant, world-destroying obesity, we’ll pathologize anything related to the consumption of food. Witness this call for volunteers for a medical study at Northwestern:

Do you have stomach problems? Do you feel full after eating?

“Do you have stomach problems? Many people have stomach discomfort, stomach pain, feel full after eating and other problems will meals. Researchers at Northwestern University are conducting a research study using two FDA-approved medications to treat stomach symptoms that occur after eating. You may be eligible to participate if: You are 18 to 75 years of age; You experience stomach discomfort or pain, or other stomach problems after eating.” (Emphasis added. Also [sic].)

Note: I looked up the study on-line and what they are actually looking for are “patients with chronic abdominal discomfort, bloating, or early fullness after eating a meal,” which makes me think that one, they ought to hire somebody from the English department to write their “Participants Wanted” signs, and two, they are going to get a lot of unqualified people signed up for this particular trial.

Thanks to the husband for pointing me to this post on Chicago Metblogs.

Update: Paul at Big Fat Blog has a link to the full PDF of the paper, with the photos and everything. And the crossword puzzle.

I am one of those horrible snobs who, as a point of pride, refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Chicago Tribune’s terrible free commuter paper The Red Eye, unless I want to bolster my feelings of intellectual superiority by finishing the world’s third easiest crossword puzzle during my 20 minute bus commute (the first and second easiest being People Magazine and any airline’s in-flight mag, respectively) or unless there is something really fucking compelling on the cover. So it was no surprise that I missed this morning’s really fucking compelling cover until J called me to inform me that I should probably pick of a Red Eye because it featured “[my] precious Kate Harding” on the cover, as well as (my also precious) Paul McAleer and Colleen James on the inside:

Welcome to the Fat-osphere: Bloggers stop counting calories and start spreading the message–there’s nothing wrong with being fat.

Considering the source, the article is pretty good. Sure, author Leonor Vivanco quotes monomaniacal insane person Meme Roth and cites a few statistics about how being fat has a 100% mortality rate, but the article avoids diet tips and quotes a doc from UC and a prof from Northwestern who both espouse, in so many words, Health at Every Size: “‘You can be overweight and healthy as long as you’re exercising, eating a nutritious diet. . . . I think people who are more comfortable in their own skin are more likely to exercise, to take care of their bodies,’ [Sarah Catanese, instructor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine] said.”

The piece ends on a high note, quoting Kate as saying:

“You’re spending mental energy on hating yourself and trying to become a body type you’re not meant to be. . . . You’re wasting so much time and losing opportunities to go out and do things you love.”

Now, put that on a fridge magnet and stick it!

Kate and Paul both come across quite intelligent, charming, and inspirational, and COFRA gets a mention. Pretty Pear Colleen rocks out with her own “Plus-size phat [sic] fashion” sidebar.

Well done and congratulations, awesome Chicagoans! I guess you actually can polish a turd.

Tomorrow being Super Tuesday and all, and me living in Chicago where politics is everybody’s favorite full contact sport, particularly since all of our real sports teams suck, I thought I might share some helpful Chicago-specific election day links.

First, the awkwardly named Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners for the City of Chicago. If you enter a partial address on this page the site will return your polling place, all of your various and sundry wards and districts and precincts and sub-circuits, and most awesomely, you can generate a sample ballot for your particular polling location that will list every candidate for whom you can vote. (And while you’re at it, once you know your ward, go to the City Clerk of Chicago’s website and find out who your alderperson is so you know who to call and holler at the next time it snows and nobody bothers to shovel the sidewalks.)

Next head over to Vote for Judges.  Judicial and retention elections are kind of a joke, I know, because you’re minding your business and doing your civic duty trying to vote for this that or the other thing and your ballot is ten feet long because there are 500,000 people you’ve never heard of who are up for judicial retention election so you either skip ‘em or just vote to retain them all. While that’s understandable, we’ve got to do better. Judges have a considerable amount of power over your daily life, so you want to do your best to ensure that qualified and, as far as I’m concerned, bone-deep progressives are on the bench. At Vote for Judges, you can print a handy grid of the candidates and their judicial evaluations by local, regional, and minority bar associations. Consult the Grid to find out how your favorite bar associations evaluated the judges on your ballot and vote accordingly so that when you find yourself on the wrong end of a gavel, the person presiding over your trial isn’t some loony pants right-wing hate mongering legal ignoramus.

Then, you can also go to the Chicago Tribune’s Election Guide, put in your address, and faux-vote for all the candidates on your ballot. When you’re finished, you can print the completed ballot and take it in to the booth with you.

To help you decide, here are some endorsements and resources from local papers:

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Sun Times

Chicago Free Press

The Chicago Reader’s Clout City Blog

And here is my one endorsement: I think you should vote for Tommy Brewer as the Democratic candidate for State’s Attorney. Here’s the Chicago Defender’s endorsement of Brewer, and here’s a good article about him in the Reader.

And when it’s all over, if you think there’s been some shenanigans at your polling place, call the National Campaign for Fair Election’s Election Protection Hotline at  866-OUR-VOTE.

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