I recently avoided falling victim to the “pink tax.” Never heard of it? It’s when an item for a woman is more expensive than the same item for a man. The culprit? Payless Shoes. Like many creatives, I daylight in the service industry. One must? Non-slip shoes. Spills, dirt, snow, crackers a parent brought for their two-year-old which their two-year-old felt belonged on the floor (sometimes they actually improve the look of the otherwise tacky flooring, but I disgress). Mostly it’s the dish pit: often a nightmarish lake similar to the bog of eternal stench from Labyrinth except without the comical fart sounds and pirate fox riding a dog.

I had overextended the 4-6 month shelf-life of my then current shoes because I just didn’t want to invest money into something that wasn’t writing. Sadly, the feeling of dish pit scrap stew seeping into a hole then soaking my sock was enough to send me running to the store.

So there I was, staring at the wall of options for ladies. There were sneakers of many kinds, oxfords, converse, boots, heels, and flats. No shortage of options BUT upon looking at the prices, I found myself frustrated. They had gone up! And having worked in this industry for a long time, I know that there have been NO advancements in the world of non-slips that could warrant such a price hike. So WTF?

To the men’s section I went. And I wish I could say my jaw dropped, but what actually happened was an audible, “of course.” The same exact style was $10 cheaper in the men’s section. I grabbed my size (8 in men’s) and ran back downstairs to confirm with the women’s shoe that they were in fact the same. And yes. There was a slight difference in the width of the toe area, but otherwise the same. So why the price difference? Especially when typically women’s shoes of the same style require less material as women’s feet run smaller?

I really don’t know. But what I do know is that it shouldn’t be called “pink tax.” Pink tax is too polite for this form of prejudice. Can we please stop shrouding sexism and gender inequality in cute pastel colours? It should be called “no dick tax.” As in if you don’t have a dick, so you have to pay a tax. It gets right to meat of the issue by saying women are without and that’s why we pay more.

I bought the men’s shoes. And boy oh boy, did they ever get rave reviews:

“Those shoes are the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen.”
– Single White Male Coworker

“You know Becca, I can get behind your gender-bending style, the suits, the hats, suspenders, I’m into it. It’s sexy. But those shoes do not make me want to fuck you.”
– Different Single White Male Coworker

Instead of crying myself to sleep after failing at my only objective in life, I came up with an idea for a new tax. I propose a “no vagina tax” wherein every time a man thinks he has the right to comment on a woman’s body or how a woman chooses to dress her body, he has to pay a fine. As in you don’t have a vagina and because of that you say and do wildly inappropriate things, so you have to pay a tax. And we can then use that money to support victims of sexual assault. Now there’s a tax I think we can all get behind! #novaginatax

A coworker asked me the other day if I ever just talk to myself out loud. I was flabbergasted. The answer to her question is hell yes. All. The. Fuckin’. Time. What shocked me is that somehow, somehow she had yet to be catch me doing it?!

I guess I’m better at knowing when to let my words run free and when not to. If I’m at home alone, it’s open season. All waking hours. Usually start my day off with something like “Charlie, you don’t get fed for another two hours, “ “I don’t want to workout today,” or “that’s enough Instagram before nine a.m.” And then there are the times when I’m walking in public with headphones in but no music on. I’ll be talking to myself and the second I suspect I’ve been caught, I break into song.

One day I thought I was home alone and so was yammering on like I always do and then my roommate emerged from her room. Surprise! I was instantly coated in head to toe shame. But why? Everyone does it. And I think it’s healthy. I mean, when I’m alone, I’m able to get out all the garbage. I congratulate myself for pooping by saying, “I pooped” multiple times to myself for about an hour after this achievement. It’s out of my system. Figuratively and literally. And that way when I go out in public, there is no longer a desire to share said information. Or rather I’m able to bury the desire to share it (If it was up to me, I’d throw a parade every time).

My dad was an out-louder. It drove me nuts as a kid, but now as an adult I completely understand. So many thoughts are running through your mind at any given moment that it can be grounding to get out the fluff. The “no, I don’t want to eat that” an answer to a question that was never asked but prompted by seeing the can of olives you bought in an attempt to snack on “healthy fats” instead of all the popcorn and m&ms the world has to offer. Or the “I gotta wash a load of underwear. Meh. Later.” Or worse, the “fuck, I knew I’d forget to do that load of underwear?!” Now there’s room for genius to come through. Well. Room for something that isn’t celebrations of poop to come through, genius not guaranteed.

I’m done with being embarrassed for being human. For doing something that everyone does, whether they cop to it or not. I know who I am and I am proud and confident in my skin. And I don’t want to waste anymore time apologizing. So next time I’m walking down the street and someone catches me saying, “did I put deodorant on today?” I’m going to lock eyes and smile and quietly whisper, “in case you were wondering, I pooped earlier.”

“I love your androgynous style.” This is something I have been told on more than one occasion. And I am happy to use hashtags like “genderbender” when posting pics of myself in a suit because I realize suits for women aren’t the quote-unquote norm for a fancy occasion. When people think red carpet women, they immediately picture a dress. I, however, more often than think pant suit. It’s not a comfort thing. I love dresses and have many comfortable ones. It’s not a statement about my sexuality, my gender, or me taking a stand against how women are treated on red carpets. Though they are often treated like a mannequin with no talent beyond wearing a designer dress, but I digress. For me, it’s as simple as this: I feel sexy in a suit. And powerful. And clean. And head-turning. I do it for me, because that day, I want to wear a suit so I’m gonna to wear a fuckin’ suit.

And I know you have the best intentions when you tell me I’m “androgynous.” But effectively what you are doing is robbing me of my femininity. The suit does not do this. You do this. You and your ideas of the suit. Your ideas of fashion. Your ideas of what you feel welcome to comment on. My “genderbender” is mine. And you commenting on it is for one: unsurprising, but more importantly: unwanted.

Confused about where to go in this “new” politically correct world? Let me help. Consider noting the feeling evoked by the look that the person has thrown together. “You look commanding.” “I love your presence in this outfit.” “You look radiant, powerful, unstoppable.” Or perhaps the person looks delicate, full of grace, classical, poised, fierce, inspirational, mysterious, confident. Trust me: if you cut through the outfit itself and opt for what is inside instead, I guarantee that that person will remember that compliment over the thousand other “you look beautifuls.” And they will definitely appreciate it more than “I love your androgynous style.”

Netflix dropped a bomb on me this week: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s a movie about a junior in High School whose secret love letters somehow get mailed to the five loves of her life. Teen melodrama ensues. And it’s fuckin’ magic.

This is the kind of movie that I would normally put on to lull me into a deep sleep. The mindless fluff that promises sweet dreams. Or so I thought.

Instead, I found myself giddy with all the feels. I was utterly invested in the leading lady’s journey. I was kicking my feet with excitement when she and her co-star finally express their feelings for each other. It didn’t hurt that John Corbett, or rather Aidan from Sex & the City was also in the film. Remember that episode when Carrie finds out he’s using Rogaine and he’s all “I don’t want to talk about!” Well, it worked. The man still has a damn good head of hair.

I used to think maybe I’d grow out of my appreciation of a teen rom-com, but now I know it’s here to stay. And I’m okay with it. Riverdale, Love Simon, The Duff – I eat it up. And I’m no stranger to rewatching the faves from my teen years either – Clueless, Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, 10 Things I Hate About You again because it’s so beyond brilliant. Unlike Zac Efron, I have no desire to be seventeen again, but fuck if I don’t love watching stories about that time in my life.

Maybe it’s time I write one myself…

Standard party conversation, or perhaps late night talks under the stars, or stoned moments of clarity: if you could download any skill like they do in the Matrix, what would it be?

Some people need time to think. They either haven’t thought of their answer before or perhaps they’re searching for the answer that will make them seem the most… intellectual? Or the most virtuous? Or just the most. These people eventually come up with answers like “infinite patience” or “the answer to ending world hunger.” Which makes them sound much more like a contestant in a Beauty Pageant than having their desired effect.

Other people have quick answers. And I would be of the that category: Guitar.

“But Rebecca, guitar is something you could pick up and learn at any time.” And to that I would say, you are right. But then I would present to you my 15 year-old acoustic guitar that I have had re-strung 3 times by three different men, all of whom I had a crush on. I would follow it up by saying when I was 16 I took a few lessons, and then again when I was 25. And every year it appears on my list of new years resolutions and vision boards acting as a regular reminder that I have been failing at this goal for fifteen years.

Like I said, you’re right, I could learn guitar. But then I’d have to learn guitar. And I don’t want to learn guitar. I want to be able to play guitar. I want to go over to a girl’s apartment for the first time, see a guitar that happens to belong to her roommate, pick it up and play a few chords. She’d melt. I’d shrug and put the guitar down. Fire would ensue. And I don’t mean to say I’d like to be able to play guitar so I can get some, although yes. What I mean is that I want to be able to play guitar for the social benefits. Music is universal. Tell me you’ve never been envious of the person with the guitar around the campfire? If you haven’t then it’s because you were THAT person. Heeding requests and controlling the vibe of the evening, all eyes on you waiting to fulfill their individual musical desires. I wonder how that feels? Is it a partnership? Are you every bit as focused on the people listening as they are on you?

To the people concerned about what their answer says about their character, I feel you. Not being consumed by what others think of me is a day to day struggle. Let it be known that I don’t judge you. So when you say, “I’d want to download the ability to perform any surgery so that I could heal the world” the most you’ll get from me is a knowing smile.

Then I’d follow that up with, “I’ve been thinking about learning the guitar, any chance you know how to play?”

You drank on the job the other day.

We have nothing in common. I like movies. You’d rather talk at me about sports.

Fall is your least favourite season, which essentially makes you inhuman.

You laughed at me when I said I wanted to go vegan.

You drank on the job some more.

Your iTunes is full of solo artists who use pseudonyms.

When we were talking about laser hair removal you said, “it’s a woman’s duty to have a trimmed bush.”

You laugh at me when I get angry. And not in the cute way.

You were drunk at work.

You said, “yeah, but she’s still hot” thus perpetuating the idea that looks matter most.

You rolled your eyes when I asked someone not to use the word “retard.”

Women have one use to you and you only make use of that use once.

You called in “sick” when you were actually just hungover. I had to stay late.

 

And yet…

despite the misogyny…

despite the arrogance…

despite the complete disregard for others…

… my heart broke when you unfollowed me on instagram.

If you were a song, you’d be Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer.

Just like how the “1… 2… 1-2-3-4” at the beginning of the song gives the false illusion that the track was a live band recording, you gave the false illusion that you cared. Cared about me, cared about you, cared about us. Your dreams of being something greater were just that, dreams. Ideas, visions, and fantasies that never left your sleeping subconscious but instead left you feeling without. And so you waited. And you’re still waiting. Not just waiting on the world to change, but waiting for that someone who will inspire you to change. That someone wasn’t me. You’re a catchy pop hit that I can listen to on a long drive with the windows down, but that I never want to be face to face with again.

If you were a song, you’d be That Song by Big Wreck.

You’re a song about a song. You had all these ideas about what the perfect couple looked like. You spent countless hours focused on your social media presence but never enough focused on you. You posted photos of others and claimed they were you. You couldn’t be the best so you wrote a song about the best. That song. I loved that song. That is until I heard the original and realized that everything you had written was plagiarized. In the famous words of Tyler Durden, “a copy of a copy of a copy.” Which would be completely fine if you ever gave credit to those who came before you. But your ego wouldn’t allow it. You’re a rock anthem that I can listen to on repeat because it reminds me of a time when my life was a fucked up rollercoaster.

If you were a song, you’d be Uninvited by Alanis Morissette.

The opening piano sends shivers down my spine just like the first time our eyes met. It’s eerie and confusing and gives me a moment of pause. If it was at any earlier time in my life, I would have run away screaming but you were different. You made the idea okay. Is it exciting to watch the stoic squirm? Because you had me questioning aspects of myself that I thought I had all the answers to. The only unfortunate slight is that you had a girlfriend. You’re a strings heavy ballad that I’m excited to hear when it pops up on shuffle.

There are many things I am sure of: my favourite colour is purple; my favourite song is Mr. Big’s To Be With You; I prefer cats over dogs; I have an unhealthy relationship with food; I love to laugh more than most anything else; I’m stubborn; determined; a feminist. I could go on. Despite being able to make such a list, I still get blindsided every few months by how little I know myself. And not like, “oh, that was weird” when acting in a way outside myself, but more like “WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?”

The most recent moment of pure confusion came when I was talking to a friend about what my perfect guy looks like. I couldn’t answer. I mean, I could: long-haired, bearded, tattooed, burly, glasses a bonus. But running through the list of men I have been with would suggest otherwise. No one on my list fits that description. Oh no wait, there is one. But he only achieved said look after we first slept together. Ain’t that the way?

If none of the people I have slept with fit my quote-unquote ideal, then am I actually really attracted to what I think I am? Or have I just been perpetuating this idea because I hadn’t stopped to ask the question in so long? I’ll take this opportunity to stroke my own ego and say that I’ve never dated this guy because at the end of the day, I care less about the wrapping than the gift itself. I know, I know – I’m a really good person. That must be the reason. Yeah. Well. That OR men that look like that tend to be assholes. It’s definitely one of the two. Probably the latter.

But really I think it comes down to the fact that I am a queer woman that has dated mostly men. The lumberjack vision is antithetical to the parts of me that are attracted to strong, empowered women like the Cara Delevingne, Evan Rachel Wood, and Janelle Monae’s of the world. And until I fully explore that wonderful world, my idea of what I am attracted to will remain just that: an idea. A shoulder shrug. A moment of pause followed by an, “ummm… they just have to be able to make me laugh.” At the end of the day, that’s what I want. And it’s okay to not know the rest.

On my list of attractive traits in a partner, I have always been adamant that humour is the most important. Yes, that’s what everyone says because no one wants to label themselves vain and say looks take priority. But for me, it’s the honest truth. I need to laugh more than I need most things, like sleep, chocolate, heck even sex. In terms of comedy, the bar isn’t that high. Some of the deepest laughs I have ever experienced were over farts. Even now, I find the word fart hard to say without laughing. So finding a person that can make me laugh above everything else should be easy. Here’s the problem: often times it’s hard for me to differentiate between comedic genius and socially awkward.

When I see a guy whose comedic timing is slightly off, or who tells a joke that no one laughs at, or who uses obscure references that I need to Google to understand, I instantly go weak in the knees. “But Becca, in terms of comedy, these are all bad qualities!” I hear you. And objectively, I completely agree. But hear me out. It doesn’t compute in my brain that someone could have made it this far in life with such a terrible sense of humour. Thus I make the only conclusion that seems rational: this extreme awkward comedy MUST be “a bit.”

The person in front of me is now the funniest person I have ever met. I watch as they fail time and time again to make others laugh while I do my best to contain my hyena-like cackles. “They’re doing the I’m-not-funny bit again.” Priceless.

I begin to wonder what living with such a character would be like. The promise of non-stop laughs gives me the courage to ask this individual for their number. This is usually where things take a turn for the worse. What is supposed to be an adorably funny and stimulating back and forth banter is instead more like pulling teeth. I find myself re-reading messages searching for wit. I wonder how someone can be so funny in person and so flat via text. I consult my friends for advice and they tell me the person sounds like the type to live with their parents by choice. Could that be apart of the bit? Maybe they’re method like Sacha Baron Cohen? What if this is all a movie and I’m the leading lady?

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I am the leading lady of my life. The bad news? There are no cameras, this isn’t a movie, and more importantly: it isn’t a bit. This person is just awkward. And that’s totally okay. They’re good people. They’re just not what I thought. Not the fantasy my brain allowed me to think they were. Our text message communication ceases.

Later, I’ll run into one of their buddies at my best friend’s party and learn that said individual stopped messaging ME because MY sense of humour didn’t jive with theirs. Pardon me? I’m the one who isn’t funny? OH! It was a never a bit, their comedy was just so advanced that it went over my head! Hearts form in my eyes as I pray for the opportunity to run into them again and rekindle our romance. My best friend slaps me. Right. I was doing it again, wasn’t I? I’ll just be over here, forever searching for my Rowan Atkinson in a world full of Mr. Beans.