GREETINGS, Dames Nationals! This week, we had the pleasure of reading about an 11-year-old girl to whom we're awarding our 1st Annual Michelle Obama Mimed Mic Drop Award:
Meet Marley Dias, an 11-year-old from Philadelphia who, "sick of reading about white boys and dogs," decided to organize a book drive for #1000BlackGirlBooks, both to raise awareness of the need for more diverse books in Philly-area schools and to benefit a low-resources library in St. Mary, Jamaica (where Marley's mom grew up), to which all the books collected will be donated. If you're wondering, HOW did an 11-year-old get this awesome, well, the GrassRoots Community Foundation Super Camp her mom founded to train pre-teen girls in social activism and build confidence.
If you find Marley as inspiring as we do, here are a couple ways you can help out:
By February 1st,
send books for any age group where a black girl is the main character to:
GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street, Suite 323, West Orange, NJ 07052
Share your favorite book featuring a black girl protagonist with the hashtag #blackgirlbooks
Or donate to the Super Camp scholarship fund, either directly through their Go Fund Me page or by purchasing this ridiculously great t-shirt:
Ask Two Bossy Dames!
As Old Stalwarts of Dames Nation will know, from time to time, we like to take a question from one of our beloved readers and do some real concentrated bossing. If you've ever wished you could phone the Dames for advice, submit your question right here! Now, for this week's question:
As someone who has never held hands or kissed a person I have found attractive, how can I start dating at the tender age of 28? Please advise, Darling Dames.
Dearest Gentle Reader,
We salute you for asking this question! It sounds like you feel behind the curve socially, and for good reason: our culture -- in song, film, tv, and thinkpiece -- is highly effective at creating the illusion that absolutely everyone 14 and up is romantically and/or sexually involved, and that we’re all terribly sophisticated about the whole thing. Dame Margaret remarked, when we chose this question for this week’s Ask Two Bossy Dames, that we’re experiencing the opposite set of oppressive social expectations now as we did in the 1950s. Then, plenty of people were having sex and having to pretend they weren’t (with often-terrible consequences) and now, plenty of people aren’t having sex, and feel obligated to pretend they are.
The good news is that at the tender age of 28, you are free from a lot of the dating “rules” that would have dominated your teens and early 20s. Your life is not a John Hughes movie. Holding hands & kissing & so forth in your teens & early 20s is really fun and delicious, but also REALLY INTENSE. What if your crush object finds out that they’re your crush object before you’re able to elaborately construct the perfect way to inform them (via a mutual friend? with a big smack on the lips at the dance? with a grand gesture? We did not do prom-posals in Dame Sophie’s day, but she understands they are A Thing now with some of the youths?). Now, that’s not to say you won’t have any opportunities for cringing mortification ahead of you -- you certainly will! -- but as you cruise towards 30, you’re probably way better equipped for two key things:
Turning those encounters into excellent stories that you can dine out on with your friends.
Understanding what didn’t work so you can have a more fun and/or meaningful experience on your next date or crush.
Your question doesn’t indicate how enthusiastic you are about this whole dating enterprise, so let us assure you that however you feel about dating, romance, and sex is fine. You may come to realize that you’re not really interested in having a dating life at all. Perhaps you’d just rather invest your time in hobbies, friendships and your career: GREAT. Maybe you’re asexual: GOOD FOR YOU. Of course, maybe you want to have allll the sex with allll the partners, in which case, we say: GO GET IT.
Here are some things that may be useful to remember as you embark on this adventure:
Excellent flirting is its own reward. There needn’t be any larger endgame. It’s great to sass it up with an interested flirtation partner, and anything you can use as a wit whetstone is a thing we strongly endorse.
Making out is awesome. Sex is great, but please remember that what they used to call “heavy petting” back in ye olden times is so fun, and not something you want to skip over!
Your business is your business. You aren’t obligated to disclose your dating history to anyone before you feel ready to.
And as we’ve said before, "no" is a complete sentence.
To put a finer point on those last two-- as someone who lost her virginity post-college, Dame M. angsted a LOT in her pre-sex dating life about when to tell dates about her level of experience. She just assumed that, if she went to a private location with a date, she either owed him sex or owed him an explanation about why there would NOT be sex. None of the dates ever said anything like that (if they had, Dame M. would likely have socked them) -- it was the Patriarchal Panopticon in Dame M.’s brain shouting “YOU’RE ABNORMAL. YOU MUST WARN THEM. YOU’RE IN BREACH OF AN UNSPOKEN CONTRACT.” Weirdly, as soon as Dame M. actually had sex, this stopped being a problem for her-- a light bulb switched on, and she realized “Ohhhhhhh my level of interest in sex was not a symptom of Virginal Ignorance, but like… my normal human interest in having sex. And I don’t have to explain that, to anyone, especially not anyone I like enough to go to a private location with.” Since then, Dame M. has dealt with some Entitled Dummies-- there’s no way to entirely avoid them-- but their entitlement just seemed like funny and sad, rather than like something she needed to heed in any way. So just walk in knowing: ALL PRIVATE ROOM MENUS ARE A LA CARTE. You haven’t agreed to a four-course prix fixe dinner just by entering the establishment and anyone who think you have is deserving of scorn, not explanations.
And Dame S. would like to chime in with a notion that’s fairly new to her: the entire concept of virginity is a dumb lie. Like, ok, it matters for The House of Windsor, and we have religious friends for whom it is a sincere spiritual issue, but if you are a person who thinks sex outside of marriage is a dandy pursuit, we’d like to encourage you to ignore the construct altogether. The day after you have penetrative sex for the first time may well be a day like any other (IT WAS FOR DAME M.!), while the day you have your first knee-weakening kiss may be a day you remember forever. It’s a made-up goalpost, is what we’re saying, and that being the case, we think you should make your own goalposts that matter to you. Set them, reset them, do what you want. It’s your body, your experiences, your giggles, your tears, your pleasure.
So, basically: Just start. Hop on an online dating site! Try giving your number to a cute person you spot on public transit! The World Is Your Oyster! And, of course, if you ever need first date outfit advice, PLEASE feel free to tweet us. We are all about that shit.
Dame Margaret's Links
"I love you, interspecies bro."
The second Dame Margaret saw the headline "3 Huskies Adopt Cat 'Best Friend' Into Their Pack" on her Facebook (posted by Dame Sophie, no less!) she knew it was going to be her lead link for this week's TBD. Her instincts, as always, were sound.
At an event in Australia, Nigella Lawson confessed to keeping a stash of essential condiments on her bedside table to facilitate eating in bed, adding "the ridiculous thing is one of my great luxuries is that I like very expensive and gorgeous bed linen and then I ruin it by dumping soy sauce all over it.” So, in short, Nigella Lawson IRL is almost exactly as Jasmine Guillory imagined her for The Toast in "If Nigella Lawson Were Your Girlfriend."
For absolutely no reason in the world, Blythe Robertson's "Fulbright Proposal for Getting Away from New York Boys" is like really speaking to Dame M. this week.
Because the Disney Princesses brand is absolutely fascinating to Dame M., this A+++ mediumread about how Hasbro wrested the Disney Princess dolls from Mattel is... just everything.
Except that's NOT true, because that would leave nothing for this AMAZING longread on the history of black bartenders in America and their role in developing our cocktail culture to be, despite the fact that it is ALSO everything. A choice quote: “But running that business exacted its own toll. ‘If you ever expect to get money or anything worthwhile out of a white man,’ Dabney’s son Wendell Phillips Dabney (who would go on to attend Oberlin and become one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights movement) recalled his father telling him as a child,’always make him feel that he knows more than you and always act as if you think he is the greatest man in the world.’" Having given a modified version of this advice to people... recently, that quote really smacked Dame M. upside the head. The more things change...
Dame Sophie's Links
Do not cross this Z-girl.
Just one item from me this week because I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT (Bowie and) THIS MOVIE.
My husband & I are making a project of watching as many of British film critic Mark Kermode’s Top 10 Movies of 2015 together as we can. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is billed as the first-ever Iranian vampire western, and I just can’t stop thinking or talking about it: it’s gorgeous, it’s weird, it’s unsettling, it’s ravishing, it’s about lady rage & vengeance & finding your place in the world, and it’s got a killer soundtrack. If you’ve got Netflix (or even just YouTube) please watch it & then yell excitedly with me about it on Twitter, won’t you?
A Follow-Up Bowie Link-Wake
A bunch of you chimed in with your Bowie reminiscences last week. Grief shared is grief made more manageable, friends, so thank you. Please think of this as our version of a Second Line. Speaking of which…
Per usj, the pop criticism bros in our head over at the NYT Popcast did some beautiful work honoring Bowie’s legacy, this time with philosopher & Bowie-phile special guest Simon Critchley, whose lovely piece in the Times is also well worth a read.
Dame S. defies anyone with eyeballs and a heart to watch this interview segment on a 1997 episode of the Rosie O’Donnell Show and not be completely won over when he a) gives Rosie her heart’s desire and b) is so clearly beside himself with love for Iman (well, who wouldn’t be?).
As usual, Avidly has published a heartsong essay for us, on How to Bring Your Kids Up Bowie, moving & useful regardless of your reproductive status or plans.
This Week in Hamilton
Perfect Hamiltine is perfect.
An Etsy Genius is selling adorable Hamilton-themed Valentines (#Hamiltines). They aren’t cheap ($5 apiece, $20 for six) BUT they are perfect, so.
For Martin Luther King Day, Lin-Manuel Miranda assembled a bunch of his former schoolmates from Hunter College Elementary school to pay tribute to Barbara Ames, his beloved music teacher, who watched the video and sobbed over it with heart-rending throroughness. Go thank a teacher, Dames Nation. They deserve it. reaction to
Lin is going to be the commencement speaker at Penn this May & guess who’s going?? Dame S., that’s who, thanks to generous Damespal Julia!
Springsteen! Bono! Barry Gibb! Bowie (of blessed memory)! A delightful #Ham4Ham featuring Jimmy Fallon’s many impressions.
We bet that you have already heard the GOOD NEWS, but in case you haven't: HAMILTON! BEHIND-THE-SCENES DOCUMENTARY!! COMING TO PBS THIS FALL!!!
Oh, Go On, DO!
Our most stylish thanks go out to all 102 (!!) of you who've contributed to our Patreon campaign. Much more than the amount of money, the number of donors REALLY matters to us. Knowing that 100+ of you like us enough to support us-- it means a lot to us. We're deeply grateful for to all of you and want to remind all members of Dames Nation that sharing our campaign matters ~~just as much~~ as participating in it. So, if you can't give for any reason, just tweet-- it brings us new subscribers and new donors. We'll be in touch regarding rewards starting in February and are thrilled to say that we look forward to making your TBD tote bag dreams come true at some point in 2016!