Posted by: Ali Davis | June 26, 2015

Love is Love After All.

I spent a chunk of 2008 spending my Tuesday nights (and a couple of Thursdays, and a couple of weekend shifts with friends) phone banking to try to stop California’s Prop 8 — a ballot measure that would take gay marriage away from a state that already had marriage equality.

We had lists of people who were presumed swing voters, so mostly I talked to very nice and supportive people, helping them untangle the fact that you had to vote NO to support marriage equality. (I still have no idea how many votes we lost on that one toward the end, we found out that one anti-gay group was calling likely liberals and saying “Remember, vote YES to support gay marriage!” Because if there’s one thing that shows you have a just cause, it’s lying.)

But I didn’t always talk to nice and supportive people. Sometimes there was a queasy silence and then they said they supported Prop 8. The end of those phone calls were an interesting illustration of how politeness quietly keeps society from collapsing.

I had a couple of people get in my face while I was flyering on the street, usually men who would get right up in my face, mutter “Yes on 8” so no one else could hear, and then walk away.

And, insanely, as the weeks went on, the tide turned more and more against us. Ads ran that California schoolchildren would be… taught to be gay? Or something? Even though we already had gay marriage and that schoolkid thing hadn’t happened yet? The ads never seemed to make sense, but they worked. We lost ground every week.

On election night, I flyered until well after dark, texting election results with friends. I remember heading back to my No on 8 headquarters and reassuring one of the reps that those two small-looking blue spots on the state of Virginia were where are the people were. But I didn’t check the ballot measure results. We knew we were losing.

I raced off to watch Obama’s speech with friends. One kept trying to look up the Prop 8 results on the Internet for me and I kept begging him to stop. I wanted to be able to enjoy the national election results without having to think about what California might have done.

And deep in my heart, I still had hope that we wouldn’t lose. I lived in California, for Chrissakes. Yes, I had had some teenage boys scream at me that I was “sick” that night, but surely they were an anomaly. I had to believe that basic humanity would win out.

I was numb after I looked at the results the next morning. Obama had won, but we had lost. I went out too late to get a newspaper — everyone wanted the front page. I ran pointless, fruitless errands, came home, and then slid down the back of my front door and sat on the floor, crying. Enough people in my big hippy granola thought there was something so fundamentally wrong with people like me that they had changed the law. It brought the prejudice home in the way that individual slights never had.

The backlash was justifiably enraged. The streets filled, over and over. Protests filled West Hollywood, then downtown. One of the marches surrounded the Mormon Temple, then spilled out of its authorized boundaries to take over Wilshire Boulevard. At the time, it felt like impotent fury. I wish I could go back and reassure myself about how much good it would end up doing.

Because the cartoonish injustice of Prop 8 — taking marriage away from a group that already had it — is what really showed the nation how disgusting and ridiculous the anti-equality laws really were. And gradually, the national mood turned from “What’s the big deal?” and “It makes me uncomfortable” to open mockery of people who were still backward enough to try to stop two consenting, loving adults from getting married.

It took an outrage. But after that, it took less than a decade.

Today I’m crying because I’m looking at pictures of my married friends who can stay married no matter what state they’re in, because I’m looking at pictures of the Dallas County men who have been together for 55 years and can finally make it legal. Love is love after all.

Remember that. Remember that always. Remember that when you feel like your cause is lost and no one supports you. You can change the hearts of millions of people. You can help make a positive difference in the world. People will see you, and they will begin to understand.

Happy Pride. Celebrate well. Love who you love.

“OK, so I’ve finished my efficiency analysis.”

“And?”

“We can save a whole bunch of water and like 30 tanks of gas if we don’t take the giant truck full of musicians.”

“Out of the question.”

“You can’t even hear them over all the engines–”

“We are not going without the Battle Musicians.”

“Can we at least leave behind all the cumbersome brass instruments that nobody even plays?”

“NO.”

“What if we had a rule that they play when we’re not fighting, but then they have to actually fight when we’re fighting?”

“They are musicians. They are sensitive.”

“Then maybe we should just blast a CD–”

“Shut up and put your chalk on.”

Posted by: Ali Davis | December 9, 2014

My Commute Home, as Enhanced by My iPod Classic

HEY, ALI, HERE IS SOME INXS.

Oh, hey! Haven’t heard that in a while. Thanks!
GOOD SONG, RIGHT?
Yup!
IT’S THE ONE THING
Uh huh.
YOU ARE MY THING
Yeah, good song.
YOU MEAN THAT?
Of course.
BECAUSE HERE IS SOME MORE INXS!
Hey, spontaneous rock block! Thanks!
THE BAND STILL HOLDS UP, RIGHT?
Definitely.
GOOD, BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? MORE INXS!
Oh.
WHAT?
It’s just… You know. You’re on shuffle.
SKIPPING DIMINISHES US BOTH, ALI.
I just want some variet-
FINE. HERE IS A DIFFERENT BAND.
Thank you.
…FOLLOWED BY SOME INXS!
It’s a perfectly good band and a perfectly good song, but —
YOU GAVE ME A CLEAR INDICATION THAT YOU LOVE THEM
They’re fine! Skip!
FORGOT THERE WERE THIS MANY SONGS ON THE ALBUM, DIDN’T YOU?
Give me something different!
FINE. HERE IS EVERY SONG YOU’RE SICK OF, RIGHT IN A ROW. HAPPY NOW?
Oh, for –
AND THIS ONE.
Rrgh!
THIS ONE TOO.
You’re not getting to me.
STOP SKIPPING AND TAKE YOUR PUNISHMENT LIKE A WOMAN.
No.
WHY DO YOU EVEN OWN THIS ONE?
I can’t remember. Shut up.
BET YOU’RE STARTING TO MISS INXS NOW, AREN’T YOU?
I can keep this up as long as you can.
OH, YEAH? BECAUSE MY BATT–

Posted by: Ali Davis | October 8, 2014

The First Taste is Free.

Your very own sample of the brand-new True Porn Clerk Stories audiobook. Please enjoy.

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/171184519%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-9Gif5&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

Posted by: Ali Davis | August 13, 2014

An Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

First off, keep doing the important work you’ve been doing of spreading kindness everywhere. There’s nothing that helps comfort surviving family members more than coming up with a one-phrase explanation for someone’s suicide.

You did, however, get something wrong in your recent statements about the tragic death of Robin Williams. That’s uncharacteristic, so I knew you would want to be alerted right away.

I know it must indeed seem to you like liberals are never happy. We’re always hand-wringing over people who are addicted to prescription drugs or fretting over some totally imaginary evil like child sex tourism. It’s such a stark contrast to your relentlessly cheerful and upbeat show.

But I want to reassure you that we do experience happiness every now and then.

We are happy during the Gay Pride parades, when we throw our gay-soaked beads into the crowds, knowing that the minute they touch bare skin, we have started the process of breaking up innocent straight families.

We are happy when we force schools to use textbooks that say that slavery in America existed and was bad, because nothing turns a child to dope and Paganism faster than an understanding of historic inequalities.

We are happy each time another day passes and our liberal media once again fails to report that dioxin in the groundwater not only cures cancer, it causes supervirility and a hardy entrepreneurial spirit.

We are happy during our ceremonies for the Horned God of the Forest, when we sacrifice a rich man — always a straight, white rich man — and blend him into kale smoothies that we feed to the bunnies and deer.

And we are happy again when we distribute that rich straight white man’s goods to the poor. But only the undeserving poor, the ones sitting in their yards drinking beer while endorsing their ill-gotten government handout checks and not even looking for a biochemical engineering job.

We are happy when we chortle into the sleeves of our summer parkas, knowing we have fooled 99.5% of all the scientists in the world with our global warming hoaxes.

We are happy when we run over coal and oil executives with our Priuses.

We are ecstatically happy once a year when our Dark Queen Rachel Maddow opens the gates to the vast, completely undeveloped plains where we have hidden all the lions and tigers and polar bears and we frolic and gambol among them. And you know what? They like to be hunted. They love it. But we won’t, because if there is one thing that makes us extra happy, it is being killjoys.

When the evening comes, we use our vast stockpiles of free birth control to have our joyous annual latte-and-quinoa-fueled orgy, where there are only three rules:

  1. Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the law.
  2. Except for this list of government safety regulations.
  3. No straight sex unless it’s part of a threesome.

And we are happy whenever Neil Degrasse Tyson speaks, because he is awesome.

Other than that, you’ve pretty much got us nailed.

Sincerely,

Liberals

Posted by: Ali Davis | September 25, 2013

An open letter to KABC-TV Los Angeles

Dear KABC,

I just want to compliment you on that awesome news promo last night!

You started off strong, letting viewers know that a man has been “robbing and raping” his way across Southern California.

Excellent turn of phrase! Way to grab the ear! Way to let people know that this is about some dude on a spree, like in a super-cool anti-hero movie, and not someone doing something horrible that people should actually think about.

A lesser news writer might have gone with “Police are seeking a serial rapist for multiple sexual assaults,” but your team knew that that sounded way less fun. It might even make people think about the victims a little bit. Downer.

But that’s just icing, really. It’s not even close to the most awesome part of the promo. 

The best part was when you let viewers know that if they wanted to know what all the victims had in common, they would have to tune in at 11:00.

Sure, some boring-ass lame-O at another station might suggest that the fact that this rapist is targeting women who work in massage parlors is a vital piece of information to actual living, feeling human beings who are in danger. That lame-O might have suggested that you could just give out that information as a public service so that the women who are being targeted could take steps to try to protect themselves and, you know, not get raped.

But you awesome geniuses at KABC know that news is not about getting important information to the public. It’s about buzz and advertising dollahs.

You and everyone involved in that promo made sure to keep the most important thing in mind: That ladies afraid of getting raped just means eyeballs on your newscast. Plus it’s not like ladies who work in massage parlors are real ladies with lives that might get shattered, right?

Anyway, good job all around on making sure you treat the women in your audience like nonhuman commodities and rape as a particularly titillating lead-in to your newscast. I’m sure it will earn you booming ratings and high marks for creativity and innovation when you get to Hell.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any praise for the show itself.

I didn’t get around to watching it because fuck you.

Sincerely,

Ali Davis

Posted by: Ali Davis | November 20, 2012

Bankrupt: Some Friendly Advice to the Rebranded GOP

Years ago, when I first started freelance writing, I got hired to do the copy for a website for a car company that is no longer in business.

The company had noticed that they weren’t selling to women – in fact, their customer base was almost entirely older white men – and they wanted to change that. They were planning to deploy special banner ads on websites that got a lot of female traffic, and those would lead to a brand-new special splash page just for women. My assignment was to write the copy for that women’s splash page.

At first, I was excited to be a part of it. I had developed some strong likes and dislikes about the process of shopping and caring for cars, and had lots of ideas about how the company could speak to women.

…However, the company didn’t want those ideas. Well, that happens with freelance writing. No big deal. But when I asked about the focus groups that I assumed had been held, I found out that the company and its ad agency hadn’t run any of those. In fact, they didn’t seem to want any female input or thinking at all. There were women other than me involved in the project, but any suggestions were actively discouraged. We were essentially to take dictation for the company’s pre-planned concept for the site.

There was, of course, some “You go, girl!” type language, watered down to the point of meaninglessness. But mostly the whole thing was embarrassing. The finished site had very little about the actual cars, or why one might want to purchase or drive one. Instead, there were messages about the company’s sponsorship of the LPGA tour and donations to fight breast cancer. Because chicks love that stuff, right? And then they were expected to just obediently start buying.

I only worked on the splash page, but apparently if any women stayed on it long enough to try to find links to solid information about the cars, which was tough, they were treated to another page that cooed to them about “making cars simple.” You know, for women. And the banner ads – which I swear I had nothing to do with – were apparently even worse.

(As humiliating as that was, I was at least relieved that I hadn’t been involved with the splash page for African-Americans, which featured, for real, a black history timeline. It was the main visual of the site. DO YOU SEE HOW THOROUGHLY WE UNDERSTAND YOU, BLACK PEOPLE?)

The whole project was an epic disaster. Not only did women not start buying the client’s cars, but they sent scathing letters and e-mails to the company with a few choice words about condescension. I don’t have direct knowledge of the response to the black-history-timeline-with-a-car-on-it site, but I feel like I can make an educated guess.

I don’t know if the car company executives ever understood why the site was such a catastrophic failure, but as an outsider, it was easy: Instead of actually asking women and African-Americans why they didn’t want those cars or what they did want in a car or even in a car-buying experience, the company decided for itself what those groups would like and then expected female and black consumers to behave like two-dimensional stereotypes instead of thinking human beings with real concerns and desires. And they certainly didn’t expect anyone to behave as an individual – just as a monolithic group member, at most.

I repeat: That company is out of business.

I’ve been thinking about that job lately because I’ve been watching the Republican Party frantically try to re-brand itself after the election. Not re-think itself, mind you. Just re-brand itself. There doesn’t seem to be any real effort to do anything but pigeonhole the groups that didn’t vote Republican and consider giving lip service to their imagined wants.

And rest assured, it will be just lip service. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been standing right up and saying that Republicans should stop making boneheaded, breathtakingly sexist statements about rape. But please don’t take that to mean that he thinks Republicans should stop their current push to criminalize abortion for rape victims. He just thinks the GOP should stop being quite so honest about it in public.

And so the Republican effort to win us back is progressing much like my early e-mail volleys with my one-time client. Single women just want free birth control for all the dirty sex they’re having! Latinos are single-issue voters who only care about immigration, and in only one way! Black people only want handouts! LGBT folks just have two goals: destroying American marriages and legally forcing churches to let them have sex on the altar. Yes, Republicans truly have us all figured out.

Here’s the thing, GOP: You might want to work in a couple of focus groups. You’ll note that I didn’t say “You might want to talk to people,” because you’ve been talking to people, or at least at them, quite a bit. What you need to do is run a focus group or seven and listen to people.

Find out what people in cities worry about. You may begin to suspect that their thoughts and needs are just as valid as those of people who live in rural areas. Talk to Muslims and Wiccans and Hindus and agnostics and atheists. You might find surprisingly strong moral and ethical codes, and a startlingly weak desire to murder other human beings.

Notice that Cuban-Americans and Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans (who are citizens! For real!) and many, many other groups that could be described as “Latino” do not all want or worry about the same things, even within those subgroups. Though you might be able to get away with the generalization that they’re not crazy about being treated as inherently foreign and an invading malicious horde.

Check in with a few women, single and married. Yes, lots of women (and men!) like birth control, because planning if and when one has children turns out to be a really good way to help keep those children out of poverty. But brace yourselves, Republicans, it may get even more complex than that. It may just be that the women who didn’t vote for you are not so much sex-crazed as they really, really hate being treated like unthinking baby incubators whose lives are irrelevant once the egg is fertilized – no matter what the “method of conception” may have been.

And, yes, Republicans, you’re going to have to listen to some black people who aren’t Herman Cain.

I know this will be awkward because you have been using black people as the quickest, most effective way to scare a certain type of white person into donating to your campaigns and getting out to the polls for quite some time now, but I think you will hear some things that will be good for you. And most of you have known all along that the scare-the-racist-goobers campaigning is odious. Taste the bile you’ve generated, take some time to be ashamed, and then actually do something about it. The last four years have shown that you have a stunning number of racists in your ranks, GOP, overt and covert. It’s time to do what’s right and shame them out. Let them secede and form their own party. They love that.

And I cannot freaking believe I have to type this, but no, Mitt; no, Paul; no, Newt; and no, Bill; and no to so many of you: African-Americans are not lazy people who are just looking from a handout from you noble, hardworking white fellows. They’re not even the biggest recipients of Welfare. Whoops! Turns out that’s white people. So what do they want? You’re going to have to actually ask them, a bunch of them, from all different regions and income levels. And you’re going to have to listen.

As for the LGBT community, well, Republicans, I’m sorry to say that other than a few baffling stalwarts and the many closet cases in your ranks, you’ve pretty much lost the LGBT vote for a few decades. It was probably the part when you said that there was something so fundamentally wrong with us that we shouldn’t be allowed to marry each other. Or maybe it was the part when you called those of us who did want to get married slaves to lust instead of, you know, deeply in love. Or it might be the countless times you’ve claimed to be religiously oppressed when we object to being legally discriminated against. One of those things.

But you can take a few baby steps. Learn what “LGBT” stands for, and why liberals say that instead of “homosexual.” For extra credit, ask about the Q that sometimes gets put on at the end. If you can’t talk to us directly, try talking to those younger Republicans who for some crazy reason don’t find their gay friends so scary. Ask them why, and listen. The Rick Santorum types among you really seem to enjoy taking the position of embattled victimhood, so try a few thought experiments: Think about how you would feel if someone tried to pass a law that kept you from getting married, and thus from visiting the person you wanted to marry in the hospital. If that doesn’t move you, think about such a law would affect your inheritance.

And then, Republicans, you might try talking to people without automatically slicing them into any of those categories at all. Or you might go crazy and start talking and listening to people who are in unions and people who seem awfully huffy about what fracking is doing to their drinking water and people who used to have a pension fund before that corporate takeover and liquidation. And I think you should find a bunch of other kinds of people, and I think you should listen hard.

Because as I mentioned, that car company is out of business.

Posted by: Ali Davis | March 3, 2012

To Sum Up

Religious Male Congressional Witnesses: We do not want the compromise in which insurance companies pay for contraceptive coverage at their own expense because, even though religious institutions would not be paying for it, we do not want the female employees or students at religious institutions to have the option of having dirty bad sex without making babies.

Sandra Fluke: I wish to explain that hormonal contraception is used for a variety of medical reasons, and that such prescriptions often have nothing to do with sex or babies at all.

Rush Limbaugh: SLUT!

Posted by: Ali Davis | February 21, 2012

A Women’s Congressional Panel on Men’s Health

Posted by: Ali Davis | January 30, 2012

I’m proud of this.

I’m one of three co-writers, with Andy Cobb and Michael Damanskis.

 

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