Movies That Cockblock For You*

We’ve all been on bad dates, amirite, ladiiiies?? Here’s a story from my (Kate’s) younger days: a guy (who I really was not interested in) asked me out, and I was way too shy to say no. He invited me over to his dorm to watch a movie (pre-Netflix & chill, although the sentiment has surely existed since the dawn of media). I was in charge of picking the movie, so I pondered the decision long and hard: what movie could I pick that would effectively communicate “hey dude, I’m super not into you”? Ultimately I settled on Pineapple Express: a total bro and stoner movie that’s not in the least bit sexy. The movie, plus my deliberate avoidance of any physical contact, worked like a charm! I did, however, forget to consider that Pineapple Express is like TWO FUCKING HOURS LONG (thanks a LOT, David Gordon Green!), and was forced to sit on this dude’s sweaty futon for the entirety.

Anyway, this anecdote made us all consider: what movies are the perfect cockblocks? The three of us came up with our own list of movies to totally kill the mood, so check them out below! If you choose to employ them in your own pursuits of telling undesirable dudes to take a hike, please shoot us an email and tell us how that went.

  • Schindler’s List (or Sophie’s Choice, or anything tragic)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • The One Direction documentary
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, or any war movie (not the sexy ones though)
  • Teeth
  • Grizzly Man
  • The Polar Express, because nothing is unsexier than the Uncanny Valley
  • The Human Centipede
  • Any film adaptation of a video game
  • Casper the Friendly Ghost
  • The Greasy Strangler (based on the title and the trailer alone)
  • Manchester by the Sea, unless sobbing turns you on
  • Any Bachelor finale

*Amy would like to forever call this genre of movies “cockbusters”. We support it.

On PPD & a PhD

Lady Academics is thrilled to publish our first essay from a guest poster, Carly Lesoski! We hope you enjoy it. As always, please feel free to submit pieces to us at theladyacademics [at] gmail.com!


Sitting my therapist’s waiting room, I fidget with my shaking hands, thoughts racing. My therapist appears in the doorway, smiling pleasantly as always. She asks me what I want to drink. Water, I answer, as always. I settle down on her fluffy new couch, while she gets her coffee and my water. My heart pounds, and I feel the shame starting to well up in my stomach and spill over into my chest. I try to shake the feeling, but it just won’t go away.

She asks how I’m doing. I answer that I’m alright, but it’s been a tough couple of days. Tough? I continue fidgeting, averting her gaze. I’d been visiting her for over a year. She knows so much about me, so it seems ridiculous to be this nervous, but there’s a voice in my head. What if they take Phineas away? I can’t let them take him from me. I know rationally that this won’t happen, but the voice nags at me. She stares knowingly at me, patiently waiting for me to talk. I inhale deeply, the pressure of anxiety pressing the air out of my lungs.

I tell her how Phineas was really upset all weekend. How he’s teething and hasn’t been sleeping well. Neither have I. No, it’s not always because of him. I wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats, gasping. My husband jumps up asking if I’m ok. I angrily tell him to go back to sleep, embarrassed. When I do sleep, I have strange anxiety-ridden nightmares. She tells me that the appearance of my ex in my dreams is likely just a personification of my anxiety, as is my persistent panicky fear of spiders. This anxiety comes down to my fear of not being able to care for and protect Phineas. She reassures me that he is fine, that I’m doing a good job. Smiling, I show her my latest Instagram video of him.

Anything else? Yeah. I debate whether or not I should answer her. What if they take him? My husband would never forgive me. I tell her that my pervasive thoughts are back. She asks me to explain. I begin to tell her everything. How he cried and cried for hours. How I rocked him, sobbing with him, fearing that I wasn’t good enough. With a deep and painful pang of fear, I admit that I have flashes of thoughts of hurting myself, of hurting him, of hurting my husband. I tell her of the instant disgust I feel toward myself. What kind of mother thinks these kinds of things? I had planned what I would need to pack so that I could sneak away, but only after Corey was back from his night class, so Phineas would be safe and cared for. I wasn’t going to run away because I don’t love Phineas; on the contrary, I wanted to run away because I love him so much. He is so amazing and perfect, and I’m not good enough to be his mom.

My therapist smiles kindly. She reassures me that I am a good mom, and that what I’m feeling is typical for postpartum depression. That these are all just thoughts and that my sudden disgust about these thoughts is a sign that I’m not a danger to my son. These thoughts are not me. She urges me to call my doctor to adjust the dose of my antidepressant. Even after months with the diagnosis, I still cringe at the thought of being medicated. I had gone to therapy for so long, and that had been enough, but my son’s birth changed literally everything.

For the rest of the day I’m so anxious and upset that I can’t get anything done. I schedule an appointment, but it is during my graduate colloquium. My mind races. I have to email the director of graduate studies, the one who runs the colloquium, to tell her that I won’t attend an event that was my idea, as if I don’t have enough anxiety surrounding sending emails. What if she gets angry? What if she feels like I’m not doing enough? What if she knows that I’m not making the progress I want to be? What if these prompt her to notice that I’m not publishing like I should be? What if she finally realizes that I’m not actually good enough to get a PhD?

I hate email. I avoid emails like the plague, even if they’re simple and easy to answer. With shaking hands, I write her an apologetic, yet detailed email. Within the hour she answers me, assuring me that it is not a problem, and not to apologize for this. She tells me that my mental health is important, and that she hopes I’m doing better. I miss my baby, so I visit him before my appointment. His smiling face makes me feel a little better. I have to do this for him.

My PA tells me repeatedly that she’s glad I came in. I tell her about the thoughts I’d had, and that my therapist told me I had to come back in. We devise a strategy to get me feeling more ‘normal’, whatever that means in the wake of having a child and preparing for my comprehensive exams. I ask her what kind of mother has thoughts like these. All mothers do, she says, every single one. I just need a little help controlling them, that’s all. I decide to pick my son up from daycare early. I need his cuddles. When I arrive, he smiles his huge, dimpled smile and throws his arms up toward me, as if to say ‘you’re here! Pick me up!’ This is all that matters. Everything else can wait.


Carly Lesoski is a PhD Candidate in German Studies at Michigan State University. Other than being a wife and mom, she likes edtech, bad puns, and is obsessed with Twitter, Hamilton, and Reese’s Sticks. She is available for autographs, photoshoots, books deals, or conversation on Twitter @motheroftheses or via email at lesoskic [at] msu.edu.

I’m So Tired…of Obsessing over My Face

 

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During a talk on cybernetics last night in class, the topic of The Body came up (it always comes up.) Do our bodies disappear behind screens as we invest more and more into our digital/cyber/cybernetic/cylon selves? Some of the literature may give that illusion, but our bodies remain a material presence in our lives at least in no one else’s.

So naturally, I started thinking about my body specifically in the context of my academic life.

My first thought was: I’m fucking cold. That seminar room was miserable.

My second thought(s): these tights are digging into my stomach fat but at least the lovely pink-on-pink brocade fabric of my dress is comfortable and warm, my bun is pulling at my scalp, I can feel my face getting greasy as my makeup goes on its 9th hour of wear, but at least I’m pretty sure my eyeliner is still perfect, my brows are on fleek (yeah, I know, how 2015 of me), and my lipstick is still vibrant and beautiful (a nice bright coral orange, a change from my usual favorites like gray and teal and black).

But my final and most pressing thought was and remains how do the aesthetic choices I make about my body every morning alter perceptions of me within academia? I was without a doubt wearing more makeup than every other woman in that room combined, and a quick Google search reveals that spoiler alert!: apparently I don’t do a great job at situating myself visually within my profession. I’ve known this for some time, and while it used to be an advantage when I was teaching at a German university as far as an easy way of connecting to students, now that I’m back in America the paradoxically always-but-never old conversation about how women in academia should dress finally feels relevant, and I’m already fucking tired of it.

Back in 2014, when I was happily ignoring this discourse (oops my bad), Johnathon Wolff caused quite the e-stir with his illuminating article “Why do academics dress so badly? (Answer: they are too happy)” and there were many immediate responses, such as “Female academics: don’t power dress, forget heels – and no flowing hair allowed.” My personal favorite from Wolff’s article came when he advised how to be the best dressed in the room in order to ensure making a good professional impression: “For a woman, a Hermès scarf should be enough to swing the vote.” Um sure bro. I’ll just toss on that Hermès scarf I have just laying around, probably under a pile of dirty period underwear (oops, not supposed to mention the fun biological reality of being a woman in public!), over the rest of my thrifted “professional” dress items, which I’m sure are a poor attempt at translating a male aesthetic to the female form because as Hil’s legendary pantsuit collection shows us, to project power in almost all professional fields means to project a definitely penile aura. PS: Where the fuck am I supposed to get the coins for an Hermès scarf if I have a ONE IN FOUR SHOT OF GETTING A JOB IN MY FIELD?

So here we are almost three years later and the aesthetic stylization of the female body is still an issue, albeit maybe a small one in comparison to other disturbing conversations about how, you know, apparently my entire body is just a host lying in wait for impregnation (who cares what my body looks like as long as its nice and full of fetus?) So maybe it comes off as entitled and whiney that I’m bitching about how my choice to wear black lipstick and three different highlighters at once plays such a huge (read: hugely negative) role in establishing myself as a serious scholar. But if I can’t feel comfortable in my own skin (and hey, at least my skin is white and that is a privilege I can never nor should I ever try to argue away), then how am I supposed to project power? I don’t feel powerful in what I’m “supposed” to wear, in fact, I feel powerless when I wear pantsuits and plain colors and minimal or no makeup, not because there isn’t a certain power in those aesthetic choices (hey girl heyyyyy, Hil!), but because I’ve had to give up my own personal aesthetic identity in order to meet the standards of success in my profession.

tumblr_n3bo3c09q91qlvwnco4_250.gifSo, I have two conferences coming up this month, and I’ve been agonizing over what to wear on my body and face since I got accepted to both. I’m not naive enough to ignore the fact that there is of course an accepted etiquette in such situations (leggings and teal lipstick might not be venue appropriate), and I will respect that etiquette, but I can’t guarantee that you won’t be able to see my highlight in the back of the room.

PS: Who cares what I have to say, go read this gorgeous article by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Why Can’t a Smart Woman Love Fashion?”

 

I’m So Tired

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Could I please take a nap while someone makes me cheese pasta?

We are eight weeks into the spring semester, and I am so tired.

I am tired today specifically because after getting home from my evening class, my cat decided to pull one of her classic Great Escapes and bolt out the door. She proceeded to hide under cars while my roommate and I attempted to coax and chase her out, until she presumably got bored and ran back into the apartment. After this I stayed up for a while, stressfully watching Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey while she snoozed on my bed as if nothing had ever happened.

I am residually tired from the weekend, as our department hosted a (very fun!) daylong event for 150 sweaty and hyper high school students. I have never talked to so many high school students in one day, maybe not even when I was in high school.

I am hypochondriacally tired after one of my students told me his girlfriend has mono and that he might have mono. Like, rationally, I know he did not give me mono. But could I ALSO have gotten mono? I have had colds off and on this semester…is that mono? Does my spleen hurt? Are my lymph nodes enlarged? It’s totally mono.

I am tired from anxiety after having meetings with professors about applications for funding, because even though I know that my professors are here to help, meeting with them stresses me out, because what if they find out that I’m secretly a big dummy and have just been faking it all this time? Also, writing personal statements is tiring.

I am intellectually tired from coursework, because hearing my colleagues’ thoughts on our readings vacillates between being intimidating and boring, and having to think my own thoughts (are they good thoughts? are they dumb thoughts? I have no idea anymore) is pretty tiring too.

I am existentially tired from wondering about whether I belong in this profession, and whether my PhD will make me a good candidate for other jobs, and whether we will even value PhDs by the time I’m done dissertating, and from worrying that our country is full of fascists, and from wondering if we’re maybe throwing around the word “fascist” too much.

In conclusion, I’m ready for spring break.

 

 

 

Lady Academics Meet a Bachelorette Contestant

Today, Amy, Marianne and I met Luke Pell (of Bachelorette fame) at Starbucks. Well, Amy and Marianne met him…..I’d met him before, at the same Starbucks, about five months prior. Anyway, this picture was taken at the moment Amy said “fuck the patriarchy”.


Luke, if you want to be interviewed by three delightful ladies, please be in touch. We’re easy to find.

Margot Robbie is Not Tonya Harding

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Maybe you’re looking at the title of this post and thinking, “how is this academic? This is just some girl mad about some pop culture thing!” A) You’re sort of right but also B) It is VERY academic, and here’s why: Since learning about Tonya Harding at an early age – I discovered her name on a list of people banned for life from competing in USFSA-sanctioned events – I was obsessed, and I researched her thoroughly. Any time I had to do some kind of biographical presentation in school, it was about Tonya. In high school, I found out my figure skating coach was IN THE RINK when Nancy Kerrigan got hit (he heard the screaming!!!), which only made me feel closer to the saga. I have seen the 30 for 30 doc on Tonya a whole bunch of times. If I could find some remote way to connect her to the German Studies world, believe me, I would, and I’d write a dissertation on her.

In any event, I know a lot about Tonya Harding, and I believe this qualifies me to say that Margot Robbie should not play her in a biopic.

Let’s get the obvious reason out of the way: Margot Robbie is too hot for this role. I admit it is a problem to reduce someone to their looks, but in the case of a biopic, I think it matters. Margot Robbie is, among other things, known for her looks. If your acting credits include drinking champagne in a bathtub while explaining financial stuff – basically a role that requires nothing other than your hotness – you’re too hot to play Tonya. Tonya Harding was, to put it simply, rough-looking. Part of this was just the early 90s, a time of scrunchies and teased hair and bad eye makeup. And part of this was just her. She looked rough, and she had a rough life. For a little while, that didn’t matter, because she was an amazing skater. The tragedy is that her skating could have pulled her out of a bad situation, were it not for the whole Nancy incident (and Jeff Gillooly). In spite of her crimes (and I do believe she’s guilty of them), Tonya deserves better than the indignity of being played by a hot actress “uglied up” with prosthetics.

My next question re: Margot/Tonya is whether Margot Robbie can really skate. I’ve seen pictures of her on the ice, and she doesn’t look wobbly, but these are just stills, so who knows. Sure, she could have a double for the jumps and spins, but why not cast someone who can skate pretty well already? (For example, the author of this post?) I really appreciated that Miracle for the most part cast actual hockey players to play the 1980 Olympic team, so why not do the same here? (Probably because the human drama will take precedence over the skating.)

I don’t know what kind of movie I, Tonya will be. I hope it’s a nuanced look at its subject – not letting her off the hook for what she did, but also not vilifying or mocking her. I hope Margot Robbie does a good job, and I think, acting-wise, she could. I will go see it, even if I worry it might be a sensational look at an admittedly sensational sports story.

In conclusion, I want to write, direct, and play Tonya Harding in I, Tonya.