A Not-So-Daily Encounter

I could smell him before I saw him.

The scent of Old Spice mingled with topnotes of freshly baked challah wafted through the room, lifted and propelled by the heat of the stage lights and the burning in my loins.

My eyes flicked up and across the room, towards his desk, but I was momentarily blinded by the celestial glow.  I waited anxiously for my eyes to adjust.

After what seemed like the length of a congressional filibuster, I could finally make out his unassuming silhouette as he made his way to the desk and paused before he took his seat.  The light shone brightly around him, so brightly that anyone could have mistaken him for an angel descended from an Old Testament heaven.

And then the lights dimmed and I could see like I had never seen before.

As he paused, ever so genteelly, buttocks hovering over the black leather chair,  he looked up and our eyes met. Our gazes locked.  In that moment, time seemed to stop.

In an instant I was sucked into Jon Stewart’s steely blue pools of truth like an SUV sucks up expensive gasoline that keeps us dependent on overseas oil reserves.  Just like America’s gas-guzzlers, I was hooked.

Slowly, savoring the moment, I took him in:

His black suit was crisp and clean like Bo Obama after a bath.
His tie was striped and regal like Paul Ryan’s silk pajamas.
His salt and pepper hair looked more tasty than my morning omelet.

Suddenly I realized I was very hungry…for some sexy, red-hot fake news.

I barely noticed as the familiar music started blaring overhead.  This is the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the familiar announcer said while Jon was hastily scribbling a love note to me on his blue note papers on the desk in front of him.  Maybe he wants to hook up after the show? I thought to myself, with a rush of excitement, Or better yet, maybe he wants my opinion about this war on women’s rights?

I sat with rapt attention as Jon launched into a story about one of the most arousing psychological concepts since Freud’s levels of sexual development: cognitive dissonance.

“It’s when you hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time,” Jon explained as a disco ball was slowly lowered from the rafters,

“For most people, these two opposing ideas end up fighting like two rats in a bag.”

A spotlight lit up the disco ball and specks of light began to dance across Jon’s face and torso.

“But for some,” Kenny G began to play softly in the background as Jon looked down at his desk, “those two opposing ideas end up making sweet love to each other.   Here’s an example:”

-and all of a sudden, his eyes were piercing directly through mine, intense and unwavering-

“It’s like when a fake news anchor doesn’t think he’ll ever find true, egalitarian love free of rigid gender roles, but then finds that he has  strong feelings for a real woman.”

I shook my head in disbelief as I broke out in a sweat.   Did he really just say that…to me?  I listened in again.

“-when Republicans want Osama Bin Laden dead, but don’t think Obama can do anything right.”

Yeah right, LP.  Like this smokin’ hot one-percenter would ever notice little tree-hugging, feminist me.

“So how you gonna get those rats to stop fightin’…and staaart fuckin’?”  Jon winked as the lights and my consciousness faded to black for a commercial break.

When I came to, my Jon-Jon was just starting to introduce the final interview segment of the show.

“Our guest tonight is the extensively talented, amazingly hilarious, and fabulously beautiful young woman, Lyssapants, who is best known for being a kickass therapist and a world-renowned blogger.  I am told that in her free time, she also saves baby ducks and human children from ending up on Rush Limbaugh’s dinner table.”

I don’t know how I got to the stage; I’d believe you if you told me I was carried there on a cloud.

“Lyssapants is here to promote this book she wrote on feminist theory and how it relates to the hyper-polarization of the American political party system.  It’s called, Dinosaurs Eat Man…Women Inherit The Earth.  Now Lyssa, what really struck me about this piece was-”

As I watched him speak, I got lost in those eyes, in those refreshing pools of truthy sex appeal.  I saw how wonderful the future could be – Fox News was actually fair and balanced, politicians actually answered the questions that were asked of them, and everyone spoke either like a Jewish grandma or an Italian New Yorker.

Jon’s voice broke through my layers of fantasy just as I was imagining what it would be like to get my cheeks pinched and offered more brisket by my future in-laws.

“-and before our time is up, I have a special surprise for you, LP.”

My breath caught in my throat.  What could it be? Obama winning Ohio?  A nonviolent resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis? A vat of hot fudge in which to dip each and every one of Jon’s fingers and then lick them clean?  I was trembling with anticipation.

Once more, the disco ball lowered and the sound of Kenny G’s sex-o-phone filled the studio.

“Come on out, Mr. Colbert!”

I turned around to find Stephen walking towards me, wearing nothing but his glasses, an American flag, and a patriotic smile.

I’ll pledge allegiance to you all night long.


Stephen said to me in his deep, gravitas-filled voice, “I’ll tell you what.  Let’s make a Lyssapants sandwich…only, lose the pants.”

“That’s right,” Jon whispered into my left ear, “And just like Obamacare, I’ll take you with all of your preexisting conditions.”

After that, everything went hazy, like Mitt Romney’s five point plan.

In the midst of the ecstasy, I remember thinking Ooh, when you talk about this being the home of The Best Fucking News Team Ever, you ain’t falsely advertising.

My sexy face mixed with my distaste for the electoral college.

Stephen and Jon, you can ask me to stay an extra 5 minutes anytime.  And, ooh baby, let’s put it up on the web for the whole world to see.

And there it was, my moment of Zen.


Genderbending is fun for everyone!


I hate it whenever someone puts me in a box.

It’s usually pretty dark in there and my claustrophobia starts to kick in right quick.  If I am lucky, someone poked some air holes in there pre-melissa-insertion.

So when I say “puts me in a box,” I usually mean “makes assumptions about me” or “has rigid expectations of me.”  When this happens, The Melissa gets quite angry and ranty, and few topics get my goat worse than when it comes to gender issues and the like.

To be clear, let’s define the word “gender.”  Here I will be using the feminist theory definition of gender as a social construction apart from biological sex.  Even though it is pretty commonly accepted, the terms sex and gender are not synonymous.  Sex refers to a person’s anatomy, chromosomes, etc.  Gender refers to the social roles and behaviors we perform.  Sex is a physical state while gender is a mental one.  An easy and fun way to remember this is that ‘sex is between your legs and gender is between your ears.’  Teehee!

While gender often matches a person’s sex (a biological man often plays the social roles of a male), it does not have to, and is so much more complicated and dynamic than the rigid binary boxes society has created for sex and gender.  In actuality, both sex and gender (as well as sexual orientation, but that’s a whole other post) exist on more of a spectrum with there being lots of shades of gray in between.  For the time being I wanna focus on gender and all the awesome variations and shades of gray.

Gender is something that we do.  Gender is performed, gender is behavior and a way we express ourselves in the world.  The most obvious way that we do gender is by how we visually present our bodies with clothing, hair (or lack of hair), nails, makeup (or lack of), accessories, etc.  This past week I wore a tie to work.  I have worn ties a few times before, but last week I wore my own tie – pretty purple paisleys.  I got a variety of reactions, from non-reactions to giggling to compliments to asking me what the tie was for.  I think it’s fair to say that most of those reactions imply that me -a lady- wearing a tie -male clothing- does not match the binary categories.  To be fair, if I had walked into work wearing a prom dress (a matching sex/gender combo), I might still have gotten the same reactions just because of the variable (in a long list of possible variables) of the office dress code.

I am dapper

I was also invited to a mustache party (nothing kinky, I swear), where mustaches were mandatory, regardless of gender.  What a hoot!  Both my partner and I were sans mustaches, so I drew one on each of us using my black and brown eyeliners.  How’s THAT for genderbending – I used a traditionally-marketed-to-female-gendered product to paint a bio-male thingy on my bio-female face.  Woot.

I find it interesting to see how I feel when I test the boundaries of traditional gender categories, depending on what I am doing and how public it is.  One of my clinical supervisors encourages us to identify what ways we defy gender norms without even thinking about it – by being ourselves – since who fits into the categories 100% of the time?  Answer: no one.

As a lady-person, I get to have lots more safe space in which to play with genderbending than men do, and I think that sucks.  We live in a world where I can wear a tie to work and just get some giggles, but if my partner wore a dress to work, he would have much bigger, more serious consequences.  That’s called a double standard and I hate it, hate it.  What are people doing to defy these stupid, stupid rules??!  I want to hear them!

No wonder we genderize things – our use of language demands it so!  We have three singular pronouns we use: he, she, and it. We lack any mainstream way of referring to a person whose gender is unknown or outside the binary without dehumanizing that person by saying “it.”  How horrible is that?  It may not sound like much of a crisis, but I definitely think it informs, fuels, and traps us in these harmful, restricting binaries.  On a sidenote – did you know that we have actually do have gender-neutral pronouns?  That’s pretty effing awesome!  No more using “they” as an awkward singular in term papers.

People get sooooo uncomfortable when they can’t put people/things/COLORS into gender categories.  Why is this?  Animals and human babies are a good example for this, since they don’t have gender.  They simply don’t got it.  Animals act instinctively based on their biological sex and that’s it, while humans develop gender gradually as their brain and social skills/world develops.  But when we get them as pets and baby humans, we assign them a gender using names and colored collars (you know, baby collars.  all the cool moms are doing it).  Without these names and collars, we don’t know what pronoun to use and people. go. nuts.  If a person doesn’t know a baby/animal’s gender, they usually either ask or refer to it as masculine.  Have you or anyone you know been scared that someone would mistake your baby/cat/lizard for the wrong gender?  Has anyone mistaken the gender?  Did you correct phe? (<—-gender neutral pronoun! How useful!)  Why or why not?  Why is it important to us that we project gender onto our things?  I find the discomfort around this subject absolutely fascinating, and I draw attention to it so that maybe others might get curious about why going against the traditional grain gets us so uncomfortable.

That reminds me, I was wrapping xmas presents yesterday, and my frugal self has two kinds of wrapping paper: a light blue one that says “Happy Holidays” so it can be used for xmas and Hanukkah, and one with assorted yellow and pink stripes to use for all occasions.  As I was making decisions about what to wrap in what, I realized I was choosing to wrap presents intended for males in the blue-based paper and females with the pink paper.  This will not do.  Buuut, my gut reaction to thinking about wrapping against gender norms made me uncomfortable.  My actual thought was more about me not wanting to offend any of my male family members (take note that I had no worries about offending the females with this arrangement).  Oh dear me.  The solution?  I said ‘fuck it’ and did it opposite.  Now, don’t give me a Nobel Peace Prize.  All I am saying is that the simplest damned things like this crop up all the time, and collectively, they mean something.  Stop and think about what they might mean.

Ways I defy gender norms by crawling out of my box:

  • I hate cooking, I am not good at it, and I don’t wanna cook for you or anyone else.  So there.
  • I wear ties.  With gusto.
  • I wrapped xmas presents in paper with pink stripes that are intended for men.

How do you crawl out of your box? (the assumption I am making here is that everyone defies gender norms. booyah.)

For additional reading, check out this awesome blog post about one teacher working to abolish gender binaries by educating her students!!  Makes me so excited about life!