Backtalk: Turn off the Gaslight

This week, Dahlia and Amy got to thinking more about the ubiquity of gaslighting after seeing a Twitter thread by writer Carmen Maria Machado and the case against Junot Diaz. The term originates from an eponymous play and film about a husband who gaslights his wife into thinking she’s going mad and is now commonly used to describe making another person feel as if their own thoughts and memories are untrue and inaccurate. This episode explores how gaslighting operates on a larger scale when organizations and institutions use it to make us doubt our own feelings. Plus, an Amy vs. Dahlia worth getting animated about—vote by texting “Disney” to 503-855-6485!

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WATCH

Dahlia is watching all of the Syfy horror anthology series Channel Zero. Each season stands alone—start at season three, Butcher’s Block, about a family of ghost cannibals in the South, or season two, No-End House, about two best friends who enter an infamous and dangerous fright house.

READ

“Junot Díaz and the Problem of the Male Self-Pardon” by Lili Loofbourow is an excellent essay exploring the ways in which abusive men’s forgive themself and how we’re expected to embrace it.

LISTEN

“Malamente” by ROSALÍA is the sexy, sassy, summer-pop Dahlia didn’t know she was waiting for.

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[theme music]  

DAHLIA: Welcome to Backtalk. This is the feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Dahlia Balcazar, Senior Engagement Editor at Bitch Media.  

AMY: And I’m, Amy Lam, Contributing Editor at Bitch Media.  

DAHLIA: We start every episode of Backtalk by talking about a pop culture moment. Amy, what’s yours this week?  

AMY: So my favorite pop culture moment has to do with one of my most problematic faves, probably top 5: RuPaul’s Drag Race. I like watching the show, but I know that there are so many issues from it. And a lot of it stems from the show’s founder and creator RuPaul. And recently I was listening to the amazing podcast The Read, with Kid Fury and Crissle, and she did or Read slash like she passed The Read to Tyra Sanchez, which is the Season 2 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And essentially she read Tyra’s Facebook post about the fuckery that goes on behind the scenes and how RuPaul like treats the Queens and how racist the fan base is and how often queens of color, particularly black queens, get a lot of fucked up, racist pushback. And RuPaul doesn’t do anything about it. But it’s such a good Read, and it is from the episode called Dashing From Dame, and the time stamp is 1 hour and 22 minutes. I mean I think you should listen to the entire episode ‘cause I love the read, but if you wanna go listen to like a really good, precise breakdown of why RuPaul himself is fucked up, and in a way he’s, making it difficult for a lot of us fans to enjoy the show because of how the show’s done and how the RuPaul’s Drag Race world as constructed. I definitely think you should listen to it and just listen to The Read anyway. I just love it.  

DAHLIA: Amy Slacked me the link to the episode of The Read. She was like, “This is just like all the conversations we’re already having about RuPaul’s Drag Race. Because we have been talking about it a lot this past season, especially the finale.  

AMY: Yeah, [sighs] it’s one of those shows where you love it, but you’re also like, I have so many problems watching this show. I think the season highlighted a lot of those issues. So listen to this, and then you can like, I think that there’s so many cogent things that are being said about the show and that world. And I just think anybody who enjoys the show should listen to this Read for sure.  

DAHLIA: My pop culture moment this week. So exciting! Scott Pruitt has resigned.  

BOTH: YAY!!!  

DAHLIA: I know that that didn’t happen this week, but it happened. And I think it’s still like a really exciting pop culture moment. Scott Pruitt was the former Head of the EPA. Except he actually doesn’t wanna protect the environment. He hates the environment. He doesn’t believe in climate change or evolution. He’s done a lot of very weird scammy things during his tenure as EPA administrator. But one of the very weird scammy things he did was spend $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office. And I ask you, Amy, what do you need that for unless it’s to do crimes?  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: It’s for covering up your crime calls. But my pop culture moment, since in our last episode we talking about civility and protesters taking out their feelings on members of the administration. Right before Scott Pruitt resigned, a woman and her son went over to his table at a restaurant and said this to him.  

[recorded clip plays; many conversations in the background]  

KRISTIN MINK: This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water. Meanwhile you’re slashing [inaudible] for cars and trucks for the benefit of big corporations. You’ve been paying about [inaudible] bucks a night to stay in a DC condo that’s connected to connected to an energy lobbying firm while approving their dirty sands pipeline. We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children. So I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.  

DAHLIA: I can’t say, I mean probably, she didn’t make him resign, but she asked him to resign. And then he did. So that just goes to show you that this kind of creative “uncivil protest” of simply making people aware of our political feelings during restaurant dinners is working!  

AMY: And if you don’t, I mean this $40-something-thousand soundproof phonebooth that he has isn’t even amongst like, I think it’s like top 10 of the most ridiculous purchases he made with our tax dollars.  

DAHLIA: Our money!  

AMY: Yeah. As the head of the EPA. If you wanna know more about what a fucking fuckup this guy is and how he was unfit for office there, you should look him up. But it’s a good thing that he resigned. But though, I think the sad part is that maybe his successor might not be any better.  

DAHLIA: [grumbles]  

AMY: But let’s just keep getting these guys out, out.  

DAHLIA: Get them out!  

AMY: Let’s recycle them.  

DAHLIA: Yeah, I agree.  

AMY: Yeah.  

DAHLIA: They’re all criminals. They should all leave.  

[cutesy bells ring]  

As often as possible, Amy and I try to argue about something terribly important because we can’t just be agreeing all of the time on Backtalk; we should have civil arguments.  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: So we have a segment called Amy Versus Dahlia, where we argue about something. And in our last episode of Backtalk, we argued about the best horror trope because I’m successfully converting everyone I know into a horror movie fan. [laughs] Is it working on you, Amy?  

AMY: Yes, very much so. [laughs] So our question was, what is the best trope from horror? And your options were the final girl or the haunted house or the unsafe house. And the winner is… the final girl.  

AMY: Wah wah.  

DAHLIA: Wah wah. I won this round of Amy Versus Dahlia, but I think Amy thinks she’s gonna win this round.  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: Amy, go ahead.  

AMY: I figured with our audience that the final girl would win, so I concede.  

DAHLIA: I should say we had to turn off voting a little bit early this week. 121 people voted: 63% for final girl, 36% for haunted house.  

AMY: Wow! I’m actually heartened that some people [laughing] voted for my side, considering.  

DAHLIA: 44.  

AMY: Yay! Thank you! Much appreciated. So our next Amy Versus Dahlia segment is going to be our favorite Disney VILLAINS! And my candidate for favorite and best Disney villain is, of course, Ursula from The Little Mermaid. I think Ursula is the best because she’s fashion. She’s got that beautiful lavender fashion.  

DAHLIA: [laughs]  

AMY: She’s got that amazing short haircut. Like she did the gray white hair combo before it was chic. She’s rocking that bodycon dress. She has a great sense of humor. She wants to dethrone a king to take over. And she’s a shrewd negotiator. She’s just, she’s just a really good person. But I think that maybe she went about getting her way you know, in a problematic manner. But! I think that we should all embody our inner Ursula, you know?  

DAHLIA: Yeah, that’s so good.  

AMY: Yeah, right? ‘Cause she’s very, she’s also super confident that she’s able to do whatever she needs to do. And I fully support her, and I think that Ursula is a legend.  

DAHLIA: I’m so worried you’re gonna win this one.  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: OK. I really think it’s hard to beat Ursula, but I’m gonna try. My favorite Disney villain is Captain Hook from Peter Pan. And I love him because I mean, I know he is evil; he does want to kill Peter Pan and all the little boys and girls in Neverland. But I like him ‘cause he’s kind of just like a pirate dandy. Like look at what he’s wearing? You know, in some representations, like some older versions of Peter Pan has a little a heart drawn on his cheek the way old pirate dandies did. And he’s just wearing this, just like the floofiest outfit. And the idea of him as some sort of like menacing villain is just, it’s absurd! Because he’s scared of a crocodile. He’s scared when he hears the clock. I just like, I love Peter Pan as a story so much, and I think the Captain Hook is a really great villain because he’s not actually scary.  

AMY: Yeah.  

DAHLIA: It’s more about like believing in yourself and believing you can fly. Captain Hook represents all the bad, boring grownups who tell you what to do. But you can triumph against him with the power of magic and believing in yourself.  

AMY: [laughs] Wait. You’re talking against your favorite villain!  

DAHLIA: Well, he’s my favorite [laughs] ‘cause of how much I like Peter Pan, I guess. This is hard. It’s hard making these arguments.  

AMY: I mean also, I will give you something that he’s also fashion. He’s got good jewelry. You know what I mean? He’s got those floofy shirts.  

DAHLIA: And a wig.  

AMY: Yes!  

DAHLIA: He has nice hair. And, I mean this is not the Disney cartoon, but Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook in Hook? Amazing. OK. That’s all I needed to add.  

AMY: I mean, I can’t wait to see if there’s ever a live action of Little Mermaid who would do Ursula. So powerful. And actually, before we started recording you were like, “We need a prequel.”.  

DAHLIA: We do need a prequel to The Little Mermaid about Ursula.  

AMY: Yes! I would so fuck with that!  

DAHLIA: And how she and Triton were in a relationship, and they ended sourly.  

AMY: Yes. And Triton was a fuck boy.  

DAHLIA: [laughs]  

AMY: And she’s trying to disown him. That is why Ursula is the best Disney villain. Yes. OK.  

So this is how you vote. Dahlia’s gonna let you know.  

DAHLIA: Amy and I have a new way for you to vote in these Amy Versus Dahlias. And also, it’s a new way for us to be in touch with you. We’re super excited about it. Here is what you do: if you wanna vote in this Amy Versus Dahlia, text Disney to 503-855-6485. It only works if you text Disney. And it’s 503-855-6485. And you will see what happens, but it will be thrilling and exciting, and we can’t wait for you to do it.  

[cutesy bells ring] 

AMY: We couldn’t do our show with our listeners. So please become a pollinator. Pollinators are a special group of Bitch supporters who contribute just $8 a month. And for the $8 you get a subscription to Bitch magazine, a bitch mug, and a sticker. And you can join at bitchmedia.org/pollinators. And it’s just $8 a month. And for $8 a month, what could you get us? So recently, I was just at one of those sushi joints where there’s a conveyor belt, you know?  

DAHLIA: Oh, I love those.  

AMY: Yeah! And it’s like $2 a plate. Speaking of Little Mermaid. [laughs]  

DAHLIA: Aw.  

AMY: And so you can get us four plates of really mediocre sushi. [laughs]  

DAHLIA: OK. Don’t call it mediocre. I love those places.  

AMY: I do. I really do. I think they’re great. And I think the best part about those places is–I’m totally going off track–but you sit down, and you immediately get to eat.  

DAHLIA: Yeah, just grab it.  

AMY: Yes. So become a pollinator and support our habit for that. We also love it when you write reviews and rate us on iTunes. We haven’t gotten any reviews lately. And you know that Dahlia and I love logging on and checking to see for new reviews. So please, please, please, if you have the time and inclination, head over to iTunes and rate and review us. We would really appreciate it.  

[cutesy bells ring]  

AMY: So a couple of months ago, writer Carmen Maria Machado did a short Twitter thread about a Q and A session where she had accused Junot Díaz of having bullied and belittled her after she asked a question about why his recurring character of Yunior is sociopathic, and he didn’t take kindly to it. So that happened a couple months ago, and then recently, as in a couple weeks ago, a recording from that encounter was published online by an anonymous account as a way to disprove Machado’s story. And so Machado wrote a short thread about how she felt very gaslit by the publishing of this clip because it made her question what happened and how she felt. 

So the reason why we think it’s important for us talk about this is because Díaz has been accused of sexual misconduct and is being protected by tons of really big institutions. Like a recent piece that was published in the Boston Globe where it’s based on Díaz’s experiences and feelings and even questioning the veracity of what happened to the women who accused Díaz. So this got us to thinking about the myriad of ways where those who are in power are constantly gaslighting us. Because I think that when we think of gaslighting, we often think about it as a interpersonal interaction thing. But when gaslighting happens on a more massive scale, it can really make us think like we’re out of our mind. 

I think one example: we can’t talk about gaslighting without talking about the Trump administration and how he literally has an entire squad of people lying for him, like Sarah Fuckabee Sanders, who stands behind a podium and lies to us for a living, attempting to gaslight us into thinking that what’s happening isn’t true by claiming like when Kellyanne Conway told us that these lies and presented them as “alternative facts.” So I think that this is just a time for us to talk about how you know, we think about when big institutions or organizations construct lies or just make us feel so that we’re insecure about our own feelings and experiences.  

DAHLIA: Yeah. Well, something I think is super interesting is the term gaslighting originally comes from a play called Gaslight from 1938. It was written by Patrick Hamilton, and then later it was adapted into a film in 1944. And Gaslight is about a husband and a wife. And the husband is trying to steal his wife’s money, of course, and so he is trying to make her doubt her sanity. So he does things like lowering the light of their lamps, and he sort of moves things around. And when his wife says like, “Oh, the lights seem weird. That painting was over there yesterday, right?” He’s like, “No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you OK? I think you should lie down. You don’t seem like yourself.” And so it’s sort of intentional, progressive mindfuck is what the gaslight is.  

And I think it’s you know, obviously, we don’t wanna talk non-stop about Trump, but something that I think about about Trump often is that I read that one of his tactics–which you can see every single day–is instead of lying small, he does the biggest lies. And I think that’s part of his administration’s gaslighting strategy, is that you know, whether or not I trust Donald Trump or the government or the administration, I am supposed to trust the people that represent me and this government. One doesn’t expect to be lied to in the grandest manner that Donald Trump lies, you know? We’re still, I think, holding on as a society because we’re flailing to like, “Oh, well, people don’t lie like that.” Or like, “People wouldn’t, he wouldn’t do something like that. That’s like unheard of.” But the thing is, Donald Trump lies big because he knows no one will ever call him on it. Because it’s just like it’s in our psychology to be like, “Oh, I must be confused then. Oh, I guess the light wasn’t on. Oh, I guess the painting was here yesterday.” Because it’s just like the enormity of what we’re being asked to believe and how false it is, I think it’s just like it’s too much of a mindfuck for so many people.  

AMY: And it’s coming, like you’re saying, from a president of a country. So you’re assuming that he’s gonna try to be as truthful and honest as possible. So it’s kind of ‘cause it makes sense that he would lie that way. But in this sense like, I mean in this case, we all know that Trump is a fucking human garbage pile. And so everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. I think that what’s even more nefarious is when the people or organizations who are gaslighting us are folks who are supposed to be on our side.  

DAHLIA: Yeah.  

AMY: Like for example, like we were talking about Junot Díaz earlier, but there’s a whole community of “woke” men, you know, like Louis C.K., Sherman Alexie, Junot Díaz who have been shown to actually be like serial sexual misconduct folks or taking advantage of their power. I think this is also true of white feminists, capital W capital F White Feminists.  

DAHLIA: Trademark.  

AMY: Yeah Or even just white women in general who look towards marginalized communities and say like, we’re in solidarity with you. But their like sealing for solidarity is what they’re comfortable with and what will benefit them. And then when they feel like they’ve gotten enough or when they feel like you’re asking for too much if you’re from another marginalized community, they will make you feel like you don’t deserve to get whatever it is that you do deserve to get. And I think that that’s the type of gaslighting that’s so harmful in the work that we’re doing as progressive folks, is that when we look to other folks who are supposed to be our allies and they make us feel and question our own sanity and our own work and our own worth, I think that’s like the most, that’s such a harmful thing. Especially when we talk about like, when we had a recent episode about when white folks call the cops on folks of color, particularly Black folks. It’s one of those things where it’s like these white people had moved into communities where they’re gentrifying them, and they’re moving in and saying like, “You don’t belong here.” Like how much of a mindfuck is that? Like these people had been entrenched in these communities for so long, they lived there, they had generations of family there. And these new people moved in, and they feel “unsafe” and are just calling the cops and anybody who doesn’t look like them. Like you can’t even be safe in your own town.  

DAHLIA: Oh, man. Amy, did you hear about how–I’m only bringing this up because we’re both Portlanders–about that woman, that white woman who called the cops on a Black politician canvassing in her own neighborhood in Portland?  

AMY: Yes!  

DAHLIA: Of course, it’s Portland.  

AMY: Yes. Yeah, and it was a woman who called 911. So the story is that Representative Janelle Bynum was canvassing in her district in the Clackamas County, which is right outside of Portland, when a woman called 911 one to say that there’s some suspicious activity. And this is one of her constituents. Like this woman could have easily just come out of her house and asked her, “Hey, what’s going on? What are you doing in our neighborhood,” or something. She would have been like, “I’m your fucking voted Representative! I just wanted to see how you all are doing!” You know, but instead, she called cops, and like a sheriff deputy came out and talked her and asked her what she was doing. And she was just like, “I am a politician in town.”  

DAHLIA: “I’m doing my job.”  

AMY: Yeah. She’s doing her job. And she ended up taking a selfie with the cop. And thank god it ended fine. But this is a professional person working, and somebody, one of her constituents, is making her feel unsafe, as if she doesn’t belong in her job to represent her constituents. And I think that we have to think more widely about the type of impact that this type of gaslighting is. And we don’t call it gaslighting; we call maybe like harassment, or we also call it racism. It’s all of those things, but it’s also gaslighting. And I think that like is important to name it because it also talks about the motives of the person who’s doing the gaslighting.  

DAHLIA: Mmhmm. To go back to what you were saying about Louis C.K. and Sherman Alexie and Junot Díaz, I think something, as you said, that’s so nefarious is that all of them, I think, intentionally situated themselves as progressive male allies. You know, Louis C.K. produced Tig Notaro’s show on Amazon. And Junot Díaz talks a big talk about sexism and racism. And I know that we talked about this back when we’re talking more about Louis C.K., but that idea that in fact, men that we progressive people thought–or women thought–that we could trust are intentionally situating themselves as like “woke” so that people will trust them, so that women will trust them, so that they can build up their community of people who will stand up for them if they get accused of something, right? And as you’re saying, it’s gaslighting, it’s racism, it’s microaggressions, it’s all of these words, it’s a mindfuck, it’s all of these different things. I think that, though, to me, that’s so nefarious because it’s like even an another level of gaslighting of like, who can you even trust? Is everyone you know pretending like they have these progressive views, or do they actually have them? Or you know– I guess it’s like it’s a gaslight in itself for men to be espousing progressive views that they can’t walk the walk of, that they just like, that’s an ideal for someone else but not for me.  

AMY: Right. And like you’re saying, they do build an entire community who comes to defend them. And I think that’s like a tool of their gaslighting, right? ‘Cause then that whole community’s making you doubt your experience that this happened and making us doubt our experience of that author. ‘Cause we’re hearing these fucked up stories about them, and they have a whole community defending them saying like, “No, he can’t be like that because of his body of his work.” And I think that what was so heartbreaking about Carmen Maria Machado’s Twitter thread when that audio came out of their interaction was that like, she said that she was really angry that she doubted herself so much. ‘Cause I think she was on her way. She’s driving to a residency that she’s doing. She she pulled over. She’s at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Texas to listen to the audio and a taped transcript of the conversation. And Carmen Maria Machado was like, I think she’s becoming more and more popular. She’s gonna be canonized, yeah.  

DAHLIA: Oh, for sure.  

AMY: Yeah.  

DAHLIA: She’s so great.  

AMY: Yeah, she’s amazing, and her work speaks for herself. She’s so talented. And to think that somebody like her, who I think has power, even though it’s emerging power, who I think will be canonized one day, who I think will become widely read and will become like Junot Díaz-level popular and famous, and to think that for her, to picture her lonely and in some gas station in the middle of nowhere Texas having to defend herself and her own words, it just broke my heart. And if somebody like that can be made to feel gaslit about her experience that she felt, that she remembers clearly and that she knows it’s true, it really goes to show how insidious it is and how it can affect us in so many different ways.  

DAHLIA: And specifically, I think the attack on Carmen Maria Machado was, “Oh, what happened wasn’t that bad. It’s not that bad.” You know, and we hear that all the time about the kind of microaggressions or harassment that women and people of color face. But I listened to the exchange between Carmen and Junot Díaz, and he sounded unprofessional; he sounded like he was bullying her. It sounded very different to me than what a typical writer Q and A is like. And that just like, exactly like you’re saying, this idea that Carmen has to come up with some sort of way to say, “No, it was as bad as I said it was,” or like “I felt the way I felt no matter what is on this transcript.” That she would have to defend herself when what she did was she tweeted: “I had this negative experience with him. I’m not surprised that he’s a jerk,” you know. That’s all she said. And that she would have to go through all of these loops like relisten to it, relitigate it with herself, maybe talk to her friends about it, all of this work that she has to do just to say, “Actually, what I said happened is still what happened.” 

AMY: And I think it also has to do with the fact of how we’re socialized. And ‘cause there are people who listen to it, and like, “It wasn’t that bad,” because they were socialized to think men in power can talk to women who are not in power in that way, and it’s totally normal. And it’s totally normalized.  

DAHLIA: Yeah.  

AMY: And so I think that that’s a tool of gaslighting is that like we’ve been socialized to think that the act of it is totally normal and totally fine.  

DAHLIA: Listening to this exchange between Carmen Maria Machado and Junot Díaz, I think that he talks to her like she’s a child. And I think what you’re saying, Amy, is so spot on because it’s like we– So I could totally see someone listening to this and being like, “Oh, it’s not that bad. Oh, they’re just talking.” Yeah, he’s just talking to a woman that he doesn’t know, an adult woman that he doesn’t know in a public space like she’s a child. And I guess, yeah, I guess that’s normal. But I wouldn’t say like, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” It was totally unprofessional and mean! It was mean and it felt, it was hard to listen to because of how long– Basically, she asked him a question about his books, and he drags it out for like 20 minutes, which who does that at a Q and A?  

AMY: No, and I think that it just really goes to show what happens with power and how power enables gaslighting and how we have to name gaslighting in order to lay it bare in the sunlight.  

[cutesy bells ring].  

DAHLIA: At the end of every episode of Backtalk we share something we’re watching, something we’re reading, and something we’re listening to. I don’t mean to overload you with all of these horror recommendations.  

AMY: [laughs].  

DAHLIA: I just have to say, it’s just what’s around. [laughs]  

AMY: Go on.  

DAHLIA: So I had the 4th of July off, and it was a weird little day in the middle of the week. I didn’t know what to do with it. So I watched all of this series called Channel Zero. It’s on SYFY. It’s kind of like American Horror Story except it focuses more, I think, on teenagers, on young people. But I watched, one of the seasons is called Butcher’s Block, and that’s about two young women. All of the seasons are lightly about cannibals, I should say. Butcher’s Block is about two young women who moved to a town that has underground layers of cannibals. And I just started yesterday watching one of the seasons called No End House, which is about a group of kids who go into a haunted house, and every, there’s six rooms, and every room is scarier. And they leave, but actually, they’re still in the house.  

AMY: Wow!!  

DAHLIA: See?! I got you.  

AMY: That’s a scary house!  

DAHLIA: Oh, it was it was really, I got, it’s scary! I would say it’s not like it’s not scary, cover your eyes scary, but it’s scary like, oh, I would leave that house. I would not stay there at all. So I recommend, if you’re in the mood for some not-too-scary horror– Also the seasons are short; they’re just six episodes. I recommend Channels Zero Butcher’s Block or Channel Zero No End House on the SYFY channel.  

AMY: So my read recommendation is an extension of our segment about Junot Díaz. It is an essay called Junot Díaz and the Problem of the Male Self-Pardon by Lili Loofbourow at slate.com. And it is such a beautiful essay. And she kind of talks, she opens essay by talking about Trump giving himself a pardon. Do you remember how he did that? You know, he was kind of like, “I forgive myself,” [laughs] which is so wild! But I think that that’s like what’s happening when some of these powerful men who exhibit abusive behavior, they kind of make an apology, and they’re like, “Hey, I did this. I’m sorry. And I’m so sorry I was like this, so I’m gonna try to be better.” And I think it goes into depth about how we think about it and how we frame it and how the men do this work of doing that. Like a quote from that I thought was really great was, “Díaz might be the closest thing we have in this cultural moment to a man with a deep and intensely articulated self-awareness about misogyny who still somehow participates in it.”  

DAHLIA: Mmhmm.  

AMY: And I think that’s so illuminating to why men like Junot Díaz, and other men who are in power who abuse their power, are able to get away with it. ‘Cause like we just said, they have a veneer of not doing it while doing it. And this essay is just really well written and really thought out, well thought out. And it’s on Slate.com. We’ll have a link to it on our web post.  

DAHLIA: And my song is honestly a song I cannot stop listening to. I love it so much. The song is called Malamente by Rosalía. She is a Spanish musician, Spanish from Spain, and she has an older album called Los Angeles. And it’s a bit more flamenco inspired. And this song is a little flamenco inspired, but it’s also poppier. And I’m not describing it well enough. I love it so much. The music video is really great, and I predict she’s going to blow up big time because this song is so good. So this is Malamente by Rosalía. 

AMY: Thanks for listening!  

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening. 

[Malamente by Rosalía plays] 

♪ Ese cristalito roto 

yo sentí como crujía 

antes de caerse al suelo 

ya sabía que se rompía 

Esta parpadeando 

la luz del descansillo 

que una voz de la escalera 

alguien cruzo mi pasillo 

Malamente, (así, sí) malamente 

track track mal, muy mal, muy mal, muy mal 

mira, malamente, (toma que toma) malamente 

malamente, mal, muy mal muy mal muy mal 

malamente 

Se ha 

puesto la noche rara 

han salido luna y estrellas 

me lo dijo ese gitana 

(¿qué?) mejor no salir a verla (no) 

Sueño que estoy andando 

por un puente que da acera 

cuanto más quiero cruzarlo 

más se mueve y tambalea 

Malamente, (así, sí) malamente…. ♪ 

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This show is produced by Ashley Duchemin. Bitch Media is a reader- and listener-supported feminist nonprofit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to bitchmedia.org and donate.  

♪ malamente, mal, muy mal muy mal muy mal 

malamente 

Aunque no este bonita 

ya no te olvide 

voy a salir para la calle, la bonita 

los aros brillando en mi piel…. ♪ 

by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam is Bitch Media’s contributing editor. Find her at @amyadoyzie.