(WARNING: This article is intended for those of the age of sexual consent. If you're too young for sex stuff... you should stop reading now!)
IN DEFENSE OF JEFFREY TOOBIN
Let's start with the basics:
1. Humans are animals. I don't care how you feel about this. Truth is truth, even if it hurts your feelings.
2. Sex feels good. Surely we can ALL agree to this? If not... tell me more! Do you think sex doesn't feel good? If so, there are DEFINITELY some things we should talk about.
Now to the matter of Mr. Toobin, whose recent behavior has been covered as if it were criminal. And it's true that poor Mr. Toobin has been caught red-handed in the act of sexual gratification in front of his colleagues, which is unequivocally not cool. But let's take a minute now to acknowledge that sexual gratification, in an of itself, is not a crime. It's not like Mr. Toobin stabbed a guy in front of his unwitting Zoom witnesses. See the difference? If not, try opening your eyes, then looking again.
I would agree that the setting for his masturbation session was inappropriate. He obviously thinks so, too, and has issued fervent apologies for his "stupid mistake." The fact that he thought his camera was off and that his colleagues couldn't see him over Zoom doesn't negate the fact that sexual pleasure and online business meetings do not mix, but that same fact also assures us that he wasn't intentionally exposing himself. It was an accident. And accidents happen. I myself recently forgot that I was drying a cast iron pan on the stove, only to come to the kitchen five minutes later to find it nearly smoking. If I had been thinking properly, I would have set the timer like I usually do; if Mr. Toobin had been thinking properly, he would have (a) double-checked his camera setting was off and (b) maybe waited until after the meeting was over to beat off, like a normal person.
And yet! I stand in defense of Mr. Toobin, whose important work at The New Yorker and CNN is not somehow nullified by the slip-up of inappropriately-timed sexual pleasure. Get over it, guys. Sex feels good and we all like it. Even journalists. Even everyone. Even YOU. And that's great news, really! It's how mother nature designed it. Sex feels good and that's on purpose. As for the issue of Mr. Toobin's marriage: (1) the sexual habits and agreements of anyone I am not in a relationship with is NONE OF MY BUSINESS and (2) mother nature wasn't like "okay this is going to be the BEST thing in the world... but only if you're doing it with your wife."
Enough with the outrage at human sexuality. It's just another way for humans to incorrectly put themselves in an ascending order of better to worse, and now that you know the events of Mr. Toobin's Zoom call, you get to think that you are better than he. But you aren't. Not because you've necessarily done anything similar, but because no human is better than another human. This is another dose of truth that won't ever be untrue, even if you won't believe it.
So, Mr. Toobin, I am sorry that you're dealing with America's inconsistent sexual attitudes, where we don't bat an eye at using sex in the name of selling products but where we call FOUL immediately, as soon as any real sexual encounter is documented. You are a sexual being (like all the rest of us) and this does not somehow invalidate your professional, intellectual, and important contributions to this world. Of course, I would recommend waiting until you've fully logged off Zoom next time you need to get your rocks off. And while we're on the topic of obvious advice, I also recommend setting a timer if you're going to dry a cast iron pan on your stove top.
In peace, as always,
Dear Big Sean -
I cannot claim to be your number one fan. I do not know all your lyrics by heart, and sometimes when there are multiple lyricists on a track, I’m not even sure which one is you. (Except for the content clue… I can usually distinguish you by what you choose to say.) This is all to say: I’m a novice in the land of BIG SEAN. In fact, I must admit I hadn’t heard your music before I heard “Deep Reverence.” Correction: of course I’d heard your music. Nobody hadn’t heard it. But I had never reverberated with your lyrics… and if someone had asked me “who sings… [one of your hits]” I would have had to google it.
For context, it’s not personal: I’m terrible at knowing who sings what. But I’m working to improve on this, which is why when a song comes up on a playlist that I particularly identify with, I’ll take a homescreen screenshot of the song title and artist so I can go back later and actually learn something about myself and my tastes. I took three such screenshots over a week or so recently: two out of three, chosen by no conscious mechanism of mine, were “Deep Reverence.” The universe funneled you directly to me, and I wasn’t going to ignore the signs.
So I’ve been doing my homework and listening to your music. And it’s glorious, glory us, GLORIOUS. It doesn’t surprise me that the books you recommend are mostly spiritual in nature. When I put on the playlist that you curated and heard your earlier stuff, I thought ‘you’ve come a long way, baby!’ When I heard “Light,” I started crying. Then I watched the video and I was slayed (ditto for the "Deep Reverence" video). PREACH, Big Sean, preach! It’s clear you’re jesusing pretty hard, my friend, and I say that from a non-denominational standpoint. Because my light = your light = Nippsey’s light (may he rest in power) = Jesus’ light = (sigh) 45’s light = all light. When one of us suffers at the hands of another, we all suffer: the victim, the perpetrator, and all the rest of us connected, indivisible, all-one. And yet… even deeper than that… deeper than all the unnecessary suffering… there is that un-dimmable light. You’re exactly right, Big Sean, the boy’s that bright.
As I put the final touches on my book (an explosive debut memoir about death, divorce-without-the-douchery, spiritual trust falls, unconditional love, and, oh yeah, a sex club or two) I am feeling expansive. I feel like I just jumped out of a plane and the space that would have taken ages to traverse bipedally simply flashes past me in the blink of an eye. I don’t have a parachute, but I’m not scared, because I KNOW I can fly. When my friends ask me how I’m doing and I tell them this story of spiritual expansion, they mostly shake their heads and tell me they love me, weirdo that I am. ((UPDATE: I SWEAR ON MY HONOR I WROTE THIS LETTER BEFORE HEARING "DEEP")) But you know what I mean. Of course, it’s hard to explain limitlessness to a person who lives with limits, especially in these moments before I’ve busted through the ceiling. But I’ve seen the future, and bust through the ceiling I will/ I have/ I am. This is why it was particularly refreshing for me to hear your music at this juncture in my own journey. (For the record, I’m grateful I didn’t discover you earlier. If I had heard your songs before writing my book, I probably would have given up before I even started. Parallel-universe me: “Nope, everything I have to say has already been said by Big Sean. And he said it BETTER.”)
This letter is me ringing a bell in time: here, now, before we’ve ever met, I’m saying thank you for taking the time and spending the energy to see truth, know truth, and sing/ rap truth. You dropped into my life right when I needed you, right on cue (big up, universe!), and your words have been the spiritual and creative lifeline I was particularly thirsty for.
In closing: I have no intention of meeting you non-consensually, so I want this next part to be heard in the right tone. I am grateful for your friendship, whether it remains as a fan through your music or as a friend face to face. And I suspect we will meet someday; I have seen it in my mind’s eye. You say your purpose in life is to inspire by doing what you were born to do; I say your purpose just overlapped my purpose, in that it inspired me to keep on keepin’ on with what EYE was born to do (emphasis mine), which in a way is also to inspire.
In peace and gratitude,
Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe even thought yourself, "I'd rather die than go blind"? I have. Heard someone say it, I mean. And if the person who said it hadn't been a hospice client diagnosed with dementia, I would have said:
"Do you know any blind people?" or
"Maybe you can make that decision if the decision ever presents itself," or
"I have a blind friend, and she wouldn't agree with you."
If you, dear reader, have wondered how it might feel to be alive as a blind person, or if you think you'd rather die than go blind, I HIGHLY recommend reading Outside Myself, by Kristen Witucki. Of course, the book isn't a one-trick pony. If you were ever bullied or witnessed bullying in grade school, I recommend Outside Myself by Kristen Witucki. (If the scene with Erin doesn't make you cry, I don't know what will.) Come to think of it, if you were raised by divorced parents or are raising children as a co-parent, I recommend Outside Myself by Kristen Witucki. If this book were ever optioned as a movie, the family scenes alone would win the Oscar for best screenplay.
This book! This book is for people who want a palpable tour through a seven-movement arrangement of music you may or may not have heard before.This book is for people who have questioned whose, if anyone's, religious rules you should live by. This book is for people who have become best friends with the person you couldn't stand at first.
For blindness awareness month, AND for the good of anyone reading this, please run out and get a copy of Outside Myself. Do it! (If you want to.)