Every week our fake advice column answers a question from a character on Dietland.
First-time writer here. My name’s Cheryl, and I’m a newscaster with Austen Media. And I’m worried Kitty Montgomery has gone Off. The. Rails.
To be honest my alliance with her was always a little bit… involuntary, you might say. She’s got an in (if you know what I mean) with Stanley, the mogul of the Austen family that owns my TV network. And she’s effing devious. If I weren’t aligned with her, she’d have made my life hell. But also, I mean, we have a lot in common. We both care about fitness and our careers so much. She’s an awesome workout partner, and she’s really fun when she’s in a good mood, like when you get her drunk and she actually eats something (because it takes the edge off her hanger), or like when she’s just delivered a really satisfying tongue-lashing to a subordinate.
And Kitty’s done a lot of stuff in her life, and that’s why she’s so successful! So I’ve looked the other way, helped her spin it on TV, helped her cover it up. But I don’t know if I can look the other way on this.
She actually published the manifesto by this terrorist group, Jennifer, which has been staging spectacular deaths of men accused of rape. And then she went on my show bragging about how this new female anger was so authentic, and I had to pretend what she was saying was reasonable! I had to act like it was fine that she was publishing actual threats from a terrorist group!
Afterward, I did tell her she was coming on a little strong. Really, my biggest worry was that she seems to be openly condoning murder and terrorism. I don’t even know what’s worse, that she’s doing it or that she’s doing it just to get more subscriptions! She literally used the words, “It’s like a dream.” But when I kept pushing, she just played the First Amendment card and finally hissed at me, “Stay in your goddamn lane, Cheryl.”
Look, I don’t want to be one of those people who whine all the time, but seriously, I’m so tired of white women telling me to stay in my lane. And I don’t want to be complicit in the next Jennifer death. What do I do?
You SHOULD be one of those people who whine all the time. Without us whiny people, the world would never change. Did it ever occur to you that Kitty thinks she can control you partly because of her white privilege? That she assumes that when push comes to shove, if it’s her word against yours or her career against yours, hers will automatically win? Of course she wants you to “stay in your lane,” because she thinks you don’t deserve the real power.
Now she’s discovered feminism because she thinks it can win her power and money. Isn’t that always the way? As soon as an idea gains traction in the mainstream, someone in America will find a way to make money off of it. Meanwhile, she’s fired Plum, calling her a “basement-dwelling malcontent,” and she treats everyone in her vicinity–mostly women with less privilege than her, or men of color–like shit. So, you tell me how much she really cares about feminism, because it’s not just about getting women like Kitty better jobs.
But Kitty said one thing to you that I think is actually true: “All those years of being demeaned and harassed and screwed over just because we wanted to sit at the table with the big boys? You know these guys. They don’t listen to please or fairness. Tell me you never wished you could pull the trigger.”
She’s not wrong! You have been demeaned and harassed and screwed over, just like every other woman in the media, and you should be angry. Not murderous angry, but angry. What Kitty doesn’t get, because she’s too much of a narcissist–or maybe she just thinks you’ll never dare to point it out–is that she demeans and harasses other women just like men do to her.
I guess the question for you is how much you want your cushy job and your safe spot in the power hierarchy at Austen. Are you ready to start defying Kitty for something as ephemeral and, frankly, out of practice as your conscience?
If you are, I bet you’d have some allies. Plum, for example. She spent the episode hoping for a bigger role at Austen Media, which Kitty condescendingly said was because fat acceptance was cool now. But then Kitty blamed her for the bad outcome from publishing the manifesto, and fired her, and told her to “Suck my dick” (which, admittedly, was kind of funny). Not to mention, she went on several blind dates and every single man treated her like crap because of her weight. She even found out the cop she’d been flirting with was secretly married and not a cop at all, just using her for his investigation. Finally, after long years of never acknowledging her anger, she started walking around with a literal stormcloud over her head (an animated one, but still). She’s gotten in touch with her anger, and it’s great. Now it’s your turn!
So get thee out into the world and use that anger that Kitty perceptively identified in you. Fight for change! Stop sucking up to Kitty and Austen Media! Use those amazing biceps to defend justice!
PS. On the other hand, Plum seemed poised at the end of the episode to let Verena recruit her to Jennifer, so maybe don’t get too close to her.