Girls Who #CanGetIt
Â A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a bus that had that carried the essence of Chicago in the summertime. That is to say, it was â€śmoist.â€ť As I sat listening to some indie band from Brooklyn and thinking about what hipstery and ironic thing I could say about them when they got really famous, I noticed that the girl sitting next to me was reading an obscure text by Kurt Vonnegut. I did what I usually did when a girl on the bus (or anywhere) is doing something like reading an obscure text by Kurt Vonnegut. I tweeted about it.
Â â€śGirls reading obscure Kurt Vonnegut on the bus #cangetit,â€ť I quickly sent off into the twitterverse, as has become my habit.Â I know youâ€™re probably thinking â€śJose, did you not gain any maturity in college?â€ť and â€śJose, which Vonnegut was it?â€ť and â€śWait, Jose, did you get her number?â€ť In response I say: â€śIt was 6PM on a Friday and I wasnâ€™t drunk, so yes, Iâ€™d say Iâ€™ve matured,â€ť â€śFortitude,â€ť and â€śShe saw me tweeting it, so no. No, I did not.â€ť
It was a pretty awkward situation, her having seen me tweet such a thing. Suddenly, I was in the position of having to explain something Iâ€™d never had to explain before. I found myself having to justify my use of a hashtag that had become so routine to me that I wasnâ€™t even sure what it really meant. To my surprise, I kind of figured it out.
Cutie McVonnegut was hardly the first girl to be featured in my #cangetit tweets. The origins of #cangetit predate this fateful bus ride. The hashtag in question is the brainchild of my current heroDonald Glover. Just a couple of weeks ago Donald dropped this gem: â€śGirls that make fun of you for something, then when someone else does they get really upset and defend you #cangetit.â€ť I rest my case. (If you donâ€™t know Donald Glover is, stop reading this and watch every video by the comedy group Derrick Comedy, then watch every episode of Community. Then listen to this. Then thank me via your preferred method of communication.) But if I had to really explain to this girl why the heck I had just tweeted that about her, and what those words really meant for me, I would have to go deeper. Iâ€™d have to go back to 2003 whenÂ DMX released his hit single Get it on the Floor.
Something great happened to me the first time I heard Swizz Beatz yell â€śWe donâ€™t give a what what!! We donâ€™t give a what what!!â€ť before he and DMX demanded I get in on the floor. I was 16. I was a sophomore in high school, and I had finally figured out that shaving your head was not the right look for someone with ears the size of mine.Â Â And – perhaps most importantly – on my 16th birthday, which fell just three days after the DMX album containing GIOTF was released, a girl in the cafeteria looked at me and smiled. I was convinced it had to do with the combination of my new found hairstyle and Ecko Unltd t-shirt.
Believe it or not, GIOTF is not about the objectification of women. Like, not at all. Itâ€™s a hip hop song, called Get it on the Floor, thatâ€™s not about the bitches and or hos. Think about it, Nelly took the idea of the A/C needing to be turned on and made it disgusting. Meanwhile, DMX takes the phrase â€śget it on the floorâ€ť and demeans no one. Instead, itâ€™s an ode to self improvement.In it, DMX raps about how he got to the be best, what he will do to stay the best and what will happen to you if you keep him from being the best. In my own way, at 16, thatâ€™s what I was trying to do, too.
I just wanted to get it, on the floor as it were. I was figuring out my style and I was honing my interests: I wrote a story that wasnâ€™t good, but the feeling I got while writing it was one I knew I wanted to feel for the rest of my life. I was learning that becoming more comfortable with myself had made me visible to the objects of my affection. Sixteen was my first-verse-of-When-I-was-Seventeen year. It wasnâ€™t that I wanted to be a rap star or emulate DMX; rather, I wanted to transform into something better than what I was, and at 16, I was doing just that.
Â Then I forgot all about DMX and GIOTF and went to college.
Â What I didnâ€™t realize at first is that college is four years of gettinâ€™ it as told by DMX. It is four years of having no choice but to change, to continue the process of becoming our best selves. Although, truth be told, thereâ€™s no denying that a few jerks just got jerkier by the end of college. But I digress, Leslie.
For me, college was four years of overcoming my fear of being away from my family and overcoming the self-consciousness that comes with growing up poor then going to a private college with a billion dollar endowment. My freshman year of college I refused to sleep outside the dorms and had anxiety attacks before reading my poetry during workshop. My senior year I slept under the stars in central California and demanded that I get to read two pieces at the senior poetry reading, because I wanted them to be heard. Had DMX been anywhere on campus he would have undoubtedly made that weird growling noise and said â€śThereâ€™s somebody whoâ€™s gettinâ€™ it.â€ť Then made that sweet barking noise.
This brings me to the past year of my life and the conflagration of the terms â€śgettinâ€™ itâ€ť and the hashtag â€ś#cangetitâ€ť in my everyday life. Now Iâ€™m a post grad who takes the bus to a fifty hour a week desk job that takes the thrill of artistic expression and mashes it against the thrill of the sentence â€śYeah, I would watch that, but would our audience?â€ť I mean that in a good way (FYI, if you hate putting yourself in other peopleâ€™s shoes, youâ€™re doing it wrong.) Itâ€™s a year Iâ€™ve spent struggling to make student loan payments and telling my boss that we have have havvveeee to do an interview with Donald Glover and wishing I was in a state of constantly gettinâ€™ it and being surrounded by others who are likewise out on the floor. But sometimes, when and where I least expect to find themâ€”like say on a moist Chicago public bus â€“ I see people gettinâ€™ it in this post-grad life. Â Even if I donâ€™t say it out loud when I see it, I canâ€™t help but micro-blog about it.Â Â
This past weekend a friend told me that he thinks the way I tweet that girls #cangetit is great. He cited the case of Kurty VonLichtencute as an example. He said itâ€™s so weird and quirky the way I (mostly) never talk about the physical characteristics of a girl who #cangetit. I now realize that girls who #cangetit embody the message of GIOTF.Â Itâ€™s not about objectification or even the pursuit of romance although it might seem like so at first – itâ€™s about an effort to be better. Itâ€™s about girls who DJs, my little brotherâ€™s teacher who did Teach for America, , The Tiger Motherâ€™s daughter and my personal favorite,girls who start original tumblr blogs.
And yes, I realize I am only talking about girls who #cangetit. But give me a break, Iâ€™m a single 23 year old living at his parentâ€™s place because I have a bajillion dollars in student loans to pay off, can you please just let me use my love of personal improvement as a flirting tool?
When Cuttegut McVonnie saw me tweet that she #cangetit, she would have had no idea the personal growth and emotional struggle behind those 140 characters. In fact,the girl on the bus (Iâ€™m out of variations on Kurt Vonnegutâ€™s name) was clearly completely unmoved by what I had just tweeted. Had she said anything at the time, I would have apologized and seized the opportunity tothrow a Hail Mary for the win in the form of the question â€śnow that our first fight is out of the way, I guess we should just start dating.â€ť
But if she asked me today, I would tell her that tweeting she #cangetit is not the vulgar, objectifying thing she thinks it is. Iâ€™d tell her that since graduating college Iâ€™ve been looking for someone who wants to grow even though theyâ€™re not being forced to. Iâ€™d say that I admire her. Then I would ask her out to coffee to talk about the works of Vonnegut. Then I would pray that we donâ€™t stay on the topic long because Iâ€™ve only read Slaughterhouse V.