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Aunt Pythia’s advice

October 3, 2015

Readers, so glad to be back with you this week, and many apologies for missing last week, but I was arranging my yarn collection.

It's all on ravelry.com now. Username cathyoneil.

It’s all on ravelry.com now. Username cathyoneil.

I’m back now, though, and reading interesting articles about the real life of a sex worker (not arousing, as it turns out) and recording my weekly Slate Money podcast (I’m particularly proud of this week’s episode on Disparate Impact).

Enjoy today’s column! And afterwards, please:

ask Aunt Pythia any question at all at the bottom of the page!

By the way, if you don’t know what the hell Aunt Pythia is talking about, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia.


Dear Aunt Pythia,

Must I go to my grandmothers funeral? I do not really even like her.

Greek Girl

Dear GG,

Let’s think this through. Your grandmother is dead, so she won’t mind if you don’t come to her funeral. Really the only people who are going to be bothered are the people in your family. If they are going to the trouble of having a funeral at all, I’d guess they think people should come to it. So your primary consideration, to my mind, is how much you feel obligated to them (assuming you care what they think about you in the first place).

Next, I don’t think you need to actually like someone to go to their funeral, but at the same time, if someone was really cruel to you, it’s totally acceptable to skip it. From the tone of your letter I’m guessing she wasn’t really horrible, though. So that’s not an easy out.

Finally, it may be difficult to get to, expensive, or time consuming. And you may be a busy person who doesn’t have extra time and/or money. If true, send your regrets and tell your family how much you’re looking forward to seeing them soon, at a happier time.

If it’s nearby and convenient, and your family really cares that you’re there, I’d say you’re stuck.

Good luck!

Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

In this age of hyper-macho global finance, how come individual stock markets such as the NYSE have ‘trading hours’ instead of just being open 24/7? Are there no computerized trading algorithms that are willing to sacrifice their family life to stay at work until 4 am on a Sunday?

Just Idly Musing

Dear JIM,

Great question. The technology is there, certainly. But why then isn’t the trading happening?

The answer is more or less, people don’t trade 24 hours a day because people aren’t already trading 24 hours a day. It takes a certain amount of liquidity for trading to be efficient, and without that you end up with large spreads between buy and sell and nobody wants to feel like they’re wasting money.

Of course, the algorithms could run all day and night, but at the end of the day people watch over those algorithms (really!) and they want to sleep. Plus, it’s actually true that most people sleep at basically the same time in the same time zone, and that people in the U.S. are more likely to care about U.S. stocks.

The flip side of that is that soon after the NYSE closes, the Asian market opens, then the European market. So it’s not like there’s a lot of downtime as it is.

Aunt Pythia


Aunt Pythia,

I don’t believe in imposter syndrome. It’s all the rage to tell us successful women how we have imposter syndrome and many successful women are saying this about themselves as if this is somehow rooted in their psyche.

I am a successful woman and I’ve discovered that what happens when you reach a certain level of success is a huge backlash. That is, I was permitted to be successful from my quiet little corner where people could just appreciate my work and grant me their benevolence. But when my success went too far, and I left that corner and stepped up as an equal to my former benefactors, I began to have everything I did questioned and lowered.

Now, some of my former benefactors, the ones who have truly stellar positions in society, they are still benefactors because I am still far beneath them. Thanks to these truly well located folks telling me my work is better than ever and they expect even more from me, I have had the confidence not to develop imposter syndrome.

If I was left with all the trashing my cohort has showered upon me since I joined them, I could well develop all the symptoms of that syndrome but not because I have a psych problem but out of mistreatment.

Shouldn’t there be a term for this? Its not quite battered worker syndrome or battered employee syndrome, because I’m speaking of someone who is very successful. It’s not imposter syndrome because I don’t feel like an imposter. But it is something and it infuriates me and it is very, very common.

Fortunate Uber Cunt Kicked Effrontery Down


They say to “Lean In,” but I say, to what? To these douchebags? I’d rather not.

So yes, I think you’re right. When it’s called “Imposter Syndrome,” it’s often a way for people to dismiss us as inwardly insecure and, therefore, incompetent. It’s used as an excuse to explain the mysterious forces which keep us from succeeding further, in fact.

On the other hand, it sucks for everyone at a certain level, and you have to be just totally focused on success beyond anything else no matter what, whether you’re a man or a woman. So there’s that too. Said another way, if I were a man I still wouldn’t want to be in that rat race, personally.

My advice to you is, call it “being an Uber Cunt that nobody can handle” and refer to it – breezily and often – as a superpower.

Auntie P


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I have a question about the fair trade of blowjobs. (I also must acknowledge before I move on that I was never sure if just licking someone’s genitals w/o them getting off on it is considered a ‘blowjob’. I use it here more as a pre-sex tool than as a way to come.)

I enjoy giving them. I don’t see it as a chore, or something my partner needs to earn. (I’ve even given unsolicited blowjobs at first dates!) My latest partner of several years is more stingy about giving blowjobs though. He still makes the sex interesting with finger-play, etc, but I don’t know why he doesn’t constantly offer a blowjob into the sex like I do.

I tried bringing up this a few times, but he kinda avoided the subject with comments like “I am sorry, i know.” – I should also add “I am sorry” is his first response to anything.

But even without getting them, I like giving blowjobs. Though lately, I have been thinking if I should appropriate my blowjobs. Should blowjobs only be traded on a one-for-one basis so that one party don’t get exploited? Am I adding to the sexism in the world by giving non-deserving men blowjobs? Is this a bigger issue than I think it is?

What is your take on blowjobs?

Being Lewd Or Wicked Sexy?


Amazing question and sign-off. And I think the “unsolicited first-date blowjob” is a generous concept that will earn you quite a few fans among my readership. We are on your side!

I’d say a straight-up conversation with said partner is called for. Specifically, ask him what the conditions are that make him want to give you a blowjob, and how you can achieve them more often. Who knows, he might be squeamish about certain smells which you can solve with a quick shower. What a shame, after all, if that’s all it would take and you just don’t know. Communication, communication, communication.

Now, as part of that conversation, you should add that, because of the unequal blowjobbery in your relationship, you’ve found yourself thinking somewhat and surprisingly quid pro quo in the blowjob department. This will probably spur him to action, as the urgency of the situation will immediately be revealed. You don’t have to directly threaten him, mind you, just mention that the count is off, the blowjob equity is lacking, and you need some relief.

Or else, maybe you do need to threaten? I mean, try the talk first, but I do think reciprocity in bed is a basic requirement of a good relationship, and if he’s not up for it (as it were!), plenty of other men would be.

And: wicked sexy, not lewd.

Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

I’m thinking about buying one of those test kits that takes a sample of your DNA and reports your ancestry. There are a few companies that sell kits: Ancestry.com, 23andme, and National Geographic’s Genographic Project.

I’m wondering whether I should be concerned about my DNA data being misused in any way. Would you do it? Why or why not? More info here.  

If you did get yourself genetically tested, what percent Neanderthal would you wager you are?

DNA Data Skeptic

Dear Skeptic,

Not sure. I don’t think I’d be too worried about my DNA being used, but that’s likely because I’m not financially insecure, I’m a US citizen, and I have health insurance. I think other people might be more worried. And even if the company I gave my DNA to doesn’t sell it or something, there’s always the chance they’d get hacked. So I’d go in thinking that my DNA would in fact be public knowledge.

On the other hand, I’m also not particularly interested in my heritage, so the very small interest would not overwhelm the small risk, and I’d end up not doing it.

Here’s the question I was hoping you’d ask: would I send away my DNA to get it tested for possible hereditary diseases? And the answer there is a firm no, because as I learned reading this article, the results on those kinds of test are terribly innaccurate and vary wildly depending on the company’s methods. This is not yet science. And I’m not sure if the ancestry thing is better or worse.

Come to think of it, I might suggest you do it just to see how the answered vary depending on the company.

Aunt Pythia


Readers? Aunt Pythia loves you so much. She wants to hear from you – she needs to hear from you – and then tell you what for in a most indulgent way. Will you help her do that?

Please, pleeeeease ask her a question. She will take it seriously and answer it if she can.

Click here for a form for later or just do it now:

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Anon
    October 3, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I think Cathy is correct when she talks about how women who become successful start getting mistreated by their cohorts. However, I don’t think we should call ourselves the nasty names we are called. It doesn’t make sense just like it doesn’t make sense for African Americans to call themselves the n word in an effort to take ownership of the word. Nonetheless we may not be having this discussion if Cathy doesn’t write such outlandish things.


  2. Lauren
    October 3, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Wicked Sexy– give him “She Comes First,” an encouraging and instructive book about oral pleasuring.

    FUCKED– “Imposter Syndrome” might exist, but not where you live. I think that people who, consciously or not, have an internal social “ranking” or pecking order are people who need categories and hierarchies for their own psychic efficiency. I don’t think they are necessarily assholes. But they are less flexible and fluid thinkers than others, and are internally resistant to rearranging their mental maps. They want you to stay put; you are moving. You can be as bitchy, or understanding and even saccharine and matronizing to them as you choose– it doesn’t really matter– eventually they’ll get it.

    GG– you go for your parents and/or other family members (if you’re on warm terms w them). Swapping snarky stories can be part of the bonding (again, depending on your family).


  3. October 4, 2015 at 3:28 am

    BLOWS reminded me of King Blowjob from the webcomic Oglaf. I know this isn’t directly helpful to the letter writer, but he/she (?) or other readers may find it amusing if they aren’t already fans:
    Character reference page: http://oglaf.wikia.com/wiki/King_Blowjob
    Olgaf archive: http://oglaf.com/archive/

    The archive is probably the safest landing page for the comic as it also flags the degrees of NSFWness of the individual stories.


  4. noneya
    October 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    I’ve signed up to 23andme before FDA fucked them over, and the various traits and disease probabilities line up really well with reality. That said I learned almost nothing new that I already didn’t know from family history or looking in the mirror.


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