What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things that got me thinking this week:

Not Off the Hook: The White Myth of Black Forgiveness (The Toast)

This is a really great transcript of a conversation between Mallory Ortberg and Carvell Wallace, and it’s well worth a read.  I mean, it’s not an easy read:

Mallory:  It seems this idea of forgiveness is 1. an act that is about keeping one’s own soul free from bitterness and destruction and 2. as a process. But more often white people or just society at large tends to think of it as a final act that lets the offender feel unburdened from guilt. Does that seem roughly accurate?

Carvell: Again, I don’t know what white people actually think. But it seems like there is not nearly enough urgency about getting this racist shit under control and it doesn’t seem like the “endlessly forgiving Negro” story is helping that at all. This is why I cringe when I hear white people sharing stories of black folks who were royally fucked over six ways till Sunday saying “I forgive you,” like “isn’t this beautiful.”

America has a long history of raping, robbing, enslaving and killing people and then urging those same people to find and express forgiveness and peace. So when I hear “pray for peace” from a white person in the hours after Charleston, it lands very, very wrong.

But it’s very, very worth it.  I’m going to be sitting with this one for a long time.

Let’s Stop Calling Weight Loss a “Journey” (Refinery 29)

I hate-follow a couple of bloggers/instagram “fitness” people who talk about their weight loss as being this epic “journey.”  This piece stood out to me because of that, and also because I’ve lost some weight lately and have never once thought of it as being a “journey” so much as an attempt to stop eating seven pieces of pizza in a sitting and pretending that I could out-train a bad diet.  So Kate Harding (who is awesome) and her piece about her own experience with weight loss and body acceptance is really interesting:

Beginning to blog about body acceptance was my toe across the first threshold. My new road of trials involved trolls, self-doubt, lingering self-loathing, more trolls, lots and lots of well-meaning dieters begging me to tell them that their reasons for losing weight were pure and noble, and somehow, this meant they were more likely to keep it off. Eventually, a community developed around the blog, which radiated the support I needed to keep going, but temptation was always there, in the form of a culture that hates happy fat people, not to mention my memories of how kind and supportive loved ones, acquaintances, and perfect strangers were when I was losing weight.

She’s awesome, and it’s not a long article.  Go read it.

The Best New Books Released This Summer: A Guide (Gawker)

This is mostly for me.  I love book lists, and I love perusing books that are about to be released.  My to-be-read list is out of control, and this list won’t help things.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things that got me reading and thinking this week:

How Hollywood Taught Rebel Wilson to Lie About Her Age (Buzzfeed)

If you’ve been following the news of a source “revealing” that Rebel Wilson has lied about her age, then this is an interesting piece worth reading.  Anne Helen Peterson is great and I will read anything with her byline.  This piece takes a critical look at Hollywood’s expectations on women throughout history:

Our expectation for total transparency when it comes to celebrities’ histories is a relatively new phenomenon, borne of the ease with which anyone can play amateur archaeologist with another’s past. “Authenticity” is no longer judged by a star’s commitment to her art, or an ability to portray the truth of an experience through that art, but the absolute fidelity with which she has represented every aspect of herself.

It’s a really, really interesting piece and well worth your time.

Why Does Being Single Still Feel so Pathetic? (Dame Magazine)

This thoughtful piece about a new book by Kate Bolick, called Spinster, asks some interesting questions about the identities of women in the modern age, namely: are women people yet?

Which is to say: Are women able to develop identities that are independent of their relationship status—wife, mother, singleton, etc.—or are we still primarily defined this way?

There’s a lot of really good criticism here, as well as links to other super smart women exploring the topic.  The article ends with this thought:

It’s not Bolick’s fault that male desire shelters women from scorn. But until women writing about singleness no longer feel compelled to set themselves up as the cool girl who either has a man—or could get one at any time—I’d say the answer to her question is no, we’re not people yet.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

Her Facebook Disaster Show (Salon)

This bit from the article sort of sums it up:

As I watched her misery unfold, a strange thing started to happen to me. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t nice, and it wasn’t something I could talk about without feeling the tight noose of judgment around my own neck. I began to feel good. I began, even if only for those few minutes spent checking her page, to stop doubting my own life. It was Facebook Schadenfreude. I had it bad.

I find pieces about how Facebook makes us feel interesting because I chose to disconnect my own Facebook for myriad reasons.  I don’t miss it and I think I’m emotionally much healthier without it, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to posts like this, about concepts like Facebook Schadenfreude (or my personal favorite, fremdscham, which is embarrassment on the behalf of someone else).

The piece makes a great point about the difference between the posts from people you know and the ones you merely watch.  There’s a lot to think about here with regard to sharing on the internet and how we relate to one another in a social media drenched world.

How to Survive the Death of a Friendship (Bitches Gotta Eat)

I totally understand that the style of Bitches Gotta Eat isn’t for everyone.  There are times when the style even grates on me.  But this piece about ending friendships is both funny and very very true:

and i know what you’re thinking, “WHO WOULD EVER WANT TO STOP BEING YOUR FRIEND, SAM” and the answer is: three or four dummies i had to search through my gmail contacts to delete because i got hacked and the thought of spamming that one jerkface with phony weight loss URLs and uncashed nigerian royalty checkswas motherfucking excruciating. i couldn’t let her know that my password choice was weak, I AM TRYING TO BE THE WINNER OF THIS BREAKUP. because i’m petty.

Powell offers practical advice on how to move on, too, telling us to “juice that lemon” once the friendship is over:

the hardest thing about being a good friend, for me, is biting my tongue while my friends do and say the stupidest shit ever. have you ever had to keep a straight face while pretending the woman across the table from you is a smart, rational human being as she describes why the items she found while digging through her boyfriend’s trash have led her to believe he’s cheating on her with a co-worker? no!? WELL I FUCKING HAVE.

AT 18, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Still Revolutionary (The Atlantic)

Happy birthday, Buffy:

Television has had lots of complex, admirable teenage heroines since Buffy, but it’s hard to think of one so consistently empowered to take control of the circumstances around her, whether in the middle of a graveyard, surrounded by vampires, or in her bedroom, grounded. Buffy’s super-strength is a physical attribute endowed by the forces of destiny, but it’s also a state of confidence and competence that carries her through the varying traumas of having the fate of the world always on her shoulders.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

What a week.  Ugh.  Here are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this time around.

How Many White People Does it Take to Ruin a Good Joke? (The New Republic)

Jazmin Hughes is pretty amazing, and this piece examining the ins and outs of comedy and race is really excellent and insightful.  In it, Hughes examines the prevalence of jokes about white people made by people of color–largely seen as a way to seek solace from the frustrations of being a marginalized person in a culture of white supremacy–being co-opted by white people themselves:

This is how the party endswith white people wanting in on the joke so badly that they create a separate category of “cool” white people who mock their own whiteness in an effort at solidarity. “White people be like ‘white people be like,’ but they be the white people that white people be like!!!!” as one Tumblr post neatly summarized.

Hughes examines the historical context of jokes like this and finds that they go back a long way.  She also talks about how the most successful comedy is always “punching up,” which means that comedians don’t make jokes at the expense of people they have more privilege than.  She points out one of the most troubling aspects of white people making jokes about white people:

But what most white-people jokes have in common is that they are not about white people per se. Instead, they are about inequalities between whites and other races. “What is the scariest thing about a white person in prison?” a comedian asks. “You know he did it.” Har har! Except you only got the punchline because you’re aware of the problem of prejudicial prosecutions. In sum: “LOL, RACISM.”

It’s a great read and not super long.  Well worth your time.

How Fifty Shades of Grey Does Money (The Billfold)

After a couple of interesting conversations with one of my long-distance friends about Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James being kind of an asshole, and the impact on the world of BDSM, my friend sent me this excellent, funny piece from the Billfold this week.  It is both a send-up of the controversies surrounding the franchise as well as a smart little take on marketing and capitalism:

“Okay, but that’s really unsafe,” I say. “Do you think you have a responsiblity for educating people on safe and consensual ways of exploring BDSM together?”

“I’m just a book,” Fifty Shades says. “A story. When do stories need to be responsible for anything but themselves?”

At any rate, it’s smart and funny.

All Dating Advice is as Terrible as the People Who Give it (The Guardian)

The title pretty much says it all, and I don’t have much to add here.  But it is an interesting look at the culture we live in and perpetuate where dating advice nearly always mirrors our own experiences (because validation):

Everyone has ulterior motives. There’s a good chance that anybody emitting romantic tips is a deeply insecure life-choice evangelist – that they’ve chosen some path (to marry young, or to wait, to have children, to stay single, etc) and they’re not sure it was right. Their uncertainty manifests itself as a desperate attempt to persuade you that it’s the best choice for you, too.

The article runs down the other types of advice-givers, including the ones who wish they had chosen differently, the ones who are cynical (they’re most likely to quote The Rules or whatever bullshit else there is), etc.  But the fact remains there’s no such thing as perfect advice, there is no right way to do these things, and one size does not even fit most.

The Lesbian Jewish Leftist Conspiracy Tearing Apart Reddit, Untangled (Gawker)

First of all, this:

Almost overnight, the venture-backed link-sharing behemoth has been plunged into a bizarre, wide-ranging conspiracy scare—complete with accusations of shady cabals, corruption, radical feminist infiltration, and scheming of all sorts—that makes PrisonPlanet.com look like BuzzFeed. It is one of the least sane things I have read on this internet, and I’ve spent the last day trying to untangle it.

I don’t have the energy to get into all of the politics and crazy at play here, but the basic idea is that Reddit is being infiltrated by feminist social justice warriors and the white men are clutching their metaphorical pearls (or their actual balls, because the feminist SJWs are coming for those, too, probably) over this.  What is usually relegated to the fringes of the site (although the site does have racism and sexism problems overall, and I say that as a regular user of it) is seeping into the mainstream, and that is why it is noteworthy.  It’s still batshit insane, but it is worth taking note of, because:

There was a time when the fringe truly existed on the fringes of society, where they could be insulated from the non-fringe and egg each other on into new and more brazen forms of fringedom. But today, conspiracies as manifestly deranged as this one rocket in popularity, empowered by the simple software behind sites like Reddit and 8chan. There have always and will always be right-wing lunatics who think creeping “transexual feminism” is an existential threat; but now those same people share real estate with all the rest of us. They are just one click away.

I don’t know.  I am simultaneously amused by the irrational fear of the white hegemony at Reddit, but I’m also alarmed at how pervasive and insidious this kind of thinking can be.

What got you reading and thinking this week?


What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the things that got me reading and thinking this week.  Without further ado:

Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait (Gawker)

If you’re on the internet and run in academic circles, you’ve probably read or at least seen mention of oppressed white dude Jonathan Chait’s piece about the problem of political correctness and policing language.  Chait’s piece is super long and blows a lot of hot air, but my biggest problem with it is that his one good point gets lost in all his concern trolling.  I’m not linking to his piece because why bother, but I did really appreciate Alex Pareene’s response over at Gawker:

But the destruction of the magazine industry and the growth of the open-forum internet have amplified formerly marginal voices. Now, in other words, writers of color can be just as condescending and dismissive of Chait as he always was toward the left. And he hates it.

And this:

Excessive speech-policing by overzealous campus activists certainly happens. But Chait is wildly exaggerating the threat it poses—calling it a “philosophical threat” to liberalism, instead of a minor annoyance people like Chait have to deal with in the brief period just before they officially assume their positions in America’s power elite.

Chait is so very sad.  Someone get the man the tiniest violin they can find.

Angela’s Ashes (The Hairpin)

Mostly about shows like My So-Called Life that were cut down before their time, this is an excellent piece about television, nostalgia, and more.

Over the next 18 episodes, we lived My So-Called Life by proxy, parsing every lingering exchange, every painfully awkward faux-pas, every elbow-bruising, shearling-swaddled boiler-room makeout session between Angela and Jordan Catalano (to this day, the single greatest contribution Jared Leto has made to humankind—pace 30 Seconds to Mars fans), with manic zeal. Today, I can still recite from memory lines like: “People are always saying you should be yourself, like ‘yourself’ is this definite thing, like a toaster.”

But the piece is also about the fever with which a show’s fans will fight for it:

This is the reasoning, I reckon, that fuels the feverish, breathless crusades that spring up, season after season, to preserve programs on the verge of cancellation. These days, there’s nothing a TV fan fights harder for than to keep his show alive.

At any rate, it examines some of my favorite shows (and some shows I never grew to love), and it’s worth a read for anyone who has lost a show too soon.

Entitlement is Infecting Us with the Measels (Dame Magazine)

I’m at the point where the mere mention of an anti-vaccination LUNATIC throws me into an apoplectic rage.  I’m working on it.  In the meantime, the anti-vaxxers continue to be the most dangerous, entitled pieces of shit out there.  This article focuses on the recent outbreak in California, and it is worth reading:

This is what I find the most troubling: the notion that a small but very vocal minority of anti-vaccine activists have managed to sow so much confusion that kids are being put at risk. With its appeals to natural health and individual autonomy, vaccine wariness is as trendy as anything else you’ll find in the Whole Foods aisle (gluten bad! chia good!), but its impact is so much greater.

But also, this:

And then there’s the deeper question—beyond the pseudo-science, the mistrust of authority, the faddishness—of just what we feel we owe one another in the society. The thing I’ve found most disturbing about the hard-core anti-vaccine arguments is the way they center on the rights of the individual parent to make choices for his or her child, ignoring (most immediately) the rights of that child as well as the collective rights and health of the community.

This is as privileged and short-sighted as it gets, and it makes my physically angry.

What got you reading and thinking this week?


What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

After a week or two off, here are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about on the internet this week!

The Paradoxical Rise of the Viral Marriage Proposal (Buzzfeed)

This is a really excellent, really thoughtful piece about the spectacle culture of marriage and heterosexual love, and also about the wedding industrial complex and how social media plays into all of this.  What’s especially remarkable about the rise of the viral marriage proposal is the fact that the popularity of marriage is actually on decline among young heterosexual people in America. Quite the paradox, and this article has all kinds of things to think about and unpack:

This sense of ubiquity — everyone is having engagement photos taken! — creates a perception that this kind of public performance is necessary, a standard part of the ever-expanding process of getting married. The combination of new social media and the decades-old American urge to keep up with the Joneses has been a boon for the wedding industrial complex, and professional photographers are profiting from the new perception that this costly but once-rare part of the marriage ritual is expected.

Perhaps this is all of interest to me because I’m in a committed long-term relationship with a man who I am not married to and have no current plans to marry.  Neither one of us wants a wedding at all, and yet we are surrounded by people who are getting engaged, getting married, and literally posting every detail on every kind of social media outlet available to them.

But I digress.  In the article, Angyal also brings up a point that has long bothered me about all of this spectacle proposal stuff, too:

…there’s something unsettling about all this performing, and it’s not just that a man surprising a woman with a public proposal — and that’s almost always how it goes — places her under an enormous amount of pressure to say yes…Indeed, watching some of these public proposal videos, it seems that the men are not so much proposing to women as at them.

But that’s probably my ultra-feminism acting up or whatever.  At any rate, it’s a great article and well worth a read.

Ayn Rand’s Sweet Valley High (The Toast)

It’s basically what I’ve been waiting for my entire life.  Mallory Ortberg is often very funny and this piece helps illustrate that:

“I told him we didn’t want to miss a single minute of mall time. I mean, what’s better than spending an evening at the mall? That’s where money lives.”

“Money is only a tool, Lila,” Jessica reminded her friend. “It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver of your lime-green Triumph, complete with car phone.”

It’s just really funny writing.

Every Conversation on the Internet with Dudes, Ever (Medium)

Humorous but also sadly true, this article takes a tongue-in-cheek look at how dudes derail conversations about women, sexism, and feminism on the internet, all day every day.  A sample:

Woman: There’s still a long way to go to achieve equality.
Dude: Not true! A woman was mean to me once.
Woman: That’s not what —

I actually saw an exchange exactly like this happen on one of my favorite sites the other day.  TOO REAL.

Most Anticipated Books of 2015 (The Millions)

This is just a really excellent round-up of books being published this year, complete with descriptions and links to read more.  I added so many books to my TBR pile.  Out of control!

What did you read that got you thinking this week?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further preamble:

Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014 (Gawker)

I mean, the title of this piece sort of says it all, doesn’t it?  It’s upsetting but absolutely worth your time to scroll.

Getting to ‘No’ (NY Times)

Susan Dominus’s essay in the NYT magazine this week is well worth a read, not only because it’s powerful and extremely well-written, but because it tackles all sorts of important things about sexual assault and rape culture.  In it, she reflects on one of her own college experiences with a red cup, hazy memories, and lingering feelings of anger with no language to describe what had happened to her:

The language we use for a given experience inevitably defines how we feel about it. I could not land on language that felt right — to me —about that encounter. I still cannot.

She talks about how hard it can be to use the right language, even when the horrible thing is happening:

No” and “stop” — of course, they should be said and respected. But several women who told me they felt their consent was ambiguous said that in the moment, they froze, and language eluded them altogether: They said nothing. Because those words are inherently confrontational, they can require a degree of strength that someone who is feeling pressured or confused or is just losing her nerve or changing her mind might not have.

Go read it.  This is required reading this week.

The Economics of Dating, OK Cupid Edition (The Billfold)

Kind of bleak, but also very funny, this piece sort of tackles the idea of who you can actually find on an online dating site, from a purely numbers viewpoint:

I tried Tinder first, 100% because of the “you can’t message each other until both of you opt in” feature. Swiped through everyone in about two weeks, and every week or so I swipe through the handful of people who just joined. There’s nothing quite like looking at the screen that reads “there is no one new around you” and interpreting it as “sorry, we tried everyone we had, guess you will never find love.”

Then she turned to OKC and found that even though she lives in a city (Seattle) with a preponderance of eligible men, she still didn’t want to date many (or any) of them:

But from an economic perspective, it’s fascinating to see how I look at all of this not as an array of wonderful possibilities, but as a scarcity of options. It’s like when you’re shopping for a coat on Amazon; you have this vision of what you hope you’ll find, and then you see that there are only 10 coats in your price range, and suddenly you don’t want any of them.

“Best of 2014″ in YA Fiction List Breakdown (Stacked)

Every year, Kelly Jensen does this great breakdown of what the books on the best of lists look like.  She takes a look at author gender, books featuring male or female protagonists, who is a debut author and who isn’t, and so forth.  It takes a tremendous amount of time on her part and is always valuable and fascinating.