What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Let’s get to the links.

My Wedding Was Perfect – and I Was Fat as Hell the Whole Time(The Guardian)

I love Lindy West for a lot of reasons, and she never ceases to impress the hell out of me with her writing and fearless devotion to being totally honest and unapologetically herself.  This piece about her wedding and being a “fat bride” is so excellent:

There’s an awkward three-way tension between wedding culture and feminism and fat acceptance – because of what “acceptance” demands of women in our culture, a lot of fat activism takes the form of fat women trying to “prove” that they can wear the trappings of male fantasy and traditional gender roles just as well as thin women. Fat women can be pretty. Fat women can get married. Fat women can “get” conventionally attractive husbands. But how is that constructive? Male approval isn’t where my self-worth comes from – and that realisation was a huge part of what made my current relationship healthy and fulfilling.

And this:

Choose your rituals, but make them yours. If you want to look like a flower market ate fat Betty Draper and then barfed her up in the middle of a haunted forest (YEEEESSS!), great choice. If you want to get married to a burrito while wearing a barrel with suspenders, I’m cool with it. If you think the very concept of marriage is hot garbage, that’s legit. But regardless, remember that you absolutely do not have to “fix” your body, chase after “flattering”, be somebody’s dark secret, or beg for permission to be happy.

Bad Blood: Taylor Swift’s Misguided Feminism (Ravishly)

If you aren’t caught up on what happened, Nicki Minaj was snubbed for a nomination in a major category at the MTV VMAs.  She tweeted her displeasure at this, and implied that if she were “a different kind of artist” (read: white, thin) she would have been nominated.  Taylor Swift, who was nominated in the category, felt personally victimized and tweeted out an obnoxious response.  This launched a thousand think pieces.  This is one of the best and most accessible ones:

Taylor Swift’s feminism (I don’t even like to call it that, but my feminism leaves room for any and all women to consider themselves feminists, and I stick to that because I have, you know, actual principles that guide my politics) is the kind of feminism that makes me want to shut my head in a car door a few times. It lacks critical thinking or inclusion. It’s about nothing but gender, and in the most limited of terms.

And this:

In being so reactionary, in not considering the many different ways womanhood is experienced and the context of Nicki’s thoughts and concerns, Taylor Swift did the very thing she so condescendingly accused Nicki of doing. She pitted women against each other. She detracted from the real and important conversation, and made the news and media coverage about two ladies fighting. And guess who was the victim in these news stories? Just guess.

Not a very long read, but definitely a worthy one.  I’ve always enjoyed Taylor Swift’s music while finding her mildly problematic, but this makes her seem like the goddamn worst.

White America is Addicted to Black Death (Dame Magazine)

This is a hard read, but it contains important questions and truths that need to be examined.  Taking the focus on a white artist who has created an installation recreating the death of Michael Brown as a way to help “the healing process,” this author takes issue with basically all of it:

Why must Black agony be appropriated and sold to the highest bidder? Is the oppression and degradation of Black people always going to be on the auction block? One piece of the exhibit, a Confederate flag with the names of the nine victims of the Charleston church shooting, has sold for some $4,500. Moore and the gallery owners claim that a small percentage of the money will go to a worthy cause.

Also, this very important point:

In reality, the exhibit is a show of privilege, as evidenced by the fact of who is empowered to do such “artistry,” and who is not. Can you imagine an exhibit by a Muslim artist of 9/11 victims? A Nazi Holocaust exhibit by a German artist?  Or a Black-Caribbean artist’s rendering of Colin Ferguson’s mass slaughter of commuters on the Long Island Railroad?

Upsetting, thought-provoking, and wholly worth our time and consideration.


What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

On Reviews about the Black Experience in America (Book Riot)

I haven’t read the new Ta-Nehisi Coates, but it’s on my shortlist.  This excellent piece by Justina Ireland examines how (white) book reviewers think and write about books by black people is so worth your time:

The reviewers’ refusal to see the basis of Coates’ argument, that there are in fact two Americas and one is based entirely upon and sustained by black suffering and that it is possible to love a country and hate how it treats you at the same time, is critical to the tone of their reviews. If they don’t see the problem it doesn’t exist. Their perspective clouds their ability to fully synthesize Coates’ work the same way a black American would, a fact neither reviewer chooses to acknowledge.

I basically want to copy the whole article (seriously, go read it!), but this also stood out:

Both the New York Times review and the review from the Economist bemoan Coates’ bleak outlook and his apparent lack of hope…Hope is hard to come by when nine people are gunned down in the middle of their place of worship, an act of terrorism labeled an unfortunate incident. So Coates doesn’t talk of hope, he instead talks of harsh reality and the historical context that white America chooses to ignore. After all, systemic racism isn’t a black creation, it is a white one.

For All the Girls Who Are Part Monster (Diversity in YA)

Sarah McCarry’s astoundingly brilliant piece over at Diversity in YA is another must-read this week.  It’s very short–like three paragraphs–but it’s powerful stuff and it’s absolutely beautiful:

People always accuse women of writing autobiography, as if our imaginations are too tiny to conjure up stories we haven’t lived: I can tell you now that none of what happens to Tally ever happened to me. Like Tally, I’ve longed after the secrets of the universe, though she’d scoff and then some at my sad insistence on tarot decks and astrology charts.

Why the Gilmore Girls Fandom Lives On (NYT)

I’ve rewatched Gilmore Girls countless times (it’s become such a joke in our house that J. shouts NOOOOO every time the show is even mentioned), and I’m currently listening to the delightfully strange Gilmore Girls Podcast in between episodes of the other podcasts I’m current on.  So this piece came at the right time (there is no wrong time when it’s one of your favorite shows of all time).  The piece focuses on the Gilmore Guys podcast, and has some lovely insight into why the show resonates, still:

Emotional speculative fiction takes place closer to home but is no less fantastical. When done well — as was the case with “Gilmore Girls” — it takes everything recognizable about life but adds the qualities that remain elusively out of reach in reality, like satisfying endings and triumphant character arcs, where loss is ultimately redemptive and learning experiences are peppered with witty repartee.

What got you reading and thinking this week?



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?