Recent Reading, 10/15/17
It's been a tough few days. Luckily there have been quite a few brilliant women writers who have gotten me through it.
“When you are a young woman, and you believe in your own worth and personhood and agency, it can be hard, despite the clichés that govern this situation, to understand that an older man who takes an interest in you does not necessarily share these beliefs. And, of course, young women are not the only victims of such crimes. But this is a basic and familiar pattern: a powerful man sees you, a woman who is young and who thinks she might be talented, a person who conveniently exists in a female body, and he understands that he can tie your potential to your female body, and threaten the latter, and you will never be quite as sure of the former again.” —Jia Tolentino, “How Men Like Harvey Weinstein Implicate Their Victims in Their Acts”
“Women are already trying desperately to keep our heads above water in workplaces that deny us sufficient credit, compensation and trust. Are we really supposed to keep three separate types of informal warning systems, tiered and coded according to the level of violation, just to make sure that the boundary-pushing jerks don’t get embarrassed because they’re so much better than men who have turned violent? Do you know how much more work women do in media to prove they belong there? Do you know how many names of women in media are splashed across the Internet with libelous, repugnant and public lies about them because they dared offend a man?
Until the institutions that define, enforce and deliver consequences for these violations actually start protecting women, women will have to make do with what we can. These informal networks of information-sharing are not battle cries to pursue vigilante justice; they are calm directives to other women to simply be vigilant.” —Alana Massey, “Women Have Always Tried to Warn Each Other About Dangerous Men. We Have To”
"At the heart of both criticisms was that the list was too liberal in its approach: critics stressed that men could be added for sending creepy DMs or sexual assault, unfairly conflating the two acts. Though the reason for the addition was marked, and multiple allegations of abuse highlighted in red, the fear that shitty men might be confused with abusive men seemed to coalesce around the conversation. The fear seemed to be that women reading the list might confuse familiar bad behavior (like 'creepiness') with rape, and thereby unfairly conflate men accused of boorishness with those accused of rape and sexual harassment. But they weren’t conflated; they were annotated with individual allegations and men with multiple allegations were highlighted in red. Anyone familiar with a spreadsheet could easily tell the difference. But by virtue of the list—essentially a digital space to whisper—there was no gatekeeper to determine whether or not an allegation was either serious enough or believable enough. Instead, the list relied on the very notion that women should be believed—a rallying cry that has become increasingly less convincing in the last few years, frayed by politics and the keeping of 'open secrets.'" —Stassa Edwards, "The Protection Racket"
“But as France’s documentary starts to make its way to large audiences, I can’t stop thinking about the voices that have been pushed aside in the process. Too often, people with resources who already have a platform become the ones to tell the stories of those at the margins rather than people who themselves belong to these communities. The process ends up extracting from people who are taking the most risks just to live our lives and connect with our histories, and the result ends up on Netflix, a platform you have to pay to even access. It goes against so much of what I have been working towards.
Changing that doesn’t look like tokenizing the next trans movie director or creating more visibility for a narrow group of respectable trans people. Changing that looks like shifting resources in a meaningful way, so that people on the streets, people facing the kinds of violence Marsha faced, can be the ones to tell these stories--and the ones to benefit from their telling. And that includes me, a black trans woman who has had to fight for a sustainable life while a white cisgender man gets to tell Marsha’s story. As the Netflix movie launched, I was borrowing money to pay my rent.” —Reina Gossett, “Transgender Storytelling, David France & the Netflix Marsha P. Johnson Documentary”
“The idea of explicit imagery getting past the standards boards of the future is another part of the dystopian fantasy: The line of history is leading inexorably to a godless future where everything is sexy all the time. Cinematic inventions like Rouge City and its ilk exist on an exceedingly well-worn trajectory where religion and sexual repression sit at one end, and scientific innovation and female objectification exist at the other. “You can’t have one without the other,” male filmmakers tell us with a solemn, regretful shrug. I’d take a wild, semi-educated guess that future-city movies are second only to Westerns for scenes set in brothels and red-light districts. (Hence the very successful synergy of Westworld.) But figures of the scale and visibility of Blade Runner 2049’s ad girls are supposed to represent something closer to the mainstream. We can infer, then, that there are no people (i.e. women) in this future world who would raise their hand in the planning meeting and point out that the latest Joi ad campaign, yes, looks wicked tight, but is kind of stupid.” —Emily Yoshida, “Do Androids Dream of Colossal Women?”
"I’d tell him that being solo in the backcountry is one of the only times in my life that I’ve been able to exist as a body and a person without worrying about how other people might try to claim my body as their own. Crossing frozen rivers on my hands and knees, curling up in my sleeping bag, waking at dawn in a bed of dew—these are the moments when the shadow of that vulnerability fades, and the only thing that exists is the beautiful, indifferent landscape and my own strength and skills. Going alone into the wilderness is one of the ways I reclaim myself. It is an act of joy and an act of self-defense." —Blair Braverman, "On Being a Woman Alone in the Woods"