Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekend Reading

Here it is! Your weekly list of longreads! It's a long list this week, to make up for taking last week off. OK, not really. It's just that there were so many great long reads this week! Here's hoping you have a great weekend, filled with lots of fun and some quiet moments to read!

Jaya Saxena has a great piece on The Aerogram about her experiences being biracial: Identity In Pieces: When You Don’t Know Where You Count.
This confusion at your own place is the essence of being biracial. Even though you owe no one an explanation, there’s a desire to explain, which comes from believing that just by being yourself you are a liar. You’re an intruder in either space, with no right to claim one or the other without a heavy caveat. You’re not really what you say you are, not “technically.” It’s my feeling the need to need to clarify at those weddings, to say “I’m not entirely part of this group” or “It’s ok that I’m wearing this because my dad is Indian,” before anyone could call me out on my trespass.

Longreads Blog has a great interview with Sarah Menkedick, founder of Vela Magazine on  the limitations for women writers in publishing, and how her new venture plans to address that.
Ultimately, I wanted to create a publication that would be written by women because I wanted to say hey, women can do this kind of voice-driven innovative nonfiction, too, and you should be hiring and publishing them and reading their work, and also because I wanted to read more of this kind of work and find more women writers working between limited categories. I wanted a space that would not be marketed to women as dealing with “women’s” subjects, since I think part of the reason the byline gap exists is because certain subjects are considered “women’s” and marginalized, whereas men can write about anything without the subject being considered “male.” Also, while women are ushered toward these more “female” arenas, men are given meatier reporting assignments, and more dangerous and competitive assignments, as well as the intellectual freedom to write essays or criticism on a wide array of topics.
One of the goals of Vela’s current Kickstarter campaign is to fund bigger, more ambitious projects by women writers.

Want to see more women directing movies in Hollywood? Jessica Kiang has a fantastic list with lots of evidence in IndieWire: 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood.
So who, among the roughly 6% of directors who are women (the figure put forth in this widely reported 2014 survey), should work more? Short answer is, obviously, all of them. Because if we’re working to redress the ludicrous gender imbalance that exists in the U.S. film industry (and that is a too-obvious-to-even-comment-on goal, right? Right?) we need to see a dramatic uptick in stats like the percentage of women who direct the top 250 movies in any given year (2013’s depressing figure of 6% is actually down 3% from 2012, which is even more depressing). And let’s just repeat once again that, while “diversity” is a buzzword bandied about liberally these days, we’re not talking about a minority here (which is a whole other, though related, issue) we’re talking about women—50% of the population and, crucially, 50% of cinema audiences. (Also, 100% of the writers of this article, so have at it, crazy anti-feminist internet trolls.)

And speaking of women in Hollywood, Jack Heckel has written a charming, if totally scientific, accounting of Disney's historic reliance on a specific fairytale trope in Are All Princesses Really Waiting for Princes to Come?
Fortunately, things do not end there, because the thesis of this article is not that Dworkin and de Beauvoir are unassailably correct in their criticisms of fairytales. Anyone who has read the Grimm Brother’s collection or Lang or Perrault know that female roles in these stories run the gamut from passive to active, from porcelain doll to hardened adventurer, and everything in between—it simply took seventy plus years for modern popular culture to catch up.

Emma Healey has written a beautifully touching piece for The Hairpin illustrating the power of telling a story to open up lines of communication and honesty in Stories Like Passwords. [CN: sexual abuse, rape]
If you listen to enough stories like this, you’ll start to hear a few themes. These men are not ever that big of a deal. What they do to us is never really that bad in the grand scheme of things, no matter how big it feels at the time. It could always have been much worse. We might just have been misreading the situation. They might not have meant anything by it. They’ve never apologized – but then again, we’ve never asked them to.

The men in stories like this always have just enough power, in their little worlds and in ours, that to confront them would be to court an ordeal, to invite others to question our own memories and motives. It’s always more trouble than it’s worth. If you don’t have hard proof, if you don’t have a police report, then what do you have? Only what you remember. Only what you felt.

The ever awesome Roxane Gay has written a wonderful piece about The Price of Black Ambition for The Virginia Quarterly Review.
I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough. This attitude leaves me always relentless, always working hard enough and then harder still. I am ashamed that sometimes a part of me believes we, as a people, will be saved by those among us who are exceptional without considering who might pay the price for such salvation or who would be left behind.

Jeffrey Rosen has a great interview piece with the Notorious R.B.G. and her thoughts about feminism and other pressing matters: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is an American Hero
Work for the things that you care about. I think of the ’70s, when many young women supported an Equal Rights Amendment. I was a proponent of the ERA. The women of my generation and my daughter’s generation, they were very active in moving along the social change that would result in equal citizenship stature for men and women. One thing that concerns me is that today’s young women don’t seem to care that we have a fundamental instrument of government that makes no express statement about the equal citizenship stature of men and women. They know there are no closed doors anymore, and they may take for granted the rights that they have.


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