Things I Read That I Love #91: A Maniacal Power Fantasy That Panders To Female Anger and Fear

bookonlegsHELLO and welcome to the 91st installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Claire Danes! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.

The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.

On the Thomas Pynchon Trail: From The Long Island of His Boyhood To The Yupper West Side Of His New Novel (August 2013), by Boris Kachka for New York Magazine- Thomas Pynchon is really reclusive. Even though I’m not smart enough to get into his books, I am always intrigued by apparent hermits, and any contradictions wherein.

What’s Killing Poor White Women? (September 2013), by Monica Potts for The American Prospect - “For most Americans, life expectancy continues to rise—but not for uneducated white women. They have lost five years, and no one knows why.”

Varieties of Disturbance (September 2013), by John Lahr for The New Yorker – Only the article about Claire Danes I’ve been waiting to read since 1994, and it was worth it, every minute. I can’t believe I didn’t know (or remember) that Alicia Silverstone was up for the role of Angela Chase!

In Charm’s Way: Gone Girl’s Sickening Worldview (September 2013), by Mary Gaitskill for Bookforum - You guys, Mary Gaitskill is my favorite, and Mary Gaitskill read Gone Girl (I’ve never read it, but), and Mary Gaitskill really fucking hated it.

Lust’s Labors Lost (August 2013), by Rachel Swan for San Francisco Weekly- Aw, this is sad. I saw the movie Live Nude Girls, about the Lusty Lady’s unique feminist co-operative model, several years back, and so I visited the place in 2010 with Alex out of curiosity. I can’t say I really understand the peep show appeal, it felt super-awkward to me, but I guess it’s shutting down now, which is sad because it is The End of An Era.

A Death in Valdota (September 2013), by Jordan Conn for Grantland - “Multisport athlete Kendrick Johnson was found dead in his Georgia high school’s gymnasium in January. Authorities ruled it an accident, but Johnson’s family believed something very different — and a second autopsy appears to support their suspicions.”

Collectors on a Mission (August 2013), by Lisa Hix for Collector’s Weekly - Obviously not satisfied merely with colonizing and destroying indigenous people’s cultures all over the world, European missionaries also were avid collectors who would take artifacts on their missions (often in an effort to remove “heathen” spiritual items and replace them with Christian paraphernalia) and put them in museums or other exhibitions. Some of them used taken native clothing to act out missionary/native scenarios with children in Sunday School! There’s also a lot in here about this “World’s Fair” in Boston that eventually was taken on the road by the Missionary Exposition Company and most of it is about the World Museum in Tulsa.

Growing Up Chinese (July 2013), by Shining Li for Interrupt Magazine - There’s a transcript of this that you can read, but also it’s sort of done in podcast style and I’d recommend listening to it. It’s a piece put together by Shining Li, who is interviewing her little brother Joseph, the only member of her family not born in China, during a visit to China, about why he hates China and being Chinese.

Man and Superman (August 2013), by Malcolm Gladwell for The New Yorker - On genetic abnormalities and variations that give athletes exceptional advantages on the field, and how understanding these “sports genes” impacts how we think about performance-enhancing drugs and other medical means to improve athletic performance.

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Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1724 articles for us.

8 Comments

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    Oh God I feel for Joseph so much. First born outside Bangladesh, raised outside Bangladesh, doesn’t know much Bengali. I have an ambivalent relationship with Bangladesh – over there I feel as much of a strange alien as I do in Malaysia, Australia, the US. I didn’t really care for Bangladesh much at that age either because there was nothing there I could relate to, especially when age 11 was one of the worst years in my life in regards to racism (the Malaysian Government became really anti-Bangladeshi circa 1995 and people at school would transfer that to me. It was the first time I was suicidal. I was expected to justify the actions of scapegoated people from a culture I barely knew.)

    I’m saddened that the OP’s solution seems to be “just accept your Chinese identity and all will be well” – how is he supposed to do that when the only contexts he experience Chinese-ness is through alienation or villification? How is he supposed to have pride for a place that doesn’t feel like home and right now seems to be more of a burden than a blessing? He keenly notices the hate he gets for being Chinese; of course he’s going to be resentful about it, especially if he feels that China doesn’t accept him either.

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    I don’t know about the Shining Li piece. I was born in America and lived in Shanghai for a couple years, and over there most of the local Chinese people I encountered were incredibly adamant that I, as someone ethnically Han Chinese, could not be a real American.

    Why do Chinese Americans have to identify as Chinese? Why do they have to love China, the country, when it’s only theirs by birth? Asian Americans have been identified as the Other for so long that it’s hard for them to be accepted as really American, but here’s the thing: they are.

    I was born in America, and I grew up in America, and the country I am from is America. My parents may be Chinese, but I’m not, and I think I’m the only person who can decide that.

    Besides: it’s not a dichotomy. My Chinese American friends and I have cultural reference points distinct from both the purely Chinese and purely American experiences: Chinese school on Saturdays, parents switching into dialect when they don’t want you to understand, information about our parents’ culture coming more from Avatar: the Last Airbender than any sort of innate connection. It’s pretty cool, actually.

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    I got one word for Mary Gaitskill regarding Gone Girl: “Waaaaaaaah.” As if one “sick power fantasy that panders to female anger and fear” even comes close to the bulldozerful of literature (both “respectable” and otherwise) that pander to het-cis-male misogyny and paranoia. I’ll be filing that one next to the MRA complaints about misandry and sperm-burgling.

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