The How To Issue: Because You Know How To Do Things

Rachel’s Team Pick:


Earlier in 2012, the New York Times Book Review published a “How-To Issue.” While male authors had such articles as “How To Write,” “How To Write Great,” and “How To Win An Election,” women authors had significantly fewer pieces selected, and those published were on topics such as “How To Cook A Clam.” (Real thing.) As a reaction, the tumblr The How-To Issue was born, which features how-to pieces of varying tones and on varying subjects by “women writers, genderqueer writers, and writers who do not identify with a binary gender.”

The project was started in July, but I just heard of it recently, when a close friend of mine was published there. But it made me think: we all know how to do a lot of things. I know how to fix a kitchen faucet if something is clogging the screen, and how to give a parent bad news over the phone, how to drink free tea at Starbucks in the airport, and how to pretend to be asleep on a long car trip if you don’t want to make conversation with the person you’re traveling with. I am convinced you know a lot of important things too: how to come out to clueless relatives, how to share chips and dips with your ex girlfriend’s current girlfriend’s ex-hookup at a party, or how to wear a skinny tie. And even if you’re not ready to share your secrets with the world, you can still read about how to use origami as a survival skill, send a great postcard, or how to strip your way across the country.

this is how to tell if you’ve had lesbian sex. just a reminder.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I used to ask my mother how to do practical things like tailor a resume or how to travel or how to make friends. I read her self help books or she would answer me by giving me a self help book. Then the internet got born and she made me google everything. I think more than anything I just kind of wanted a personal anecdote about what the thing I can’t do looks like so I can maybe see myself doing it. This is that and also from my peer group instead of old men (who write a lot of self help books). This is awesome!

  2. How To Cook A Clam:

    Begin the warming up process with gentle nibbles on the neck, and teasing butterfly kisses. Repeat in nearby areas for 3-4 minutes. By now clam should be nice and warm. Next step is to begin working your way down. As you progress the temperature should begin rising rapidly. When halfway down a gentle massaging of the thighs should begin the baking process. Once you reach the lower areas with your mouth, remain there until clam and its shell begin to make a consistent noise, followed by short quick thrusts. Season to taste.

  3. Love this idea. My mother has recently taught me how to knit a bit – something I’m pleased about and something I resent because I know how she likes to be gender specific despite knowing how to do a fair few, what are considered, ‘male jobs’ herself – and I was listening to The Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. They were discussing knitting and then how to carefully wash a cashmere jumper. They bought up the fact that this probably wouldn’t be on any ‘man’s hour’. Someone speaking on the show said the day she thinks she became a feminist was when her mom came out in the garden (in the 1980s) and hurled a ‘knitted blob’ (meant to be a jumper) across the garden and exclaimed, ‘I don’t care about being a woman or anything I’m supposed to do because of it!’ I thought this was great.

    I also appreciate how the theme of my day so far seems to be, quite accidentally, the many capabilities of women.

  4. I like that this exists. And I’d like those pretending to sleep (I’m assuming there is something more to this than just closing your eyes) and free tea ones.

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