Things I Read That I Love #167: The Dark Fruits Of The Life I Had Chosen

HELLO and welcome to the 167th 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 GSA! 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.


Me and My Girls, by David Carr for The New York Times, July 2008

You guys, David Carr, I just loved that man. I really did. His death is so sad and such a loss. If you haven’t read his memoir, The Night of the Gun, then maybe this essay, which covers some of the same material, will inspire you to.

‘Sexual Intensity Like Nothing Else’: A Chat With a Woman About Her Dad, by Jia Tolentino for Jezebel, February 2015

Well you can’t really expect me not to read this. You’re gonna read it, I know you are! Have you read The Kiss: A Memoir by Kathryn Harrison? That book is INTENSE. Anyhow, this is an interview with the woman who wrote Falling In and Out Of Love With My Dad the day before this interview was published.

In the Violent Favelas of Brazil, by Suketu Mehta for The New York Review of Books, August 2013

A pre-World-Cup piece about how “the cities of Brazil are some of the most violent places in the world today” and the reason for this and the gangs that control the favelas and “the process of “pacification,” by which the government attempts to peacefully enter and reestablish state control over the most violent enclaves of the city, those dominated by drug gangs called traficantes, or by syndicates of corrupt police called militias.”

Marginal Returns, by Brandon Harris for The New Inquiry, January 2015

About Selma and Top Five / Chris Rock and Dear White People and black independent cinema and top ten film lists and just a lot of good stuff to know and think about.

Pride of Place: As the Nation’s Gay Districts Grow More Affluent, Lesbians Are Migrating to the ‘Burbs, by Rachel Swan for SF Weekly, June 2014

I never gave this article a second thought when it was plastered all over this city ’cause there was so much controversy around the cover, but Fikri linked to it in her article Gay, Interrupted: On Navigating Gaybourhoods As A Queer Brown Woman (Did you read that? You should read it!) and once I started reading it I was like, oh wow I should’ve read this. Obviously, as a lesbian who lives in the East Bay but wants to move because it’s too expensive here, I found this article about my actual life to be very interesting!

Damage, by Mariya Karimjee for The Big Roundtable, January 2015

This is an intense and important personal essay about female genital circumcision.

“You removed the part of me that makes me feel good while having sex?” I asked. Our Bodies Ourselves, and some of the Internet articles I’d read, gave me the confidence to say this last part. At sixteen, I thought I knew exactly what had been taken away from me, even if I wouldn’t have any idea what this really meant for another five years.

“I didn’t have a choice,” said my mother. “It happened to me too.”

Welcome To Paradise, by Nisha Lilia Diu for The Telegraph, December 2014

Prostitution is legal in Germany, but most of the things sex workers advocate for when we advocate for legalized sex work aren’t happening, like benefits, safety, and better pay. But the johns are having a great time! Here’s the article description: “When Germany legalised prostitution in 2002 it triggered an apparently unstoppable growth in the country’s sex industry. It’s now worth 15 billion euros a year and embraces everything from 12-storey mega-brothels to outdoor sex boxes.”

The Secret World of Showbiz Seniors, by Lee Gale Gruen for narrative.ly, October 2013

This is such a cute story!!! You won’t regret reading this story, I guarantee it.

This Is A Dead Mom Essay, by Maddie Taterka for Autostraddle.com, February 2014

This is sad and beautiful. One day I’ll figure out what to comment on it, but until then I just wanna make sure you read it.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. 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 Nylon, Queerty, 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! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2715 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. Whenever I read articles about prostitution, it seems that no system is really effective in preventing exploitation of women. Not really sure what the answer is.

    This was super disturbing though: “Before, he tells me, if men didn’t get “the fantasies they want” at home, “they go to rape a girl.”

    • It seems as though when sex work is legalised, the problems don’t originate so much from the nature of the work as much as the nature of labour relations under capitalism. For example, agricultural production also has a problem with trafficked workers being brought against their will to work the fields, but people don’t seem to have as much moral outrage about agribusiness and their practices. While sex is more emotionally charged, sex work is fundamentally a job, subject to the same exploitative profit extraction as other industries.

      As an aside, many sex workers consider “prostitute” a slur and prefer the neutral term “sex work(er)”. And not all sex workers are women, as well

      • Prostitution is the term for what has been legalized in Germany. I do avoid using the term prostitute though. This is true, although the majority are women…

        You do have a valid point that exploitation exists in other jobs as well.

        • I see your point, but I would argue that the language of the law doesn’t always reflect the preferred language of the people it affects (see the Indian Affairs department of Canada)

          Prostitution is usually defined as the illegal exchange of sexual acts for money, which is no longer the case in Germany. The terms I know some workers prefer are “full-service sex work” and “indoor sex work” when referring to brothels

  2. So that article and that interview about genetic sexual attraction. Wow.

    This part from the interview really resonated with me:

    “It’s like hitting an exposed nerve. A big part of me still feels bad and to blame, like people will hate me or doubt me if I tell them. And that’s what a lot of people live with, not just with incestuous sexual encounters, but any kind of sex abuse. We’re made to feel damaged, and bad. I carry that with me, and up until now I’ve been very protective of the story. […] Furthermore, keeping it a secret protects the people who abused us.”

    That last sentence is such a huge part of it as well, especially for child-on-child abuse where both people have grown up and not done anything bad since and are still in the same social circle / unestranged part of the family, because you fell like “what right do I have to mess up their whole life?”. Because you *know* that they would never in a million years do anything like that ever again – they’re not predatory, their not an abuser. But also it’s such a burden to feel responsible for both them and yourself, all alone.

  3. I experienced GSA with my biological dad, when I met him at 25. Thankfully I was in grad school for counseling and had already been made aware by other adoptees that GSA was a thing that could happen. But I was still totally unprepared for the flood of emotions that happened. I had a supportive partner, strong personal boundaries, and a biological father who also held up very strong personal boundaries. My partner said that for the first six months-a year, whenever my dad and I were in the same room it was like “you only had eyes for each other.” No physical boundaries were ever crossed, but that visceral desire was there.

    It honestly felt like a very natural desire that a little kid would have, to be hugged and kissed and curl up in her daddy’s lap, and that it was clouded by the only way that adults seem to express that level of intimacy (sexually). I’m so glad that no boundaries were every crossed, and naturally, like any infatuation, it died down after awhile and I am not longer afraid that if we’re alone together I’ll try to seduce him or him me. We’ve gone on to be regular parts of each other’s lives, but knowing that GSA was real and could happen was really an important part of not getting overwhelmed by the feelings!

  4. Just a quick comment on terminology – fgm, or female genital mutilation, is a more appropriate term than circumcision, which implies similarity with male circumcision…

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