Things I Read That I Love #173: Blame Our Generation For Overanalyzing Everything

HELLO and welcome to the 173rd 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 not having babies! 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.


Inside a Chinese Test Prep Factory, by Brook Larmer for The New York Times, December 2014

In Maotanchang, 20,000 students from poorer families who might not have an easy path to college enroll in this school where they prepare for the entrance exam all Chinese students must take to attend college. Classes go for 14+ hours a day, it sounds really intense and also terrible. Also, it’s really interesting that only men are allowed to teach at this school.

Tales From The Millennials’ Sexual Revolution, by Alex Morris for Rolling Stone, March 2015

These crazy kids these days are hip and cool and wear trendy glasses and also have open relationships and get married later and have sex less often than previous generations. These girls at colleges even them don’t want to have boyfriends they just wanna get drunk and hook up. Then they get married afterwards. Also how does the internet factor into all of this? And porn! Lots to talk about, humans, lots to talk about.

Trash Food, by Chris Offutt for The Oxford American, April 2015

I ran a multitude of various searches on library databases and the Internet in general, typing in permutations of the words “trash” and “food.” Surprisingly, every single reference was to “white trash food.” Within certain communities, it’s become popular to host “white trash parties” where people are urged to bring Cheetos, pork rinds, Vienna sausages, Jell-O with marshmallows, fried baloney, corndogs, RC cola, Slim Jims, Fritos, Twinkies, and cottage cheese with jelly. In short—the food I ate as a kid in the hills.

Participating in such a feast is considered proof of being very cool and very hip. But it’s not. Implicit in the menu is a vicious ridicule of the people who eat such food on a regular basis. People who attend these “white trash parties” are cuisinally slumming, temporarily visiting a place they never want to live. They are the worst sort of tourists—they want to see the Mississippi Delta and the hills of Appalachia but are afraid to get off the bus.

The Answer is Never, by Sabine Heinlein for Longreads, April 2015

A lovely personal essay being childless by choice and how the rest of the world has a big problem with it, always telling a lady that she’ll change her mind one day, to leave the option open, always asking her about it.

The True Cost of Gun Violence in America: A Mother Jones Investigation, by Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee and James West for Mother Jones, April 2015

This is it the big one, the big investigative journalism story of the week that you don’t want to miss. Mother Jones and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation set out to provide something we’ve been missing in this country (partially because funding for studying it has been blocked by senators who get big checks from the NRA) — a “definitive assessment of the costs for victims, their families, their employers, and the rest of us—including the major sums associated with criminal justice, long-term health care, and security and prevention.” They talk to survivors of gun violence — most of whom are now broke and disabled — and dig in to several personal stories to explicate the issue. There’s a wealth of information here, as well as multimedia — infographics, videos, interactive stories — so read it on a computer. But read it.

Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress, by Howard Zinn for History is a Weapon

So the website History is a Weapon has transcribed the entirety of A People’s History of the United States, and I think you should probably go buy the entire book, actually, if you haven’t already. I mean, I should go buy the entire book. This first chapter blows the lid off everything we learned in elementary school about how America was “discovered” and even though I knew some of this stuff I didn’t know all of it and Jesus Christ this country is fucked.

Is Hillary Clinton Any Good At Running For President? by Jason Zengerle for New York Magazine, April 2015

This will be forever remembered as the first article I read about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2015. It’s interesting not just for what it says about her but what it says about what it takes to win an election in general, and the bizarrely misleading narratives around “undecided voters.”

Your Son is Deceased, by Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker, February 2015

I read about the Albuquerque police department in Rolling Stone a little bit ago, and now here’s this one which zooms in on one of the many stories featured in that Rolling Stone story, in which an unarmed mentally ill boy was murdered in his backyard by cops for no reason. Because there is no end to how fucked up and homicidal this police department is, apparently.

Women’s Work, by Vivian Gornick for Book Forum, April/May 2015.

“Two new books confront the legacy of the 1970s women’s movement.”

It was the fervent hope of 1970s feminists that the generations to follow would take seriously the realization that social change comes not through ideological declarations alone, but through the daily task of grappling with the emotional conflicts those very declarations have made plain. And indeed, over the decades, hundreds of thousands of women have done just that: joined the struggle to understand the conflicts better and, with courage and intelligence, act on that understanding… On the other hand, many more hundreds of thousands, exposed to those same 1970s exhortations, have found it difficult to negotiate a territory that has often felt more threatening than promising.

Eat, Pray, Love, Get Rich, Write A Novel Nobody Expects, by Steve Almond for The New York Times Magazine, September 2013

Often in my journeys I run across an article by Elizabeth Gilbert and think oh jeez it’s the eat pray love woman and then I am surprised that the article is good or somehow doesn’t seem to reflect the same attitude that makes people like me think thoughts like the one I just shared with you. This article gave me context, like how that one book has become what she’s known for but she’s done so much more, especially beforehand, worth reading.

 


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Riese

Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. 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 2986 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. As native of Eastern Kentucky, the Trash Food article really speaks to me! Appalachian folks deal with all kinds of stereotypes, and terrible food should be the last of them. Like most of US processed food has taken over in poor communities, but that is not where the menu ends. The region has a really rich tradition of farming and preserving fresh food. Apple stack cakes, chicken n’ dumplings, and cornbread may not be “high class”, but they are the roots of a proud food culture.

  2. I have yet to read History is a Weapon, but I’m quite sure this is relevant to the topic despite it is not specifically about the United States.
    http://spears.okstate.edu/home/cel/mgmt4613/readings/Anthropology33.pdf

    In case the link doesn’t work or is scary the paper is called Why Can’t People Feed Themselves and the authors are Frances Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins.

    Warning: You may feel a deep sense of hopelessness and some nuke our galaxy just to be sure level misanthropy after and during reading.

  3. OK. 7 things.
    No, just kidding. I only have 3 things.

    1) I missed this last week… I like creepy stalked this section hoping it would come up late in the week BECAUSE I HAVE THAT LITTLE DO WITH MY LIFE. (Nah, its because you share really wonderful things that broaden my mind and I love it. Thank you for this.)

    2) “Inside a Chinese Test Prep Factory” both broke my heart, and warmed it. The sacrifice these parents/families are willing to make to give their children a better future is the most beautiful thing. And it makes me appreciate a new side to my privilege.

    3) “Your Son Is Deceased.” Sometimes I find it hard to wrap my mind around the corruption that takes place in REAL LIFE. So terrible and sad and terrible and heart breaking and sad.

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