HELLO and welcome to the 191st 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 American Girl dolls! 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.
How Hollywood Keeps Out Women, by Jessica P. Ogilvie for LA Weekly, April 2015
Hard to believe — or perhaps way too easy to believe — that the presence of women in Hollywood power jobs “trail far behind the percentage of females in executive positions in other heavily male-dominated endeavors, including the military, tech, finance, government, science and engineering.”
Full Battle Rattle, by Glendaliz Camacho for The Butter, June 2015
I feel this, I feel every last bit of this — the way a shocking end to a relationship leaves you, well, shocked, cautious, over-analytical, even unbearable.
After him, a sort of coldness crept in, birthed by the knowledge that anyone can sever themselves from my life at any moment. Everyone is capable of severing themselves from their humanity. The only way not to be destroyed by that understanding, the only way to survive, was to maintain a partition between myself and everyone else. This shield gave me the illusion of safety, of traveling light through life since nothing could pierce me. Not disappointment, not pain, not barbarity.
All Dolled Up: The Enduring Triumph of American Girl, by Julia Rubin for Racked, June 2015
I really admire the woman behind this concept because everybody thought it was a bad idea but she was certain that it was a good idea so she went for it and you know what, it worked! It was a good idea! I had a Samantha doll, by the way. (Okay, I still have my Samantha doll.) This is a really interesting look at a company that has changed quite a bit since I used to lustfully peruse their catalogs.
How To Teach a Nightmare, by Aisha Sabatini Sloan for Guernica, June 2015
Aisha just joined the Autostraddle team this month! You should read her essay about the 30 Americans exhibit currently on display in Detroit, and then read this wonderful essay from Guernica about Gallaway Kinnell and Alzheimer’s and the New England Literature Program and Vermont and the woods and poetry.
The $5 Billion Dollar Battle For The American Dinner Plate, by Elizabeth Segran for Fast Company, October 2015
So much money is being hurled at a crop of start-ups who plan to disrupt the prepared meal institution — but will there be enough demand to fit all of these supplies? This is an in-depth look at the industry that also contains a historical time-line of prior innovations in “making dinner easier.”
Anatomy of a Scam: The National Association of Professional Women, by Nikki Gloudeman for The Establishment, November 2015
I’ve gotten invited to this too — this organization advertising empowerment and trafficking in flattery and alleged connections — but damn I had no idea how deep this scam goes. Or how involved Star Jones appears to be in the whole situation?
Inside the Mad, Mad World of TripAdvisor, by Tom Vanderbilt for Outside Online, March 2013
For me TripAdvisor has reached the point where it contains so many contradictory reviews that I’m no longer certain it does anything for my travel experience besides confuse me? This was an interesting peek behind the curtain of a service that has become central to how I travel and maybe also to how you travel!
I Use My Body Like Money, by Alice Driver for Vela Magazine
“This is not to say that I don’t feel the pressure that money exerts, because, if anything, my experiences as a child in our small Arkansas universe, which ran more on human energy than on dollars, makes me hypersensitive to it. In fact, at times, I have rejected material wealth to such a degree that it borders on lunacy.”
A Black Woman Walks Into A Gun Show, by Kashana Cauley for Buzzfeed, November 2015
A couple months after the Dylan Roof shooting, the author visits a gun show in the Midwest, finding that “the first person who seemed happy to see me was a biracial female gun vendor who asked me not to print her name.”
A Brief Catalog of Minor Sex Scandals, by Martha Stallman for The Offing, September 2015
“I don’t start really hustling until middle school, and then I’m everywhere: I shoplift pencils and candy and slap bracelets and sell them at school; I enroll in CD and book clubs under false names, have the boxes sent to vacant houses, sneak over after dark to retrieve them, and sell the contents at school; I make and sell pornography. It’s easy.”
The Body Behind the Little White Church, by Alison Stine for narrative.ly
A brutal murder in Logan, Ohio, told so well.
I Was An Amazon Chew Toy, by Corrina Zappia for The Awl, January 2015
This is HILARIOUS.
“Most people just walked their dog from the elevator to their desks, but [this] kid perambulated around the office hallways like this was Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and he was on a mid-afternoon stroll.”
Stay tuned for the end of the year when I’ll have a really extraordinary collection of longreads to share with you!
Maybe this is just one stupid detail, but considering what the news is about I don’t think so.
In the first paragraphs of “How Hollywood Keeps Out Women” the journalist is telling the story of Diana Ossana and Brokeback Mountain. What stuck with me was that Ang Lee NEVER tried to explain who was top dog of that movie (not him, but Diana Ossana), he just took the credit and then said something on the side. That little detail also helps to enlighten how Hollywood treats women.
I loved the piece ‘Full Batle Rattle’ (which is so far the only piece I have read) because it is totally touching on the coldness that my heart has become the past few days.. and while I wanted it to give me more hope than it did… it was nice to know that other people feel this… and maybe come close to not feeling it…
AISHA. Oh god, such beautiful writing. I am overcome, reading it. I’m thrilled to be able to devour more and more of her work here at AS.
I second this! Aisha’s writing is phenomenal!
This is the most crazy supportive place I think I’ve ever been. I have so much love and gratitude and respect for you wonderful brilliant creatures.
So jealous of your Samantha doll, Riese. I wanted an American Girl doll so bad but my mom did NOT understand what was so special about them that they would cost 80 dollars. I did read all the books though! Molly was my all-time favorite.
I really, really love this column Riese. I look forward to it each fortnight. Thanks for collating the best long-reads for us. Really appreciate it!
Really enjoyed the Hollywood and NAPW pieces. Looking forward to checking out more of these later this week.
Oh my god there are other people whose cousins had terrible dogs when they were young, and are sick of trying to pretend they’re cool with everyone’s dogs everywhere more than two decades later, I am not alone.
As the spitting image of Molly growing up, I received the doll and books pretty early on (before the LikeMe or whatever it’s called line was introduced). I learned that 8×7=56 a good two years before I understood what multiplication was, fell in love with dogs because Molly did, and named my invisible friend “Emily” because that was Molly’s friend’s name.
So I was excited to see an in-depth article on “American Girl,” especially since I’m a good 20 years removed from the brand. Unfortunately I wasn’t very impressed with the outcome – as a rosy walk through AG’s history, it may as well have been commissioned by Mattel. My burning questions – in its effort to represent “every girl,” has AG made room for tomboys? (or whatever we’re supposed to call them nowadays) or boys who might brave the obviously female-targeted quagmire to be interested in the history? What I mostly read was hairstyling appointments, coordinated outfits, tea parties and other beacons of hegemonic femininity labelled as design for 9-year-old girls. But how has the brand changed, especially after its sale to Mattel? As girls grow out of playing with dolls at earlier ages, is the 9-year-old target age being moved, and how does that affect their book lines? They’re opening stores internationally, cool, what do kids in Mexico City think it means to be an American girl?
There were so many interesting places this article could have gone. Too bad.