Things I Read That I Love #199: A Life-Size Vagina Mascot Runs Around The Field With A Megaphone

HELLO and welcome to the 199th 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 Marcia Clark! 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.

Is This The End Of the Era Of the Important Inappropriate Literary Man?, by Jia Tolentino for Jezebel, March 2016

This is the third time in the past six months that Jia Tolentino has managed to express something I have felt in my heart but not had the words to confidently articulate (the first time, the second time) and damn, I’m just glad she exists and is running shit at Jezebel.

Men Explain Lolita To Me, by Rebecca Solnit for Lithub, December 2015


When I wrote the essay that provoked such splenetic responses, I was trying to articulate that there is a canonical body of literature in which women’s stories are taken away from them, in which all we get are men’s stories. And that these are sometimes not only books that don’t describe the world from a woman’s point of view, but inculcate denigration and degradation of women as cool things to do.

80 Books No Woman Should Read, by Rebecca Solnit for LitHub, November 2015

So after reading that I had to read this.

No One Is Making Decisions For Me, by Melissa Gira Grant for Buzzfeed, March 2015

Heather Saul was an escort who was attacked by her client, a serial killer of sex workers, and she killed him in self-defense and miraculously, the police believed her story and she has been actually celebrated for doing what she did, an act which saved many more sex workers from also being killed. But the aftermath has been very weird for her. Also she has a dog named Fancy and so do I, so.

The Reckoning, by Pamela Colloff for Texas Monthly, March 2016

Did you read 96 Minutes? I feel like I shared it here a while ago, it was the oral history of the 1966 University of Texas Tower shooting. This is the story of Claire Wilson, the 18-year-old pregnant woman who was shot — it killed her baby, and her boyfriend was killed too. This is the story of what happened to Claire after that day.

How Jennifer Garner Went Full “Minivan Majority,” by Anne Helen Peterson for Buzzfeed, March 2016

I’ve never really thought about Jennifer Garner for more than about four minutes, although I thought she was neat in Juno. So I read this and now I have thought about her for more minutes than before.

On Spinsters, by Briallen Hopper for the Los Angeles Review of Books, July 2015

This is mostly not about being queer but there’s a lot of queer stuff in here and well it’s a good read.

It’s hard not to compare Alcott’s grand, broad-shouldered statue symbolizing women’s strength, labor, and potential political power to Bolick’s small silver hood ornament on an unaffordable car. I won’t dwell on what the comparison says about Bolick’s spinster wish. Instead I’ll just say that Alcott writes about spinsters as women of substance, comrades, friends, activists, and insatiable eaters of sardines, whose conversations and shared hopes cause each other’s hearts to glow. And if you want to read a book about spinsters that will inspire you to pursue a purpose in life beyond your own personal wish-fulfillment, you should read Herland or An Old-Fashioned Girl.

Brave Face, by Stacey May Fowles for Hazlitt, March 2016

Sometimes I consider that watching the public reaction to the real Marcia Clark twenty years ago prepared me for a lifetime of tiny gendered slights in the adult workplace and beyond. Watching her now, played with Sarah Paulson’s thoughtful nuance and Murphy’s deliberate feminist undertones, painfully validates all the exhausting experiences that followed. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” is a graceful argument against the notion that those in the public eye deserve what they get, and is an indictment of a world that punishes the women who find themselves there.

Insider Baseball, by Joan Didion for The New York Review of Books, October 1988

This is from 1988 but explained so much about what is happening right now, and everything about this is spot-on. “Spot-on.”

“This election isn’t about ideology, it’s about competence,” Michael Dukakis had said in Atlanta. “First and foremost, it’s a choice between two persons,” one of his senior advisers, Thomas Kiley, had told The Wall Street Journal. “What it all comes down to, after all the shouting and the cheers, is the man at the desk,” George Bush had said in New Orleans. In other words what it was “about,” what it came “down to,” what was wrong or right with America, was not an historical shift largely unaffected by the actions of individual citizens but “character,” and if “character” could be seen to count, then every citizen—since everyone was a judge of character, an expert in the field of personality—could be seen to count. This notion, that the citizen’s choice among determinedly centrist candidates makes a “difference,” is in fact the narrative’s most central element, and also its most fictive.

My Long, Dark Night In Trumplandia, by Patricia Lockwood for The New Republic, March 2016

Damn this was even better than I expected it to be, it was just exquisitely well-written. Also you will find this week’s headline in this article.

Trump presents a surface with no handle, a wall without a door. He is the opposite of nuclear physics but has the same effect: When you set out to think about his implications, your mind runs up against the problem of scope. “We either have a country or we don’t,” he told the crowd, as another news team dashed over and bent a microphone down to Babiker.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of 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 Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.


  1. Wow. Thanks Riese. This list looks immense but satisfying. I look forward to checking them out this weekend. I do dread the time that Ill have to wade thru “Trumpladia” but I think any critical writing on Trump is a necessary read. Also, Joan Didion!

  2. Reise the Trumplandia article just totally triggered a memory of last night’s dream and I remembered my family owned a mansion in an Official Trump Neighborhood (like he had developed it) and there was a man-made lagoon to swim in but it had alligators and we kept having to put out fires from smoke stacks on the roof, which would not even support our weight, so I think the moral of the story is don’t buy Trump real estate, even in your dreams.

  3. Just for the record, I think I have loved every single word of Rebecca Solnit’s that I have ever read. Thanks for pointing me towards more of her words!

  4. I would just really like to know why Queen Latifah is involving herself in this minivan majority bandwagon with Jennifer Garner. I mean, is Queen Latifah aware of how out of place she is? She’s being like that one older super dyke that all baby gays heavily involved in church know…the one who coaches the church coed softball team and has never dated anyone ever and wears a lot of cargo shorts. A regular Susie Shellenberger.

  5. I flipped through that list of 80 books out of curiosity, and saw only one that I’ve ever read, which I did back in high school. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. =)

  6. This is probably my favorite Autostraddle “column” (or joint favorite… OK, definitely top three). I was transfixed by “96 Minutes,” which you did indeed share a while ago, and Claire’s account stayed in my mind. And now we have “The Reckoning”! Riese, you’re the best.

  7. Both Jia’s (did you listen to her interview on Longform?) and Rebecca Solnit’s articles deeply reinforce my desire to never read a book by a white man again. In fact, when I requested reading suggestions from my (cis dude, mostly white) coworkers yesterday, I shot down pretty much everything they had to say because I just didn’t want to dedicate that much of my time to white men’s words.

    • I did listen to her interview on longform and then I told all of you to listen to it in the last installment of TIRTL! I loved it, I love her, I love it all. I’m just head over heels.

  8. I’m surprised that both you and Laneia seem to be fully backing those articles on jezebel because all 3 are full of victim blaming and things like “but was it actually really rape?” and “do we actually need to believe survivors?” which I find pretty gross.

    • they’re actually *not* either of those things. which is what is so great about them. that she risks the possibility of that exact misreading/misinterpretation in order to confront some of the more complicated aspects of HOW we dismantle rape culture and hold abusers accountable. she wants the same things that the people whose methods she questions wants — the same things we all want, the same things me and laneia want (which includes believing survivors and not blaming victims) — and claiming otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

  9. As you read the account of the tower, you can feel the heat. You can feel the sweat of those there that day. You can feel the stress and hear the sounds of bullets fired from that place. As they speak the only thing you can look at is that tower.

  10. I wish all these people saying to Rebecca Solnit that you’re not supposed to identify with Lolita’s character understood that that’s exactly what Nabokov intended. I don’t think it should be necessary to point to expressed authorial intent to conclude that the reader’s sympathies are supposed to be with the victim, and not with the rapist pedophile. I think it’s clear from the book itself. However, in case there’s any doubt, Nabokov himself spoke to the issue a number of times (presumably in response to critics who accused him of pedophilic tendencies himself, or who — worse yet — saw the book, as one famous critic did, as the story of a “weak man seduced by a corrupt child”). These quotations are all from the Vintage paperback edition of “Strong Opinions,” a collection of Nabokov interviews and essays:

    p. 26, on choosing Humbert Humbert’s name: “The double rumble is, I think, very nasty, very suggestive. It is a hateful name for a hateful person.”

    p. 93, in response to an interviewer’s comment that in Hollywood and New York, “relationships are very common between men of forty and girls very little older than Lolita,” and that their marriages incur “no particular public outrage,” Nabokov says: “[C]ases of men in the their forties marrying girls in their teens or early twenties have no bearing on Lolita whatever. Humbert was fond of ‘little girls’ — not simply ‘young girls.’ Nymphets are girl-children, not starlets and ‘sex kittens.’ Lolita was twelve, not eighteen, when Humbert met her. You may remember that by the time she is fourteen, he refers to her as his ‘aging mistress.'”

    p. 94, in commenting on one critic’s statement that the character of Humbert “retains a touching and insistent quality,” Nabokov says: “I would put it differently — Humbert Humbert is a vain and cruel wretch who manages to appear ‘touching.’ That epithet, in its true, tear-iridized sense, can only apply to my poor little girl [i.e., to Lolita herself].”

    And so on. Perhaps I should also point out that Nabokov’s sympathies hardly lay with child molestors, given his own personal history of being sexually abused by an uncle on repeated occasions when he was 8 or 9 (as referred to in passing in his autobiography “Speak, Memory”).

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