Things I Read That I Love #205: It May Not Be ‘Cool’ To Be Sad, But It’s Cool To Be Yourself.”

HELLO and welcome to the 88th 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 XXX! 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.

All The Greedy Young Abigail Fishers and Me, by Jia Tolentino for Jezebel, June 2016

My new favorite internet writer Jia worked as a tutor for rich white kids looking to get into college with a stellar personal essay they were incapable of writing their own damn selves, and she feels shitty about it, and so this is about that and this is also about the larger issue with affirmative action and white people from well-off families who feel entitled to things but they shouldn’t because THEY AREN’T.

The Reluctant Memoirist, by Suki Kim for The New Republic, June 2016

Oh man I wanted to kill everybody after reading this. Kim’s publisher decided to label her work of investigative journalism a “memoir,” and it was roundly critiqued as such, which was totally unfair, as obviously undergoing a deep investigation in North Korea is not a soul-searching journey but a journalism journey. This is really good and interesting you should read it I demand you to do so.

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard, by Shane Bauer for Mother Jones, July/August 2016

This is an intense two-hour commitment to a piece of journalism but it is worth every minute of your life that it takes. Mother Jones has been putting this story together for years and yes, things are as bad, and even worse, at private prisons than they are on television shows about private prisons.

The Female-First Playground of Orgasmic Meditation, by Sarah Barmak for The Hairpin, June 2016

This is an excerpt from a new book about THE ORGASMIC FRONTIER!

The State of the Domestic Goddess, by Emily Gould for Eater, June 2016

Emily Gould cooks food and talks about it!

Think Gender Is A Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank For That, by Molly Fischer for New York Magazine, May 2016

Unfortunately this article did not get into the issue of whether or not Judith Butler used to work out at the same YMCA I did in Berkeley.

Sad Girl Fashion, by Rebecca Jennings for Racked, July 2016

I own a shirt called “Sad Girl Fan Club” so I found this immediately relevant to my interests.

And there is another, less-discussed aspect of the internet-cool sad girl, which is that it becomes somewhat of a paradox when performative sadness is a trait that also signifies coolness. In other words, it takes confidence to wear a T-shirt implying one is ugly, or never leaves the house, or has a terrible personality — a confidence that’s in direct conflict with its contents. I ask Portwood-Stacer whether she thinks this relates to privilege, the same way the “normcore” look only registers as such if you’re rich, cool, and skinny enough to pull off tacky, unflattering clothes without people taking them at face value.

What Uber Drivers Make, by Caroline O’Donovan and Jeremy Singer-Vine for Buzzfeed, June 2016

Leaked data analyzing over one million reveals that Uber drivers — SURPRISE! — are not making all that much more than they would working at Wal-Mart.

My Life As A “Sex Object,” by Jessica Valenti for The Guardian, May 2016

An excerpt from her new book.

When you catch a cold or a virus, your body has ways of letting you know that you are sick. But what diagnosis do you give to the shaking hands you get after a stranger whispers “pussy” in your ear on your way to work? What medicine can you take to stop being afraid that the cab driver is not actually taking you home? And what about those of us who walk through all this without feeling any of it – what does it say about the hoops our brain had to jump through to get to ambivalence? I don’t believe any of us walk away unscathed.

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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 3201 articles for us.


  1. I am saving all of these to pocket so I can read them at my parent’s house later this weekend!

  2. If you are transgender, or going through some other gender identity discovery, I think Judith Butler might be a bit easier to read than for those people who are comfortable being their birth gender. I imagine that some of her statements make more sense when you are going through the search for how to “be” the gender that you feel will allow you to be happy in life. Just a thought.

  3. edward blum was the guy behind the case that was brought before the supreme court in which they voted to gut the voting rights act, he’s also the guy who brought abigail fisher’s case to the supreme court. he’s going to bring two more cases attacking affirmative action at some point. I learned about him from a radiolab podcast called more perfect. the podcast also looked at the case of john lawrence and tyron garner, two men arrested in 1998 for having gay sex in their own home, ( they werent but that didnt matter). gay heroes who i’d never heard of, sad really. anyway, if you’re interested in these stories you wont be disappointed.

  4. That Mother Jones prison espose, my lord. I kept my partner up til nearly midnight reading that, I was so transfixed. Thanks as usual for the recommendations, Riese! <3

  5. About the Sad Girl Fashion: I don’t much care for message tees, but I do own one that says “Cat hair is lonely people glitter.” It’s funny because it’s true! But wearing it in public does not involve any sort of confidence (I have none whatsoever), it’s just that between decades of untreated depression and now side effects from antidepressants, I’m physically incapable of caring. About anything ever. I think they were overlooking that possibility, at least for some people.

  6. I think the Sad Girl Fashion article is 100% on point about that performative sadness as a form of something close to irony.

    It’s the same sort of thing you see with all those endless ‘pro-pizza’ shirts where the text is always about how the wearer would rather be eating pizza and yet you only really see these shirts being worn by thin, normative girls. Put the “ugly girl” shirt on a conventionally pretty girl and it’s groundbreaking; put the “pizza is bae” shirt on a thin girl and it’s refreshing; put any of these shirts on someone who doesn’t fit the normative idea of attractive and suddenly the message ‘isn’t ironic anymore’ and should be discouraged.

    I appreciate the Sad Girl aesthetic for its acceptance and normalization of depression/anxiety/etc (which are very very common) but I do think that the performative sadness and ‘irony’ factors need to be addressed somehow. Not sure how. But somehow.

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