Things I Read That I Love #222: I Look For Myself In Other Women’s Bodies

This post was published on Friday but we just realized it has been backdated this whole time and therefore you didn’t know it existed until just now. We’re sorry!

HELLO and welcome to the 222nd 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 women’s prisons! 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.

The Trash Heap Has Spoken, by Carmen Maria Machado for Guernica, February 2017

This is GORGEOUS and I want her to write for us so bad.

Every day, I look for myself in other women’s bodies. This is what happens when you never see yourself in television shows or catalogues or movies—you get hungry. In passersby, I seek out a faithful replica of my own full chest: my plastic-bag stomach pooched over jeans, my milk-carton hips, and my face with its peach-pit cheekbones set in coffee grounds. In this way, I see myself in pieces, mostly, and have to assemble my body in my mind.

‘White Trash’ — The Original Underclass, by Alec MacGillis for ProPublica, August 2016

A look at two recent books about the white lower-class and the history that brought us to this moment today where we are currently existing. It was written before Trump’s election but it’s a good look at what we might be wrong about when we conceptualize this group. I’m not sure I’m here for all of it, but it was interesting to read and think about.

The Downfall Of YouTube’s Biggest Star Is A Symptom Of A Bigger Illness, by Jacob Clifton for Buzzfeed News, February 2017

I’m so glad Jacob Clifton is writing big things on the internet all the time.

Because we overlook these folks as they travel from A to B, we assume that A equals B; they never “changed,” they just got their covers pulled. We looked away, in reality, just long enough for the change to occur outside our peripheral vision. The reality is that they were begging for limits, and we didn’t offer them, because they’re too gross to look at. Drawing a self-comforting line between “Reddit dorks” over here and “monsters” over there does nothing to stop them, much less help them. It only serves the rest of us.

A History of Women’s Prisons, by Jessica Pishko for JStor, March 2015

Did you know that until the 1960s, there was only ONE women’s prison in the West? That is one of many interesting things you’ll learn about the evolution of women’s prisons in this here fucked up country of ours.

Why Has It Taken the Menstrual Cup So Long to Go Mainstream?, by Natalie Shure for The Pacific Standard, July 2016

You probably know how I feel about Diva Cups already but the history of menstruation products (as well as the note that there is so little recorded history on this topic ’cause it was so taboo) was interesting enough it ALMOST convinced me to try Diva Cups again but who are we kidding, I’d rather have a tiny hat.

Mary Gaitskill: I Have Nothing Rational to Say About What’s Happening Now, by Helen Chandler for Lithub, February 2017

An interviewish feature with my fave writer, who is apparently releasing a poetry book very soon!

“…People are more secure around you if you’re married. I don’t know why, it’s like you’re a loose cannon if you’re single.” Has she noticed attitudes shifting again since getting back together with Peter? “Now that I’m an identifiable unit again, there’s a level of comfort. I don’t think it’s my imagination, people feel more comfortable with me this way.”

To the Mary-Kate and Ashley Museum We Go, by Mayukh Sen for Racked, April 2016

From the great minds that gave you the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan museum comes another journey into celebrity culture as a museum. I wonder what they’re up to now!

From Clarissa to Gone Girl: Rape, the Novel, and Me, by Amy Gentry for Electric Lit, August 2016

In the courtyard of the dormitory where I lived at the time stood a statue of Diana the huntress. As campus legend had it, her bow was drawn for the men peeping into the windows of the all-women’s dorm across the way. I think about that statue, and about Ovid’s Metamorphoses, so beautiful and wise and funny and also kind of a rape parade; about Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus; and, of course, about Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. And I realize that what I’m describing here isn’t a list of books I’d like to see banned from the classroom; in fact, it is a list of my favorite books. It also a solid bit of evidence that Western culture is rape culture. Or, to put it another way: rape culture is just culture-culture. If only there were a trigger warning big enough for that.

Why America’s Airports Suck, by Leanna Orr for Institutional Investor, February 2017

I guess I’ve always just accepted that airports are awful. But what if they don’t have to be!!?? This is an interesting history of airport design and a look at the future of some of the worst airports in America — LaGuardia, JFK and Newark.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


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 3199 articles for us.


  1. You seriously think Laurie Penny’s Milo article was “witty and incisive” and “splendid” ??

    Sorry, I usually appreciate the articles you recommend, but you must be having an off-day. Maybe try reading Mikki Kendall’s comments on the article (on her Twitter feed) or Aura Bogado’s article ( get a sense of how Penny’s writing reeks of insensitivity and privilege.

    • Thanks for the other perspectives. I really don’t know anything about Penny or the other folks you mentioned. I can appreciate Penny’s inside baseball approach, but there a whole lot of erasure and harm being done veiled through a Peter Pan allegory. It’s gross and definitely feels privileged to not hold the “Lost Boys” adults accountable for the harm they’ve caused. Again thanks.

    • i’ve removed the article… i knew literally nothing about laurie penny going into reading that article, and had never heard of her at all. i assumed the piece, which was promoted on various longform sites, was an indictment of the boys, and i read it that way and didn’t read it as sympathetic to them, or letting them off the hook, but maybe i was just giving her too much credit because i didn’t know what kind of a person she is or about any of her past words or actions.

      i read mikki kendall’s article and obviously defer to her on this!

      thanks for alerting me and i apologize for promoting it

    • I logged in to second Riese’s wish to have you write for AS and I saw you had already responded! Your writing is a dream and now I’m super excited for your book and potentially AS writing.

  2. Yeah, not so sure about the Laurie Penny article. I also really liked the paragraph you quoted, along with a few others, but apparently she only put in 1-2 paragraphs on how white men are considered innocent “boys” well into adulthood after it was pointed out to her by poc that she was going too easy on these “lost boys.” I’ve seen a lot of woc point out to her on twitter where she went wrong, and she doesn’t seem particularly willing to listen or accept criticism. Also she’s friends with Milo ??

    I think the article is still perhaps worth reading, but maybe you could edit your recap/rec of the piece to reflect some of this? (The response piece linked to by @Dykewitch above is also good!)

    • Update: just saw this series of tweets: Seems that Penny is asking for feedback, and prioritizing poc responses. I’m still always wary of writers asking for other writers (esp woc) to put in this free labor to help/educate them, esp when they specifically ask for responses to be moved from a public (& transparent) forum & into a private one, but who knows, maybe it’s a good sign!

  3. For a long time now, almost every article my sister and I rec each other has been written by Jacob Clifton, who we just call Jacob still, because I don’t think TWoP used last names

    Those gossip girl recaps were art and made me the media eating monster I am today

    • Loved TWoP. Sarah and Tarah have a podcast called Previously tv. I think that’s the name. Again With This where they talk about Beverly Hills 90210.

  4. Laurie Penny’s criticism is well deserved (and is that short hair piece ever asinine), but I’m not sure why Jacob Clifton gets a pass on basically using a lot of the same type of language to describe ‘young men testing boundaries in the angriest corners of the internet’. He also emphasizes their youth and pursuit of lulz in ways that position them as children. Their articles are not identical but they have much in common.

    Both Penny and Clifton appear keen to understand the psychological factors that lead to internet radicalization among young white men, but when you read their pieces back to back, Penny is the one who appears more emphatic that Milo’s fans deserve to face consequences for their violence.

  5. That’s a big no for me with the diva cup. Just ewwww. My period is already shitty enough without having to clean a cup.

  6. Great links this week!
    I have so many feelings about the white trash essay. I grew up poor and white and rural- I hate the term white trash. My parents were not trash, they were superheroes. My mom dumpster dived before it was cool in order to have food for us to eat. My father pulled himself out of an abusive home and alcoholism to become a laborer and give us a stable home. Now I live in a liberal Midwestern city where most people are upper middle class and I feel the contempt people have for country folk and it makes my blood boil. I have friends from home who are Trump supporters and while it breaks my heart, I definitely understand their complaints. I just wish they would have been a better choice for them besides Clinton 2.0 and Trump.

  7. Would you believe it, I was only thinking about Tonya/Nancy yesterday and here they are, tangentially mentioned in an AS post. I wasn’t even going to click on this post because I should be getting ready for work right now, but I guess the Tonya vibes were just too strong.

  8. My favorite thing about diva cups is when gay men tell me to use them because tampons and pads are not environmentally friendly and reusing a cup is just so much better for everyone!!!!

        • Ummm no person who doesn’t have periods is allowed to have opinions on periods, duh

          Assuming this gay dude was cis, that’s effed up

          • I completely agree, he was/is cis, and yes it’s effed up. He also told me I don’t “need” to use tampons, and aside from using a cup, I could use a cloth or a rag that I could wash. Because women have done that in the past and some women still do it. Cool story, bro.

  9. Sad you can’t like comments anymore… When did this happen?

    Anyway, loved “The Trash Heap Has Spoken.” Beautiful writing.

Comments are closed.