Things I Read That I Love #277: When Love Contains Dirty Sex and Not Without Humor

HELLO and welcome to the 277th 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 The Oregon Trail! 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.


Becoming Anne Frank, by Dara Horn for The Smithsonian, November 2018

Damn. This piece did not pull a single punch, it packed every single one. I won’t stop thinking about it for a while. (The opening line is, by the way: “People love dead Jews. Living Jews, not so much.”)

Is There Such A Thing As Ballet That Doesn’t Hurt Women?, by Ellen O’Connell Whittet for Buzzfeed, October 2018

I went to a boarding school for the arts and it was interesting, as senior year came around and the best dancers in our class had to make plans for what was next, that whether or not you were going to pursue ballet professionally seemed largely determined by the body type you turned out to have (which’s hard to know when you start, as a child) rather than how good you were. Ballet is a very specific situation. Anyhow this is about the physical strain of ballet but also about ballet’s “#metoo moment.”

Everyone Believed Larry Nassar, by Kerry Howley for New York Magazine, November 2018

On the topic of female bodies pressed to the limits and the men who have preyed upon them! I thought I’d read a lot about this case but it turns out that there was a lot more to know. A very good piece that asks if Nassar has taken down USA Gymnastics with him. Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to my former neighbor, because the very first conversation he ever started with me was about Larry Nassar, which was fucked up, and now he’s not my neighbor anymore. (The next convo he started with me was about a man who recently axe-murdered his entire family.)

Inside the Mind of a Voyeur, by Pete Forde for Toronto Life, October 2018

Wow sorry there are a lot of creepy men in this post. I guess it’s on account of the number of creepy men in the world?

The National Enquirer Used to Be Fun and Good, by Ashley Feinberg for Popula, July 2018

Wow, Ashley Feinberg wrote about the history of a popular newsmagazine and detailed, with precise cutting language, its coverage of our idiot president, and nobody told me! I had to find it myself in a sidebar of all places. Also WOW the stories currently printed in The Enquirer are really choice.

In Bed: The Mattress As Art, by Larissa Pham for The Paris Review, November 2018

I love Pham’s writing always and this is absolutely no exception to that ongoing love. Also, it is about love and falling in love on this mattress.

There’s not much to do in bed, and yet you can do everything there. A bed can come to contain everything. Whenever I change my sheets, I am startled to encounter the ghost of me so deeply impressed on my mattress, where for five years I’ve only ever slept on one side. A me-size shadow of sweat, surrounded by little archipelagoes of period blood and chalky haloes of come.

The Best Way To Save People From Suicide, by Jason Cherkis for Huffington Post Highline, November 2018

This is about the mental health system and a method that seems to work but is hard to scale up and few of potential pitfalls but it’s really fascinating for anybody who’s either been suicidal or known someone suicidal or both. (Which probably applies to most of the LGBTQ+ population!)

M.F.K. Fisher and the Art of the Culinary Selfie, by Ruby Tandoh for Munchies, November 2018

I wouldn’t have read this if Heather hadn’t alerted me to it but she did and I did and now I want to eat some oysters. Also; Ruby Tandoh.

This is All Donald Trump Has Left, by David Roth for The Councourse, November 2018

This is not super long but it is super brilliantly written.

He hasn’t changed a thing since graduating from punchline to president. It’s been clear for decades that Trump was both an asshole and a dummy; this is now a problem not just for the odd unlucky cocktail waitress and his staff of cheesy apparatchiks but for literally every person on earth.

Feminist History of the Teen Drama, by Holly Genovese for Avidly, June 2018

Wow, hello my favorite fucking topic! I have, as you’ve likely noticed, been glued to teen TV since it began with Beverly Hills 90210 in the ’90s, which defined my life goals at the time unfortunately. So I enjoyed this trip down memory lane from Dawson’s Creek to Friday Night Lights to Pretty Little Liars to Riverdale.

I’m not the first to note that the dominant narrative of “the golden age of television” focuses on shows like The WireThe SopranosGame of Thrones, and Breaking Bad — which is to say, shows that render male characters central and masculinist notions of violence “important.” What would it mean to insert teen dramas into this narrative? The New York Times recently argued that teen TV is the perfect break from “peak TV” and many have noted the radical themes of these shows. But it’s important to draw out the gendered elements of this phenomenon. From LGBT relationships to homelessness to incarceration, teen dramas have handled it all. Because of the vast dismissal of teenage girls (even though they are a very powerful audience/demographic) teen dramas are particularly ignored by critical audiences. When critics ignore these shows, they miss out on good television, progressive depictions of social issues, and the media directly influencing young women.

Oregon Trail: How three Minnesotans forged its path, by Jessia Lussenhop for City Pages, January 2011

On the creation of the most popular educational computer game ever, which is how many young people engaged with computers for the first time and is now an iPhone app. It’s wild to hear what the game looked like in its first iteration in 1971 when it wasn’t very easy to make computer games and then became the game that launched the educational game industry. Wow! It made me think of how much I loved Halt and Catch Fire and how I wish it had ten more seasons.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. 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 2645 articles for us.

12 Comments

    • oops!!! ok i deleted the partial sentence, which i forgot to finish because i was like “hmmm… is this a fair parallel?” like i wasn’t sure, so it really was half a thought. you know the thing is on the internet today that you’ve really gotta be sure about a thought before you publish it on the internet! and i’m not.

      i felt like there are some parallels between the two (which Sarah Schulman has talked about at length), w/r/t what feels like a bit of … ok i hate this word and how it is used but… erasure? of the trauma suffered by these communities because the world prefers to see gay men and jews in the modern era as successful, privileged people who aren’t like, still saddled by intergenerational trauma (and also it ignores intersectional identities therein). and also parallels in terms of the kinds of stories people want to hear — reading about the anne frank story made me think of stories like RENT and Philadelphia — stories that feel sanitized and center straight people. there’s also like, anne’s queerness was erased in the diary that ended up being published, and obvs there’s some of that too when talking about the AIDS crisis these days.

  1. Dara Horn is dead on in her first line, but only up to a point. We do like to sanitize, sentimentalize, and evade any sense of guilt for historical bigotries that led to atrocities like the Holocaust or the 1921 Tulsa massacre. But then Horn includes the recovered notes of a Jew forced to lead people to the gas chambers and loot and burn their bodies afterwards. They are haunting, and almost unbearable, but Horn does readers a dis-service by not acknowledging the unbearableness. We need to remember, but it is traumatizing to look directly. Sometimes all we can do is look indirectly, through a sanitized lens.

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