Things I Read That I Love #298: The Way Teenage Relationships Tread That Knife Edge Between Disgust and Desire

HELLO and welcome to the 298th 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 know about TikTok!!! 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 TikTok Holds Our Attention, by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker, September 2019

I am so pleased to have reached the stage in my life where I only know about that cool new tech thing all the kids are doing from reading an article about it in The New Yorker.

Why Are Queer People So Mean To Each Other? by Kai Cheng Thom for Xtra, August 2019

In the crucible of queer community, under the constant pressure of systemic oppression and violence, our fight-flight-freeze instincts are on overdrive. We perceive danger everywhere, because it is everywhere; and to compensate, we demand uniformity and perfect cohesion from our fellow community members. Deviations and dissent are perceived as threats to our collective body — this is why we are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone) when someone says that problematic thing in the political workshop or when we see our friend post a “bad take” on Twitter. Our threat management systems come online, categorize problematic behaviour as a threat — and frequently go on the offensive to neutralize the perceived danger.

Dark Crystals: The Brutal Reality Behind a Booming Wellness Craze, by By Tess McClure for The Guardian, September 2019

A trip to Madagascar, where your crystals are mined by individuals for whom the work does not pay well enough to feed their families, but is also often the only work available.

Pam Grier on Maintaining Her Independence and Identity in Showbiz, by David Marchese for The New York Times Magazine, September 2019

It wasn’t called blaxploitation until I put my feet in the men’s shoes. Men had done the same type of formulaic films before I did. It wasn’t until I stepped in their shoes that they said, “Well, these movies are for a black audience.” I was creating the market for films about women fighting back and using sexuality.

How To Major in Unicorn, by Max Read for New York Magazine, September 2019

This feature was really interesting in the print magazine partially ’cause of how dynamic the layout was so I’m curious if its online iteration captures the same attention.

Cash/Consent, by Lorelei Lee for n+1, Fall 2019

When I wrote this one of the hardest things to articulate and feel confident about was my insistence that sex work could be a choice without also being empowering, and this author is coming from a different place than me but is one of a few pieces I’ve read that actually gives voice to an argument I found elusive as recently as last year.

Under these constructs, we have only two options: to be victims, which means we need to be rescued from our work—even if that rescue happens in handcuffs—or to be empowered sex workers, which means saying we’ve never experienced violence or constrained choice, that we love our jobs all day every day, and to be free we only need access to the free market.

How “Empire Records” Became The Unlikely Film of a Generation, by Anne Helen Peterson for Buzzfeed, September 2014

This is me, yes: For our generation — a shoulder demographic between Generation X and the millennials — this was one of our movies, a film that managed, however oddly, to capture the ineffable feeling of being a (white, straight) quasi-alienated teenager in a very specific time.

A Brutal Murder, a Wearable Witness and an Unlikely Suspect, by Lauren Smiley for Wired, September 2019

How FitBit data produced an unlikely suspect in the murder case of 67-year-old Karen Navarra.

Who Would I Be Without Instagram? An investigation, by Tavi Gevinson for New York, September 2019

“…the rapid-fire stage-mom math I performed in curating my various Instagram accounts was likely instrumental to the presentation of my authentic self that would eventually lead to branded-content deals, acting roles, and my career as I now know it. Rather than some tamped-down impulse, my ability to control how I was seen, to know what to say (and when, and how), was maybe never switched off but an instinct like any other, dovetailing with the many conscious and unconscious decisions that made up all my acts of self-expression.”

Treat Yourself: Beyond Millennial Burnout, by Apoorva Tadepalli for The Point

This nameless fear becomes the subject of much amicable conversation in my New York world, so different from the hectic world of underfunded nonprofits for low-income housing development that I left behind in Bombay. My Bombay life offered little time for self-analysis, and even less indication that I was important, and therefore little time for anxiousness about whether how we spent our time justified our importance; but here, this nameless fear becomes not only a constant internal presence but also, as a perennial subject of conversation, a kind of social currency. The feeling is so omnipresent it would be odd, almost inconsiderate, not to have it, like showing up at a white elephant party with no gift.

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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 3180 articles for us.


  1. As a Gen-Xer married to a Millennial who laughs her face off at TikTok to my total bewilderment, that article was exactly the explanation I needed, thank you

  2. Well that “How to Major in Unicorn” was not the roadmap to emotional maturity in threesome relationships I was anticipating.

    • I have been burdened with so much unicorn 🦄 related paraphernalia and assorted crap thanks to my ex’s mother
      Can I get course credit for that

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