Things I Read That I Love #190: I Am Not Writing A Novel Called “1994” About A Young Woman In An Office Park In a Provincial Town

HELLO and welcome to the 190th 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 murder of a nun that never got solved! 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.


Not Writing, by Anne Boyer for Bookforum, July 2015

Well this is the best thing I have ever read.

There are some hours, though not very many, on airplanes, and times with friends spent in the production of not writing. There is talking which is like writing and which produces not writing in equal measure to producing writing. There is an amount of time not writing which is not wanting to actually have to talk to humans unless it is in order to get them to have sex or in order to convince them to leave. There is sleep, which is often dreams, which is closer to writing—dreams are more like writing than not writing in that they are not intruded upon in their moments by the necessities of all the paid work, care work, social expectations, romantic love or talking to people. There is sleep which is often about gossip, architecture, and modes of civic planning and in this is closer to writing than not writing.

That Time My Boyfriend Made Out With My Aunt On Thanksgiving, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment, November 2015

Well, this is the second-best thing I have ever read!

…when you are in the middle of custody battles, heartbreak, and legal fees — all you need is one thing in common and proximity. At first. But we had reached the point in our relationship where I despised everything about him. Not just the ugly crying, his smug laugh like he gets paid $5,000 for every shitty joke, his inability to ever pick a restaurant for dinner, or the fact that he texted me from the bathroom. Not just the fact that he used scented shower gel, scented lotion, cologne, and matching deodorant ALL AT ONCE. But I digress.

On Pandering, by Claire Vaye Watkins for Tin House, November 2015

Okay, I take it all back: this is the best thing I have ever read. I relate so hard I wish I could turn it into a song and sing it on top of a building in the middle of the day in my terrible, awful singing voice. I relate so intensely to so much of what she writes about w/r/t centering men and watching boys do stuff and also the anecdote the story begins with, the stuff about Steven Elliot, good god, my friends, read this.

When I said, I’m a writer, Stephen heard, I’m a girl. And, because I was a girl, when I said, No, you cannot sleep in my bed, he heard someone who “wasn’t so sure.” I continued, in his mind, to be unsure, and only the man I was dating—in Stephen’s infantilizing phrase “the boy she was getting to know”—could be sure for me. The story Stephen told himself went: “She had been drinking and I don’t drink.” Because I was not a writer, not a person, I was easily made into a drunk girl unable to tell her own story.

That is, until now.

Why Do We Humanize White Guys Who Kill People? by Rebecca Traister for The Cut, December 2015

If you haven’t already read this, now is the time, this is your moment, this is your big chance, your big day, to read this! Laneia already told you to read this, so I hope you read this.

Yes She Can: A Skeptic’s Journey, by Michael Eric Dyson for The New Republic, December 2015

Does Hillary Clinton have the potential to be good for black people, is the question that this author is seeking to answer.

Obama’s handsome black face and megawatt smile were enough to blind black folk to the stunning underperformance of his administration on race. If Bill Clinton gave black America bad policy and Obama gave black America no policy, then Hillary Clinton is left only with good policy. She must achieve what her predecessors only promised. In a sense, Clinton has emerged at precisely what seems like a strikingly unpropitious moment. The boring, the tedious, the serious attention to the small gestures that make big impacts are ill-suited to the unruly temper of the times. But this perceived liability may be her strongest asset to the black masses: She can offer strict attention to policy that unapologetically plays to black needs without ever feeling pressure—as Obama has—to disown, to begrudge the style, of explicit black advance.

I read two articles on the topic of Hillary Clinton’s status with black voters this month, actually: the other one, by Joan Walsh, was in The Nation, called Are Black Women Ready For Hillary?

Cooperative Kitchens of Yesteryear, by Christine Baumgarthuber for The New Inquiry, December 2015

This was SO INTERESTING! It’s about women in the late 1800s who felt overwhelmed by the sudden and lonely burden of housework that became theirs to bear with the dawn of industrialization. So they decided to do something about it by creating cooperative kitchens. Women would work together making meals for all members of the co-operative — okay, just read it and you’ll find out how it all went down.

Silence is Broken, by Rianna Hidalgo and Martha Tesema for Real Change, October 2015

This is a long and in-depth interview with the two girls who interrupted the Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, Mara Willaford and Marissa Johnson. They’re really funny and have a lot of really compelling ideas — even the ones that might not make sense to you or sit right with you are still valuable concepts to consider. There are so many quotes I wanted to pull for this but I couldn’t pick just one! It’s interesting that Marissa is an evangelical Christian, she touches on how that actually contributed to her not being afraid to speak up where she’s not been invited to speak, regardless of the crowd response. This is a long interview but it’s such a valuable read.

…our egos and images have really been dragged through the mud… [and that] has been painful and mind-blowing to watch, absolutely, but I think it has been necessary for us to develop as people and leaders to shred any need to have a good image, ‘because I just don’t think that’s the kind of leaders that we are. And I don’t think that’s our path and that’s okay. But liberation is really collective in that struggles from the past and things our elders have done in the past influences the context that we’re working under now and what we do, how we react in every instance, how we treat each other and other people in the movement and our community, that lays a groundwork for people in the future for future struggles of future generations.

Another highlight: “The only question I have for Hillary is when she’s gonna personally write my reparations check. That is the literally the only question.”

Buried in Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder Of A Nun Who Knew Too Much, by Laura Bassett for The Huffington Post, May 2015

This is a terrible story about a ring of sexually abusive men who were protected by the church and protected by the police and nobody got punished but somebody got killed. And now many years later, a group of people related to the case back then are still trying to get justice for the really nice nun whose murder was never solved.

On that same note, I read…

Church Allowed Abuse By Priest For Years, by Michael Rezendes for The Boston Globe, January 2002

Journalism like this is why we can’t just let papers shut down, we have to pay for them! More than 130 people have emerged to tell of abuse at the hands of a former priest, John J. Geoghan, who was allowed to abuse, molest and rape young boys for decades as the powers-that-be just shuffled him from one parish to another, even when he openly admitted his proclivities. This is fucking awful.

Beyond the Maximum, by Suketu Mehta for The Guardian, November 2015

When cities thrive, who benefits? I’ve read a lot of articles about gentrification but this one had a lot of new ideas and information in it that is absolutely worth your while.

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 2683 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. I’m so into all of this. I read “On Pandering” probably three times yesterday and I’ll probably read it again. I want to read it until it’s possible to be tired of the way she breaks silence. It’s absolutely the essay form of the best of music, that power it has to ease cognitive dissonance and do work on complicated emotions. Or, like, the capitalist white supremacist patriarchy. That too.

    • GOODNESS. This comment made me realize I should have organized an Autostraddle meetup for The Seattle Process. Ijeoma Oluo, Mara Willaford, and Marissa Johnson were all guests at the last one, and Lindy West and Ahamefule Oluo will be guests at this week’s. (I’m going to the early show, & it’s sold out, but there are still tickets for the late.)

  2. There were actually a lot of cooperatives in the late 1800s in the US. Most of them were working people’s organizations because the cooperative movements itself started in the UK with groups of workers organizing together in associations to sell products at affordable prices to their members. Later they expanded into other stuff, including shared housing schemes and coop owned factories where profits were shared directly with the workers. I don’t know a lot about the cooperative movements in American but in the UK, they were for a very long time openly and strongly socialist and at times their views were fairly radical (for example, they were vocally anti-war).

    There’s interest in Pierce and her work now because she had this idea of charging husbands money for domestic work that many are hailing as very proto-feminist. But this makes me uncomfortable because she essentially stole a mode of organizing that working people (including many women) created and used and remade it into something that working people couldn’t use. It’s nice to think women getting wages for housework from husbands, but it implies that families participating in the scheme have enough money that women can take a part of their household budget for themselves and spend in on themselves. Which wasn’t true for most working families who had to spend most or all of their money on necessities.

  3. Ijeoma Oluo’s story “My Boyfriend made out with my Aunt on Thanksgiving” was just the perfect amount of snark and dysfunction, great story-telling and great humor that I’m pining for during the holidays. Thanks!

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