Around The Internet In 8 Articles
There are months where the idea of a smug Internet detox is a siren song. When writing this whole “around the Internet in 8 articles“ thing seems dumb. I could go back to the reading BOOKS at other times apart from bedtime, I think. It gets louder: I could go visit my family. It gets deafening: I’m pretty sure my brain’s broken. Maybe I should Walden it and go off and live in the woods.
Then there are months when what’s happening on the Internet seems so much realer and more vital than anything else that it feels like tunneling through the surfaces of my polite co-worker chit-chat into some sort of collective subconscious. This is a wildly hyperbolic sentence, but hi, here we are. Read the below and tell me this isn’t one of these months.
Mirza is smart and deft about the microaggressions of being around white women and the toxicity of white fragility. As a white woman, I can’t lie: this was an uncomfortable read. But to quote Twitter user @BonnieBastien “settle into the discomfort.” Mirza’s the best at calling out white women on their bullshit: “How they will choose comfort over effort, how they will read this and think I am talking about someone else, another pardon.” If you’re white, I challenge you to read this like it’s addressing you and sit with that feeling.
The music editor of the Guardian calls out our lazy embrace of all and any pop music as high art as a parallel to our blanket worship of white boy indie bands in the early ‘00s. Completely epic.
— (The Atlantic)
Filipino-American journalist Alex Tizon (who passed away in March) wrote an article which you’ve probably already seen and/or heard about. Eudocia Tomas Pulido pretty much raised Tizon and his family — but she was never paid for her work, had no living space of her own or free time and was emotionally and physically abused. The article raises a lot of questions — why didn’t Tizon free her the moment he became an adult and realised the moral implications of his family’s relationship with Pulido? Why was The Atlantic giving a voice to someone partly complicit in Pulido’s abuse? So head straight to responses from readers who have very real experience of being indentured instead.
Whether you worship at the altar of Elliott or not, this is something special. Splice the attention to detail of Didion with the social commentary of Babitz and the easy sci-fi vaults into a world parallel to our own of Butler and you’ll reach a place somewhere close to this piece. On a day on which I was feeling sad and a little jaded about the possibilities of online writing, reading this felt a bit like drinking a shot of rocket fuel.
Ignore the clickbait-y title, head to the insightful prose: “The problem had to do with sex…It had to do with being a middle-aged wife and mother and needing and wanting to be seen and known by new people in a new way, maybe even by people she didn’t particularly like or love or respect all that much.” Brooks shines a spotlight on an area of female sexuality that’s rarely discussed: that of a wife and mother for someone she’s not married to or in love with.
On a first reading, this jarred a little. Tolentino has previously worked at the likes of Jezebel and The Hairpin, both of which still do a strong line in first person essays. The first person essay always felt like a democratizing force — it didn’t matter what experiences or press contacts you had access to, it was about the quality of your writing rather than anything else (something that lends itself more easily, for example, to juggling with a full time job than carrying out an investigative piece of reporting). But the title’s a little misleading. Tolentino’s referring to a very specific brand of personal essay – the pieces that are more about shocking, gross-out themes (cat hair in your vagina!) than good prose.
This isn’t actually so much about confessional writing as it is about fitting in or choosing not to do so — which makes sense, since it’s an edited transcript from Red Ink’s panel discussion on literary misfits. Still, it does explore the way female writers are shamed for writing about themselves and gives a powerful defence of women’s right to write about their feelings: “Writing is a place where I don’t feel like a complete moron when I try to talk about how I feel. Feelings hurt; feelings are physical things that we carry around, that we can’t carry around forever.”
Young’s snarky takedown of a certain kind of contemporary celebrity (“a powerful influencer in the wellness space”) is fucking delightful. Despite how reminiscent its subject matter (femaleness and purity and food) is of the creepiest of recent reads, The Vegetarian and You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine, it manages to be wildly fun on the topic.