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Archive for the ‘men, masculinity’ Category

Stop everything and go read this short story, it’s amazing. Here’s a taste to tempt you…

There’s a man I hardly know, an academic. He began sleeping with a graduate student when his wife was pregnant, but everything was cool, because, you know, everyone involved read criticism and all three of them really wanted to test the boundaries of just how much that shit can hurt.

I imagine that shit can hurt a whole lot.

Every time I hear about another professor with a student, I think, Wow, that professor I know is way more messed up than I ever thought. Stealing confidence from eighteen-, nineteen-, twenty-year-olds.

Nasty.

This professor, he cleared the fucking of the graduate student with his pregnant wife, and for reasons I don’t understand the wife allowed him to dabble in younger, unwed women while she gestated their child, while her blood and bones were sucked from her body into their fetus.

Though the wife is an interesting part of this triangle, it’s neither her nor the husband I’m thinking of here in bed while Sam bleeds out his last drop of life on our living-room floor. I’m thinking of the poor, stupid graduate student.

She and the academic attended a lecture together one night. After the lecture, there was a party where she was in the insecure position of being a student among people who were done being students. And though everyone was staring at her—they knew the wife—no one wanted to talk to her or welcome the grad student into the land of scholars.

This was not acceptable. She liked attention. She liked performance. She cleared her throat—and the noise from the room—as if readying for a toast. She stood on a low coffee table. Everyone stopped drinking. In a loud, clear voice, one that must still reverberate in her ears, the academic’s ears, everyone’s ears (it even managed to reach mine), she said, “You’re just angry because of what I do with my queer vagina.”

On my living-room wall I keep a photo of my Victorian great-grandmother engaged in a game of cards with three of her sisters. These women maintained a highly flirtatious relationship with language. “Queer” once meant strange. “Queer” once meant homosexual. “Queer” now means opposition to binary thinking. I experience a melancholy pause when meaning is lost, when words drift like runaways far from home. How did “queer” ever come to mean a philandering penis and vagina in a roomful of bookish, egotistical people? How did common old adultery ever become queer?

I feel the grad student’s late-blooming humiliation. How she came to realize, or will one day soon, that her words were foolish. I remind myself there in bed, Dont talk. Dont say words to people, because words conjure images. Her words created a likely unwanted idea of an organ that, like all our organs, is both extraordinary and totally plain. Some flaps of loose skin, some hair, some blood, but, outside the daily fact of its total magnificence, it is really not queer at all.

From Samantha Hunt’s “A love story” in The New Yorker. 

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‘Work and family’ writing, if it is without radical feminism, has become vanity writing for successful, entitled women.

As was true of her previous book, there’s very little advice in “Women Who Work” that is specific to women. A reading list at the back contains fifty-three books and ted Talk recommendations—thirty-nine of which were authored by men. There’s no shortage of woman-targeted branding throughout the book—“You are a woman who works,” Ivanka writes, over and over again—but the first actual mention of a gendered situation occurs on page ninety-four, when she notes that women, more than men, can face negative repercussions when they try to negotiate a raise. Her counsel, though, is entirely general: do your research; prove your worth. On page one hundred and four, she finally lays out a woman-specific suggestion: we should be more like men and apply for jobs for which we’re not completely qualified. Given the circumstances, it’s almost funny. In a later section on work/life balance—a “myth,” according to Ivanka, who nonetheless advocates finding a “work/life rhythm that’s optimal for you”—there’s quite a bit of advice about working through and around pregnancy and motherhood, mostly in the form of quotes from Rosie Pope, an entrepreneur who briefly had her own Bravo show called “Pregnant in Heels.”

The other quoted experts—and there are hundreds—are all over the map. There’s Stephen Covey, the business consultant and teacher who wrote “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” There’s Socrates. There’s Toni Morrison, who is quoted as saying, “Bit by bit, she had claimed herself. Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” (Ivanka does not note that those lines are from the novel “Beloved” and refer to freedom from actual slavery; in this context, they are used as the chapter divider before a section on time management, in which she asks women, “Are you a slave to your time or the master of it?”) There’s Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the feminist author and activist who once wrote, Ivanka has learned, “Life is a verb, not a noun.” There’s a woman with a food blog “dedicated to turning veggies and fruit into spiralized noodles” who appears to offer advice on resilience.

From a thrillingly irritable book review by Jia Tolentino in The New York Post – “Ivanka Trump wrote a painfully oblivious book for basically no one”. 

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The sext needs defending. I believe this, as a mother, as they say for bonus authority in op-eds. I say it as someone practicing monogamy in the suburbs, with kids and bills and jobs and housework; as someone who will be talking later today to her partner about fixing the dishwasher, about whose turn it is to pay for the groceries.

If there is something in the domestic environment that, between you, makes your heart skip, your breath pull tight? Seize it.

From here. 

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When some university staff members found out what I’d been up to, they warned me to restrict my walking to the places recommended as safe to tourists and the parents of freshmen. They trotted out statistics about New Orleans’s crime rate. But Kingston’s crime rate dwarfed those numbers, and I decided to ignore these well-meant cautions. A city was waiting to be discovered, and I wouldn’t let inconvenient facts get in the way. These American criminals are nothing on Kingston’s, I thought. They’re no real threat to me.

What no one had told me was that I was the one who would be considered a threat.

From Garnette Cardogan’s “Walking while black” in Literary Hub.

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Milo peddles a pageant of insincerity that is immediately legible to fellow Brits. Americans understand irony differently, and sometimes not at all. The crowd of excitable young and young-ish people gathered to hear him pontificate believe what he’s saying, even if he doesn’t. Which he doesn’t. And it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real.

From Laurie Penny’s “I’m with the banned” in Medium.

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On Gentleness

Tell me I once came close, that your body wasn’t
an obelisk, and mine, so much wire wound
around wire. I will always wonder

if I can take you, know you will always be stronger,
and marvel at how you appear even larger
than before with my niece cupped

in your tattooed arms. I know something simple
provokes you to call: a comic book
we’ve both read, a good time

to visit, but my thumb hovers over ‘decline’
and I hold my breath before I press
against the waiting ‘answer’.

••

Before I left for Florida—a week after I tore
the collar of my shirt, twisting out
of your grip, a week after

I disappeared with our shared car, the Venture
minivan we nicknamed Vendetta,
and brought it back to you

empty and smashed—you stopped me to tell me
to never come back. You meant it. I said
I wouldn’t. I meant flinching

is something I’d only do in oncoming light, never
the overcoat of a shadow; being the size of
a threat did strange things to my tongue.

••

Tell me about the night I hurled a phone receiver
at your head and the orb of blood on your lip
that seemed like it’d never fall, how you

bound me by a wrist, bruised my ribs against the floor,
and never threw a single punch. Wasn’t that
a kind of gentleness, Jabari?

by JAMAAL MAY

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