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The biggest problem with masculinity, Perry proffers, is that it’s based on a model that’s several thousands of years old, when survival depended on physical strength and male power. Or, as he puts it, “masculinity is to chase things and fight things and to fuck. Everything else is a bit of a mismatch.” This framework for men has remained remarkably persistent even as society has evolved past it, with modern jobs and relationships requiring a very different set of skills.

And what should masculinity evolve towards?

But simply by framing a repositioning of masculinity as a boon for men rather than a loss, Perry is doing something novel. “An emergent masculinity may be one that prizes tolerance, flexibility, plurality, and emotional literacy in the same way that strength, certainty, stoicism have been celebrated in the past,” he writes.

From Sophie Gilbert’s “The tragedy of men: In a pithy and insightful new book, the British artist Grayson Perry laments how ill-suited masculinity is for modern life” in The Atlantic. 

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Homeless fathers, fathers in incarceration…

“Fathers are important. I never had mine in my life,” he says. “I try my best to make sure she’s happy, well fed, and has somewhere to sleep until I get it all sorted out.”

 

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Dear Brenda: I have started writing again after the great silencing that was the election and the installation of that person and all those who stand behind him and his supremacist notions. Now I am carrying a very small, very cheap, very inconsequential notebook, and sometimes I write things in it. It feels like something, and it also feels like nothing. Like all those calls I keep making to my senators and representatives.

Here is a photo of the little gifts you sent Callie Violet. They are leaning against a start from one of my African violets. All of the violets have done so well in our living room that they outgrew their pots. I’ve had to give them new homes. They’re struggling now. But they are hanging on.

My whole life feels like a metaphor these days.

All love,

Camille

From “Notes from the lower level” by Camille Dungy in The Guernica. 

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From “The secret to work-life balance: less work” in The Atlantic by Jenny Anderson:

One in five working moms say it’s not just difficult, but very difficult, versus 12 percent of working dads. And mothers are twice as likely as fathers to say parenthood has hurt their career.

But one group in the study appeared to emerge at least moderately content: moms who work part time. They’re more likely to take the juggling act in stride (only 11 percent of them say it’s “very difficult” to balance work life and home life) and they’re also more likely to be satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their children.

There’s only one problem with part-time work, in my experience, and that was the way in which my career completely stalled during that phase. In some ways this wasn’t a problem at the time because I had other priorities and I also managed to launch a writing career on the side during it all. But inevitably, I grew bored with the career dormancy and that boredom became a little damaging for me in the end.

Being back at work full-time I am well aware that work-life balance is out the window. And instead, I am running on the adrenaline of a challenging new role as well as the sudden thrill of being taken seriously again.

 

 

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The constant reminders that we are watching a performance serve to reinforce the sense that we remain between reality and the dream, always prompting the question about what the meaning of the performance is.

Twin Peaks is also — far more than Lynch’s other work — preoccupied with communication, or, more accurately, non-communication, and not merely because of the reverse-talking of the Lodge inhabitants.

From Bernard Keane’s “I’ll watch you again in 25 years: a return to Twin Peaks” in Crikey. 

This is great analysis.

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This is such beautiful personal essay writing from David Sedaris with “Why aren’t you laughing?” in The New Yorker. 

Sober, she was cheerful and charismatic, the kind of person who could—and would—talk to anyone. Unlike our father, who makes jokes no one understands and leaves his listeners baffled and anxious to get away, it was fun to hear what our mom might come out with. “I got them laughing” was a popular line in the stories she’d tell at the end of the day. The men who pumped her gas, the bank tellers, the receptionists at the dentist’s office. “I got them laughing.” Her specialty was the real-life story, perfected and condensed. These take work, and she’d go through half a dozen verbal drafts before getting one where she wanted it. In the course of the day, the line she wished she’d delivered in response to some question or comment—the zinger—would become the line she had delivered. “So I said to him, ‘Buddy, that’s why they invented the airplane.’ ”

We’d be on the sidelines, aghast: “That’s not how it happened at all!” But what did it matter with such great results?

You’d think my mother could have seen the difference between the sunny, likable her and the dark one who’d call late at night. I could hear the ice cubes in her glass rushing forth whenever she took a sip. In my youth, when she’d join my father for a drink after work—“Just one, I have to get dinner on the table”—that was a happy sound. Now it was like a trigger being cocked.

“The little bitch,” my mother would say, her voice slurred, referring to someone she might have spoken to that afternoon, or maybe five years earlier—a shop clerk, a neighbor. “Talking to me that way? Like that? Like I’m nothing? She doesn’t know it, but I could buy and sell her.”

Fly home for a visit and you’d find her in the kitchen, slamming around, replaying some argument she’d had with our father. “Goddam bastard, shove it up your ass, why don’t you, you and your stinking ‘Why hire a plumber when I can do it myself ?’ You cant do it yourself, you hear me, buddy? You cant.” Late in her life, my mother embraced the word “fuck,” but could never quite figure out its place in a sentence. “So I said to him, ‘I don’t give a damn fuck what you do with it, just get it the hell out of my driveway.”

By that point in the evening, she’d look different, raw, like you’d taken the lady she was earlier and peeled her. The loafers she favored would have been kicked off and she’d be in her stocking feet, hands on the counter to steady herself as she raged. She was hardly ever angry at the person she was talking to, exceptions being my brother Paul, my father, and my sister Tiffany; rather, she’d be looking for support. “Can you believe this shit? I mean, can you?” We didn’t dare contradict her.

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Conservatives who reject feminist theory nonetheless understand exactly what feminist theorists of gender construction have been saying: not simply that gender is constructed, but that gender is an apparatus of power and disempowerment. How could it land with such a thud on the life of James Comey who, as head of the FBI, sure seemed like the most secure wielder of power, not its sufferer? This is not just a story of the once-mighty brought low, but of the mechanisms of feminization by which Donald Trump and his allies tend to seek people’s compliance or arrange to bring them down.

That Trump seeks to diminish or humiliate those around him is no secret. That such abjection often takes the form of “feminization” is also widely known. Recall Chris Christie’s account of a dinner with Trump:

He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want,” and then he says, “Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.”

Why didn’t Christie stand up for himself? Order the steak? Demand to be one of the “guys”? Declare himself unsuited to the role of wife in some 1950’s supper club scene?

From “He Said, He Said: The Feminization of James Comey” in the Boston Review by Bonnie Honig.

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