pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Without preamble, these are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

Life, etc.:

What Do You Call the Person You Are Probably Never Going to Marry? Your Fiancee. (Slate)

I’ll be honest when I tell you that Hanna Rosin, the author of this piece on Slate this week, is not my favorite journalist.  She cohosts the Double X Podcast and I find her generally insufferable and about as pretentious as can be (not to mention completely clueless half the time).  So I had a great deal of bias going into reading this article.  That being said, the piece is interesting (especially the parts where she quotes from people who actually know what they’re talking about):

Sociologists Wendy Manning and Pamela Smock, who study changing family demographics told me that they, too, made the mistake of assuming couples who said they were engaged were making plans to get married. But when they asked follow-up questions for a large qualitative study they recently conducted with young adults on “Cohabitation and Marriage in America,” they realized that wasn’t true.  Instead the term engaged, for couples of all races, seemed to be a kind of placeholder, “a way to keep the relationship going without actually making the move to marry,” says Manning. Smock says she noticed that couples use the term fiancé or engaged in a “flexible” way, that is, when dealing with authorities on the phone, or in a social setting where they might want to “own” the person more or seem like more of an “official couple.”

It’s thought-provoking, to say the least.  It plays into all the things that fascinate me so much about weddings, spectacle culture, and how it creeps into our daily lives.  Rosin does make a good point that America is incredibly hard on couples who aren’t legally married, and until we let go of some of those restrictions, this trend isn’t likely to change.  Thoughts?

Engagement Rings are Barbaric (Salon)

In the same vein of weddings and engagements, here’s a completely different take on the concept of engagement rings.  This sums up what the article is basically about:

The engagement ring is not, as diamond advertisers of the last 80 years or so have insisted, a symbol of love: it’s a sort of down payment on a virgin vagina

And this:

What we now call a “traditional” wedding is actually just a cheap pantomime of a society wedding that has been marketed to the masses.

I don’t agree with all of what Rupp says in her article (I think she’s choosing to ignore a lot of factors), but some of the history in this article is interesting enough to read.

Politics and the stuff that plays into it:

Chris Brown’s Latest Revelation was about Rape (Feministing)

Before you roll your eyes and skip this article, realize that it’s not really about Chris Brown.  Really, it’s not.  This article is about rape culture and how gendered it is.  It’s about the fundamental divide between women and men when they speak about sexual assault.  And it’s really, really important.  Here’s the piece that has stuck with me:

We are raising boys to believe that their manhood rests in their ability to have sex with women as early and often as possible, to the point they believe any sexual encounter is simply a right of passage. Even if they know it’s wrong, they don’t admit to it because they believe this is expected of them. They are supposed to want it. And when they are assaulted, instead of speaking about the trauma they revel in the “success,” often masking the hurt and confusion.

I pretty much think Chris Brown is a piece of shit, but I also recognize that he did not have a great childhood, and that had a hand in turning him into the douche bag he is today.  This new piece of information? About how he lost his virginity at AGE EIGHT (8)?  This plays into that.  And it plays into male sexual assault in general.

How Jezebel Smashes the Patriarchy, Click by Click (Mother Jones)

I read Jezebel pretty much daily, and while I don’t always agree with everything they post, it’s hard to ignore the fact that they have their finger on the pulse of feminism and pop culture.  This profile of Anna Holmes, the website’s founder, is an interesting, important read if you’ve ever spent any time clicking on Jezebel’s articles (and watching the fights in the comments–that’s often more fun than the articles themselves).

She has a book coming out, which I just added to my Amazon wish list.  Not gonna lie.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

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