books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Here’s the stuff that got me thinking this week! Yay!

What Do You Really Mean When You Say “Basic Bitch”? (NY Mag)

This phrase is everywhere these days, and whenever I hear it, I get a little uncomfortable.  I’ve had several conversations about it recently, and while I don’t feel like I ever fully articulate my feelings on it, I was happy to come across this article this week:

Basic, according to the BuzzFeed quizzes and CollegeHumor videos that wrested the term from the hip-hop world and brought it into the realm of white-girl-on-white-girl insults, means someone who owns things like Uggs and North Face and leggings…The basic bitch — as she’s sometimes called because it’s funnier when things alliterate, and because you’re considered a poor sport if you don’t find it funny — is almost always a she.

It’s a pretty great read, and it tackles a lot of the issues I have with the way the phrase is thrown around (It describes someone’s consumption habits without actually condemning consumption? It’s a way to rag on girls and not seem as mean?) while still managing to be smarter and more articulate than I am:

And so the woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn’t sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation.

And that, right there, is my biggest problem with it.

 Roxane (The New Inquiry)

“All Roxane Gay, all the time” is a thing I wrote to my mom in an email this week, and I’m proving that by linking to this great article about my current internet obsession.  It’s worth a read whether you’re familiar with Gay’s work or not, and it deftly tackles feminism, pop culture, race, and the intersection of all these things.

In addition to dismantling the myth of the BLACK ♀, Gay is a crossover success in various ways—respected by critics and mainstream consumers at the same time, in the academy but not necessarily of it, appealing to white feminists while offering the kind of nuanced description of a black woman’s life that so many of us seek.

In addition to dismantling the myth of the BLACK ♀, Gay is a crossover success in various ways—respected by critics and mainstream consumers at the same time, in the academy but not necessarily of it, appealing to white feminists while offering the kind of nuanced description of a black woman’s life that so many of us seek.

Like in Gay’s work, there’s some good, hard stuff to unpack here.

Abortion: Not Easy, Not Sorry (Elle)

I mean, the title sort of encapsulates the entire article’s thesis: why are women fed a message that they should regret their abortions (and if they don’t, the implied message is that there is something wrong with them as a result).  Partly a discussion of a new book by The Nation’s Katha Pollit called Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, part a personal essay on the part of the author, Laurie Abraham writes:

For a small segment of women—and the number is small, by any reasonably scientific account—abortion is indeed a tragedy, a trauma with long-lasting reverberations. But I want to tell a different story, the more common yet strangely hidden one, which is that I don’t feel guilty and tortured about my abortion. Or rather, my abortions. There, I said it.

She also talks about how living in the “abortion-is-murder” media frenzy–even as a pro-choice person–means you forget actual facts and that your perspective is altered.  It’s a fascinating read, and it’s also very long, so be prepared for that–but it’s absolutely necessary and important reading.

#GamerGate: Is their Hashtag Really More Important than Women’s Lives? (Pajiba)

GamerGate is a difficult topic to follow along with, especially if you aren’t already ensconced in the gaming world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to at least know the basics of what is happening.  Because it speaks to a larger, more disturbing issue that permeates every part of the online world.  This piece over at Pajiba addresses a lot of things and frames it in a very accessible way (there’s a very succinct summary that will get you up to speed in about a paragraph).

The problem is, as Courtney Enlow states, that this is not about gaming, nor is it about journalistic ethics (which makes absolutely NO SENSE if you think about what is happening for a second).  It’s about a hatred and fear of women, and it is fucking terrifying.  Enlow makes a plea to those of us who are not directly involved with the gaming community:

There will be no getting through to the violent, terrible individuals making the threats against these women in the industry and the men who dare defend them. So, I appeal to you, the moderate middle of the movement and those on the fray who, like me, were unsure of the goings on. This movement, this falsely ethical witch hunt, it has nothing to offer you. Do not pretend, do not lie to yourself — this is not about ethical reporting. This is about putting women in their place, and apparently that place is the ground.

I encourage you to read more about what is happening and why it’s happening.  Deadspin has a pretty good rundown, too.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

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