books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further preamble:

Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014 (Gawker)

I mean, the title of this piece sort of says it all, doesn’t it?  It’s upsetting but absolutely worth your time to scroll.

Getting to ‘No’ (NY Times)

Susan Dominus’s essay in the NYT magazine this week is well worth a read, not only because it’s powerful and extremely well-written, but because it tackles all sorts of important things about sexual assault and rape culture.  In it, she reflects on one of her own college experiences with a red cup, hazy memories, and lingering feelings of anger with no language to describe what had happened to her:

The language we use for a given experience inevitably defines how we feel about it. I could not land on language that felt right — to me —about that encounter. I still cannot.

She talks about how hard it can be to use the right language, even when the horrible thing is happening:

No” and “stop” — of course, they should be said and respected. But several women who told me they felt their consent was ambiguous said that in the moment, they froze, and language eluded them altogether: They said nothing. Because those words are inherently confrontational, they can require a degree of strength that someone who is feeling pressured or confused or is just losing her nerve or changing her mind might not have.

Go read it.  This is required reading this week.

The Economics of Dating, OK Cupid Edition (The Billfold)

Kind of bleak, but also very funny, this piece sort of tackles the idea of who you can actually find on an online dating site, from a purely numbers viewpoint:

I tried Tinder first, 100% because of the “you can’t message each other until both of you opt in” feature. Swiped through everyone in about two weeks, and every week or so I swipe through the handful of people who just joined. There’s nothing quite like looking at the screen that reads “there is no one new around you” and interpreting it as “sorry, we tried everyone we had, guess you will never find love.”

Then she turned to OKC and found that even though she lives in a city (Seattle) with a preponderance of eligible men, she still didn’t want to date many (or any) of them:

But from an economic perspective, it’s fascinating to see how I look at all of this not as an array of wonderful possibilities, but as a scarcity of options. It’s like when you’re shopping for a coat on Amazon; you have this vision of what you hope you’ll find, and then you see that there are only 10 coats in your price range, and suddenly you don’t want any of them.

“Best of 2014” in YA Fiction List Breakdown (Stacked)

Every year, Kelly Jensen does this great breakdown of what the books on the best of lists look like.  She takes a look at author gender, books featuring male or female protagonists, who is a debut author and who isn’t, and so forth.  It takes a tremendous amount of time on her part and is always valuable and fascinating.


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