ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: September 2017

Sunday

24

September 2017

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COMMENTS

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

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Three Stars

Best for: Someone looking for a quick read that has only a marginally absurd premise

In a nutshell: Journalist Cannie Shapiro deals with many different issues, kicked off by the fact that her ex is writing a magazine column about her.

Line that sticks with me: Nothing stood out enough to underline.

Why I chose it: I became aware of Ms. Weiner because of the chapter about her in Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud and thought it’d be fun to check out her work. Starting with her first book.

Review:
There is so much to enjoy about this book, and one storyline that dropped the rating for me. I’ll talk about what I loved first (mild spoilers below).

I’m 6 feet tall and technically overweight (per BMI, which I know is bullshit, but whatever). I’ve never purchased a button-down shirt that I can actually get to close across my bust. What I’m saying is, as far as her feelings about her appearance go, I could certainly relate to Ms. Shapiro. The scene in the weight loss clinic was so wonderfully written that I was practically cheering when the nutritionist went running.

I also enjoyed the bit of fantasy fulfillment that occurs in her relationship with the movie start Maxi Ryder. Maxi is such a sweet person who becomes a true friend to Cannie, that I was fine with some of the more absurd things that happened as a result of that friendship.

I also enjoyed that Cannie was a strong women in her work life. She wrote the stories she wanted, she didn’t take shit when she was brushed off, and she managed to write a screenplay that gets picked up. And I appreciated that she was complicated – just because she was able to get shit done at work didn’t mean she had everything else worked out.

But what I didn’t like was how she spoke of her mother’s relationship with her mother’s partner, Tanya. I get that other reviewers have thought that it was more about Cannie being upset the loss of her old life, but it was so heavy-handed that I found Cannie to be quite homophobic. Especially when she dismisses her (then) boyfriend’s comments about how it’s not cool to be responding this way as being too “PC.” I’ve mentioned before that I have zero tolerance for people who use the term “PC” as an insult. I’m not sure if Ms. Shapiro was trying to be edgy, or didn’t know quite how to give Cannie a personality flaw so she would be more complex, but making her homophobic (and repeatedly revisiting that) was a hugely off-putting.

I don’t think Ms. Shapiro meant that, and I’ll look to see if she’s addressed it in other interviews or essays. If not, then I’m probably done with her work. If so, then I might check out another book of hers.

Sunday

24

September 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – September 24, 2017

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One way to help support those impacted by Hurricane Maria: Hispanic Federation

Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Actions

“But it’s not hard to find more information about the estimated impact of the substance of the legislation. The bill has come under fire from a diverse array of critics, including top medical associations, insurance lobbyists, governors across the country, the bipartisan Medicaid directors from all 50 states, and Jimmy Kimmel. And a number of outside analyses have outlined the likely effects should Graham-Cassidy be signed into law.” The White House didn’t do its homework on Trumpcare, so we did it for them (by Addy Baird for Think Progress)

“The secretary’s five flights, which were scheduled between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15, took him to a resort in Maine where he participated in a Q&A discussion with a health care industry CEO, and to community health centers in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, according to internal HHS documents. The travel by corporate-style jet comes at a time when other members of the Trump administration are under fire for travel expenditures, and breaks with the practices of Obama-era secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States.” Price’s private-jet travel breaks precedent (by Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan for Politico)

“When asked by Wallace if the president regrets “opening the racial wounds started after Charlottesville,” Short said he doesn’t think the president has done so. He said that high school coaches across America are getting punished and disciplined for leading their players in prayer, while NFL players who take the knee rather than stand for the anthem are honored as martyrs in the media.” White House officials say NFL players should shut up: ‘They can do free speech on their own time’ (by Jedd Legum for Think Progress)

Disaster Response

“The devastation that Maria exacted on Puerto Rico’s aging and grossly neglected electricity system when it slammed ashore as a Category 4 storm two days ago is unprecedented — not just for the island but for all of the U.S. One hundred percent of the system run by the Puerto Rico Power Authority is offline, because Maria damaged every part of it. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair power plants and lines that were already falling apart.” A Storm’s Never Destroyed a Grid Like Maria Ruined Puerto Rico’s (by Naureen S. Malik and Jonathan Levin for Bloomberg)

“In response to CBS4’s request for copies of the voicemails, a spokeswoman with the governor’s office, wrote in an email: “The voicemails were not retained because the information from each voicemail was collected by the Governor’s staff and given to the proper agency for handling.” The Governor has cut off Medicaid and Medicare funding for the nursing home and suspended its license. The Governor’s actions, however, have also come under scrutiny.” Nursing Home Voicemail to Governor Deleted (by Jim DeFede for CBS)

Police Violence

“She had been feeling the impact of policing on every moment of her life since July 6, the day an officer pulled over her boyfriend, Philando Castile, in the suburb of Falcon Heights for at least his 46th minor traffic stop in the past 13 years. “Again?” Diamond remembered saying to Castile that day, as the officer asked to see his license and registration. Castile, 32, reached down toward his waistband, where he kept not only his wallet but also a gun that he was licensed to carry. The officer shot him four times, and then Diamond took out her phone to record, just as she had done during a few of Castile’s other traffic stops. “Stay with me,” she told her boyfriend, as blood spread across his white T-shirt and she started to live-stream on Facebook.” For Diamond Reynolds, trying to move past 10 tragic minutes of video (by Eli Saslow for Washington Post)

Conference

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Seattle Death Salon. This is a Storify of the events of the weekend. Enjoy!

Sunday

17

September 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – September 17, 2017

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Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Action

“Title III of the ADA creates a proactive duty on businesses to remove architectural barriers and other obstacles that impede access to the establishment. But businesses have resisted making such changes for decades. And, now, they are asking Congress to help them. A harmful new bill in the House of Representatives, the so-called ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620), is gaining steam. It will be debated in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning and may go to House floor for a vote soon thereafter.” Congress Wants to Change the Americans With Disabilities Act and Undermine the Civil Rights of People With Disabilities (by Tyler Ray and Vania Leveille for ACLU)

Racism

“Stone Chaney, who attends East Middle School in Farmington Hills, Mich., told ClickOnDetroit that his teacher “violently” dragged him out of his chair and attempted to force him to stand for the pledge, leaving the young man confused and unwilling to return to that school. “The teacher consultant comes up behind me and snatches me out of my chair violently,” Stone told the news site. “I was so confused. I didn’t know what was going on.”” Mich. Teacher ‘Violently’ Drags Black 6th-Grader Out of His Seat After He Declines to Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance: Report (by Breanna Edwards for The Root)

“Here’s a riddle for you: Three young black men are walking alongside a Louisiana road when they get hit by a passing vehicle. Who gets charged? If you guessed “the driver, of course, duh,” then you guessed wrong, because apparently nothing makes sense anymore.” 3 Young Black Men Were Hit by a Motorist While Walking Along a Road in La. Guess Who Got Charged? (by Breanna Edwards for The Root)

Cultural Appropriation

“Within months, Polow flew Iggy from Atlanta to LA. For a few weeks, she shadowed him in the studio, meeting icons like Timbaland and Dr. Dre and superstars like Chris Brown, who saw her and, according to Polow, wondered, “Who the fuck is that?” By then, Iggy had cycled through a series of mentors who pushed her toward pop. They also taught her how to rap. Polow was just about last in the lineup before she met T.I., the rap star who would help her create the “super hood shit” Polow says she envisioned.” The Making and Unmaking of Iggy Azalea (by Clover Hope for Jezebel)

Violence Against the Trans Community

“Like Banner, most of the trans people who have been murdered this year were black trans women. They were found dead in cars, in garages, outside shopping centers, and on rural roads. Last year, 27 transgender people were murdered, most of whom were overwhelmingly women of color. It was the deadliest year on record for transgender people.” 20 transgender people have been killed this year (by Casey Quinlan for Think Progress)

Reproductive Health

“Twelve years later, she’s still waiting to have what’s often considered the most effective surgery to treat endometriosis—the delay a result of a long path to diagnosis and, now, lack of insurance coverage for the procedure that would give her the best chance for less debilitating pain. Gibbons has taken up to 20 Advil per day—more than the recommended maximum—to manage the condition.” For Those With Endometriosis, Lack of Access to Surgical Option Compounds the Pain (by Nadra Nittle for Rewire)

Hurricane Response

“Employees at the Florida nursing home where eight residents died in sweltering heat after Hurricane Irma called an emergency cell phone in the governor’s office multiple times as the temperature inside the facility soared, officials said Friday. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills claimed in a timeline provided to CBS Miami that staff members called Florida Power & Light and the governor’s office multiple times starting on Sept. 10, but failed to receive help until three days later, when patients were already having medical emergencies.” Nursing Home Where 8 Residents Died After Irma Had Called Governor’s Office For Help (by Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, Brianna Sacks, and Blake Montgomery for Buzzfeed)

“Fortunately, there are organizations whose focus is to provide assistance to communities of color and other groups that are disproportionately vulnerable in times of tragedy. Here, a partial list.” How to Donate Money and Other Aid to Communities of Color in Houston (by Ayana Byrd for Colorlines)

Cool Thing of the Week

Lighting “Insecure” 

Saturday

16

September 2017

0

COMMENTS

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

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Three Stars

Best for: Those who enjoy a good memoir; those who enjoy a story about someone rising to the pinnacle in their artistic field.

In a nutshell: Misty Copeland tells the story of her life, from living in southern California to being promoted to be the first African American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

Line that sticks with me: “In ballet, appearance is critical. That may seem superficial or frivolous, but in an art form that is visual, and so much about grace and suppleness, it definitely matters.” (p 108) (I am not a fan of the implications in that line.)

Why I chose it: I enjoy going to the ballet, and I’ve seen articles describing her talents in the past.

Review: I often find it hard to write reviews of books that I don’t love and don’t dislike. This book falls into that middling category, although do want to say that I think this is a fine book, and that people who are interested in learning more about Ms. Copeland’s life will not be disappointed.

It is full of candor, and benefits from having distance from many of the more difficult subjects she addresses (her childhood, the fight over where she should live). Though not all stories are in her past, as especially in the second half of the book when she shares more of her experience not just as a dancer starting many years late, but as a black dancer in a field dominated by white dancers.

I appreciate Ms. Copeland’s honesty as she navigates how to share the feelings she has about her field, especially as she is still in it. It’s possible that this book might look different if written a decade after she stops dancing – I’m thinking of how the book by Abby Wambach, who has retired, had a very different feel from the one by Carly Lloyd.

The one thing that I found frustrating, and it was a small section, was in her discussion about the challenges she faced when she finally went through puberty and found herself curvier than other ballerinas. It’s interesting to read her stand up for herself – that she should be viewed based on her skill and ability, and not punished for not fitting the antiquated idea of super-thin, white ballerina, but in the same breathe say things like the line I pulled up top. Would she support someone with as much talent, skill, and grace as her who was, say, 300 pounds? She doesn’t seem to want limits placed on herself, but at the same time seems to accept different limits that she agrees with. I have a hard time reconciling that.

As someone who enjoys ballet, I enjoyed the discussion of the work that goes into creating that art. I think to enjoy the book you should at least have some interest in ballet.

Tuesday

12

September 2017

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COMMENTS

It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine

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Five Stars

Best for: Those who are grieving, or those who want to be better prepared to support those who are grieving.

In a nutshell: People who are grieving deserve better than what society offers them. This book attempts to provide some direction towards that.

Line that sticks with me: “We have to be able to see what’s true without fear of being seen as weak, damaged, or somehow failing the cultural storyline.” (p 54).

Why I chose it: Ms. Devine spoke at an event I attended this past weekend, and was kind enough to also sell her book to attendees prior to it’s release next month.

Review:
The book is written almost as a love letter to a friend. Ms. Devine carries such kindness in her writing, stemming from her own experience witnessing the sudden death of her partner Matt. She was a writer, therapist, and artist prior to his death, and was able to take her experience, along with what she has learned from others, to create a community (Refuge in Grief) to help others experiencing grief, and write a book that both validates feelings and provides practical tips for navigating an experience that is utterly horrible.

The through-line of the book is that grief is not a problem to be fixed. It is a new reality that the grieving person must honor and tend. People will not “get over” profound losses, and it is cruel to demand that they do. Friends and family members of those who are grieving want their old loved one back, and don’t listen or pick up on the overt and subtle clues that they are not helping. We want to help, but we want that help to lead to things being fixed, and that’s not a thing that will happen.

In my work, we have that list of things to never say to someone who has lost someone, and I see some of those phrases included here as well. Things like “they’re in a better place” or, worse, “everything happens for a reason.” Ms. Devine goes into why these phrases are so very hurtful, regardless of the fact that they usually come from a good intent. Like in so many areas of life, the harm caused doesn’t care what the intent was.

There are a million things I could say about this book. I should caveat my review by pointing out that I am not the primary target audience — I have so far been lucky enough to not have experienced real loss in my life — but I have seen enough friends living in their grief to want to know how I can better support them. While there is a section of the book that is directed at folks like me that I found immensely helpful, there is also such value in reading words directed at those who are experiencing loss. I cannot understand what they are feeling, but I can at least get a sense of the challenges they are facing and the ways our culture and society can make a horrible experience so much worse.

The event I attended where I purchased this book was Death Salon Seattle. I chose to attend in part because I think our society has a very strange and unhealthy relationship with death in myriad ways [from how some refuse to talk about it, to how others are forced to talk about it at way too young an age, to how we expect those who lose someone to ‘get over it’ ever (and usually in a few months, maybe a year tops)] and partly because my job, as some of you know, involves planning for the response to a mass fatality incident. Most days I’m doing something death-related; the Salon gave me an opportunity to look at death outside of the plans and procedures and meetings that fill up my workday.

Seeing Ms. Devine speak is a gift. She was able to tailor her talk to this group in a way that recognized that a bunch of individuals who spend a lot of time thinking and talking about death may have some very specific ways we can support those who are actually experiencing loss. This book is another gift, and one I strongly recommend anyone who is thinking this might possibly be something they need pick up.

Sunday

10

September 2017

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – September 10, 2017

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Horrific Executive, Legislative, or Judicial Action

“A not so fun fact about what Donald Rumsfeld once called “known unknowns”: ICE doesn’t know or won’t say how many American citizens have been arrested and imprisoned by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. It’s illegal for ICE to imprison Americans, but so long as its agents don’t believe you are one, the burden is on you to prove it—without being entitled to a lawyer, since most deportation hearings are civil proceedings.” ICE Wrongly Imprisoned an American Citizen for 1,273 Days. Judges Say He’s Owed $0. (by Harry Siegel for The Daily Beast)

“First: Sessions claimed that DACA “contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border.” This allegation, often touted by far-right xenophobes, is false. A study published in International Migration, a peer-reviewed academic journal, found that the surge in unaccompanied minors actually began in 2008. (DACA was announced in 2012.) The authors pointed to a host of factors contributing to this phenomenon, including escalating gang violence in Central America, as well as drug cartels’ willingness to target and recruit children in Mexico. But the study found that DACA was not one of these factors. Its authors concluded that “the claim that DACA is responsible for the increase in the flow of unaccompanied alien children is not supported by the data.”” Jeff Sessions Spews Nativist Lies While Explaining Why Trump Is Killing DACA (by  Mark Joseph Stern for Slate)

“Funding for this work quite often features the US government. US global health funding has topped $10bn in each of the past three years. But all that is now at risk, after President Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate the so-called Global Gag rule, which will ban funding to any non-US aid groups that offer abortion services or advice funded from other partners.” Insult to injury: how Trump’s ‘global gag’ will hit women traumatised by war (by Tara Sutton, Joe Parkin Daniels, and Ruth Maclean for The Guardian)

Sports

“Let me say why this was such an exceptionally brave thing to do. One, it’s always courageous to tell the truth when you are bullied or beaten. If you hold that inside, it can kill you. You tell the truth and shame the devil. Two, we know what kind of reaction a statement like this can provoke in the police. Rather than apologizing to Michael Bennett, they will interpret this as an attack on all of them. That, to me, is the sickest part of police culture. Not every police officer brutalizes people, but the overwhelming number of police officers will protect those who do. It’s called “the blue line of silence” for a reason.” Stand With Michael Bennett, Even if It’s Uncomfortable (by Dave Zirin for The Nation)

Corporate Irresponsibility

“So, Equifax, I have to ask: Now that you have failed at your one job, why should you be allowed to keep doing it? If a bank lost everyone’s money, regulators might try to shut down the bank. If an accounting firm kept shoddy books, its licenses to practice accounting could be revoked. (See how Texas pulled Arthur Andersen’s license after the Enron debacle.) So if a data-storage credit agency loses pretty much everyone’s data, why should it be allowed to store anyone’s data any longer? Seriously, Equifax? This Is a Breach No One Should Get Away With (by Farhad Manjoo for The New York Times)

“Gamble sold more than 13 percent of his stake in Equifax. Loughran sold 9 percent of his holdings and Ploder disposed of 4 percent. Equifax said in its statement that intruders accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s-license numbers, as well as credit-card numbers for about 209,000 consumers. The incident ranks among the largest cybersecurity breaches in history.” Three Equifax Managers Sold Stock Before Cyber Hack Revealed (by Anders Merlin for Bloomberg)

“The $16.60 per hour Ms. Ramos earns as a janitor at Apple works out to about the same in inflation-adjusted terms as what Ms. Evans earned 35 years ago. But that’s where the similarities end. Ms. Evans was a full-time employee of Kodak. She received more than four weeks of paid vacation per year, reimbursement of some tuition costs to go to college part time, and a bonus payment every March. When the facility she cleaned was shut down, the company found another job for her: cutting film. Ms. Ramos is an employee of a contractor that Apple uses to keep its facilities clean. She hasn’t taken a vacation in years, because she can’t afford the lost wages. Going back to school is similarly out of reach. There are certainly no bonuses, nor even a remote possibility of being transferred to some other role at Apple.” To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now (by Neil Irwin for The New York Times)

Justice

“When you enjoy your freedoms, and you tell those who want their freedoms that they have to wait, that they have to go slowly, that they have to give you time to make uncomfortable adjustments to the amount of privilege that their inequality has afforded you, what you are saying is, “You were not born with these rights. You were not born as deserving as me. I have the power and privilege to determine when it is time for you to receive freedom and equality, and my approval is conditioned on how comfortable and safe you make me feel about how that freedom and equality will impact the privileges I enjoy.”” There Is No Middle Ground Between Racism And Justice (by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment)

Fight Back

“When I forwarded Elliot’s message to his listed family members on Facebook, hoping that someone, anyone, would do a single goddamned thing about their son or uncle or cousin who reads Neo-Nazi blogs and fantasizes about raping and murdering women he disagrees with politically, one defended him as “excitable.” As if he were a badly behaved Pomeranian prone to pissing on the rug and telling women that they will be raped, murdered and set on fire when guys like him take charge.” Is Doxxing Ever Okay? (by Andrea Grimes for Dame)

Saturday

9

September 2017

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COMMENTS

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

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Four Stars

Best for: People looking for a little break, or need to be reminded that it’s okay to take one.

In a nutshell: The head of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen offers some ideas for how to enjoy some quiet time.

Line that sticks with me: “Basically, you want to think: How would a Viking squirrel furnish a living room?” (p 123)

Why I chose it: Honestly, the book’s cover is adorable.

Review: This is a surprisingly thick book looking at ways to incorporate the Danish concept of Hygge into life. After reading the book — which I definitely enjoyed — I think that the main idea is that we should seek to build more cosiness into our lives. Given that I live in Seattle, this is an infinitely appealing idea to me. I love curling up with a book. I love candles. I love being cozy.

I’m not entirely sure if the book is necessary; do we need 280 pages to tell us that it feels good to snuggle up under a blanket with a cup of tea or cocoa in hand? Or to tell us that it’s nice to have better, softer lighting? Or that connecting on a personal level with our close friends and family is good? No. But it’s nice to be reminded of it, and the illustrations and photos are stunning.

But seriously, the lighting ideas are fantastic. Also, I think I want to move to Copenhagen now.

Tuesday

5

September 2017

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COMMENTS

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight

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Two Stars

Best for: People who care too much about what other people think (but also aren’t in any real danger if they think ill of them)

In a nutshell: In this parody of the Marie Kondo book, Ms. Knight provides a method for prioritizing your life (and the fucks you give).

Line that sticks with me: “Personal policies are definitely the way to go in this scenario. They are mysterious and they tend to make people a little bit uncomfortable and really shut down the conversation.”

Why I chose it: I run a blog with an expletive in the title that I hope to someday turn into a book, so I thought I’d check out another curse-word-laden choice.

Review: It’s fine. Really, the two stars is probably a bit unfair, given that I could see someone finding parts of this really helpful. If you have difficulty saying no to things, and don’t know how to prioritize your life meaningfully, I think this book can help. I’ll get to the major issues I have with it down below, but first, the good stuff.

Ms. Knight breaks down our lives into four categories: Things, Work, Friends/Acquaintances/Strangers, and Family. Within each category she asks us to write down all the things currently occupying our brain space (good and maybe not good), and then go back and cross out the things that we need to stop giving a fuck about. Things that take p too much mental space and that stem from us caring about what other people think of us.

She also is quick to recognize, however, that just doing whatever you want can make you an asshole, so she offers tips on how to avoid that in how you gently respond to requests for your time, thought, or energy in areas you’ve decided to stop giving a fuck about. For example, you might have decided to stop giving a fuck about dieting, but your friend won’t shut up about how he is eats paleo. Can you let him know you’re not interested in that topic of discussion, and do that without guilt? Possibly.

But it all goes downhill for me in two spots: the work section and the family section.

In the work section, she uses wearing sandals (against dress code during summer Fridays) as something she’s decided to stop giving a fuck about. She just wore sandals, and that was that. No consequences. And she’s right in that its generally a silly rule, and she also acknowledges that uniforms and safety issues might make her point moot. But the overall premise is that if you just ignore the rules you think aren’t worth your time, you’ll be fine. And I just want to take her editor aside and say “um, you didn’t see anything that, I don’t know, might backfire on an employee?” Ms. Knight suggests that as long as you’re doing your job well, this stuff won’t matter, but the thing is, for some members of our population, they must follow every fucking rule or some racist or sexist asshat will use it as an excuse to fire them.

In the family section, she goes full tone deaf and uses the example of her aunt and uncle talking about the validity of president Obama’s birth certificate as a means to illustrate not giving a fuck about talking politics with relatives. Can you guess the race of the author from that? Because I can. So many white people have just decided that they don’t need to give a fuck about talking about racism with their relatives because it bums them out or makes them mad, without considering the consequences of those folks continuing to live their lives with that opinion uninterrogated. I just … arg. It made be super mad, and I hope will perhaps get a serious look if the book ever gets a revision or ends up in paperback form.

Tuesday

5

September 2017

0

COMMENTS

Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

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Three Stars

Best for: Those interested in a detailed analysis of the different ways women are seen as not conforming (unless you’re interested in those who are too old – that chapter was not great).

In a nutshell: Buzzfeed writer Petersen looks at ten different women and how each can be an example of being too ‘something’ that women aren’t meant to be, and how they use that to subvert the system.

Line that sticks with me: “To call Clinton ‘too’ anything is to authenticate and fortify power, broadly speaking, as the proper province of men.” (p 158)

Why I chose it: The premise is pretty cool.

Review:
I read this book while on vacation, and so was able to consume it chapter by chapter, reading pretty much each one in its entirety. I highly recommend going that route, because each section can stand alone as its own story and analysis.

Ms. Petersen’s premise is that there are many different ways that women can be ‘too’ something for society, and that some women use that as a means to fight the systems that oppress us. Specifically, she looks at being too strong, fat, gross, slutty, old, pregnant, shrill, queer, loud, and naked, and associates one woman with each of these characteristics. She recognizes that her list is overwhelmingly white (80%), cis (90%), and straight (unclear how each woman identifies, but I’d say probably in the 80-90% range). Given that, she can’t get too deep into any one area because by picking a representative archetype of the ‘too’ characteristic, she necessarily ends up limiting herself.

But that’s not to say that each chapter only looks at the woman she chooses. Some focus more on the specific woman than others, but each does explore the broader implications of some other individuals who have faced down the condemnation around the unruly behavior (e.g. she discusses Roseann Barr in the ‘too fat’ section that focuses on Melissa McCarthy).

The chapter that I found the must anger-inducing is probably the Serena Williams one, because she has been treated so blatantly unfairly over the years, from the sexism to the racism to the misogynoir. She’s robably the greatest athlete of all time, but, y’know, she has muscles and is a black woman, so of course she gets a ton of shit. I also was a bit teary-eyed after reading the Hillary Clinton chapter (’too shrill,’ because of course); that does not bode well for when I pick up her book next week.

What I found interesting was that, for the vast majority of the sections, Ms. Petersen seems to be on the side of the woman fighting the system. She’s picked someone who is kind of like ‘fuck you, I’m going to do what I want’ to fit the adjectives, and explores how these women have done it in a supportive manner. She is a bit ambivalent in the Melissa McCarthy chapter, but even that one she does see McCarthy as generally not caring about her size in a way that sees her obsessing over reducing it. I suppose she’s also more critical in the Caitlyn Jenner chapter (’too queer’), but overall makes a strong argument.

But the stand-out exception to me is the chapter on Madonna (’too old’). In the other chapters, Ms. Petersen makes argument about how these women are fighting back and don’t give a fuck, but she takes real issue with how Madonna has chosen to represent that. Her analysis is primarily that by choosing to be so into keeping her body fit, Madonna is not rebelling against age, but simply conforming to the ideas of beauty. Which … perhaps? But this analysis doesn’t fit well with the rest of the book. I think there’s an interesting discussion to be had there – is it more harmful to fight the system by keeping one’s body fit into one’s 60s and demand to be seen as sexy, or to lessen one’s regular workouts so that one can age in a more ‘traditional’ way and then demand to be seen as sexy? I’m not entirely sure, and I don’t think Ms. Petersen is either, which is why I feel like this chapter either belongs in another book, or she should have picked a different woman to represent that adjective, given how the same analysis doesn’t seem to hold in the other chapters.

I still recommend this book despite the three stars (usually I go with four+ for my strong recommendations) as I think there is some interesting cultural commentary here.