Dec 13, 2015

Sunday Links: one last round-up for the year

Good morning, friends. There are only two more Sundays left in the year after this one (eep), both of which will be dedicated to holidays shenanigans, including flying home in two weeks’ time. So today seemed like a good day to share the remainder of the links I have bookmarked:

  • Margaret Atwood is Writing a Part-Cat, Part-Owl, Part-Human Superhero Comic called Angel Catbird. If this is not the best thing ever then I don’t know what it is.

  • The Guardian hosted a discussion about the overwhelming whiteness of the British publishing world.

  • This year’s CIPFA report about public libraries in the UK is out, and somehow it keeps being reported with headlines other than, “Shockingly, it turns out that deep cuts to funding impair a library service’s ability to be useful to its community”. This piece gets it right: it highlights the fact that the much publicised drop in visits corresponds to cuts in funding, closures, and reductions to opening hours.

  • I really liked this essay: Siri Hustvedt on Gendered Literature and the Feminization of Feelings. Anything that becomes identified with girls and women loses status, whether it is a profession, a book, a movie, or a disease.

  • I also liked Rohan Maitzen’s essay about celebrating Christmas as an atheist and the human exchange behind gift giving. I know the holidays come with a lot of emotional baggage for many people, and even my own relationship with the season is far from simple. But I’m grateful that I’ve continued to be able to find joy in it.

  • This is horrifying: Kids who question the media or government could be extremists, London parents are warned.

  • I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but I keep coming back to it: Everything Doesn’t Happen For a Reason.

  • Melissa Gira Grant’s review of Missoula gets at something I’d like to see articulated more often: the fact that the pressure even the most well-meaning people put on victims of rape, abuse or harassment to report their experiences because they have the responsibility to fight for a better world is itself an act of violence. When to speak, and whether to speak at all, must always be an individual decision, and it’s always, always okay to prioritise your own safety and well-being.
    The most ill-making narrative here is not that of rape itself, but of a system set up to extract stories from victims and survivors without offering any reasonable hope that such a painful display will result in anything of value for them.
    Reading Missoula, it is clear that the processes by which people are told to seek justice—to report, to expose, to never let it happen to another person—themselves do damage. Krakauer stacks up each small ordeal someone navigating the system must face: telling a friend, going to the hospital, submitting your body to evidence collection (getting a “rape kit” done), filing a report. The process, of course, does not require the consent of the victim or survivor. It’s police and prosecutors who hold the power, and even the choice to press charges is not yours—it belongs to a lawyer who represents not you but the state.
    We must understand that these systems for punishing rape are predicated not on valuing consent or freedom, but on preserving a social order that, when rape is made visible, is regarded as out of order; this, even though we know that rape is utterly commonplace. To have faith, as Krakauer does, that telling stories of rape will help transform the situation is to assume that the system’s own interests and those of victims and survivors are more or less aligned, and that until now it hasn’t been working well enough. But if you understand that protecting people is not its primary aim, you can see that, in fact, the system has been working just fine. As Doyle writes, “Something is wrong, everything is normal.”
  • This year’s NPR Book Concierge is here!

  • Audra Williams writes about the fact that it’s okay to live with your friends, or alone, or in whatever arrangement works for you.

  • And in another entry under “Things we shouldn’t have to keep explaining, but apparently we do”, here’s Jessica Valenti on why not wanting kids is entirely normal.

  • Cordelia Fine 1 million - 0 Gender Essentialism. She’s my favourite.

  • On a related note: “Brain Study Confirms Gender Stereotypes”: How science communication can fuel modern sexism.

  • Miya Tokumitsu’s book on the problems with contemporary work culture led me to Alive in the Sunshine. It’s a great essay:
    It’s hard to think of many things more disingenuous than arguing that addressing environmental issues will impose unacceptable restrictions on the American standard of living while simultaneously promoting austerity measures — yet that attitude is pervasive in mainstream political discourse.
  • Sweden Gives ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ to Every 16-Year-Old Student.

  • As I’m sure you can tell from the title, Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence is hard to read. If you can face it, though, it’s an excellent piece.

  • John Lewis, Superhero. March is so good. I can’t wait for book three.

  • Meet Rosa Parks, ‘Lifelong Freedom Fighter’. The Jeanne Theoharis biography is on my Christmas list; I really hope Santa will oblige.

  • David Mitchell on Earthsea: This notion that “other ways of living” are as valid as one’s own, and should be learned from rather than conquered or exploited, is key to the Archipelago’s collective consciousness – and is another reason why I love to revisit the place.

  • Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi writes about why economic inequality is a feminist issue.

  • Arabic translator Alice Guthrie on the name ‘Daesh’ and the orientalism behind the English-speaking media’s reports that it’s untranslatable.

  • This piece on Jem and the Holograms and Gender Theory is perfect, as is the comic itself. Read it, friends! Read it now.
    Such art gives the lie to the toxic ideas that only gritty or manly art can be genuine, that makeup and self-presentation aren’t conscious expression, and that something or someone with a bright shiny sonority, or a glittery magenta palette, or an all-ages, self-consciously girly design sense, can’t be important, or can’t be real.
  • Lastly, Loren A. Lynch explains why ‘Bitch Planet’ is the Feminist Sci-Fi Comic You’ve Been Waiting For:
    In creating Bitch Planet, DeConnick and de Landro asked themselves, “Can we do exploitation without being exploitative?” The answer, so far, is yes. By depicting women—specifically women of color—actively working to take power back, even from behind the bars of a prison on another planet, they’ve made something relatable and inspiring.

    1. Some great links here! Thanks for sharing them. And shhhhhhhh on the two Sundays left thing. I'm still in denial.

      1. How can Christmas Eve possibly be in one week??

    2. I have been following your blog for a long time. I'm sorry I don't comment more often because you keep me up to date on books and other things I might not have heard about otherwise. Thank you and Happy Holidays. I appreciate what you do! The Siri Hustvedt article is the best thing I read last week. And thanks for reminding me about the Rosa Parks biography and the new John Lewis.

      1. Thank you so much, Judy, that's absolutely lovely to hear <3 Happy Holidays to you as well!

    3. You have the best links! I've read some of these already but some of the others I am saving to read as soon as I get the chance!

      1. Aww, thank you! I feel like I dumped three posts worth of stuff in one go here, but the end of the year and our strange need to tie lose ends will do that :P

    4. That Atlantic article was what I needed to hear right now. I don't at all question my decision not to prioritize romance and kids (I love living alone, I love being free of obligations), except when suddenly I really, really, really do. When I go to my gynecologist they always ask about it, like being thirty and not having kids is maybe possibly ruining everything for me. And I never get why having kids is the default. It's a huge responsibility; shouldn't we think of it as an opt-IN thing, rather than opt-out?

      1. YES, exactly! I really resent it when people assume I must not have thought it through (the dreaded "You'll change your mind!", which I suspect I'll be hearing until I'm 45 at the very least) - given the amount of cultural pressure to stick to normative choices, you'd think it would occur to people that deviating from them involves a lot of thought and second-guessing ourselves. In short, NOTHING is ruined and we're doing v. well at living the lives we want to live. Go us \o/

    5. Ana, these are the best links I could have read this week. I'm only halfway through, but I've been enjoying them all, especially Jessica Valenti's article on not wanting kids (I'll stick to being an auntie, thank you) and Siri Hustvedt's essay. Thank you for such a great post :)

    6. Well, it turns out I was wrong. Being A Girl is the most powerful of all the links you've posted.


    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.