Tag Archives: New York Times

Solo in the City

A few months ago I moved into my first solo apartment. From parent house one to parent house two to dorm, dorm, roommates, roommates, roommates, I am now all by my lonesome in my little rickety, high-ceilinged, ancient-refrigeratored one-bedroom. After Sara Eckel wrote a modern love column about moving in with her boyfriend after 20 years of living solo, I decided to reflect on the beginning of that journey. So, 159 days into solo-living, here’s where I’m at:

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Related Post: The break-up museum, and relics of exes that we cart from place to place.

Related Post: That time the roof caught on fire.

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Filed under Chicago, Family, Republished!

A Few of My Favorite Things from 2013 (Part 1)

The time-honored tradition of end of year lists must be… er… honored (must it?), so here we go. These are a few of my favorite things to read/watch/listen to/cry at/laugh at/bemoan/enjoy from 2013. 

  • Radio: The two-part series on Harper High School from This American Life. Who knew radio could do that to a person?
  • Editorials: Tim Krieder’s NYT editorial about the power of “I don’t know” in a world full of people who claim to know for certain all kinds of things one can not really know for certain. “I’m always ill at ease when I find myself conscripted by the media into the role of Expert on some subject about which I have rashly written. I felt like the explanatory caption beneath my name on-screen ought to be: PERSON IN WORLD.”

ADTWO6

Related Post: A few of my favorite things from 2012.

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Filed under Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 107

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1. GENDER: Dude writes for Quartz about adding a Mr. to his gender-neutral name and suddenly having doors open. Kind of a duh piece, but reassuring nonetheless.

2. BOOKS: Highly useful and equally addictive tool that recommends books based on other things you’ve read.

3. INTERWEBZ: Fun game from MIT where you map all of your email over all time and see how you email the most.

4. MERMAIDS: Excellent NYT essay from the excellent Virginia Sole-Smith on mermaid shows.

5. ART: Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls is awesome in her musical rebuttal to the idiotic Daily Mail who ragged on her for an exposed breast (NSFW).

6. MILLENNIALS: CNN.com comic by Matt Bors about why ripping on millennials is a) old news and b) boring.

Related Post: Sunday 106: Dustin Hoffman, Sex Ed, and Roxane Gay on a race-based VIDA test

Related Post: Sunday 105: Bodies that matter, isolated islands, literacy tests, etc.

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S(Monday) Scraps 106

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1. WEIGHT: How not to be a dick to your fat friends. Spot on advice from Marianne at XOJane.

2. HOLLYWOOD: This clip is old, but man is it good. Watch Dustin Hoffman have a few on-camera epiphanies while talking about dressing like a woman in Tootsie.

3. RACE: Kiese Laymon on multicultural writing, what it means to be a “real black writer,” and the state of modern publishing. For Guernica.

4. ABORTION: My second favorite dude comedian, Rob Delaney, writes for the Guardian about why he’s pro-choice.

5. SEX ED: The always excellent Marianne Cassidy on the sex education she wish she’d had (but never got, because she grew up in uber-Catholic Ireland).

6. WRITERS: Roxane Gay at The Rumpus applies the Vida test to race and publishing. Guess what percentage of NYT book reviews were of non-white writers?

Related Post: Sunday 105: Bodies that matter, old cities, tiny islands, literacy tests

Related Post: Sunday 104: Bookish pie charts, bro Venn diagrams, the Girlfriend Zone, etc.

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Filed under Body Image, Books, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

What Would Happen If They Raised Their Hands?

This week’s New York Times Room for Debate section asked what would happen if more women who had had abortions shared their experiences. The responses are predictably varied, but I like Sonya Renee’s:

The lives of actual women are so often invisible in this debate as to make one wonder who is actually having abortions. We are reduced to statistics, politicizing a profoundly personal issue. But when women speak out about our experiences, as I finally chose to do, we erase the political narrative. We remind people of the truth. We are mothers, students, lawyers, teens, humans making decisions about autonomy, family and self-determination.

I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong reaction to having an abortion. I wouldn’t invalidate the experiences of women who regret their choices just as I wouldn’t invalidate the experiences of women who found the decision easy and painless. I do, however, think there’s a lot of value in speaking up, of reclaiming the narrative from crusty old dudes. One in three women will have an abortion before they turn forty. This is not an uncommon American experience. This is not an uncommon female experience. When we treat the seekers of abortion (and their supporters) as pariahs, we are not acknowledging this reality of 21st century America.

I wrote some more on this subject and about the first person I ever knew who had sought an abortion for Role/Reboot:

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Related Post: Ever wonder about the experience of an abortion provider?

Related Post: How to celebrate Roe’s 40th anniversary

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Filed under Gender, Media, Republished!

Wendy Davis and Her Pink Shoes

Wendy DavisThe list of things I could write about today is endless, but the nice part of having your own blog is that you only write what you’re moved to write. And Wendy Davis, man, that woman moved me! Leticia Van de Putte moved me! I never would have guessed that watching 15 minutes of a crowd screaming would move me like that, but there I was, bawling like a baby! If you didn’t watch Wendy Davis,  you missed out (but the Texas Tribune has great recaps). Unlike Davis, I barely lasted for an hour, and I was asleep before the final verdict had been called: the vote happened too late, the bill did not pass, hoorah for all!.

Disclaimer for the rest of this post: I’m going to do some nitpicking. Why? Because it’s what I do, y’all. Because I don’t know how to turn it off. Because I think it still matters how we tell the story even when we win the battle. Ignore me if you’re trying to make your good vibes last for a while. If you want to pick apart media coverage some more, read on.

So this morning, I get up to read the coverage of the epic legislative battle, and the first thing I read is the NYT piece that describes Davis, “a petite Fort Worth Democrat in pink sneakers staged a 10-hour-plus filibuster marathon in which she never sat down.” My Moran-sexism-censors start flashing (Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman says the simplest way to know if something is sexist is to ask, do men put up with this B.S.?) Normally, we don’t include clothing choices or bodily descriptions when we talk about male politicians. I posted on Facebook that a gender-flip of this would seem unlikely: “A husky/tall/lanky Fort Worth Democrat in red trainers….”

My gut reaction was that describing Davis’ body and wardrobe were not relevant to her actions on the Senate floor last night, and consequently those comments are a rather benign but contributing part of the overwhelming pattern of objectifying female leaders and reinforcing a culture where attractiveness is a primary component of how we measure female worth. I may be overstating it. Some friends on Facebook certainly thought I was, which is why I’m eternally grateful for all the smart friends I’ve got on Facebook.

Rather than paraphrase, here are a few of their counter arguments:

From Lily:  Well, the description of her frame makes me want to vomit, but I think the sneakers bit could have been framed in a way that would be perfectly relevant to describing either a man or woman staging a filibuster (I mean, here, if someone’s wearing sneakers in a setting where you’d normally wear formal shoes, then you know they’re armed to the teeth and preparing for a long battle).

From Christian:  Pink sneakers are definitely an anomaly for state reps to wear – it tends to be a more formal setting, and pink could either be coincidental or a deliberate choice (given the profile, I am going with deliberate though). They make her memorable for a news story. While I agree that a description of her frame is out of line, I think pink sneakers are at least marginally (and possibly more than marginally) relevant.

From Brie: I think she wore [the shoes] on purpose, but journo should have discussed (however briefly) the REASON why she wore them, rather than just implying ‘isn’t she just the cutest little thing?’ A simple “Sen. Davis drew attention her effort by wearing pink sneakers throughout her 13-hour filibuster.” Acknowledging that she makes choices, rather than is just a woman to be impassively described. Male gaze, etc. etc.

From RyanI’m gonna call reach, although, of course, you’re entitled to your opinion. Wendy Davis is a political unknown; people don’t know her and the media tends to describe people physically when no one knows who they are. Also, she wore sneakers instead of traditional formal footwear because she was standing for 10 hours! That seems totally in-bounds to me. Even so, as a man, my body isn’t subjected to the daily scrutiny that a woman must endure.

From Michele: I get this point in general. That said, I distinctly remember, in childhood, appreciating the descriptions of (mostly male) scientists that opened most Discover magazine articles. We’re visual people, and it does mean something to say that X is sun-tanned, Y has wiry hair, Z is wearing a blue shirt. It humanizes people who belong to segments of society (science, the Senate) that can seem super-unapproachable.

From Dan: The color “pink” is also reasonably notable. It’s a bright color and carries a generally unprofessional tone, as would neon green, bright yellow, or Giants orange tennies. If her shoes were black tennies, I doubt any mention would have occurred. In that narrow context, she willingly stepped into territory for which anyone–male or female–would be criticized.

What I love is that nobody pulled the “You bitchy feminists hate beautiful women, the color pink, shaved legs, bras, penises, etc!” card or assumed I was just being obnoxiously critical for the sake of being obnoxiously critical. Everyone responded thoughtfully and for that, I am so, so grateful. I think Brie’s comment resonates the most with me, but everyone’s notes have shifted my perspective on this a little bit.

So where do I net out? I think, like the Supreme Court, we have to apply an extra level of scrutiny to descriptions of women’s bodies and clothing in the media, especially powerful women whose influence is often undermined by objectifying coverage. There are certainly valid reasons to describe clothing and bodies (of both men and women). In this case, her sneakers served a practical purpose (she was standing for 10+ hours) and were relevant to the uber-important political action she was taking. The fact that they were pink seems superfluous to me, but I’ll allow it based on the argument that the color is significant politically (indicating a commitment to women’s issues).

The “petite” is where I really get tripped up. This was a news article, not a New Yorker profile. Per Michele’s point above, we humans do love to know what people look like, and I don’t think there’s harm in sketching a more complete picture of a public figure. That said, I’ve been clicking on random other news articles today to see if any other political figures have physical descriptors attached to their introductions. Haven’t found one yet (though send me some if you do!). There is a long history of excessively discussing female politicians’ sartorial choices (see pantsuits, scrunchies, make-up, running shorts, etc) in lieu of covering their policies or accomplishments. It is an overal damaging trend that reduces the scope of female accomplishment to that which is accompanied by pretty clothes, a trim figure, or perfectly styled hair.

Does “petite” contribue to that culture? Yeah, I think it does. I think it was unnecessary and detracts from her actions, which certainly speak loud enough. Do I think it was malicious? No. Do I think it’s the most awful thing I’ve read this week? Hell to the no, not by a long shot. That prize goes to Scalia or Jodie Laubenberg, who put forth SB5.

Related Post: Notes on 40 Years of Roe

Related Post: HuffPo and the Changing Iconography of the Abortion Debate

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Filed under Gender, Media, Politics

Sunday Scraps 104

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1. MUSIC: The sign-language interpreter steals the show at this Wu-Tang performance (Gawker). 

2. DATING: If you’re familiar with the sniveling “Nice Guys” who are very upset that their “niceness” doesn’t make girls want to sleep with them, you might enjoy this bit of satire from Insert Literary Reference.

3. HEALTH: Why is a colonoscopy 26x more expensive in the U.S. than in Canada? It’s complicated, says Mother Jones. 

4. BRO: What exactly is a bro? Venn diagrams to the rescue! And who is at the middle of it all? Lochte, of course.

5. VOWS: I thought nothing would top the wolf wedding announcement, but I was wrong.

6. BOOKS: Publisher’s Weekly explains some big name books in pie-chart form.

Related Post: Sunday 102 – Founding father pin-ups, rich kids of Instagram, authors annotating their first editions.

Related Post: Sunday 101 – Soldier portraits, cartoons about depression, Rihanna’s hairdresser

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Filed under Art, Books, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Sunday Scraps 102

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1. JOURNALISM: This my be my favorite editorial I’ve read in quite some time. From Tim Krieder at the NYT, he writes about uncertainty of stating one’s opinions on the internet: “I felt like the explanatory caption beneath my name on-screen ought to be: PERSON IN WORLD.” This is basically exactly how I feel about everything.

2. STYLE: Ever wonder about Rihanna’s hairstylist? Who is this person? Where did he or she come from? NYMag has got you covered.

3. WAR: In this not at all scientific but very strangely powerful series, soldiers are photographed before, during, and after war.

4. TELEVISION: How to make a good drama that wins lots of awards. Is there a formula for that? Perchance there is and it’s only 13 steps!

5. GEOGRAPHY: Highly difficult, highly addictive, Geoguessr is game where google streetview displays a picture and you try to guess where in the world it was taken. Good luck with Australia vs. Texas.

6. DEPRESSION: Blogger Allie Brosh is back after a long hiatus. This webcomic explains where she’s been, and also does a pretty excellent job at describing depression to those that are not depressed. Play close attention to the fish analogy.

Related Post: Sunday 101 – Dear Daughter, Colbert’s “homophobe” song, Lennon and Maisey

Related Post: Sunday 102 – Why lady looks matter, SCOTUS, Huma + Anthony, football tragedy

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Filed under Art, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 92

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1. CHICAGO: Love this story from Chicago Magazine about the millionaire founder of Land’s End’s financial and emotional commitment to personally reinvigorating the neighborhood he grew up in.

2. TINA: Blurgh! It’s over. At least the dearly departed 30 Rock  has left us with some serious vocabulary, as catalogued by Slate.

3. TINA #2: More on 30 Rock, because it’s just that important, Wesley Morris for Grantland specifically focuses on the show’s portrayal of race.

4. ART: Photographer Paul Schneggenberger captures couples sleeping over a 6 hour period and creates sort of wierd, mostly awesome portraits of sleep.

5. GUNS: Illinois has super harsh gun laws and yet Chicago has a serious gun problem. What gives? NYT has a map showing where Chicago guns come from.

6. MARRIAGE EQUALITY: My new favorite NBA player, Kenneth Faried, introduces his two moms (who seem quite reluctant to be on camera) to lend his voice to the fight for marriage equality.

Related Post: Sunday 91 – McDonald’s and books, sci-fi gender swapping, celeb high school photos

Related Post: Sunday 90 – Lindsay Lohan, Frida, Tina + Amy Forever

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Filed under Art, Chicago, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Great Textpectations

I so wanted to officially name this essay “Great Textpectations” but my (excellent) Role/Reboot editor vetoed in favor of something that I’m sure will drive more search traffic. I would have done it up though, with some thesis-style, colon-ated, alliteration-heavy titles, like:

Great Textpectations: The Modern Myth of Constant Communication

Great Textpectations: Varied Virtual Contact in the 21st Century Land of Love

Great Textpectations: Keeping it Klassy and Torrid Textual Triumphs

Okay, so that last one was realllly bad, but damn do I miss naming college essays! This week, I wrote about texting (and other digital communication) and how to handle it when your wavelength and your partner’s wavelength are not even close to the same frequency. I’m not sure how wavelengths and frequency work, so that analogy might not make sense.

Is Technology Ruining Your Relationship?

Related Post: Why I love Foursquare.

Related Post: Counting Facebook friends.

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