Tag Archives: The Atlantic

That Shit’s Complicated Too

I got a great comment last year from a male reader about how I was putting too much emphasis on the male orgasm as the symbol of a successful sexual outing. I was using it to illustrate why hook ups with strangers might be more satisfying for men then women, which might be one (of many) reasons that women don’t pursue casual sex as much they could.

I get your point that, for random hookups, men are more likely to ‘get off’ than women. That doesn’t take into account the fact that, for men, orgasm isn’t the only marker of a quality sexual experience, probably because it’s so easy to achieve. And honestly, myself and other men I know have come early in unsatisfying sexual experiences just to get it over with.”

I saw that Claire Dederer at the Atlantic fell into a similar trap recently when she wrote about the complexity and “messiness” of female desire. While I definitely don’t dispute the mess, I’ve come around to disputing the claim that it’s messy only for women. Messy in different ways, perhaps, but I think we do dudes a disservice if we reduce their sexual satisfaction to the act of orgasm. More on that at Role/Reboot.

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Related Post: That time I reviewed hookup app Bang with Friends

Related Post: “Women can get sex anytime they want!” and other things people say

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My Book Club is Famous, and other readerly things

First and most important, my book club is famous. Not People famous or CNN famous or even Jezebel famous, but it is Afternoon Shift famous on our local NPR station, WBEZ. One of our book club members is a reporter and captured some of our nerdery at last Sunday’s book club get-together.

A piece of her interview that didn’t make the air, but that brings me great pleasure, is our discussion of our “Rules of Book Club.” There are many, but my two favorites are:

1. Read the Book because, come on, this is not a wine club, nor a brunch club, though there might be wine and/or brunch. There are limits to what you can contribute and what you’ll get out of it if you haven’t read the book.

2. No Bookclubbing Before Book Club because we all hang out on any number of occasions and in any number of combinations before the designated discussion, save your thoughts and opinions (as best as you are able) for the larger group so everyone gets the benefit of your brilliance.

If you have book clubs, I would love to know how yours works! Ours operates on a nomination system (wherein, every month, anyone can nominate a book, and all the nominations go on a ballot, we vote for two apiece, and the winner is read).

In other random readerly nerdery, have you listened to the Tavi Gevinson Nerdette podcast yet? Also worth a listen:

And lastly, do you ever have that moment where you’re on your way to a new place, and you’re staring at your phone tracking yourself on the map and you’re like… it should be right here. And then you look up, and it it is right there, and if you had used the eyes in your head instead of the device in your hand you would have found it five minutes ago?

So that feeling, that is how I feel about this article about this Atlantic article about “the Netflix for books.” I’m like… um,… we have that already. It’s called the library. It’s actually cooler than Netflix, because it’s free. Also, it’s been around for hundreds of years…. So really, what you’re saying is that Netflix was a “library for movies.” Not the other way around. Respect.

Related Post: I talk about Lean In on the radio with Vocalo and the Morning AMp.

Releted Post: On the radio, talking about feminist dating.

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S(Tuesday) Scraps 109


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1. HOOPS: Bill Simmons, who I generally love, gets rightfully reamed by college basketball player Wayne Washington when Simmons refers to his dreads as “stinky.”

2. AUTHORS: Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, American Wife) gets interviewed by The Rumpus about her new book, Sisterland.

3. NEW MEXICO: The New Yorker‘s Rachel Syme, writes eloquently about the hometown she shares with Walter White.

4. CELEB: I really dig this advice from Olivie Wilde in Glamour, or rather, this advice from her ghostwriter. Regardless, I’m into it.

5. MOMS: My favorite, Roxane Gay, interviews her mother for The Hairpin about how she feels about her mothering decisions, 30 years later. Should we all be so lucky as to have these conversations.

6. SPORTS: What does it say about you as a parent when you push your daughter down the path of soccer, dance, or chess? Apparently a lot?

Related Post: Sunday 108: George Saunders, OITNB, Ill-Doctrine, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 107: Amanda Palmer = awesome, millennials worry, email mapping!

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Street Harassment, and “Real Men”

Last week at the Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a piece about male powerlessness, aggression, etc, in the face of racism and aggression. In the final paragraphs, he threw in a line that’s been sticking with me for days:

 Street harassment is a kind of implied violence, a tool most embraced by those who lack the power to set laws, men who are in doubt of themselves. Real men objectify women with dignity and decorum.

I posted that line to FB and emailed it to a few friends to try to parse the relationship between perceived powerlessness and street harassment. Since it’s Coates, the original piece obviously relies on race and class to illustrate empowered vs. disempowered reactions to slights, but given the pervasiveness of street harassment, I think there’s something broader happening with American masculinity. Hence, my subject for Role/Reboot this week:

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Related Post: A letter to the guy who harassed me outside a bar

Related Post: Guest Post – A letter to the girl I harassed at a bar 

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The Best Things I Read on the Internet, 2012

Like last year, I’m doing a Best Things I read on the Internet list. This is obviously in no way complete or comprehensive, it is merely a tiny slice of the internet that I really enjoyed and I hope you enjoy too.

  • How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in AmericaGawker (Kiese Laymon): I’ve read this essay about violence and race and home and promise so many times. There are phrases I’m sure will stick with me forever, “I’m a waste of writing’s time,” and “I wish I could get my Yoda on right now and surmise all this shit into a clean sociopolitical pull-quote that shows supreme knowledge and absolute emotional transformation, but I don’t want to lie.”
  • “Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Sociopath?”New York Times (Jennifer Kahn): In the wake of Sandy Hook, this investigation of psychopathy in children hits particularly hard. How early can you identify the traits of psychopathy, and what do you do about it?
  • “Expectations”The New Yorker (Katherine Boo): This is the story of the uneasy relationship between an aspiring politician, Michael Bennet, and a high school on the edge of disfunction (or maybe over it?) in Denver. We talk about turnaround schools, benchmarks, races to the top, but what does that actually look like reflected back in the faces of teenagers?
  • “The Last Tower” – Harpers (Ben Austen) – For you Chicagoans, or those who wish to be Chicagoans, the towers of Cabrini-Green hold a particular and problematic place in our recent history. I walk by the remains of them every day. How did they start? Where they wrong from the beginning? Could they have been saved? Should they have been saved?
  • “Transformation and Transcendance: The Power of Female Friendship”The Rumpus (Emily Rapp): I hate, hate, hate the title of this essay if only because of how many potential readers might be turned off by it’s hippie-dippy enlightenment vibe. It’s so amazing and fantastic that I want every single person to read it. This was the first thing I ever read of Rapp’s, and I’ve been hooked since.
  • “Click and Drag” – xkcd (Randall Munroe): This isn’t an essay, per se, but I find it profound and delightful nonetheless. In an interactive cartoon, “Click and Drag” is about finding small pleasures, and remembering how much of the world there always is to explore.
  • “Odd Blood: Serodiscordancy, or, Life with an HIV-Positive Partner” - The Atlantic (John Fram): A piece of the HIV puzzle we don’t see exposed very often, “Odd Blood” is a lyrically written account of a relationship in which one partner is HIV-positive and the other is not.

Part 2 coming later this week!

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Sunday Scraps 85

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1. SPORTS: This Charles Siebert piece for the New York Times Magazine about the rigors and stresses of trying to make an NFL team is fascinating. How much do you want it? And how much are you willing to take to get it?

2. BOOKS: Super great Atlantic essay about author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, State of Play) and her new bookstore in Nashville. As a lover of independent bookstores, I think this is all kinds of awesome.

3. CHRIS BROWN: After violent exchange with a female comedian on Twitter, Chris Brown deleted his account. The always excellent Roxane Gay on why criticizing Brown isn’t racist, and why it also is pretty f’ing complicated.

4. ELECTION: Curious about how all those Obama for America emails with subject lines like “Hey” or “It’s officially over” played out? Businessweek has some answers.

5. PAIN: There’s an extremely rare medical condition where you feel no pain. Sounds great, right? Not unless you step on a nail, scratch yourself bloody, or break an ankle and don’t realize it. The New York Times has an examination.

6. MEDIA: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has put together an excellent report about the representation of women on screen (especially on children and family programming) and Mother Jones has a summary of some of the most telling facts and figures.

Related Post: Sunday 84 – Letters from astronauts, the female male model, bedrooms around the world.

Related Post: Sunday 83 – Hillary Clinton’s next move, Denver public schools, Mormons on the Romney bus

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Filed under Body Image, Books, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports, Uncategorized

Sunday Scraps 79

1. BINDERS: Amanda Hess for Slate makes a similar argument to mine earlier this week, and I’m into it. Binders full of women leads to cabinets full of women. Not an ideal process, not an ideal phrase, but not the wrong idea either.

2. OBAMA: Love this piece by Ta-Nahesi Coates for The Atlantic on the particular burden of carrying his “people.” Cool comparison with a 1936 boxing match in which Joe Lewis was knocked out by Max Shmeling.

3. HARPER: From Letters of Note, an excellent, excellent letter from the reclusive Harper Lee to Oprah Winfrey when O picked Mockingbird for the book club.

4. CLINTONS: How’d the Clinton/Obama relationship evolve from primary bashing to cooperation to Clinton’s epic convention speech? NYMag investigates.

5. SPAIN: What do you do if the country you call home can’t support your kids’ ambitions? Carlos Duarte writes for the Huffington Post about watching his daughter leave Spain in search of more than it can offer her.

6. MARKS: The joy of punctuation. Little-known, lesser-used punctuation marks that never quite hit the mainstream.

Related Post: Sunday 78: Inigo Montoya, Rebel Wilson, Roxane Gay, the truth of the VDay kiss.

Related Post: Sunday 77: Replacement refs, Urban Cusp, Jennifer Weiner

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Sunday Scraps 78

1. FRISK: A 17-year-old in New York City secretly recorded two cops harassing him for his race and appearance and threatening to beat him, all part of the legal policy known as “Stop and Frisk” (The Atlantic).

2. WEIGHT: Roxane Gay writes for the Wall Street Journal on how, despite the recent rash of plus-sized women on  screen, their weight is still the punch line to a joke instead of just one feature of many.

3. KISS: You know that famous VJ Day kiss photo? Turns out that the story isn’t quite what we thought it was, and a whole lot less romantic (Mother Jones).

4. INTERWEBZ: Reddit’s #1 creeper (creator of such subreddits as “jailbait” and “creeshots”) was recently outed by Gawker. Given the guy has made his name posting other people’s photos and claiming “if they didn’t want us to see it, they wouldn’t have put it on Facebook,” it seems ironic that he’s so pissed about being exposed. Dude, if you didn’t want people to know you’re a creeper, don’t be a creeper.

5. GIRLS: This week’s International Day of the Girl had the likes of Melinda Gates, Christiane Amanpour and Oprah offering advice to their 15-year-old selves.

6. INIGO: Homeland standout Mandy Patinkin was interviewed by NPR about the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride. He said, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed…”

Related Post: Sunday 77 – the worst bride ever, Urban Cusp, replacement refs

Related Post: Sunday 76 – Zadie Smith, xkcd founder, Vice 

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Sunday Scraps 77

1. GENDER: The Stranger has brilliantly skewered Rolling Stone’s annual “Women Who Rock” issue by turning the tables and throwing the dudes a bunch of ridiculous softball questions.

2. WEDDINGS: As a soon-to-be maid-of-honor, I was tickled horrified by this bride’s instructional email to her bridesmaids (Gawker).

3. FOOTBALL: Now that this ref strike is over, hear how it went from the scab side with a Time interview with replacement ref Jerry Frump.

4. POLITICS: Apparently, some foreign governments are learning about democracy through viewings of The West Wing. The Atlantic explains why this is perhaps not the most realistic model…

5. WEIGHT: Author Jennifer Weiner writes for Allure. What’s a fat mom to do when her thin daughter pulls a Mean Girl move and calls another girl fat?

6. RAHIEL: Urban Cusp founder Rahiel Tesfamariam, born in Eritrea, now an internet celeb, sums up her epic tweet series on her path to success.

Related Post: Sunday 76: fast food nation, Zadie Smith, xkcd, and Vice Magazine.

Related Post: Sunday 75: Moms-in-chief, best word ever, library tattoos

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Sunday Scraps 76

1.VOTING: Slate has a time lapsed map marking the last 100 years of presidential elections. Oooh, watch the pretty colors change!

2. SMARTS: Atlantic interview with Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, about his uber famous comic and his new geeky science project, What If?

3. BOOKS: How to pair cocktails with book club books, a guide from Flavorwire. We’re reading Boss in my book club at the moment, which I think requires a Chicago beer that has been purchased in exchange for a couple of votes in a tricky precinct.

4. MAGS: The Daily Beast profiles Vice, a Brooklyn based online and print magazine that uses raunch humor, on-the-ground cheap reporting, and multi-media to try to make millennials care about the world.

5. FOOD: As nutritional labels hit McDonald’s, do consumers care if their lunch is 1,800 calories? Apparently not.

6. WRITING: Words of writerly wisdom from Zadie Smith, whose new book NW I’m very excited to read.

Related Post: Sunday 75: black moms-in-chief, library tattoos, Republican history of America

Related Post: Sunday 74: Emily Dickinson, the end of the Kournikova era, Junot Diaz

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