Recommended Reading 003

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

“While there are notable differences in the complexity, nuance, allusion, artistic innovation and experimentation found in mass, mid, and high culture, the argument that one is intrinsically more valuable that the others is, of course, fundamentally elitist. It’s not accident that this sort of cultural work…is often the pet project of men, generally with vested interests in maintaining hierarchies calibrated to their particular and exclusive definitions, which delegitimize culture that provides pleasure and meaning to audiences largely composed of women. If we authenticate and declare our worth and class in no small part through the objects we consume, then labeling the objects consumed by women as ‘less than’ effectively delegitimizes and devalues women’s place in the world.”

 

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

“Shopping reveals the id in all of us. At blowout sales, I am ready to cold-cock other women also trying on size 10 work-appropriate cocktail dresses that hide their shame (upper arms) while promoting their glory (elegant pinkies and/or pillow-butt). In the changing room, attempting to shove your misshapen body into the size you think you should be rather than the size you are usually leads to some form of weeping while screaming, ‘IT’S FINE, I’LL JUST WEAR A BAG OF FLOUR AROUND MY BODY UNTIL I DEHYDRATE ENTIRELY AND CAN DIE IN PEACE.’ Opening your closet to find that you hate every item of clothing you have ever bought is a specific circle of hell: hanger after hanger of poly-cotton blend T-shirts, all with thick layers of deodorant crusted on the armpits, every skirt ironed so poorly it’s on the verge of unravelling if you swivel too fast in it, your shoes just leather hunks you force your bunions into.”

 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

“I began to feel afraid, occupying someone so accomplished. And yet, I was comfortable in there. And suddenly, wanted him to know me. My life. To know us. Our lot. I don’t know why I felt that way but I did. He had no aversion to me, is how I might put it. Or rather, he had once had such an aversion, still bore traces of it, but, in examining that aversion, pushing it into the light, had somewhat, already, eroded it. He was an open book. An opening book. That had just been opened up somewhat wider. By sorrow. And–by us. By all of us, black and white, who had so recently mass-inhabited him. He had not, it seemed, gone unaffected by that event. Not at all. It had made him sad. Sadder. We had. All of us, white and black, had made him sadder, with our sadness. And now, though it sounds strange to say, he was making me sadder with his sadness, and I thought, Well, sir, if we are going to make a sadness party of it, I have some sadness about which I think someone as powerful as you might like to know. And I thought, then, as hard as I could, of Mrs. Hodge, and Elson, and Litzie, and of all I had heard during our long occupancy in that pit regarding their many troubles and degradations, and called to mind, as well, several others of our race I had known and loved…and all the things that they had endured, thinking, Sir, if you are as powerful as I feel that you are, and as inclined toward us as you seem to be, endeavor to do something for us, so that we might do something for ourselves. We are ready sir; are angry, are capable, our hopes are coiled up so tight as to be deadly, or holy: turn us loose, sir, let us at it, let us show what we can do.”

 

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

“I wanted what she had wanted, what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all.”

“You have an affair because you are not getting what you want from your loved one. You want more: more love, more sex, more attention, more fun. You want someone to look at you with lust–after years of laundry–transforming you into something radiant. You want it, you need it, you owe it to yourself to get it. To live any other way is to be muffled and gray and marching meaninglessly toward death. You want what she gave you at the start (but what you had hoped would expand and intensify instead of shrinking until you find yourself so sad, so resentful, you can barely stand to be you).
You have an affair to get for yourself what you wish would come from the person you love the most. And then you have broken her heart and she can never give you any of it ever again.”

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