I read a lot. This is a selection of what I read this week (12/07/20 through 12/13/2020) that I think you should read, too.
*Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham’s Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic for The Washington Post: Stores are seeing an uptick of shoplifting incidents, with baby formula, pasta, and other staples the most common items. A lack of a safety net during the coronavirus pandemic is the likeliest reason why, with many people admitting they’re resorting to it out of desperation because of under- or unemployment and poverty.
*Cody Delistraty’s How Picasso Bled the Women in His Life for Art for The Paris Review: Historically, life as a muse and model isn’t exactly the glamorous and stimulating celebration of art that it’s so often portrayed as. This is a tough read about the relationships Cubist sensation Pablo Picasso shared with the mistresses and wives he painted, taking so much from them to fuel his creativity without giving anything of substance in return.
*Melissa Gira Grant’s Nick Kristof and the Holy War on Pornhub for New Republic: Journalist and former sex worker Melissa Gira Grant (more on her later) looks at the latest initiative by anti-porn and anti-sex work activist Nick Kristof with The New York Times, whose initiatives often fail to delineate between sex work and sex trafficking. This misconception has led him to partner with an organization run by Dominionists, a dangerous faith characterized by its deep misogyny, anti-Semitism, and homophobia.
*Charlotte Gush’s The Trailer for Sia’s “Music” Hurts Autistic Girls Like Me for Teen Vogue: Sia’s way of speaking about autism and to autistic people when promoting her upcoming directorial debut Music reflects a blend of fetishization, pity, and stereotyping. This piece dissects what she did wrong and how she could’ve done better to depict autism in girls, which is particularly misunderstood owing to most autism research being conducted on boys.
*Milton Lawson’s Three Cathedrals at Milton’s Comics & Culture Radar: Part memoir, part Houston history, this piece looks at some of the city’s most notable movie theaters past and present with personal stories interwoven with facts. I learned quite a bit and definitely recommend to local (and not-so-local) cinephiles yearning for the day they can return to watch movies on the big screen.
*Sophie Lewis’ How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans for The New York Times: Trans-exclusinary radical feminists (TERFs) are a particularly virulent strain of bigots, responsible for spreading lies about transgender people that lead to proposed (if not passed) legislation. In the UK, many TERFs spring from a branch of the skepticism movement that often expresses contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake… sounding more like the religious fanatics they claim to oppose rather than scholars engaged in even shallow inquiry. Information (including research) on the transgender experience isn’t exactly hard to find these days, after all.
*Kevin Tasker’s DiGiorno’s Croissant Crust Pizza for McSweeney’s: One of the funniest pizza reviews I’ve read in a long, long time.
As always, my weeklies/weeklies-ish:
*Huda Fahmy’s Yes I’m Hot in This
*Phylecia Miller and Jules Rivera’s Hi, Phylecia!
*Taejoon Park’s Lookism
*Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail
*Linda Sejic’s Punderworld
*Jessi Sharon’s The Sea in You
*Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus
*Sensaga’s Ham and Mat
*Steenz’s Heart of the City
It’s been a while since I last re-read both volumes of Epicurus the Sage, written by William Messner-Loebs and with art by Sam Kieth and colors by Steve Oliff. So I was overdue, especially since Lore Olympus, Punderworld, and copious amounts of time spent trying to seduce Thanatos in Hades looped me back to my ancient Greek stories phase. Mind, I’m not a philosophy buff, so I’m sure I missed a few of the jokes here and there. But this is still an extremely accessible, joyful, and slapstick sendup of the major and not-so-major minds of the time, centering on Epicurus’ adventures as a mediator between the gods’ petty disputes. Joining him are Alexander the not-yet-Great-because-he’s-still-a-child and hyperactive space cadet Plato. Sam Kieth’s cartoony artwork makes the stories all the stranger and all the more animated. Nobody could ever forget the scene where Hera possesses a cow. I love it.
I talked about Melissa Gira Grant earlier, and I’m seeking out more of her writing after picking up Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work. As a journalist and former sex worker herself – though, it should be noted, she doesn’t want to share her own stories and that is entirely fair – she covers the subject with all the nuance it deserves. Playing the Whore focuses largely on sex work as labor, and what factors constitute a fair environment. Namely, decriminalization (not legalization), allocating resources toward ending trafficking rather than punishing consenting sex workers, and not labeling sex work as inherently exploitative or empowering. It’s a job. Unfortunately, it’s a job so fraught with taboos and fetishization that it so rarely gets written about as, simply, a job. For anyone interested in learning more about sex work from a labor standpoint with no sensationalism, I think this would be the ideal starting point.
See you next week, fellow bookish buffs!
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