Sea of Chaos; Island of Frivolity
Normally, we have a gif here, and some kind of consciously grand greeting, and you’ll find all of that below. We believe, firmly, in the value of being an island of informed frivolity even in a sea of chaos. But today, before we tackle that, we need to say:
Black lives matter.
This week has been gruesome and devastating and, worst of all, while it’s been shocking, it’s also been largely unsurprising. Police killing an exceptionally kind man in front of his fiancee and a 4-year-old girl is what passes for average in America these days. A black man can be executed in 48 seconds, for the crime of “behaving threateningly” while an armed white fugitive, guilty of murdering nine black people can be taken alive, and fed a hamburger, both by our police. That is FUCKED UP. So is the far less routine, but also devastating murder of five Dallas police officers who were killed, by all current reports, while earnestly protecting and serving peaceful protesters against police violence. It’s a lot to process and our voices should not be central to that discussion. Here is some information worth centering:
Washington-based writer Ijeoma Oluo put together a detailed list of actions you can take to advance police reform in your hometown, a list thoughtfully elaborated upon by Nicole Silverberg.
Oluo is also looking for volunteers to help her launch The Accountability Project, a website that details, nationally, the steps citizens can take to hold police accountable for brutal actions. Take a look at the support she’s seeking and volunteer your time and skill to help.
At Campaign Zero (mentioned by Nicole Silverberg), you can educate yourself about the step-by-step platform introduced by Black Lives Matter to end police violence, and see which bills advancing this cause at a municipal, state, and federal level are currently in consideration, where your representatives stand on these issues, and how to reach them for comment. Look this up. Reach out. A lot of the important work on police reform happens at the city and state level, the levels of government with lowest voter turnout and engagement. Even a few voices can have a major impact.
Catherine Young, a Bitch Media Writing Fellow & culture critic, has been continuously updating a VERY essential thread on how news isn’t neutral, even when journalists are striving to adhere to ethical best practices (and especially when news is breaking).
Fellow well-intended white friends can use the many resources compiled in the Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism. Very handy for helping lay the table for difficult conversations with friends & family.
There is much, much more we could share, but we're going to leave it here. If you want more suggestions, or have more pieces that you have found helpful in processing these, please come let us know on Twitter. And now: on with our previously scheduled newsletter.
More Thoughts on Emotional Labor!
Dames Nation, are you ready for one of those book reviews that will make you sit up and take notice? The kind that seamlessly weaves together insights from history, sociology, pop culture and more? The kind that you gives you the intellectual version of a delicious, well-prepared meal AND makes you want to yell, “EVERYBODY READ THIS! Now, now, now!”
WELL YOU HAD BETTER BE, because that is exactly the thing that we are opening this issue with! Both Your Dames read and fell in love with “‘The Best Revenge is Your Paper’: Notes on Women’s Work,” wherein Alice Bolin reviews Moira Weigel’s new book Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating for perennial #Damesfav The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Bolin won our hearts and minds (and a spot for Moira Weigel on our GoodReads) with one compelling analytical nugget after another. We know we’ve whetted your appetites, so let’s right dive in with one trenchant, head-smackingly good pull quote!
During the second tech boom work has become more personal, more emotional, and more invasive than ever. Social networking, too, is a form of emotional labor, and it is now a 24-7 activity for the creative class, especially women and people of color, for whom barriers to entry are greater. Men are relatively terrible at social media because it rewards attributes that have been socialized in women: to be cute, to be friendly, to be enthusiastic, to be diplomatic, to show interest in things and people they have no interest in, to be always available. Men who join Twitter in order to network are obvious: they have their job, like “writer,” in their screen name. They use hashtags. They retweet a lot, not posts they found amusing, but posts from official outlets in their fields. They tweet infrequently. Looking at these men’s accounts, I always wonder how people can be so bad at social media. How can they afford it? Men can opt out of this kind of networking because they are allowed to compartmentalize their identities in ways that women cannot. They can sell their work, not themselves.
If you can read THAT without needing to read the whole thing well, frankly, we’re not even sure we want to know you. Our faces feel blown straight off with that smartitude, and there is tons more where that came from-- Beyonce insights (and quibbles with bell hooks)! An examination of the eternal, frequently disturbing ambiguity of women’s work, public and private! And much, much more! Read it and come shout with us about it on Twitter!
Dame Sophie's Weekly Hot Links!
Caption: not a propos of anything, but I needed to see Raylan's smile today, so I put it here.
Christopher Kimball, are you ok? You’re launching a new venture, Milk Street Kitchen, and while it looks very promising, your open letter offering a free copy of the magazine’s charter issue (in exchange for a permanent place on what I know from experience is a very tenacious email marketing list) has me a little worried. This pitch sounds like you’re trying to convince not only potential readers but also...yourself of the viability of the new magazine. This is not the taciturn Yankee I know and love-hate, it’s an outpouring of an almost Hamiltonian level of verbosity. Readers, what do you think? Does C.Kimb seem a little off to you, too? Will you be signing up for a charter issue (and maybe also their newsletter), anyway?
You need a pep talk this week. Maybe you need one every week. Coach Taylor’s got you covered, so get to bookmarking.
The Olympics are coming! The Olympics are coming! And with them, my favorite kind of sports journalism: GIF-based gymnastics analysis, pioneered by Elspeth Reeve during the 2012 London Games. Her coverage on The Wire gave me the visual & verbal vocabulary I’d been waiting for for years. (Her GIF-based ice skating analysis is also excellent). Rio may not be ready, but the Gymternet is! If you’re not already a Simone Biles superfan, you have about a month to prepare.
There’s something so delightful in learning just how deep Prince’s computer nerdery ran. The Purple One’s hometown public radio station offers an interview with Anil Dash (listen for the full interview or read the condensed version).
And, finally, a much-needed antidote to JK Rowling’s verrrrrry unfortunately appropriative US-based school of Witchcraft & Wizardry! Get sorted at Eaglecrest, a fan-invented wizarding school run by Uncle Joe Biden! I got Bluthyonce, “where the zingers are barbed, the eyeliner is winged, and the crafts closet is stuffed with glitter pens. Famous alumni include Mae West, Benjamin Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Cher, and The Rock.”
Caption: Story. Checks. Out.
'Files and Tunes with Dame Margaret
Quinn would NEVER make Vanity Fair’s deplorable editorial choices,
but she could probably make a GREAT reality show about them MAKING said choices.
This week, Vanity Fair paid a man with a history of writing ludicrously bad celebrity profiles to write a ludicrously bad celebrity profile of Margot Robbie. That’s enough information to google upon, should you want to read a ludicrously bad celebrity profile, but I do not recommend that you bother. INSTEAD, I recommend reading one of the many EXCEPTIONALLY GREAT celebrity profiles that have been written lately. To wit:
D.T. Max’s profile of the exquisite Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, “The Savagely Clever Feminist Behind UnREAL,” may be more of a tribute to the excellence of the subject than anything else, but it does prove that we needn’t ban ALL men from writing profiles about women.
In her recent recent profile of Kim Kardashian West, Caity WeaverOPENS with a description of how Kim’s boob feels to the touch AND YET is still 10,000 percent less objectifying than the aforementioned Robbie profile, so I just mean: HIRE CAITY WEAVER FOR EVERYTHING. This profile also makes me love Kim and feel REALLY GREAT about describing my social media identity as “what PBS would produce if they ever decided to make a version of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”
This entire interview with Constance Wu (one of the Emmy nominated leads from the ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat) is fascinating-- one of many great interviews Vulture has published with this season’s Emmy nominees-- but Wu’s clear-eyed dissection of the term “It Girl” is a must read, and the chief reason I am sharing it.
Speaking of Emmy nominees, DID YOU KNOW that Samantha Bee once had her boyfriend break her hand to get out of taking an exam she hadn’t studied for? WELL, you would know that, if you’d read the recent profile of her in Rolling Stone, you would, as well as knowing the methodology for obtaining and value of having one of the most diverse writer’s rooms in late-night TV.
If reading better profiles is not enough for you, take a minute and read longtime #Damespiration Linda Holmes’s ruminating on Margot Robbie’s garbage profile, a garbage piece recently written about Renee Zellweger’s face, and the way actresses are supposed to “thread the needle” of being both beautiful and attainable. It is a terrific example of turning a pair of sow’s ears into a silk purse from our foremost National Expert on Sow's Ear Repurposing.
And, on a completely different subject, DANG GUYS, there is a TON of new music that’s just come out that I am really, really in love with. A quick list of favorites:
First, meet two of my favorite musical tastemakers: (1) Liz Galvao, Bust Magazine’s music editor, whose terrific all-female playlist “No Dick and Jane” (recently shared in Liz’s great newsletter, Weird Personal Emails) has been keeping me going all week, (2) YA author Amy Spalding (who’s written unsurprisingly charming books about teens and indie rock!), whose many exquisite Spotify playlists are perhaps favorite way to discover which new artists I’m going to be obsessed with today. These guys introduced me, jointly, to Lucy Dacus, whose song “I Don’t Want To Be Funny Anymore” I have been singing to myself in snippets for weeks now. I've got a too short skirt, maybe I can be the cute one?
Lucy Dacus also appeared in All Song’s Considered’s listener poll of Favorite New Artists of 2016 (So Far), where an astonishing 8 out of 10 bands were female-led, and all of the songs highlighted were GREAT.
Particularly poll winner Margaret Glaspy, whose new album Emotions & Math has got me making heart-eyes every which way. The video for “You and I” (a song common to all three lists mentioned above, so excellent is it) was my gateway drug (LOOK AT ALL THOSE COLORS! Listen to the misandry!!!), so you might start there, but the album is a joy from start to finish.
Another NPR-adjacent favorite is Oh Pep!, an Australian band whose debut album was featured recently in NPR Music’s First Listen series. And look, guys, I’m as disappointed with myself as anyone for loving a band called OH PEP (named for band members Olivia and PEPITA, a detail which is nearly too twee EVEN FOR ME despite the fact that it’s also perfect), but they are just propulsively, undeniably great. Try out “Doctor Doctor,” then stream the whole album, Stadium Cake, for free at their Band Camp page.
And, on a pretty different but no less compelling note, Chance the Rapper-- whose side project Donny Trumpet & the Social Experimenthas charmed us before-- released a new, full-length album in May called Coloring Book, and it’s WONDERFUL. I could write more about it, but your time would be better spent skipping to the end of this episode of Bullseye and listening to host Jesse Thorn’s rhapsodic Outshot on the album (time stamp 64:57). (h/t to #Damespal Anna for giving me an additional push to check this album out!)
Hopefully, these recommendations leave you feeling as pictured above.
Dame Sophie’s Productivity & Confidence Corner
This is not productivity. This is a self-punishing lie.
Here’s a true thing about adulthood, which Dame Sophie frequently needs to remind herself of, and will maybe be useful for you to hear, too: a lot of the time, we are making things up as we go along. I didn’t magically wake up the day I graduated from college knowing how to manage everything I have to do now at 41. I didn’t come home from the hospital knowing how to care for a neonate (so alternately sulky & snuggly!) a few days after my daughter was born. It’s fine. We all learn as we go. I think it’s really valuable to have that reality reflected back in a variety of media, including one of my favorite formats, podcasts. Manoush Zomorodi, host of the excellent Note to Self, wrote this piece on how podcasts hosted by women take the radical risk of admitting they don’t know everything. It’s so liberating! I don’t know! I don’t know! I can learn how! I can ask for help! I can admit that I’m never going to be good at that thing! So can you! Or not! Maybe you’re truly good at everything! Great! I celebrate you, either way!
This is the kind of thing I think about when faced with a particularly daunting month, where I’ve overcommitted myself and am trying to learn & accomplish new things while also continuing to do work I’ve promised to do previously. It’s fine, it’s temporary, it’s a mess, it’s invigorating & enervating & I will live through it. If you’re in a pickle that is somehow similar, this smorgasbord’s for you:
Ze Frank’s An Invocation for Beginnings is one that hits me differently every time I watch - I find the thing I need with each viewing. So good. (Though I’d love an updated version sans crack pipe reference.)
I love lists. I love tricks & tips. A List of Tricks & Tips to help tackle tasks I don’t want to do: GOLD. Protecting myself from interruptions is super-helpful for me, as is loving accountability. If I have a daunting set of tasks, I’ll set 15-minute timers for myself (15 minutes of uninterrupted work, 5 minutes to recharge, rinse, repeat as needed - it’s just a slight simplification of the famous Pomodoro technique) and announce it on Twitter. Friends & fellow accomplishers will join in and/or cheer me on.
Sometimes, you really do just have to fake it til you make it. Imposter syndrome is garbage, but our feelings are real, and that piece provides some solid advice on managing them. And of course, you may have structural barriers to confront in the WASP-derived American workplace, full to the brim as it is with secret, unwritten rules.
If you have questions about work, career planning or other related stuff, feel free to hit us with a question & we’ll put it in the hopper for our next Two Bossy Dames advice issue, forthcoming next week.
It us, sometimes.