Entries Tagged as 'Reading List'

The best things I read in 2017

December 31, 2017

Photo: Death to the Stock Photo

Happy New Year’s Eve! I come bearing lots of links.

First, some good books:

We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love

Second, my absolute favorite Internet from this year:

When Things Go Missing, The New Yorker.

‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death, The Guardian.

The myth of the male bumbler, The Baffler.

How Amanda Chantal Bacon Perfected the Celebrity Wellness Business, The New York Times.

Anger That Can Save the World: On Justice, Feminism, and the Furies, Catapult.

I Didn’t Know What to Wear to My Brother’s Funeral, Racked.

And, finally, here’s the best of the rest — very loosely organized into categories (as much as possible, given that pretty much everything is politics, and racism and sexism are hard to separate), with my favorites bolded!

Politics

The Radical Crusade of Mike Pence, Rolling Stone.

To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation, The New York Times.

I Loved My Grandmother. But She Was a Nazi., The New York Times.

This Is What It’s Like to Come to the United States as a Refugee, The Atlantic.

No Time To Be Nice: Now Is Not The Moment To Remain Silent, WBUR.

Inside Putin’s Information War, Politico.

Our Lady of Complicity, The Baffler.

The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World’s Face, Splinter.

Anita Hill and her 1991 congressional defenders to Joe Biden: You were part of the problem, The Washington Post.

LEAKED: The White House’s Black History Month Program Of Events, Full Frontal on Medium.

Obama unleashes tweetstorm on NO ONE BECAUSE HE’S THE GOD DAMN PRESIDENT AND AN ADULT MAN, CBC.

Race and racism

The First White President, The Atlantic.

White Liberals Still Don’t Understand White Supremacy, Harper’s Bazaar.

Inside the Trial of Dylann Roof, The New Yorker.

How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality, The New York Times.

From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful as the New Uppity, The New Yorker.

We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs, Teen Vogue.

Love Needs Fury To Defeat Hate, The Fader.

The 5 Types of ‘Becky’, The Root.

Letter of the week: What is wrong with you, white supremacists?, The Salt Lake Tribune.

Gender and sexism

Women Aren’t Nags—We’re Just Fed Up, Harper’s Bazaar.

Ask Polly: ‘I Hate Men.’, The Cut.

The Reckoning Always Comes, Deadspin.

Own, Apologize, Repair: Coming Back to Integrity, Nora Samaran.

Real Men Might Get Made Fun Of, The New York Times.

Non-Compete Clause, The Baffler.

Meltdown of the Phantom Snowflakes, The Baffler.

A Circular History of Circle Jerks, MEL.

Re: Sweat Nothing’s 2018 Deodorant Scents (for Men and Women), The New Yorker.

Why Do Men Put on Basketball Shorts After Sex?, Racked.

The Protection Racket, Jezebel.

I’m Not Ready for the Redemption of Men, The New York Times.

So You Married Your Flirty Boss, The New Republic.

Why Would This Time Be Any Different?, Deadspin.

How to Talk to Women if You Believe Feminism Has Made It Really Hard to Know What Counts as ‘Harassment’, VSB.

This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work., The Cut.

Ask Polly: Men Are the Worst, and I’m Married to One!, The Cut.

I Have Been Raped by Far Nicer Men Than You, VSB.

Nobody Wants to See your Dick — A Guide to Handling your Newfound Wealth and Influence, Chris Rosenthall on Medium.

10 things i say to preschoolers slash grown-ass men, Katy Kati Kate.

Features

The Uncounted, The New York Times.

The LA Times’ Dirty John series.

The Man Who Cleans Up After Plane Crashes, GQ.

Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich, The New Yorker.

The Incarcerated Women Who Fight California’s Wildfires, The New York Times.

The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth, ProPublica.

The Tampa Bay Times’ series on kids and auto theft in Florida: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Queens of the Stoned Age, GQ.

Beauty and bodies

The Trash Heap Has Spoken, Guernica.

A History of Women Who Burned to Death in Flammable Dresses, Racked.

What If We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa, Catapult.

Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age, The New York Times.

I Feel Like I Live in Somebody Else’s Body, Racked.

My Failed Attempt at Illness-Chic, Racked.

Home, family, work, and how we live

Do something. But you can’t do everything., Lenny Letter.

In the Shadow of a Fairy Tale — On becoming a stepmother., The New York Times.

Women Aren’t Ruining Food, Taste.

Parents Who Pay to Be Watched, The Cut.

Sorry for the Delayed Response, The New Yorker.

My Family’s Slave, The Atlantic.

SuperBabies Don’t Cry, Vela.

HGTV Is a Never-ending Fantasy Loop. Look Deeper, and It Gets Pretty Ugly., The Cut.

One Woman’s Reasons for Using, Not Storing, Heirloom Dishes, Philly Mag.

You Need an Afternoon Routine, Lifehacker.

The Story Behind the Greatest Internet Recipe Comment of All Time, The Cut.

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights, The New Yorker.

Quick note on starting a new draft, Jamie Lauren Keiles on Medium.

We Received $95,000 Worth of Free Stuff in Six Months, Racked.

A Holiday Survival Guide for Sad People, Pinch of Yum.

Your Happiness Is Built With the Little Things, Lifehacker.

I Rebuke Your Bullcrap Marshmallow Roasting Tactics In The Strongest Possible Terms, Deadspin.

Why do recipe writers lie and lie and lie about how long it takes to caramelize onions?, Slate.

The Week My Husband Left And My House Was Burgled I Secured A Grant To Begin The Project That Became BRCA1, The Huffington Post.

Let’s All Stop Saying Bless You, Lifehacker.

Pilgrims Without Internet, The Rumpus.

I Work from Home, The New Yorker.

ICYMI: The best things I wrote this year and the best things I edited this year.

The best things I edited in 2017

December 30, 2017

In December 2016, I had one direct report at BuzzFeed — same as I had had since September 2015. This December, I have five. They are all wonderful — so talented, bright, curious, kind, and funny — and bringing them on/editing their work has been one of the best things about my year. I also edited a handful of freelancers this year, which was new/cool/fun.

Here are some of my favorite things that I got to help bring into the world in 2017:

Features

The Forgotten Story Of The Radium Girls, Whose Deaths Saved Thousands Of Lives by Kate Moore

Here’s What My Parents’ 1974 Wedding Would Cost In 2017 Dollars by Meg Keene

Why The World Went Wild for Pumpkin Spice by Virginia Chamlee

I Style Dead People by Virginia Chamlee

Here’s What Three Astrologers Think The Eclipse Means For Horoscopes by Terri Pous

A Friendly Guide To Exactly How A Dead Body Decomposes by Kayla Suazo

The World Is Ending, Just As It’s Always Been by Terri Pous

Essays

I’m Terrible, Thanks For Asking by Nora McInerny Purmort

Introducing My Parents To My Boyfriend Meant Introducing Them To Me by Tom Vellner

My Makeup Routine Is My Morning Meditation by Gyan Yankovich

The Small-Town America I Love Is The One I See At Football Games by Delia Cai

Yes, I Call My Mom Every Day by Terri Pous

Why Is Getting Ready For Bed SO EXHAUSTING? by Kayla Suazo

Shopping/products

9 Books That Actually Helped Me Win On “Jeopardy!” by Terri Pous

If You Drink Any Kind Of Liquid At Your Desk, You Should Buy This Tumbler by Tom Vellner

I Tried The Underwear That’s All Over Instagram To See If It’s Actually Legit by Tom Vellner

This Facial Oil Will Solve All Your Skin’s Problems by Kayla Suazo

Classic Buzz

Tag Yourself As An Ugly Renaissance Baby And We’ll Reveal What Type Of Drunk You Are by Anjali Patel

If You Get 9/9 On This Quiz, You Should Travel Back In Time And Be A Doctor by Terri Pous

21 Tweets For Women That Are So Real It Hurts A Little by Gyan Yankovich

A Definitive Ranking Of The Planets By How Fucking Dramatic They Are by Anjali Patel

19 Things That Will Make Every Kind-Of Adult Say, “Oh Shit, That’s Me” by Kayla Suazo

Hey Millennials, If You Score 5/8 On This Quiz You Deserve To Own A House by Anjali Patel

26 Stories That Prove Dads Must Be Protected At All Costs by Anjali Patel

21 Pure Tumblr Posts About How Beautiful Women Are by Anjali Patel

12 Women Share The Practical Money Advice They Wish They Knew Sooner by Gyan Yankovich

Rompers For Dudes Are Here And TBH I Don’t Hate Them by Tom Vellner

17 Things That Will Make Anyone With Big Boobs Say “That’s Too Real” by Gyan Yankovich

21 Things That’ll Make Any Catholic School Student Laugh And Then Genuflect by Tom Vellner

15 Things People Actually Used To Believe About Women’s Bodies That Will Make You LOL-sob by Kayla Suazo

22 Extremely Important Questions I Need Americans To Answer by Gyan Yankovich

Earlier: The best things I wrote in 2017.

The best things I wrote in 2017

December 27, 2017

At the beginning of 2017, my job shifted pretty considerably from a mix of writing and editing/managing to mostly editing/managing. As a result, I didn’t think I had really done that much in terms of writing this year. But when I started going through my posts from the past year over the weekend, I realized I’d written a lot more than I thought I had, including some stuff I’m really proud of. (I also edited a bunch of cool stuff, but I’ll put that in its own post.) So tonight, I bring you a post-mortem of my favorite things I wrote this year:

Being Organized Is A Gift I Give Myself And Other People. For this essay, I took a few paragraphs that I had written for my book and fleshed them out, turning them into something new and different that I just really love and am proud of. This essay also contains what I consider my two sickest burns of all time: “a cracked iPhone screen that somehow gained sentience” and “they ‘think it’s maybe strep’ at least a half-dozen times a year.” (And yes, that last one was absolutely a subtweet.)

Everything You Need To Know About The Leggings Taking Over Your Facebook + 15 Women Tried LuLaRoe’s Leggings So You Don’t Have To. I started working on these posts in the fall of 2016, and right after I published my list of my best work from 2016, I was kind of like, Oh shit, I need some new hits, and that pushed me to finish these. One of my core principles is writing about things that women care about thoughtfully and honestly — being critical while also being fair and reasonable — and I put a lot of goddamn thought into these leggings and the women who buy and sell them. One other thing I’m proud of here is that our CEO Jonah emailed it to former manager (the person who hired me!) and commented that it was a great post. So that felt good.

Why Venmo Is My Favorite Sympathy Card. I just believe in this so strongly, and it felt great to bring it to a wider audience. It also makes me happy to know that people have started doing this for friends after reading this essay. Also, the number of people who Venmoed me last month after I shared bad news was surprising and really, really moving.

25 Simple Meals You Can Make When Your Life Is In Shambles. This was a topic that was near and dear to my heart, and the responses I got were really lovely. Also, nearly a million people read it!

The Peace Of A Puzzle. I spent a lot of time on this one, mostly on weekends, as it was more for me than for BF. But I hope I sold a few new people on puzzles!

How Popular Are Your Opinions On Pens? This was one of those posts where the spirit just, like, moves you, and you just do the whole thing in one feverish sitting. (Technically I did it in two; I wrote the whole thing one night after work, and then the next morning went into the office and took the photos. But I rarely move that fast on posts, especially ones that I really care about.)

This $17 Dress From Amazon Is The Stuff Group-Costume Dreams Are Made Of + 17 Clever Halloween Costumes For Anyone With A Prime Account And A Dream. I didn’t do any original Halloween content in 2016, and that was honestly fine; I wasn’t sure if I’d do it this year or not. But for Q4, I was given new goals around affiliate content (basically, posts that make money when people buy stuff after clicking the links). It was a new challenge for me, but it was the perfect creative boundary for Halloween original content. Looking at the photos just fills me with so much mirth and pride. Also, I put the line in about people being welcome to email me if they wanted my Cricut files…and I was shocked by how many did! And I ended up getting 17 emails with photos from people who had used my costume suggestions which felt amazing. A few even won their office costume contest! I’m really proud of that in particular.

21 Legitimately Great Gifts To Give Your Boyfriend, Husband, Brother, Or Dad. As I wrote in this post, I reject the idea of gifts “for men” because like…what the fuck even is gender??? But I also know that this is a thing people want help with. So figuring out a way write this that I felt good about was important to me. (Bet no one came to a gift guide looking for a lecture on gender but TOO BAD!!!!) Anyway, it was a traffic smash and sold a ton and I am happy with how it turned out.

23 Practical Gifts For People Who Are Hard To Shop For. As I mentioned recently, this was the top post on BuzzFeed the week after it was published. That is…not common for me. Like, at all. It’s also definitely not a sure thing with gift guides. But it did gangbusters in traffic (currently more than 2 million views) and sales, and it’s really cool to know that a bunch of people got things for Christmas that I recommended! Gifting is something I just care so deeply about, and I truly wrote this one (and the other one) from the heart/from real experience, so I’m so thrilled that people found it helpful.

This Modern Home Ec Book Will Stop People From Asking, “You Live Like This???” Last but not least, this post about my beloved Home Comforts! I just cared so much about this book personally and wanted the world to know how great it is. I knew it was kind of a hard sell — it’s just so specific — but my post sold a lot of copies, and the paperback is now sold out now on Amazon (after being re-stocked at least once already). Last week, I had the realization that, based on the gift guides that I wrote, that like…people were going to open gifts on Christmas specifically because I recommended them. Which maybe seems obvious, but I hadn’t really considered it like that before, and which felt really cool and special! Anyway, this evening, I got a message from my coworker that said, “I got my sister Home Comforts for Christmas and she loved it so much her eyes filled up with tears.” Which is so nice, and is a great note to end on.

A post-Harvey Weinstein reading list

October 15, 2017

https://twitter.com/heylauriestark/status/917178184851906560

Quote: @heylauriestark

Once again, men have gone and done some more fucked-up shit that requires its own separate post.

Here’s the thing I want to say about Harvey Weinstein: I don’t believe Meryl Streep or anyone else in Hollywood who says they didn’t know about this. *I* knew about this, and I deeply DGAF about anything related to the entertainment industry. (I watch, like, two movies a year.) Hollywood is a small-ass town. They fucking knew.

Anyway. Here are the links:

From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories, The New Yorker.

I highly, highly recommend you listen to the Oct. 11 episode of The Daily to hear Katherine Kendall tell her story in her own words. 

Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual-Harassment Allegations Didn’t Come Out Until Now, The Cut. “After Weinstein failed to respond to my calls for comment, I was sent, on Election Eve 2000, to cover a book party he was hosting, along with my colleague Andrew Goldman. Weinstein didn’t like my question about O, there was an altercation; though the recording has alas been lost to time, I recall that he called me a cunt and declared that he was glad he was the ‘fucking sheriff of this fucking lawless piece-of-shit town.’ When my colleague Andrew (who was also then my boyfriend) intervened, first calming him down and then trying to extract an apology, Weinstein went nuclear, pushing Andrew down a set of steps inside the Tribeca Grand — knocking him over with such force that his tape recorder hit a woman, who suffered long-term injury — and dragging Andrew, in a headlock, onto Sixth Avenue.”

Tell Us What You Know About Harvey Weinstein’s “Open Secret”, Defamer. There’s a LOT happening in this old post, including this chilling bit: “The Harvey Girls are easily spotted. They are all very pretty, often in a rather generic sense. Their instant fame and the push behind them comes seemingly out of nowhere and without any justification in terms of resume or skill set. Most obviously, at least as of 2007, they are clothed exclusively in Marchesa on the red carpet (the fashion line of Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman).”

Here’s Why So Many Women Knew The Rumors About Harvey Weinstein, BuzzFeed. “There are enough men like Weinstein and Ailes, young and old, liberal and conservative, ones who make us feel like objects, or dirty and out of control in our workplace or classrooms, ones who can and will ruin our lives — that we’ve become dependent on unofficial modes of communication to protect ourselves. It’s no wonder, then, that so many men deride and degrade gossip: It’s our most effective armor against their abuses.”

How Harvey Weinstein’s Hollywood Connections Helped Make His Wife’s Fashion Label a Success, Jezebel.

I’m a Coward, The Cut.

Stop Mentioning Your Daughters When You Denounce Harvey Weinstein, Vulture.

As A Father Of Daughters, I Think We Should Treat All Women Like My Daughters, The Toast.

Ben Affleck Has Apologized For Groping Hilarie Burton On TRL, BuzzFeed. Also don’t miss him molesting another woman on camera here.

Sarah Polley: The Men You Meet Making Movies, The New York Times.

Study finds 75 percent of workplace harassment victims experienced retaliation when they spoke up, Vox.

Here’s a look how the AP chose to cover this story. Which actually brings us to…

The Protection Racket, Jezebel.

You Can’t Get Away With This Shit Anymore, The Hairpin.

“Is he on The Island?” On the (lack of) professional consequences for sexual harassers, Ann Friedman.

And here are some good tweets:

On people shaming Terry Crews.

“When it’s someone else’s fault vs when it’s your fault.”

“If you think being in the same room with a woman makes it hard to avoid raping or harassing her, perhaps you should stay home. Forever.”

“When your subhead thinks you’re full of shit.”

“If you wanted Hillary Clinton to comment sooner on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, you should have elected her president.” (See also: this.)

And a moment of appreciation for Anita Hill.

I’ll be back later with our regularly scheduled programming.

A post-Charlottesville reading list

August 20, 2017

Here is the thing I want white liberals to know about Charlottesville: I highly doubt that most 2016 Republican/Trump voters are terribly upset about Nazis marching with torches, or that the past week has been any sort of tipping point for them. I would love to be wrong about this, but it seems pretty unlikely that if you voted for him/this party, that you’d suddenly be like, Oh, wow, these statues *do* need to come down, or that you’d actually see a difference between neo-Nazis and BLM (a LOT of white people think Black Lives Matter is a hate group! a lot!!!), or that you’d care if the POTUS said both sides had bad people — because you probably agree. And also, intimidation of or violence against black people (or the white people who care about us) actually…doesn’t…move…a lot of white people? I don’t think they really care what happens to us or care if a Nazi drives a car into a crowd of us, because they believe on some level that we deserve what we get if we don’t know our place. And that sucks! But, like, come on — most of those “nice” white Republicans (like the parents of all my friends growing up, and a not-insignificant amount of my college friends) or even the “nice” white people who “don’t do politics” aren’t actually bothered by any of this, or have honestly even thought that much about it at all. And if you think that I am wrong about this, please go read the comments from all the “nice” white ladies on this video of Heather Heyer’s mother on GMA

Onto the reading list…

White Feelings: 0-60 for Charlottesville, Erynn Brook.

White Liberals Still Don’t Understand White Supremacy, Harper’s Bazaar. “Racism doesn’t always look like the KKK marching hoodless in broad daylight. Racism also looks like white liberals getting angry at people of color who ask them to confront how they benefit from white supremacy and white privilege. It looks like white women telling me that I am being divisive by asking for an honest conversation about race and racism within feminist circles. It looks like tone-policing, emotional labor, objectification, fetishization, the white-savior complex, staying silent when you hear overt racism, saying nothing about working in a mostly white to all-white office, ignoring gentrification and the school-to-prison pipeline, loving The Help but hating Girls Trip.”

The Truth About Women and White Supremacy, The Cut. “Tyler spearheaded the Women of the Klu Klux Klan, the all-women, autonomous arm of the KKK that had roughly half-a-million members during the 1920s. As I wrote in a Timeline piece on the WKKK, the organization was savvier than its male counterpart because ‘they were better than the men’s group at hiding their white supremacist mission behind a facade of social welfare.’ The group helped to normalize the terrorism of the men’s KKK. Pamphlets from the time read, ‘Are you interested in the Welfare of our Nation? As an Enfranchised woman are you interested in better government?’ Through picnics, lunches, and cross burnings, these white women rallied around racist immigration laws, anti-miscegenation, and segregation.”

And some other “nice” white ladies.

The Many Lives of Hazel Bryan, Slate.

Love Needs Fury To Defeat Hate, Fader. “Neither is love inaction, silence, or complicity. Love does not stand down in the face of terror. Love does not demand silence in the face of injustice or submission in the face of oppression and its attendant brutalities. Real love proves more expansive and powerful than previously imagined when tested by the specter of death.”

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies, Sojourners. “Privilege means that you owe a debt. You were born with it. You didn’t ask for it. And you didn’t pay for it either. No one is blaming you for having it. You are lovely, human, and amazing. Being a citizen of a society requires work from everyone within that society. It is up to you whether you choose to acknowledge the work that is yours to do. It is up to you whether you choose to pay this debt and how you choose to do so. Sometimes living with privilege can disillusion us into thinking that being in community with other humans doesn’t require work. This is a lie; it requires a great deal of work. And all of that work requires being a human and trying to love other humans well.” This quote will stick with me for a long time.

There Was Never Doubt Over What Trump Thought of Charlottesville, Salon. God, the number of “Why won’t he just denounce the neo-Nazis?” headlines this week was OUTRAGEOUS. WE KNOW WHY.

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, The New Yorker. The article is less terrifying than the hed, FYI.

How Corey Long Fought White Supremacy With Fire, The Root.

Father of White Nationalist Denounces His Son After Charlottesville: He’s ‘Not Welcome at Family Gatherings Any Longer’, The Cut. TBH, I thought this was going to be kind of basic, but it’s legit.

Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews, The Atlantic.

If you’re still sad about the removal of these statues, please read this thread about the origins of Confederate monuments, and just how worthless they are.

Speaking of statues, can y’all get this out of the goddamn Capitol?

“Condemning killing is the easiest thing. It does not take courage. It doesn’t mean one supports the advancement of civil rights or equality.” Read this thread from Hannah Nikole-Jones.

This episode of The Daily is great — legitimately so inspiring.

And here’s one link that’s just for my black and brown friends who are reading this.

I’ll post my regular links for the week later tonight.

The best things I read in 2016

December 23, 2016

Photo: Death to the Stock Photo

2016 produced a lot of great Internet, a sampling of which I’ve rounded up below. Tell your Pocket to gird its loins! (FYI, all the links will automatically open in a new tab.)

Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker, BuzzFeed. This is, without question, the most moving thing I read this year.

What to do when you’re not the hero any more, NewStatesman. This was published in late December 2015, but I’m including it anyway because 1) I read it in January, 2) things published in December never make it on any best-of lists, and 3) it’s just so damn good and really stuck with me.

I’m a Previvor, Catapult.

The Funny Thing About Abusive Relationships, NY Mag.

St. Teresa and the Single Ladies, The New York Times.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting The Collapse Of Society As We Know It, BuzzFeed.

About Writing While Loving Blackness and Hurting White Feelings, Awesomely Luvvie.

Ask Polly: Why Did My Dream Man Dump Me?, New York Magazine.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Get in Formation, Seven Scribes.

Why Everyone on TV Has the Same Hair, Racked.

Chris Christie’s wordless screaming, Washington Post.

What it’s like to be that fat person sitting next to you on the plane., Future Travel.

Out Here, No One Can Hear You Scream, Highline.

The Reckoning, Texas Monthly. This story is…remarkable, truly. I wept a lot

The Vast Bay Leaf Conspiracy, The Awl.

The rise of American authoritarianism, Vox.

On Race, Good Intentions, and the Benefit of the Doubt, The Toast.

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, The Atlantic.

How Blac Chyna Beat The Kardashians At Their Own Game, BuzzFeed. This…made me interested in the Kardashians for the first time ever.

Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Was Never Going to Be Easy. But Did It Have to Get This Hard?, New York Magazine.

A Renegade Muscles In on Mister Softee’s Turf, The New York Times.

How to Cover Donald Trump Fairly: A Style Guide, The Washington Post.

Princess for a Day, Disney Bride for Life, Racked.

Hunger Makes Me, Hazlitt.

The Audition, The Stranger.

Our Fancy Foods, Ourselves, Eater.

Am I Going to Write About Murdered Black People Forever?, Jezebel.

I’m proud to announce that I was the one who bought George Zimmerman’s gun. And once I destroy it there will be only four Trump horcruxes left., McSweeney’s.

Why Do So Many Men Whisper ‘Hey’ After Fucking You?, Jezebel.

The Rabidly-Followed Leggings Brand You Can Only Buy on Facebook, Racked.

Today’s Vagenda, Sara Schaefer on Medium.

When Will New York City Sink?, New York Magazine.

Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff, The New York Times Magazine.

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation, Mother Jones.

Ask a Former Drunk: How Do You Start Sobriety?, Jezebel.

When My Grandkids Ask Me What I Did to Fight American Fascism, I’ll Proudly Tell Them I Tweeted a Few Times., McSweeney’s.

The Uber Killer: The Real Story of One Night of Terror, GQ.

‘The Arrangements’: A Work of Fiction, The New York Times.

A Celebration of the Beautiful, Lightly Deranged PR Emails We Get From Period Undie-Makers Thinx, Jezebel. Update: Chelsea has left Thinx! She sent a good-bye email to all her ~squirrelfranz~ (myself included) a couple weeks ago. 

Why Am I So Fat?, Sara Benincasa on Medium.

This election isn’t just Democrat vs. Republican. It’s normal vs. abnormal., Vox.

The 24-Year-Old Coca-Cola Virgin, Eater.

No, I’m from New York, The New Yorker. 

He Had His Reasons, Granta. (Note: graphic descriptions of domestic violence.)

Ask Polly: Why Do Women Obsess About Babies and Fertility?, New York Magazine.

Baltimore vs. Marilyn Mosby, The New York Times Magazine. This is just…grim.

How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit, Literary Hub. I should set an iPhone reminder to read this every Sunday.

Hillary Clinton for President, The New York Times.

A Closer Look at Debate Makeup, Racked.

“You Girls Having Fun?”, Eater.

Ted Cruz and his conscience amicably part ways, The Washington Post.

This is Not My Beautiful House, Kim France on Medium.

Donald Trump, Shamer in Chief, The Nation.

I Was Pregnant, And Then I Wasn’t, BuzzFeed.

Children Don’t Always Live, The New York Times.

A Time for Refusal, The New York Times. 

How Trump Made Hate Intersectional, New York Magazine.

White nationalists? Alt-right? If you see a Nazi, say Nazi, The Guardian. 

On Rural America: Understanding Isn’t The Problem, Forsetti’s Justice.

That Time I Almost Stabbed A Couple Rednecks Who Saw My Headwrap And Assumed I Was Muslim, VerySmartBrothas.

Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About, The New Yorker.

Happy reading!

The best things I wrote in 2016

December 22, 2016

It’s been a trash year, but amidst all that, I did manage to do some work that I’m proud of! So if you don’t mind me getting meta (and bragging) for a moment, here are my favorite things I published in 2016…

WTF Is A Bullet Journal And Why Should You Start One? An Explainer + Here’s How To Use A Bullet Journal For Better Mental Health. The first post was actually pretty challenging to write and to figure out photos/art for; bullet journaling is so simple to do but surprisingly hard to explain. But it performed better than I expected, and people still link to it as a “start here” post, which I take as a huge compliment. I also know that it put bullet journaling on a lot of people’s radars — both average people and media outlets — and inspired a good number of people to start bullet journaling. The mental health post also took a while (though this time I wisely made the decision to have one of our photographers shoot the photos), and because it was basically aiming to reach a niche of a niche audience, I didn’t expect it to do that well, but thought it was worth doing anyway. But! It now has more than 750K views, which is wild, considering the narrow focus. Plus, the feedback we got on it was so wonderful!

Wedding Etiquette Rules Every Grown-Ass Adult Should Know. This post was Terri’s idea, and so much credit is due to her — she really did the heavy lift here — but I am proud of the things I contributed and did to shape it, and I love the final product a lot. (I’m also just so proud of her, my first — and, until this week, only! — direct report, and my shining star.)

In Defense Of Cottage Cheese. This was just really fun, and I was able to turn it around pretty quickly, which felt good, as I am a bit out of shape in that regard. (Me every time I try to write something quickly these days: *hands on knees, breathing heavily* I used to be a blogger back in my day…till I got that injury senior year…)

For Everyone Who’s Ever Loved Someone Who Loves Sports. I will never not be proud of having written a rhyming poem. I had actually been trying forever to write something kind of ranty about how I feel about men and sports and nothing was really working…and then one day I had the sort of weird thought that maybe if I started writing it as a poem it would help me push through the writers block. (I…do not know why I had that thought??) Anyway, it worked! Working on this was also when I realized that I could write fiction — like, that there is a specific type of writing where you have permission to make things up, which had simply never occurred to me. This was…actually sort of an important realization!

My Food Diary, Re-Written by a Celebrity Features Writer. This idea has been in my head for years, and I finally sat down and wrote it! It was also on The Hairpin, which is neat!

I Tried The Hipster Toothbrush That’s All Over Facebook And TBH I Loved It. This post was definitely experiment for me — I wanted to see if I could combine a product review with more of a dive into the company’s background and make it interesting and fun and servicey. It was hard for me to fully envision the flow and format at first, but I am really happy with how it turned out.

Make America Rape Again. Originally published on Facebook, this was one of those where, like, the spirit took over and I sat down and started writing feverishly and didn’t move until it was done.

Re: why I don’t carry a knife for self-defense. My emails are where I do some of my best work, TBQFH. This one makes me chuckle every time I think about it.

How My Glasses Showed Me That I’m My Father’s Daughter. I wrote about how this post came to be here. I hope you all enjoy this one because I open up about really personal things on the internet, like, oh…once every seven years or so!!!

And, finally, this Tweet.

Also, much love and thanks to Jess Probus and Rachel Sanders, who edited me this year!

Next up: the best things other people wrote in 2016!

Your post-election reading list

November 13, 2016

Art by Penelope Dullaghan for A Cup of Jo

This week was my first experience with mass, shared grief. And, as tragedies are wont to do, it all just happened so fast.

On Monday night, I wrote in my journal: Today felt like the last day of “Before.” God help us tomorrow. But Tuesday morning was bright and brisk, a perfect fall day. It felt like a happy, fancy, special occasion. By 8:15 a.m., I had voted and also cried three times. I took a bunch of “I voted” selfies that I never got around to posting. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I just tried to stay focused at work — put my head down, stay off Facebook, try not to worry, etc. That night, I watched the results come in at the BuzzFeed office. They produced the live show on the 13th floor, but I was on 12 with a group of about 20 people.

Just before 9 p.m., we heard a coworker become upset. It took a second for it to become clear what had happened, but then we learned that she had just seen Hillary’s “Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything” tweet, and she felt like that meant she was giving up. Even though it was still early, a sense of dread rolled through the room like a wave and it never really left. A couple minutes later, Dallas texted me that she was worried. She hadn’t seen that tweet, but she was worried. And then, within a few minutes, I got texts from four other people. Every single one either said “I’m scared” or “I feel sick.” We weren’t all watching the same channel. No new states had been called. But within a five minute period, this shift happened and that was it.

Wednesday was awful for me, as I’m sure it was for most of you. One of the first things I saw when I woke up, after I saw that Trump had officially won, was the breakdown of the exit polls. And I just felt so betrayed. Getting out the door took so much effort. It was a cloudy day, but it also just seemed…dark. Like I wasn’t seeing the world in actual color. When I walked into the office, I saw my coworker Augusta first, and she hugged me for like five minutes and we just sobbed. We all cried pretty much all day. BuzzFeed had puppies brought in for us to play with, which was the nicest and BuzzFeediest thing they could have done.

And now it’s Sunday and the world is so different and I mostly feel numb and I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry and I hope you are all doing OK and starting to take steps to protect yourselves and those you love, and here are a lot of things for you to read.

Everyone should read…

Shattered, New York Magazine.

A Time for Refusal, The New York Times. “Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else.”

An American Tragedy, The New Yorker.

This thread on taking care of yourself.

If you want to cry…

Mourning Trump and the America We Could Have Been, The New Yorker. “As psychologists note, after a death we mourn not only the deceased but also the version of ourselves we got to be with that person. What makes Clinton’s defeat unique, I think, is that we’re grieving for the nation we could have been, a nation some of us feel we are: a nation that elected a female President and rejected the rhetoric of nativism and fear that Donald Trump so casually embraced.”

Hillary Clinton’s Grace Is Yours, Jezebel.

Her Loss, The New York Times. “We, as a culture, do not take women seriously on a profound level. We do not believe women. We do not trust women. We do not like women. I understand that many men cannot see it, and plenty more do not care. I know that many men will read this and laugh, or become defensive, or call me hysterical, or worse, and that’s fine. I am used to it. It doesn’t make me wrong.”

The Day After The Election, I Told My Daughter The Truth, BuzzFeed.

The Pride and Privilege of Symbolic Voting, Jezebel.

My Plan For Making Peace With President-Elect Trump, GQ.

‘What Do I Say?’: Stories From the Classroom After Election Day, Jezebel.

And SNL‘s cold open.

If you want to laugh (and then probably cry)…

Every Way Jezebel Described Donald Trump During the Presidential Election, Jezebel.

19 Totally Real Conversations Obama And Biden Have Had Since The Election, BuzzFeed. “Joe.”

This fantastic Tumblr post, followed immediately by Donald Trump Doesn’t Like This Any More Than You Do on Deadspin.

15 People Who Just Need To Get Over Losing Already, BuzzFeed.

This guy calling out his sexist father on Facebook. Seth Meyers on Wednesday morning. This hed. This tweet and this one. And this absolutely perfect mashup.

If you want smart people saying smart things…

I’m a Coastal Elite From the Midwest: The Real Bubble is Rural America, Roll Call. “We, as a culture, have to stop infantilizing and deifying rural and white working-class Americans. Their experience is not more of a real American experience than anyone else’s, but when we say that it is, we give people a pass from seeing and understanding more of their country.”

How Trump Made Hate Intersectional, NY Mag.

White Won, Slate.

Heather Havrilesky on the way Midwesterners talk (or don’t talk) about race and culture. This thread is spot on.

Blaming political correctness for Trump is like blaming the civil rights movement for Jim Crow, The Guardian. “This week, I had to listen to supposedly reasonable, leftist men – not trolls this time – insist that Trump’s victory was at least partially a result of ‘divisiveness’ and ‘incivility’ and ‘political correctness gone too far’. This is the consequence of ‘confrontational movements’, one man told me on Twitter. There’s always a backlash. ‘Learn from this,’ he admonished. As though any social-justice movement in history got anywhere by asking politely and taking a seat. As though there was some magical moment in the semi-recent past when we’d reached a perfect stasis – no racism, no sexism and white dudes could still have a chill time – but those greedy feminists just had to keep pushing.” Thank you, Lindy West.

Facebook, I’m Begging You, Please Make Yourself Better, The Intercept.

There is no “person at the top” to fix everything.

Please Stop Saying Poor People Did This, Jezebel.

Siyanda Mohutsiwa’s thread on how white men are radicalized online.

6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win, The New York Times. (I bought The Unwinding and am starting it tonight — click the link in the NYT article to read a full review of it.)

How Trump Conned America, Slate.

Is This the Second Redemption?, The Atlantic.

I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again, Very Smart Brothas.

America Elects a Bigot, The New York Times.

Emily Ellsworth on having your voice heard.

You have to watch Van Jones’ powerful message about the 2016 ‘whitelash’, Fusion. “We don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.”

President Trump’s First Term, The New Yorker. I read this a couple months ago…time for a re-read.

I’m Tired of Good White People, GQ.

The smug style in American liberalism, Vox. This is long and there is a LOT I disagree with (including the entire GWB section), but it has some good points and food for thought.

An Open Letter To Supposedly Pro-Choice, Pro-Same Sex Marriage, Non-Racist Trump Supporters, Wonkette.

27 Productive Things You Can Do If You’re Upset About The Election, BuzzFeed.

This thread on racism, this thread on “healing the divide,” this thread on the bullshit of the “real America” narrative, this reminder that “common ground” is a trap, this accurate summation of the Trump/Obama meeting, a reminder that it’s about men too, and #5 in this old post from Michael Moore, which perfectly sums up the politics so many straight white men I know.

Harry Reid’s statement. “We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.”

Why We Ignore the Obvious: The Psychology of Willful Blindness, Brain Pickings.

If you’re white…

What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era, The New York Times. “Conveniently, for most white Americans, being white has meant not having a racial identity. It means being and living and experiencing the world as an individual and not having to think about your race. It has meant being free of race. Some people are proud white nationalists, but probably not many of the millions who voted for Donald Trump. Thinking in terms of community would seem to be the job of black people. The Trump campaign has disrupted that easy freedom.”

Once Again, Black Women Did The Work White Women Refused To, Very Smart Brothas.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What it means to be black during a Trump administration, The Washington Post. “Let the other groups denigrated and threatened by Trump speak for themselves. The women, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, the LGBT community and others who now must walk through the streets of their country for the next four years in shame and fear, knowing that their value as human beings has been diminished by their neighbors. I only speak for myself as an African American and I speak with the rage of betrayal.”

Stop Telling Me to Fight, Sojourners. “All of you who are going home for Thanksgiving need to make this year’s dinner a NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People) meeting and decide that the ‘advancement’ portion of your organization’s name is finally going to mean that you are taking it upon yourselves to advance your beliefs and morals and, above all, your maturity. Because what we have in front of us — a Trump presidency — is ridiculous. It is so flat-out ridiculous and yet so real, and here’s an even bigger yet for you: You should have seen it coming.”

Hey White People: You Need To Start Doing The Ugly Work That Isn’t Safe For Us To, Feministing.

The Cinemax Theory of Racism, Whatever, Scalzi.

This reminder (from me) that if you’re white, and you’re silent, we really don’t actually know where you stand.

If you want a tiny bit of politics-free joy…

This tweet, this one, and this little baby fox.

If you’re pretty sure that this is how it all ends (and/or you want others to understand why you think that)…

Autocracy: Rules for Survival, The New York Review of Books. This takes a little while to get going, but keep reading.

Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be ‘game over’, scientists warn, Independent.

What to Expect Under a Trump Administration – Part One and Part Two, Leah McElrath.

Racist Messages Sent To Black UPenn Students Linked To Oklahoma Student, BuzzFeed.

A Running List Of Reported Racist Incidents After Donald Trump’s Victory, BuzzFeed.

One woman’s experience with the alt-right.

The forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse, Nieman Lab.

With Trump, Coal Wins, Planet Loses, The New Yorker.

Is this the end of the West as we know it?, The Washington Post.

The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway, The Huffington Post.

I’m a disabled American. Trump’s policies will be a disaster for people like me., Vox.

Trump’s conflicts of interest are without precedent in American presidential history, The Washington Post.

Trump’s Revenge, BuzzFeed.

Some extremely chill Breitbart heds, a GOP strategist reminding us to “stay vigilant,” actor Kumail Nanjiani being harassed in a bar, this fact, this reminder and this one what it’s like to be Jewish online right now, and a crash course in white nationalist symbols.

Oh, and this excerpt from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Let the record reflect: Charleston

June 21, 2015

I. Say Their Names

Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Susie Jackson

Cynthia Hurd

Tywanza Sanders

Rev. Daniel L. Simmons

Myra Thompson

Ethel Lee Lance

Read their stories. Say their names.

II. Again

What happened in Charleston is so tragic, so heartbreaking, so…American. And so is the reaction to it.

When Elliot Rodger murdered six people and injured 14 others last year, I wrote:

Every time someone goes on a shooting spree, we ask why. And then this guy did us a favor and told us why! And the thing about the manifesto is that it is so. Damn. Articulate. Even though you might think someone so concerned with being an alpha male would attempt to come across as one in what is essentially his memoir, it actually reads as remarkably honest. He talks about his pain, his humiliation, and how he’d go home and cry out of frustration after seeing couples out together in public. He seems to own the fact that he wasn’t what he so desperately wanted to be (powerful) because he’s writing with the guns in his possession and his “Day of Retribution” planned. He’s comfortable talking about his own weaknesses, and his motivation is unbelievably clear. It’s also exactly what you’d think his motivation would be if you’ve ever witnessed a misogynist in action, or spent any time on an anti-PUA forum (something I do not recommend if you want to be able to get out of bed ever). So we don’t need to ask why because he told us why.

And yet. Even with the manifesto in front of us, there are still choruses of “This wasn’t about women!” and “But mental illness!” and “Neither guns nor misogyny kill people; people kill people!” and “Not all men are like that!” and “We’ll never really know why he did it” and “But…but…maybe he was gay?” YOU GUYS. DID YOU DO THE READING?

And so here we are again, watching people have the “Gee, I wonder what his motive is” conversation. Even though the alleged shooter targeted a historic black church, one that is a symbol of both resistance and sanctuary. Even though a witness said he straight-up said, “You’re raping our women and taking over our country.” Even though he’s been photographed wearing racist symbols, driving a car bearing racist symbols. Even though, like Rodger, he spelled it all out for us his manifesto. Even though. Even though. Even though.

III. Fear

A few weeks ago, my coworkers and I were on the subway, heading to drinks for one’s birthday. When we got on the train, we made that classic mistake of getting in the mostly-empty car. A few moments later, we heard a guy talking very loudly; at first we thought he was lecturing another rider, but then it became clear he was talking to himself. He was a white guy, appeared to be in his 50s or so, and looked a little shabby but still like he had a bed to sleep in at night. And he was racist.

If a single subway car is mostly-empty, there’s a reason for it.

At first we exchanged glances in that Ugh, NYC, oh no what have we done? way. But as our car rattled along the track, I moved further away from him. I wasn’t the only brown girl in our group, but I was the only black girl, and I didn’t want him to notice me. As we rolled up to the next stop, I said to the group — too lightly, too softly — “Shall we change cars?” No one heard me. As the train progressed to the next stop, he got louder. “Let’s change cars,” I said firmly and loudly as the train began to slow this time. When it comes to angry men ranting about their hatred for women and/or black people, I’m done waiting for someone else to make the first move, done talking myself out of being afraid. The truth is, I am afraid.

IV. Terrorism

Reading last night that the director of the FBI said he doesn’t think this act fits the definition of terrorism left me sputtering with rage.

“Speaking in Baltimore, Comey said his agency is investigating the murders as hate crimes, but that he does not believe they meet the legal criteria for terrorist acts.

‘Terrorism is act of violence done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it’s more of a political act,’ he said.

‘Based on what I know so far I don’t see it as a political act. That doesn’t make it any less horrific… but terrorism has a definition under federal law,’ he said.

The official FBI definition of terrorism defines it as ‘the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.'”

Mr. Comey: Did you do the reading?

V. The manifesto

It’s disgusting, but it’s not shocking. Just your basic, run-of-the-mill racist stuff. Which is why I was afraid of the man on the train — because you just don’t know which ones are going to escalate.

VI. Community

VII. Further Reading

Our Racist History Isn’t Back to Haunt Us. It Never Left Us., The New Republic.

Charleston Shooting: Speaking the Unspeakable, Thinking the Unthinkable, Esquire.

No Quarter, No Sanctuary, No Succor, The New Republic.

The Deadly History of “They’re Raping Our Women”, Slate.

The Charleston shooter killed mostly black women. This wasn’t about ‘rape’, The Guardian.

Murders In Charleston, The New Yorker.

Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’? The Washington Post.

Jon Stewart on his “profound sadness”

Why calling the Charleston shooting terrorism is important to so many people, Vox.

Hundreds Rally To Remove Confederate Flag From South Carolina Capitol Grounds, BuzzFeed.

Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now, The Atlantic.

On feminism & Christmas

December 9, 2014

I unapologetically love Christmas. I love the baking, the music, the gifts and the wrapping, the lights and decor, the cold weather, and the magic of it. A few days after Christmas in 2013, I started reading the book MERRY CHRISTMAS! Celebrating America’s Favorite Holiday by Karal Ann Marling, and (after a looooong break from it) I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

The book is about the history of the material aspects of Christmas: when and why we started wrapping gifts and sending Christmas cards, why Santa looks like he does, why people love miniature Christmas villages, etc. That alone makes it interesting to me…but Marling also lays out a really great case for why exploring this topic is downright feminist. Here’s an excerpt that sums it up nicely (emphasis added)…

“[This book is] about images and the feelings they arouse—the shining ribbons of hope and memory that connect people to themselves, their families, and their sense of nationhood through the ornament chest in the attic, a collection of Christmas village houses, or a green-frosted cookie shaped like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. And it’s about grandmothers and mothers. Several years ago, when I had just finished a book on the visual culture of the 1950s—a book that looked at the clothes, hairstyles, body language, and the preferred colors for household appliances—one reviewer allowed as how he didn’t think much of the project, but that his mom would probably like it. Well, this is another one for the moms! Although I have looked at a great deal of textual evidence, the material culture of Christmas (or what moms generally do while the rest of us watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’) is the heart and soul of this book and of the holiday it examines.

As a writer who prides herself on having no particular ideological axes to grind, I was startled to discover how few students of the phenomenon have openly acknowledged the creative role of women in inventing, sustaining, and ultimately changing Christmas. Studying Christmas would turn anyone into a card-carrying feminist! Popular culture—the movies, TV—is heavily invested in denying that women and Christmas have any special relationship at all. Jimmy Stewart and the Grinch are the Christmas heroes; Mrs. Santa is relegated to the photo booth in the department store Toyland. When the manipulation of ‘stuff’ takes precedence over the use of words and documents, when traditional women’s skills at shopping or cooking or home decorating take center stage, then the whole subject falls off the radar screen of ‘important’ scholarship. Christmas is OK in its way—the stuff of memoirs, but not of serious research. At best, it is politically incorrect, a pleasant diversion for the few remaining stay-at-home moms. At worst, it is mere trivia.

But Christmas is not just a moms’ festival. It is a domestic one. Christmas reminds everybody of home truths, of the particular sense of comfort and joy that Christmas cards represent with their pictures of ornaments and presents and snug little houses nestled in the snow, a curl of smoke arising from the chimney. It is the one occasion in the fitful progress of the year that calls upon us to consider domesticity and continuity seriously, to ponder the good in the goods arrayed beneath the Christmas tree. If home is less important than the workplace, then Christmas isn’t very interesting. If the items in the glossy holiday catalogs are viewed as so many examples of consumerism run amok, then Christmas is a pig’s feast of capitalist greed. To look seriously at Christmas is to embrace the possibility that quotidian realities, like pleasure and purchase, might be defensible aspects of the human condition.

Sociologists are just about unanimous in concluding that women do most of the grunt work involved in standard Christmas practices: they buy and wrap the presents, trim the tree, plan the gatherings, cook the food. Theodore Caplow, in his groundbreaking studies of Christmas gift exchange and other holiday observances in ‘Middletown,’ U.S.A., documents women’s hegemony as makers and shapers of celebratory rituals. In industrial societies, it is women who define and maintain the sorts of relationships within the family and between the family and the culture that Christmas effectively diagrams with presents and strings of lights. Who are our friends? Our social superiors? What are our obligations to the community? Yet, because Christmas is a family holiday the actual work of mothers and aunts and grandmothers is rarely differentiated from the lesser roles of others. Nor are acts performed for love and not for money commonly recognized as ‘work.’

…Mothers shop for toys and wrap the gifts—and Santa gets all the credit. The Grinch didn’t steal Christmas. Men did, beginning with Clement Moore’s Santa Claus! If the sociologists are right, the patriarchy always seizes positions of power and economic importance for itself. If men make the money and the suet for the pudding, then they, by rights, should be Santa Clauses…despite changes in American families, and in living-room observances of the holiday, the public face of Christmas still wears a big white beard.

Women were the primary custodians of tradition, firmly in charge of the American heritage in its tangible, material manifestations. Sarah Hale made the case for observing Thanksgiving and showed America how to trim a tree. Women saved the homes of the Founding Fathers for national shrines, beginning with Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, and so created the historic preservation movement. The mainstays of local historical societies, women saved grandma’s wedding dress alongside deeds and wills and documents…they packed away the family pictures, the report cards, the letters—and the Christmas ornaments. They remembered where they mistletoe was always hung, the family recipe for Christmas pudding, the words to all the carols, and what the little ones wanted Santa to bring them. The question is not whether Christmas has been women’s work, but why the modern media have taken such pains to deny the fact. Is it because we imagine women to have kept to their kitchens in the ‘good old days’? Or that we find no value in the work that transpires within the home? Or is it because Christmas is simply too important to have been wrestled from masculine hands?”

I LOVE this. While a lot of advertising seems to pander to moms at Christmas (we see lots of beleaguered moms doing All The Things at the holidays and lots of articles directed toward women about avoiding stress at the holidays) it doesn’t seem to do it in a way that really gives credit, or designates this work as important or significant. It’s more just…an expectation. But “women’s history” is history, and the way people celebrate is a worthwhile way to learn more about a culture.

(Christmas card images from ebay via BuzzFeed)

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