For One Last Night, Make It a Blockbuster Night
“It’s so depressing, it’s losing a family member,” she said. “I don’t have internet. No Netflix. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The internet might have spawned book stuffing, but it also brought the romance community — veteran authors, upstart indies, and readers alike — into a hyper-connected space. New technology may have, for both better and worse, revolutionized the production of romance novels, but it’s also revolutionized their consumption. What the internet giveth, it taketh away.
The plastic straw ban is symptomatic of larger systemic issues when it comes to the continual struggle for disability rights and justice. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 28 next week, on July 26, and yet people with disabilities continue to face barriers at eating establishments. The ADA is considered by many small businesses (and the National Restaurant Association) as a source of frivolous lawsuits brought by greedy lawyers and clients. Ableist attitudes that cast disabled people as “fakers” or “complainers” obscure the very real and painful experiences of not being able to eat and drink freely.
Brands don’t have the capacity for ideology beyond capitalism. There’s no such thing as a feminist company, and there never has been.
Solidarity means you don’t stop at what’s good for you, but instead use the knowledge from your own struggle to fight for others’. It means recognizing that they are, in fact, the same fight.
Of course, it’s not a server’s responsibility to manage the psychological machinations of an eating-disordered brain. But, as the term “hospitality industry” suggests, restaurants are meant to be welcoming places; and if managers better understood what their service staff might be doing that could trigger someone with an eating disorder, it would be a big step toward creating a space that feels inclusive to everyone. As America’s relationship with food grows increasingly complex, this effort becomes doubly important, and could impact a far bigger group than just those with a diagnosis.
I realized not too long ago, that for me it really is all about balance, but the balance isn’t between a good activity and a bad activity, or stuff like that. It’s more like you’re trying to find a balance between freedom and responsibility. So, essentially everything that I do is trying to be a little more free. Being able to do whatever I want to do.
Female creativity is seen as grounding and nourishing; male creativity as refining and elevating. When greatness and ascension are so inextricably tied together, it’s no wonder its definitions leave so many groups behind.
The foundational myth of an entire generation of Americans was the false promise that education was priceless—that its value was above or beyond its cost. College was not a right or a privilege but an inevitability on the way to a meaningful adulthood. What an irony that the decisions I made about college when I was seventeen have derailed such a goal.
Maybe the goal of conversations like these needn’t be to erase all of our traumas or instantly eradicate all bigotry, but instead for the storyteller to process their own experiences, and, little by little, to expand the audience who can really hear what’s being said.
It is not a romantic comedy for the digital age, it is an act of dehumanization. It is a taking of someone else’s identity and privacy for your own purposes. That this is happening online makes it more, not less serious—its impact is instant, and anyone can join in the fun.
As has so often been the case, the demands for civility function primarily to stifle the frustrations of those currently facing real harm. But protest is not often civil. In fact, in the long tradition of American protest, it’s incivility that has served as an alternative to violent resistance, and it is what has functioned best as an antidote to the violence of oppressors.
One reason that the fury of women is regularly dismissed as theatrical and marginal and unserious is precisely because, on some level, the powerful must sense that it is the opposite of all of those things. That, in fact, it presents a very real threat. Not just to Charlie Rose’s seat at Michael’s or Joe Crowley’s seat in Congress or to the notion of “civility.” The reason the anger of a majority gets suppressed is because it has the power to imperil the rule of the minority.
Sandil said that some schools may have originally implemented dress codes to serve as class equalizers. In other words, schools didn’t want students who couldn’t afford expensive or trendy clothes to feel bad about themselves. Dress codes have also been used to prevent gang beefs from flaring up in schools. But, she said, “What is happening now is that they’re a further way to control girl’s bodies, young adult women’s bodies. They also lead to women feeling like their body is being scrutinized.”
This is the heart of it. Nanette is a show about abuse—about how comedians abuse audiences, how men abuse women, how society abuses the vulnerable people living on its margins. Gadsby says that in becoming a comic, she has been complicit in her own abuse and that of people like her, because she is covering up her stories of trauma with laughs, rather than digging deep into the marrow.
White fragility functions as a form of bullying: “I am going to make it so miserable for you to confront me — no matter how diplomatically you try to do so — that you will simply back off, give up, and never raise the issue again.”
There’s a reason why I prefer “fat positivity” to “body positivity.” Fat positivity isn’t a subcategory of body positivity; it is a prerequisite. Because without a full reckoning of what it means to honor all bodies unconditionally, “body positivity” becomes just another thing to fail at, just another impossible gendered expectation.
Society has done nothing for trans youth for so many years. People have to trust that the youth who sway in the breeze of gender will land on their feet when they’re ready. Wherever that is, it’ll be beautiful.
In light of this, the allure of the unmade (or perhaps more honestly, “undermade”) face is clear. It is very subtle PR, in which the star is at work while appearing not to be. It is a shorthand that suggests authenticity, innocence, higher virtue (because, after all, don’t we as women have bigger things to think of in 2018 than an overly complicated day-and-night beauty routine?), paired with a DIY-style “you could do this too!” and the purest version of Bey’s confidence-bolstering lyric from “***Flawless,” I woke up like this.
It’s easy when you’re a person of color or immigrant to simplify yourself when asked about your background. Sure, I can say I’m Indian or Middle Eastern or whichever simplification of my personal history if I want to hide. And it’s the same with Indian restaurants, many of which are run by Bangladeshis or Pakistanis or Nepalis, yet still label themselves Indian. Places like Eastern Flame feel like a metaphor for how I want to live my life — deep in my particularities and eccentricities, mostly uncaring to how the white gaze perceives me.
To put a structure like that in place and the chaos in the system for “deterrence” and then carry out so much pain on the backs of some already incredibly traumatized mothers and fathers who have already experienced sometimes just horrific violence is unacceptable.
I’ve been socialized to seek alternative explanations for white people’s erasure of me. I’ve been taught to see isolated mistakes, not a pattern of harm that began long before graduate school, a history of harm long before I came into the world. At the same time, white readers expect me to write about this harm. White writers say to me that they wish they had this kind of suffering to write about, since it’s what’s “hot” in publishing right now.
In fashion, even in 2018, thinness always matters most. The industry doesn’t believe—and has never believed—that how much you love yourself matters at all.
These stories exemplify what it means to be an original lifehacker; our unique experiences and insights enable us to use what’s available to make things accessible. Yet, despite this history of creating elegant solutions for ourselves, our contributions are often overshadowed or misrepresented, favoring instead a story with a savior as its protagonist.
I would say, first and foremost, you are deserving and worthy exactly where you are, not 10 pounds from now, not 20 pounds from now, not a different life from now — treat yourself with respect and care for exactly who you are right now. That’s like the basic fundamental of everything. Secondly, I would say fashion is a great entry point to feeling like you deserve nice things and therefore you go out and present into the world as someone who’s deserving of things, and I think that’s the reason why it’s the entry point for a lot of people. But I think there are much bigger issues outside of consumerism and financials and the business end of it that we were talking about.
Instead, corporatized, media-friendly body positivity as we now know it puts the onus on people living in marginalized bodies to turn their criticism inward, which is essentially the same thing brands selling clothes or underwear or personal care products have required of us all along. This time, though, those people are told not to be ashamed of their physical selves, based on the premise that there was never anything wrong with them to begin with, as though the same companies that claim to be guiding this “movement” haven’t been selling insecurity for years.
Romance reminds us that women want, and it celebrates this fact. How sad that that’s subversive, but it is. Also subversive: the idea of women reading books that are escapist delights instead of “bettering” themselves via the male-adjudicated canon or, honestly, doing housework or tending to their kids. Romance novels are political because of, not despite, the fact that they are usually really fucking fun.
Like Zhang, I’ve also begun to accept our linguistic confusions as an extension of my parents’ love. Because no parent wants to not understand their children. But my parents did want to secure my happiness more than they did their own.
We know how to navigate every encounter with an unknown man with the quiet thought that it might lead to violence. We figure out how to delete or ignore or make light of the emails that arrive in our inboxes. We learn how to deal with the way menace accumulates through the course of our daily workload. We know how to perform all of that labor—and, like so much other labor largely performed by women, to make its existence, and its toll, disappear. The question isn’t our capacity to do it. The question is, at what cost?
The cumulative weight of our failure to address gun violence—to look at the cost our children bear so that we might maintain the polite order of our world—will bring Spring Awakening to relevance again and again.
“There are a lot of people organizing themselves to make sure I land at the wrong destination. There are folks who don’t think it’s time for a black woman to be governor of any state, let alone a state in the Deep South. But there’s no wrong time for a black woman to be in charge.”
Emotional labor is often invisible to men because a lot of it happens out of their sight. Emotional labor is when my friends and I carefully coordinate to make sure that nobody who’s invited to the party has drama with anyone else at the party, and then everyone comes and has a great time and has no idea how much thought went into it.
When websites become useless, they become a reminder of what was lost when the internet gained purpose, function, and profit. We are all still searching for an online space where we can yell our secrets and be unseen and disappear. These opportunities now often exist only in dying online spaces, the last place where no one is looking.
Any sexual attention fat women receive is treated as a windfall worthy of congratulations, an erroneous impossibility, or an out-and-out lie. Fat women are expected to be grateful for any expressions that could be mistaken for want, including assault and harassment. We are exposed to an unvarnished kind of desire, its most violent self, because we are expected to hold and nurture whatever scraps of it we’re offered.