What’s Been On My Mind This Week


1. This week I heard about a teenage English schoolgirl who posted this note in the corridors of her secondary school: ‘NOTICE. I don’t think my shoulder, bra strap, belly button, legs or back are going to distract any male students or faculty. If this is a problem, why not teach male students and faculty to not overly sexualise a normal body part? The dress code is telling girls to cover up so that they don’t distract males because “boys will be boys”. It’s hot. Girls are going to wear shorts and crop tops. We should stop teaching women to change so that they don’t have to fear men, and instead start teaching men to respect women. This is simply perpetuating rape culture. P.S. How is it inappropriate for girls to show an inch of their stomachs when boys are permitted to show even more of their boxers?’ Whoever this girl is, we should salute her. And we need to be having this conversation.

2. Speaking of rape, the Feministing website (I recommend you sign up to their email newsletter) ran this piece on the subject, demonstrating that there is still too narrow a cultural understanding on what rape actually is.

3. Also on the Feministing website was this article on the about the advances made in transgender equality in the US at the same time as the country is also seeing increased violence against trans women of colour.

4. Speaking of transgender issues, there was a great interview with Laverne Cox in the Advocate this week.

5. Speaking of Laverne Cox, the 2014 Emmy Nominations were announced on Thursday, which saw Cox make history as the first transgender actress to receive a nomination (in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy category, for Orange is the New Black). Game of Thrones leads the pack with 19 nominations, followed by Noah Hawley’s adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ film Fargo, which received 18. I was glad that the acting talent in The Good Wife was recognised, but agreed with this piece in the Guardian that the show itself was cruelly overlooked in the Best Drama category, and for writing, too.

6. There was a really interesting BuzzFeed article this week in which thirty bisexual women, who happen to be with men, discuss their experience, and the reactions they’ve encountered when trying to describe their sexual orientation.

7. Research carried out at the University of Melbourne was published this week that claims to have found that children of same-sex parents do as well or better than children of the general population, but that they suffered much higher levels of stigma from their peers. You can read a summary of the conclusions here, and the full article, published in the journal BMC Public Health, can be found here.

8. For your regular update on all things Hillary Clinton, there was an article in the New Republic about inequality in America and Hillary’s misguided rhetoric on the subject.

9. A fascinating article on capitalism and predicting the rise in global inequality ran in the Guardian.

10. There was a first-person account in the Washington Post this week about what it’s like to go from living in relative affluence to suddenly finding yourself relying on food stamps.

11. Michael Powell, a brilliant writer at the New York Times, responsible for the ‘Gotham’ column about New York City, is moving to the sports desk of the same paper. You can read his farewell column here, and I recommend you read some of his others, too.

12. The brilliant writer and journalist Andrew Solomon wrote movingly in the New Yorker about a recent visit to Romania – the country of his ancestors – as part of the international book tour for Far From the Tree, and the problems he encountered there as a result of his sexuality.

13. This piece in the Guardian is six months old now, but for some reason I only came across it this week. In it, a mother asks why her children shouldn’t take her surname.

14. Book sales are a hot topic at the moment, particularly because of the ongoing Amazon-Hachette dispute in America. There was an article in the New York Times this week about the literary scene and state of independent bookshops in Paris, which is remarkably different from that in the UK and US.

15. Writers Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa keep a delightful blog about literary female friendships, called ‘Something Rhymed‘. Last week they also wrote a brilliant feature in the Independent about the relationships between feminist female writers.

16. A short but beautiful piece by Matthew Parris in the New Statesman, about chaos, playfulness and the human spirit, via some caves in the Sahara Desert.

17. I’ve been reading Damon Galgut’s latest novel, Arctic Summer. It’s about E M Forster, his unfinished novel, and the dedication at the beginning of Forster’s novel, A Passage to India.

18. I’ve been listening to Sharon van Etten‘s latest album, Are We There. It charts the breakdown of a relationship, and, given that van Etten describes music as her ‘catharsis’, you know in advance that the lyrics are going to be heartfelt and emotional. The album opens strongly with ‘Afraid of Nothing’, and I loved the stripped-back simplicity of ‘I Know’. The chorus of ‘Break Me’ is really rather wonderful. Some might feel that every so often van Etten strays into overwrought or overly confessional lyrics (this is perhaps the case on ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’), but she also writes incisively about relationships, and both her music and words have a raw and in-the-moment quality to them, which are perfectly matched on this album.




Categories: On My Mind . . .

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