Things I read this week – 9/3

Well… not exactly this week. I’ve had an embarrassing number of tabs open on my browser for an an embarrassingly long time, to the point where I’ve had to re-open my browsing session many times after restarting my computer. Ah, well.


Dave Chappelle Didn’t Melt Down by Lesli-Ann Lewis for Ebony

There is a long history of asking African-Americans to endure racism silently; it’s characterized as grace, as strength. Chappelle’s Connecticut audience, made up of largely young White males, demanded a shuck and jive. Men who seemed to have missed the fine satire of the Chappelle show demanded he do characters who, out of the context of the show, look more like more racist tropes than mockery of America’s belief in them.

This article was going the rounds on my social media feeds last week, and I’m glad it did. Chappelle’s Show started when I was in college, and I was one of those ubiquitous naive white kid fans. I know a little more about the world now (a little), and I’m still a Dave Chappelle fan – I think he is wickedly brilliant and funny. His episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio is great. Anyway – this article is great too. Lewis concisely explains the problem with certain reactions to Chappelle’s comedy.


Lies! Murder! Lexicography! by Ben Zimmer for The New York Times

This view of The Dictionary as the ultimate arbiter of our shared language is one that dictionary editors themselves are quick to disown. “Lexicographers do not sit in sleek conference rooms and make your language,” Ms. Stamper wrote on her blog. “That’s what you — the reading, writing, speaking public — do. Language is democratic, not oligarchic. That’s where the real glamour is.”

I can’t help but think lexicographer would be an awesome job, even though this article pretty much seeks to show its mundane side. Zimmer notes that we’re hungry for dramatic word stories since we’re all constantly engaged with language. I’m sure there’s some middle ground.


Five ways that “staying safe” costs women by Soraya Chemaly for Salon

The habits we teach girls for avoiding rape reinforce misleading and ultimately dangerous ideas about strangers in alleys. If “don’t get raped” lessons were genuinely meant to help people assess risk and avoid assault, we’d teach girls and boys (because yes, boys and men can be victims of sexual violence too). Instead, these rules reinforce a gender hierarchy dependent on girls being vulnerable and boys being invincible. Teaching girls to constantly modify their behavior in order to avoid stranger rape is a form of social control. And telling girls and women it’s their responsibility to avoid rape doesn’t stop rape, it just perpetuates rape culture.

That about sums it up. Chemaly expands this into five points that show why modifying our behavior in order to avoid stranger rape actually hurts us in the end, culturally and practically speaking.


Green Screen: The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why It Matters by Vanessa Vesekla for The American Reader

True quest is about agency, and the capacity to be driven past one’s limits in pursuit of something greater. It’s about desire that extends beyond what we may know about who we are. It’s a test of mettle, a destiny. A man with a quest, internal or external, makes the choice at every stage about whether to endure the consequences or turn back, and that choice is imbued with heroism. Women, however, are restricted to a single tragic or fatal choice. We trace all of their failures, as well as the dangers that befall them, back to this foundational moment of sin or tragedy, instead of linking these encounters and moments in a narrative of exploration that allows for an outcome which can unite these individual choices in any heroic way.

I love this examination of the female road narrative, or lack thereof. This piece also reminds me that I need to seek out similar examinations of literary themes written in an accessible way (if that makes sense) – I really like them. Sidenote: I also really need to read Vesekla’s GQ article.


Are You As Busy As You Think? by Laura Vanderkam for The Wall Street Journal

We also live in a competitive society, and so by lamenting our overwork and sleep deprivation — even if that requires workweek inflation and claiming our worst nights are typical — we show that we are dedicated to our jobs and our families. Being “busy” and “starved for time” is a way to show we matter. Put another way, it makes us feel important.

This, and Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are, popped up on a couple friends’ Facebook pages recently. I admit I am not the best at time management, so I try to glean any useful information I can out of articles like these. And I often feel sort of – I don’t know how to describe it – ashamed that I am not as busy as other people seem to be? So this reminds me that a lot of those other people are in the same “time fog”! We all work hard.

Final note: I had at least three Miley-Cyrus-twerking articles to post about, but in the end, I’m just fine not including any of them.


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