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Computer Love

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:22:05 +0000

Love Simon Li Sian Goh align="middle" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" scrolling="no" src="" width="853"> This story contains spoilers for Love, Simon. We’re in an age where the internet might be the worst thing. From online abuse and harassment directed at marginalized folks, to the increased corporatization of the internet, to smartphone addiction, it’s hard to remember when the internet used to be fun. Love, Simon reminds us of how fun it was to get an email from another confused kid, hiding behind the mantle of anonymity and still figuring things out. Though on some level Love, Simon is a straightforward mainstream teen-flick release distinguished only by the fact that the central pairing is a same-sex one, the film also feels like a thesis statement about the liberatory potential of internet anonymity for queer teens. Love, Simon, the film adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, centers on self-declared “normal teen” Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) who is harboring one big secret: He’s gay. He’s fairly sure that his family and best friends would be completely fine with this, but he’s just not ready to be out yet. Simon strikes up an online friendship with “Blue,” an anonymous male student who confesses on their school’s Tumblr page that he’s gay. When a classmate, Martin (Logan Miller), finds Simon’s emails to Blue, he blackmails Simon into hooking him up with one of Simon’s best friends. This sets off a series of events that form the A- and B-plot of your typical teen flick. Will Simon be outed to the school? Can Simon and Blue maintain their internet relationship? Will they ever meet in real life? On the most basic level, Simon and Blue’s internet anonymity create some very good moments in this movie. As Simon wonders who Blue might be IRL, he narrows down on a list of candidates and promptly develops crushes on all of them. The film draws us into Simon’s fantasies, where these boys take Simon’s hand and draw him in for long kisses. It’s the same, almost-chaste anticipation that makes Carly Rae Jepsen work on such a totipotent level—what’s better, the feeling or the fall? For teenagers, they’re one and the same. And when you’re a teen who isn’t ready to disclose your sexuality, all love’s a fantasy. That sounds sad, but it’s also really, really exciting. Accordingly, I can now declare what Love, Simon is about: That teenage feeling of having a crush on someone, potentially everyone; teens having only the vaguest idea of what gayness is and how it could apply to them; relationships in which you meet online; and queer teens’ right to, in Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s words, stay up late on their family’s computer. (Granted, Simon has his own computer and smartphone.) Drew Starkey as Garrett and Nick Robinson as Simon in Love, Simon (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Illustration by Jessica De Jesus) Gay teens have created their own community on Tumblr. Here, let me quote this statistic confirming what we already know: A 2013 study released by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 50 percent of surveyed LGBTQ teens reported having at least one close friend online, as opposed to 19 percent of non-LGBTQ youth. Love, Simon works on a gut-level recognition of this phenomenon: It can be hugely liberating to meet a kid your own age working through the same issues relating to sexuality, school, and well, life in general. And if you meet online without having to figure out how they fit into the complicated, microscopically-detailed social dynamics of your school peer group, it’s even better. In a smart one-two, Love, Simon smartly raises this issue and offers an answer by featuring an out gay character at school who Simon doesn’t hang out with, partly because he’s afraid of being outed, but also because they don’t belong to the same circle[...]

BitchTapes: The Forgotten Women of Hip Hop

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 18:53:57 +0000

women in hip hop Sarah Mirk This BitchTape was originally published on March 27, 2015. This week’s feminist mixtape comes from Dope Folks Records, a record label that specializes in rare and unreleased limited-edition vinyl releases. The mix features female hip-hop artists “from big names to virtual unknowns from the Golden Era to the mid-’90s”—all from the personal vinyl collection of the Dope Folks team. There are plenty of gems here. Check out Dope Folks’ other great mixes over on Soundcloud.  Thanks to Ellie Piper for telling me about these mixes!  allow="autoplay" frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"> allow="autoplay" frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"> Track List: 1. Cinque - “Operation Desert Storm” 2. Julee Vee - “Power 2 Tha Womanhood” 3. Shazzy - “Giggahoe” 4. Sweet Tee - “As the Beat Goes On” 5. Ms. Nikki D. - “Work that Sucker” 6. Ms. Melodie - “To Sing All Night” 7. MC Lovely - “Gash Your Whole Head Up” 8. Antoinette - “Who’s the Boss” 9. Pure & Natural - “Startin’ Funky” 10. Nu Black Nation - “Soul Vibration” 11. Princess Tee - “Edit” 12. Sonyalive - “I’m Coming into Consciousness” 13. Sundance - “A Better Day” 14. Roxanne Shanté - “Straight Razor” 15. Isis - “In the Mind of One” 16. Kyna Antee a.k.a. The Mistress - “Let it Go” 17. The Queen of Ghetto Madness - “It’s Time for Me to Run” 18. Mc L & Tone Tee - “Where Did You Get That MC L Jam?” 19. Cookie Crew - “Secrets of Success (Cooks Mix)” 20. T-Love - “I’m Coming” 21. MC Lyte - “Poor Georgie” 22. Sweetie C a.k.a. Simply Smooth - “Get Busy One Time” 23. Antoinette - “Take It To the Top” 24. Glamorous - “Good To Go” 25. Sweet Tee - “It’s Like That Y’all” 26. L.A. Star - “My Tale” 27. Ice Cream Tee - “To Be Continued” 28. Ms. Melodie - “Communications” 29. Julee Vee - “U’ll Never Get Deez” 30. MC Lyte - “I Am the Lyte” 31. Isis - “Wizard of Optics” 32. Shazzy - “Get a Job Kid” 33. MIA - “Chick on the Side” 34. Roxanne Shanté - “Big Mama (Freestyle Mix)” 35. MC Lovely - “Don’t Let the Name Fool Ya” 36. N-Tyce - “Hush Hush” 37. BO$$ - “Drive By” 38.  Venom (Sinner & Deeday, N Tyce) - “Boulevard” 39. Heather B - “Send ‘Em Back” 40. T-Love - “When You’re Older” 40. T-Love - “When You’re Older” 41. Ghetto Girlz - “My Man’s Playing Tricks on Me” 42. First Star - “All I Want To Do Is” by Sarah Mirk View profile » Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter.  [...]

Wild Enchantment

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 18:32:14 +0000

Taisia Kitaiskaia Fiction can be frustrating because, while very diverting, it often manages to exclude 99 percent of life on earth. Driven by plot and obsessed with psychology, modern novels tend to behave as if social and human relationships are the only things that matter, as if outer space doesn’t exist, Neanderthals never walked alongside our ancestors, deep-sea fish don’t swim in the dark with their treacherous lights, and our lives aren’t mostly just irrational streams of little pleasures, comforts and discomforts, sleep and dreams. Realist novels especially are disappointingly devoid of creatureliness—that wild, quick, raw stuff we are made of. But sometimes I come across novelists whose work is alive with wildness. Barbara Comyns is one of these. An underlooked British author of 10 novels—also a painter, mother, evident beauty, breeder of poodles, seller of cars, and doer of other weird jobs to get by—Comyns (1907–1992) has seen a revival of attention after the recent reprinting of her 1985 novel The Juniper Tree. While I hope that this revival earns Comyns’s name a permanent place in the canon, so many women writers are forgotten again even shortly after being remembered. I want to cry, “Read this writer, she deserves it!” But Comyns, dead and gone, doesn’t care if you read her books. It’s you who is missing out. It’s not as if Comyns’s characters are always pondering Neanderthals (they’re much too stressed), and her novels do sit comfortably enough on the realist shelf. Yet these books are unmistakably feral, thrumming with sinister enchantment and the magical-grotesque possibilities of transformation. When I first encountered Comyns, it was through Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, which tells of a strange episode in an English village. I finished the short novel in one sitting and then stumbled outside, the book still in my hand. It was almost too alive to either hold or set down, so the thing sweated in my palm like a deranged, flooded, purple Polly Pocket, where a shifty gardener emerges from under the bridge with the body of a dead child, the plastic fairy stands with only one cellophane wing, a power-thirsty grandma hits at crows with her cane, and a tender baker weeps somewhere in the painted distance. Comyns should have made it into Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers, my collaboration with artist Katy Horan, as she is one of the witchlier writers I’ve read. In addition to her work’s elusive feeling of magic and focus on domesticity—that enduring arena of the witch—it’s Comyns’s creatureliness that most qualifies her. Her books contain an astonishing number of wild things: slugs, insects, eggs, drowning peacocks, paddling pigs, mongooses in kitchens, ducks in drawing-rooms. Creeks and woods and lakes. And, most thrilling of all, her creaturely humans: the barefooted, unsupervised children muddying themselves by the river; the “beastly” (that great Britishism) power-holders, terrorizing and betraying; men and women described as kittens, birds, horses, and even named Mr. Fox; and the shivering animal selves of the female protagonists, hounded but seeking security and reprieve. Her narratives themselves are wild beings of astonishing velocity and presence, fleeting, unstudied (Comyns was educated haphazardly by governesses in her own deranged Polly Pocket childhood, as described in her 1947 novel Sisters by a River). Her first person narratives are nearly breathless, the sentences like mice scurrying along the edge of the room, single-minded in their pursuit of survival: trying to please, trying not to be noticed, or to be noticed by the right people, trying to scrape by, scared they won’t make it. Comyns’s protagonists, too, are trying to survive, skirting around poverty and vicious, lousy men. These women tell their tales as a mouse might, if you stopped it in its tracks: matter of factly and without self-pity. The narrator of The[...]

On Our Radar—Feminist News Roundup

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:00:19 +0000


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Popaganda: Faking It

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:41:17 +0000

Soleil Ho On today’s show, we’ll be talking about one of my favorite subjects: the act of faking it. Why do we do it, and what does it mean when we accuse others of doing it? And what does the impostor tell us about the boundaries we erect in order to define ourselves and our place in the world? To answer those questions, we’ll take on the Portsmouth Sinfonia, the phenomenon of the “fake geek girl,” Rachel Dolezal, and the awful—but perhaps enlightening—film White Chicks. We have two guests on the show this week: first, I talk with Michi Trota, managing editor of the two-time Hugo Award-winning Uncanny Magazine, about how to it feels to be pushed out of a community is supposed to be all about celebrating outcasts. Then I speak with Amalia Nicholson—a content producer and cohost of the podcast Borrowed Interest, a show that focuses on the experiences of Black women in advertising—about everyone’s favorite Wayans Brothers movie (besides Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, of course). allow="autoplay" frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"> RESOURCES The Portsmouth Sinfonia’s rendition of “Also sprach Zarathustra.” Read Ijeoma Oluo’s essential interview with Rachel Dolezal. For more on the “fake geek girl,” check out this great panel from Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo 2013 about the “fake geek girl” with Laura Koroski, Karlyn Meyer, Dawn Xiana Moon, and Erin Tipton. SHOUT-OUTS Thanks to Sidney Gish for her song, “Impostor Syndrome.” Image: “Fake nature” by Nicolas Nova via Flickr’s Creative Commons Subscribe to Bitch’s podcasts on iTunes, Soundcloud, or the Stitcher mobile app. Download an MP3 of this podcast on Soundcloud or just browse our podcast archives here on Bitch Media.  by Soleil Ho View profile » Soleil cooks for a living and writes sometimes. When she was in kindergarten, she reviewed a book for Reading Rainbow that she didn’t actually read. She cohosts Racist Sandwich, a podcast on food, race, class, and gender. [...]

We All Gotta Eat

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:59:36 +0000

Atlanta Robbin' Season, Donald Glover Evette Dionne align="middle" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" scrolling="no" src="" width="853"> This story contains spoilers for Atlanta: Robbin’ Season. Michael B. Jordan was famous before he was rich. He appeared as Wallace in The Wire, HBO’s beloved hour-long drama, and Reggie Porter Montgomery on All My Children. But when he moved from Newark, New Jersey, to Los Angeles, California, he realized that facial recognition didn’t equal financial stability. “It was tough,” he told journalist Kevin Powell for the February issue of British GQ. “I was working, but I wasn’t working enough. I would doubt and hope and get nervous. Right when I was getting ready to give up, there was something that would keep me [in Los Angeles] for a little bit longer.” Back then, Jordan, who has starred in three major films since 2013, slept on a friend’s couch and applied to work at Jack in the Box because he wasn’t sure he could afford to stay in Los Angeles. That invisible grind—working, struggling, and barely making it in order to become an overnight sensation—is the classic survival story we usually hear about in hip-hop songs. Jay-Z has shared that story. Sean “Diddy” Combs has shared that story. And now, Atlanta, FX’s critically acclaimed drama/comedy/purposefully-unable-to-be-categorized show, is laying bare that often-overlooked struggle. This season, the journey toward stardom and wealth makes the show’s characters both recognizable because we’ve heard their stories before, and also very unfamiliar because we’ve rarely seen these kinds of hardships made so clear. Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) is ascending in the rap game after the success of “Paper Boi,” an underground single named after the rapper himself with a hook that can be easily memorized and regurgitated, and Earn (Donald Glover), his Princeton-dropout cousin who literally bounces from couch to couch, wants to manage him. While the first season closely followed their grind as Alfred accrues fame, the second season, which is aptly subtitled “Robbin’ Season,” shows the downside of having recognition before wealth. Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred on Atlanta (Photo credit: FX Networks) Alfred is on the verge of stardom, but he isn’t a star: He doesn’t have a record or streaming deal. He still splits the rent and bills with his roommate, Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), and a percentage of his income still comes from selling drugs. Yet the people who admire Paper Boi and see Paper Boi as someone with something worth taking, can’t see Alfred’s struggle. Alfred’s far from successful, but his face is recognizable, creating an illusion of who he is and what he has. Alfred becomes invisible because a person’s humanity is disregarded when they’re thought to have moved into a new tax bracket.  Nowhere is that more evident than at the beginning of “Sportin’ Waves,” the second episode of the season season. Alfred slips into the backseat of his drug supplier’s car and sinks into his seat so that people won’t see him and wonder why he’s there with a bookbag full of cash. He’s there to re-up on his supply, as he’s done quite often over the past 10 years working with this specific plug. Instead of exchanging cash for drugs, however, Alfred finds himself on the other end of his drug supplier’s gun. “Ay, my fault,” the drug dealer says before robbing Alfred. Though they’ve known each other for so long, he no longer sees Alfred. He, and everybody in Alfred’s life, only see him as Paper Boi. He thinks Paper Boi will be able to recuperate the money through his music. “I ain’t making no money off that fucking song,” Alfred tells his drug dealer. His drug-dealer-turne[...]

5 Women Writers Who Challenge and Expand the Canon

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:52:22 +0000

Mia Burcham Throughout history, literary movements have been shaped by women who are, more often than not, lost or underappreciated. Modern literary tradition is indebted to women who dared to write, whose work challenges and expands the canon. To these women, we owe genre-defying memoirs, political satires, love poetry, representative protagonists, and so much more. Celebrate the work of these five authors whose legacies should be on our minds during Women’s History Month, and all year long. 1. Mourning Dove Mourning Dove, also known as Christine Quintasket, was a 17th century Native American novelist best known for her novel Cogewea, The Half-Blood. It is one of the first novels written by a Native American woman, as well as one of the first to center on a female protagonist. The novel explores the complicated reality of race in America through its biracial protagonist, celebrating the difficulties and joys of her life in equal turns. 2. Harriet Ann Jacobs Harriet Ann Jacobs was a writer and abolotionist who revolutionized the genre of the slave narrative when she focused her autobiographical account, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, on the specific experiences of women within American slavery. She challenged and expanded American conceptions of womanhood through her narrative representation of Black motherhood, and wrote a story rarely heard in the conversation on American abolition. The memoir was lost for years, eventually rediscovered in the late 1900’s. 3. Diane di Prima Diane di Prima’s poetry is spare and evocative, falling into and challenging the forms of her fellow Beat poets. Though many women poets came up through the Beat Generation, history has focused its attention on their male counterparts. Di Prima has merged her fierce feminism and an unapologetic poetics over her nearly 60-year-long career, and continues to teach and advocate for gender equality and fat acceptance. 4. Mercy Otis Warren During the American Revolutionary War, Mercy Otis Warren used her poetry and plays to argue against British imperial rule. Because women were excluded from the circles of political discourse, Warren made her voice heard through her writing, often writing under a pseudonym. For years, her political writings were attributed to men tangential to her, but have since been reattributed. In addition to her poems, plays, and political pamphlets, Warren authored a three-volume history of the Revolutionary War, the first ever written by a woman. 5. Mary Hunter Austin Mary Hunter Austin’s most famous work, The Land of Little Rain, describes the landscape and wildlife of southern California. She was an early environmentalist and feminist, and a fierce advocate for Native American and Spanish American rights. A poet and a playwright as well, her works focused largely on her deep appreciation of American landscape. In her poem “Going West”, Austin writes: “Happy if I come home/When the musk scented, moon-white gilia blows,/When all the hills are blue, remembering/The sea from which they rose./Happy again,/When blunt faced bees carouse /In the red flagons of the incense shrub,/Or apricots have lacquered boughs, /And trails are dim with rain”. by Mia Burcham View profile » Mia Burcham is a senior at Reed College, graduating with a degree in English literature. She was born in Arizona and grew up in Texas, but has called Portland home for 12 years. Mia writes really long analytical essays on politics and really short prose poems on anything, ruins all her shoes on long walks, and cooks more than she can eat. She is writing her undergraduate thesis on American political theology in the works of Walt Whitman, and is generally interested in the foundation of American politics and li[...]

On Our Radar—Feminist News Roundup

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 13:00:11 +0000


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Feminist Snack Break

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 20:45:59 +0000

Feminist Snack Break Dahlia Grossman-Heinze allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" scrolling="no" src="" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="853" height="480" frameborder="0"> Secretary of Dismantling Public Education Betsy DeVos had a revealing and terrible interview on 60 Minutes and I have a lot to say about it.  Feminist Snack Break will be on a break next week, Wednesday, March 21—catch the next episode on March 28 at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST! Get Bitch Media's top 9 reads of the week delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning! Sign up for the Weekly Reader: Email * Leave this field blank by Dahlia Grossman-Heinze View profile » Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is Bitch Media’s Senior Engagement Editor. She’s passionate about horror films, ’90s music, girl gangs, and Shirley Jackson. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter. [...]

No Need for Superheroes

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 15:17:02 +0000

A Wrinkle In Time, reviews, Ava DuVernay Jenn Jackson align="middle" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" scrolling="no" src="" width="853"> This story contains spoilers for A Wrinkle In Time. “So, I basically want to be Meg now,” my 6-year-old daughter declared after watching Ava DuVernay’s new film A Wrinkle in Time during opening weekend. We took the whole family to one of those ultra-deluxe theaters with heated reclining seats, surround sound, and Dolby digital display. I wanted to make sure my three children, partner, and I had the full experience of taking in the vision of newcomer Storm Reid and her curly hair gracing the silver screen. And, like my daughter, I wasn’t disappointed. The movie tells the story of Meg Murry, an awkward brown girl, whose scientist father (Chris Pine) disappears inexplicably, leaving Meg, her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to figure out life without him. As their lives are upended, Meg struggles in school. Her grades plummet and she has a harder time fitting in. Then, one day, a woman shows up at her home. It’s Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon). Soon after, we learn that she, Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) are a part of a magical force of soldiers in the Universe who seek out good and fight evil. Somehow, Meg and her family are wrapped up in this intergalactic fight. As the film unfolds, Meg learns that her struggles and the relationships she’s treasured with her mother and brother after her father’s disappearance are the very things that will save them all in the end. It isn’t some superpower like flying or running faster than a speeding bullet. It isn’t a boy she’s in love with who shows up to save her. Even after stumbling and somewhat losing her way, Meg is the hero she’s been waiting for. It is in this storyline—one of loss, coping, mental anxieties associated with managing new family dynamics, and our common inclination to blame ourselves for problems out of our control—where I saw myself reflected. It made me remember when I was a little Black girl dreaming. I had lanky limbs, clunky glasses, kinky hair, and a propensity for science, too. I also lost my father, not to a wrinkle in the Universe, but it may as well have been. It felt no different to me. As a small child and even into my teenage years, I struggled to place myself amongst a community of others. I spent more time focused on what I lacked than what I possessed. This came to the forefront of my mind when, at one point, Meg is speaking with the principal at her high school. He asks her what she would do if her father returned right then. She tells him, “the world would make sense again.” Storm Reid as Meg Murry in A Wrinkle In Time (Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures) In her imagination, her father returning is the answer. She hasn’t yet figured out that the person she is, on her own, is truly enough. Even without him there. It’s an important story, especially with a young girl of color cast as the lead. But, this story almost didn’t happen. The classic book of the same name, written by Madeleine L’Engle and originally published in 1962, was rejected 26 times. The original story was always meant to tell the tale of an awkward girl with “flyaway hair, braces and glasses but who was also and to a much greater degree concerned with the extent of her own intelligence, the whereabouts of her missing scientist father, the looming threat of conformity and, ultimately, the fate of the universe,” according to Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review. So, A Wrinkle In Time isn’t Disney’s typical Cin[...]