Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Laurie Penny somehow manages to be deeply compassionate toward men who treat women badly, without surrending a single ounce of her righteous, blazing fury. In this piece, she explores what men’s feelings require of women during the #metoo moment — and how the kneejerk instinct to protect and mend may be just as damaging as the impulse to rage and reject.
Self-hatred makes people selfish. It deserves compassion, but not indulgence. Women — and I’m sorry to have to break this to you — are not put on this earth to make men feel better about how inherently awful they are. Most of us would prefer the men in our lives to stop wallowing and get on with being a little bit more considerate than they were yesterday, because that is what it means to grow the fuck up.
So no, I don’t hate men. I hate how brittle and fragile modern masculinity is; how it reacts to any perceived threat by lashing out and shutting down. I hate how part of our worn-out script of maleness is by definition resistant not just to change, but even to the thought of change, and how tightly swaddled the whole thing is in shame and silence.
Imagine you’re a guy with the means and desire to build a crazy-ass high-tech submarine, and you do; and you’re also a guy with the means and desire to lure a freelance journalist on board with the promise of a story, torture and kill her, and you do; and then you sink your incredibly expensive high-tech submarine to try to cover the murder.
Now imagine you’re another journalist, a friend of the dead woman (stay with me, this is going somewhere), and you investigate your friend’s death and write about it, including how even being dismembered might be something that you were “asking for.”
That’s this, by May Jeong. Read it.
In the days after she disappeared, I heard people ask questions that betrayed a misunderstanding about reporting — couldn’t she have done the interview over the phone? — and casual sexism — why was she there alone so late? On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would end up on internet chat rooms where the comments sections filled me with rage: “She is a woman — how could she go alone with a man she does not know?” And: “She had skirt and pantyhose—how could she egg on a poor uncle in that way.”
Alexander Chee’s latest newsletter contains a truly excellent manifesto about why writers should expect, and ask, to be paid. The fact that there’s social stigma around this is nuts. If you’re afraid that asking for money means you aren’t a “real writer,” read this and boldly go forth into a new and shame-free world.
And then yesterday morning, I received an email from someone assisting in the editing an anthology. She had made the assumption that my silence in response to her and her co-editor's last email was due to the fact that they can't afford to pay anyone, and so she wrote to me, acting as if I was snubbing them because of the money issue, and quoting from this essay at BuzzFeed back to me. I had written there that you should write for money and love both but money more than love. And she seemed to think it was a sign I was a callow creature hell-bent only on profits, and not someone who had so often gone broke because of writing for love.
Inside baseball, but fascinating: Alex Pareene dissects the role billionaires play in sustaining, and thus shaping, the media landscape. Read this even if you think you don’t care; by the end, you’ll care very much.
What’s happening to the press is reflective of the broader transformation of our society. Rule by supposedly benevolent technocratic elites is giving way — in large part due to the fecklessness of those technocrats — to straight plutocracy. And really, that only makes sense in an era in which everyone feels like their lives are, in important and fundamental ways, in thrall to the whims of a few mega-rich people. Our cities promise to remake themselves to please Bezos. A few GOP donors threaten to close their checkbooks, and the entire federal tax code is sloppily rewritten. Chris Hughes sneezes, and The New Republic catches a cold.
Frank Chimero brings a designer’s sensibility to the question of the kind of rooms we choose to inhabit, when we choose to inhabit the internet. If we don’t like the ones we’ve made, why not imagine new rooms — and go live there? Despite its starry-eyed start in the New York Public Library, this is a solid piece about the commercialization of digital community space, and a reminder that we’re not at the mercy of the technology we use. Quite the opposite.
Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon aren’t going anywhere at this point — nor should we expect them to — so it’s best to recalibrate the digital experience by increasing the footprint and mindshare of the kinds of cultural and communal value they can’t provide. The web isn’t like Manhattan real estate — if we want something, we can make space for it.
Different measuring sticks are also in order. If commercial networks on the web measure success by reach and profit, cultural endeavors need to see their successes in terms of resonance and significance. This is the new game, one that elevates both the people who make the work and those who see, use, and enjoy it.
(h/t Tim Carmody via Kottke.org. And while we’re on the subject of Jason Kottke, here’s an interview with one of the internet’s best-known renaissance bloggers.)