Silence Breakers

Heartening and heartbreaking that the women and men who have spoken out this year about sexual harassment are Times person of the year for 2017.

In the opening rationale/editorial, Time editor Edward Felsenthal lays out an argument for why the individual acts of courage and voicing have manifested in an influential movement. The article that follows is a powerful examination of the cultural moment. It’s not in-depth analysis. It glances over Anita Hill and the reckoning with the politics of the 1990s that needs to happen. It spotlights a wide range of people, acknowledging that women of color, immigrants, service industry workers, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to be victims of harassment.

Felsenthal also acknowledges that

The roots of TIME’s annual franchise—singling out the person or persons who most influenced the events of the year—lie in the so-called great man theory of history, a phrasing that sounds particularly anachronistic at this moment. But the idea that influential, inspirational individuals shape the world could not be more apt this year.

It explains why our current president so badly wants to have this honor. He’s desperate to be remembered as a great. Indeed, he was number 2 on the short list, a juxtaposition that’s jarring if apt. After all, his vulgar language about women being objects for his gratification sparked the Women’s March. The Silence Breakers are an apt choice for a year which began with millions of women marching across the country and is hopefully ending with what will be a nationwide reckoning about the abuses of power and sexual assault.

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Thanksgiving Reading/Listening 2017 (Accidental Feminist Edition)

This piece by Claire Dederer at the Paris Review is making the rounds. It’s a thoughtful mediation on what to do with the work of male auteurs who are morally monstrous and how we construct monstrosity differently for women–hint women are monstrous when we selfishly take time to write (or do the creative things we need to thrive). It’s an uneven piece; Dederer is pulling together a lot of different threads here.

Rebecca Traister’s piece on the post Weinstein reckoning and her more recent conversation with Ross Douthat on the subject are important pieces on the cultural moment as more and more ugly things start squirming out into the light now that we’ve started to flip the log of acquiescence about sexual harassment off of culture.

Here’s a link to Judy Brady’s 1970s essay “I Want a Wife“–Dederer references it–about the second shift of work women do after they come home from work. Much to think about this season if your wife is both lead parent and lead domestic chore caretaker (partners, pick one to be lead on, don’t make your partner be lead in both areas.)

The most recent Pop Culture Happy Hour is a roundtable discussion of Lady Bird, which I think teen me would absolutely relate to. I want to see it, but I think I’ll need to arm myself with Kleenex first.

Lynn Rossetto Kasper of the Splendid Table is signing off at the end of this year. Her rich voice has been a constant public radio food fixture for me. Listen to her last Turkey Confidential, co-hosted with Francis Lam, tomorrow.

Last, but not least, revisit this review of the film Pieces of April by my friend Walter Biggins. It’s the best homage to Thanksgiving I know.

 

MakeApp

So there’s a new app that lets you filter out makeup. The company claims it’s about augmented reality and it’s just a fun thing they did, but unsurprisingly, people are um irritated that there’s just one more way to unmask/shame women out there. So here’s why I wear makeup. Below is me without makeup this morning and with. No I didn’t use the app.

Me without makeup

Me with makeup.

So without makeup, my skin is fine and so are my lips. I put on makeup mostly for fun, so I look professional, and so don’t get flack about looking tired. I’ve had sinus issues since I was a kid. My under eye area is naturally darker as a result and puffy in the fall/spring when nature is trying to hurt me. As you can see in these two pictures, make up only slightly does away with the eye thing. I don’t want to cake on concealer mostly because I’m busy and I’m notoriously bad at reapplying anything during the day.

The makeup removing filter apparently absolutely adds puffiness and undereye wrinkles. In other words, it makes you look tired. (Also, not cool Mashable to make your female journalist try it out.) Being told I look tired is one of my biggest pet peeves because either a) it’s allergies or b) I’m actually tired and telling me that means you’re in some way suggesting I shouldn’t be showing that I’ve put out effort or c) a combo of the two. B is obviously is infuriating; C is when I’m too tired to care. I work hard. It’s sometimes exhausting work. And I balance that work with a long distance relationship. If I’ve put out effort for you in anyway, don’t tell me I look tired or any variation there of. Bring me coffee and tell me thank you.

I particularly hate it when women tell me this. It’s never a question, and as an introvert, I withdraw immediately and don’t want to have any further conversation. Not my best reaction to be sure, but it makes me feel like I’m being told I’m not upholding my end of the falsehood that women can do all the things we’re expected to do and not be tired. In other words, while I mostly wear makeup because I enjoy it, I do also wear it so I perform my gender role in specific proscribed ways so I don’t go through the world annoyed and being slightly shamed for somehow not living up to arbitrary expectations. But thanks for reminding me that I’m failing.

People of all gender identities wear makeup for all the above reasons and more. For some people, makeup makes them feel better moving through the world or helps them realize their own version of their gender identity. And this is where the app is super problematic. It’s suggesting that people who wear makeup, particularly women, should be unmasked as somehow faking it. It’s that crappy double bind we put women (cisgender/transgender/non-binary) in–they must conform to current standards of gender performance AND they must be always “authentic” and not showing that they are performing. There’s no way to do either of these things well and definitely no way to do both simultaneously. The app, whether intentional or not, is just another way to shame people.

The Present, short film

A student is writing a review over this short film. I was hesitant at first to let him because it’s only four minutes. The paper is four pages. I didn’t think he’d have enough to say, so he showed it to me after class. Mind you, I should have trusted him because this a student in my 2pm class, which consistently astounds me. This is also the student who hasn’t had an easy life, but he is kind and good natured, and he’s been helping the international student in the class during peer review in such a sweet and understanding way. At any rate, you’ll pretty quickly see where this film is going, and it doesn’t spoil the beauty of the bittersweet reveal in the slightest. I definitely teared up. I know this student is pursuing a different career path, but I kind of hope he continues on and goes into animation. He clearly has an appreciation of the form, and he likes a good story about a boy and his new dog.

Commonplace: Wilfred Owen, “Futility”

“Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds—
Woke once the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?”
~ Wilfred Owen, “Futility”
Owen died in action on 4 November 1918, almost precisely a week before the Armistice, 11 November 1918, ended the First World War.