Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

You won’t find any articles this week by or in response to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s interview comments regarding trans women. Because I don’t think it’s important? Far from it!! I am currently gathering articles related to Adichie’s statements, and other critical issues that affect the Transgender Community, for a special edition at ROAR MUST READS column scheduled for late April. That column will also include a discussion of and response to Gloria Steinem’s comment “there is no such thing as White Feminism.” Be assured, I am not ignoring these concerns, rather I am gearing up for a close analysis of the impact and reaction that is currently occurring in the media.

Recently we’ve seen articles that deal with sexual harassment in the literary world. A quick perusal through my MUST READs column showed I had not, contrary to what I’d thought, posted Bonnie Nadzam’s Tin House piece, “Experts in the Field,” about her experiences with sexual harassment in the academic community. I include that article this week along with Lit Hub’s response, in which several female writers discuss their thoughts, ideas, and truths around this continuing epidemic. In LitHub, Nadzam recounts the response she has received since her “Experts in the Field” article was published. She has heard from women all over the world with similar stories. Nadzam ends her piece with gratitude “for the time, attention, and courage it takes to help open up a space of such awareness.” The article features reactions from Roxane Gay, Porochista Khakpour, our own Anna March, and others who understand the necessity of sharing similar experience and, in doing so, creating safety for victims and their vocal supporters.

Another article I’ve posted this week about sexual harassment in academia involves two female graduate students at Ohio University who have filed complaints against OU English professor Andrew Escobedo. The Post Athens article heavily relies on comments and quotes from OU Ph.D. candidate, Kelly Sundberg. While Sundberg has been outspoken on the need for Escobedo’s dismissal, she is not one of the victims in this case. Still, Sundberg’s quotes and comments were singled out in the article, leaving her in a more precarious position, despite the fact that several graduate students had been interviewed in order to ensure that one voice would not dominate. While a college sophomore writer can be pardoned in this case of journalistic unfairness, it’s important to note, as all three of these articles on assault and sexual harassment in the literary world reveal, that the courage of discussing these issues can result in damaging future consequences. As Sundberg stated in an exchange with me: “What I’ve learned is that there is strength in numbers, and I felt a real loss of safety when I felt like I was forced into a representative role. Bonnie’s LitHub piece also illustrates that safety in numbers concept.” In the coming weeks I will continue to include articles that follow up on concerns of how we can create safety for victims of sexual harassment and their supporters who are willing to speak out.

Stories of sexual harassment in the military have come to light this week as well; I include one such article from Rolling Stone. Other MUST READ articles focus on DC’s missing girls of color, issues of racism, and two pieces regarding transgender stories. So, if you missed any of these, READ ON. Your comments are always welcome.

  1. Fox5 DC reported earlier this year that there’s been a renewed spotlight on the number of missing young girls in the D.C. area. In February alone, there were 15 active cases at one time, drawing concerns that there may be a larger issue of sex trafficking at hand.

“What We Know So Far About D.C.’s Missing Black and Latinx Teens”/ by Mariya Moseley/ ESSENCE/ March 14, 2017


2. In an interview with The Post late Monday, Lino said, through her daughter, that the day’s events left her sick and at a loss for words. Though Lino had previously vowed not to seek sanctuary at a church, she told The Post she is now willing to take “extreme measures.”

“Francisca Lino, Mom of Six, is About to be Deported. Her Congressman Protested and was Handcuffed”/ by Kattie Mettler/ The Washington Post/ March 14, 2017


3. I think of the time I came home from eleventh grade and told my father that a teacher had made an inappropriate sexual remark to me as I made up an exam in his office. “You must have given him cause to think you wanted that,” my father responded. So when I read “Experts in the Field,” I felt that same freezing of helplessness, anger, and shame.

“Roxane Gay, Aimee Bender, and More On Assault And Harassment in the Literary World”/ by Literary Hub/ Literary Hub/ March 15, 2017


4. It’s not enough for us to try to root out evil and ignorance at the level of any single office or position of power—we must root it out at every level. It may be that we don’t overcome in the way we hope to, but we will be turning on small lights that can never be turned off again. If you have a story, tell it. In particular, all you women? Tell all the other women, everything, now.

“Experts in the Field”/ by Bonnie Nadzam/ Tin House/ February 6, 2017


5. Two of the female graduate students who filed complaints, Christine Adams and Susanna Hempstead, have filed a federal civil rights complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division arguing that Escobedo’s actions violated their right to equal access to education. Their complaint also argues that former English Department Chair Joe McLaughlin ignored a 2006 complaint against Escobedo and that the university remained “deliberately indifferent” to the allegations against Escobedo. Escobedo declined to comment.

“English Graduate Students Criticize Handling of Sexual Harassment Allegations”/ by Bailey Gallion/ The Post Athens/ March 14, 2017


6. “You’re on a first date,” the male sergeant instructor had said, holding the rifle in front of him. “Things are goin’ good and you’re snugglin’. You decide to go for it. Now she might smack your hand away. So you gotta be quick! You gotta grab the goodies!” He’d grabbed the rifle’s handguard, a stand-in for the date’s breasts, and brought his weapon down to the position of attention.

“What Civilians Don’t Understand About Military Sexual Harassment”/ by Teresa Fazio/ Rolling Stone/ March 14, 2017


7. Indeed, by expelling transgender people from public life and sending the message to transgender youth that they are unfit to share space with their peers, laws and policies like Texas’s SB6 contribute to the disproportionately high rates of harassment, bullying, and violence that transgender individuals — particularly transgender women and girls of color — face.

“Texas Looking to Follow North Carolina’s Shameful Lead in Targeting Transgender People”/ by Chase Strangio/ ACLU/ March 9, 2017


8. Apparently, their property manager didn’t agree, allegedly claiming the ads were “in bad taste” and asking that they be removed immediately, referencing a statute in the lease that dictates tenants’ ads get preapproved. It didn’t escape Hopkins and Decker that ads featuring thin models never required approval, so they decided to fight back.

“Livi Rae Lingerie Was Asked to Remove Ads Featuring Plus-Size and Disabled Models”/ by Avery Matera/ Teen Vogue/ March 15, 2017


9. The incitement sixteen years ago was 9/11. Today it is Donald Trump. The President’s nationalistic rhetoric and scapegoating of racial others, not to mention his habitual reliance on unverified information, have sown panic among immigrants. I’ve often asked myself lately whether I’ve been right to suspect that people were looking at me differently on the street, at airports, or in elevators. Whenever a stranger has been kind to me, I have almost wanted to weep in gratitude.

“Being Indian in Trump’s America”/ by Amitava Kumar/ The New Yorker/ March 15, 2017


10. The consequences are serious. When we don’t talk honestly with white children about racism, they become more likely to disbelieve or discount their peers when they report experiencing racism. “But we’re all equal” becomes a rote response that actually blocks white children from recognizing or taking seriously racism when they see it or hear about it.

“Are We Raising Racists?”/ by Jennifer Harvey/ New York Times/ March 14, 2017


11. Nadia was shut in a building with 1,000 other families. The women were sick with fear; they knew what was coming. The fighters were about to divide the spoils. A man came up to Nadia and said he wanted to take her. She looked up and saw that he was enormous, “like a monster”. “I cried out that I was too young and he was huge. He kicked and beat me. A few minutes later, another man came up to me…I saw that he was a little smaller. I begged for him to take me.”

“Two Women, One Cause”/ by Robert Guest/ 1843 magazine/ February/March 2017


Joyce Hayden left her university teaching job two years ago in order to pursue her own artistic work. An assemblage artist, painter, and writer, Joyce is currently in the process of acquiring an agent to represent her memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which describes her 8 year relationship with a charismatic gambler and the dangerous road that eventually led to her freedom. Her chapbook of poems, Lost Handprint, is forthcoming from Dandelion Review. A freelance editor and writing coach, Joyce’s writing services and a selection of her artwork can be found at her website Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

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