Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

When someone is in danger, when someone is unsafe, what do we do? We make a plan.

When I was a kid, I made my plans alone: when I was 12 and decided I could no longer join in family weekend trips to abusive Uncle Bob’s house, I stood in the shower until I came up with a plan to keep myself safe, to keep myself from the weekend trips to his house.

When I grew older, when I felt safe sharing situations with friends, I sought help in making plans. When I was finally ready to leave my abuser, my best friend, Jesse, several states away, made a plan with me over the phone. I had no idea how to leave my abuser. She told me what to do: Circle a date on the calendar, and on that day go. The plan was essential to my survival. I was paralyzed by the thought of leaving, but his violence was escalating. It’s entirely possible I would have been killed by him or that I may have killed myself if I hadn’t had assistance from a friend, and a plan of action.

Later as I worked on a women’s crisis hotline, I aided callers in making a plan that would offer them immediate safety. Sometimes that meant a call to the police. Sometimes it meant the woman would call a friend to spend the night. Other times it meant packing a bag and taking a bus to the battered woman’s shelter. Whatever the case, listening to a woman’s needs, assisting her in making a concrete decision, allowed her to create safety if only for a short time.

At The Survivors’ Project, a drop in center which offered workshops for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I worked to help women create long-term goals. The women at the drop in center were normally women who had created a safe place to live, but had yet to fully realize their dreams and potential. Through writing workshops, expressive body work, and other creative outlets, women were encouraged to envision a life they had never experienced, where they didn’t just survive, but could thrive. Those long-term goals were different for each woman, and each goal: becoming a teacher, getting a bookkeeper’s job, writing a memoir, required a plan, a step by step blueprint to assist women in moving forward.

This week we learned that Teen Vogue will be shutting down its presses. So, I have included a recent article from the magazine that offers guidance on how to help a friend struggling with trauma. Patience is necessary, as is empathy, and the willingness and creative brainstorming of helping a survivor make a plan. A specific plan helps us make changes, helps us have the courage to take action in a direction we may have feared, simply because it was of the “unknown”. As supportive friends, our job is to listen, then ask questions. We help our friends create a plan that works for them, rather than formulate an agenda and expect them to carry it out.

The first article I’ve posted this week is from Dame Magazine, quickly becoming one of my favorite sources for important feminist writing. The piece I’ve chosen focuses on the dangers of not listening to women. The term kyriarchy was mentioned in the article; it’s a term I had not heard. But after a bit of research, it’s become a term I respect. The word branches off patriarchy, to include oppression of all kinds…and how systems of oppression work together to keep people from claiming power. It’s connected to intersectional feminism. If the term is new to you as well, I have included a short piece from everyday feminism that explains the concept and its implications. Please take a look.

Also this week, I have chosen articles that discuss a trans lawyer fighting for trans rights in the military; the inappropriate use of “auntie” as a term for white women in reference to black leaders; Lidia Yuknavitch’s take on an updated Hero’s Journey; and journalist Masha Gessen’s experience as both an American and a Russian writer.

So for these stories and more, Please Read On! Your comments are always welcome!

 


  1. There is a pull, a fiercely ingrained pull, to mute a woman’s voice until it coos. To press it down until it is as small and sweet as a pastel after-dinner mint. To control it. To silence it. It can be done violently. A clammy hand can wrap around her face and forcibly palm her mouth shut. It can be done playfully. An entitled finger can press gently to her lips, shushing her into subordination. It can be done insidiously. Her voice can be quelled by the incremental, psychological torture of upstanding, affable, misogynists.
“We Have Always Silenced Women”/ by Fiona Landers/ DAME/ October 24, 2017

 


2. Actually, I’m Gay: Spacey, again. Good God, do I really have to explain why this is terrible? LGBT people have spent decades fighting the lie that their sexual orientation is itself criminal, or inclines them to criminal behavior, including the abuse of minors. By using Rapp’s allegations as the occasion of his coming out, Spacey has single-handedly struck a blow to the movement that allowed him to come out in the first place. Even by the disgraceful standards of this list, that’s bad.
“The 6 Worst Things Men Have Said About Sexual Harassment in Just One Month”/ by Alyssa Rosenberg/ Washington Post/ October 30, 2017

 


3. Dear Lady at Table 24,I confess I have loved you a very long time. And often more carefully than I have loved myself.I see you. Dear Other,Dear Faraway,Dear Come-close-now,A style is not a category or season. It is not a box or bracelet or coat. It’s not a dance or strut. Style is a perplexity. A becoming.
“To The Lady Who Mistook Me For The Help At The National Book Awards”/ by Patrick Rosal/ Literary Hub/ November 1, 2017

 


4. And yet, what I’m saying is, there’s a myth slightly to the side or underneath the Hero’s Journey worth unearthing just now. It’s the misfit’s myth. It goes like this: Even at the moment of your epic failures, you are beautiful. Because you have risen from mud or trauma or despair or jail or grief or abuse or alcohol or drugs, you have the ability to endlessly make yourself from your own ruins. That’s your beauty.  
“A Woman Standing Up”/ by Lidia Yuknavitch/ Lenny/ October 31, 2017

 


5. Calling Black women “Auntie” served multiple purposes. It gave “polite” white people something to say instead of “Miss,” “Mrs.,” or “Ma’am,” terms of respect that weren’t offered to Black women. Plenty of white folks felt no need to bother with such niceties, were entirely comfortable calling women “girl,” no matter the age or standing of the “girl” in question. “Auntie,” then, allowed “good” white folks to pretend to be less offensive. It couched their racism in gentle, familial terms, as if they shared kinship with whichever Black woman they were diminishing. At the same time, the Black woman so addressed knew exactly where she stood with that white person.
“Not Your Auntie”/ by Stacie Evans/ The Rumpus/ November 1, 2017

 


6. As Mueller moves to interview West Wing aides in the coming days, advisers are lobbying for Trump to consider a range of stratagems to neutralize Mueller, from conciliation to a declaration of all-out war. One Republican explained Trump’s best chance for survival is to get his poll numbers up. Trump’s lawyer Ty Cobb has been advocating the view that playing ball will lead to a quick resolution (Cobb did not respond to a request for comment). But these soft-power approaches are being criticized by Trump allies including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, who both believe establishment Republicans are waiting for a chance to impeach Trump. “The establishment has proven time and time again they will fuck Trump over,” a Bannon ally told me.
“’You Can’t Go Any Lower’: Inside The West Wing, Trump Is Apoplectic As Allies Fear Impeachment”/ by Gabriel Sherman/ Vanity Fair/ November 1, 2017

 


7. “They heard us,” activist Renae Yellowhorse said of the council members. “We needed to be a presence there to let them know we’re not going to go away. We’re going to always be here to defend our Mother, to defend our sacred sites.”
“Navajo Council Rejects Plan to Build Tram, Hotel in Grand Canyon”/ by Felicia Fonseca/ Arizona Daily Sun/ November 1, 2017

 


8. It’s very interesting because people here have turned to Russian journalists for lessons in how to be politically active journalists, but I learned all of that in the gay press in this country. It’s not the only political press, but it’s probably the last great political press where certain journalists, as I think with the black press before that, perceive themselves as having a view that’s very clearly situated, as having the responsibility of representing a marginalized community, and producing information that was desperately needed, especially during the AIDS era, and knowing that all of that is political. So I think that American journalists would do much better to study the history of the gay press in the ’80s and early ’90s than to try to get lessons from Russia.
“The Inexorable Rise of Masha Gessen”/ by Aaron Hicklin/ OUT/ October 31, 2017

 


9. At almost the exact same time, news broke suggesting that the F.B.I. has evidence of collusion. We learned that one of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy aides, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his attempts to solicit compromising information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Despite Trump’s hysterical denials and attempts at diversion, the question is no longer whether there was cooperation between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but how extensive it was.
“The Plot Against America”/ by Michelle Goldberg/ New York Times/ October 30, 2017

 


10. a neologism…derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination… Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.
“Kyriarchy 101: We’re Not Just Fighting the Patriarchy Anymore”/ by Sian Ferguson/ everyday feminism/ April 23, 2014

 


11. This is something the president of the United States was ordering, that to me is such a threat to our community. If we were not able to stop this from going into effect, the collateral negative consequences are so huge. If this ban were allowed to stand, that precedent would be used against transgender people in every context you can imagine, from family law, to immigration, to employment law. So the stakes here are really high. The threat to our community is about as extreme as it gets.
“Meet the Trans Lawyer Who Led the Fight Against Trump’s Military Ban”/ by Meredith Talusan/ them./ October 31, 2017

 


12. I remember conversations where I was torn about cutting my abuser out of my life, and you never judged me for considering having him in my life. Rather, I remember you were constantly helping me give myself permission to do what I really wanted. You’d ask me questions like, “What would make you feel safe right now?” You’d say things like, “I hear that you feel trapped. I’m here with you. If you want, we can create a plan together.”
“How to Be a Good Friend to a Sexual Assault Survivor”/ by Alisa Zipursky/ Teen Vogue/ October 30, 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 joycehayden.com. Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

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