It began, those many years ago, with a brother lost at sea….a boy the selkies never returned. That set our girl on uneven ground, forever in jeopardy of falling, of failing.
When the local feudal lord noticed our girl’s tendency to wander, to dream, to sit alone by the No Name Creek, he knew he could take her, capture her spirit, will her to his side, at his command, his threats. He appeared to her as a sandstone colored dinosaur. They played hide and seek, but through the crack in the closet door, she saw through his costume, through his outer jovial layer. She recognized the monster beneath the scales, the monster behind the open toothed smile, the monster inside the friendly voice that coaxed, “Come here, little girl. Let’s play.”
When her charming lover pulled her from the depths of a cave of loneliness and solitude, her penitentiary of protection, our girl transformed surprisingly quickly. Her eyes, wide with fright, calmed. Her hair that covered her face, was brushed neatly down her back and her beautiful smile shown. A year or two later, she dreamed to return to her damp cold jail, her former home. Her hair hung in tangles over her face, she kept her eyes, with those dark circles, glued to the ground, her ears perked for her lover’s footsteps. She tiptoed through her days, made herself small, invisible. When the storms attacked her, she flew away, returning in the sunlight to a bruised and broken body. Everyday she left bits of bread to the birds, for their wings, for the sanctuary she found in flight.
In later years she met a healer. Only he could help her he said. But when he took her to the darkened room, surrounded her in sage smoke, he forced her hand into places she did not expect. His words assured her these acts were necessary, were what it would take to bring her back to life. But our girl only wished she was dead.
A new man arrived who sent money in overnight packages, shiny jewels and gold statues. “In return, just come to me, at my every bidding,” he asked from his room, floors and floors above her dungeon cell.
One day, wandering the desert, our girl’s eyes stretched across the horizon. Our girl saw how wide the world was, how open. Gifted with a silver coach and 6 horses, from a departed loved one, she urged the horses to carry her over the fields, to distant lands, to the tallest mountains, the longest rivers, the deepest forests. She settled there alone, sending notes attached to crows’ feet. That’s where her people found her. First, a timid wolf, one paw gone. Soon a pack of raccoon. Before long, our girl’s family grew, and they longed for nothing. They carried each other in lean times. Fought intruders together. Stood beside each other when the storms came. But these storms had no hands, no demands, no threats to dignity. They learned when to take action, when to rest.
“Fairy tales were the refuge of my troubled childhood,” bell hooks writes in the book Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. “I was most obsessed with the idea of justice—the insistence in most tales that the righteous would prevail. The evocation of a just world, where right would prevail over wrong, was a balm to my wounded spirits during my childhood. It was a source of hope. In the end I could believe that no matter the injustices I suffered, truth would come to light and I would be redeemed. Indeed, the message of redemptive love shared in so many beloved fairly tales sustained me.” Like hooks, fairy tales and stories of all kinds helped me remain alive, resilient, in both my childhood and adult years. Each of our lives is an archetypal journey, a tale of darkness and light, of good and evil, of shame and triumph, of failure and success, of love and betrayal and so much more in between…that goes beyond a world of dichotomies. I am not naive enough, although I once was, to believe that all wrongs will be redeemed in our lifetime. But I am optimistic enough to trust that stories can teach us, show us, how to live. They have held that power all my life.
This week many of the articles I have chosen focus on last October’s publication of “Shitty Men in Media” and the current situation in which our heroine Moira Donegan has spoken out before she was possibly named in a forthcoming article from Harpers. Said article is written, I’m sure you have heard, by Katie Roiphe. If you’re not familiar with Roiphe or the list of shitty men in publication, please read the abundance of articles I have posted. We live in a current culture of tug of war, of truth and backlash, all of which is very archetypal. All of which can be very confusing. A piece from Catapult proposes the power of fairy tales moving through our live right now.
One way to sustain energy to the cause of moving forward and the necessity of maintaining hope is to weave fairy tale with reality. I am not suggesting we turn reality into fairy tale, far from it, But that weaving the two can create a needed balance. It sustained bell hooks; it sustained me; it can sustain us now. For those of you who are impacted and empowered by story, that symmetry of Innocence AND Experience can lead us to action instead of futility. The last article in this week’s column is from DAME. It explores several organizations we can research and join or support in this new year, this year in which we have much work to do. For further inspiration, I encourage you to read our publisher, Anna March,’s latest article at Salon: “Where Have All the Pussyhats Gone?” I have not included that piece here, but it is readily available on the internet.
Other stories this week include Native American voter rights; patient dumping at a Baltimore Hospital; the silent epidemic of sexual assaults in the disabled community; and the debate around women’s solidarity. So, for these stories and more, Please Read On! Your suggestions are always welcome!
By the time I had to take the document down, more than 70 men had been named on the version that I was managing (other versions, assembled after the spreadsheet was taken offline, appeared later). The men ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s, and 14 had been highlighted in red to denote more than one accusation of sexual assault or rape. Some have expressed doubts about the veracity of the claims in the document, but it’s impossible to deny the extent and severity of the sexual-harassment problem in media if you believe even a quarter of the claims that were made on the spreadsheet. For my part, I believe significantly more than that.
“I Started the Media Men List. My Name is Moira Donegan/ Moira Donegan/ The Cut/ January 10, 2018
2. By Wednesday morning, five writers were said to have pulled stories planned for future issues of Harper’s Magazine — an effort to pressure the magazine not to reveal the name of the woman who first assembled a Google spreadsheet listing men in the media industry accused of sexually inappropriate behavior.
“‘Media Men’ List Creator Outs Herself, Fearing She Would Be Named”/ by Jaclyn Peiser/ New York Times/ January 10, 2018
3. When news broke this week that Harper’s magazine was preparing to publish an article (reportedly a cover story) that would identify the woman who created the Shitty Media Men list, women reacted with outrage. Warning that doxxing the list’s creator would cause her long-term harassment, threats, and possible physical or economic harm, writer Nicole Cliffe announced on Twitter that she would pay writers with articles slated for Harper’s to pull them from the magazine in protest, and DAME publisher Jennifer Reitman offered pay and a place to publish—a real moment of feminist solidarity that was quickly overtaken by the news that the piece’s author was also a woman, Katie Roiphe.
“Is the Solidarity of Sisterhood a Myth?”/ by Kate Tuttle/ DAME/ January 11, 2018
4. This isn’t about a list. It’s about a culture that forces us to rely on lists because the shame, reprisal, doxxing, and physical harm that happens when we dare to speak out against the pervasive abuse that exists all around us.
“Come for me, Katie Roiphe”/ by Lyz Lenz/ The Rumpus/ January 9, 2018
5. Several things happened to help me overcome my distrust and jealousy of other women. I began reading women’s writing almost exclusively, taking my writing lessons from them. I became a mother and recognized my struggles as mothers’ struggles. And I began to use the Internet as a conduit between myself and other women by joining online mothers’ and writers’ groups that have sustained and changed me. It turns out that the best readers for my work tend to be women, and that when women feel safe enough to be vulnerable with one another, we learn how many ways our lives have been similar, as well as different.
“Women, Other Women are not Your Enemy”/ by Amy Monticello/ Role Reboot/ January 8, 2018
6. In the case of “The Robber Bridegroom” in particular, I cannot help but think of the women who first came together to tell this and other such stories. Just like us, they must have known how it felt to carry the burden of their own stories with them. Their stories became warnings of what men are capable of; even sources of catharsis in a world in which comeuppance was scarce, and an antidote to the dismissal and ridicule of real-world violence inflicted against women. Fairy tales acknowledge that violence and assault can occur at any time, but they also remind us that justice can be done when women and their stories are truly heard.
“Point the Finger: Listening to Women and Seeking Justice in the Violent World of Fairy Tales”/ by Cate Fricke/ Catapult/ January 10, 2018
7. The next day, Laura left the house in her mother’s Ford Contour to buy food for the kids. By evening, she had not returned. “We called the Red Cross, we called the hospitals, we called the police,” Elizabeth said. The following morning, Maria turned on the local news, and a grisly image flashed across the screen. It was an incinerated vehicle, with a charred human skeleton in the front seat. The car was a Ford Contour.
“When Deportation is a Death Sentence”/ by Sarah Stillman/ The New Yorker/ January 15, 2018
8. The men who won awards Sunday night largely skipped the topic altogether in their acceptance speeches, perhaps feeling that their pins and tuxes were enough. In their speeches, James Franco, Ewan McGregor, Guillermo del Toro, Aziz Ansari and Sam Rockwell were among the winners who avoided the movement that otherwise dominated the evening.
“Golden Globes: Men had Little to Say About Harassment, and it Hasn’t Gone Unnoticed”/ by Abby Ohlheiser/ Washington Post/ January 8, 2018
9. Kenny Victor, 57, sat on a couch in the back, looking a bit tearful. He said he was a Navy veteran and that he welcomed the decision. “I served for the right to vote,” he said. “It’s long overdue. We need representation.”
“For Native Americans, a ‘Historic Moment’ on the Path to Power at the Ballot Box”/ by Julie Turkewitz/ New York Times/ January 4, 2018
10. “They are people who often cannot speak or their speech is not well-developed. They are generally taught from childhood up to be compliant, to obey, to go along with people. Because of the intellectual disability, people tend not to believe them, to think that they are not credible or that what they saying, they are making up or imagining,” she explains. “And so for all these reasons, a perpetrator sees an opportunity, a safe opportunity to victimize people.”
“The Sexual Assault Epidemic No One Talks About”/ by Joseph Shapiro/ NPR/ January 8, 2018
11. The hospital was thrust into the national spotlight and social media erupted with outrage after a viral video showed security guards leaving a disoriented woman from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown on the street, barely dressed, when the temperature was in the 30s. It’s the latest hospital across the country accused of a practice known as “patient dumping” or “hospital dumping” in which patients who are homeless, mentally ill or both are released to the streets.
“University of Maryland Hospital Apologizes for its Failure to Discharged Patient Found on Street in Hospital Gown”/ by Andrea K. McDaniels and Meredith Cohn/ The Baltimore Sun/ January 11, 2018
12. Change at the local level can radically reshape cities. Changes at the state legislature likely has the most effective trickle-down result imaginable: if you control the state legislature, you control redistricting in most states. You also have the ability to turn back moves towards voter suppression. You can even work on laws that re-enfranchise people with felonies so they can vote. In short, with state legislative control, you have a real chance at dramatically expanding voting to include those people the GOP has often tried to block from exercising their rights.
“Getting Good People Elected”/ by Lisa Needham/ DAME/ January 10, 2018