Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

Black Out

I remember walking home alone from Shady Lane. I was in “Brownies” and our leader sent us home early. I was wearing the uniform and the sash. No one was on the streets. But it couldn’t have been later than 5 or 6 pm. November 1965. Central New York State. I remember a cold feeling on my skin and in my mind. A haunting. A void. As if I was walking above the earth.

I don’t remember what happened when I first entered the house. I don’t recall us being told to gather in the kitchen. But there we were, all in the dark. Our parents and us five kids. There must have been food. I’m guessing it was cold. My father lit a Coleman gas lantern, even now I hear the hiss. I don’t remember what was coming through on the battery operated radio, but we were hoping for news. For an explanation.

I’m grateful that in the meantime, my father was making us laugh. Something dark, something heavy surrounded us, a feeling, a threat, but he was making light of it, making light for us. I could see beyond the curtain of my parents’ fear. Behind their half smiles, between their quick sideways glances at each other, I remember feeling a comfort, a protection.

I remember whispers of “Communism”. In hushed tones, in an adjacent room, my parents discussed the possibilities. Attacks from sea. Or possibly by air. And a reminder of the “Duck and Cover” posture we practiced in the halls of Fairmount School. After a few hours it was still ebony dark. Like the neighbors around us, we were clueless. There must have been some news on the radio that lights were out all over the Northeast United States, and no one yet knew why.

I will always remember going to bed not knowing what might happen. Not knowing if we’d awaken in the morning.


On January 13, 2018, a missile alert was issued via the Emergency Alert System in Hawaii. For nearly 40 minutes individuals and families scrambled for safety before being notified of a false alarm. In her Washington Post article, Allison Wallis describes the terror and chaos she endured while trying to keep her young daughter calm, and worried about her husband on the road. Reading her story brought to life my own fears as a child back in 1965. In the 90s and up until Trump became President, I’d rarely thought about nuclear war. I’ve felt safe, comfortable, complicit. But not anymore. Take a look at this first person narrative for an understanding of end of the world fear in 2018. For myself, I see my own privilege before me: growing up middle class and white, I’m not someone who had to face poverty and political threats on a daily basis as so many other countries in the world have, and are. I was lucky…we had one scare that I recall, and when I woke the next morning, the sun rose. We had lights; we had heat; we had food; we were safe. Our scare turned into a “good story” to tell. How many millions live that story daily?

Articles about Aziz Ansari have dominated the news this week. I’ve chosen three pieces that present different lenses on the issues raised by the Babe article. It was impossible to include all of the relevant stories, but between the three I’ve included here, most of the controversial arguments are discussed or referenced.

Also this week, my roundup presents stories from the Native American community; Roxane Gay on Trump racism and Haiti; Edwidge Danticat on immigration and Haiti; fear and murder in the Black Lesbian community; and sexual abuse in the United States Gymnastic Team. Don’t miss personal essays by Marissa Korbel, Ijeoma Oluo, and Pauline Campos. So, for these stories and more, Please Read On! Your comments are always welcome!

  1. Because by the time women reach sexual maturity, pretty much every woman has learned that you don’t want to make men angry. Ever.
“Women are Afraid Men Will Murder Them”/ by Jennifer Wright/ Harper’s Bazaar/ January 17, 2018


2. “People like me had to wade through a sea of prehensile dicks to build the world we now enjoy, and part of enjoying that world is setting a higher standard for sex than just ‘not rape,’ and women get to talk about it if men don’t live up to those standards, especially if a man wrote a book about how to sex good.” In other words, as she puts it, “Men, if you say you’re a feminist, then fuck like a feminist. If you don’t want to do that, take off your fucking pin because we are not your accessories.”
“Samantha Bee on #MeToo Backlash and Aziz Ansari: ‘It Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Life to Be Worth Speaking Out About’”/ by Jackson McHenry/ Vulture/ January 18, 2018


3. There was potential with Grace’s story: the conversations that followed could have given us a real shot at cracking away at the imbalanced sexual power structures that plague us—the power structures that tell us a man’s desires are more significant than a woman’s, and that conditioned Grace not to “slap” a 34-year-old celebrity who she says took it too far. This includes Flanagan, who dismissed it as “revenge porn” geared towards “humiliation,” and Bari Weiss, whose feminism works in tandem with the protection of men. If journalists are going to be the carriers of stories like this one, we have to view that responsibility as a solemn one, not one that will finally put our websites on the map, or jolt our writers into the public eye.
“Babe, What Are You Doing?”/ Julianne Escobedo Shepherd/ Jezebel/ January 16, 2018


4. This was never going to be easy or smooth. It’s absurd to think that we’d be able to push through what Frances McDormand called a tectonic shift without revealing fault lines we didn’t know were there. We’re going to find ourselves on opposite sides of things. We’re going to disagree. And we’re going to get uncomfortable. Remember that you, too, are socialized. Even though you’ve been hurt, you are also trained to hurt others. I am; I do. I’m trying to do better.
“On Aziz Ansari and “Bad Sex’”/ Katie Anthony/ Bust/ January 16, 2018


5. According to the research of Alice H. Wu, economists chatting among themselves on an anonymous online message board regard women almost entirely in sexually demeaning ways. The 30 words most uniquely associated with women, Wu found, included: hotter, lesbian, tits, slut, hot, vagina, sexy and prostitute. This behavior is hardly limited to economists. We learned last month that Miss America Organization leaders have laughed for years behind closed doors about pageant winners, referring to them in vulgar language reminiscent of the president’s.
“Women Don’t ‘Cry Rape’”/ by Leora Tanenbaum/ U.S. News and World Report/ January 10, 2018


6. I was home with my daughter, my service dog Pono, and Rosie the chinchilla, who belongs to my daughter, Abby. When I read the alarm, I jump out of bed and grab my glasses. I run to Abigail’s room. “Get up honey. You have to get up right now. Right now. Grab your pillow. Go to the bathroom. Turn on the tub and run it. Turn it off when it’s full. Sit in the corner. Wait for me. Be brave. I’ll be right there.” I give her a hug and a kiss and run off.
“Being a Mother in Hawaii During 38 Minutes of Nuclear Fear”/ by Allison Wallis/ Washington Post/ January 13, 2018


7. This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued after his comments. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.
“No One is Coming to Save Us From Trump’s Racism”/ by Roxane Gay/ New York Times/ January 12, 2018


8. While writing about the December killings on Jan. 1, LGBTQ author Julia Diana Robertson offered her take on just why there was little to no outcry surrounding these shocking murders. “When lesbians are murdered the distinct media bias keeps the general population in the dark,” Robertson wrote. “This bias is multiplied where ‘butch’ lesbians are concerned, and compounded if you’re a woman of color. Lesbian relationships are typically downplayed, sexuality is often omitted, and there’s a resulting lack of focus (with both investigations and media) on potential hate crimes — even where the murder is exceptionally horrific (as in this case).”
“4 Black Lesbians Were Murdered in a Week & LGBTQ Groups Are Condemning the Silence”/ by Mehreen Kasana/ Bustle/ January 11, 2018


9. When Ms. Smith asked her in 2015 what she might like to write about for Arena, Ms. Nagle immediately thought of the Violence Against Women Act, which was strengthened in 2013, giving tribal courts the power to prosecute non-Native Americans who victimize Native American women on tribal land. Present at the signing ceremony, watching President Obama make that change into law, Ms. Nagle sobbed.
“Fighting for Native Americans, In Court and On Stage”/ by Laura Collins-Hughes/ New York Times/ January 17, 2018


10. I am a black woman. Every day of my life I was told to place my care in others. To place my dreams in others. Every day, I was told to redirect my frustrations at the limitations placed on my education, my career, and my social standing into the selfless love I was expected to show for my family and my community. All as we battled to make ends meet while making 67 cents on a white man’s dollar. While we cared for our children, who were being stolen by the school-to-prison pipeline. While we feared for the safety of our husbands and sons and brothers at every traffic stop, we stored our rage away. The rage of what we could have been. The rage at what we could have done. We placed it deep so that our hands could stay soft to hug our children, so that our words could be gentle to reassure our bosses, so that the smile strangers demanded of us on the street wouldn’t look like a sneer.
“Does This Year Make Me Look Angry?”/ by Ijeoma Oluo/ Elle/ January 11, 2018


11. And what we realize is that if someone says something like he did about Haiti and El Salvador and these countries in Africa – if someone like that say something like that, it gives others permission to discriminate. It can even lead to violence, which I think is really the consequence of having something like that said about you. It happened to me when I first came when people said, oh, you have AIDS. And then kids felt like they could – they had – they could beat us or call us names. So it’s something that the community has lived before. Name calling has – of that nature – has very, very – sometimes really strong and detrimental consequences.
“Author Edwidge Danticat on the Immigrant Experience”/ by Lulu Garcia-Navarro/ NPR/ January 14, 2018


12. Women I know are telling me that while they themselves have been abused by men, raped, harassed, demeaned, they aren’t sure if they can believe the women because sometimes women lie. And everyone is so worried about due process. Should these private companies fire men accused of rape, harassment, and abuse by multiple women? Shouldn’t they wait, let the juries decide? Sure, that sounds great, except the courts use an outdated standard to decide whether a plaintiff should even be allowed to bring suit.
“The Thread: Actual Bodily Harm”/ by Marissa Korbel/ The Rumpus/ January 16, 2018


13. Many of the victims were minors, sometimes abused with their parents in the room while they were medically examined. There is evidence that Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, the two elite institutions associated with Nassar, were slow to act on reports that he was abusing girls and young women.
“The Sex Abuse Scandal Surrounding USA Gymnastics Team Doctor Larry Nassar, Explained”/ by Jen Kirby/ VOX/ January 19, 2018


14. In the winter of 2011, in the dressing room at Target, I get caught up in an existential crisis. While trying on bathing suits, I find myself toggling between two drastically different views of myself: one is informed by the harsh words my mother verbalized so many years ago, probably without meaning to hurt me or realizing I was internalizing everything she said; the other by my young daughter’s unconditionally loving view of me.
“You Are What You Hear”/ by Pauline Campos/ Longreads/ January 12, 2018


15. #MeToo also has its roots in the post-Trump awakening. After all, there have been plenty of male celebrities credibly accused of multiple sexual aggressions—Bill Cosby comes to mind—who did not spark a mass movement of women speaking out about their own experiences of sexual harassment and molestation. Now, all of a sudden, it’s zero-tolerance time: Famous and powerful men, from Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose to Mario Batali and Garrison Keillor, are going down at a headlong pace. You wake up and wonder who will be all over the news today. It’s like the French Revolution, without the guillotine.
“We Are Living Through the Moment When Women Unleash Decades of Pent-up Anger”/ by Katha Pollitt/ The Nation/ January 11, 2018


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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