Staunchly, vol. 56: Swag is Not a Movement


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First things first. White people: stop calling the cops on black people who are just trying to live their goddamn lives. Besides the obvious, brazen racism of assuming people of color do not have the right to occupy the same spaces, neighborhoods, dorms, restaurants, streets, etc. that you do, the assumption that involving the police will improve a situation, and not put your life at risk, is the purest form of privilege.
I had a French teacher during my semester abroad in Paris who, in that very annoying and contrarian way French men can be, asked if the way Americans made fun of Canadians (supposedly othering them by giggling at the way they say words like “about” and “sorry”) was not dissimilar from the way white Southerners treated black Americans during the Jim Crow era. It was the most da fuq moment of my life, until Oliver North said basically the same thing but re: gun nuts. Head’s up, everybody: nothing was like being black in the Jim Crow South except being black in the Jim Crow South. 

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MUGS! MUGS! MUGS! (to the tune of Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” please)
They’re here! My special collaboration with the artist/activist/unicorn Faye Orlove is now shoppable. For our *first* project together, we made a mug honoring the baddest B of the Rajneeshi, true Osho of our hearts, Queen of Time Served: Ma Anand Sheela. 


From the ranches of Wasco County to the verdant hills outside Zurich, this mug will be your perfect vessel for:
an afternoon latte
an afternoon rosé
an all-hours soup
colored pencils
home-brewed Rajneeshee sex tonics
all various other miscellany!
Get yours today! 

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I have, and will continue to, die on this hill: A “D” in front of a politician’s name is never a guarantee that he isn’t a scumbag. Case in point: Eric Schneiderman. It’s time to disabuse ourselves of the notion that a man’s championing of women’s rights, his support for domestic violence survivors, doesn’t mean he won’t get drunk and slap your face so hard your ear will crust with blood. We can’t afford to be shocked anymore.  
I’m in awe of the bravery of the women who have spoken out against Junot Diaz, especially the ones who did so when no one would listen. Hey, this is a good reminder to believe women! Most of us won’t put our careers, social circles, and reputations on the line for nothing.
Also today in scummy literary golden boys: let us not forget the time David Foster Wallace violently abused Mary Karr, stalked her family, and threatened to shoot her husband. Men! They’re just like us! Only they do crazy sh*t that imperils the lives of women all around them and it only adds to their allure as cool, tortured artists!   
Iowa has banned abortions after six weeks. Not that it matters, but at six weeks a fetus is the size of a lentil. That little lentil has more autonomy over its body than the human growing it. Cool! 

Hard pivot to pop culture: I continue to be flummoxed by the Kardashians. One minute, they are sexually-empowered hustlers, holding a mirror to modern consumerism and reflecting our tastes—for the glossy, the artificial, the falsely plump—back to us; women whose mere existence marks a victory for feminism. The next, they are doing some more appropriative bullsh*t. They are cunning opportunists. They are problematic. They are matriarchal. They are literally training their waists like toy poodles on the show circuit to meet the insane silhouette demands of porny cyborgs. They are fembots. They are family. They are…I don’t know what to think. Tell me what to think!
I’m loving the Literary Hub’s “Writers of the Zodiac” series. Here are some Taureans you should be reading during the final days of the astrological season (a diverse crew including Balzac, Charlotte Brontë, Adrienne Rich, and Malcolm X).

Taureans surpass pop-astrology stereotypes of being workaholic homebodies with refined wardrobes and casseroles in the oven; they are revolutionary leaders, lovers, poets, and artists who make the world a wonderfully beautiful place.

I really enjoyed John Mulaney’s new comedy special, Kid Gorgeous, on Netflix (though he recycled a lot of the jokes for his recent SNL monologue, which made them feel less fresh here—but still excellent). In his review of the special for the New Yorker, Ian Crouch, made some really sharp points I think about why this special, nostalgic yet acerbic, feels right for this moment in culture.

Mulaney seems most sure-footed when inhabiting a kid’s body with his adult brain, and the special arrives at a time well suited to receive it; the safest ground for the male comedian right now is childhood, prepubescence, a time when little boys might be confounding or annoying or even cruel, but not yet especially dangerous or explicitly predatory. “Thirteen-year-olds are the meanest people in the world,” he’s joked, but they are mean in a way that is different from how adult men, including some of the country’s most cherished male comedians, have proved themselves to be.

Speaking of comedy specials, Ali Wong’s second one comes out on Mother’s Day. I don’t think 2018 America deserves her, biting and iconoclastic in skintight pregnancy leopard, but I’m so excited to watch.
Also in fun stuff: Here’s an arbitrary ranking of 50 fictional writers from TV, film, and books. Carrie Bradshaw is #44, which feels right. (Tina Belcher should be #1. Literary elites really just do not respect erotic fan fiction).
Libraries! I love ’em!  
Ok back to serious: Spotify has announced it will stop promoting R.Kelly’s music on its popular playlists. Great! It’s also just the very tippy tip top of the iceberg, so maybe don’t sprain your wrist patting yourself on the back just yet, Spotify.

The line between not blaming wives for the abusive behavior of their husbands and holding women accountable for their own complicity in said abuses is a thin and hazy one. Nowhere is this clearer than in Vogue’s attempted image rehabilitation of Georgina Chapman. Chapman doesn’t deserve the fury Weinstein has garnered (still not enough), but I am very suspicious of this claim that she had no idea. Nahhhh. Even the dumbest woman would have had a hunch. It’s impossible to fully reckon with the towering crimes of Harvey Weinstein and men like him throughout history without also acknowledging the dense, elaborate scaffolding of white women who looked the other way.
Speaking of enabling women: my sympathy for Kirstjen Nielsen, who nearly resigned after Trump berated her at a meeting for failing to adequately close the borders, is sub-basement low. You elected to serve this man and you enforce draconian policies that separate immigrant families for a living, so kindly cry me a river. (Here’s Masha Gessen on how hostage-taking—separating children from their parents—is a preferred fear tactic of totalitarian states).
Here’s an interesting, important essay on the merchandising of feminism and the capitalist mortar & pestle that has dulled all the urgency, darkness, and flavor from recent interpretations of The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t agree with all the author’s points—I think we can actually use little slogans and symbols around us to keep our values in check, and making a radical message palatable through fashion is not always a bad thing—but her piece is a good reminder that we can’t let the aesthetics of feminism distract us from the work of feminism. Swag does not a movement make.
When men talk about the redistribution of sex they are talking about the redistribution of female bodies, so writes Moira Donegan in her typically excellent rebuttal to Ross Douthat’s typically horrid column. In the wake of recent massacres committed by self-identified “incels,” a few serious thinkers/misogynists with wifi have suggested that—since the deprivation of sex has driven these (on the whole, heterosexual) men to murder—we should start considering sex a “right,” a thing society owes to its citizens and thus must guarantee. Nope! Vaginas are not commodities! There is no food stamp program for dudes starving for hook-ups. Just be decent and don’t murder people!
Roman Polanski, who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, thinks women are being hysterical with all this #MeToo nonsense. Why. Are. We. Still. Asking. His. Opinion. On. Anything.
Remember when Charlie Rose decided Charlie Rose was ready for his comeback and then basically all the women who ever interacted with him were like, “Hold up”?
Samantha Bee said it best: “The future is female, or at least it better be cause I’m done with this sh*t.”

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Is there anything more pleasurable in life than sitting in bed, your non-dominant hand submerged in a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (share size), while you scroll through Met Gala fashuns and proclaim with an air of totally unearned authority that you sure wish Michael Kors would stop wasting your f*cking time? No. There isn’t.
You didn’t ask but these were my favorite looks: SZARihannaDiane KrugerCara DelevigneKate BosworthZoë Kravitz, Lily Collins’ single red tearCardi B (just for her pure joy and enthusiasm). 

Staunchly yours,