I would like to hear from you! What do you want to see more of in Staunchly? What’s your favorite and least favorite (gulp) feature or section? Your ideal format? Please don’t be shy! Respond to this email with some hard truths if you got ’em. I will be so appreciative.
There’s a line in Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s exquisite profile of Gwyneth Paltrow for the New York Times Magazine this week where Gwynnie says that she “only ever wanted to be someone who recommended things.”
Let me tell ya: I felt that line right in my jade egg. I mean, I want to do other stuff too. But it’s still satisfying to know that Gwyneth and I were put on the Earth to pretty much do the same thing: tell people what serums to buy and that if they eat lectins they’ll get lupus.
- This is your country’s rules.
- I’m trying to change my country’s rules.
Let’s talk about Elin Ersson. I was a few days late to this but I finally watched her Facebook video after seeing it mentioned in Ann Friedman’s newsletter (which is the gold standard of email newsletters—which makes Staunchly, what, that metal on tween mall jewelry that turns your earlobe green but still sparkles in the sun?).
Ersson, a young white, Swedish woman, recorded herself holding up a Turkish Airlines flight out of Gothenburg that the Swedish government was using to deport a man back to Afghanistan. She refused to sit down, thereby preventing the plane from taking off, until the man was removed. She held her ground even as angry flight attendants and passengers screamed at her and slammed her phone to the ground. It’s such a courageous act, perhaps more so because you can witness the toll of it on her face—her eyes puddling with tears, her cheeks and neck flushing red.
Every white person needs to watch this video. This is how we use our privilege to stand against injustice. It isn’t clean or easy or pleasant or safe. It’s awkward and isolating and imperfect and you may meet a tough, cruel resistance from those being inconvenienced and your skin may betray your fortitude and bloom patches of crimson across your face but you must stand your ground. It can be terrifying, but it’s a terror we can afford, and a terror that comes to us exponentially minimized by benefit of the color of our skin.
There is no excuse not to cash in your white privilege right now. If you were saving it for a rainy day, well that day is here. Throw your bodies into the fight.
(One note: I do think it’s preferable to avoid using “hell” to describe other countries, no matter how war-torn. There is a strong potential here to slip into white saviorism and that must be avoided at all costs.)
The problem is not that rich girls are spared educational debt or that they become lip-kit tycoons or that they choose to pay nearly four grand for a two-bedroom apartment in midtown. The problem is that these financial privileges are shrouded in such heavy dissembling, in an instinctive denial of what American wealth really is and what it really means.
- I love anything Jia Tolentino writes, always, but especially this piece on millennials and money and how rich-people have coopted the language of hustle (e.g. Kylie Jenner described as “self-made”). I try to be upfront about the help I receive from my mother—a sort of “parental basic income” as Tolentino puts it—and even separate from that, the infinite ways wealth and privilege and geography have shaped my existence. But I know I am also guilty of using vocabulary that applies to an economic struggle I have never experienced, words I didn’t earn. I guess what I’m saying is there’s room for me, and many of us probably, to be more mindful about the way we speak about money—to acknowledge the issues we face in trying to build the lives we want in an economy that only serves the mega-rich while keeping those issues firmly rooted in reality.
- Read about the life of Nia Wilson, the young woman murdered in cold blood at a BART station in Oakland last weekend. Think about what you are going to do to puncture the cloud of white supremacy that darkens every person of color’s experience in America.
- American boys are in desperate need of intervention, writes Jessica Valenti in her op-ed for the Times. This is critical reading. If we don’t build a counter-movement to that of the incels, trolls, and men like Jordan Peterson (who blames the crisis of masculinity and basically all current crises on the feminization/weakening of men), we are all f*cked.
Feminism has long focused on issues of sexual assault, reproductive rights, harassment and more. But issues don’t hurt women, men do. Until we grapple with how to stop misogynists themselves — starting with ensuring boys don’t grow up to be one — women will never be free.
- I loved this column by Michelle Goldberg, which summarized (in a more sophisticated, less expletive-laden tone) my thoughts about the centrist panic in the Democratic Party—i.e. the sensible “moderates” like James Comey and Joe Lieberman warning that a shift to the “socialist left” might isolate good, wholesome voters in the middle. It’s all just so dumb. The Republican ticket has literal white nationalists on it. Moderate is a cute idea that doesn’t exist anymore, like popcorn shirts.
- In Eater, disability rights activist Alice Wong adds nuance to the debate around—and recent outcry against—plastic straws. It’s important to realize that, while a large source of pollution, plastic straws help people with disabilities nourish themselves, dine outside the house, and lead independent lives. So, two things are true: a total ban on plastic straws is ableist; and we need urgent solutions to combat waste and pollution and the myriad horrible things we do to the planet everyday. Wong offers a few suggestions, one of which is for restaurants to carry two types of straws and offer them to customers as paper or plastic, like in some grocery chains. It’s not perfect—for either side—but it’s a start.
I live in a world that was never built for me, and every little bit of access is treasured and hard-won.
The villa from Under the Tuscan Sun is available for vacation rentals at a not-too-unreasonable price (for ten bedrooms! Although I should like the place to myself).
Also, who else is watching Sharp Objects and consumed with a desperate urge to roller-skate? Let’s burn all the Bird scooters and starting soul-skating again.
P.S. I started reading the book this week because I was impatient with the miniseries (which I am otherwise enjoying) and needed to read ahead. Will let you know how I think the two compare.
I saw Mamma Mia on Monday, sky-high on an edible (a big boy square of Défoncé milk chocolate), which was the exact perfect state to be in. I suggest you do the same.
To quote this Economist piece which I only read the headline of: “ABBA’s songs are an escapist treat in melancholy times.”