Staunchly, vol. 88: Here’s to the Crazy Ones. The Misfits. The Trash Pandas.


The planets are broken. Mercutio is in marmalade.


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1. 24-Year-Old Woman Delivers Stillborn Baby in ICE Custody by Opheli Garcia Lawler (The Cut)
She is not alone. 28 women have lost pregnancies in ICE detention during the past two years. The rate of miscarriages among immigrant women in ICE custody has nearly doubled during the Trump administration, thanks in part to (an influx of fascist monsters/) the reversal of an Obama policy that banned ICE from detaining pregnant women except in “extraordinary circumstances.” Abuse, negligence, substandard medical care, and the trauma of detention can all add undue stress to a pregnancy, and have likely contributed to the dramatic increase in the miscarriage rate during this “zero tolerance” era. 
As for the young woman who recently lost her child, ICE said in a statement: “for investigative and reporting purposes, a stillbirth is not considered an in-custody death.”
“Fascist monsters” is starting to sound generous.
2. How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans by Sophie Lewis (NY Times)
We may have to cancel British feminism. They are doing it very wrong.
TERFs—Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists—have somehow coopted the movement across the pond and, under the banner of preventing “female erasure,” created a false choice between trans rights and (cis) women’s rights. Besides being misguided, hateful, and genuinely fucked, the TERF worldview has roots in British imperialist thought—as witnessed in its fascination with “biological realities.” (I feel like imperialism as a theme has played a big role in Deep Reads recently, which may say something about the times we’re living in). Lewis sums it up:

It’s also worth noting that the obsession with supposed “biological realities” of [TERF activists] is part of a long tradition of British feminism interacting with colonialism and empire. Imperial Britain imposed policies to enforce heterosexuality and the gender binary, while simultaneously constructing the racial “other” as not only fundamentally different, but freighted with sexual menace; from there, it’s not a big leap to see sexual menace in any sort of “other,” and “biological realities” as essential and immutable. (Significantly, many Irish feminists have rejected Britain’s TERFism, citing their experience of colonialism explicitly as part of the reason.)

Ok, Ireland I see you girl!
3. Did Michael Jackson Abuse Because He Was Abused? by Daniel Engber (Slate)
TL;DR: No. Mistreatment and neglect can bloom spores of abusive behavior, but a reductive “cycle of abuse” narrative lets abusers off the hook and gives us a false, if merely intellectual, sense of control over the sources of evil.

In light of those statistics, it’s worth asking why we give so much credence to the “cycle of abuse” as an explanation. Maybe it feels safer to assume that cruelty is predictable, and that something so disturbing as the mistreatment of a child could be circumscribed and contained, drawn into and kept inside a pattern.

Related: I started Leaving Neverland last night and it’s as much of a gut punch as everyone says it is. I’m ashamed it took me this this long to reckon with what he did. After I finish the second half of the doc, I plan on watching Oprah’s interview with the two survivors profiled, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
4. Socialism and the Self-Made Woman by Paul Krugman (NY Times)
I’ve made known my thoughts on Ivanka. Love her!! Just joshing. She makes me so angry I start to spit blood when I think about her for too long. I’ll let Krugs do the talking:

It doesn’t get much better than being lectured on self-reliance by an heiress whose business strategy involves trading on her father’s name.

5. The Cutest Animal on Instagram Is Possibly in Your Trash Can by Gray Chapman (NY Times)
Some surprisingly profound words on “verminfluencers,” trash cats, dumpster doggos, etc.

It’s a social movement,” said Victoria Armour, 25. She was half-joking, but she does think that these long-maligned critters appeal to the self-deprecating, vaguely misanthropic worldview she shares with many in her generation. “We can all relate to an animal who’s just focused on eating and rummaging through trash. We’re no longer liking the fluffy animals. We want the weirdos. We want the jaded ones. We want the ones who were kicked out of society.

Here’s to the rebels. The ripples from pebbles. ~


Also: The time Jane Mayer stole her dog back from Laura Ingraham and the dog’s name was Peaches and wow Jane Mayer is an icon. 6 black chefs and inventors who revolutionized food and cooking in America (including one slave—feels important to note that caveat, since “revolutionized” does imply some agency that was purposefully denied to him). Millennials are thinking hard about climate change when deciding whether or not to have kids (my friends and I talk about this all the time). And...uh…Jane Austen died at 41 from some unknown illness, why is some dude trying to make her into a wellness guru??? 


Last week, instead of watching the Cohen hearings live, I drove to Lake Elsinore to sit in a field of superbly-bloomt poppies. It’s a spring tradition I started for myself when I moved back home to California a few years ago. As far as escapist self-care strategies go, it’s one of my best. If you live in LA and need a break this week, I highly recommend driving out to Walker Canyon, parking your car off the 15, and taking a walk through the tangy orange fields. Find yourself a little clearing in the flowers to sit and relax. Read some lines from Mary Oliver’s poem “Poppies.” Head home only when you’re ready.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,
when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,
touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—
and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?

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I love LitHub’s Astrology Book Club, and their March recommendation for Scorpios feels very on the nose for me: Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden. An enticing title indeed.

Audio Visuals.png

I’ve been listening to the new Solange album, as well as some of the music that inspired her, like the ’60s recordings of psychedelic soul band Rotary Connection. I don’t go to concerts often because of crowds and having to wait too long for a Lyft, but I saw Solange in 2017 at the Hollywood Bowl and she was transcendent (as was Blood Orange and all the other artists who opened for her). She performed through A Seat at the Table, which is altogether a much better collection than When I Get Home—the album she dropped last week at the end of a very grim Black History Month.
When I Get Home is fineee. It’s very vibey and dreamy. It’s gorgeous at parts and meh at others (is now the time to remind you that if you come to Staunchly for sophisticated music criticism you are in the wrong place?*). It feels like woke spa music. Nice, chill, interesting sounds to have in my apartment while I go about my day.  
If you want to know what another white person thinks about Solange’s new album (why?), I enjoyed this review of the album by Carl Wilson at Slate, who connected it to a larger tradition of black New Age music exemplified by Stevie Wonder’s 1979 Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants:

The record’s psychedelic-soul and avant-jazz aspects are already catnip to me, but what started to emerge as I listened was how Home translates the chimes-and-chants-and-chirps aesthetic of the New Age tapes you might once have picked up at a health-food or healing-crystal store into an R&B and hip-hop context. Or back into a black-music context, rather, if you consider the influence of Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, and, yes, Secret Life of Plants on that once-burgeoning (and often homespun) genre of music in the first place.

(*Should I start a blog called Pitchy Fork?)
Other things: I started listening to The Dropout upon the recommendation of everyone who makes recommendations. I can’t stop laughing every time Elizabeth Holmes opens her mouth. That deep, husky voice she puts on is WILD. Girl I know it’s gross how we police women’s speech and deny them capital/opportunities/respect** based on sexist ideals of vocal respectability but you sound CRAZY.


(**Ok yeah she should have been denied all those things).
Also: by now you know that I enjoy a good true crime miniseries. By that I mean, not like, a good murder, but a textured, surprising, well-crafted story that avoids the genre’s dual pitfalls of exploitation and sensationalism and maybe says something about my old friend ~ Society ~.

I’m allergic to any cultural product that treats a serial killer like an auteur and not an agent of chaos and terror and violence against (most often) women. To that end, I very much did not enjoy the Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix, a sort of “in his own words” documentary about the man who raped and murdered more than 30 women across the US in the seventies. The producers confuse him with, idk Bryan de Palma???, and give him license to luxuriate in his craft, manipulate the story to fit his intentions, so he never really loses control, even from the grave.

Through archival audio recordings and courtroom footage, Bundy gets to speak for himself. It’s clear the producers thought the tapes were a big enough draw to anchor a whole show, but let me tell you, they are not. Without sufficient pushback and analysis from Smart People Who Know Things, the entire series is just a sadistic white dude narrating the philosophy of his cruelty. I never got the sense that the people behind the documentary had a sophisticated enough understanding of this man and the world that made him and the bright bloody florets of pain he sprouted to say anything interesting about, well, anything at all. Bundy runs the show, the audience is left to fill in the gaps he purposefully leaves. The result, I think, is at best, lazy and morally compromised, at worst pretty despicable.