Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shelving: Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross

Charles Cross's Here We Are Now is a good idea, but I think it only skims the surface.  I like that instead of writing another biography, Cross takes a thoughtful look at Kurt Cobain's lasting influence, which, given the scant amount of music he put out in his short life (there isn't even much to mine through as there is other long-dead artists), is undeniably huge. It's a little hagiographic, but that's to be expected, I guess.  As someone who was only a casual fan of Nirvana's music I've always looked at Cobain and his influence not only on music but only culture in general. I've always seen him as part of a larger picture, a culture that was already shifting, and he became the unfortunate recipient of the kind of mainstream success that, during the 80s and early 90s, ran counter to being "indie" or "alternative." (Two words that are absolutely meaningless now.) I've read enough things that's said he did, in fact, court that success, but as someone who was a teenager during Nevermind's run, it was something that always rang a little false to me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Links & Bits: 4/18/14

Out.com has a nice feature  on MSNBC's Steve Kornacki.

More banning of LGBT-themed books

Happy 10th birthday Feministing!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hashtag actvisim

Overall I like Michelle Goldberg, and I understand where her (albeit overarching and shrouded in privilege) theory about the current crop of hashtag activists is coming from,  but political correctness -- if you want to call it that --  isn't a new or particularly cyclical thing. It's that the tools to enforce it are different than they were even five or ten years ago. The immediacy twitter or tumblr has to offer makes activism seem fresh and patently democratic, at least compared to the channels previous generations would have to go through to protest something.

My biggest issue with Tumblr activism is that anyone can call themselves one. Someone with twenty-plus years fighting for civil rights has the same platform as a thirteen-year-old with an agenda. And it's often the loudest, not the smartest, voices that are heard.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Are You a Bad Feminist?

Buzzfeed's quizzes are usually pretty light and silly.

All right, so this one isn't any different.
"You checked off 18 out of 56 on this list!
You are a borderline acceptable feminist – or, as some would say, 'problematic'."
I'm a borderline acceptable feminist, which means I'm perfectly average.

I'm a little surprised that some of the commenters took this to be a serious assessment of feminism. Most of the statements listed are old anti-feminist tropes: one can't be a "proper" feminist and wear makeup, sport hairless legs or armpits, or read Cosmo. (Note: I have no idea what Closer is. I'm assuming it's not the Dennis Cooper book.)

Where, apparently, do I lose my feminist cred? I own more makeup than Le Tigre albums, I like Miley Cyrus (or I did before all that cultural appropriation), and I thought How To Be a Woman was garbage. Though I don't see how that's one for the negative column.

Monday, April 14, 2014

In Praise of Messy Women (Bullets)


  • I'm reading Katie Roiphe's collection of essays, In Praise of Messy Lives . It's better than I expected. Much better than I expected from someone inexorably tethered to the rape apologia of The Morning After. I guess she holds a certain libertarian (in the dictionary sense), individualistic appeal, but I can't imagine praising this book without a horde of feminists calling for my hide. The essays about Joan Didion and Susan Sontag are worth the time.
  • Speaking of Didion, I found this post  yesterday. The distance -- the coolness, nay coldness -- is what I like about her writing. I think I've been unsuccessfully biting her style for a while, or instead, biting her style filtered through every other female writer who's bitten her style in the past forty years.
  • Speaking of biting, I have an unreasonable (reasonable?) fear of plagiarizing. When I'm writing, I become almost hyper-aware that it too closely resembles something else. Usually something I hated.
  • I have no idea who the audience is for this blog. When I started blogging almost a decade ago, I wrote diary-like posts because I thought that's what women were supposed to write. The only examples I had were a handful of local parent blogs (I'm not a parent), and pre-baby Dooce. I've never been good at making the minutiae of my daily life sound interesting, and I hate the perception that women must bleed all over the page for it to be worthy. Feminist blogs were the perfect antidote, but now it seems the only option for smart writing that happens to be penned by women. It's exhausting and limiting to consciously view everything through a feminist lens.