Edited because, I’m sorry, I forgot TW: medical racism and exploitation, child abuse. I just want to make sure that we’re all aware that twenty years ago, decades after the Tuskegee syphilis “experiment,” scientists affiliated with Johns Hopkins partnered with…
[Strong, strong trigger warning for rape]
In the March 10 episode of his podcast, David Choe recounted in lurid and self-satisfied detail his activities of the night before, in which he raped his masseuse at a massage parlor. On Friday, shortly after the story came out on Gawker and xojane, he insisted on his blog that he was totally joking, that he hates rapists, that his art is controversial, and that all he’s guilty of is bad storytelling. Call me a humorless feminist, but I’m not laughing.
Can’t say I’m usually a huge Caitlin Flanagan fan, but this investigation into American fraternities is very very good. Frats not only cause a whole lot of serious injury to college students, but they protect themselves quite thoroughly — even to the detriment of their own members. Do read the whole thing. But if you don’t read the whole thing, read the lede, which is possibly the best lede I’ve ever read.
Hope you all celebrated and had a grand ol’ time. Sorry I’ve been MIA from the blog — December was a big month of travel for me, often without great internet. One of those trips was to Malawi, which is a fantastic country in East Africa, small and extremely poor but the locus of some really innovative development efforts. I met a lot of bright, interesting girls doing fantastic advocacy and activism work in their communities. Unfortunately, they’re looking at being defunded: Endemic corruption in Malawi is a national scandal, with millions in donor aid plundered by politicians. Now, many Western governments are suspending funds. I wrote about it for the Guardian, so click over and read the whole thing. I’m happy to start 2014 with a reminder that there are some pretty amazing young women advocating for their own futures all over the world.
This long-form feature and photo essay on Dasani, a homeless girl in New York City, is a phenomenal piece of journalism. And it sheds important light on the many dysfunctions of this grossly economically unjust city.
As one blogger asked, where were you when Beyoncé’s self-titled album was dropped on December 13, 2013? The world was shell-shocked when the Beytomic bomb exploded on the musical landscape. After this initial shock and awe, fans of her music have been able to digest her masterpiece in all its glory. We can surely talk for days about her more explicit sensuality. Or her refined ratchetness. Or how this coincides with her shift in musical expression. I’d like to explore the latter of these two. And what it means for her as black woman who grew up middle class in the south. They are these intersections of race and class—not to mention gender, which has already been talked about a good bit in feminist spaces—that make Beyoncé so fascinating and, as one of my homegirls and Melissa Harris Perry (my homegirl in my head) put it, will doubtless be the album that launches a thousand woman’s studies papers.
For U.S. readers who had a long weekend, welcome back to the grind. For everyone else — those who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, those who don’t get holidays off — welcome back as well. To start your Monday, here’s a piece on raising the minimum wage, which we absolutely need to do.
The ACLU released a report on life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and the shocking numbers of inmates who are incarcerated for the rest of their lives with no hope of getting out — for committing non-violent crimes, usually drug-related. There are money interests in keeping people incarcerated, but there are also cultural and psychological ones. Long sentences are entrenched in the law through mandatory minimums, but they’re also seeded in our national psyche as “normal”:
Today’s must-read by Tressie MC (if you aren’t reading her blog regularly, get to it) is about the logic of poor people buying designer clothing and expensive goods. A bit:
What happens is that someone writes a self-serving, socially oblivious blog post and almost everybody thinks, “Wow, what a load of vacuous crap,” but one person thinks, “Hey, that happened to me, too!” without a single moment of introspection, the top ten percent is crying to Thought Catalog that life is just so hard for rich people and why is everyone so meeeeeean to them?
The current Republican temper tantrum over health care — you know, the one where they forced a shut-down of the entire government because they don’t want the American public to have health care coverage — is just the logical conclusion of a long line of GOP healthcare shenanigans. But usually, they’re targeting poor people, and poor women in particular. In my Guardian column this week, I’m writing about how this all goes back to the Hyde Amendment: