Editor's Note: Every Thursday, I'll be rounding up my favorite Identities pieces from the past week so that PolicyMic Pundits can more easily read and comment on the great content being written about sex, sexuality, gender, and race in politics and culture, in addition to updates from our community and GIFs galore! You can subscribe to get updates delivered straight to your inbox.
Highlights This Week:
Since I started working for the internet full-time, I made a solemn vow to read an entire print book every week, alternating fiction and non-fiction. This week, I’m reading Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby. It’s a gorgeous, stirring, exquisitely structured memoir, and I highly recommend it.
Solnit writes, “What’s your story? It’s all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice…
“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or to hate, to see or to be blind. Often, too often, stories addles us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then to become the storyteller.”
Thomas and I have written before about our own stories, and how they led us to where we are now. The most joyful part of being an editor is helping someone discover the story they have to tell; the most crushing part of being an editor is learning you’ve suppressed the real story, or that the story told isn’t true. (Arguably, no story is really true, but let’s not get too post-modernist here.) When so many incomplete, de-contextualized stories are being told every day — when you can read the exact same story so many times at so many different places that it’s hard to find the original— it’s easy to despair over our individual stories, to write them off as inconsequential iterations of the same set of human experiences.
But in another exquisite essay, Solnit argues we shouldn’t: “Despair is a luxury. If I despair I can drive a Yukon and watch bad television. Despair makes no demand upon us; hope demands everything. For people around the world, in places like Burma and Chiapas, giving up means accepting hideous conditions of life, or death. Despair is cheap for us, expensive for them. What does it mean to be radical, to tell radical stories in our time, to win the battle of the story? … You need to tell the stories they are not telling, to learn to see where they are blind, to look at how the great changes of the world come from the shadows and the margins, not center stage, to see where we’re winning and that we can win something that matters, if not everything all the time.“
And your stories most often prove to me that she’s right.
Updates From Our Pundits:
Does our Pundit Of the Week look familiar to you?
What did you do last week? I’ll share any outstanding writing achievements in our community, and highlight the great work that all of our Pundits do offline as well. If you have anything you’d like for me to include about yourself or a fellow PM writer, please send it along!
Must Reads From Last Week:
Why Young Women Are Snapping Shots Of Their Boobs On Things (Andrea Garcia-Vargas, @AGarciaVargas) — The psychology behind #mamming, selfies for a cause.
I’m Gay, I May Not Get Married, and That’s OK (Vanessa Friedman, @vanessapamela) — As a 24-year-old queer woman, the big win in New Jersey mostly just made me feel ambivalent. Millennials have an opportunity other generations haven't. It's time ask: is this what we really want?
The NYPD is Taking Gender Policing To a New Level (Jamie Pallas, @JamiePanic) — Is it illegal to be transgender? No, didn't think so. Someone should tell the NYPD.
The Invisible Body Image Issue That Millennial Men Need to Know (Jack Fischl, @JackFischl) — Our obsession with the ideal is hurting us in ways we're just beginning to understand.
Bisexuals: We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Not Unicorns (Danielle Paradis, @DaniParadis) — Once Upon a Time features a real-life bisexual. Rejoice!
That New York Times Story About “Good” Indian Men is Pretty Xenophobic (Mrinalini Shinde, @MrinShin) — Of course some men in India are "good." So what?
Why San Francisco’s Tech Community is Creating Problems, Not Solving Them (Lizzy Acker, @lizzzzyacker) — From inventing problems to being a 'creator,' the fake ethos is a sign of the times — and it might be coming for your city next.
Why I Stopped Saying “Slut” (Daniela Ramirez, @DanRam910) — Despite being a feminist, I have so internalized the word that I still have to work to not let it affect me. And I'm not the only one.
The Trouble With Indiana’s Proposed Gay Marriage Ban (Jason Myles, @JasonDMyles) — Indiana is torn over gay marriage, and as a gay, Christian man — so am I.
Tech Needs Women, But Women Don’t Necessarily Need Tech (Easha Acharya, @eashakiren) — What we really need is to stop telling women what fields to enter.
Speaking Spanish is Great, But Only If You’re Not Latino (Maribel Hermosillo, @Cualania) — I was taught that being American meant speaking English. But if you're white, learning Spanish is good for your career.
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