- Paying my respects to Bertrice Small – Romance pioneer Bertrice Small, whose historical sagas packed with kinky sex were many readers’ first tastes of romance, died Tuesday at the age of 77. There’s also a longer obituary at RT Magazine and another at Smart Bitches.
When I was twelve years old, I found a book at a garage sale that would forever change my life. The book was called All The Sweet Tomorrows, and it told the tale of Skye O’Malley, a beautiful raven-haired widow on a mission to find her not-so-dead-after-all husband in Algiers. This book introduced me to dildos, dubcon, anal sex, foot torture, and pony play. No, I’m not kidding, this book, which was originally published in 1986, had all of that.
That book set in stone my destiny as a romance reader and writer. It also really helped hone my reading skills; as a child with learning disabilities, I was supposed to practice my reading. Nothing makes you want to practice reading more than learning about the seedy sorts of things adults are getting up to with their private parts.
- Kameron Hurley on Trigger Warnings and Neil Gaiman – Shit like this is why Gaiman gets the side-eye from me. His obnoxious wife doesn’t help any.
Little triggers, Neil Gaiman tells us in the introduction to his new collection, Trigger Warning, are things that “upset us.” Which makes it sound like there should be trigger warnings for bee stings, I suppose, or signs up about how you may be upset if you don’t get the last cupcake at the party. If you type “Trigger Warning” into Google right now, his collection, with that definition of triggers, is the first thing to pop up.
Conflating “little triggers” with “Trigger Warnings” is, to put it mildly, irresponsible. I grew up in my online life in feminist science fiction circles. I encountered trigger warnings all the time, primarily on feminist academic blogs. These were one-sentence heads’ ups at the top of a post about sexual assault or cutting or abuse. They were courtesy notes for folks who were survivors of same, so that they could take a few minutes to decide if they were in the right frame of mind to read that material. Trigger warnings were designed to prevent people who have post-traumatic stress flashbacks from reading material that would trigger that stress. War veterans, sexual abuse survivors; some of the most vulnerable people in our society, find themselves navigating a very horrifying and triggering world every day, which is why so many commit suicide. So it was a small kindness, in these spaces, to put a little note up front so they could, in their down time, in their safe spaces, avoid that stuff if they were having a particularly horrifying day. In feminist academic spaces in particular, the chances that one of the women reading your work had been sexually abused or assaulted in some way was about 1 in 4. Reading triggering content could lead to self-harm, depression, and even suicide. It was an easy, decent thing to do. I have one here at the beginning of a review I wrote of a film that’s about the abuse and torture of a woman.
- The Shockingly Simple, Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to End Homelessness – I know the headline is eye-rollingly clickbaity, but this was an interesting story of a public-private-religious collaboration to eliminate chronic homelessness in Utah.
WE COULD, AS A COUNTRY, look at the root causes of homelessness and try to fix them. One of the main causes is that a lot of people can’t afford a place to live. They don’t have enough money to pay rent, even for the cheapest dives available. Prices are rising, inventory is extremely tight, and the upshot is, as a new report by the Urban Institute finds, that there’s only 29 affordable units available for every 100 extremely low-income households. So we could create more jobs, redistribute the wealth, improve education, socialize health carebasically redesign our political and economic systems to make sure everybody can afford a roof over their heads.
Instead of this, we do one of two things: We stick our heads in the sand or try to find bandages for the symptoms. This story is about how Utah has found a third way.
- "Eem" Negation in AAVE – I stumbled across this on Twitter the other day and I never thought linguistics could make for such a fascinating read.
I’ll be discussing a phenomenon in some registers of African American Vernacular English that I recently noticed, and have dubbed “eem negation.” As with much of my research interest, this is a phenomenon that is not used by everyone, but which suggests a possible syntactic change which may or may not catch on. The basic idea is that Jespersen’s Cycle is progressing for some speakers of AAVE, such that for some people, “eem” is available as a negative marker. If the last sentence sounded like gibberish to you, don’t worry: the rest of this post will unpack it.
- To shill a mockingbird: How a manuscript’s discovery became Harper Lee’s ‘new’ novel – WaPo has an in-depth look at the competing interests at work surrounding the elderly author’s “new” book, To Set a Watchman.
Would you like to understand how the “new” Harper Lee novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” came to be billed as a long-lost, blockbuster sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” — one of the definitive books of the American 20th century — when, by all the known facts, it’s an uneven first draft of the famous novel that was never considered for publication?
Would you like to get a glimpse into how clever marketing and cryptic pronouncements have managed to produce an instant bestseller, months before anyone has read it?
Fabulous. Pull up a rocking chair, pour two fingers of bourbon — make it three — and let’s have a little chat, in the gloaming in this little town in south Alabama. Here is where Lee grew up with many of the real-life characters whose fictional counterparts would come to populate the only book she ever published.
- Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign is the ugliest thing on the Internet today – Fuck Dove’s emotionally exploitative marketing forever.
Its tweets are narcotic, soothing. Don’t question Dove. Dove loves you. Dove is your attentive friend, addressing you by name.
The only purpose of this cooing, of course, is to lull consumers into a sense of intimacy so human, so convincing, that you forget that Dove is actually trying to sell you something; that in fact, Dove only exists on this planet to sell you things, and that Dove’s pursuit of sales occasionally involves behavior you may find offensive and/or unsavory.
Just last year, for instance, Dove’s corporate parent promised not to advertise on any sites in the Gawker network because Gawker sites covered Gamergate critically. (Gamergate, n:  a campaign of harassment against women in the gaming industry;  a thing that did not, in any remote way, “speak beautifully.”)