Sorry claremont, stag party was disgusting

Anna Liss-Roy '20

Business Manager

On October 6, representatives from 5C student government distributed a “Letter of Solidarity” to all students, regarding sexual assault on campus. It asserted, “We, the Event Heads of Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College, Scripps Associated Students, Pitzer College Student Senate, Associated Students of Pomona College, and Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College, are in solidarity with communities affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.” The letter emphasized a collective aim toward creating “inclusive social events” and urged student DJs and performers to avoid supporting artists associated with any type of abuse.

The email was well written, concise, powerful, and had the timing worked out better, it may have even carried some weight. But, almost comically, the email was sent out around the same time that invitations to “Stag Party”, a DOS-approved party at CMC, were being circulated. The Stag Party event was thrown in honor of Hugh Hefner, best known for his role as founder and editor-in-chief of Playboy magazine, who died on September 27. The description for the Stag Party event referred to Hefner as “our everyday hero and grandpa goals,” and asked its invitees to “join us in mourning his legacy this Spicy Saturday Night,“by dressing up as Hugh in one of your less tasteful robes, or as a spicy bunny ready to pounce (rawr). Or a nun if you believe boys and girls should leave room for Jesus.”

The “Letter of Solidarity” appeared in our inboxes nearly two weeks after Hefner’s passing, during which time social media was flooded with posts paying tribute to a man fondly characterized as a legend, an inspiration, an icon-- good ol’ Hef. Aspects of his image seem to cater to every group: he’s openly bisexual, he donated to feminist causes, and if you couldn’t care less about social justice, he was a goddamn sex warrior!

Hefner’s legacy is difficult to separate from that of Playboy’s. Indeed, the magazine itself pioneered unexplored terrain; its strategy of filling pages with articles and photographs of scantily clad women allowed its majority-male readership a sneaky means of satisfying their sexual desires. It also normalized female promiscuity, portraying male sexual appetites as dominating and inherently deserving of satiation.

But a small investigation into Hefner’s attitudes and treatment of women casts a nefarious shadow over his sexually liberated, pro-woman proclamations. Numerous accounts over the years have revealed Hefner used the enterprise to wield power and influence over women, resulting in decades of exploitation.

Several women, including famous ex-girlfriend and Playboy Mansion resident Holly Madison, have come forward with disturbing accounts. Madison and others detailed instances of assault, manipulative behavior, pitting women against each other, pressuring women to use drugs, and restricting their rights within the Playboy Mansion. Hefner was also accused of prohibiting the women he dated from talking about their experiences. No charges were ever filed against him.

This disturbing information is not hard to find, and Hefner’s history of controversy and alleged assault is well known. So why was CMC allowed to hold a party remotely pertaining to Hefner and his Playboy empire? And, more importantly--why did anyone show up?

Over the past few weeks I’ve observed the posts memorializing “Hef” on social media, but felt fairly confident that despite his “progressive” image, Hefner’s maltreatment of women and perpetuation of harmful, antiquated gender roles would be condemned at Claremont. After all, on liberal arts campuses like the 5Cs, there tends to be a heavy emphasis on buzz words like feminism, equality, free speech, inclusion, support. But on a campus so determined to celebrate and support gender equality, it seems that too much of our energy is expended loudly condemning blatantly sexist and homophobic offenses, and not enough of our focus is dedicated toward detecting more normalized, underrated forms of sexism--something as innocent as a party theme.

Many students at the 5Cs identify as supporters of gender equality, and that’s largely representative of liberal arts colleges throughout the nation. But these same people took great joy in adorning their bodies with bathrobes, suit jackets, cigars, slides-- all the props associated with the legacy of a man who profited off of the subjugation and exploitation of women.

It’s fun to celebrate promiscuity, and maybe events like Stag Party are all just a big joke. But if sexual assault and exploitation is a joke, then support for survivors must also be a joke. If a manifestation of sexual assault and sexism can be considered funny, when does the humor start becoming someone’s reality? Who decides what’s a joke and what’s harmful? It seems that the organizers of Stag Party are as cushioned from the violent and stigmatized reality of sexual assault and hierarchical gender roles as Hefner himself was.

Even if the party was intended to mock an overly sexual grandpa, even if it was all a laugh, introducing a theme that involves some people wearing lingerie and others dressing up as a known sexual predator isn’t exactly harmless. This theme legitimizes Hefner’s legacy and perpetuates the harmful gender-based power dynamics that he used to trick women into thinking they were being sexually liberated, when in reality their nudity was used to perpetuate the idea that female bodies and sexuality exists solely for male pleasure.

If this party had had a different name, like Lingerie Party, I would have faced no moral dilemma and would have happily attended. But at a Playboy-themed party, the choice to show off your body is no longer empowering because it is framed under the context of Hefner’s narrative that female nudity exists for solely for consumption.

But how do you bring this up? It’s not an easy conversation in general, let alone on a Saturday night. I struggled to start a productive discussion with my survivor-supporting, self-proclaimed feminist friends who dressed up as Hefner, partially because of my own anger, but also because of their refusal to expend energy analyzing the violence and power dynamics that their costumes were normalizing. They were feminists, after all. How could their costumes really be problematic?

Just as Hefner used his progressive political stances and philanthropy to dismiss any conversation about his treatment or portrayals of women, many people, particularly students at liberal arts schools, and particularly men, tend to use the term “feminist” to shield themselves from being held accountable for their problematic actions.

I wish that Playboy-themed parties wouldn’t be approved on campus, but the problem transcends institutional responsibility. I ask to everyone who showed up on Saturday: what message are you sending to survivors on campus? How can you claim to support them if you think sexual assault and sexism are sexy? If you don’t see Saturday’s theme as threatening, might it be because you are lucky enough to have various intersections of privilege that mean you may never be the one to face the consequences?

The path to justice and equality begins with accountability. In order to truly condemn Hefner and his dark legacy, we can’t just form stricter regulations on which parties get approved. We must fight against the normalization of gender-based power dynamics. We must reject fond depictions of a man whose harmful impact has been sold to us in the shiny package of sexual liberation. But we must also hold each other and ourselves accountable for our own problematic actions and stop using personal identifications to evade responsibility. You’re a feminist, so what? How does that influence the way you perceive your environment, the way you analyze literature, the way you treat others, the way you listen? We must become attentive to the ways in which systems of domination are embedded in hookup culture, in party culture, and even in the classroom. We must dedicate ourselves to educating each other and to becoming more receptive to honest feedback, even if it’s delivered angrily. Until we hold ourselves accountable as a community, every party may as well be Hefner-themed. And after Saturday, I won’t be able to look at a silk robe for quite a while.

 

Anya Cooper, The Wave: A New Task

Elizabeth Wilsmore '20

Serial Story Columnist

Click clack click clack. The rapid beat of Susie’s heels on concrete echoed through the halls as she led Anya back up from the basement and into a room just below the building lobby. It was a pristine space and the overhead light caught in the polished surface of the wooden table in its center. The table was filled with files and boxes of varying sizes, all labeled with unfinished project names and plans. Susie gestured for Anya to walk in, her black curls glinting like burnished charcoal in the artificial light.

Tentatively, Anya stepped across the threshold, slowing scanning around the room, before closing her eyes and taking in a deep breath. The air smelt musty like an old-growth forest. The array of boxes and paper suggested the presence of plans and abandoned ideas older than either Anya’s or Susie’s lifetimes.

“What is this place?” Anya asked, turning to face Susie.

“This is where you will begin your work,” the latter replied, Her heels clicked as  Susie shut the door and deftly crossed the room to a large safe obscured by stacks of yellowing papers. Squatting, she reached out and twirled a small dial on the side of the safe, her fingers flying in nimble, controlled sequences until finally there was a click! and the box sprung open, the hinges creaking as the door hit the ground with a resounding thud.

Anya looked on as Susie reached into the safe and pulled out a series of files - each one shiny, black, and sleek, with a label in the upper right-hand corner - and carried them to the large wooden table, where she set them down in a large pile.

“This,” Susie began, “is everything we’ve compiled over the last hundred years about this project.”

Beckoning Anya over, Susie lined the files up next to each other in chronological order, the dust layering on each getting thicker with the turning of the years. Softly, Anya reached out and ran a finger down the cover of the nearest one, mesmerized by the shiny spiral her index finger left on its cover. Blinking, Anya looked up at Susie, who had her brown eyes fixed intently on Anya’s face, her curiosity burning brighter than the heat of a kerosene lamp.

“It’s all here,” Susie began, turning and clicking her way down the row of files. “We have ocean level records dating back almost one hundred years, preliminary plans for an interlocking system of submarines, rough sketches of ocean floor bases that were never finished, we have it all.”

Anya felt the blood rush to her cheeks as she glanced over the familiar array of designs, unfinished blueprints half hurried drawings of semi-formed ideas, and was suddenly filled with A burning desire to create, to build, to forge so many new ideas the world of her imagination was unrecognizable upon their completions, an emotion she hadn’t experienced since the accident.

“This is breathtaking” Anya whispered, brushing a coppery curl out of her eyes as she bent down to decipher the label of a particularly old file.

“I haven’t shown you the best part yet,” Susie replied, the corner of her mouth twitching into a smile.

From beneath the files and folders of the last century, Susie uncovered a battered leather-bound notebook, its pages crinkled and worn at the edges like a raggedy moth’s wing. Anya shifted over to see it, craning her neck around the glare from the polished wooden table so she could decipher the name written on the cover.

 

Charlie Cooper, it read in the small unmistakable handwriting of Anya’s Gramps.

 

Anya’s hands trembled as she reached over to trace the outline of Gramps’ name, her fingertips grazing the ink marks in trepidation. Gently, she lifted the book from Susie’s hands, breathing in the musty scent of aging leather as she turned the pages, each one filled with the careful, tiny script of Gramps’ hand, accompanied by page after page of drawings and designs.

“How did you get this?” Anya whispered, her voice catching on the last word as she thumbed through Gramps’ meticulous work.

“Your grandfather worked for us, many years ago,” Susie began, her solid timbre ringing starkly through the silence. “During the Climate War, he designed shelters for us, ones that could withstand all manner of wind, rain, and ocean water. He worked in our emergency department as a troubleshooter and was the one we called if all else had failed.”

Susie paused and looked at Anya, who still stood bewildered with the leather journal in her hands. Leaning forward, Susie locked her intense brown eyes on Anya,

“His work was kept secret for years,” she continued, her voice softening slightly. “By that point, we knew the rising oceans were unstoppable, that there was no reversing this change. The levels would continue to rise, the politicians would continue to deny and blame each other, and meanwhile half the world’s coasts were rapidly disappearing into the sea.”

Susie reached over to flip the pages of Gramps’ book, stopping at a particularly dense cluster of writing and sketches.

“Charlie designed these small pods so that populations near the flooding coasts would have a place to live until they could be resettled. They’re rudimentary really, just a small closet for a kitchen, a waste pump, and a section with beds, but they bought us time while we found new places for those families to settle.”

Anya’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “But, I thought the first climate refugees didn’t appear until about twenty years ago?”

Grimly, Susie shook her head. “Official reports will tell you that, but our numbers – the ones politicians still refuse to acknowledge are the real ones – indicate climate refugees first arrived about sixty years ago, after the first wave of natural disasters hit.”

“But I still don’t understand,” Anya began, brow furrowed, her lips pursed in perplexity. “If the situation is as dire as you say it is, it’s far too late for these pods Gramps designed. The only possible way to keep people safe without overcrowding on land would be some sort of underwater base, and that’s highly un-” Anya’s voice trailed off as she watched a subtle grin begin to unfold across Susie’s face, alighting on each cheekbone until even her dark eyes seemed to glow with excitement.

“No, Anya,” she responded, her voice calm and even as a new piece of silk. “I think you do understand. Charlie built pods, he bought us time. And now,” Susie reached out and gently laid a hand on Anya’s shoulder, which had begun to rise and fall with the quickening pace of her breath. “Now, Anya, we need you, the best engineer we could find, to build us an underwater base, the Noah’s Arc of climate change. We need you to build a new home for the human race, so, once the ocean levels overwhelm the Earth – which they will, eventually – we can still survive.”

Ask Asante: Dear Janet Advice Column

Janet Asante '21

Advice Columnist

Dear Janet,

So I've been feeling very homesick recently, but calling my family just makes me feel more sad because I realize how far away they are. Any advice on dealing with homesickness?

 

Dear Homesick Semeuse,

 

I’m sorry to hear that you feel homesick, as that feeling can be hard to remedy. If calling makes you sad, ask yourself what exactly it is that you miss. I feel that I can only speak from personal experience on this issue, and for me, homesickness is worst when I feel that I’m missing out on important events or milestones. If that’s you, it might help to have someone video conference you in during those times, or fill you in as they’re happening. If your homesickness stems from a fear of being forgotten, maybe care packages from home would help. My mom sends me mail at least once a week, which comforts me and lets me know that I’m often thought of and not forgotten. If cost is an issue, emails work well too! Your feelings of missing home will most likely never completely go away, and that’s okay, as long as you are exercising self-care and coping in a healthy way.

 

Love,

Janet Asante

 

Dear Janet,

I’m not sure if my crush seems interested. We've been vibing more but in front of his friends he kinda brushed me off. Please help.

 

Dear Crushing Scrippsie,

Please make sure that your crush is respecting you as a person. I am a firm believer in valuing self-worth. If he is treating you well when you’re alone, but not when he is with his friends, it can be hard and confusing to decipher which version is the most authentic. My advice is to not take the gamble and find a more consistently respectful person. It is also possible that he would get teased by his friends for demonstrating an interest in you (thank you, toxic masculinity!), so if that’s the case, maybe you should ask him if he is interested in you privately. Whether he is into you or not, it is more than okay to mention the moment he brushed you off and how that made you feel.

 

Wishing you the best of luck,

Janet Asante

 

Dear Janet,

I read your article on the front page of the Scripps Voice. I think it was very well written, but think it is irresponsible to print an undocumented student's name on the article for everyone to see. It is very risky and dangerous to do that, especially with the political climate, racism, and people who are very against immigrants. Even if the student consented (which I hope she did), I don't think it's a very good idea. Anyone could read this and though I hope this would never happen, a student or faculty member who is against immigration could expose her and could cause her or her family to be deported. Even worse, immigration could come onto campus and start racially profiling and snatching people who may or may not be undocumented. Please acknowledge this risk, coming from a concerned Latina.

 

Dear Concerned Latina,

I can understand the concern that you have for the student I interviewed for the article on DACA. During the interview, I commented on the bravery she not only demonstrated by allowing the interview and name usage but by being a student on campus every day. Perhaps it was irresponsible of me to accept her consent, and your hypotheticals are not far-fetched. I wholeheartedly acknowledge the risk I took by mentioning her name. There are ways that undocumented students can be protected on private campuses. This was found on the inside Scripps website: “By declaring ourselves a sanctuary campus, we pledge to seek opportunities to protect all members of our community within the confines of the law, especially those who are most vulnerable, from persecution and violation of their human and civil rights.

As a sanctuary center of higher education, Scripps College commits to the following:

  • The College will protect the privacy of its students, faculty, and staff, and will not release information about individuals’ immigration status, religion, or other affiliations unless legally required to do so.

  • The College will report the receipt of federal agency subpoenas for private records to affected students or employees unless specifically prohibited by applicable law.”

Apologies,

Janet Asante

(500) Days of Summer: How the Media We Consume Hurts our Relationships

Ittai Sopher PZ '20

Film Columnist

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I first saw Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer, during my early teens and I thought the film was brilliant mostly because of how much I could empathize with the film’s protagonist, Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. After all, we both shared a love for sweater-vests, vintage music, and the ending of the 1967 film, The Graduate. What’s more, we were both obsessed with the passionate demonstrations of true-love preached by our favorite films. So, when Zooey Deschanel's character, Summer, dumps Tom abruptly, in favor of marrying some other dude, I was outraged. “Summer is a jerk,” I thought.

However, upon rewatching the film, half-a-decade later, I could feel my cheeks turning red with embarrassment, because, as it turns out, Tom was one of the biggest self-absorbed assholes in recent romantic-comedies. So what did I miss?

Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber are very perceptive in their understanding of our expectations as an audience. The writers know that the faceless narrator’s warning at the beginning of the film that tells the audience, “this is not a love story”, will go ignored by most people viewing the film for the first time. The audience is conditioned to believe that Tom is us, and that we should sympathize with his familiar quarter-life work and relationship crises. And many of us will find his almost immediate conviction to make Summer fall in love with him charming. Tom punching a man in the face in order to protect Summer from harassment is supposed to be a grand romantic gesture, and we cheer when Tom dances to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-esque parade in the streets of Los Angeles.

But the problem is that Summer is not the manic pixie dream girl from the movies Tom watches, who is ready to completely alter her own personal dating preferences for Tom’s macho dedication to winning her heart. Summer states very early in the film that she does not want a relationship, and this sentiment is explained to Tom by another woman, after Summer already dumped him, only to be ignored. Summer is never willing to her change her beliefs about relationships, and Tom knows this; he even tells his sister that telling Summer about the strong feelings he has for Summer will potentially “rock the boat”. Tom is probably right, because Summer is honest with herself and her emotions throughout the film. And if Summer knew how deeply in love Tom was with her, she probably would have dumped him earlier to save him the heartbreak and reclusiveness that Tom will go on to experience during the, after Summer dumps him.

Summer’s refusal to obey Tom’s relationship standards, is a rejection of the manic pixie dream girl composite, and a wake-up call for heterosexual men who believe that women will whimsically seek the approval of and bind themselves to the hearts of men. Furthermore, Tom’s love for Summer is not built on anything meaningful, as demonstrated by his ability to only list Summer’s physical features and music preferences as justifications for his supposedly deep-love. The very romance that Tom obsesses over for the entirety of the film turns out to be extremely shallow and self-serving.

The disconnect between Tom and Summer is clear throughout the film and is a reflection of many of the heterosexual relationships that are depicted in the idealized Hollywood and French New-Wave versions of romance. While the film takes place in present-day Los Angeles, there is a dystopian element to the male characters’ behaviors and attitudes. In fact, the only person that the male characters can think to recruit to give sound relationship advice is Tom’s pre-teen sister played by Chloë Grace Moretz, who tells Tom that “just because some cute girl likes the same bizarro crap that you do, that doesn’t make her your soul-mate”. This sound advice is juxtaposed with that of the male characters who have an intense inability to understand their own shortcomings and commit to healthy relationships, directly because of the media that they had consumed for decades. Their normalized sexism and homophobia, (for example, one of Tom’s friends drunkenly assumes that Summer is a lesbian because she doesn’t want to enter a relationship), is partly formed by the male-centric and heteronormative nature of the media that they consume. The film centers around men who live in a world where the media they take part in controls nearly every aspect of their judgement and inter-personal relationships.

(500) Days of Summer is a movie about the expectations of consumers in American society. These presumptions are born out of centuries of sappy Valentine's Day cards, brazen male heroes banging on chapel windows to steal back “their girl”,  and pop-songs  about how a man dying by a beautiful woman’s side is such a heavenly way to die. But the film challenges these assumptions about relationships, by shattering our core conventions about love. n the final act, the film asserts that falling in love is a matter of circumstance and not about grand gestures which ultimately serve to deprive women of their agency. (500) Days of Summer knows that the manic pixie dream girl composite is born out of this misconception. So, Tom is rebuked when he tells  Summer, “you just do what you want, don’t you?”.  Somehow, to Tom, Summer not falling in love with him was is an awful crime. You should develop more about the manic pixie dream girl idea! That’s super interesting :)

(500) Days of Summer helped me understand that becoming an adult is about developing empathy. By the end, we can only hope, that Tom understands that Summer not loving him is not an attack on his manhood, but more of just a mere reflection of his inability to communicate or listen effectively. As I reflect (500) Days of Summer at age twenty, I realize that it wasn’t Summer who was the jerk; it was me.

Bobalicious Definition Make My Bank Go Broke-o: A Comprehensive Ranking of Claremont Boba

Emma Wu Shortt '20

Restaurant Columnist

If, like me, you’re a shameless boba tea addict, chances are you’ve ventured to a few boba spots in Claremont. Here are my personal favorite picks:

  1. T & Joy

Tea rating: 5/5

Boba rating: 5/5

Price: $$

If you’re looking for traditional Taiwanese tea, you cannot go wrong with the delicious tea here. My personal favorites are the Jasmine Milk Tea, and if you’re looking for something a little fancier, I’d try the Hokkaido Milk Tea. The boba is delicious with a hint of honey and brown sugar and it is always made fresh twice a day so no crunchy middle or sour aftertaste! If you’re an adventurous tea drinker, I recommend trying their Cheese Crema topping: it’s tangy and reminiscent of cheesecake!

 

  1. TPumps

Tea rating: 5/5

Boba rating: 4/5

Price: $$

There’s a reason that TPumps has migrated here all the way from foggy Francisco: their tea is simply amazing! If you’re a picky boba drinker this place is for you, as they give you the option to specify your sweetness levels! Although their honey boba is delicious, it simply cannot compare to T & Joy’s. Try it out and let me know if you disagree!

       

  1. Tocaja

Tea rating: 4/5

Boba rating: 3/5

Price: $

Ah yes the ever popular Tocaja. If you ever need a sweet study spot with hipster vibes I cannot recommend this joint enough. Although many would disagree, I would say Tocaja boba is a more westernized boba tea, albeit still delicious.

 

  1. Sanamluang

Tea rating: 4/5

Boba rating: 3/5

Price: $

Although Sanamluang is technically a Thai restaurant not a boba shop (try their Fried Rice and Tom Kah Soup seriously...they’re incredible!), they had to make it on this list. This is because their Lychee Boba Slushie is so freaking good I cannot hype it enough. Also I’ve heard some great things about their Thai Tea!

 

  1. Coop Store

Tea rating: ⅗

Boba rating ⅖

Price $

Oh boy...well I thought I’d include the Coop just for convenience’s sake. But I don’t know if I would really categorize their boba tea as real boba. However, I can vouch for their Passionfruit Green Tea; it's very good!

 

If you’re wondering what the general Scripps population thinks about the boba options in Claremont, is the ranking from a poll I posted in the facebook group:

  1. Tocaja

  2. TPumps

  3. T & Joy

  4. Fruizen

  5. Sanamluang

  6. Mix Bowl

 

Happy Boba drinking!

 


 

Rose's Reading Recs

Rose Gelfand '21

Reading Columnist

IF YOU LIKE: 2pac, Biggie Smalls, Chance the Rapper, Noname, Childish Gambino, or any rap/hip-hop/poetry really

YOU SHOULD READ: Dated Emcees by Chinaka Hodge

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This is the first book I’m recommending in this column because Chinaka Hodge is, in my opinion, one of the best and most underrated poets of this generation. Dated Emcees is a fierce and brilliant collection of poetry in which Hodge “examines her love life through the lens of hip-hop’s best-known orators, characters, archetypes and songs” (taken from the back of the book). As Daveed Diggs says, “she writes with the grace of a dancer, the bars of a rapper, the heart of your best friend, and all of the swag and soul of Oakland.” Women are so often left out of the hip-hop narrative, and Hodge’s poems not only express hip-hop history, but they also give voice to this rarely heard side of the experience. For instance, in sex on a tour bus, she writes about being lovers with a famous artist, jokingly calling herself a groupie. In the poem, she realizes “it is always going to be us. me titties uneven and fatter than the girls in the front row and you ravenous for me anyway. (56)” As a culture, we devour the stories of famous men and the experiences that inspired their art but rarely do we get to hear the point of view of the person the art is about. Rarely are the muses and girlfriends and side chicks given the opportunity to speak, but Hodge picks up the pen and gives these experiences voice, turning the gaze back on the male artist. Chinaka also plays with form in a seemingly effortless fashion with poems like small poems for Big an elegy/poem for Biggie Smalls comprised of 24 haikus, one for each year he lived, and 2pac couplets with one line for each year he lived. In Dated Emcees, hip-hop is intimately personal. It is a mother, an uncle, a brother, a friend, a lover and a self all in one. Hodge explores herself and the world with striking honesty, navigating love, loss, humor, black womanhood and more.  

(Also even if you aren’t a fan of hip-hop, I promise you will love this book. IT IS SO DAMN GOOD)

 

IF YOU LIKE: Hunger by Roxanne Gay

YOU SHOULD READ: Tender Points by Amy Berkowitz (content warning: chronic pain and sexual violence)

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In Tender Points, Amy Berkowitz brilliantly weaves a story of trauma’s physical effect on the body and what happens when patriarchy intersects with health. She simultaneously explores her experiences with developing and naming fibromyalgia, grapples with the memory gaps of her history with sexual violence, and confronts the myth of female hysteria and invalidation of female pain. While Berkowitz’s writing centers on her own experiences, she speaks with a collective voice. She writes in sporadic bursts, layering the narrative with anecdotes, quotes, metaphors, and experiences and then weaving them back in later sections. This book explores how nonlinear healing from trauma is, and so in this way, the form matches the content perfectly. By the end of the book, sexual violence, gender, and physical pain are all melded into each-other, inseparable in their messiness, shame, and ubiquity. However, Berkowitz unearths some of that shame, giving voice and legitimacy to the intimate struggles of so many whose suffering goes unspoken and unnamed. I highly recommend this book to people living with chronic pain and/or working through their own healing processes of any kind and/or want to learn more about how health and gender intersect and/or just want to read some really good prose.

 


IF YOU HATE: What capitalism makes people do for money, the commodification of art

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YOU SHOULD WATCH: "Written to be Yelled at Trump Tower During a Vigil for The NEA" by Sam Sax

For every installment I’ll include a poem or collection that is accessible for free on the internet, cause let's be real, books are expensive! I don’t want to explain/spoil this too much since it is just a single poem that you can watch immediately, but I will say Sam Sax is one of my favorite poets of all time. He somehow manages to write poems that hold up both on the page and on stage without needing any sort of translation (those who write for both know how incredibly difficult this is!). I heard this poem for the first time and immediately wanted to listen to it on repeat for days. Sax articulates all the mixed feelings that come with being an artist in a money-driven world. He writes:

I’ve got a government approved sadness / I’ve got a government approved debt / I got a government who wants my loved ones filled with bullets / filling prisons / it’s sick / how money is always disturbing the dead / always making us declare our lives against the price of oil / but still, you gotta pay to live /

Check out the full poem! https://tinyurl.com/ybg7c9rt


Tune in next issue, for more Rose’s reading recs!