i totally don’t get tumblr and think it’s stupid. so there.
you know, her response is well-written, but after nearly 30 years of only reading more intelligent, intellectually-demanding work by female (and male) writers (and some occasional dumb web humor), i’ve finally, at 30 years old, started reading stuff like xojane.com. and i really appreciate having a chatty, conversational outlet for stuff like where to buy good bras or what skin products or mascaras are best - from writers who have personalities so you can have some basis for trusting/distrusting their posts. there are countless outlets for smart writing right now, and i just don’t buy that emily posting this video diminishes any of them. i’m still reading them. and skipping that post on xojane.com and reading her great post on weight loss and reading someone else’s post about dry shampoos.
stunt journalism can be lame, sure, but it’s not a sex-specific issue. and for all the talk of girls being afraid to assert themselves intellectually and being taught that the only thing they’re good for is their appearance, there is absolutely a fear for many intelligent girls i’ve known of embracing their femininity or any frivolous interests for fear of being sell-outs or undermining our intellectual achivements.
I admit that I have never felt that I’m the target demo for “women’s media,” whether in mainstream or alt-lady form. I don’t really give a shit about “fashion” beyond trying to figure out what looks good on me and maybe what necklaces might be pretty cool, I find the “here’s the agribusiness PR mail that we got this week” pose of all the health stuff absolutely wearying and ultimately incoherent, and I find the anti-intellectualism inherent in the table of contents’ offerings to be quite stifling and ultimately pushing our world toward a definition of womanhood that involves shopping and fucking and pick-a-little-talk-a-littling about the results of both (with some added bits of inanity about people who do not give a shit about you, trust) when all’s said and done.
I kind of had hopes for the Internet with regards to allowing women to push boundaries of what they could be and how they could portray themselves, especially as Bust devolved into the Etsy version of Marie Claire and Bitch wrapped itself in academic jargon so tightly you could hear it gasping for air (never mind its pre-Internet branding decision that resulted in it having to censor its “edgy” name in every email it sends out in spam-filter-rife 2011). But, you know, things didn’t really work out that way, because instead of letting a thousand flowers bloom, the economics of online content dictate strip-mining every field except the one that grows the superflowers, with technicolor blossoms and vines that snake around everything slightly outside the pageview-hoarding purview. So you have the hypersexist monolith that is “most of the media, especially the sites that are mostly just pictures of young female hatefuckable celebrities,” and then you have the sites specifically for women, each of which has its own problems with figuring out the exact metallurgy possessed by the gender.
Which brings us to XOJane, which right now (SORRY MATT EALER) has a “short film about choice” that involves Emily McCombs—who earlier today let out her feelings (complete with pictures!) on losing a ton of weight in an essay that I thought was very well-written and brave (if in slight need of editing)—taking a pregnancy test on camera. She brings the camera into the bathroom and you get to be there as she pees on the stick and gives a speech on the importance of choice while she’s waiting for the result. (Which is negative.) (Here is where I should also note that this is “sponsored content” by a shoe company.)
I mean I fully admit that I am uptight about a lot of things. The rise of people going to parties just to take pictures of one another instead of to actually talk to one another. My looks. (Yes, related.) The hypersexualization of society, from Smurf porn on up. There’s tons more, and if you ply me with enough wine I will tell you about it. But I just feel like this “LOOK AT ME, WORLD, AND LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I WANT YOU TO SEE ME” pose put forth by XOJane and other similarly siren.jpg-studded sites for ladies is both not sustainable and drowning out voices possessed by women who might not be comfortable with sharing every sexy/salacious/OMG-worthy detail of their lives (or who might not already be celebrities, which is another topic for another post) as a way to care about Important Issues. I know, I know, you have to put forth the chocolate to get kids to eat the vegetables, but lately the Internet feels like it’s all chocolate, with the angry parts being I guess the kind that has a couple of serrano peppers chopped in for good measure. And it goes back to what I was saying when the site launched a mere three months ago: What happens when these women who are being pushed to mine their lives for high-volume content sites run out of stories? Well, I guess one answer is “go into the bathroom with a Flipcam.”
And yes I know that I am part of the problem by pointing at this on the Internet and saying “hey this exists! what?!” But if I can raise my voice on the side of the people who just have something to say, and who shouldn’t have to resort to stunt journalism and putting forth salacious details in order to get their point of view paid attention to by at least a sliver of the ever-distractable masses, then, you know, I think it all evens out.
Girl is pretty on point.
At the bottom of the pile
buried, and missing a cover
there is a book.
It isn’t a popular book
and the author’s name
you’d never know.
But it is truly a work of art
written just for you.
Inside, somewhere near the middle pages,
there is a sentence
that best describes your life
and answers all the questions you’ve ever had.
you’ll never read it
because it is getting late
and you have work in the morning
and you are already thinking about
how to beat traffic.
… but either haven’t been to yet, or haven’t been to in ages, sometimes in part because my husband is vegan & my most frequent meal companion. or sometimes because vegetarian options are also limited.
- genessee royale
- you say tomato
- happy gillis
- dog nuvo
- chai shai
- the good you food truck
- room 39 (i’m promised they have a good veggie burger)
- pizza bella
- classic cookie
i’m forgetting many. hrm.
Above, pergolas on the Paseo, Kansas City, 1900. From American city planning since 1890 by Mel Scott. Notice the benches between the doric columns.
The City Beautiful was an urban movement that gained momentum c. 1890-1900s, mainly in North America. It was an age of monuments that were…
I believe this is longer than tumblr posts are supposed to be but it is what it is.
- I’ve now been to 48 states - all of the contiguous ones. Alaska & Hawaii are all that remain between me and complete conquest.
- I like getting on a highway and driving the hell out of it. I particularly like the idea of taking it to its terminus, though we didn’t do that on this trip. I still would like to get on I-29, keep blowing past Fargo, and head up to Manitoba and further north.
- Fargo is pretty neat. It seemed like the sort of town that the hip kids would rep hard, and while I’m not positive that is the case, it had all the touchstones I require in a livable city: Thai food, indie movie theater, indie bookstore, locally owned coffee shop, and the ability to live in an urban core, no matter how large. Bonus points go to Xtreme Pizza Kitchen for keeping Sid in vegan pizza.
- Bismarck is a real dump. It has no thai food, indie theater or bookstore. I guess it probably has a coffee shop somewhere, but there was zero evidence of residential in the desolate, tiny downtown. We considered getting Mexican food, but the joint we stopped at was thoroughly un-vegetarian - the refried beans were cooked in lard, the black beans (usually the safe alternative) were cooked in bacon, and the rice was cooked in chicken broth. We ended up at Olive Garden.
- We saw a lot of two things on the road in North Dakota: flooding and “world’s largest” stuff. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that North Dakota was the Land of a Thousand Lakes. The fields on both sides of the interstate were filled with standing water. The only indications that this was not the normal state of things were the fences running through the lakes and the railroad tracks running barely above the surface of the water.
- I’ve read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and just prior to our trip read David Laskin’s The Children’s Blizzard, so I spend a lot of time thinking about the immigration patterns and poverty of the prairie. I like driving through the tiny towns on the state highways and wondering how many people are left, what they do, and whether they plan to stay. I wonder which towns have the high school and how far kids have to come from their ranches to go to school, and how many other kids get home schooled because it’s just easier. On our trip we hit the Enchanted Highway, a stretch of road leading from the Gladstone, ND exit on I-94 south to Regent, ND - one of those shrinking towns. A local man schemed to change that by leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, in the form of gigantic, whimsical (I rarely use that word but I believe it is appropriate in this case) metal sculptures at intervals of a few miles along the 30 mile stretch.
That trip was worthwhile though ended up with a cranky, achy Sid when I guided us for two hours through country roads to Regent, only realizing at the last minute that we then had to drive north the 30 miles toward the interstate to see everything. Just taking I-94 west would have saved us well over an hour of driving. Oops. I can genuinely say I didn’t mind. That drive on the state highways through the lovely rolling prairie, seeing the abrupt cuts from erosion and the very content-seeming cattle, was one of my favorite parts of the week. We happened upon historical markers noting the old stage coach trail between Bismarck and Deadwood ran through these tiny towns, beautiful horse farms, and ballsy trees that had made a go out of it out there on the windy prairie. It was great. Sid agrees on all those points but thinks it would have been greater if we’d made it to our little cabin in the Badlands on schedule.
- But we did find this:
- Instead, we were wending our way through South Dakota as night fell and thunderstorms rolled in. We stopped in a town called Faith (where Sue the T. Rex was found!) for provisions and the hit the road as rain started. But about 20 miles out, we both grew increasingly nervous about the reports of golf ball sized hail and flash flooding in the already-flooded and pitch blank land. We turned back and ended up staying at the Prairie Vista Inn.
- Suddenly these posts get really long and I realize I’ve said absolutely nothing - left out the good parts of what I’ve already described, and already have several days left I’ve not even touched. - Despite multiple people insisting Mt. Rushmore was small, anticlimactic, and even a complete waste of time, we were impressed by it. Perhaps because our expectations were so lowered? But truly, I don’t know what people were wanting out of it that they weren’t getting. The real highlight, though, was the Dwight Eisenhower root beer in the cafeteria.
- Do eat a doughnut at Wall Drug, though I must admit to being a little let down by the place itself. I expected an epic, trashy tourist experience; it turned out to be slightly less than epic. - Don’t overthink the dubious ethics of the roadside stop where you can feed prairie dogs. That ship has sailed, these prairie dogs want their Unsalted Prairie Dog Food (peanuts). At least they’re not being kept in a concrete swimming pool, I guess. (photo from Sid)
- Do make a rest stop picnic special with a blanket.
- And do plan to travel north and west for weeks, or plan to come back soon. There’s so much to see, but it’s flung across great distances so there’s no way to do it all quickly. And the great pleasure of this part of the country is simply ambling through, admiring the landscape and waving to the cows, horses, and pheasants that are running naughtily across the highway.
- And while I love the thrill of reaching the ocean or the power and reach of a mountain range, it’s becoming clear to me these last few years that I find the prairie more enchanting than either. It possesses the vastness of the ocean, the irregularity and strength of the mountains, but with a subtlety and accessibility that the other two lack.
I remain suspicious of Tumblr. It seems too easy to put things on the Innertubez anymore. But I’ve given in, here’s my account, and in six months to a year it will undoubtedly be one of the many accounts on the many Web 2.0+ wonders of the last ten years.
Maybe I will post my write-up of my recent Dakotas vacation. MAYBE.