In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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Manne tosses out the common thinking that misogyny is equivalent to despising all women, and instead offers that it’s a way to keep women in their place. Misogyny, she writes, is “the system that operates within a patriarchal social order to police and enforce women’s subordination and to uphold male dominance.” Like a shock collar used to keep dogs behind an invisible fence, misogyny, she argues, aims to keep women—those who are well trained as well as those who are unruly—in line. The power of Manne’s definition comes from its ability to bring together various behaviors and events under one umbrella. If misogyny is anything that enforces women’s subordination, then it turns out that lots of phenomena fit the profile.
Executive Editor Allison Wright
Excerpt from “Kate Manne: The Shock Collar That is Misogyny,” Regan Penaluna, Guernica, February 7, 2018
For several months during his childhood there had been confused street fighting in London itself, some of which he remembered vividly. But to trace out the history of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom at any given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since no written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.
Maeve Hickey, Editorial Intern
Excerpt from 1984 by George Orwell
As kids, most of us learn to seek a sense of belonging through friendship. When we’re young, our social standing often serves as an analog for our mushy, unformed identities. In the most superficial sense, we are who we’re friends with. It’s a perilous framework, of course, leaving some kids comfortable and celebrated and others isolated and hurt. Yet even as we get older and become fully formed by experiences, layers and multitudes, we often cling to this elementary measure of self. I have yet to meet an adult who’s not somehow still dealing with whatever role they played in that exhausting high school dynamic.
Social insecurities seem to carry a disproportionate amount of shame as a result. The fear of friendlessness is deep-seated, codified into our malleable brains at too vulnerable an age to be easily dismantled. I feel fairly certain this is true, and yet, like the human-shaped pile of contradictions that I am, I still manage to believe everyone’s fine and definitely hanging out without me.
I did know that staying quiet about my sadness would do me no favors though. Within days of feeling my stormy little cloud, I started talking about it. I confided in my partner, my coworkers, my acquaintances. It felt oddly relieving to say it out loud: I wish I had more friends here.
Kate Snyder, Editorial Intern
Excerpt from “Does Everyone Have a Friendship Complex, or Just Me?” Man Repeller, Haley Nahman, February 2, 2018