Despite President Trump’s fatuous protests about the “Deep State,” we seem to be in a similar place with respect to entertainment relating to the intelligence community, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in particular.
There are few things in American life more problematic or pratfall-prone than a privileged, straight white man like myself holding forth on the topic of feminism. The innumerable things that men know about the universe and are happy—happy?, no delighted—to tell women about even has its own word now—“mansplaining,” a term I am sure nearly everyone reading this has heard at least once in their life. I’m fortunate enough to have been accused of mansplaining twice just this week, so allow me to explain to the uninitiated how mansplaining works—mansplaining occurs when a man …
Perhaps the most surprising fact about the recent Women’s Marches is not that they have become an annual event, or that these marches sprung forth all over the globe from Washington, D.C. to Paradise Bay, Antarctica. No, if an alarm should be raised, it’s due to the non-committal response of the patriarchy: a grunt from the woods.
Male liberal politicians have offered lip service but spent little political capital pushing comprehensive legislation to eliminate the problems that bedevil women’s lives: domestic violence, insufficient health care, and unequal pay. Male conservative operators have predictably been dismissive or patronizing. Media coverage of the marches has consisted of male commentators talking while women are trapped in a small box at the corner of the screen, silenced.
By the time Kathy Acker died, in the autumn of 1997, I was nineteen and fully under her spell, having discovered her just a few years before. Her work brought me to all sorts of feelings—lust, rage, shame, guilt, rebellion, liberation, ecstasy, transgression, indulgence. If you were the type of nineties kid I was, piercings and tattoos and all kinds of body modifications interested you, and so her look—buzz-cut bleached blonde in a leather jacket with smeared red lipstick and smudged black eyeliner, with all sorts of visible ink and metal—appealed as well. She looked like a rock star and even now I think she was the only one the literary world ever really got. At one point, a wealthy Manhattan artist I briefly fell in love with gifted me one of her original proofs for The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec, which I keep next to my bed at all times. It feels lucky somehow.
If you are hungry for complicated layers of displacement spiked with an uneasiness of any sort of assimilation, as I am, Alex Dimitrov’s poetry might feel like just the right home for your homelessness. Bulgaria-born and Detroit-raised, Dimitrov [...]
“Career woman” is a term that enjoyed a certain vogue across the latter half of the twentieth century. An American idiom much bound to the eighties but coined in the thirties, under the guise of defining what a woman is, the phrase points emphatically to what she is not: “a woman whose career is more important to her than getting married and having children.” An archetype born of its time, the career woman is bound to that era’s signature medium: The movies helped midwife her into Western culture; on film she was made unruly (and almost always white) flesh, fed on drive and solo popcorn dinners, dressed in power colors, and sent into an unreconstructed world, where her success or failure typically depended on her willingness to obey a more natural order. There is, of course, no such thing as a career man.
I once asked my mother, a well-educated, exceedingly competent woman, why she served as someone’s assistant for the majority of her professional life, yet always took a leadership role in volunteer organizations (president of the PTA and director of nearly every church committee on which she’s ever served, for example). Her response was unequivocal: “Your grandmother always told me that I would never be anything other than a secretary.” Mothers—“They fuck you up,” Philip Larkin wrote. “They may not mean to, but they do.”