Women Who Cut Through the Noise

For months, I’ve been obsessed with the question, “How do we stay with a story and think about it deeply after it passes through the news cycle?” With information moving so fast, so much of it coming at us once, and so much incentive for media companies to keep throwing it at us 100 different ways, how do we collectively just stop for a minute and wrestle with the stories and questions that are really important to us to look at in society?How do we stop and take the time we need to think about something instead of immediately getting pulled in another direction or moving on to the next big thing? Not just alone, but together?Image via Flickr.I’m not sure how to answer this question yet, but one thing that helps me slow down is listening for those writers and thinkers who chime in not just to write something, but when they actually have something to say and then say something that moves the larger conversation forward.So here is a roundup, for me, of the women and pieces that have brilliantly cut through the noise on issues related to gender everybody has been talking about… and talking about and talking about the last few months:Brittney Cooper on “The Feminist Twitter Wars” and campaigns like #CancelColbert (remember that one?) 

Anger is a legitimate political emotion. And if your life is marked by injustices big and small each and every day, then rage, too, is a legitimate political emotion. I made the choice, though, to let my rage be generative, productive rage, the kind of rage that emboldens me to build the world I want to see rather than take a sledgehammer to all the things I hate. I stay mad. But there is a method to my madness…The various social media and activist campaigns taken up by radical people of color on the left are not about censoring white folks’ speech. They are not about calling white liberals racist. They are about forcing an acknowledgment that racism is painful, harmful and unacceptable. Read more. 

Jessica Valenti on feminism and women having feelings (crazy, right?!) in response to a misogynist culture and women being harmed across the globe:

The obsession with women’s happiness – and only women’s happiness – is troubling. Underlying the constant questioning of “will we ever be satisfied”, or men patronizingly telling us to smile on the street, is the subtle insistence that women should be content with the less-than-equal lot we’ve been given in life. And, even more annoyingly, that we are not just to be satisfied with this inequality but cheerful in the face of it…After all, a social justice movement seeks justice, not contentment. The truth is a little unhappiness is good for the soul – and the movement. When I started Feministing, it wasn’t because I was happy: it was because I was frustrated.There’s nothing “happy” about fighting to end rape, to end discrimination, or for the right to be considered capable enough to decide what happens to our own bodies. Feminists aren’t pleased to point out the injustices of the world, but we know it’s necessary for change. Read more.

Rebecca Traister on Jill Ambramson’s firing and the complexity of gender equity in the workplace:

The impulse to boil down questions of identity politics to yes-no, cause-and-effect, not-x-but-y conclusions is easy to understand.Those who fully commit to the bias narrative, blaming firings and losses on long-established double-standards, are able to convert the anguish they feel over the serious failings of a representative figure into righteous anger. Righteousness is, on the whole, a far more pleasurable sensation than chronic disillusionment.Meanwhile, those convinced that identity had no part in whatever drama has just unfolded can more quickly move past that drama and get back to work, their hands clean of any of the prejudices we want to believe live in the past…Continuing to turn over these complexities is not about wagging fingers at The New York Times as some singularly sexist place. In fact, to suggest that The New York Times still struggles with diversity—a struggle that clearly does not end with the appointment of a female or an African-American editor—is to say, mostly, that it is a deeply American institution. There is grim symmetry in the fact that of its opinion columnists, arguably its most public voices, 18 percent (two of 11) are female, a figure that almost perfectly corresponds to the percentage of women in Congress (18.5). Read more.

Each of these folks have written a bunch of pieces since these three were published, but I’ll be sitting with these big ideas for a while and trying to let them sink in.Slow media. What a concept.