The Butter

The Butter is an essay series edited by Roxane Gay.

  1. "Men like to act as if commanding women's attention is their birthright, their natural due, and they are rarely contradicted. It's a radical act to refuse them that attention. It's even more radical to propose that if they want it so fucking much, they can buy it." from “Where’s My Cut?”: On Unpaid Emotional Labor

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  2. The therapist looked disgusted when I told her Quentin's idea of foreplay was an erection against my leg. I felt vindicated. Even she was repulsed by my husband. Our magnetic fields repelled each other on the loveseat. “Thanks for that,” Quentin said in the car. “If it wasn't true I wouldn't say it.” “Did you see the look she gave me?” I wondered what he expected after all this time. “I forget what it's like…

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  3. Genesis

    The knot descends on the pit of my stomach when I cross the Potomac, tightening as I make my way south. I barely notice Virginia. North Carolina greets me with tobacco farms, their large green leaves rolling out before me for acres. They die a bit each year, a cancer wrought on the terrain. I pass the pig trucks on the highway, their cargo tainted with purple blotches, bound for the slaughterhouse. I meet the…

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  4. Episode

    Things That Are Meant To Make You Feel Safe And Comfortable In A Psych Ward That Just Make You Feel Crazier: Writing in crayons Eating meat with a spoon Measuring time in meals and snacks The conspicuous lack of plastic I predicted this would happen. This is not impressive in the slightest, as this outcome was obvious given my history. Yet I was still left shaky and confused by just how accurate my precognition was,…

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  5. When I was a kid I spent the better part of August standing with my grandfather on the spongy dirt floor of his basement, canning tomatoes and making sausages amid the smell of mold and mud. Even in the dead of winter, when the earth was frozen and the atmosphere static, the basement’s mustiness was inescapable. If you only went down there for a minute— to grab a jar of pickles or bring up an…

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  6. Tucked away on English Street is a small apartment complex of twelve units. It doesn’t look like an apartment complex from the cobblestone roads, which is what makes it so perfect. Maybe not, though. It doesn’t look like an apartment complex so the police might pass it by, lights flashing, sirens wailing, before, finally, the cop in the passenger’s seat says, “Pull over, for fuck’s sake it’s supposed to be right here!” The apartment is…

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  7. Dear Bear, How do I move on from thinking life is miserable to actually enjoying the happiness I have found? I spent much of my teens sitting in my room with the company of power ballads like Heart’s Alone, progressing to the angsty grunge of the '90s and then the lesbian cliche of Indigo Girls. These songs were comforting and confirmed my view that life is lonely and full of sadness. I battled my way…

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  8. Aubrey Hirsch's previous Loco Parentis columns for The Butter can be found here. In June, I gave birth to a baby boy. His father, his big brother and I all welcomed him home together. He is pink and perfect. And he’s my last baby. Even through the electronic ether of cyberspace I can feel you tearing up at those words, those incredibly loaded words: LAST BABY. But please don’t. I’m not sad. I’m not…

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  9. "Tita," my eleven-year-old niece says. "Why are you always talking about yogurt?"

    *

    I am living in the Philippines on a Fulbright fellowship for half a year, so the only way I can see my loved ones back home in the U.S. is through videochat. The twelve-hour time difference and the spotty online connection in my Manila condo means that when we do appear on each other's laptops, the moment is precious. I hadn't…

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  10. When Maggie Nelson and Harry Dodge fell in love it was a love irrevocable, shot through with want and give, “feral with vulnerability.” During the wild time of first falling she and Harry (writer and artist) discussed the conundrum of inexpressibility: “We argued and argued on this account, full of fever, not malice. Once we name something, you said, we can never see it the same way again.” But this is not dire; this is…

  11. Laura Sook Duncombe's previous Literary Ladies Cage Fight columns for The Butter can be found here. Hey gal-pals! Welcome to Literary Ladies Cage Fight—where we celebrate women of novels and plays by making them fight. When women are celebrated, everyone’s a winner! Each week, the ladies go five rounds in pre-selected categories, winning one point for each round. At the end of five rounds, the lady with the most points wins! I’m Aphrodite, goddess…

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  12. Mmmmmm. A towering stack of Buttered goodness to ease you into the weekend. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head in wonder as you dig in to the deliciousness. We recommend the EVERYTHING:

    “What people remembered her for were the pubic hair portraits.” Death, family, feminism, something like art.

    Mensah on changing jobs, Dre’s latest, Meek vs Drake, and La Femme, a wild French band.

    Infectious flash: “Still, maybe you should

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  13. You can tell he has the virus the day he puts his hands on your face when he kisses you, warm fingertips canting your head a few degrees bit off north, which feels sweet, not terrible at all, but is not something he’s done in twenty years of kissing you. He’s picked this up from someone else, someone infected. Later, the realization that you will both die, and soon, but first: Did the other woman…

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  14. When Sela Lowe invited her children, Aimee, Bobby, Cecelia, and Matty, to the lake at the beginning of September it was clear the invitation was more demand than request. At least, it was clear to Cecelia. The others viewed Sela’s words as law, as compact phosphorescent orbs of fact, the sort of facts told by honest-to-god truth tellers. “Righteous truths,” Matty once said to Cecelia. Whether demand or fact, Kyle kissed his wife outside the…

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  15. There’s a cool Portuguese expression called saudade that doesn’t have a direct translation into English. From what I understand it describes a feeling of longing for someone you miss, although it can also express nostalgia for an experience you’ve never actually had. Maybe saudade is what I’ve felt about the backpacking trip across Europe that I didn’t get around to taking after college, first because I didn’t have enough money, then because I didn’t have…

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