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Home: The Toast

We’ll be talking to Friend Of The Toast Kate Harding a BUNCH about her new book in September, but in the meantime, she’s tearing up the press rounds with a ton of great reviews and fascinating interviews:

You point out in the book that a lot of politicians, including our current president, frequently use “wife, mother, daughter” language to talk about issues like sexual assault. You aren’t a fan of that framing. Why not?
Because it positions women as “others.” It ignores the fact that when you’re addressing the American people, 50-odd percent of them are women, and it’s sort of weird to be addressing a group of women and say, “Imagine that your wife or mother or sister was raped” – not that you wouldn’t be just as upset if they were.

It also reinforces the pernicious idea that the genders are such different creatures. (I’m speaking in terms of the mainstream-accepted gender binary here, men and women.) We’re Mars and Venus, we speak different languages. We can’t possibly just empathize with each other as human beings and imagine what it’s like to be each other. So what I say in the book is: Don’t talk about rape in terms of your mother, wife, or sister. Talk about it in terms of yourself. Imagine you’re the one who’s raped, and you go to report it to the police, and they treat you like maybe you’re the criminal. And that does happen to male victims too, so it’s not this unimaginable thing for them.

The Samuel Jackson profile is way more interesting than the Tarantino profile, MOSTLY BECAUSE:

At 66, Jackson radiates a self-assurance and contentment that ought to be bottled and sold at John Travolta’s Scientology meetings. We’re talking at a photo shoot in Los Angeles, to which he’s just returned after a three-week vacation cruising the Amalfi Coast and Côte d’Azur on Magic Johnson’s yacht. They live across the street from each other in Beverly Hills, go to the same church, and do this trip every year with their wives. Jackson always travels with 30 to 40 movies, usually old-school and emerging Asian cinema, which he watches with the guys while, he says, “the ladies watch whatever series that they didn’t binge-watch all year.”

Lunch arrives, and Jackson joins the photo crew, chowing on a lamb burger out of a takeout box. He tried veganism but abandoned it recently after “somebody threatened to fire me from a job if I didn’t gain 20 pounds,” he says. Group conversation lands on Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo, and Jackson’s manager explains to him Kondo’s philosophy of picking up every object in his house, asking if it brings him joy, and, if not, thanking it for its service and discarding it. Jackson does a double take. “Do you know how long that would take me?” he says. “A long fucking time!”

Here is Lisa Miller’s very involved look at the Slender Man attempted murder and the girls involved:

Slender Man was the most powerful and compelling of the characters that preoccupied Anissa and Morgan, but he was by no means the only one. Each girl was, differently, obsessed with a pantheon of imaginary creatures, and their friendship was built, in part, on a mutual love for tales of demons and supernatural evil. Morgan, in particular, had a rich fantasy life. Voldemort and Snape, villains from the Harry Potter series, were especially vivid to her; Voldemort she called “Voldie,” as if he were her pet. She regarded Spock, Star Trek’s Vulcan, as a mentor of sorts, a tutor in how to suppress ­emotion (one sign, perhaps, that she was aware of the extent to which her outward behavior was in need of editing). On theFacebook-page support group for Morgan, one photograph shows her wearing Spock ears; another shows her wearing a black hoodie emblazoned with the white bones of a human skeleton. Her favorite fashion accessory was a pair of black lace fingerless gloves, which she wore all the time, including during the attack (and which she left on the sink in Walmart, to her lasting regret). But all these gothic, fantastical impulses existed alongside the utterly unremarkable interests of a 12-year-old girl. A catalogue of the contents of her bedroom, made after the attack, includes her school backpack, which on that Saturday afternoon contained five volumes from The Littles series, famous children’s books about tiny people with tails who live in a human house. Also on that list: volumes of Mad Libs, the blanks filled in with a tween’s pornographic and scatological sensibility: penis, pooping, urine, horny, crapping, and “vajayjay.”

The meaning of Serena Williams (this WHOLE THING is so amazing):

Imagine you have won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, with only four losses in your 25 appearances in the finals. Imagine that you’ve achieved two ‘‘Serena Slams’’ (four consecutive Slams in a row), the first more than 10 years ago and the second this year. A win at this year’s U.S. Open would be your fifth and your first calendar-year Grand Slam — a feat last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988, when you were just 6 years old. This win would also break your tie for the most U.S. Open titles in the Open era, surpassing the legendary Chris Evert, who herself has called you ‘‘a phenomenon that once every hundred years comes around.’’ Imagine that you’re the player John McEnroe recently described as ‘‘the greatest player, I think, that ever lived.’’ Imagine that, despite all this, there were so many bad calls against you, you were given as one reason video replay needed to be used on the courts. Imagine that you have to contend with critiques of your body that perpetuate racist notions that black women are hypermasculine and unattractive. Imagine being asked to comment at a news conference before a tournament because the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpischev, has described you and your sister as ‘‘brothers’’ who are ‘‘scary’’ to look at. Imagine.

The real war on families:

Research shows that paid leave can also be a matter of life and death for children. By charting the correlation between death rates and paid leave in 16 European countries, Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia, found that a 50-week extension in paid leave was associated with a 20 percent dip in infant deaths. (The biggest drop was in deaths of babies between 1 month and 1 year old, though mortality of children between 1 and 5 years also decreased as paid leave went up.)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave, which includes parental leave and other time off to care for a family member. The highest-paid workers are most likely to have it, according to BLS numbers, with more than 1 in 5 of the top 10 percent of earners getting paid family leave, compared to 1 in 20 in the bottom quartile. Unionized workers are more likely to get benefits than nonunionized workers.

My friend Carrie’s new puppy is lying on a faux-fur throw, like the princess she is:


Five black-owned wineries you could visit instead of the Napa Wine Train.

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