In this week’s issue, Ariel Levy shares her experience of losing a baby: http://nyr.kr/1cNB4Fh
Illustration by Jeffrey Decoster.
Women ages 3 to 84 answer, “what inspires you about STEM?”
Quoted as wanting something that “feels black” for her new album, Miley Cyrus switches between embracing and distancing herself from the genre she seeks validation from. In a severe overestimation of her abilities, she said, “A lot of people wanted to try to make me the white Nicki Minaj. That’s not what I’m trying to do.” A month later: “Lil Kim is who I am on the inside.”
Like most dress-up games, racial drag is an exercise in fantasy, one that can exist only when femininity is constructed around whiteness, which in turn is constructed around purity. A desire to rebel against such a buttoned-up ethos leaves the white girl desperate for an identity through which to distinguish herself. To this end, white Americans have always been able to use black people.
Black women’s sexuality has been historically presented as deviant and exaggerated, somehow more “primitive.” The thrill of appropriation lies in accessing the perceived authenticity of black sexuality, the success of appropriation lies in abandoning its natural form. Transfer to a white body elevates the action. It’s no longer primitive because while nonwhite culture is assumed to be rooted in instinct, white culture is one of intent. Elaborate nail art, like the kind Miley wears now, appears stylish on a white girl but described as “ghetto” on a black girl because on the white girl, it’s an aesthetic choice whereas black girls just don’t know any better. White people clamoring to up their cred by appropriating nonwhite culture do so hoping to be rewarded for choices that are falsely seen as inherent in people of color. It’s this savvy that Miley wants us to be convinced of.
Airbnb’s New York Problem
James Surowiecki on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s wide-ranging subpoena to Airbnb: http://nyr.kr/16vY1Ia
“By helping people easily rent their apartments to vacationers, Airbnb is challenging entrenched economic interests (the hotel industry) and a system of regulation that’s designed to deal with corporate hoteliers, not individual landlords.”
Photograph by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty.
"The present war in Afghanistan, now nearly 12 years old, has affected the lives of millions of women. Many have been victimized; others have played the roles of soldiers, insurgents, politicians, caregivers, and much more. NATO nations have sent thousands of female troops into the conflict, assigned to combat teams as well as support positions. And the women of Afghanistan have been caught in attacks from all sides — restricted by conservative laws, traumatized by bombings, and victimized at home. According to the UN, the rate of violence against Afghan women is on the rise, even as the number of civilian casualties have been dropping."
Janet Malcolm profiles Eileen Fisher, the creator of the eponymous clothing line known for its “elegant plainness.” (subscription required) http://nyr.kr/181ZzJZ
“Words like ‘simple’ and ‘tasteful’ and colors like black and gray come to mind along with images of women of a certain age and class—professors, editors, psychotherapists, lawyers, administrators—for whom the hiding of vanity is an inner necessity.”
Mark Mahaney/Courtesy Eileen Fisher.