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“It has been a year of math. How many less-famous women equal one famous man? How many female words of accusation equal how many male words of denial? How many reported articles does it take to topple one network executive? How many women’s careers derailed add up to nine months of a man’s professional banishment? How many credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault render a Presidential candidate unelectable? (Answer: some number greater than twenty.) #MeToo has made us all into algebra students, solving and re-solving for x and y.
There is something almost cathartic about turning into a number, about seeing your value, or lack thereof, confirmed with frankness and neutrality. Math is the enemy of gray areas. Math is pay inequalities and rape statistics. The literal meaning and the enthralling promise of the phrase “held to account” is that one might open the books and force a settlement.
In the arts, too, gendered power analyses often manifest as quantification: How many male writers do we read versus how many female? How many books by men versus women earn reviews in how many magazines, and how many awards do the books receive, and what are the gender compositions of the judging committees? The understanding is that decisions about who gets noticed and praised have implications for what kinds of viewpoints and behaviors are enshrined as valid. In May, the author Lauren Groff submitted a “By the Book” interview to the Times that functioned as a rebuke to previous iterations of the column, in which prominent men of letters frequently proved themselves unable to name any female literary influences on their work. (A subsequent analysis found that, in the hundred most recent “By the Book” ’s, half of the fifty-four male authors featured did not mention a single woman.) “Why does it almost always seem as though they have only read one or two women in their lives?” Groff asked, after outlining a remedial, all-female syllabus. Her critique energized a hashtag, #ReadMoreWomen, that had emerged in March, along with a no-men-allowed book club run by the Web site Electric Literature. Implicit in these salvos was the notion that the ledgers need rebalancing—that until parity is achieved, the number of male-authored stories that anyone should consume is zero.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."
"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."
"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."
""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""
"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."
"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."
"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."
"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."
"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."
"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."
"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."
"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."