Now we’re losing the plot
In this week's edition: monsters, moms, Christian Girl Autumn and Ina Garten
Links is a free weekly newsletter with a simple premise: I read tons of stuff on the internet, and this is the best of it. You can hit reply to send your own links. You can also follow me on Twitter. And if you want to support the newsletter, please tell your friends. Or enemies, really! I take all comers.
Much has been made, in the past two days, of the many, many interruptions of Mike Pence. He interrupted Susan Page. He interrupted Kamala Harris. He reminded a million competent and oft-muffled women exactly how many times a male colleague or classmate or airplane seatmate had interrupted them.
But we’re used to that, honestly. It’s our lived experience. And if we’re going to hand-wring over sexist, antediluvian behavior, I’m far more hung up on Pence’s deeply weird praise for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. “She's a brilliant woman,” Pence said — good so far! — “and she will bring a lifetime of experience” — great! — “and a sizable American family” — now we’re losing the plot!!! — “to the Supreme Court of the United States.” In other words, Coney Barrett’s intellect and offspring *each* equally qualify her to serve in government. As if, by extension, women who are not mothers are not qualified to serve; are somehow suspect, unnatural, deficient.
This seems a uniquely backward take for 2020. After all, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic that — among other damning revelations! — has shown the absurd burdens society puts on working mothers, in or out of politics.
But ironically, the debate wasn’t this week’s only television special to push the women-must-be-mothers narrative. I *devoured* this Longreads essay about the sexual politics of the new Maleficent movie on Disney Plus, and the ways in which generations of Disney animators propagated the myth that women are only suited to power if they have children.
It’s impossible to read this essay — or the film, which I admittedly haven’t seen — as anything but a metaphor for our current moment. Women who have power, but not children, are consistently cast as monsters or witches, author Jeanna Kadlec argues. They pose a threat to the (cis, male, hetero) status quo in a way that moms perhaps do not, presumably because mothers have a vested interest in the safety and wellbeing of their children. Notably, Trump has taken to calling Kamala Harris, who has stepchildren, a “monster.” And Disney, as if to prove just how non-threatening mothers are, often disposes of them all together.
But Lord, don’t you wish that in 2020 … we were further along? I’d much rather see our female leaders as “monsters,” I think, than as “Momolas.”
If you read anything this weekend
This ever-so-soothing profile of national (ahem, childless) treasure Ina Garten. Truly, a balm in these enraging times! More comforting than a pan of roast chicken. [Matthew Schneier / The Cut]
This markedly less-soothing profile of the Citigroup executive who secretly brought QAnon to the masses. I’m deliberately cutting back on QAnon links, but love the man-behind-the-curtain unmasking of this. [William Turton and Joshua Brustein / Businessweek]
This journey into the origins, and the aftermath, of a very viral poem. You have almost definitely read Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones.” [Dan Kois / Slate]
These two lengthy reconsiderations of early-aughts internet culture. Is there a reason we’re all navel-gazing about this period right now? Is there some internet culture reunion coming up? Regardless, these pieces both make the convincing case that we dropped the ball on misinfo and harassment. [Abby Ohlheiser / Technology Review & Helen Lewis / The Atlantic]
This essay on how Google Streetview skews our understanding of the world. A little more academic than our usual Links fodder. But this had me from the (maybe-obvious-but-new-to-me?) revelation that Streetview never shows winter. [Lara Chapman / Real Life]
And now for something completely different
Christian Girl Autumn. Copaganda. Tweets with the same energy. How hate came to dominate U.S. politics and why your pandemic ebook habit worries libraries. The story of Mackenzie Bezos, who gets too little attention. The story of Claudia Conway, who gets far too much. This new social network wants to enforce “kindness,” which feels either naïve or very (!) ambitious.
“They were careless people. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness.” Kinda stressed about the lengths middling startups will go to snag whatever influencer is trendy at the moment. Another good read on the #FreeBritney saga. Meet TikTok’s biggest beatmaker. Last but not least: a cheery long-read on the surprising pleasures of paper planners.
Sharing is caring
Consistently fun!!!! Consistently! This is truly what I aim for. IRL my fun-ness yo-yos wildly with sleep, coffee and weather. But Doctor Popular knows consistency. Also yo-yos. He *consistently* does very cool yo-yo tricks, which you can watch on Instagram. THANK YOU to him & everyone else who shares this newsletter. Your referrals are the main way it finds new readers!