Hello hello hello!
This has been a whirlwind of a week, and I’ve been writing pretty much non-stop! You can see my first column on A.Side this week, which is exciting, and get ready for two more before March is over. Passover is also on the horizon, with all its associated preparation, so that’s where my head is at lol.
I’m sure everyone is still struggling from the finale of All Stars 3 (I don’t even wanna talk about it), so let’s just get this started. If you haven’t already, click this link to subscribe to Hot Take-Aways and get these in your inbox every week, along with exclusive subscriber content.
Here are your Hot Take-Aways for the week of March 16, 2018!
If you read nothing else this week:
- A Defense of Third Worldism From the Third World (Anticonquista)
- Joshua Whitehead: Why I’m Withdrawing From My Lambda Literary Award Nomination (Tiahouse)
- A Brief History of Katy Perry’s Legal Battle with Some Nuns (Noisey)
Y’all already know that one of my biggest research and writing interests is the politics of narrative, and I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. Here, Harron Walker delivers layers of self-reflection in her profile of writer Torrey Peters, who is committed to challenging our perceptions and depictions of trans women. There is a thread of nervousness that runs through this piece; her description of Peters’ work and their conversation demands that viewers see trans women in complex ways, as human beings, and the consequences of this kind of reflection may be lost on some readers. This piece is complicated in ways that bear a rereading; Harron is a capable writer, and it’s interesting to watch her think through a concept in multiple spaces (whether on a podcast, in her column, or in our conversations). She invites the reader to broaden their understandings along with her by engaging with Walker as she engages with Peters’ work.
Content warning for discussion of misogyny and sexual harassment
This story is an incredibly detailed and thorough investigation of the precarious and toxic climate that women, and especially BIWOC, are forced to navigate in working on Parliament Hill. The Canadian government only recently introduced some legislation to protect government workers. But as this report shows, that legislation is inconsistent, incoherent, and often ineffective in the face of a Parliamentary workplace culture that consistently prioritizes the experiences of white men with fancy titles. It’s a difficult subject to report on with sensitivity, yet Hilary Beaumont successfully covers many bases and leaves little wiggle room for men to avoid accountability by crawling out of. This is a fantastic and upsetting piece of reporting that I hope will bring about necessary changes for more of Canada’s unprotected women workers.
JP Brammer discusses of Frida Kahlo’s complicated public image, her own convoluted personal narrative, and the varied legacies that have been drawn from it by commercial and community entities. Brammer avoids some of the common pitfalls of identity-based journalism, evading sweeping statements, leaning into complexity, and fleshing out details where necessary. I really liked this piece. Brammer pulls some punches, yes, but the end result is that his work ends up reading as more reportage than polemic, which I think is what the subject calls for. Our icons should never be idols, and I’m always interested in work that lets us critique the process of storytelling without disparaging those who have been helped by the stories told.
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Sandy and Nora Talk Politics — Episode 12: Douggie F, the New Leader of the Ontario PC Party (link)
This podcast is quickly becoming one of my favourites. Institutional memory can be hard to come by, but Sandy Hudson and Nora Loreto have it in spades, along with organizing acumen and an unbridled distaste for electoral pandering. Not only is the information here functional for anyone connected to Ontario politics, but it’s also incredibly satisfying to hear people who know what they’re talking about talking shit about the likes of Doug Ford et al and the lacklustre progressive options in provincial politics.
Beyond Negativity: What Comes After Gender Nihilism? — Alyson Escalante, Medium (link)
Since even before its initial publication in 2016, the ideas Alyson Escalante outlined in Gender Nihilism have generated both positive and negative heat from within the trans and feminist community. A frank, polemic, and undoubtedly radical critique of contemporary gender identity discourse, Gender Nihilism argued in favour of dismantling the class relations contained in the categories of “gender,” right down to the conceptual level.
But Escalante herself has had a complicated relationship with the text (she’s responded to it, added commentary, and remarked upon it on numerous occasions, both publicly and privately). This Medium essay is her attempt at returning to the text to fill in what she felt was missing, and build the themes into something more material. By invoking class analysis, she turns a polemic text into something actionable, exciting, and worth organizing around — less an indictment of reductive identity politics, but a concrete contribution to the radical literature of class struggle. Basically, I got my life, and I hope you do, too.
Happy weekend comrades! As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter if there’s something you thing should be in next week’s issue of Hot Take-Aways, and don’t be shy about sharing the link to subscribe to the newsletter with your friends, foes, and local queens.
Keep each other warm ❤