*trigger warnings for sexual assault and self-harm*
This semester (and throughout my time at Barnard, truth be told) I’ve been thinking a lot about women and wellness in the world, especially the relationship between women and suffering. I’m studying English lit and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality studies, so I end up spending a lot of time reading about both fictional and real women who suffer, and also thinking about the ways those different narratives influence us.
There’s a lot of really interesting, super relevant, non-academic reading around about this. I really like longform journalism, so I’m including a couple of articles I’ve read in the last year or two that are really interesting to read, especially as a student on this campus at this moment in time, when I think collectively a lot of us are considering gender and culture especially as they manifest in our generation.
1. The Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain, by Leslie Jamison
This is an essay from a really incredible book called The Empathy Exams. The book is about suffering, pain, medicine, gender, and the way we interact with and pathologize bodies. This essay takes into account so many interesting literary and contemporary examples of narratives and fetishizations of female pain, and the way culture sometimes poeticizes and worships the wounded woman.
2. Your Friends and Rapists, by Sarah Nicole Prickett
This is a really striking, intimate essay on sexual assault and the cultivation of culture that permits it. It’s hard to read, but really thought-provoking, and really relevant to the crises and campaigns that many of us are involved in at Columbia.
3. Call It Rape, by Margot Singer
This is another super intimate and personal collection of stories about youth and sex and violence. It’s poetic and difficult and complicated. It includes some intriguing and heartbreaking conversations about what constitutes rape.
4. Where Are All The Women, by Sarah Nicole Prickett
The census, then, suggests that where there weren’t always girls, there are girls now, girls everywhere, girls who will celebrate a dozen 29th birthdays and still be girls… Girls are forever. Women, I know, are for life. This is another article by Sarah Nicole Prickett about girls and women, the word bitch as an identity, men, “ladies,” privilege, bodies. It’s personal and it’s quick and it’s snappy and relevant. You might like it.
These are hard but they’re also smart and worthwhile.
Happy fall break, friends.