Some stuff to read this weekend – and please do share links (your own or others’) in the comments!
Ghosting – this extraordinary essay (In fact it’s half the length of a book) has been going round the internet to hyperbolic acclaim. It’s worth it. Andrew O’Hagan (whose last essay for the London Review of Books was so popular it broke their servers, if I recall) was contracted to ghost-write Julian Assange’s biography. Here he traces the process by which this broke down, anatomizes Assange ruthlessly and sets the page on fire with his style.
The Dark Power of Fraternities – Caitlin Flanagan’s style has the opposite effect – this piece is mannered, pompous, sneery and lurches between inappropriate humour about sexual abuse and overbearing cod-Victorian East Coastisms. But it’s a superb piece of reporting about the sheer level of damage fraternities do to their members, their history and why universities so rarely take serious action against them. There’s also a great section on the legal issues around insurance which really sheds light on the relationship between individual frat houses, and the way the national organizations arrange to wash their hands when tragedies happen.
Reactions to the House of Bishops Statements – over at Thinking Anglicans, this post seems to have a comprehensive account of the responses to the controversial statement from the House of Bishops about sexuality and the current state of the church. For those interested in the argument over historical evidence and its use (or misuse) in public discussion which has developed, the Church of England’s Communications Office has released this exchange of emails between Professor Linda Woodhead, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch and Rev Arun Arora. Professor Woodhead has herself released this email which formed part of the conversation, but which the Communications Office failed to include in their post.
Rape Culture Is Real (And You’re Probably A Feminist) – Emma Kendall gets to work on common objections to feminism which appear on campus, and deals with street harassment, “equalism”, rape culture’s existence, double standards and various other issues. The piece has obviously been written in response to a particular set of arguments which Kendall has faced over the last month, which sounds as if it might be rather parochial and limited, but actually gives a strong sense of these issues being debated as part of university experience. I’d thoroughly recommend it.
“I woke up this morning with a hangover/ And my penis was missing again”: On Power and Pseudo-History – I haven’t been lucky enough to find many people like who write about the medieval world like Lucy Allen, with rigorous critical care and such a concern to show how these issues she encounters in medieval studies reflect immediately and insistently on our own lives. She uses the Malleus, penis-stealing tales, and a Reddit rant about women’s sexual power in history to pose questions about historiography, power and the way we understand the past.
A lack of women on TV panel shows may not be the worst injustice, but it matters – Deborah Orr writes about the various responses to the BBC’s statements about all-male panel shows, and responds to the style of argument generally known online as “whattaboutery”.
Why the LRB should stop cooking up excuses over lack of women reviewers – I adore the London Review of Books, and have been known to hymn it at tedious length (and indeed to aspire to write for it some day.) But their attitude to gender imbalance in their writers is just ludicrous…