What Was the TED Talk? | Some Thoughts on the "Inspiresting"

Oscar Schwartz

Bill Gates wheels a hefty metal barrel out onto a stage. He carefully places it down and then faces the audience, which sits silent in a darkened theater. “When I was a kid, the disaster we worried about most was a nuclear war,” he begins. Gates is speaking at TED’s flagship conference, held in Vancouver in 2015. He wears a salmon pink sweater, and his hair is combed down over...

My Ancestral Home, the Mall | Lil Miquela's Post-Racial Society

Kim Hew-Low

Last June, faced with the prospect of turning nineteen for the sixth time, Miquela Sousa suffered something like an existential crisis. From the bathroom of the Silver Lake restaurant where loved ones had gathered to celebrate her birthday, she reached out to three million followers in an Instagram story, iridescent tears streaking mascara down her face. “What I wanted for my birthday was PROGRESS,” she lamented. “I want to know...

Couture | Fiction

Lucie Elven

On the boat back, the sea got very slightly rougher, and a plastic curtain weighed down with chains knocked at the reception desk that separated the lounge from the restaurant. All the rules not to bring pets or your own food had been abandoned in the lounge. Dogs sat on tables and children ran laps, spilling their sandwiches. She thought of the director of the first museum they had visited,...

The Girlboss and the Anti-Woke Cool Girl

Jamie Hood

It seemed, for a brief moment — perhaps by virtue of the intensity of energy driving the 2017 #MeToo movement — that the bloated corpse of feminism might be reanimated, given a path forward. That #MeToo was rapidly recalibrated to advocate in the interests of the most privileged and protected within its subordinated class (broadly, victim-survivors of sexual harassment and assault) — not to mention implicit and plainfaced unions with...

The Law on Trial

Alexandra Brodsky

I assume that, by next summer, the Supreme Court will have overturned Roe v. Wade. Many states will swiftly outlaw abortion; some already have laws on the books that will be triggered as soon as the Court hands down its decision. I also fear that, within a decade, the Court will rule that abortion is unconstitutional. If it does, even blue states that would like to keep abortion legal will...

Pessimistic

Rosemarie Ho

To demand women’s liberation feels bafflingly earnest in an era when there seems to be the tacit agreement among straight, college-educated women that heterosexuality is a failed project from which they cannot escape, despite their best wishes. They can only shack up with men who can either listen, fuck, earn money, caretake, or be emotionally available, but never all five at once. The theorist Asa Seresin calls this “heteropessimism,” a...

Editors’ Note | Good Lord

The Editors

A few months ago, The New York Times Book Review published a much-hyped coffee table anthology in celebration of its 125th anniversary. Ten years earlier, the occasion might have prompted unbridled celebration. But this was 2021, and the volume’s introduction takes pains to chronicle the Book Review’s past sins: the sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia on display in the output by its mostly white, mostly male, almost exclusively cisgender reviewers....

Maternal Bliss

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian

If an alien were to learn about early motherhood in America solely through the media produced by American mothers, she’d reasonably conclude that it is either a blissfully transformative experience punctuated by the occasional diaper blowout, or a series of traumatic indignities redeemed only by social norms that some people call “hormones” and others call “love.”  Before I got pregnant, I liked and wanted kids, but expected having them to...

Hot or Not

Andrea Long Chu

In January 2020, women began tweeting out selfies under the hashtag #HotGirlsForBernie, posing in bikinis or leaning suggestively towards their phones in low-cut tops. Countering years of baseless claims that Bernie Sanders had a “woman problem” — recall Gloria Steinem’s glib dismissal of his female supporters as merely boy-crazy — his female supporters used the meme to assert a distinctly socialist-feminist line. “if u wanna be hot, just be hot!”...

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