Laura Palmer and the end of the world: news of note from me

Laura Palmer and the end of the world: news of note from me

It’s Independence Day, and I am sad to be so far away from home. Instead of whining about it, though, I’d like to present you with a round-up of the interesting things I’ve done lately and which you might have missed (especially if you don’t follow my Twitter):

For example, I recently looked at the legacy of Twin Peaks in the post-Soviet world (did you know? The original show had a cult following there in the 1990s) and discussed it with Marco Werman on PRI’s The World.

I have to add that I feel like we’re really lucky that David Lynch was not interested in pandering to nostalgia when he set out to make Twin Peaks: The Return. Will hopefully be able to devote more writing to that this summer – particularly since for years I’ve been able to observe how turning nostalgia into yet another natural resource has made much of mainstream Russian culture into something sadly provincial.

Speaking of non-provincial Russian culture, however, I have also written about Andrei Zvyagintsev’s new film, Loveless, which recently premiered in Cannes. Loveless is fantastic and, I think, ultimately a much angrier movie than Zvyagintsev’s Oscar-nominated Leviathan. It’s the anger that appeals to me greatly.

Of course, my REAL big news is that The Fox Head Barks Facing Seaward, my newest short story, was published in Strange Horizons last month. I’ve had a love affair with Strange Horizons since college, and I’m really glad that it was this story in particular that has found a home there. Fox Head works as a kind of protracted echo of this earlier story, but it’s also its own thing.

Over at the Anti-Nihilist Institute, I’ve had some strong words for fake Russia experts. And the Woke Vets series has continued, with me interviewing Tim Hardin, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan (where he served as a USASOC soldier), on everything from civilian casualties to the importance of free public education.

In Politico, I discussed the recent French election in light of Russian meddling (would not have personally gone with that headline either, but I guess winning is in the eye of the beholder). I think this piece of mine on BNE actually nicely balances out the Politico one – by pointing out that Putin is not some superhuman Bond villain (though he’d like you to believe that).

Finally, I was recently on the Power Vertical with Brian Whitmore and Mark Galeotti. We started out discussing the dueling messages of the Kremlin and the Russian opposition, and wound up discussing Pornhub and the importance of political sex appeal, which is what happens when you have me on your podcast.

From Woke Vets to the Putin Paradox: news of note from me

From Woke Vets to the Putin Paradox: news of note from me

I recently made my Coda Story debut writing about the controversy surrounding a new movie made by an ostensibly pro-Kremlin filmmaker. This is what happens when you let religious extremism run unchecked – and by that I mean Christian extremism (a pertinent topic for all of us in the U.S. as well, even though Trump would have us believe that only Islamic extremism is a problem).

Speaking of the arts in Russia, here’s my take on the surreal world of Russia’s not-quite-censorship, and how it benefits the Kremlin perfectly – this was my contribution to the Guardian’s series on the so-called Putin paradox (as in, why is he reviled abroad and popular at home? Lots of great articles in this series).

All of this brings me to renewed protests in Russia. “Nothing is Good and Everything is Horrible” would’ve been my alternative headline for the depressing column I wrote on the subject for bne IntelliNews.

Meanwhile, over at the Anti-Nihhilist Institute, Anna Lind-Guzik and I have launched a cool new series we’re calling Woke Vets. We’re speaking to U.S. veterans about the new administration and all of the crap that lies ahead for us as a country now – because who’s better to talk to about that than the people who execute our (often quite flawed) policy decisions on the ground?  Continue reading “From Woke Vets to the Putin Paradox: news of note from me”

The humiliation of “real Russian women” – and why conservatives get off on it

The humiliation of “real Russian women” – and why conservatives get off on it

“A woman owes it to everyone to be beautiful!” “You’re not a real woman if you don’t look feminine enough!” “Some guy’s dick didn’t get hard when you walked by? Kill yourself, you ugly piece of shit.” “Too many guys’ dicks got hard when you walked by? Kill yourself, you sad whore.”

As some people get more woke/progressive every day, those who oppose them grow more vicious, angry, and reactionary. This process is particularly evident in Russia, where everyone from lawmakers to celebrities is screaming about women’s “traditional role” and how anyone who doesn’t fit this role should be run out of town.

When it comes to Russian domestic policy, Putin and his people are concerned about demographics. Some of those concerns are legitimate, others downright sinister. On a very basic, cynical level – they need women to produce cannon fodder. They’re also worried about Russia’s future territorial integrity.

What’s interesting is how this all works on the personal level. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Russia went through mind-boggling violence and deprivation in the 20th century, and hasn’t dealt with it. The trauma goes deep and is a part of daily life.

Compulsory femininity is one way in which the trauma is expressed. If you read Russian, for example, you’ll love this recent sex column at pro-Kremlin Life News, which talks about how fat people are basically not human, and how a woman’s primary duty is to be hot and ready to get fucked at any moment.

The author, a former reality show contestant, says things like, “My man is hard for me all the time, everywhere” (um, poor guy?) and “It’s better if you don’t say anything to your man – just love him and give him blowjobs” (But what if you are in the woods? And there’s a bear? Do you take the cock out of your mouth long enough to shout “Behind you!”??? So many questions). As for fat people, she won’t even consent to swim in the same pool with them – because ew, gross.

Many Russian commenters have already pointed out the painfully obvious – this celebrity is not exactly famous for her happy personal life. Her hatred of other women is the result of her issues with herself – a profound sadness dressed up as bravado, only the dress doesn’t quite fit (and will be stripped away with time).

You would think that this would be obvious: If you feel the need to shame or hurt someone, chances are, you are projecting. People who are able to connect with others in meaningful ways don’t go out of their way to humiliate others.

In light of this, the blueprint for the “traditional Russian woman” is the following: She is not supposed to be happy. Because she cannot belong to herself. She only exists when she is admired/desired by others. And she must fulfill everyone’s expectations all at once. 

“The traditional Russian woman” must please everyone: Men who like big asses and tiny bubble butts. Men who like dramatic make-up and plunging necklines and men who like torn jeans and a hint of lipgloss. Men who like a woman in heels and men who think a woman in heels looks “like she’s trying too hard.” Men who like a hairless pussy and men who say, “This makes me feel like a pedophile.” Men who say that “real women have curves” and men who go wild for a “coltish-looking Lolita-type.”

This woman runs around pleasing everyone and exhausting herself. If she’s “lucky,” she will net a husband who supports her, a.k.a. a “real man.” Then she’ll still turn fifty, her “real man” will be sleeping with sex-workers and 20-year-old assistants at work – because that’s part of his masculine nature, as plenty of Russian “traditionalists” will tell you – and their mutual friends will say, “Guess she should’ve thought about it before becoming old and useless.”

Continue reading “The humiliation of “real Russian women” – and why conservatives get off on it”

I was raped a few years ago

I was raped a few years ago

I was raped a few years ago. I had liked and trusted the guy. It had started out as a completely consensual encounter. But at some point, after he had me alone, he began to hurt me. When I asked him to stop, he continued. He got off on my pain and terror. He was bigger, he was stronger. The humiliation and horror stay with me to this day.

I could not admit what happened. Forget admitting it to others, I could not admit it to myself.  Continue reading “I was raped a few years ago”

Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year

Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year

I’m not really sure what to say about the year 2016. “At least we didn’t all die in a nuclear blast” is one good thing I could mention, I guess.

On a personal level, it was a year of disappointments and setbacks, fears and frustrations, but also the year in which I sat in a taxi coming back to Chelsea from Broadway after a dinner with great talents whom I also simply admire as people, and the very dear friend and great talent sitting next to me turned and said, “You’re doing it right, you know.” I surprised myself by believing her. There are people in my life who burn very brightly, you see, and I’ve learned to let their light in, and for that I am grateful.

In light of that, in light of them, here are the six things I definitely did right this year: Continue reading “Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year”