• In a personal essay for the Cut, Brock Colyar broke down their complex feelings about pronoun use as a nonbinary person:

These days, it feels as if an identity that, not long ago, felt unique to me in most rooms I entered has gone mass. Yes, part of what I’m personally upset about is the fact that this thing I loved isn’t so alt anymore. But more than that, it feels as if pronoun culture has contributed to nonbinary becoming just the third gender after male and female, more static and concrete than its original fluid intentions. The same nonbinary person who complained about nonbinary stereotypes lamented to me, “I don’t want to be a homogeneous normcore mashing of the two genders.” Ben hoped, “If man or woman can mean so many things, then so can nonbinary.” We all became nonbinary to escape gendered expectations, and now we’re stuck again. I can’t help but think that the walking-on-eggshells battle for pronouns is turning my gender into a human-resources-approved corporate product, more neutered than neutral, and, maybe above all else, profoundly unromantic. Next time, just call me by my name.

  • Reporting for the New York Times, Sandra E. Garcia wrote about corporate America’s cringiest attempts to make profits from Juneteenth-themed products:

Although this is the second year that Juneteenth is being observed as a federal holiday, it’s the first time that manufacturers had enough lead time to prepare products. (Last year, President Biden signed legislation designating Juneteenth a “legal public holiday” on June 17, just two days before the holiday.)

In the merchandising frenzy, big-box stores like Walmart, Dollar Tree and Party City have ginned up Juneteenth party plates, vinyl tablecloths and napkins. Some of it has caught the wrong sort of attention on social media for its seeming tone-deafness.

A beer koozie was singled out for particular ridicule for its internet-speak messaging (“It’s the Freedom for Me”), and consumers also recoiled at Great Value-branded red-velvet-and-cheesecake-swirl Juneteenth ice cream that Walmart stocked on their shelves.

  • Today, June 23, marks 50 years of Title IX, the landmark amendment that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. In an illustrated essay for the Washington Post, artist and former student-athlete Kelcey Ervick explains how not all women benefited equally from the groundbreaking law:

Notably, Title IX was never intended to affect sports. The central figures who worked on the law had all been denied admission or jobs at universities and were aiming to address sex discrimination in higher education. But as the single-sentence law was interpreted, extracurriculars like sports became a significant aspect of the fight for equal opportunities. As a result, girls’ participation in high school sports has increased more than 1000%, from 300,000 in 1972 to well over 3 million today.

We continue to fight over the interpretation and application of this law, which also covers sexual assault and gender identity, and there is still much to be done. Although Title IX was conceived by a diverse group of women, it has disproportionately benefited White women, like me. This is true of academic and athletic opportunities as well as protections against sexual assault. And the law remains under attack from administrations that seek to weaken it, as former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos successfully did with her 2020 regulations that reduce victims’ rights in sexual assault cases on campuses.

  • It’s massive and beautiful but hardly known outside of South Dakota:
  • Billionaire developer Stephen Ross, who uglified New York City with Hudson Yards and the Vessel (he was also a Trump supporter), predicts that a recession would bring back employees to the office. This is from his interview with Bloomberg‘s Natalie Wong:

“Employers have been somewhat hesitant because they didn’t want to lose their employees, but I think as you go into a recession and people fear that they might not have a job, that will bring people back to the office,” Ross said in a phone interview. “The employees will recognize as we go into a recession, or as things get a little tighter, that you have to do what it takes to keep your job and to earn a living.”

Could Ross get any more despicable?

  • Speaking of out-of-touch wealthy men, novelist James Patterson had to apologize for telling the Times in London that White writers are experiencing “another form of racism” these days:

Note: Patterson’s net worth is $800 million, according to Forbes.

  • And how about the Australian novelist John Hughes, who, a week after admitting that he “unintentionally” plagiarized parts of Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s nonfiction work The Unwomanly Face of War, was also caught copying parts of The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, and other classics in his new book The Dogs? This is how he explained himself to the Guardian reporter Anna Verney:

Hughes responded to requests for comment on the similarities between the works by saying the past week since Guardian Australia’s investigation had been the most difficult of his writing career.

“I don’t think I am a plagiarist more than any other writer who has been influenced by the greats who have come before them,” he said in an email.

“This new material has led me to reflect on my process as a writer. I’ve always used the work of other writers in my own. It’s a rare writer who doesn’t … It’s a question of degree.

“As T.S. Eliot wrote in The Sacred Wood, ‘Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.’ That great centrepiece of modernism, The Wasteland, is itself a kind of anthology of the great words of others. Does this make Eliot a plagiarist? Not at all, it seems. You take, that is, and make something else out of it; you make it your own.”

  • Palestinian calligraphy artist Belal Khaled brightens a Beirut neighborhood with a massive mural:
  • Uhm, what do you think of GQ’s Brad Pitt cover?
  • So true, LOL:

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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