Unruly Bodies
April 7, 2018 10:20 AM   Subscribe

“When Medium approached me to curate a pop-up magazine, I knew exactly what I wanted to do — to create a space for writers I respect and admire to contribute to the ongoing conversation about unruly bodies and what it means to be human. I asked twenty-four talented writers to respond to the same prompt: what does it mean to live in an unruly body? Each writer interpreted this prompt in a unique way and offered up a small wonder. Over the next four weeks, I will be sharing those small wonders with you.“ Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies.

Pull quote taken from Gay’s Editor’s Note

The Body That Learned What Love Is by Randa Jarrar.
“I said to her, as calmly as I could, ‘It’s my body.’ (CW: graphic descriptions of abuse)
‘No,’ she said, screeching. “It’s my body’”

The Body That is Too Asian and Too Sick for America by Matthew Salesses.
“the rules for Korean bodies in America are not the same as the rules for Korean bodies in Korea.”

The Body That’s Afraid of What It Would Do With a Gun by Kiese Layton.
“I am a big black man who will never own a gun because I know I would use it.”

The Body No-Longer Policed By Gender by S. Bear Bergman.
“Of all the things I did as a little girl, none of them were right.”

...and more!
posted by Grandysaur (9 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
"The ability to see your body without disgust and without the influence of a culture that sees your body as an inconvenience is something we all deserve." from The Body On the Other Side of Self-Hatred. I'd like to get there.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:13 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]

These are really, really good--thank you for posting them. So far I've read the Randa Jarrar and Matthew Salesses pieces, and each made me catch my breath in sorrow at points.

I will be curious to see if, in the upcoming weeks, there is a piece centred around infertility and/or pregnancy loss. Nothing has made me feel I have an "unruly" body as much as my reproductive struggles (though recently other painful chronic medical conditions are threatening to tie for first place).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:56 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

These are lovely, thank you. I really enjoyed the S. Bear Bergman piece. Reading transmasculine stories like his always seems such a wonderful inversion to my own experiences from a transfeminine perspective. The overall arc of his story seems so familiar, yet every single particular of it is literally the reverse of my own thoughts about my body and the gendered expectations imposed on it. Really nice piece.
posted by saltbush and olive at 4:40 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

I just finished the Matthew Salesses piece, which led me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole learning about Asian-American adoptions. My mother is half-Korean, and my maternal grandfather was an American GI in the Korean War. I'd never heard the term Amerasian before, nor realised how rare it was that he hadn't abandoned them, that he brought my grandmother and mother to the US and went on to have my aunts and uncles. For me, being a quarter-Korean has always just been an interesting bit of trivia, and I'm ashamed to say I've never given a lot of thought to what my Mom and her siblings must have gone through, growing up in Indiana. Salesses's piece is going to stick with me for a long time...
posted by web-goddess at 9:12 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Asian body essay was so very good, for so many reasons. This was an override project!
posted by honey badger at 12:16 AM on April 8, 2018

I managed to get round the three-article limit by reading three on my phone and then switching to my computer at work, but if the limit lasts for future articles I'm going to have a difficult choice to make. I would be happy to pay a one-off to read the articles in this series, but I don't think I want to be an ongoing member at US$5/month. Sigh.

I really loved the Bergman article, on never doing the girl thing right - I identify with a lot of that, despite not being transmasculine. I still don't do the girly thing terribly well but I have found my own way around that. The Mohanraj article was excellent too; though the reasons her parents were strict differed from my parents' reasons, the effects were quite similar and it brought back a lot of my young adulthood.

But the one that really got me was "The Body on the Other Side of Self-Hatred". I read it several times, hoping to understand how Keah Brown got to the other side, and I still can't understand it. I'm glad she has, and at a comparatively young age. I'm about twice as old as she is and I'm not there yet, and honestly I think I never will be. Most of the time I think the best thing I can say about my body is that my cat seems to think it makes good furniture for him to sit, stand and sleep on.

Thanks for posting. Much food for thought.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:11 PM on April 8, 2018

Roxane Gay closes out the Unruly Bodies series with her own essay, What Fullness Is: On getting weight reduction surgery: "I had to face the extent of my unhappiness and how much of that unhappiness was connected to my body. I had to accept that I could change my fat body faster than this culture will change how it views, treats, and accommodates fat bodies. And I had to do so while recognizing that losing weight wasn’t actually going to make me happier — which may have been the bitterest part of all."
posted by gladly at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

That is a truly amazing article.
posted by bq at 3:08 PM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thanks for sharing that, gladly.
posted by Grandysaur at 5:07 PM on April 24, 2018

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