my eyes are up here, wear a helmet, post-and-delete sprees
Welcome to Digestable, your mouthful of things happening in the world.
It’s been a little while! I fell off my bike pretty bad last week and was mildly concussed, so stayed away from screens as much as possible. Bicycle people - please, please, please wear a helmet when you ride, especially if there is sneaky black ice about!!
Other than my adamant recommendation to avoid head trauma, here are some other things I’d like to share with y’all:
A new podcast by Amy Westervelt, wizard of putting the fossil fuel industry on blast, chronicles ongoing climate liability lawsuits. Damages is starting off with a season that “explores "rights-of-nature" laws, which bring Indigenous approaches to nature into Western judicial systems by giving ecosystems the same rights that individuals have.”
The Sentence, Louise Erdrich’s latest novel. This book is fabulous as an audiobook, and shares weird meta-ness with traveling by map—Louise herself is a character, referred to in the third person—and wild rice with Damages.
And here’s a very sweet friend:
~the below columns are late from Monday aka Valentines Day! apologies from my mushy brain!~
DJ tomoro’s low-key music show
If you've been following along for the (almost two?!) last years, you may recognize my Deep Love of Valerie June, and you may have even been listening to her newest album. But if you were thinking "this couldn't possibly get any better," Mavis Staples is here to set the record straight. Listen to some of the new releases on the album, including heartbreakingly beautiful covers and this lovely rework of one of my favorite songs from the original.
The Second Look
Half-baked cultural criticism from Gabriel Coleman.
Love is in the air so let’s talk about a match made in the internet’s hetero-hellscape: Chad and That Girl. Content warning that this column talks about sexual relations and sexism so if you’re not up for that please scroll-on-by! According to fashion youtuber moderngurlz “That Girl” is a TikTok aesthetic like cottagecore or dark academia (kids these days!) that expands into an entire lifestyle. That Girl is defined as much by what she wears (athleisure, crew neck sweaters, solid pastel basics) by what she does (makes her own latte, wakes up at 6:00AM, has a 16 step skincare routine). That Girl is aspirational just like her counterpart Chad: the idealized hypermasculine ladykiller venerated and at times despised by incels. If this sounds like a bunch of indecipherable gen-z internet speak, it absolutely is but don’t worry - we’re going to break it down and figure out what these feminine and masculine ideals say about wtf cis-het people are up to.
Let’s start with incels or “involuntarily celibates,” an internet community of folks who want to get laid but for some reason aren’t, started on Reddit by a woman named Alana. Over the years, the group has spun out of control and is now dominated by men who feel that women are wrong for withholding sex from them which has led some to commit acts of violence and mass murder. Becoming a sexually irresistable “Chad,” the only kind of man they believe women to be interested in, is the aspiration of many incels which has created it’s own “lifestyle.” There are more normal actions like drinking protein shakes and going to the gym, but aspiring Chads also chew jaw trainers, forgo soy, and take up “mewing,” the practice of holding your tongue at the roof of your mouth to supposedly straighten your teeth and strengthen your jaw. Chadification adherents even forgo masturbation (see: no-nut November) with the belief that it will spike their testosterone.
Where aspiring to Chad-dom is all about sex, becoming That Girl is seemingly devoid of it. That Girl is so preoccupied with bullet journaling each productive moment that it doesn’t even seem like a Goop vibrator would have shelf space among the potted plants, yoga mats, and Nutri-Bullets. The lifestyle’s preoccupation with keeping a rigorous work-out routine and eating nutritious (and very small) meals is seen as healthy, productive living whereas looking pretty, thin, or even sexy is seen to be a byproduct of the lifestyle. I see this as an evolution of diet-culture where a diet and exercise routine isn’t a tool to reach some arbitrary body goal, but the goal itself.
An interesting comparison between Chad and That Girl is their implication of the public gaze, at times both male and female. The desire to become a Chad is heterosexual men reproducing the female gaze – wanting to become the thing they believe women desire. That Girl is seen and appraised primarily by other women, some of whom may be reproducing the male gaze in their appraisal but not inherently. Thought That Girl and Chad are paired in this column, That Girl’s seeming lack of sexual life (voluntary celibacy?) broadens her appeal beyond just heterosexual women.
My Eyes Are Up Here
That Girl and Chad are both aspirational ideals within the gender binary - but that doesn’t mean they’re devoid of queer subtext. The idea of “becoming” a kind of gender ideal is a very trans phenomenon which Chad’s obsession with testosterone levels and body modification especially embodies. Likewise, the desire for appraisal by fellow women and men in both internet communities seems more than a little gay to me. Whatever your gender journey, I hope you find some time to affirm yourself and love your body today. Whether a Goop vibrator gets involved in that is up to you.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
Where to begin... perhaps Kanye West's rapidly approaching public meltdown is a good place to start considering he was anything anyone could talk about in the last 24-48 hours. As covered in ~*Hot Goss*~ a few weeks ago, Kanye is NOT happy that his ex-wife is dating comedian Pete Davidson. Kanye thinks Pete is beneath him because Pete treats Kim decently well and wears oversized t-shirts from a Hanes 10-pack as opposed to treating his girlfriends like a life-size Barbie. But up until now, Kanye's made his contempt for Pete known through strategic leaks from "sources close to him" and well-placed rumors on TMZ every now and then. But it hasn't worked. Other than a public statement Kim issued on her Instagram a couple of weeks ago, she and Pete have been relatively silent about Kanye's attacks against them. So predictably, this is unsettling Kanye even more and he wants the world to know because Ye was on a public post-and-delete spree over the weekend.
As you can see, Kanye isn't only pissed off with Pete and Kim, but also people like former collaborator Kid Cudi, singer Billie Eilish, and of course, Taylor Swift. If you're wondering why all of these people are caught in the crosshairs of Kanye's personal winter of discontent, it's because Kid Cudi was seen very daringly hanging out with his friend Pete, while Billie's actions of stopping a concert midway to help a struggling fan was seen as a dig at another one of Kanye's frequent collaborators (and KarJenner affiliate) Travis Scott, and well... Taylor won an award all those years ago and Ye's never really gotten over this beef I guess? There were A LOT more badly edited memes Kanye posted about his feud with Pete but he ended up deleting every single one of them, probably because his divorce lawyers called him up and told him he was fucking himself over with these antics.
Oh, Kanye also dropped a new song last week in which he threatened to physically harm Pete. I know it may all seem like a hoot to folks but really, this is extremely concerning behavior. Pete and Kim don't seem to be letting these rapidly escalating outbursts affect their relationship though -- the pair was seen having an intimate dinner together in NYC ahead of Valentine's Day! I mean it's kind of cute. It doesn't seem like whatever Kanye is doing is working. In fact, his meltdowns might even be driving the couple closer to each other as Pete has said that he's focused on supporting Kim through the divorce (and everything else) right now. Well-played Pete. This is why you keep dating up.