Bitch Doctrine: sympathy, empathy and rage from the Laurie Penny's red pen of justice
Before Laurie Penny was a brilliant young feminist novelist, she was a brilliant young essayist, blazing through the British (and then the world's) media with column after column that skewered social ills on what Warren Ellis aptly dubbed her "red pen of justice."
Bitch Doctrine, published today, collects dozens of her more recent pieces, all the way up to the eve of the Trump election, grouped thematically: the US election, "Love and Other Chores," culture, gender, agency, backlash, violence, and future.
If you've followed Penny's work, you'll know that the thing that sets her apart from other enraged columnists is her empathy: her ability to understand the self-serving rationalizations, radioactive bullshit, and emotional damage that drives men to threaten her with rape and murder for pointing out that things aren't exactly fair.
But while Penny is perfectly capable of understanding her ideological opponents -- better than they understand themselves, without a doubt -- she doesn't offer them any sympathy. This sympathy -- no less well-informed, no less analytical -- is reserved for people who are getting the shittiest end of the stick: trans people, people of color, poor people, disabled people, other women. Even when she feuds with them, even when she is laid low by anger from her allies, she does the hard work to look past her own hurt feelings, to the missteps that let her to a place of conflict.
Penny is a bridge between two modes of political writing, a hybrid that gets the best of both and offsets their deficits: on the one hand, she's clearly in the Hunter S Thompson gonzo tradition (her adventures running down violent neo-Nazis in Greece are a match for anything HST wrote about Hell's Angels or police detective conventions); on the other hand, she's got the scholarly habit of finding and presenting an issue from every side, even the ones she disagrees with. But while the gonzos reduce their opponents to caricatures, and while scholarly work can dissolve the point of view into a view from nowhere, wishy-washy and free from any kind of thesis or real muscle, Penny is able to forcefully convey her point of view, and back it up by showing that she understands exactly what her opponents are thinking, and why, precisely, they are full of shit.
This is a delight of a book. While other ranty political collections are something of a guilty pleasure, Penny's essays are righteous ones, arguments that don't just preach to the choir, but also to the people slipping bomb-threats under the church doors.
Bitch Doctrine [Laurie Penny/Bloomsbury]
(Image: Molly Crabapple)
Snickelsox's guide to playing animated armor that is full of bees is full of surprisingly well-thought-through advice for anyone who should be tempted to role-play such a thing, despite their protestations that "this is dumb."
Uncovering two lost comedy albums from cult comic Dick Davy, who once championed civil rights and antiracism
Jason Klamm from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast (previously) writes, "In late 2018, I uncovered the true identity of comic Dick Davy. Since starting his archive, I've come across some real gems, but in August, one find took the cake. His niece, Sharon, mailed me two records that had been sitting in a box, and […]
Radicalized is a Canada Reads finalist, will be a graphic novel, and is eligible for the Hugo Award!
My 2019 book Radicalized has been named one of the five finalists for Canada Reads, the CBC's annual book prize -- Canada's leading national book award, alongside of the Governor General's award!
The life of an entrepreneur is rarely easy, regardless of whether you’re running Google or have yet to get your first idea off the ground. So why not make your life easier with a lifetime subscription to Zuitte 50+ Tools for Entrepreneurs while it’s over 90% off? With over 50 powerful tools that help everyday […]
When it comes to top-quality kitchen gadgets that won’t break the bank, nothing beats Gourmia. These eight best-selling Gourmia tools will help you take your culinary prowesses to the next level, and each one is available for an additional 15% off when you enter the coupon code COOKSAVE15 at checkout. 1. Gourmia GTF7350 6-in-1 Multi-Function […]
Traditional headphones are overrated, especially now that this HumBird Bone-Conducting Speaker allows you to enjoy a rich and completely unique listening experience depending on where you place it. A must-have item for true audiophiles looking to switch up their usual listening routine, this compact speaker uses cutting-edge bone conduction technology in order to deliver a […]