The Wednesday Five: Best Longreads of the Week

In this week’s Wednesday 5, we share our Best Longreads of the Week—longform journalism articles and narratives about women. Although they are incredible storytellers, there remains a significant void in platforms for women who are writing stories that cannot be summed up in single soundbites.

This week, our longform list includes a shout out to the following articles: importance of women’s voices to the genre of travel writing, an extensive interview with the NASA scientist designing the parachute for the MARS Rover, comedian Tig Notaro on having cancer, making her new documentary and rebuilding after trauma, a salute to Marlene Sanders, pioneer in broadcast journalism, and a series of panels on technology with only women as speakers.



How Not to Be Elizabeth Gilbert

Jessa Crispin |The Boston Review

boston review

The title of this article is certainly not kind to the best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert. But, the headline is a bit of a misnomer. What Jessa Crispin delves into that is more important than a critique of Gilbert’s brand of travel writing (“In this genre, the focus of attention is the self, and the beautiful locale becomes the backdrop of the real action, which is interior psychodrama.”) is the historical absence and contemporary lack of women in travel writing. For that reason, Gilbert’s voice, although flawed, is essential to the genre. Crispin notes:

From Sir Richard Francis Burton to Bruce Chatwin to Paul Theroux, the traveler is an essentially masculine force, driven by the need to conquer, to experience life at its extremes, but most of all to explain. Traditional travel writing surely needed to be infiltrated and broken apart, its masculine tropes challenged.

Read more of “How Not to be Elizabeth Gilbert” at The Boston Review



Anita Sengupta on Designing a Parachute for NASA’s Mars Rover

By Elizabeth Lopatto | The Verge


Our favorite part about this interview by Elizabeth Lopotto is the casual tone with which she summarizes the work of  NASA scientist Anita Sengupta who leads the team that designs the parachute for the MARS Rover: “Her main gig is as a project manager for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Cold Atom Laboratory, where she helps coordinate other brilliant people to figure out how better to get access to space. . . Naturally, she’s got an appetite for tough problems.”

Naturally! Although we think this kind of problem goes beyond just “tough.”

Read more about how Sengupta made it to NASA at The Verge. . . 3. Comedian Tig Notaro: Having Cancer, Making Her New Doc, and Rebuilding After Bad Times  . By Christine Champagne | Co.Create Comedian Tig Notaro talks poignantly with Christine Champagne of Co.Create about coping with cancer through comedy and in the public eye and the decision to make a documentary about all of it. The film, “TIG,” premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently available on Netflix. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

While you are certainly funny in this film, you aren’t “being funny” all the time. You seem like someone who has no problem just being yourself and being vulnerable. Was that always the case with you, or were you cracked open after all the curveballs that life threw at you?

Well, yeah. I think that I couldn’t help but be cracked open to a much deeper level after everything that I went through. But I also think I’ve never had a problem with being serious, or knowing when the time is right to be joking around. I like having real and serious and heavy conversations. I get a really great amount of comedy in my life, and I’m surrounded by, no doubt, the funniest people in the world, every which way you look. I have friends that are funny and crazy. But I feel like I also have the luxury of knowing people, myself included, who know when it’s time to act that way and when to kind of reel it in.

Read more at Co.Create.



A Salute to Marlene Sanders: Pioneer in Broadcast Journalism

By Susan Brownmiller | NYCitywoman


In a beautiful tribute to Marlene Sanders, the first woman correspondent to cover the war in Vietnam, her friend and mentee Susan Brownmiller writes in NYC Woman about how the two journalists met and forged a friendship in broadcast news. She begins:

“Here’s how I met this amazing woman. The year was 1965 and I was the new hire for ABC-TV’s news writing staff. She was the network’s sole female correspondent and had a four-minute broadcast at noon called “News With a Woman’s Touch.” The broadcast was sponsored by a hand lotion—get it?”

Read the full tribute at NYCitywoman.



Six Panels on Technology with Only Women Speaking

By Joanne McNeil | Medium


Here’s how Joanne McNeil began her column this week at Medium:

“A few weeks ago, I held the sixth and final panel in a series I hosted at Eyebeam called New Topics in Social Computing. The series was an attempt to reset the clock on the discourse around internet and technology in culture. This is a moment of transition and uncertainty and I wanted to gather the greatest minds to think through where society is heading. It just so happens that the greatest minds — the nineteen speakers invited to these events — were women.

She later divulges that she was “conflicted about the language and flaunting this attribute” of an all-woman panel as the speakers were, in fact, there on “their own merits” not on their gender. Either way, the optics of a panel of all women talking about technology is still a charged (positively) one, and more importantly, the series led to a significant take way for women in STEM: we need “more gates and less gatekeepers.”

Read more at Medium.


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