Women We Read This Week

Eva Holland’s “Wilderness Women” on SB Nation

How could we begin the first WWRTW of the year without repping our own Eva Holland? Especially when she’s hauling water in snowy tundra in hopes of winning the Alaska Wilderness Woman competition? (Actually.) While she may not win the competition, she proves that she’s succeeded in her “humbling transformation from urbanite to outdoorswoman”–and in offering a nuanced, humorous and revealing glimpse into a world and culture most of us wouldn’t ever see.

Sarah Marshall’s “Remote Control” in The Believer

It probably says a lot that in 1994, my family was on Team Harding, and Sarah Marshall’s exceptional piece helped me to understand why. With an astute eye, Marshall locates a spot at the center of the intersection of media, nationalism, image-construction and sports: “the set of draconian contradictions that dictated a female athlete’s success.” For me, this became a piece about gender and class expectations–what working-class women are and aren’t allowed to be–and perhaps most of all, about the spinning of narratives and whose story gets left out: “The only thing missing from the media accounts of Tonya’s life was her own version of the story, and it would remain missing for a very long time.”

This piece does a lot to locate the incident within a certain moment in America, and it made me wonder if the story would be any different if the incident happened today–if perhaps we haven’t made some progress in both our gender expectations and are critiques of mainstream media narratives. The optimist in me thinks yes–or least that social media would allow for differing versions of the official story to be told.

Lauren

Beatriz Terrazas “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves: Seeking a Saint in the Heart of a War Zone” in The Rumpus

Beatriz Terrazas’ story unfolds with warmth and languid beauty as she returns to her homeland, Villa de las Nieves, in northern Mexico. She seeks to recapture an object, an image – a painting of Our Lady of the Snows.

Now, all I want is to see the image of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves. In my memory she’s a mere swirl of pink and blue. What if her painting is just a cheap reproduction framed in glass? Should I have brought an offering? What does one offer the mother of God?

There is fearlessness and beauty in the way she nestles violence in the narrative, couches it deep within a personal story about Our Lady of the Snows. “Sunday before dawn, I awaken thinking about headless bodies. I slip through the dark to the bathroom and vomit into the toilet, then return to bed with the metallic taste of blood in my mouth.” So much has been said about violence in northern Mexico, but Terrazas and Our Lady of the Snows allow us to move into new territory, one that acknowledges the violence but isn’t engulfed by it.

Alice

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