The piece I chose to read by Jia Tolentino was “No Offense,” published on Jezebel. What I loved about this essay, as was evidently Tolentino’s intention, is that it is easily digestible; despite addressing a fairly niche audience of (ideally) millennial feminists, the diction and content is incredibly comprehensible, and Tolentino’s ironic, self-critical tone makes it all the more appealing. While I do consider myself a feminist, most “feminist” articles tend to lack appeal to me because I often find, as Tolentino addresses in her essay, that they are long-winded rants spurred by personal offense, encouraging others to take offense as well, without pursuing any real action. It’s not to say that I don’t agree with many of these articles, for I often do, but my issue lies with the fact that there is no resolution. While it is important to voice one’s opinions and to discuss such controversial issues, I personally believe there is a line between using the internet to raise awareness/incite action, and simply indulging ourselves in our emotions for the sake of being validated by others. What I really appreciated about Tolentino’s piece is that it is honest; she shows no hesitation is speaking her piece, while simultaneously examining and acknowledging her own faults as a writer, specifically within the community she is addressing. It is this candidness that drew me into her piece, and without which I would’ve likely stopped reading after the first paragraph or two.
The second piece I chose to read was “The 27th Letter” by Mairead Small Staid, posted on the Poety Foundation’s website. This piece was vastly different from Tolentino’s piece, both in tone and content; instead of a colloquial and inviting tone, Small Staid adopts a much more formal and poetic voice, and addresses a much less controversial, and arguably less relevant, topic: the ampersand (“&” symbol). Identifying the nature of Small Staid’s piece, it is evident that her ideal audience is a more literarily advanced audience — one that appreciates language (Small Staid’s prose are incredibly well written), and also likely has some understanding of its history. In other words, this piece is definitely not directed towards the “average, everyday reader.” Because of this, I found myself identifying with both Small Staid’s “out” and “in” groups; while I love to write and could definitely appreciate the beauty of her diction, I simultaneously felt disconnected from her piece based on her content and clear catering to a “literarily-mature” audience — often throughout her essay I felt as though I wasn’t supposed to be reading it.