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Sitdown Sunday: How female directors are changing porn

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Good kid, smart city

shutterstock_562748614 Source: Shutterstock/SFIO CRACHO

We live in a world where literally anything – good or bad – is at our fingertips. But is the internet of things a positive thing for us?

(The Guardian, approx 19 mins reading time)

I don’t for a second want to downplay the value of such a product for people who have ageing parents to look after, or kids to drop off at daycare, or for whom simply getting in the car to pick up some cat food may take an hour or more out of their day. But the benefit to the individual customer is tiny compared with what Amazon gains. Sure, you never run out of cat food. But Amazon gets data on the time and place of your need, as well as its frequency and intensity, and that data has value.

2. The true story behind Wonder Woman 

George Pérez is the man responsible for reinventing Wonder Woman, paving the way for the current movie. Here’s his story.

(Vulture, approx 23 mins reading time)

No character suffered from the ailments of continuity more than Wonder Woman. First introduced in 1940s tales that formed a kind of pop-culture feminist urtext, she had been depicted as a lasso-wielding warrior named Diana from an advanced society of ancient Amazons on a place called Paradise Island. She was a liberated woman before people generally spoke of such things, possessing an array of superpowers ranging from super-strength to ESP, as well as a curious fondness for bondage.

3. Why your city can put you in a bad mood

shutterstock_401081020 Source: Shutterstock/Pla2na

The cities we inhabit can have a more intense effect on our emotions than we realise. Here’s how their design can affect us.

(BBC, approx 12 mins reading time)

Greater interaction across the disciplines would, for example, reduce the chances of repeating such architectural horror stories as the 1950s Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St Louis, Missouri, whose 33 featureless apartment blocks – designed by Minoru Yamasaki, also responsible for the World Trade Center – quickly became notorious for their crime, squalour and social dysfunction. Critics argued that the wide open spaces between the blocks of modernist high-rises discouraged a sense of community, particularly as crime rates started to rise. They were eventually demolished in 1972.

4. The white wedding dress industrial complex

If you know anything about weddings, you’ll know the dress is a hugely important part of it. But does it have to be?

(Racked, approx 13 mins reading time)

Wedding traditions, of course, are nearly endlessly varied across cultures, nations, communities, and religions worldwide. Huge wedding parties and lavish ceremonies, celebrations, and expenditures have been part of numerous non-Western and non-white cultures since before America was even a country. But in this country, even within our comparatively short history, weddings are still a relatively recent invention. In the 19th century, the American wedding was, even among wealthy families, mostly a small and private affair.

5. Women and porn

shutterstock_546958375 Source: Shutterstock/sirtravelalot

There’s a new breed of porn director, and it’s a woman. Here’s how they’re changing the industry. (Some of the images in this piece are NSFW).

(Harper’s Bazaar, approx 12 mins reading time)

“It’s heterosexual, middle-aged white men who have these fantasies with boobs and ass. You know the ones, they love their cars and their drinks.” This, says Barcelona-based director Erika Lust, is who is behind the majority of today’s mainstream porn. “They cast the same kind of very young women with very slim bodies and large breasts. They might have different hair colors, but more or less it’s the same kind of women, over and over again.”

6. The hidden HIV epidemic 

This longread from the NYT Magazine looks into the hidden US epidemic of HIV among black gay and bisexual men. Why is it the case that the rate of the virus among them is the highest in the world?

(The New York Times Magazine, approx 47 mins reading time)

The crisis is most acute in Southern states, which hold 37 percent of the country’s population and as of 2014 accounted for 54 percent of all new H.I.V. diagnoses. The South is also home to 21 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest H.I.V. prevalence among gay and bisexual men. Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, the country’s poorest state, is best known for blues, barbecue and “The Help.” It also has the nation’s highest rate — 40 percent — of gay and bisexual men living with H.I.V., followed by Columbia, S.C.; El Paso; Augusta, Ga.; and Baton Rouge, La. In Jackson, a small city of just over 170,000, half a dozen black gay or bisexual men receive the shock of a diagnosis every month, and more than 3,600 people, the majority of them black men, live with the virus.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES… 

Ben Taub recently won a major award for this article, The Assad Files, on the top-secret documents “that tie the Syrian regime to mass torture and killings”.

(The New Yorker, approx 53 mins reading time)

In the past four years, people working for the organization have smuggled more than six hundred thousand government documents out of Syria, many of them from top-secret intelligence facilities. The documents are brought to the group’s headquarters, in a nondescript office building in Western Europe, sometimes under diplomatic cover. There, each page is scanned, assigned a bar code and a number, and stored underground. A dehumidifier hums inside the evidence room; just outside, a small box dispenses rat poison.

 More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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