The National Endowment for the Arts is funding a journal that writes extensively on white privilege and features feminist screeds like "Why I Left Men for Books" and "On the Coming Extinction of the Great White Male."
Electric Literature is a nonprofit based in New York dedicated to "making literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive." The online journal received $15,000 from the Trump administration's NEA last month, bringing its total in taxpayer funding to $35,000.
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The NEA grant is to "support the publication of ‘Recommended Reading,' a free online fiction magazine." Essays featured on the journal's Recommended Reading section include "Shit Boyfriends Say," "The Last of the 14-Year-Old Virgins," and "On the Coming Extinction of the Great White Male."
Electric Lit's content is almost exclusively from a leftist perspective that is anti-capitalist and anti-straight white men.
Essays written by feminists include: "What Women Can Learn From Reading Sexist Male Writers," "Why I Left Men for Books," "The Queer Erotics of Handholding in Literature," and "20 Authors I Don't Have to Read Because I've Dated Men for 16 Years."
The journal does feature articles written by men. For instance, one article entitled, "The Book That Made Me Realize I Was a Mansplainer—And Saved My Marriage."
The journal offers "10 LGBTQ Crime Fiction Must-Reads," which compares mysteries and crime novels to coming out as gay, with the "tension of withheld secrets" and the "wonder of the reveal."
"Since queer people live in a straight, cis-gendered dominant culture, we have the burden of proclaiming our sexual orientation or our gender identity," the article begins.
Another essay by a writer whose work is "centered on the miracle and magic of black womanhood" explains "How Young Adult Literature Taught Me to Love Like a White Girl."
"I didn't know then what heteronormativity was, but aside from a handful of David Levithan novels (which often dealt with their own issues of centering cisgender, white narratives), I rarely saw much outside of run-of-the-mill, middle-American, white-bread, straight-to-the-point-of-cringing love stories," the writer says. "Boy meets girl. Girl chases boy. No one ever told me what happens when girl wants girl or girl falls in love with someone who's neither."
"Heterosexual, upwardly mobile white girls were the yardstick by which I measured myself — which meant I was always going to fall short," the writer adds.
An article about the German science fiction television series Dark argues the show is about "capitalism's false promise to women."
The essay bemoans women's "disproportionate suffering under capitalism" and claims the Netflix series "offers a timely look at the deceit inherent in a capitalist patriarchy — a system where the ultimate power still lies in the hands of straight white men."
Electric Lit also published a lengthy essay entitled, "How I Bought Into Gone with the Wind's Mythology of Whiteness."
"The first time I read ‘I'll never go hungry again,' I had cried," the writer explains. "I was a baby feminist and I saw only a stubborn, brave woman following her ambition and refusing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
"This time, I laughed."
The writer goes on to argue Scarlett O'Hara is "just another rich bitch who had no idea how lucky she was" and the epitome of "white privilege."
The writer expresses her own white guilt, with her "lifelong investment in white supremacy" and "unearned privilege" of not being disabled or trans.
"[A]ll white Americans are complicit," she explains. "We are all Scarlett O'Hara. Some of us are Scarlett O'Hara at her richest and most viciously powerful: Ivanka Trump in a ball gown thinking herself the favorite child of a self-made man who tells it like it is. Some of us are post-war Scarlett, taking an inventory of our privilege and remaining blind to over half of it being the product of plunder."
The writer concludes, "most of what you know is fiction."
"Your family history is fiction. Your elementary school textbooks are fiction. Your construction of yourself is fiction," she says.
Electric Lit says the journal is "committed to publishing work that is intelligent and unpretentious." The journal also seeks to "illuminate social justice issues."
The nonprofit discloses its funding on its website. Aside from the NEA, the journal has received support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Amazon Literary Partnership, the New York State Council on the Arts with the "support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature."
The $15,000 NEA grant to Electric Lit this year is an increase in previous funding. The journal previously received $10,000 grants in 2016 and 2017, bringing its total from the NEA to $35,000.
The Trump administration supports the elimination of the NEA, though Congress has not acted on the recommendation to phase out the agency in the president's budget.