By Emma Gray
There were times in 2017 when it felt like rage might burn me up from the inside out. At times, that anger felt paralyzing. When there is so much happening at once, how do you focus your energies?
During these moments, it was always reading that jolted me and my colleagues into action ― a piece about the Women’s March that made us get off our couches and show up, or a piece on a raucous summer blockbuster that made us remember that joy can be a radical act. So for the sixth time, we’ve curated a list of pieces that had an effect on us as readers over the last calendar year.
To make the list, an article had to be (1) published in 2017, (2) written by a woman and (3) available online. Below are 28 of those pieces that moved us this year. They are a reminder that even in the darkest of times, storytelling matters.
Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine
In this extended moment of reckoning regarding sexual assault and harassment, we are all implicated, Rebecca Traister argues. Because when you’ve spent a lifetime both experiencing violations and being complicit in a system that allows them, the process of a collective reckoning is a difficult one. It brings painful self-reflection, anxiety over a brewing backlash (“A powerful white man losing a job is a death, and don’t be surprised if women wind up punished for the spate of killings”), and, potentially, the promise of catharsis and eventual equality. Some women, Traister points out, might realize they’ve waited their whole lives to tell stories they didn’t even know they carried.
Ijeoma Oluo, The Stranger
Ijeoma Oluo wanted to avoid Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who passed herself off as a black woman for a decade. But when that became impossible, she interviewed her instead. What followed is a striking piece of journalism, an interview that really digs into the core of what drives the relationship Dolezal has with blackness. As Oluo writes, “I couldn’t escape Rachel Dolezal because I can’t escape white supremacy. And it is white supremacy that told an unhappy and outcast white woman that black identity was hers for the taking.”
Lindy West, The New York Times
This piece has one of the best headlines of the year. And it only gets better from there. As Lindy West outlined in the wake of the first round of Harvey Weinstein allegations, “The witches are coming, but not for your life. We’re coming for your legacy.” As 2017 comes to a close, the hunt continues.
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, GQ
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s stunning long read on Dylann Roof, the now 23-year-old man who murdered nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, attempts to answer a big question: How did “one of the coldest killers of our time” come to be? Ghansah spoke to Roof’s teachers, classmates, friends and family members, concluding that Roof is a terrifying omen. He is “a child both of the white-supremacist Zeitgeist of the Internet and of his larger environment […] It is possible that Dylann Roof is not an outlier at all, then, but rather emblematic of an approaching storm.”
Jenn Gann, The Cut
For Jenn Gann, fighting for justice for her beloved son who was born with cystic fibrosis means considering that he should never have been born. Gann’s exploration of “wrongful birth” cases ― in which the parents of a child with a congenital disease claim that medical professionals failed to properly warn them of their child’s condition before birth ― is deeply personal, raw and heart-wrenching. This story complicates the narrative people usually consider when discussing terms like “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” “After all this pain and humiliation and anger boiled down to records and money and who did what,” Gann writes, “the love I have for my son feels like the one thing that can’t be taken from me.”
Ashley Nkadi, The Root
The headline says it all. “There will come a day when the same nation that stepped on black women will run, shouting, at our doors to save it,” Ashley Nkadi writes. “And we will whisper ‘no.’”
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, The New York Times
This is the piece of journalism that set off a reckoning. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey spent months reporting out this story about the years of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. We will be sorting through the consequences of this stellar piece of journalism for years to come.
Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine
There is so much to say about Hillary Clinton, the equal-parts-beloved-and-reviled woman who almost became president. Rebecca Traister draws a portrait of a candid, exhausted, powerful, funny, worried, determined and (understandably), angry woman, recovering from a grueling presidential campaign and looking toward an uncertain future for the nation she spent her life working for.
Maris Kreizman, The New York Times
In a moment when we often get our news, our life updates, our job opportunities and our dates via algorithm, sometimes it’s healthy ― and downright heartening ― to remember that “the best things in life are unquantifiable.”
Jessica Bennett, The New York Times
I cried the first time I saw “Wonder Woman.” Jessica Bennett, who saw the film in Brooklyn, surrounded by girls and women of all ages, gets to the root of why viewers like me had such an intense reaction to seeing the superhero on the big screen. “There was something deeply visceral about it: a depiction of a hero we never knew we needed, a hero whose gender was everything but also nothing.”
Doreen St. Felix, MTV News
In January, Doreen St. Felix dove into the conundrum that is Omarosa’s public image, career and eventual position within the Trump administration. “She has not risen high enough to elicit any emotion besides pity,” St. Felix concluded. In December, knowing how Omarosa’s time in the White House ended, St. Felix’s assessment feels even more vital.
Gemma Hartley, Harper’s Bazaar
There’s a reason that Gemma Hartley’s piece on emotional labor struck such a chord. Not only is it a perfect mix of personal essay and reporting, but it also defines a type of work that women have been doing without acknowledgment or much public discussion for years, for decades … for forever.
Jennifer Weiner, The New York Times
In a year that was sometimes difficult to find anything to be grateful for, Jennifer Weiner’s beautiful love note to brave women is an editorial salve for the soul.
Allison P. Davis, New York Magazine
Cardi B is a celebrity for our time: a bombastic rapper with raw talent and a powerful lack of shame about her body, her roots, and her monetary success. Allison P. Davis’ profile of the artist is as fun a read as Cardi’s hit “Bodak Yellow” is a listen.
Continue reading at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/best-writing-by-women-2017_us_5a37f219e4b0ff955ad54274
Thanks, Huffington Post and Emma Gray