2017 Recap: Our Favorite Feminist Writing on the Internet

We’re taking a break from writing this week to eat and sleep and plan for 2018. Instead of our regular columns, we’ll spend the next few days reflecting on our “favorites” of 2017: favorite books, favorite movies, etc. Here’s some of our columnists’ favorite writing of 2017.

Senti: Cat Person was incredible and broke the Internet for a reason. I’ve thought about it so many times since my first read, and it seemed such a fitting exclamation point on the “Men Are Trash” theme of this year. I’ve never read something that so accurately, painfully describes how far women go to manage men’s feelings, how many fine lines there are between consent and disgust, and how complicated female sexuality and desire can be when you’re young and unsure of how to communicate or even name what you feel.

Sejal: I was deeply moved by Barbara’s writing on DACA throughout the year, and in particular her piece on defending immigrant youth without demonizing immigrant parents. I also loved Dana’s defense of young feminism in her review of Why I Am Not a Feminist, Jessica Crispin’s polemic which argues against a straw-man version of our movement. Off-the-site, I can’t stop recommending “In The Maze,” Dayna Tortorici’s remarkable n+1 piece on feminist rage and despair since 2016, and I keep finding myself returning to Rebecca Traister’s writing on the post-Weinstein reckoning, and how it implicates us all.

Dana: +1 to all that, Sej. Not a month of women sharing their stories of sexual harassment had gone by before writers on the left and right began calling #MeToo a sex panic. I was so grateful for Rebecca Traister’s thoughtful pushback on that: “How to make clear that the trauma of the smaller trespasses — the boob grabs and unwanted kisses or come-ons from bosses — is not necessarily even about the sexualized act in question . . . [I]t’s about the cruel reminder that these are still the terms on which we are valued, by . . . the men we tricked ourselves into thinking might see us as smart, formidable colleagues or rivals,” she writes. “It’s not that we’re horrified like some Victorian damsel; it’s that we’re horrified like a woman in 2017 who briefly believed she was equal to her male peers but has just been reminded that she is not, who has suddenly had her comparative powerlessness revealed to her.”

Barbara: Meg’s nuanced take on Zadie Smith’s comments on makeup and Sejal’s piece on the hypocrisy of the free-speech movement in their neglect of Linda Sarsour were both so powerful. In non-Feministing pieces, I loved this New York Magazine cover story: “Cardi B Was Made to Be This Famous.” Writing on “Bodak Yellow,” the author says: “Women, and especially women of color, seem to love the song most, as an anthem of knowing your worth and getting what you deserve, of flipping expectations.” Cardi won 2017 and her triumphs made this year a little more enjoyable for girls and women of color.

Jess: Katherine Cross’ piece about how Chelsea Manning became a hero for trans women is a look at Manning’s impact from an intracommunity perspective we don’t often get to hear. Henry Wismayer’s piece on the Tory government’s responsibility for the Grenfell Tower fire combs through the government policies and rhetoric that facilitated the fire in a way that is compelling and horrifying. I also can’t stop thinking about Nina Martin’s heartbreaking coverage of Shalon Irving and black women’s maternal health. Those three pieces for me represent the kind of writing that I aspire to — synthesizing complicated policies and history from disparate sources in a narrative that also feels deeply personal. I also loved Mahroh’s piece on #MeToo and global white supremacy, Barbara’s directions for Women’s Marchers on following through on their promises re: DACA, and Meg’s takedown of the transphobic “penises make people harass women” argument and her piece on the left’s lies about Chelsea Manning

Juliana: Where to start! I loved Sejal’s piece on why Medicare-For-All must include abortion coverage, Reina’s thoughts on what it means to break silence in the age of #MeToo, and Meghna’s argument after Charlottesville that the “alt-left” do not exist. Barbara’s post on Dia de los Muertos made me cry.

Mahroh: Oh boy! It’s neat to see what resonated with the team because many of my favorites were mentioned above. I’ll add that Reina’s piece after the Women’s March on fucking up and doing better still moves me to tears — as do Barbara’s pieces on immigrant parents, especially her letter to immigrant and Muslim mamas. I’m so glad our writers are calling Democrats and liberals out on our shit (rather than indulging in self-congratulatory bashing of the right); Meghna’s piece asking Senate Dems to grow a spine still makes me laugh/cry. And Jess’ piece on Jane Doe, reproductive freedom, and U.S. wars is one of the most remarkable analyses of white womanhood in relation to American empire on the internet this year. When I am overwhelmed by the numbers and levels of fights there are to fight, I turn to Dean Spades’ interview with Sarah Lazare in Alternet, “Now Is the Time for ‘Nobodies” on how local resistance and we ‘nobodies’ can win. I was introduced to Briahna Joy Gray this year — follow for your own sake! — and am especially grateful for their piece on Kamala Harris, erasing progressive POC critique of Democrat candidates, and how “identity became a weapon against the left.

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New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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