This week, a lot happened. A misogynist went on a violent rampage. #YesAllWomen took off on Twitter. Dr. Maya Angelou, feminist author and all-around genius (and don’t get me started on her doctor honorary), died at 86 years old. This week, I present a long list of essays, articles and interviews written by women. Many are about women, too. Some are lighthearted; others reflect on the events of the past week. I included a variety of subjects to honor those who might be triggered by the deadly violence of last week’s shooting, because women do not only write in the wake of tragedy—we write, we exist, for all time. So in this list there is reflection and humor; there are books and music and religion; there are all kinds of stories, fiction and non. Read what you need. Engage or escape.
1. “Summer in the City.” (Emma Aylor, May 2014)
Aylor, author of Twos, uses #YesAllWomen to write about about the sexual harassment she experienced as she researched her dissertation on the work of Wallace Stevens.
2. “In Relief of Silence and Burden.” (Roxane Gay, May 2014)
The author of An Untamed State and critically acclaimed badass gives her “testimony … so we can relieve ourselves of silence and burden” in the vein of #YesAllWomen, sharing stories of harassment, abuse and more.
3. “Not All Women: A Reflection on Being a Musician and Female.” (Allison Crutchfield, Impose Magazine, May 2014)
A wide range of female musicians react to a depressingly misogynistic article in Noisey about how to tour in a dude-dominated band. They share what they’ve learned on the road, emphasizing self-care, communication with bandmates, and doing what you need to do to feel safe and be your best self.
4. “What Four Months on Mars Taught Me About Boredom.” (Kate Greene, Aeon, February 2014)
In isolation in Hawaii, Greene and her crewmates simulated living on Mars: from day-to-day rigors, rations and spacesuits. Drawing on the words of explorers past, Greene analyzes different kinds of boredom and ponders its potential for creative insight.
5. “The Erasure of Maya Angelou’s Sex Work History.” (Peechington Marie, Tits and Sass, May 2014)
The poet, activist and author was candid and unashamed about time as a prostitute. So why aren’t we?
6. “Inside the Cloister.” (Casey N. Cep, The New Yorker, March 2014)
A review of “Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns,” a study of 20 women living in quiet poverty and seclusion in the order of Poor Clare Colettine in Illinois.
7. “Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.” (Lucy Corin, Electric Literature, 2013)
A short story about the decimation of California and innocence from Corin’s collection One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses.
8. “Odd Girl In.” (Jenny, Rookie, May 2014)
A proud lifelong loner, it isn’t until Jenny leads a hospital strike that she finds the beauty of community.
9. “I Was Shailene Woodley: I Used to Say I Wasn’t a Feminist.” (Ann Friedman, New York Magazine, May 2014)
In her latest Ann-alysis (I INVENTED THAT COPYRIGHT ME), Friedman points out, “Let’s stop and consider that maybe a brief interview withTime magazine is not the safest space for Woodley to explore complex ideas about gender, equality, and the pressure she feels to appeal to men — something that even proud feminists struggle to articulate.”
10. “I Remember Maya.” (Ashley C. Ford, Buzzfeed, May 2014)
“[Angelou] said, ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ My boyfriend and I went to dinner the following evening. I brought up an essay I was writing and watched his shoulder slump, his eyes roll, and his lips form a hard line. I saw him. I believed him.” Ford recollects her early love of Angelou, from rummaging through her mother’s room, to her adult adulation and peace in her presence.
11. “Belly.” (Larissa Pham, The Body Narratives, September 2013)
First advised to suck in her tummy as a youngster at dance class, Pham, one of my favorite ~young voices~, writes about the sometimes painful process of coming to terms with her body.
12. Patricia Lockwood
Like many Twitter-abiding human beings, I am enamored with poet Patricia Lockwood’s Twitter feed and tender-raw-biting poetry, from Rape Joke to the recently published “#LiveNudeDads.” Her journey has been nothing if not unusual; you can read about it in this delightful profile (which is written by a dude, but it’s about a woman who writes, so I let it slide, just this once).
13. Humor Writing at The Toast
The Toast continues to publish excellent humor. These pieces may not count as official longreads, but I’d be silly to not include a sample of their authors on a list of excellent writing by women. A few of my recent favorites include Liberal Dude Erotica, How to Talk to Babies About Gender Theory and Holden Caulfield: The Vampire Chronicles.
14. “Being That Woman.” (Chelsea G. Summers, Adult Magazine, May 2014)
Summers relates to Jolene (yup, from the song) and Monica Lewisnky: “Of course, it’s all a pernicious fiction. No one can take your man because he’s not yours. If he leaves you, it’s because he wanted to leave you, flaming locks of auburn hair or nah.”
15. “How Molly Guy Went from Office Drone to Boho Bride Magnate.” (Chavie Lieber, Racked, May 2014)
Personal feelings about the wedding industrial complex aside, Molly Guy is a force; her in-demand bridal boutique features undeniably gorgeous, unique aesthetic.
16. “Confessions of a Beauty Queer: The Best Goodbye of My Life.” (Djuan Trent, Autostraddle, May 2014)
“And it brought me to think: Is America ready for a queer Miss America? Not sure, but I know it’d be pretty cool. I wonder if that could be me? OR NOT. It couldn’t possibly be me because I’m not queer. I left that part of my life in the past a long time ago. Right? Riight.”
17. “The Prettiest Girls in the World are Born in Alabama.” (Jenny Sadre-Orafai, The Rumpus, January 2014)
Camera-shy since she was a baby, the author comes face-to-face with herself — literally — when her boyfriend buys a smartphone to document their lives.
18. “On Running Again.” (Miranda Ward, Vela, March 2014)
On little victories, time and time again.
Photo: Thomas Leuthard