The Best Stories By Women In 2017

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When the ball finally dropped at the end of 2016, women knew the year ahead was going to be weird: Game of Thrones was becoming a summer show, wide-legged pants were back in fashion, and Donald Trump would soon be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. That last development, more than any other, created a wave of uncertainty and self-reflection about the country and women's place in it. We felt angry, yes, but many of us also felt responsible. It was clear that we needed to talk to each other more, and we needed to be better listeners. We needed to share more stories.

So women got to work, as the best stories written by women in 2017 show, turning our voices to the loudest setting. There’s no better example of that than Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s October 5 exposé, “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Assault Accusers For Decades,” a story that took years of research, interviews, and legal gymnastics, and probably, hopefully, changed the course of history. Because of Kantor and Twohey’s reporting, powerful men from D.C. to Del Posto have been fired or forced to resign from their positions, and a new paradigm around gender, consent, work, and power has started to take shape. There’s optimism in the air again.

Of course, a good story doesn’t always need to change the world. Sometimes it just needs to help you see yourself a little better, make you feel less alone, or — especially in uncertain times — make you laugh. And laughter was really, really necessary this year. Here are Bustle's picks for the best stories women wrote in 2017:

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7 Stories That Will Make You Feel Seen

Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle

1. "Cat Person," Kristen Roupenian, The New Yorker

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Few pieces in 2017 have inspired as many disparate reactions as Roupenian’s “Cat Person” — and none of those other pieces were fiction. The short story, which was already the most-read New Yorker story online of 2017 within a week of being published, is centered around flawed and relatable 20-year-old Margot who shares a brief “romance” with the older Robert. As their courtship progresses, Margot learns the difference between her idea of Robert (everything she wants him to be) and who he is in real life (nothing she wants him to be): "She would find herself in a gray, daydreamy mood, missing something, and she’d realize that it was Robert she missed, not the real Robert but the Robert she’d imagined on the other end of all those text messages during break." The story has drawn criticism from some for its treatment of body-issues and gender/relationship dynamics. Many loved it for nailing the all-too-familiar calculus through which women submit to bad sex, and what happens when they reject it. Read it here.

“I feel an intense affinity for Olive Garden, which — like the lack of olives on its menu — is by design. The restaurant was built for affinity, constructed from the foundations to the faux-finished rafters to create a sense of connection, of vague familiarity...” - Helen Rosner, Eater

2. "Christ In The Garden Of Endless Breadsticks," Helen Rosner, Eater

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It's not every day that an essay about Olive Garden manages to touch on the life of painter Paul Gauguin, the nature of memory, and the fact that it's nearly impossible to actually find an olive to eat while at Olive Garden. But Rosner's tour-de-force article on the chain is no ordinary food essay; she picks apart the intense emotional relationship that many of us have with chain restaurants, pinning down why we darken their doorways even after we’ve grown up and tasted real fettucine alfredo: “Olive Garden is a machine of memory. You go to Olive Garden because you’ve always gone there.” Read it here.

3. "The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black," Ijeoma Oluo, The Stranger

"For two years, I, like many other black women who talk or write about racial justice, have tried to avoid Rachel Dolezal — but she follows us wherever we go," Oluo notes at the start of this phenomenal piece. "So if I couldn't get away from her, I was going to at least try to figure out why." The article that follows is more than just a sharp, pull-no-punches profile of Dolezal; it’s also a cutting analysis of why American media culture was so obsessed with her in the first place:

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“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. It is white supremacy that told her that any black people who questioned her were obviously uneducated and unmotivated to rise to her level of wokeness. It is white supremacy that then elevated this display of privilege into the dominating conversation on black female identity in America. It is white supremacy that decided that it was worth a book deal, national news coverage, and yes — even this interview.” Read it here.

4. "Confessions Of A Postmates Addict," Mallory Rubin, The Ringer

Many of us know the glory of feasting on a restaurant-caliber meal from the comfort of our worn-in couches. With Netflix in front of us and a cat to our side, we know that this is the dream, and we get to live it every day. The convenience of it all, however, leads us to the ultimate question: Is there such a thing as too much delivery? Well, if you ask Mallory Rubin, there is not. This detailed examination of her own habits — what she is willing to spend money on and why (spoiler: quite a lot) — is both relatable and forgiving: "I’m addicted to food delivery apps. They say that the first step on the road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, but I’m not here for that. I’m here to shout about my devotion from the digital rooftops — to express the requisite twinge of guilt and mortification and then defend my choices against the hordes who want to tell me how to live." Read it here.

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"A generation has inherited a world without being able to live in it. How did that happen? And why do so many people insist on blaming them for it?" - Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

5. "Where Millennials Come From," Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

How do we define success? The answer to that question probably says more about who we are than who we hope to be. Tolentino nails this point in this New Yorker piece, succinctly capturing the essence of the millennial search for meaning in one painful sentence: "For young people, I suspect, the idea of specialness looks like a reward but mostly functions as punishment, bestowing on us the idea that there is no good way of existing other than constantly generating returns." Yes, but also, ouch. Read it here.

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6. "The Ambition Collision," Lisa Miller, The Cut

There should be a vaccine for this piece because it spread so fast and with such intensity that it knocked most young professional women to the ground. It was the source of endless group text messages, a mirror held up to all of us that said, "Your feelings are my feelings, and her feelings too." Is it infuriating to have your most depressing thoughts about your purpose, about why you do anything, about your ability to influence your own life, thrown back at you with such succinct clarity? Yes. It is maddening. And oddly satisfying. Which is why this piece was so goddamn shareable. Read it here.

7. "I Feel Like I Live In Someone Else’s Body," Emily Mohn-Slate, Racked

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The structural hardships women face after having a baby are written about often, but hardly anyone talks about the frustration of walking around in a body you no longer recognize, one that sometimes embarrasses you, one you maybe even loathe. Feminism tells us we shouldn't care, and everyone else says, like they say about virtually every hardship motherhood presents, that it’s “worth it.” But Mohn-Slate subtly challenges those ideas in terms so familiar they sound like your own thoughts: "'I hope you’re enjoying it!' they say as my son goes all passive-resistance on me, collapsing into a boneless puddle on the floor while I’m trying to put on his coat. 'They will only be this young once.' I know. But I want to say, 'So will I...'" Read it here.

8 Stories That Will Make You Question What You Thought You Knew

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1. "We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs," Lauren Michele Jackson, Teen Vogue

You know the GIFs — Beyoncé saying, "God is real," or one of the black Real Housewives drinking copious amounts of wine or giving a knowing look. You may have used them to say "it me," (which, as an expression, may be problematic in itself) even when it doesn't look like you at all. In Jackson’s op-ed on the cultural appropriation of black faces in the form of GIFs, memes, and other internet currency, she presents the concept of “digital blackface” with thoughtful nuance. Jackson makes the argument that the GIFs themselves aren’t the problem, but rather who is sharing them and with what purpose. Is it OK to use someone else’s face to tell a story about how you feel? That's the question she poses, and although her answer isn't definitive, the piece started a conversation many of us didn't know we should be having. Read it here.

2. "What Do We Do With The Art Of Monstrous Men?" Claire Dederer, The Paris Review

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What happens when bad men make good art? What happens when your favorite song, book, photograph, or film — the one that defined you — is tainted by its creator's wrongdoings? Does it lose its value? Do you abandon it? Dederer understands this ambivalence: Using Woody Allen as her frame, she explores the emotional purgatory of attempting to separate an artist from his misdeeds: "They did or said something awful, and made something great. The awful thing disrupts the great work; we can’t watch or listen to or read the great work without remembering the awful thing. Flooded with knowledge of the maker’s monstrousness, we turn away, overcome by disgust. Or … we don’t. We continue watching ... They are monster geniuses, and I don’t know what to do about them." Read it here.

3. "The New War On Birth Control," Kathryn Joyce, Pacific Standard & The Investigative Fund

The power of Evangelical Christian morality is evident in lots of legislation now governing American women’s bodies and lives, but it turns out its reach extends much further. How does a generation of African women become convinced that NGO-provided birth control is part of an elaborate scheme to test dangerous drugs on a population of color? It’s complicated, and worth the read. The beauty of this account of non-profit infighting, stealthy faith-based initiatives, and real unanswered questions about drug safety is that it ultimately points to the voices we almost never hear in any context, not even their own health: the voices of African women themselves. Read it here.

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"Allow me to make a controversial proposition: Men are every bit as sneaky and calculating and venomous as women are widely suspected to be. - Lili Loofbourow, The Week

4. "The Myth of the Male Bumbler," Lili Loofbourow, The Week

In 2017, women collectively broke their eyeballs from rolling them every time a man accused of sexual harassment claimed he had no idea his behavior was inappropriate. Seriously? But Loofbourow's analysis of these apologies reveals something far more insidious than insincerity: These men are "bumblers," actual predators who manipulate the public by feigning "aww shucks" incompetence. Loofbourow asks the questions we need to move forward: What will it take before we admit that "harassment is not an accident? That predation requires planning? That this gigantic apparatus through which women's careers are destroyed and men's are preserved isn't just happenstance?" Read it here.

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5. "Why Happy People Cheat," Esther Perel, The Atlantic

"If you cheat on someone, you don’t love them." It's a foundational premise of most relationships. But what if you cheat on someone and you do love them? Here’s where it gets interesting. A practicing therapist who’s worked with hundreds of couples on this very issue, Perel knows cheating is rarely black and white. Rather than moralizing, Perel delves deeply into the different motives that drive people to cheat, and ends up engaging with much larger psychological and cultural issues. For anyone who has ever cheated, been cheated on, or more generally been in a relationship in which the temptation existed (read: most everyone), the piece provides much needed color to the clean, bold ethical lines society has drawn on this taboo topic. Read it here.

6. "Why Can't My Famous Gender Non-Conforming Friends Get Laid?" Meredith Talusan, Vice

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The premise of this piece is an experiment: Talusan decides that the reason her "femme, and fabulous" influencer friends aren't getting any is that their game is off. Instead, in a thoughtful account of the nuances of dating while trans and non-binary, she learns that increased trans acceptance and even celebration still doesn't always translate to sex: "Jacob and Alok, like many gender nonconforming femmes, live in a world where admirers applaud them for their radical politics on social media, and people they're attracted to associate with them because of their slayworthiness and social capital, but refuse to make love to them, or at least fuck them well." Read it here.

7. "Out Came The Girls," Alex Mar, VQR

In a crowded sea of true crime stories, Mar’s investigation of the 2014 Slender Man stabbing stands out. Of course, the case in itself is haunting: Two 12-year-old girls lure their best friend out to the woods, stab her 19 times, and leave her for dead. (She didn’t die, however.) But where the story truly takes shape is in Mar’s exploration of the obsessive nature of adolescent female friendships, and how latching on to a friend at one of the most pivotal, chaotic, and isolated moments of a young girl’s life can have unexpected, and sometimes dangerous, consequences. Mar expertly weaves together a narrative of murder, witchcraft, and the occult that spans over 300 years and keeps you rapt until the very end. Read it here.

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"Iggy became a punchline and went from being hailed as a white rap savior—a potential salve in the lineage of bad white rappers—to, three years later, being a digital-era Vanilla Ice, reduced to a viral talking point." - Clover Hope, Jezebel

8. "The Making And Unmaking Of Iggy Azalea," Clover Hope, Jezebel

Almost no one feels good about Iggy Azalea. Her rise to fame was an important lesson in cultural appropriation, and her fall from the charts reinforced a necessary shift in how we understand whiteness in relation to art. Clover Hope’s searing profile is a graduate course on this issue; it paints Azalea as a red-handed thief and call out her fans who were all too willing to look the other way in exchange for a catchy beat. Read it here.

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6 Stories That Will Make You Feel Great About Women

Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle

1. "Losing In The Anti-Dieting Age," Taffy Brodesser-Akner, The New York Times Magazine

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You think, "Oh, this is a deep-dive into the diet industry." You continue reading and learn just how far reaching (and good) the body-positivity movement has been for women. You're interested in the history of Weight Watchers, maybe you never knew how popular it was when it first began. And then suddenly, you are listening in on a phone call between Taffy Brodesser-Akner and Oprah Freakin'-Winfrey. And that's where the real story begins. Read it here.

2. "These Women Are The Last Thing Standing Between You And Nuclear War," Danielle McNally, Marie Claire

"As an American taxpayer, who do you want out there taking care of our nuclear weapons?" asks a source in McNally’s Marie Claire profile on the women who are in charge of U.S. missile deployment. At a time when Donald Trump is arguably inching us closer to war with North Korea, a piece on the people in charge of such an epic responsibility is not only timely but necessary. It’s also groundbreaking because, as the piece reveals, the U.S. Air Force’s missile team is uncharacteristically female — enough so that there’s actually an all-female team on alert. "You want highly capable people who have the highest level of integrity,” says McNally’s source. This isn't necessarily meant with a wink — it’s actually just a fact. Read it here.

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"Finally, Minaj turns to me, offering her full attention, and says, 'You want us to start?' as if, this whole time, we’ve been waiting on me. I want to applaud with appreciation. Yasssss, queen, as they say." - Roxane Gay, The New York Times

3. "Nicki Minaj, Always In Control," Roxane Gay, The New York Times

It's hard to imagine a more perfect pairing than Gay interviewing Nicki Minaj. Gay's love of pop culture is well-known, as is her appreciation of complicated, perhaps even problematic feminist icons, but there is nothing familiar about her profile of Minaj. It's Minaj as an artist like you've never seen or heard her before. Actually, it's two artists — Minaj and Gay — in a new element, which is what makes this whole thing so beautiful. Gay is at her best here; she's funny and honest about her process, and Minaj is true to form but vulnerable in a way that feels new. It's a classic of the genre, re-imagined by two of the most brilliant storytellers working today — a celebration of female power from start to finish. Read it here.

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4. "72 Women. 1250 Miles. No GPS.," Whitney Joiner, Marie Claire

For one week, expert female drivers from around the world drove off-road through the American West without any tools beyond old-fashioned paper maps. They were competing in the first edition of the Rebelle Rally, the United States' only all-female road rally competition. So was Joiner — a New Yorker who's never changed a tire in her life but decided to give the competition a shot. In the process, Joiner got lost in the desert, got stuck in a dune, and waded into the Mojave River to see if she could drive through it (she couldn’t). She also learned amazingly readable lessons on the power and freedom of allowing yourself to be imperfect. As Joiner says when she comes in fourth-to-last place: "I'd never been more exhilarated to fail." Read it here.

"[T]here is Gal Gadot, in black couture leather-flower Gottex, floating in the lapis-blue Mediterranean, eyes closed, with her face turned up to the dazzling noon sun, and also, uh, me." - Caity Weaver, GQ
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5. "The Gal Gadot Next Door," Caity Weaver, GQ

The year 2017 needed Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman needed Gal Gadot. And Gal Gadot needed Caity Weaver to tell her story. Infused with unexpected imagery and crafted with exquisite detail, Weaver’s profile of the Israeli actor satisfies the mantra every high school English teacher echoes constantly: Show don’t tell. Weaver has a knack for observing simple, everyday actions and grounding them in higher ideals and deeper character traits — all while occasionally making you LOL. It’s an interview that, despite containing very few quotes, seems to translate Gadot’s unmitigated, charming essence effortlessly. Consequently, you’ll leave the interview equally enamored of both the star and the journalist. Read it here.

6. "Beauty Shopping With My Mother, a Former Cultural Revolution Red Guard," Noel Duan, Racked

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When Duan, a former beauty editor, hits Sephora with her mother, it’s not just a regular afternoon of parent-adult-child bonding. Duan grew up in the U.S., enjoying the frivolous fun of a beauty routine, while her mother grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, and was raised to believe that “[v]anity had no place in a society where everyone was supposed to be equal.” But while Duan’s mother never developed a real interest in the creams and moisturizers her daughter gives her, she still uses them, “not because she cares about beauty but because she cares about me.” Read it here.

7 Stories That Will Make You Feel All The Feelings

Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle
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1. "Cancer & Sex: Why Is Nobody Talking About It?," Abigail Jones, Newsweek

Most people who read Jones’ article on sex after cancer probably did not think about the sensitivity and evident decency a reporter has to have to get anyone to talk to her about this subject. Fortunately, Jones has those in spades. Thus she was able to tell the story of how a disease that's still not entirely understood threatens to rob survivors of one of the most important and private aspects of their lives: their sexuality. This is intimate reporting that portrays its subjects not as objects of pity but average people struggling to overcome a side effect they never saw coming. "At first, it was painful just touching it because of the surgeries and treatment,” one woman told Jones. "It’s like, there’s no way I’m ever sticking anything in there! Then you start healing, and the body remembers, and you're like, ‘Oh, what’s that? Oh!'" Read it here.

"It was 1989. We were only 24. I had precisely zero expectations about this going anywhere... By the end of dinner, I knew I wanted to marry him." - Amy Krause-Rosenthal, The New York Times
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2. "You May Want To Marry My Husband," Amy Krause-Rosenthal, The New York Times

It was easy to feel broken-hearted in the beginning 2017. It was even easier to think that love no longer exists. This love letter by Krouse-Rosenthal, who died of cancer just weeks after its publication, provided an antidote. Her simple yet thoroughly convincing description of all the reasons she loves her husband will make you cry, but it will also give you hope that maybe there really is a perfect person out there for everyone. Read it here.

3. "The Most American Terrorist: The Making Of Dylann Roof," Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, GQ

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"Dylann Roof's father lives on a dead-end street at the edge of Columbia, across from a lot that is as vast and empty as the end of the world.” That isn’t the absolute beginning of Kaadzi Ghansah’s extraordinary account of Roof, the man who killed nine black Americans at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, but it gives you a sense of her voice. The scope of her storytelling is undeniably ambitious, but what sends the piece into the stratosphere is that Kaadzi Ghansah investigates Roof not just as a reporter but as a black woman confronting in him the forces that would annihilate her. Read it here.

4. "Every Parent Wants To Protect Their Child. I Never Got The Chance.," Jen Gann, New York Magazine

Life is full of impossible choices, but nothing's quite as awful as not being able to make a choice at all — especially when you have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life. In Gann's heartbreaking New York Magazine cover story, she examines the realities of mothering a child she would not have chosen to have had she been made aware of the likelihood he would be chronically ill, require around-the-clock medical care, and probably not live to see 30. Few people are in her shoes, but Gann's internal negotiations feel familiar. She's fighting for the right to make an impossible choice on her own terms. Her story challenges everything American women are told to believe about motherhood and a woman's right to shape her own family. Read it here.

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5. "After The Shooting: A Year In The Life Of Gwen Woods," Jaeah Lee, The California Sunday Magazine

It is virtually impossible not to have an emotional response to Lee’s profile of Gwen Woods, the mother of a 26-year-old black man who was gunned down by police in San Francisco, no matter where you stand on the issue of police brutality. Woods is a force to behold; she’s articulate even in her grief. Sketched artfully with Lee’s visceral attention to detail, Woods’ identity as a mother is multi-dimensional — she exhibits strength, anger, resolve, sadness — the range of emotions we don’t often see after the cameras cut, the news cycle refreshes, and victims as well as survivors are forced to return to “normal” lives that are invariably different. At times, the piece is sad, sweet, soul-destroying, and heartwarming, as the reader follows the emotional journey of a mother who lost her child far too young. Read it here.

"'Hey,' I said, happy to have caught her on a break from her job, 'do you know anyone having a midlife crisis I could talk to?' The phone was silent for a second. Finally, she said, 'I'm trying to think of any woman I know who's not.'" - Ada Calhoun, Oprah.com
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6. "The New Midlife Crisis," Ada Calhoun, Oprah.com

They're only a few years older, but other than chokers and flannel, millennials rarely find common ground with Generation X. But these are Ada Calhoun's friends, and her exploration into why they're so unhappy should stand as a warning to younger women. As she weaves together the stories of a diverse group of Gen-X women, Calhoun reveals a universal truth about women of any age: It's hard to be happy when society is built to make you sad. Read it here.

7. "Finding My Power In An All-Women's Psych Ward," Tracey Lynn Lloyd, Shondaland

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When Lloyd entered an inpatient psychiatric hospital for the third time, she expected to experience the same things she had in the past: a co-ed ward that feels like “a school cafeteria, complete with a cool kid table” that caused her to focus on her own popularity, “the social cache I’d missed during my fragile teenage years.” But this time, Lloyd enters an all-female ward and finds something completely different: support, connection, and love from a group of wildly diverse patients. “Perhaps we would never meet in ‘real life,’ this rag-tag band of broken women — an Orthodox Jewish wife; a schizophrenic savant; a middle-aged artist with delusions and a history of abuse; and me, a black woman battling forgotten demons and bipolar disorder during what should be the prime of her life. But in the living room of a mental hospital in suburban New York, we became close confidants...” Read it here.

7 Stories That Will Make You Laugh

Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle
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1. "7 Days On The Oprah Cruise," Allison P. Davis, The Cut

What happens when you spend a week on the high seas with Oprah, several thousand of her biggest fans, and your mom, destined for Alaska and seven days of workshops, dinners, and meditation sessions intended to help you have "the adventure of your life"? According to Davis, you get over-sharing strangers, near-riots over Oprah-approved pants, acceptance regarding your relationship with your mother and the futility of most self-help programs, and insights into Winfrey herself: "Oprah’s not nice; she’s kind. (She declared it! I’m just repeating it.) She explains to all of us that she’s generous, but 'you can only be in my face for so long.' I imagine that makes it difficult to be on a ship of 2,000 people who are dying to be so far in your face they actually meld into it." Read it here.

"He had sent it to him as an invitation for an appraisal of sorts, as if his dick were a vase on Antiques Roadshow." - Ej Dickson, The Cut
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2. "When Men Workshop Their Dick Pics," Ej Dickson, The Cut

It takes someone who's done a lot of sex reporting and a lot of cultural commentary to write a funny, sophisticated trend piece on the phenomenon of straight men sending each other penis pics. Dickson is that someone, and she approaches her subject with the same observant aplomb you would use describing, say, fall coats for Vogue. She writes, "As Andrew later clarified to me, this was precisely the type of honest reaction he had hoped to elicit from Noah. He had sent it to him as an invitation for an appraisal of sorts, as if his dick were a vase on Antiques Roadshow.” The piece is also subtly about male body image and male friendship, two topics that almost no one covers seriously, to everyone’s detriment. Read it here.

3. "Tom Hiddleston on Taylor Swift, Heartbreak, and Great Bolognese," Taffy Brodesser-Akner, GQ

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2017 was not, ultimately, an auspicious year for spending thousands of words on a tall white man in semi-mourning for his lost relationship with Taylor Swift. But Brodesser-Akner makes these particular thousands of words worth your while. Instead of telling you that Hiddleston’s earnestness, enthusiasm, and decency (please, God, let Tom Hiddleston still be decent) are contagious, she catches them herself, and delivers one of the more earnest, decent, and genuinely enthused celebrity profiles you will read, from the very first line: "Tom! Hiddleston! Loves! This! Bolognese!” Read it here.

4. "How Blac Chyna Beat the Kardashians At Their Own Game," Sylvia Obell, Buzzfeed

It may not be "laugh out loud" in the traditional sense (detailed narration and transcription of Kardashian Konversations aside), but Obell's fantastically researched account of Blac Chyna's rise to the top of the Kardashian empire will leave you feeling giddy. The Kardashian come-up story, particularly Kim's, echoes much of Chyna's trajectory — except the Kardashian narrative is steeped in privilege. Watching (and reading) about Chyna's unique rise to fame, which Obell calls "a twisted Cinderella story," is bizarrely inspiring — especially when it comes at the expense of a family who has appropriated (and profited from) black culture for years. It isn't exactly success in the traditional sense, but in the age of talentless reality TV fame, Chyna is a breath of fresh air: a woman who not only took on the Kardashians and won, but did it all on her own. Read it here.

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5. "Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me," Deirdre Coyle, Electric Literature

Coyle’s brutal and witty deconstruction of the cult of David Foster Wallace — and the toxic masculinity that fuels it — will do more than just make you nod in recognition (though if you’ve ever made party small talk with a man who cannot believe you haven’t read Infinite Jest, you’ll be doing a lot of nodding). It will also make you rethink how and why certain books come to be considered “essential reading.” Read it here.

6. "The Rock Test: A Hack For Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused Of Sexual Harassment," Anne Victoria Clark, Medium

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Humor wasn't easy in the weeks after the Weinstein news first made headlines. And whether Anne Victoria Clark's "handy guide" was a insightful commentary on just how dense men are about this stuff or an over-simplified take on sexual harassment that completely missed the mark is up to the person you're speaking to. Although the piece garnered a fair amount of criticism, it undeniably put a tiny crack in the ice, so, at the very least, it made it easier to talk to your dad about the news. Read it here.

"It’s hard to say what came first: rosé being basic, or basics drinking rosé. Whatever the case, the cycle is now complete and virtuous...” - Sarah Miller, Eater

7. "Rosé Is Exhausting," Sarah Miller, Eater

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"I feel a little bad yelling at rosé,” Miller writes in this triumphant takedown of the ultimate #basic beverage, but she doesn’t, really, and we’re all better for it. Here, as always, her writing is smart and hilarious, and she occasionally comes at you with insights so uncomfortable and poignant and true that they cut you: "The rosé train comes often and it is a comfortable ride. Get on it because you love pink or because you love to party (or both, even better!!!!). Stay on because it’s dry or from France, or because, subconsciously maybe, you’re internalizing something about 'these days women are afraid to be women' and you don’t want to be afraid." Read it here.

7 Stories That Will Make You Want To Keep Fighting

Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle
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1. "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades," Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey, The New York Times

It's not an exaggeration to say that Kantor and Twohey changed the world this year. Their fearless work chasing down the story of Harvey Weinstein's decades of alleged sexual harassment and assault — a story that had been pursued by numerous other writers and killed by other publications through the years — helped set in motion a wave of women outing powerful sexual predators that shows no signs of slowing down, as well as a movement that is reshaping the way we discuss power and abuse in this country. Their work, as well as Ronan Farrow's coverage of Weinstein's alleged assaults for The New Yorker, has altered how we view our own lives and experiences. Read it here.

"I will let you guys have this one. Sure, if you insist, it’s a witch hunt. I’m a witch, and I’m hunting you." - Lindy West, The New York Times
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2. "Yes, This Is A Witchhunt. I’m A Witch, And I’m Hunting You," Lindy West, The New York Times

Remember when Woody Allen — yes, Woody Allen — suggested that all of these yucky allegations following the Harvey Weinstein allegations were a “witch hunt”? So does Lindy West. There are too many brilliant points in this brilliant response to list, but this one, which became the title of the piece, is pretty phenomenal: "Setting aside the gendered power differential inherent in real historical witch hunts (pretty sure it wasn’t all the rape victims in Salem getting together to burn the mayor), and the pathetic gall of men feeling hunted after millenniums of treating women like prey, I will let you guys have this one. Sure, if you insist, it’s a witch hunt. I’m a witch, and I’m hunting you.” And if you think that’s good, just wait for the kicker. Read it here.

3. "Women Are Dying Because Doctors Treat Us Like Men," Kayla Webley Adler, MarieClaire.com

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If you were under the illusion that health professionals study and understand women’s bodies as well as they do men’s, prepare to be disillusioned. Webley Adler pulls back the curtain on misdiagnoses that have cost women their health, mostly resulting from the fact that doctors aren’t taught that women’s bodies work differently than men's overall (not just reproductively). Get this: “The way female patients are treated isn't an accident — it's by design. Even though science tells us men and women are biologically distinct, […] doctors aren't trained to treat patients that way. Medical schools use curricula informed by what happens in the body of a 154-pound man.” It’s by design. Read it here.

4. "Your Reckoning. And Mine.," Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine

There is no sharper analyst of the predicament of any woman seeking a measure of power — over her body or career or the free world — than Rebecca Traister. Best known for chronicling Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, Traister turns her attention to a different subject in this piece: the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and where we go from here. One of the salient points she makes is that, despite what Weinstein and his fellow predators, harassers, and garden-variety creeps have done, they will probably ultimately get second chances. “This will happen,” she writes, "because we can see in men — even in the bad ones — talent. We manage to look past their flaws and sexual violations to what value they bring to the world. It is the direct opposite, in many ways, of how we view women, whose successes can still be blithely attributed to the fact that the boss wanted to fuck them.” Read it here.

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5. "Lost Mothers," Nina Martin, Emma Cillekens, and Alessandra Freitas, ProPublica

This series on the rising maternal death rate in America, home of the most advanced medical care on earth, is arguably the most important reporting on women’s health in years. The ProPublica team investigates, more aggressively than anyone else has, why it’s happening and why women of color are dying in childbirth more than anyone. In their ongoing quest to track down and tell, in a visually arresting way, the story of every woman who died in or after giving birth in 2016, they force us all to see the terrible price that women, families, and society as a whole have paid for our inattention to their needs. Read it here.

"The girls didn’t want to kill anyone. They walked in silence for a while, the weight of the explosives around their waists pulling down on them as they fingered the detonators and tried to think of a way out." - Dionne Searcey, The New York Times
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6. "Boko Haram Strapped Suicide Bombs To Them. Somehow These Teenage Girls Survived.," Dionne Searcey, The New York Times

In 2014, the world stood still when nearly 300 Nigerian school girls went missing; the caption #BringBackOurGirls pervaded every social media feed… until it didn't anymore. The girls still hadn’t been returned, but the news cycle churned on. Three years later, Boko Haram is still kidnapping children, most of them girls. This stunning visual narrative focuses on the young girls who were kidnapped, forced to wear suicide bombs, and who managed to survive — all while painting a broader picture of the way young women are perceived in not only Nigeria, but on the larger world stage: on one hand, as expendable objects in war and, on the other, something to be feared above all else. Searcey explores this ambivalence articulately, and refocuses our attention on a part of the world that should never have been forgotten to begin with. Read it here.

7. "Police Said They Couldn’t Find the Men Who Gang-Raped This Woman While Her 2-Year-Old Watched. Then Another Woman Was Raped.," Andy Kopsa, Cosmopolitan.com

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Warning: The crime described in this piece is shattering. But this article is more than an account of a crime, it is the story of how feebly sexual assault is investigated even in the case of the “perfect victim.” “I was sober, dressed in sweatpants, sleeping in my locked apartment on the third floor with my daughter, not on Tinder or OkCupid, not dating or married,” Taylor Hirsch tells Kopsa. And still, until DNA evidence led them to one of the perpetrators, the police accomplished very little in her case beyond suggesting she was lying and taking pictures of her vibrator for evidence. Read it and send it to your local law enforcement, today. Read it here.

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