I love discovering new writers and re-visiting old favourites. I’m grateful to authors, bloggers, columnists, journalists, and writers for putting pen to paper, so to speak, and sharing their work.
To mark the New Year, here are 12 thought-provoking articles from 2017. These articles all resonated with me, in some way, and I find myself returning to them frequently. They’ve helped me understand the world a little better. They’ve challenged my views on certain issues. They’ve helped me come to terms with things in my own life. They’ve reminded me of the importance of words and the power of telling our stories.
What Bullets Do To Bodies
Eighty percent of people who are shot in Philadelphia survive their injuries. This statistic surprises people when they hear it. They tend to think that when people get shot in the belly or the chest or the face, they die. But the reality is that people get shot and then they are going to survive, because trauma surgeons are going to save them, and that’s when the real suffering begins. – What Bullets Do To Bodies
Portrait of a Pre-Existing Condition
Now, men in suits are pressing knives to my seams, making decisions about my body. They want me to pay for my scars. They want me to pay for being a woman. I am told my body is a body of burden. I am a pre-existing condition—because I have survived a heart defect and girlhood. This working body, my body, remains threatened. I still owe a debt for this existence. – Portrait of a Pre-Existing Condition
This essay, about health, healthcare and being in control of your own body especially when you’re a woman, is something I’ve re-read numerous times.
Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump
We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. – Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump
Because sometimes, just sometimes, only the words of Rebecca Solnit will do.
‘We didn’t recognise that he was dangerous’: our father killed our mother and sister
“We thought, ‘Well, he’s not drunk and beating us every weekend, we’re not failing at school, we don’t have behavioural problems.’ Those were the signs I was looking for,” Luke says. “And because it hadn’t happened, we didn’t recognise our suffering, or that he was dangerous. From the outside, we were three healthy, intelligent children. No one seemed concerned that much was wrong, because we were doing so well.” – ‘We didn’t recognise that he was dangerous’: our father killed our mother and sister
How an Activism Group Text Is Helping Me Stay Accountable
Listen, activism is a slog. Day in, day out — and bad stuff still happens. So don’t be afraid to let loose, tell jokes, and laugh with each other… before getting back to the hard work. The more fun you can make your activism, the longer you can keep going, and the more energy you’ll have left for dealing with people who aren’t as supportive. We’re in this for the long haul, so settle in and send a few GIFs. Then get to work. – How an Activism Group Text Is Helping Me Stay Accountable
Activism can be hard. Throwing yourself eagerly into something, only to realise that it’s going to be a tough slog can be disheartening. So, I can understand why you might not want to do it. The other side of that is that there are not enough people doing the things that need to be done. This article is full of tips on getting your friends involved and keeping each other accountable for getting things done.
What I’ve learnt running a pro-choice stall in Belfast every week
While working on the stall means I’m faced with the stark reality of people’s prejudice and ignorance about the issue, I’m heartened every week by the increase in engagement. The majority of interactions are positive: people thanking us for being out, old ladies giving a thumbs up across the street with a big smile, and women lifting piles of the leaflets and postcards to bring to their family and work. – What I’ve learnt running a pro-choice stall in Belfast every week
Whenever we do a Kerry For Choice stall, I’m always struck by how many people are pleased to see a pro-choice presence in the county and can’t wait to sign our petition and/or get some badges. Sure we’ve had some anti-choicers but they usually wander off, after they’ve said their piece, without too much hassle and we’ve had no major trouble so far.
Why is hyperfemininity expected of fat women?
There’s nothing wrong with femininity. What we need to get rid of is the simultaneous denial and demanding of it that fat women face daily. Like ‘womanhood,’ our femininity is our own to define or to reject entirely. – Why is hyperfemininity expected of fat women?
This is one of those articles that gets under your skin, dislodges many thoughts from your brain and leads to a ‘light bulb’ moment when you start to see things differently.
unruly bodies, unruly lives
sometimes, we mete out horrible damage, and, sometimes, we do that willfully and intentionally. other times, we try to soothe and to comfort, try to do good, to be positive forces, but, sometimes, that doesn’t succeed and we end up doing harm instead. sometimes, though, we do succeed, and we do provide some healing, some warmth. we just never know. – unruly bodies, unruly lives
When is a book review not just a book review? When is writing about skincare not just writing about skincare? When they’re combined to form this glorious essay about Hunger by Roxane Gay, skincare, body image and how we take care, or don’t take care, after ourselves.
Abortion on demand and without apology
But if you must continue to object to the phrase, for god’s sake do it in a way that doesn’t insult the legacy of past generations of activists. Their struggle for abortion on demand was not awful or stupid or nonsense. It paved the way for where we are today – on the cusp of liberalising one of the Global North’s last black spots for reproductive rights – and though we need not follow their exact footsteps, we owe them at least the courtesy of acknowledging the path they took. – Abortion on demand and without apology
The phrase “abortion on demand” comes up for discussion a lot. This is a brilliant piece on its origins and why it’s what we should be fighting for, even if we don’t use it was a slogan. Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt is worth reading on this as well, it completely changed my thinking about the phrase and reminded me of its pro-choice roots.
Harvey Weinstein and What Happens Next
Across industries, there are still men so powerful, they seem untouchable. Feminist gains have only amplified this disconnect: women are told that the playing field is fair, so when men behave badly and everyone seems to know about it, it’s not just hard to rock the boat–it’s hard to know there’s a boat that needs rocking. – Harvey Weinstein and What Happens Next
This is a great piece, by Jill Filipovic, about Harvey Weinstein and what happens next. The last paragraph is particularly brilliant.
How to enjoy sex if antidepressants have killed your libido
Repeat this as often as necessary, because it’s a very important point. You’re not defective. You’re not broken. You’re treating a very common illness and the treatment is causing some very common side effects. That’s all that’s happening here. And you’re also not alone. So many couples go through this. It’s easy to imagine that everyone else is living their perfect lives, having perfect smug shags and then going to hot yoga – BUT THEY AREN’T. This is normal and you are normal and everything’s going to be totally fine. – How to enjoy sex if antidepressants have killed your libido
Horny goat weed recommendation aside, this is one of best articles I’ve read about the, not discussed often enough, issue of navigating your sex life when you have a mental illness.
Aisling Bea: ‘My father’s death has given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness’
I didn’t care that he had not been “in his right mind”, because if I had been important enough to him I would have put him back into his “right mind” before he did it. I didn’t care that he had been in “chronic pain” and that men in Ireland don’t talk about their feelings, so instead die of sadness. I didn’t want him at peace. I wanted him struggling, but alive, so he could meet my boyfriends and give them a hard time, like in American movies. I wanted him to come to pick me up from discos, so my mother didn’t have to go out alone in her pyjamas at night to get me. – Aisling Bea: ‘My father’s death has given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness’