215 Of The Best Longreads Of 2015 — All Written By Women

Hey, so, maybe you’ve heard about this gender byline gap? Like how in print, men make up about 62% of bylines in the most widely circulated newspapers, and 58% of those at the top four online news sites (according to the Women’s Media Center). Or how women head fewer major US newspapers today than they did 10 years ago and are underrepresented in op-eds, book reviews and photojournalism. Or maybe you read that article by Dayna Evans on Matter about the otherwise progressive Gawker Media’s treatment of women, which noted that if Jezebel was excluded from the company’s editorial statistics, its staff would be 28% female. (It’s 38% female with Jezebel included.) Perhaps you’re aware that racial diversity in media is even worse — people of color account for only 13.34% of journalists at daily newspapers.

I’ve been assembling weekly, and then bi-weekly, lists of the web’s best longform for Autostraddle for four years now, and because of all those reasons above (and because we love women around here), I wanted to do a year-end round-up of the best longform written by women. I qualified “longform” as containing 3,000 words or more, but there are ten or so articles I included despite falling under that word count. I wanted a racially diverse group of writers and I wanted to represent as many independent and women’s publications as possible — which was tougher than I’d hoped, as most mainstream women’s magazines and even some of the most hyped new media sites for women rarely publish articles over 2,000 words. Independent women’s publications, like ours, face serious budget constraints when it comes to commissioning longer pieces outside of personal essays. But even well-funded properties go light on women’s longform; it remains far easier to find longform by women in major men’s magazines like GQ and Esquire than their female counterparts, like Elle and Vogue. As Amanda Hess wrote in Slate following a controversy regarding a male-dominated Port Magazine feature about the future of print media, “I hope we can also take this opportunity to question why women’s writing is aligned so heavily with personal essays and service journalism — the forms that are the cheapest and ad-friendliest to produce.”

That being said, it wasn’t hard to find women writing amazing shit all over the internet. Longreads was an incredible resource for me when putting this together, and if you don’t follow them, you really ought to. Specifically, Emily Perper does some incredible work over there. And although I remain bitter that Longform.org has yet to include our site on their app or website, I’m madly in love with their app and their website, and have been for years.

In some of the reporting pieces, men also were writers of the piece. I only selected a piece that had men involved if there were equal or more women involved.

Investigative Reporting (25)

Seafood From Slaves, by Robin McDowell, Margie Mason, Martha Mendoza and Esther Htusan for The AP

Journalists spent over a year working on this story, aiming to expose the widespread use of forced labor in the Southeast Asian fishing industry. Includes the stories of some of the 2,000 fisherman rescued as a direct result of this investigation.

Drugging Our Kids, by Karen De Sa for The San Jose Mercury News

Foster kids in the California system live psychologically complex lives to begin with — lives that are becoming increasingly complicated by the litany of risky psychiatric medications dispensed to them at alarming rates. A five-part, multi-media interactive feature.

Laying Waste, by Sasha Chapman for The Walrus

There’s enough food on the planet to feed the 795 million people currently going without, but we’re throwing out over 6 million tons of “perfectly good groceries” every year. A Canadian food writer investigates her own consumption and waste, and the country’s.

Beyond Punishment, by Julie K. Brown and Casey Frank, photography and video by Emily Michot for The Miami Herald

An extensive multimedia report of the heinous conditions and life-threatening situations faced by the prisoners at Lowell Correctional Institution, the country’s largest women’s prison — including sexual assault, abuse, corruption, cover-ups, woefully inadequate healthcare and possibly even murder.

The Threat To Detroit’s Rebound Isn’t Crime or the Economy, It’s The Mortgage Industry, by Anna Clark for Next City

Redlining as it’s traditionally defined doesn’t happen anymore, but the mortgage industry still finds ways to keep minority homeowners out.

Failure Factories, by Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner and Michael LaForgia and photographed by Dirk Shadd for The Tampa-Bay Times

A multi-part year-long investigation into how Pinellas County School District leaders have neglected the students who most need their support.

Welcome to Beautiful Parkersburg, West Virginia, by Mariah Blake and Emily Kassie for The Huffington Post Highline

A seven-chapter investigation of Dupont’s brazen corporate gambit — where the company poisoned a slice of Appalachia with the help of local regulators.

Out of the Shadows, by Jenifer McKim for The New England Center for Investigative Reporting

A four-part series on child abuse and neglect in Massachusetts, where many cases of death by child abuse haven’t even been investigated, let alone solved.

Police Withhold Videos Despite Vows of Transparency, by Kimberly Kindy and Julie Tate for The Washington Post

The Post’s own data revealed 760 police shootings nationwide in 2015 at press time, of which 49 incidents were captured on camera — and less than half of those videos have been publicly released. An extensive multi-media work of reportage.

10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans’ All-Charter School System Has Proven a Failure, by Colleen Kimmett for In These Times

Other cities are looking to New Orleans in hope of erecting all-charter systems of their own, but there’s just one problem: “In interview after interview, people said the same thing: The system doesn’t put children’s needs first.”

Rape on the Night Shift, by Bernice Yeung for Reveal News

The female night shift janitors working alone after the office has gone home are often subject to rape and assault — and reporting the abuse is more likely to get them fired than it is to get them justice.

Bees at the Brink, by Josephine Marcotty with photos and video by Renée Jones Schneider for The Star-Tribune

One-third of our food system relies, in some way, on the existence of the honeybee. Unfortunately, that same food system is killing the honeybee.

Left Behind: The Unintended Consequences of School Choice, by Jennifer Berry Hawes, Adam Parker and Amanda Kerr for The Post & Courier

A multimedia five-chapter look at students in Charleston County, home to the best and worst high schools in South Carolina, where the students most in need of quality teachers are being stranded in half-empty schools filled only 38% to capacity. Includes interactive graphics and all kinds of fascinating stuff.

Your Son is Deceased, by Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker

An unarmed mentally ill boy was murdered in his backyard by the Albuquerque police department, a department which is basically an endless nightmare.

The Forgotten Students, and Eroding School Districts, of California’s Drought, by Maressa Nicosia for The Seventy-Four

In the Central Valley of California, schools are losing students — many the children of immigrant parents who came to the area to work on farms — which means losing heaps of state aid, which means small, rural school districts struggling harder than ever to stay above water in towns without any.

Abortion Foes Use Misleading Videos to Pressure Planned Parenthood Contractors, by Sofia Resnick for RH Reality Check

The Center For Medical Process’s high-profile video campaign against Planned Parenthood isn’t the first time videos like this have been used by abortion opponents. There’s a long history of this strategy being used to shut down existing clinics and to intimidate contractors out of opening new ones.

Death on Sevenmile Road, by Melissa del Bosque for The Texas Observer

Militarizing the border between Texas and Mexico has resulted in the Texas Department of Public Safety using lethal force with abandon, determined to stop immigration by “any means necessary.”

The Shooting Gallery, by Dana Liebelson for Huffington Post Highline

In Nevada, prison guards are allowed to carry guns, and the results have been gruesome and deadly.

Children of the Tribes, by Julia Scheers for Pacific Standard

The Twelve Tribes, a controversial religious sect in Plymouth who consider themselves direct descendants of the Puritans, run a nice little bakery, abuse children and might be more of a cult than a religion.

‘Till Death Do Us Part, by Jennifer Berry Hawes, Natalie Caula Hauff, Doug Pardue and Glenn Smith, for The Post and Courier

In South Carolina, a woman is murdered by a man every 12 days and the state does nothing. It does less than nothing. A seven-part, multimedia, interactive feature.

A River of Booze, by Karin Fisher and Eric Hoover for The Chronicle of Higher Education

Part of a series on college drinking, this article looks at alcohol culture from all sides at The University of Georgia in Athens.

Undrinkable, by Neena Satija and Alexa Ura for The Texas Monthly

Over 90,000 people living along the Texas-Mexico border live without running water, and many tens of thousands more have running water “of such poor quality that they cannot know what poisons or diseases it might carry.”

The Long Reach of Childhood Trauma, by Arielle Levin Becker for The CT Mirror

“Research has linked exposure to abuse, neglect and other forms of severe adversity in childhood to a wide range of mental and physical diseases and disorders. Can understanding this make a profound change in the way we prevent illness?”

A Changing Mission, by Carolyn Said and Joe Garofoli for The San Francisco Chronicle

An assemblage of stories and multi-media from the citizens of the rapidly-gentrifying Mission Neighborhood — some who’ve been there forever, some who arrived more recently — asking the question “to whom does San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood belong?”

What Some Pregnancy Centers Are Really Saying to Women With Unplanned Pregnancies, by Meghan Winter for Cosmopolitan

A year-long investigation found that these “sweet grannies and medical pros offering impartial advice in a crisis” are anything but.

Unvarnished, by Sarah Maslin Nir for The New York Times

*Longform Best of 2015*

One of the year’s most influential stories, this exposé on the conditions of nail workers in New York led to actual political action and a city-wide consciousness raising. But, too much less fanfare, rebuttals appeared in The New York Review of Books, which were handily rebuked by The Times, and again by Reason Magazine, leading The Times‘ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan to write of the investigation that “its findings, and the language used to express them, should have been dialed back — in some instances substantially.” Chava Gourarie of The Columbia Journalism Review caught up with Nir, her editor at The Times, and some of the women in the story this month to talk about changes in the industry since the story’s release and the impact the story has had on the industry, as well as a balanced look at challenges to its veracity.

Prison Kids, by Alissa Figueroa, Connie Fossi-Garcia, Alice Brennan, Cristina Costantini, Alcione Gonzalez, Adam Weinstein, Ani Ucar and other members of the Fusion Investigative Unit for Fusion

A Fusion Investigation featuring multiple articles, documentaries and interactive features about the growing problem with youth incarceration in the United States.

An In-Depth Look At Multilevel-Marketing, by Laura Rena Murray, Kate Kilpatrick and Alia Malek for Al Jazeera America

A five-part investigative study on the programs and the specific disenfranchised people they exploit, including Herbalife and its devastating effect on Hispanic immigrant communities.

Surviving Street Harassment in Mexico City, by Anna Holmes and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh for Fusion

“Stop Telling Women To Smile” is an extensive interactive multi-media piece that aims to “amplify the voices of Mexican women who are challenging the ways in which their communities turn a blind eye to harassment and violence against women.”

Feature Journalism (31)

I’m No Longer Afraid, by Noreen Malone with photography by Amanda Demme for New York Magazine

*Longform Best of 2015*

An extraordinary assemblage of true stories from 35 women who were sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby: the world fell in love with a man who hurt them irrevocably and got away with it, and the anguish never really let up.

Prison Born, by Sarah Yager for The Atlantic

What’s the best way to raise children born to incarcerated mothers?

The Earthquake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest, by Kathryn Schulz for The New Yorker

*Longform Best of 2015*

#1 on Longform’s list of the Top 10 articles of the year, about the inevitable earthquake we should probably start worrying about right now.

This is How Fox News Brainwashes Viewers, by Heather Hogan for Autostraddle

This in-depth multi-year investigation of the Fox News propaganda cycle won a 2015 Plain English Media Award.

Reckoning With Rosie, by Alexa Garcia-Ditta for The Texas Observer

Looking at a woman who got an illegal abortion 38 years ago, which unfortunately is all-too-relevant today.

What’s It Like To Be Poor at An Ivy League School? by Brooke Lea Foster for Boston Magazine

Figuring out how to pay for college is just the beginning — being in college, itself, offers myriad opportunities for lower-class students to be excluded from all the experience has to offer.

Insomnia That Kills, by Aimee Swartz for The Atlantic

Fatal familial insomnia, or FFI, is a very rare genetic disease that results in increasing insomnia and sleeplessness and, eventually, death.

No, Native Americans Aren’t Genetically More Susceptible to Alcoholism, by Maia Szalavitz for The Verge

“…the myth obscures the real causes of addiction and the starring roles that trauma and the multiple stresses of inequality can play in creating it.”

For Trans Individuals, Seeing Medical Care Can Be A Minefield, by Kari Mugo for Bitch Magazine

“I had been living my life as a trans man, going by my chosen name for almost 10 years, and asking my friends to use male pronouns, and then I get into this situation where who I really am completely disappears. I felt invisible. That person I had been living as—Ajay—didn’t exist in that hospital setting. I became this female who was called by my old name and was treated as such.”

Homes For The Homeless, by Susie Cagle for Aeon

Utah is leading the way with a simple strategy: give homes to homeless people.

The Long and Winding Detainment of Diana Ramos, by Christie Thompson for The Marshall Project

How an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador ended up spending four years in detention.

It’s Not A Blank Slate, by Britany Robinson for Mashable

Mixed feelings about the evolution of Detroit and the (mostly white) entrepreneurs relocating there.

How to Survive a Footnote, by Emily Bass for n+1

LGBT Activism and HIV/AIDS activism was inexorably linked throughout the ’80s and ’90s, but now, not so much — a state of affairs that would’ve seemed unimaginable back then. So this piece goes all the way back until we get back here, and talk about why.

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous, by Gabrielle Glaser for The Atlantic

Why is Alcoholics Anonymous pushed as the only option for addicts when it’s not the best one, let alone the only one, for most of them?

Meet Marilyn Mosby: The Baltimore Prosecutor In The Eye Of the Storm, by Heidi Mitchell for Vogue

A profile of the 35-year-old prosecutor, raised in “a house full of cops,” who became a national figure after only 100 days in office by doing “what no lead prosecutor in America had done in many turbulent months: bring swift and severe charges against police officers in the death of a black man.”

There Are 44 NFL Players Who Have Been Accused Of Sexual or Physical Assault, by Broadly Staff for Broadly

This isn’t longform as it’s typically categorized, but its visual innovation should be noted and it certainly contains enough words — arranged as a series of football cards.

The Lost Girls, by Apoorva Mandavilli for Spectrum

An incredibly in-depth multi-chapter analysis of why girls with autism struggle to get diagnosed, treated, or even understood.

How to Burn What Can’t Catch Fire, by Danielle C. Belton for The Root

The first of a four-part series on “the growing social justice movement, from traditional players to #BlackLivesMatter, examining where the movement has been, where it is now, and where it’s going.”

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong? by Katherine Reynolds Lewis for Mother Jones

Practices that meet short-term needs, like peace in the classroom, are turning into long-term failures for the kids who need help the most.

Pro-Choice For Christ, by Reina Gattuso for Feministing

Inside the Religious Institute, a mutli-faith organization that advocates for access to contraceptives as well as for sexual health and education, refusing to pit bibles against birth control.

The Disappeared, by Sophie Anmuth for Latterly

Hundreds of young Egyptian men have vanished, turning up days or months later in prison — this is the story of the mother of one of those captured, who refused to accept his disappearance as absolute.

Landlocked Islanders, by Krista Langlois for Hakai Magazine

Life in the Marshall Islands is defined by the ocean, and its natives managed to survive Japanese occupation during the Second World War, followed by US nuclear testing between 1946-1958 — but now climate change is forcing Islanders to relocate. Many have already done so, in landlocked rural America.

Isis Enshrines a Theology of Rape, by Rukmini Callimachi for The New York Times

A Pultizer Prize-winning journalist on the embrace and promotion of sex slavery in the Islamic state.

The Life and Times of Strider Wolf, by Sarah Schweitzer for The Boston Globe

*Longform Best of 2015*

Abused nearly to death, Strider was rescued from the terror of his mother’s boyfriend and given to his grandparents, both dependent on multiple medications and struggling with homelessness and poverty themselves. But he survived, and he is surviving.

Finding Solidarity in Fields of Color, by Nicole L. Garner for The Riveter

Noting the diminishing presence of black farmers, Nicole Garner talks to Natasha Bowens, the biracial author of The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming, about their shared dream of an industry with more diverse portrayals and realities.

Hear Them Roar: Meet the Honey Badgers, The Women Behind The Men’s Movement, by Jen Oritz for Marie Claire

They’re here, they’re real, and they’re terrible: women who agree with the men who think feminism is the problem.

“Sample posts, headlines, and tweets by Honey Badgers include: “You weren’t raped. You’re a whore. Join the club”; “Going Mental: She Might Be a Crazy Bitch If … Red Flags!”; “The #feminist draft is fully operational. If you have a vagina or mangina youre [sic] forced to obey. #WomenAgainstFeminism.”

On Menopause, by Rose George for Mosaic

“A few things science doesn’t know about menopause: what it’s for, how it works, and how best to treat it.”

Death of a Valley, by Lauren Markham for Guernica

Because it keeps getting later and here’s one California town that remains inescapably thirsty.

Whale Fall, by Rebecca Giggs for Granta

“That the whale had re-stranded, this time higher up the beach, did not portend well for its survival but so astonished were the crowd and such a marvel was the animal that immoderate hope proved difficult to quash.”

Exporting Clothes, Importing Safety, by Amy Yee for Roads & Kingdoms

A look at factories in Bangladesh who seem to be working on improving factory safety conditions, in a limited manner, after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 — but still won’t budge on most issues relating to workers’ rights.

The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning, By Claudia Rankine for The New York Times

“…though the white liberal imagination likes to feel temporarily bad about black suffering, there really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed for simply being black: no hands in your pockets, no playing music, no sudden movements, no driving your car, no walking at night, no walking in the day, no turning onto this street, no entering this building, no standing your ground, no standing here, no standing there, no talking back, no playing with toy guns, no living while black.”

The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá, by Susan Dominus for The New York Times

*Longform Best of 2015*

The fascinating story of two pairs of Colombian identical twins who were raised as two pairs of fraternal twins due to a hospital error. This piece was the #2 pick on Longform’s 2015 Reader Poll.

Secondhand Stories In A Rusting Steel City, by Robyn K. Coggins for The Wilson Quarterly

Once upon a time, Braddock, Pennsylvania, was “the place to be.” Now, it’s one of many towns propped up and let down by the steel industry, and this is the story of the pawn shop that survived.

I Thought You Would Help Me, by Ali Smith for The Guardian

Listening to the stories of immigration detainees, and telling them.

Swallow Your Pride, by Christina Cauterucci for Washington City Paper

When did San Francisco Pride become so corporate… and so straight?

History (12)

A Look at the Legacy of African Americans in Opera, by Alison Kinney for Hyperallergic

The 2015-2016 season will be the first in which the Met will not employ blackface, which is a grand occasion to look back on the tumultuous history of racism and anti-blackness in opera performances and audiences.

Why Rape Was Impossible, by Therese Oneill for Jezebel

A look at the terrifying medical logic of 18th century law.

The Divorce Colony, by April White for The Atavist

How Sioux Falls, South Dakota, became a safe haven for women seeking a divorce in the 19th century, including East Coast socialites.

How Americans Bought and Sold Racism, and Why It Still Matters, by Lisa Hix for Collectors Weekly

A look at our country’s ugly legacy through the material objects and media stories it bought and sold in order to reinforce the ideology of white supremacy and black inferiority.

Who Is It That Afflicts You? By Rachel Kincaid for Autostraddle

From a childhood obsession with the Salem Witch Trials to the witch hunts we observe (and engage in) every day.

Where Brooklyn At? by Banna Desta for Seven Scribes

Brooklyn, home to so many hip-hop kings and queens, is losing its community and that community’s incredible music with the rise of gentrification.

A River Runs Through It, by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah for The Believer

The story of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios.

The History of Lesbian Bars, by Nicole Pasulka for Broadly

The history of lesbian bars is also the history of where women could and could not go or be alone — or with each other.

Dixie is Dead, by Tracy Thompson for The Bitter Southerner

A journey through every annal of history towards seeing the ever-shifting South “as it really is, not as what people imagine it to be.”

Satan in Poughkeepsie, by Alex Mar for The Believer

The Church of Satan sprang up during the ’60s counterculture movement in California and most assumed then, and even assume now, that the church was a group that practiced “Satanic Rituals,” worshipped the devil, and killed things — but it’s actually just “atheists with melodrama.”

The Mystery of Sacagawea, by Natalie Shure for Buzzfeed

*Longform Best of 2015*

The famed Shoshone heroine who helped Lewis and Clark journey to the West has become greater and more mythical than the sum of her recorded parts… because there aren’t many recorded parts, when it all comes down to it.

Ghosts of the Midway, by Megan Shepard for This Land

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, many amusement parks boomed, busted, and caused their fair share of controversy. A look back at the area’s most successful parks and one in particular, Crystal City, of which only a marquee sign remains.

Essays & Opinion (25)

A Girl’s Youngstown, by Jacqueline Marino for Belt Magazine

“The Youngstown of my past is two cities: One safe, leafy, and full of promise, the other scary, dirty, and stifling. In my memories, in me, both remain.”

Scary Negroes With Guns, by Messiah Rhodes for The New Inquiry

“American guns are meant to represent the white man’s freedom to protect himself from government and from the colored hordes that surround him. “

Those Drunk Indians, by Evie Ruddy for Briarpatch Magazine

“The thought of getting stranded in rural Saskatchewan hadn’t crossed my mind, and if we were to get stuck, I could depend on the kindness of a stranger or a police officer. My partner couldn’t.”

How to Write About Trans Women, by Gabrielle Bellot for Autostraddle

“Images of hairy legs in high heels or emerging from tutus are classics you can’t go wrong with, like Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz or light summery pastas with basil and garlic.”

How I Identify Is Not Your Choice, by Sultana Khan for Gawker

“The time to boldly explore the changing landscape of race and its future in our society is now—and much of that conversation starts with our children.”

Student Activism is Serious Business, by Roxane Gay for The New Republic

“In the protests at Mizzou and Yale and elsewhere, students have made it clear that the status quo is unbearable.”

Fear, by Marilynne Robinson for The New York Review of Books

“..my thesis is always the same, and it is very simply stated, though it has two parts: first, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”

A Letter From Black America, by Nikole Hannah-Jones for Politico

“My friends and I locked eyes in stunned silence. Between the four adults, we hold six degrees. Three of us are journalists. And not one of us had thought to call the police. We had not even considered it.”

On Nerd Entitlement, by Laurie Penny for The New Statesman

“…shy, nerdy women have to try to pull themselves out of that same horror into a world that hates, fears and resents them because they are women, and to a certain otherwise very intelligent sub-set of nerdy men, the category “woman” is defined primarily as “person who might or might not deny me sex, love and affection”.

A Brief History Of Name Fuckery, by Larissa Pham for Full Stop

“These names of mine are too many characters for a state ID; too long for most web fields, and hard to pronounce besides. Most people don’t know these names exist at all.”

There Once Was a Girl, by Katy Waldman for Slate

Against the false narratives of anorexia.

The Insults of Age, by Helen Garner for The Monthly

“Your face is lined and your hair is grey, so they think you are weak, deaf, helpless, ignorant and stupid. When they address you they tilt their heads and bare their teeth and adopt a tuneful intonation. “

Why Do We Humanize White Guys Who Kill People? by Rebecca Traister for The Cut

We’re surrounded by and raised on narratives of white men with all their flesh fleshed out, and everybody else stays flat.

The More I Learn About Breast Milk, The More Amazed I Am, by Angela Garbes for The Stranger

She didn’t think about it much until she had her daughter and now she can’t stop thinking about it because it’s amazing, just really amazing.

Black Girls Don’t Get To Be Depressed, by Samantha Irby for Elle Magazine

“I developed very glamorous coping mechanisms like covering myself with grisly death tattoos and eating food out of the trash.”

“Queering” the Relationship, by Jasmine Rose-Olesco for The Riveter

Looking for the language to define relationships that are neither sexual or romantic, but are far more intense than a typical best friendship.

My Prescribed Life, by Emily Landau for The Walrus

“What do these medications do to the developing brain? More crucially, what impact do they have on emerging identity? As part of the first generation to grow up on antidepressants, I think I know.”

A Black Girl’s History With Southern Frat Racism, by Tracy Clayton for Buzzfeed

As one of the few black students at the small Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, Clayton knows first-hand how hostile the enivronment can be.

Tangential Divagation: Notes of An Immigrant Daughter, by Melissa R. Sipin for Vida Web

“Tangential divagation: what can I say about my return? I sit in this hipster coffee shop feeling utterly broken. When I left this sprawling city of cyclical sultriness and palm trees five years ago, I swore I would never look back.”

The Mother of All Questions, by Rebecca Solnit for Harper’s

For women, the question of happiness always comes down to the question of children, even when children — or happiness — is hardly the point for everybody, or even most people.

How To Kill Yourself And Not Die: On Blackness and the Desire to Overachieve, by Morgen for Medium

“I’m a young queer black woman, I’m the CEO and founder of Thurst, and I’m working myself to death.”

I Don’t Believe In God, But I Believe in Lithium, by Jamie Lowe for The New York Times Magazine

The history of lithium and the history of the author’s life and the bipolar disorder that too often defines it.

The Only One, by Kendra James for Lenny

“We shouldn’t have to enter our hobbies with loins girded, shields up, and a chisel ready to carve out a space for ourselves.”

How To Win Tinder, by Alicia Eler and Eve Peyser for The New Inquiry

Because, see, it’s already so much like a game.

We Cry With Charleston, by Alaina Monts for Autostraddle

“This man experienced these people in community, saw them healing and uplifting each other, and still decided to commit an act of terrorism.”

Business & Tech (25)

photo by Starr Foreman via LA Weekly

photo by Star Foreman via LA Weekly

The CEO Paying Everyone $70,000 Salaries Has Something to Hide, by Karen Weise for Bloomberg Businessweek

*Longform Best of 2015*

File under “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

The Assistant Economy, by Francesca Mari for Dissent Magazine

On the assistant in literature, in history, in pop culture, in Hollywood, in the economy, and in the very real day-to-day-lives of the assistants themselves.

Corner Drug Stores Create Community in L.A., by Vincenza Black for LA Weekly

As chains like Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid continue gobbling up national real estate, some beloved corner drug stores continue existing in Los Angeles — against odds that grow more and more insurmountable as big chains game the system and contracts in their favor.

Gawker’s Problem With Women, by Danya Evans for Matter

Gawker Media has been criticized for many things, but this article pointed a pretty bright light on a new problem within the ranks.

Why Are Sports Bras So Terrible? by Rose Eveleth for Racked

“Standing in the way of designing the best sports bra possible is millennia of stigma, powerful marketing forces, and good old-fashioned physics.”

Get Rich Or Die Vlogging, by Gaby Dunn for Fusion

For YouTube stars, it’s pretty easy to become too famous to get a “real job” and too broke not to.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Sex Workers in Silicon Valley, by Siouxse Q James for Ratter

The fantasy of the uptick in tech workers seeking out sex workers obscures the reality of tech’s hostility to sex workers on a strictly technical level.

Black Arts: The $800 Million Family Selling Art Degrees and False Hopes, by Katia Savchuk for Forbes

The Academy of Art San Francisco is a nationwide scam exploiting thousands of students to make one family very, very rich.

Why Lime Crime Is The Most Hated Beauty Company on the Internet, by Arabelle Sicardi for Racked

Note: Unlike the other humans on this list (to the best of our knowledge), Arabelle Sicardi identifies as non-binary and prefers they/them pronouns.

“This brand has everything: fake deaths, Nazi costumes, legal threats against 13 year-old girls, hacker attacks, class action lawsuits, FDA warnings, credit card fraud, cold sores, and questionably named eyeshadow palettes called ‘China Doll.'”

Superdonor, by Katie O’Reilly for Vela Magazine

An egg donor sneaks into The Donor Egg Meeting 2015, a summit for medical professionals with a stake in the booming business of egg donation.

How The Mast Brothers Fooled The World Into Paying $10 A Bar For Their Crappy Hipster Chocolate, by Deena Shanker for Quartz

Two white guys with beards who live in Brooklyn tell some lies about a mediocre project, make tons of money.

One Night At Kachka, by Erin DeJesus, Danielle Centoni and Jen Stevenson for Eater

*Longform Best of 2015*

The way this story is visually assembled is extraordinary in and of itself. The tale it tells is pretty damn interesting, too.

I Was An Amazon Chew Toy, by Corrina Zappia for The Awl

“Most people just walked their dog from the elevator to their desks, but [this] kid perambulated around the office hallways like this was Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and he was on a mid-afternoon stroll.”

The Post-Ownership Society, by Monica Potts for The Washingtonian

This is how the sharing economy seems to enable a bohemian lifestyle while in fact leaving its aspirants consistently, enduringly, asset-free and poor.

Laura Agudelo is Living Large, by Jessica Weiss for Narrative.ly

A profile of the plus-size fashionista of Bogotá, challenging Colombia’s cultural norms and inspiring other women to feel strong and beautiful in their bodies.

Ubering While Black, by Jenna Wortham for Matter

For everything that’s wrong about Uber, this part is right: Uber might be the solution for black passengers who’ve been dealing far too long with taxi drivers who won’t pick up black passengers.

Anatomy of a Scam: The National Association of Professional Women, by Nikki Gloudeman for The Establishment

Star Jones is the spokesperson for the NAPW, which posits itself as empowering and thriving — and it is none of those things.

All Dolled Up: The Enduring Triumph of American Girl, by Julia Rubin for Racked

The entire concept of American Girl came from one woman with ideas nobody believed would be profitable. But she knew she was right, and she went for it, and she won — although she also declined to be interviewed for this story.

The Dim Sum Revolution, by Vanessa Hua for San Francisco Magazine

When these workers got screwed by the powers that be, they fought back — for $4 million in stolen wages — and won.

East of Palo Alto’s Eden: Race and the Formation of Silicon Valley, by Kim-Mai Cutler for Tech Crunch

Last year, Kim-Mai Cutler wrote the story of her own (white) family’s history in Silicon Valley, which was also the history of Silicon Valley — this, she tells us, is “another story,” a story of East Palo Alto, and it’s a damn good one.

The Upwardly Mobile Barista, by Amanda Ripley for The Atlantic

What can we make of Starbucks’ initiative with the University of Arizona to make it easier for its workers to get college degrees?

Essie Nail Polish’s Salon Takeover, by Marian Bull for Racked

How Essie became the go-to brand for nail salons and the people who patronize them.

The Real Teens of Silicon Valley, by Nellie Bowles for California Sunday Magazine

*Longform Best of 2015*

Where a bunch of kids — men, mostly, between the ages of 19-23 — hoping to be the next big thing sleep on matresses in communal living spaces for $950-$1,450 a month, exchanging buzzwords, ideas, and collaborations.

How Wal-Mart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce, by Susan Berfield for Bloomberg Businessweek

The idea of a strike on Black Friday sends the union-busting corporate retailer into crisis mode.

Silicon Valley High, by Angela Chen for The Morning News

On growing up with Chinese immigrant parents in the shadows of Silicon Valley and incidentally running an e-commerce business at the tender age of 12.

Memoir (29)

image by Katherine Killefer via Broadly

image by Katherine Killefer via Broadly

What’s In A Necronym? by Jeannie Vanasco for The Believer

“Why should you be alive?” my father had asked him. “You’re not working and my daughter’s dead.” The judge remembered my father and let him go.”

How to Make Yogurt in Manila, by Grace Talusan for The Butter

Recommended by Sari Bottom at Longreads.

“However, I am not at all discouraged from failing at making yogurt. The failure doesn’t stop me from trying.”

My Aunt & Boyfriend Made Out On Thanksgiving, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment

“We had reached the point in our relationship where I despised everything about him. Not just the ugly crying, his smug laugh like he gets paid $5,000 for every shitty joke, his inability to ever pick a restaurant for dinner, or the fact that he texted me from the bathroom. Not just the fact that he used scented shower gel, scented lotion, cologne, and matching deodorant ALL AT ONCE. But I digress.”

My Life In The New Age, by Porochista Khakpour for The Virginia Quarterly Review

“It was everything it did not do and did not let me do. It kept me from getting well. It kept me from Western medicine. It did not allow me to reach for antibiotics, the most effective cure we have against any form of my chronic illness, Lyme disease. The alternatives distracted me so much that I never saw the main road.”

My Birth Story Wasn’t At All What I Expected, by Haley Jude for Autostraddle

Includes video and photography.

“My water had been broken for over 20 hours, I’d had at least four internal exams and several whole hands inside of me. Infection was highly likely. “

Reckoning, by Lisa Mecham for Midnight Breakfast

Gorgeous and haunted, and recommended by Roxane Gay.

“And now? What do you hear on the other side of forsaken? I need to know. They say there is no sound in space.”

Kissing, by Vickie Vértiz for The Offing

“It started like anything else, playing around. You loved your best friend, spending your summers eating pistachio ice cream from the Thrifty’s and walking to the video store to rent sexy horror movies starring lesbian vampires.”

Out of the Swollen Sea, by Tammy Delatorre for The Rumpus

Winner of the first annual Payton Prize, judged by Cheryl Strayed.

The first thing my father said to him, “You really are a white man.” We went snorkeling. My boyfriend thought he spotted a shark, swam and scurried out onto the rocks. My father was not impressed: him leaving me as sacrificial bait.

Anything to Make You Happy, by Ottessa Moshfeg for Lucky Peach

“Mayonnaise, to my mother, was like peanut butter to the French: disgusting, uncivilized, and impossible to find. On a scale of respectability, a jar of mayonnaise came in somewhere between a vat of pig fat and one of those plastic pails of Marshmallow Fluff.”

Full Battle Rattle, by Glendaliz Camacho for The Butter

“After him, a sort of coldness crept in, birthed by the knowledge that anyone can sever themselves from my life at any moment. Everyone is capable of severing themselves from their humanity. The only way not to be destroyed by that understanding, the only way to survive, was to maintain a partition between myself and everyone else.”

Far Away From Me, by Jenny Zhang for Rookie

“I tried not to mention my suspicion that being one of two Asian kids in my entire grade, and the only Asian girl in my class, might have had something to do with it.”

Living With My Mother’s Mental Illness, by Fariah Roisin for Broadly

“A hurricane of a deep blundering mess, she was hysterical and menacing, resolute in her actions because of how quickly she would transform. “

Salsa y La Naturaleza: How a Willie Colón Song Taught Me About Queerness and Love, by Gabby Rivera for Autostraddle

“Willie Colón’s voice was my grandma dressed in her widow’s black counting novenas. It was End of Days empty, calling out for redemption. He sang like that time I asked my Grandma if my Dad loved me, like that time I got spanked for asking such an obvious question.”

Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair, by Nishta Mehra for Guernica

“What these friends don’t understand is that when the act of defining your family structure becomes an expected part of every day of your entire life, you grow tired of being gracious. “

The Laziest Coming Out Story You’ve Ever Heard, by Chloe Caldwell for Medium

“No one’s gay,” he griped. “Everyone’s gay,” I said, excited about my newfound sexuality. “That’s easy for a straight white woman to say,” he said.

Around the World in 33 Days, by Yena Sharma Purmasir for Mask Magazine

“If this sounded at all like the truth then, it doesn’t anymore. When we were catching up, discussing our relatives in other countries who seemed like distorted reflections of ourselves, I asked him, “How different do you think we would be if we grew up somewhere else?”

Nossa Família, by Sofia Soter Henriques for Midnight Breakfast

“I can’t tell if who he is online is his real self, and who he is with me is a persona, or the other way around; I find myself asking about my eighty-four-year-old grandfather the same questions middle-aged men ask about their teenage daughters.”

The Bad Blood: My Life With Sickle Cell Anemia, by Sara Bivigou for Buzzfeed

“Discussing it meant acknowledging it plainly and somehow jinxing myself into more suffering. Even now as I write I hold my breath, worry, am wary of all my body’s clicks and clacks.”

Teach Yourself Italian, by Jhumpa Lahiri for The New Yorker

“How is it possible to feel exiled from a language that isn’t mine? That I don’t know? Maybe because I’m a writer who doesn’t belong completely to any language.”

A Brief Catalog of Minor Sex Scandals, by Martha Stallman for The Offing

“I don’t start really hustling until middle school, and then I’m everywhere: I shoplift pencils and candy and slap bracelets and sell them at school; I enroll in CD and book clubs under false names, have the boxes sent to vacant houses, sneak over after dark to retrieve them, and sell the contents at school; I make and sell pornography. It’s easy.”

Woven, by Lidia Yuknavitch for Guernica

“So much shame came out of my mouth. The shame of a daughter whose body was written by her father. The shame of leaving a woman I loved. The shame of failed marriages and motherhoods.”

I’m Sorry I Didn’t Respond To Your E-Mail, My Husband Coughed To Death Two Years Ago, by Rachel Ward for Medium

And then I said “I can’t believe it, he was such a good husband.”
And she said, “Yeah, but he did a shitty thing today.”
And that was the first time I laughed after Steve died.

How To Be A Woman in Tehran, by Habibe Jafarian for Guernica

“I’ve chosen the harder path. Which means: not running off to another world as soon as life gets tough.”

Damage, by Mariya Karimjee for The Big Roundtable

“When I was younger, someone took a knife to my clitoris and cut out a small but significant part of me. I blamed my mother. I despised her. I loved her.”

Swimming Lessons for Black Girls, by Christienna Fryar for The Toast

“When I was Dajerria Becton’s age, I spent countless hours in and around pools in predominantly white neighborhoods. I was that rare thing: an African-American competitive swimmer.”

My Mother’s Terrified Daughter, by Scaachi Koul for Hazlitt

“He is fearless, while I am one panic attack away from having to quit my job and live in a mystery tunnel.”

My Own Trap, by Alice Driver for Vela Magazine

“Part of my crisis stemmed from the fact that my parents, a potter and a weaver, made the sacrifices necessary to pursue their art.”

How We Are Sick: A Diagnosis, by Al Rosenberg for Women Write About Comics

“Maybe this isn’t true everywhere. Maybe somewhere there are doctors who really say, this is serious, take your time, I’ll let you have your moment of silence.”

Not Knowing, by Katherine Bernard for The Awl

“About me, she starts: “She’s a lesbian,” and the sound goes white. Identity coats everything we do. What does it keep out?”

Scarification, by Melissa Febos for Guernica

“In the locker room, you perfect the art of changing your clothes under your clothes. Your body is a secret you keep, a white rabbit, and you the magician who disappears it. Remember: this is a hard hustle to break.”

Literature & Writing (14)

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The Limits of Diversity, by Jennifer Pan for The Asian-American Writers Workshop

“As an elementary schooler during the 1990s, I recalled teachers pressing into our hands a particularly lackluster book called We Are All Alike, We Are All Different, which stated the obvious—that different types of people existed in the world—but never got around to explaining why that mattered.”

Status Update, by Minou Arjomand for Public Books

On Tumblr, Instagram, The First Bad Man by Miranda July, early adventures in cybersex, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, “beauty” in an intersectional context, and so much more.

A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella, by Linda Holmes for NPR

Y’all, this story has been to bleak and back.

Last Laugh, by Josephine Livingstone for Full Stop

“The wholeness of Eileen Myles comes from the authenticity of the way she inhabits her body and her nonnormative gender. She walks like the idea of Paul Newman: containing freedom inside it, or at least containing laughter at the knowledge that freedom isn’t a real thing.”

Why Didn’t You Just Do As You Were Told? by Jenny Diski for The London Review of Books

*Longform Best of 2015*

“A few years ago, someone asked how it came about that I ended up living with Doris Lessing in my teens.”

How To Teach a Nightmare, by Aisha Sabatini Sloan for Guernica

“We have chosen the least comfortable of three sleeping options—bunk beds? camping?—to nestle our sleeping bags in a circle on a dirty floor. Perhaps it is the opulence of the name: “The Ballroom.” Or is it that we are living inside of a poem?”

Judy Blume Knows All Your Secrets, by Susan Dominos for The New York Times Magazine

She wrote the controversial and painfully honest adolescent novels that so many girls grew up on and this is your peek behind the curtain.

They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist, by Jenny Zhang for Buzzfeed Books

After a white poet gets published in a major anthology by using a Chinese name, Zhang writes on “the long tradition of white voices drowning out those of color in the literary world.”

The Unified Theory of Ophelia: On Women, Writing, and Mental Illness, by B.N Harrison for The Toast

“The problem was that I saw myself in Ophelia, and my passion to explain her was equally a passion to understand my place in the world as woman, a writer, and a person with mental illness.”

On Pandering, by Claire Vaye Watkins for Tin House

“I’ve watched boys play the drums, guitar, sing, watched them play football, baseball, soccer, pool, Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. I’ve watched them golf. Just the other day I watched them play a kind of sweaty, book-nerd version of basketball.”

The Radical Vision of Toni Morrison, by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah for The New York Times

*Longform Best of 2015*

“What was evident that day in Katonah was that had she so much as lifted a finger, every person in the room — the studio’s director and his engineer, her P.R. person from Knopf, her publisher and two young women from the audiobooks division of Random House — would have stopped what they were doing to ask if they could assist. Not because she required it, but because the unspoken consensus was that the person who produced the 11 novels that Morrison has written, the person those books came out of, was deserving of the fuss.”

Growing Up with Mary Gaitskill by Victoria Beale for The Los Angeles Review of Books

Beale gets right at the meat of why Mary Gaitskill is my favorite forever and ever.

The Rise of the Gender Novel, by Casey Plett for The Walrus

“…what does it say that four very different authors set out to write four very different people—and came up with the same non-person? And why are cisgender readers so moved by such one-dimensional characters?”

Not Writing, by Anne Boyer for Bookforum

“I am not writing a book called Kansas City Spleen. I am not writing a sequel to Kansas City Spleen called Bitch’s Maldoror. “

Crime (23)

Playing With Fire, by Liliana Segura for The Intercept

How junk science about arson sent an innocent man to jail for life.

The Girls Who Weren’t Saved, by Anna March for Salon

It took 40 years to put the man behind bars who kidnapped 12-year-old Sheila and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon, who were kidnapped from a suburban Washington D.C. shopping mall in 1975 and murdered. Why did it take so long?

The Talented Mr. Khater, by Francesca Mari for Texas Monthly

*Longform Best of 2015*

This is a wild story of a con man evading punishment by hopping from one country to another and being charming.

The Children of Isis, by Janet Reitman for Rolling Stone

On the complicated case of three siblings from Chicago who ran away to become jihadists.

The TV Reporter Spending His Retirement Investigating a Brutal Murder, by Jessica Lussenhop for The BBC

Bill Proctor was an investigative broadcast reporter in Detroit for 40 years, and just as he was preparing for retirement, he got a call that brought him right back to a case he’d covered in the mid-1990s that wasn’t quite as open-and-shut as it had seemed.

Mexico: The Murder Of the Young, by Alma Guillermoprieto for The New York Review Of Books

43 students were abducted from one of the state’s poorest public vocational schools and everybody knows what happened, but nobody knows why.

Karachi Vice: Inside the City Torn Apart by Killings, Extortions and Terrorism, by Samira Shackle for The Guardian

In 1947, Karachi carried the hopes of the newly independent country of Pakistan. Now it’s one of the most violent places in the world.

Mrs. Bundy, by Dana Middleton Silberstein for The Morning News

A story from the Seattle television host who interviewed Ted Bundy’s mother on the day of his execution in 1989.

Have You Heard The One About The Murdered Sorority Girls? by Stassa Edwards for Jezebel

“This narrative of what happened at Chi Omega is fundamentally true, but through its ritual reconstitution, it becomes a conjured spectacle, a morality play, a grotesque fantasy played out on the bodies of women. “

Why So Many Trans Women Were Killed in 2015, by Diana Tourjee for Broadly

Despite the increasing visibility of trans women in the media and seemingly great strides being made — 2015 was a record year for the murder of trans women. Broadly underwent an extensive investigation to talk about “who these young women were and why men are attempting to create a world where they don’t exist.”

Have You Ever Thought About Killing Someone? by Rachel Monroe for Matter

An intriguing, twisting story written in haunting prose about a bizarre med student in his 40s who fantasized about his own death and disembodiment, plied his teenage friends with drugs, and eventually roped one of those teenagers into a grisly murder in a barren Texas National Park.

Why Can’t You Behave? by Sarah Weinman for Hazlitt

“Fifty years ago, Alice Crimmins’s children died, and she was the prime suspect. The trials that followed ensured we’d never know who murdered them—only that a woman’s life could be used against her.”

The Body Behind The Little White Church, by Alison Stine for narrative.ly

This is about a crime — a murder, a family of killers — but it’s also about the place and the time and crime itself.

This Woman Gets Men Accused Of Rape Back Into College — For A Price, by Katie J.M. Baker for Buzzfeed

Taking “rape apologist” to a whole new level.

Inexcusable Absences, by Dana Goldstein for The Marshall Project

Criminalizing truancy — and, often, punishing not only children but their parents — isn’t helping anybody.

The Wrong Way, by Jennifer Gonnerman for Mother Jones

34-year-old Miriam Carey was gunned down and murdered by the Secret Service when she passed a security checkpoint outside the White House with her one-year-old daughter in the backseat. The story blew up and then disappeared before anybody really learned her story. This is that story.

Jennifer Pan’s Revenge, by Karen K. Ho for Toronto Life

*Longform Best of 2015*

She couldn’t live up to her parents’ expectations of her, so she lied, and when her lies were exposed, she hired a hitman.

This Is Why NFL Star Greg Hardy Was Arrested For Assaulting His Ex-Girlfriend, by Diana Moskovitz for Deadspin

This investigation was cited by The Columbia Journalism Review as some of the best journalism of 2015.

The Curious Case of the Bog Bodies, by Kristen C. French for Nautilus

Stassa Edwards of Jezebel, citing this as one of her favorite reads of the year, wrote that this piece is “a fascinating and well-researched essay about the violently murdered bodies that were thrown in European bogs and perfectly preserved by the peat.”

What About Bob?”, by Emily Nussbaum for The New Yorker

“He’s an indelible character, mesmerizing in his strangeness: he’s parchment-skinned, blinky-eyed, lizardlike, but he has a quality of fragility, too, along with a disarming, if often peevish, directness.”

Slender Man is Watching, by Lisa Miller for New York Magazine

The bizarre and monumentally disturbing case of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, 12-year-olds accused of attempting to kill their friend, Bella, which they allegedly did because they wanted the protection of a fictional character named Slender Man.

Take a Valium, Lose Your Kid, Go To Jail, by Nina Martin for ProPublica

Casey Shehi had a bad fight with her husband, got upset, and took half a Valium to get some sleep. When her baby was born several weeks later, it was taken from her, and she was arrested for “chemical endangerment of a child.” The goal of the law is to remove children from abusive situations, but the law itself is being abused like “the chemical-endangerment version of stop-and-frisk.”

A Criminal Mind, by Erika Hayasaki for California Sunday Magazine

How did a respected psychiatrist with a family he doted on and a life he built and valued suddenly turn into a one-man pill mill, seemingly abandoning the ethics upon which he’d rested his entire worth?

Arts, Media & Pop Culture (26)

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The Keys To Enya’s Kingdom, by Anne Helen Peterson for Buzzfeed

Enya-nomics: An artist who never tours, does minimal press, takes up to seven years between albums — yet has sold 80 million records and has an estimated wealth of $136 million. Anne Helen Peterson visits the castle she recently purchased.

Don’t We Hurt Like You? by Nyasha Junior for Bitch Magazine

With shows like in Girls and Homeland, we’re seeing more and more representation of white women with mental health diagnoses — but um, they’re all white.

How Hollywood Keeps Out Women, by Jessica P. Ogilvie for LA Weekly

50% of film school graduates are women, yet “women are not tapped for power jobs in Hollywood. Their numbers trail far behind the percentage of females in executive positions in other heavily male-dominated endeavors, including the military, tech, finance, government, science and engineering.”

Weird For A Black Girl, by Jocelyn Michelle Brown for Impose

“I wondered: how come none of the women who looked like me were visibly/audibly doing these same things? Even more importantly, why did it seem as if our contributions were only viewed as important once they’ve made someone else successful?”

Browning The Future, by Victoria Ruiz for Fvck The Media

“In an age where there is great urgency to make connections between members of the cosmic race to build solidarity and a People’s history, we need to look at Selena’s relevancy through the totality of her physical identity, music, words, actions, and how people are still acting on the hope and the struggle that she represents.”

Let’s Go Full Crocodile, Ladies, by Rebecca Traister for Huffington Post Highline

“Year of the Woman,” a spirited feminist documentary, is being widely distributed for the first time since its release in 1973, so we all can witness “a movie that captures–in its raucous, weird, unmistakably ’70s style–one of the most pivotal moments in feminist history” and, the author hopes, reveal what the Hilary Clinton campaign is missing.

The Prosperity Gospel of Rihanna, by Doreen St. Felix for Pitchfork

“Just as Rihanna’s eponymous girlness-as-image brushes against but never touches affective white girlishness, she functions just outside of the womanish labor so often determining blackness. Her girlness shapes her relationship to cash.”

Terry Gross and The Art of Opening Up, by Susan Burton for The New York Times

Everybody wants to be interviewed by Terry Gross. After reading this article, you probably will too.

These L.A. Comedians Are Turning Their Women’s Basketball League Into A Phenomenon, by Jennifer Swann for LA Weekly

Labeled “the hottest pickup basketball team in America,” The Pistol Shrimps (which boasts members including Stephanie Allyne and Aubrey Plaza) have managed to finally relaunch a women’s basketball league in Los Angeles after years and years of women having no place to play.

Burning Down the Mouse, by Heather Havrilesky for Medium

Sometimes it takes going Full Mickey to recognize that Dismaland is real, and resistance is futile.”

The Meaning of Serena Williams, by Claudia Rankine for The New York Times Magazine

*Longform Best of 2015*

“Serena’s grace comes because she won’t be forced into stillness; she won’t accept those racist projections onto her body without speaking back; she won’t go gently into the white light of victory. Her excellence doesn’t mask the struggle it takes to achieve each win.”

The Feminine Grotesque, by Angelica Jade for Madwoman & Muses

There are already four parts to this series by blogger Angelica Jade on the topic of “a unified theory on female madness in cinema and American Culture,” and this is just the introduction, and then you’ll also want to read the rest.

Same Old Script, by Aisha Harris for Slate

On how women of color are systematically denied access to television writing rooms, and the terrible representation given to characters of color that results from this exclusion.

Our Generation Needs Liberation Music, Not Protest Songs, by Rawiya Kameir for Fader

“I thought of the Chairman and realized I didn’t want protest songs; I was looking for liberation music, songs that acknowledge political realities while interrogating them existentially; art that imitates life and then goes a step further to contextualize that life.”

Every Plot of Every Lesbian Movie, Ever, by Riese Bernard for Autostraddle

“Maybe they get caught, maybe there are cameras, maybe somebody tells on them, somebody forbids one to see the other. There is a boy or a parent who takes one of them away. She is dying inside and nobody knows why.”

Netflix, Uncovering Cycles of Abuse, and Chill: Jessica Jones and Domestic Violence, by Shaadi Devereaux for Model View Culture

“Will the things that enabled you to survive in your past stop people from loving you in your present? How much of that story do you owe others, and what parts place both you and others at risk?”

The Broad City Hustle, by Jada Yuan for New York Magazine

On the stars / writers / executive producers of Broad City, the “crop-top-wearing mascots of bouncy-castle, post-Bloomberg New York.”

The Subversive and Liberating World of Willow G. Wilson, by Molly Hannon for The Los Angeles Review Of Books

On the artist behind the new Ms. Marvel series, which features a Muslim-American girl as its superhero.

How TV Sex Got Real, by Elaina Dockterman and Diane Tsai for Time

Analingus, threesomes, awkward condom situations, oh my!

A Very Revealing Conversation With Rihanna, by Miranda July for T Magazine

Everything Miranda July writes is so weird and wonderful, and Rihanna is one of her most compelling protagonists yet.

Playing Snooki, by Mary H.K. Choi for Racked

“The whole Jersey Shore experience was a fashion regret. What was I wearing? My vagina was out. I was a slob. I’d never look like that again.”

How the Fast Times of the Paparazzi Came To A Screeching Halt, by Claudia Rosenbaum for Buzzfeed

The rise of the paparazzi in the celeb-tabloid-saturated early 2000s to today, when celebrities have learned the power of telling their own stories.

Brother From Another Mother, by Zadie Smith for The New Yorker

Brilliant people talking to a brilliant person.

The Misadventures of Issa Rae, by Jenna Wortham for The New York Times

On the challenges of translating and pushing forward the vision of Awkward Black Girl’s viral web success onto a new platform: television.

The End of Kids Sports Movies, by Abby Rapoport for The Texas Observer

The 1990s were a thrilling time to be a precocious child athlete on screen, from The Mighty Ducks to The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Rudy, Little Big League, and on and on. Why aren’t movies like that being made anymore, and what to make of the reality shows being watched in their stead?

I Dressed Like Cookie For A Week To Get Over My Imposter Syndrome, by Jazmine Hughes for Cosmopolitan

After being hired as a digital editor for The New York Times, Hughes used fashion to fake it until she truly believed that she was meant to make it — leopard print skirts, leather shirts, giant heels and all.

Friendship is Complicated, by Maria Bustillos for Longreads

The battle for the soul of My Little Pony and the development and growth of Friendship is Magic and its creator, Lauren Faust.

Cracking the Glass Stage One Joke at a Time, by Kristina Bustos for The Riveter

Talking to Filipina-American writer-actress Nicole Maxali about her successful one-woman show, Dave Chapelle, and her role in representing the Asian-American creative community.

And Also These Stories (2)

The Riveter: Longform Journalism By Women, For Women, by Caroline Bauman for Nieman Storyboard

“Their venture is fueled by crowdfunding and income from day jobs, and stoked by the question: Is there a future for women in longform journalism?”

Binge-Reading Disorder, by Nikkitha Bakshani for The Morning News

As a junior editor, by 5 a.m. every weekday for almost 18 months, I submitted five—and sometimes 16—news articles, summarized in a succinct sentence or two, to contribute to this website’s sidebar of daily headlines. I remember working on these headlines when a friend came over to my empty apartment with a bottle of rosé, to celebrate my first place in New York City. I remember working on them in the bottom bunk of a hostel bed in Milan, but only because my friend took a photo of me at that moment. At the time I found these articles so fascinating—how could I ever forget this planetary explosion or that particular horsemeat scandal? Yet I did.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3211 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for compiling this list, first and foremost.

    Second, your link to “Out of the Shadows, by Jenifer McKim for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting” leads to the story about forced labor in the fishing industry. You may want to check you links.

  2. Oh my god, Reise. This list!! My Pocket now has like sixty-six months’ worth of reading in it, and when I’ve finished I’m worried I’ll admire all of these female journalists I didn’t know about before, but also just like get really depressed about the state of the world…

  3. Riese, this list is amazing! I am wondering how much of it I can get through before I have to go back to work next week. Also, I’m super excited that two of my favourite articles of the year (‘I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your email, my husband coughed to death two years ago’ and ‘On Pandering’) are in the list.

  4. The way I feel about this list is pretty similar to the way I imagine that woman in the feature image feels. Seriously, reading things on the Internet written by women is one of my favorite things to do in the world, and now I have hours and hours and hours and HOURS of reading ahead of me! Thank you!

  5. I’m out right now so I can’t get stick into this list. But I am so excited to start reading these pieces. That’s my to work and back home journeys covered for a long time. Love the focus on female writers. It’s a sad world where women’s views and words are not valued to the same standard as the words of men. Looking forward to reading some powerful, thought provoking words from kickass women.

    Thanks for this list Riese. I love this column, it’s one of my favourite series (if not my actual favourite) on this dear site.

  6. Riese!!!
    I missed “Every Plot of Every Lesbian Movie Ever” probably because I was on a ship with no internet that time in October.
    Thank You so.much for posting this again.
    I didn’t know throughout the entire article whether I wanted to laugh or cry.
    Maybe bitterly, angrily cry in joyful and familiar recognition of most of the movies?
    Allow me to virtually hug you for it.

    I spent the last week endlessly revising a review of “Carol” which I wrote for a friend’s Spanish website (they don’t get the movie until February!) and I really, really had trouble to put my finger on why I felt so viscerally moved and still left the Movie theater smiling like a Mona Lisa in flannell.
    I felt more than enchanted, enamored even, I felt relieved, like a weight was lifted from me, when the movie ended.

    There were always so many other things I was or had to be growing up and even later, even now, the gay part, the part that was romance and love and desire mostly was and is relegated to books and movies and TV shows, as I guess is probably true for a lot of nerds and people over twenty five or lonely lesbian nerds over the age of twentyfive.
    So there has always been a familiarity, a recognition, even love and affection for the movies you implied in your article.
    What I did not realize though, and I only realized this last night, was, that there always was some price to pay for seeing oneself on screen.
    There always, invariably, was some part where I would gnash my teeth, feel punched in the gut, feel hurt and demeaned.
    You know, having to watch the crap “the second girl” had to wade through, along with a lot of special gimmicks like A-Frame hugs, chaste kisses, being relegated to the sidelines, tired tropes, bad production, things being implied, tuned down, beyond recognition, the endless kisses and sex scenes with men, you name it.
    Over time, those things didn’t even register anymore, I didn’t even notice how I would automatically brace myself for impact.
    I was usually just grateful for any and all representation and took the things from them that rang true (The Children’s Hour? One of my favorite love declarations of all time!).
    But wow, did it hurt my heart, my sense of self,over time and I must say, I did not notice that until that one time I was not struck and inexplicably elated.
    So yes, please.
    I want a regular old Superhero movie with a gay female superhero and it’s not even a thing until they talk about the costume being too butch or femme.
    I want that cop show, and don’t tell me we don’t have enough male centric straight ones, where it IS the detective and the forensic examiner discussing dinner plans at crime scenes.
    I want all of it.
    Your article really struck that chord within me, this week.
    Maybe it was a good thing, I was on that cruise, when it was originally posted, after all.

  7. This is so incredible. I need to recover from binging every episode of Jane the Virgin in the last two days and reading will surely help! Thank you thank you thank you!

  8. If we could get every student in the country to read this list I think we’d be one step closer to world peace.

  9. I want to read allllll of these and it’s gonna take me forever. Maybe this will be part of my NYE.

  10. I CANNOT WAIT to curl up with my Kindle this weekend and go through as many of these as possible. Thank you!

  11. Riese this list is amazing and depressing all at once – depressing just because of the state of the world they detail, but also because I know I couldn’t read them all in eight lifetimes.

  12. Things I Read That I Love is in the top 2 of my favorite Autostraddle features.

    This is the best end-of-the-year present.

  13. All I have done so far is bookmark the first 10 articles I want to read… and I couldnt be happier.

  14. oh man. i cannot WAIT to read all of these. what if i came back after reading every single one and left 215 comments?

  15. Woah, ‘Damage’ was intense. The author is my age (26) which makes it even more real. Its so brutally honest about her anger and struggle.

  16. This list is amazing.

    In the last two days I’ve read about breast milk, Columbian twins, several different crimes, an incredible personal essay on FGM, charter schools, and a few amazing essays on race. The best thing about it is I’m not even quarter of the way through.

    What a great gift. Thank you.

  17. My thought process:
    YES! A longform roundup!
    (Panic sets in) 215 articles??? How am I even going to get through the article about those articles!
    (Sees you’ve broken them up into categories) Oh, this is so manageable, I’ve got this.
    Now I have 34 tabs open (I counted) and am unsure where I’ll find the time to actually read them.

    I think this is my way of saying thank you for the reading material!

  18. you featured my writing in this list and I’m so deliriously happy that I think I might have forgotten how to breathe. THANK YOU.

    (now I’m off to read all the other wonderful pieces)

  19. AW! This is the best news I’ve gotten all week! Super big thanks to Autostraddle/Riese for including my essay, “Tangential Divagation: Notes of an Immigrant Daughter,” over at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts for The Best Longreads Of 2015 (Essay & Opinion category). I’m jumping for joy!

    Now I am off to read this amazing 215 list! <3

  20. I just got a new job with a lot of downtime so I am v grateful to this list for getting me through the first two weeks with minimal boredom

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