Feminism dominated the headlines in 2019—and Ms. was reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the movement’s front lines all year long. The bad news? You might have missed some of them. The good news? It’s not too late to read and share them!
Below are the 10 pieces we published in 2019 that readers like you clicked on and shared out the most. What were your favorites? Tell us on social by sharing them and tagging us @MsMagazine!
by Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, professor at Emory, the Charles Warren Fellow at Harvard and the author of Unspeakable Violence: Narratives of Citizenship Mourning and Loss in Chicana/o and U.S. Mexico National Imaginaries.
I want us to remember my friend and our colleague as a dissident subject, a fierce woman, a feminist activist, an ethical researcher. She was amazing, and I miss her tremendously already. The loss of our esteemed colleague and friend is profound, for it shows that no matter how educated or how socially self-aware we are, domestic violence as a form of sexual violence can happen to any of us. The sense of loss is compounded for her children, who must live knowing that their mother was a victim of feminicidio—but they are her children, and in that way, their refusing to shy away from the political defiance in documenting her death as feminicidio is the best tribute they can pay her.
I hope we can remember Raquel, here and now—and not as a statistical number, as another theoretical or historical case study or as someone posted online “otro feminicido,” but as a material example of how state-sanctioned domestic and sexual violence have impacted our profession and have no bounds.
#SayHerName: Dr. Raquel Padilla Ramos Presente. May she rest in power.
by Laura Briggs, professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump.
The call to “get our people” confuses our exhortations to each other within feminism to assert, and rightly so, that anti-racism is white women’s work, with a project beyond the feminist movement.
It’s critical to be aware of how much racism and sexism—what others call “traditional values”—are central to anti-feminist recruitment. Indeed, anti-feminism is what brought white women into the fold of the Republican Party.
Today, women following in this mold are closer to power than ever before. Increasing numbers of them are working at cabinet-level agencies, working to promote the idea that women mostly lie about rape, that sex is binary and trans people don’t exist, that birth control doesn’t work, that sex education should be abstinence-only and that abortion is murder.
These are not “my people.” These are not “our people.” They stand against everything we are for. Instead of worrying about how to bring them into our movement, we need to get serious about the work of organizing in opposition to their agenda.
by Joia Crear-Perry, founder of the National Birth Equity Collaborative.
Investing in things instead of investing in people is how our systems and policies create inequities between black people and their white counterparts—and, specifically, our gap in the maternal mortality rate. For black women, nine months of prenatal care cannot overcome a lifetime of health inequalities caused by racial disparities in housing, transportation, education, food, environmental conditions and economic security—all of which have racism as a root cause.
It is a historical and current fact that there are systems—health care, education, housing—built on the belief of a racial hierarchy. For instance, when, as the White House has recently proposed, we specifically target caring for opioid-addicted mothers— who are predominantly white—we create policies and systems that can leave mothers who are addicted to alcohol, cocaine, tobacco and other habit-forming substances with worse health outcomes in the future. In acknowledging the racism implicit in this policy priority, we gain an opportunity to envision a government that values all mothers who are addicted.
It’s not just institutionalized racism that’s to blame. Personally mediated racism, disrespectful care, not being listened to or valued—all of these things contribute to women, especially black women, dying in childbirth.
by Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms.
Do you have any marching orders for feminists at this critical time?
What I would say to women and girls here and around the world: Be not afraid. Be ready for whatever opportunities come along, and know how important your contribution is, because when women succeed, everyone succeeds.
by Janell Hobson, professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York and author of Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender.
In the film Harriet, Harriet Tubman does not forgive; she curses. She doesn’t return to slavery—the only reason her former enslaver wanted her captured alive. She instead maims him, steals his horse and rides off on that white horse into the sunset like the boss she is. She doesn’t even flee, because she no longer has to fear the man who tried but failed to own her outright. She had claimed herself in freedom since running away, 170 years ago in the autumn of 1849, and there is only one Black Savior in this movie, working within a network of allies—both black and white—rescuing those who sought to escape the hellish institution of chattel slavery.
The disinformation about the casting, distribution and story itself left me wondering: Why are so many afraid of Harriet Tubman and her story? What could a story about a fearless and faith-driven disabled black woman who liberated herself from the pernicious jaws of chattel slavery and then returned 13 times to free more of her people before offering her services during the Civil War to help abolish slavery from this nation—freeing 750 slaves for her part in leading a military raid with black soldiers in the Combahee River Raid, the first woman in U.S. history to do so—what could that story do for so many of us who feel powerless in our current era of misinformation overload and rising white supremacy and misogyny?