The Most-Read Ms. Stories of 2023

Ms. readers are fed up. 

Fed up with anti-abortion lawmakers and extremists who, feeling empowered after the fall of Roe, keep coming up with new ways to try to control our bodies. Fed up that even though anti-abortion activists got their wish, it proved not to be enough—so they decided to come for birth control and contraception, too.

Fed up that Donald Trump and his apologists continue their efforts to dismantle U.S. democracy and the rule of law, while a small but loud portion of the country cheers them on.

Fed up that in the year 2023, they’re still trying to tell us what we can and can’t do to our own bodies.

Fed up that 100 years since the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in Congress, we are still fighting to have the now-ratified amendment added to the U.S. Constitution as the 28th Amendment.

Fed up with unrealistic expectations hoisted upon women both at work and at home, and a patriarchal society that tries to convince us we are not smart enough, not likable enough, not pretty enough, not good enough. Fed up with the class of men who undermine and attack us when we get too powerful for their liking.

Fed up that we are still trying to convince lawmakers that policies associated with women and families—like paid leave and affordable childcare—are actually good for the entire population, as well as the economy.

Fed up with those who insist they know better than us how to keep our families safe, happy and healthy.

Fed up with the torrent of state legislation attacking public education, higher education, gender, race and sexuality studies, activism and social justice in education, and diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Fed up with those in public office who know exactly how to press a hot-button issue to divide and separate us—so we don’t realize just how powerful we are.

You know how I know? Your reading patterns. 

I know we are tired. I’m tired too. But I’m so glad you brought those big feelings to Ms. And just know: Your rage, your activism and your voice are making a difference. I channel the powerful words of the late bell hooks to remind us all: “On one hand we’re being told that feminism failed, but if it failed, why do people want to go back and take away some basic successes of the movement?”

The stories below are the most popular articles published this year on—measured by page views, average time spent on each page, times shared and a few other technical measures.

25. The Secret History of the Vulva

March 25, 2023. By Catherine Faurot.

Vulvas carved into the sandstone walls of Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland, Australia. (Aussie Towns / Facebook)

The vulva is the oldest and most common object in prehistoric art. Carved in stone or painted on cave walls, images of the vulva were created around the world. In Queensland, Australia, you can visit a stoneface called “The Wall of One Thousand Vulvas.”

In contrast, paleolithic images of the penis are rarely found, either by themselves or in ithyphallic images—which is a fantastic way of saying pictures of men with dicks.

Why so many images of the vulva? Scholars believe early humans had no awareness of the role men play in fertility, while, in contrast, a woman’s role in creating life is unequivocal. The vulvas carved all over the world are invocations to this creative power. During a span of human existence tenfold the length of recorded history, the vulva was a primary object of devotion. Female bodies and our ability to bring forth life were the focus of reverence.

Let this understanding of the sanctity and power of the vulva seep into your cells, your souls. This is fundamentalism in its deepest sense.   

24. I’m an Aspiring OB-GYN. Here Is Why I Won’t Do My Residency in Any State With an Abortion Ban.

Aug. 10, 2023. By Rohini Kousalya Siva.

Half of U.S. counties have no OB-GYN, and post-Roe laws prevent new doctors from getting required training. (Nadzeya Haroshka / Getty Images)

Applications for OB-GYN residency programs declined 5 percent nationwide after the Supreme Court struck down Roe, and more than 10 percent in states where abortion is banned.

Like many aspiring OB-GYNs, family medicine and emergency medicine physicians, I will not be applying to residency programs in states with stringent abortion bans. I need a residency program that will offer me an opportunity to build on what I have learned in medical school, and practice the skills needed to provide quality, evidence-based care—an opportunity that I would not get as a resident in any state that has banned or severely restricted abortion.

Abortion care is essential healthcare, and my training would be incomplete without the opportunity to provide these services to patients. I did not spend four years working hard in medical school to deprive myself as a resident of these essential learning opportunities. I worry that one of the many ripple effects of overturning Roe is how it undermines the education of a generation of medical students in our country. 

23. Women’s Rights and Backsliding Democracies

May 15, 2023. By Jennifer Weiss-Wolf.

The United States was officially designated a backsliding democracy in late 2021, when it appeared on a prominent European think tank’s annual global ranking.

Around the same time the U.S. made its debut on the list—still six months before the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, but with Texas’ unconstitutional six-week abortion ban already in effect, rendering abortion care all but inaccessible in the nation’s second most populous state—advocates and journalists raised real-time questions about the correlation between regression on abortion rights and degraded democracies. A New York Times article asserted that such a descent is precisely when “curbs on women’s rights tend to accelerate.”

We think that’s a proposition worth flipping on its head. Rather than clocking the downward spiral from this point forward, we might ask: “Can a country that has never truly addressed women’s equality ever be a thriving democracy? And are democracies that have abysmal records on gender equity destined to falter?” According to the United Nations, the trajectory of “de-democratization” is rarely analyzed initially through the distinct lens of gender equity and there are insufficient efforts to systematically examine the current implications. This installment of Women & Democracy engages this critical conversation. We joined forces with NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network and Rewire News Group to convene a full-day symposium in New York City on April 14, 2023. We encourage you to watch, listen, read—and learn from the global and national leaders and experts who weighed in with us.

22. How Texas Plans to Trap Abortion Seekers

Sept. 13, 2023. By Shoshanna Ehrlich.

An abortion rights rally on June 25, 2022, in Austin, Texas, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturned the landmark 50-year-old Roe v. Wade case and erased a federal right to an abortion. (Sergio Flores / Getty Images)

In 1991, Kathrin K. and her husband were stopped by German border guards as they crossed back into the country on their way home from neighboring Holland on the suspicion they were carrying illegal drugs. Instead of drugs, however, the guards found “incriminating evidence”—specifically, a plastic bag containing a nightgown, sanitary pad and towels. These items suggested that Kathrin had crossed the border into Holland to obtain an abortion—a crime under German law, even if legal where performed. She was transported to a nearby hospital and subjected to a degrading forced vaginal exam. 

It is difficult for me to imagine a day when guards are stationed at the Texas-New Mexico border, or along travel routes leading from an abortion ban state into a protective one, with the power to detain those transporting pregnant persons suspected of seeking cross-border abortion services. And yet, on my more cynical or despairing days, I wonder, given the latest plan by Mark Lee Dickson, a pastor at Sovereign Love Church in East Texas, aimed at halting so-called abortion trafficking, if this dystopic vision of intrastate abortion border guards might someday become a reality. …

To date, two Texas towns and two counties have made it illegal to transport an individual who is seeking an out-of-state abortion on the roads under their authority. However, if Dickson succeeds in his campaign to persuade enough localities to make it illegal to assist a ”mother of an unborn child … in the killing of her child,” those seeking cross-border abortion services may find their path out from under Texas’ draconian ban an increasingly risky one, especially if trafficking is defined to include the provision of financial assistance. 

Like the sanctuary city ordinances, these new measures also locate authority to enforce them in the general public, again incentivizing private parties as bounty hunters who are entitled to a civil damages award for successfully reeling in a trafficker.

21. ‘Family Annihilators’: When Conservative America’s Fetish for Guns and Patriarchy Turns Deadly

July 21, 2023. By Jill Filipovic.

An attendee holds an M1A series rifle during the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas on May 28, 2022—days after the horrific massacre of children at a Texas elementary school. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

The question of why men kill their families isn’t all that complicated. These men are often deep narcissists who demand subservience and control. But that sense of entitlement is not inborn; it’s cultural, and it comes from a society, and particular communities, that tell men it is their birthright to lead, to be in charge, to provide, and to enjoy the respect of women, children, and broader society.

Men who mistreat their partners and families are forgiven a lot, and yet they demand more. In many communities, the expectation that men display even a modicum of decency is lower than a dachshund’s belly—something we see in the aftermath of family annihilation murders. The Indianapolis Star looks at the Mumper family, killed by the family’s father, and quotes a niece as saying, “I like to think that he loved them. He just wasn’t the best at showing it.” 

Murdering your whole family is indeed a pretty bad way of showing it.

20. Take it From a Divorce Coach and Attorney: Ending No-Fault Divorce Is a Scary Suggestion

May 24, 2023. By Amy Polacko and Rosemarie Ferrante.

No-fault divorce—meaning that the filing spouse is not required to show wrongdoing by the other spouse as the reason for dissolution—first began in 1969, when then-Gov. Ronald Reagan of California signed the first law of its kind in the U.S. Today, every state and the District of Columbia offers no-fault divorce. (Grace Cary / Getty Images)

In 19th-century America, fault-based divorce laws required you to prove specific grounds to get divorced. This led to all kinds of benchmarks that varied from state to state including: neglect, abandonment, adultery, intemperance, extreme cruelty and lengthy imprisonment. The process was adversarial and favored whoever had more resources. 

In 1969, California Governor Ronald Reagan (R), who was divorced himself, signed California’s Family Law Act, which introduced the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” This concept was eventually adopted by all 50 states to address the limitations and shortcomings of fault-based divorce systems. Simply put, judges don’t have time to figure out who did what to whom—and don’t care. And, if you thought divorce was already expensive, imagine the attorney’s plus investigator’s fees to prove infidelity if we went back to a fault-based framework.

Now, conservative leaders in states like Louisiana, Texas and Nebraska want to get rid of no-fault divorce, in some cases introducing bills that would transport us back to the world of fault-based battles. What many people don’t understand is this would be absolutely catastrophic—especially for women. 

19. How Much Does it Cost to Medically Transition?

Aug. 4, 2023. By Eliza Powers.

Thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets of Manhattan on June 25, 2023, to participate on the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s (RPC) fifth annual Queer Liberation March, where no police, politicians or corporations were allowed to participate. (Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Ohio’s House of Representatives passed a bill this summer criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth, adding another bill to the growing pile of anti-trans healthcare legislation in states across the U.S.

Today, 16 states, plus Washington, D.C., require insurance to cover gender-affirming care: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

But in states like Ohio, where insurance is not required to cover gender-affirming care, trans people and their families are stuck paying the costs. Even with insurance through The Ohio State University, Wes Wislar, a disability and trans rights activist based in Columbus, Ohio, had to pay close to $3,000 out of pocket for his top surgery.  

“I feel really lucky that I had my top surgery when I did, and that I started hormones when I did, because I can’t imagine that it’s going to get better,” Wislar told Ms.

Yet trans Ohioans continue to persist. How much does it actually cost to transition without insurance coverage? And how are trans people in unprotected states persevering?

18. Football Legend Jim Brown’s Legacy Includes Serial Abuse of Women

May 31, 2023. By Jackson Katz.

Jim Brown with his wife Sue Brown during a court recess in July 1965, in which Brown was on trial for beating Brenda Ayers, an 18-year-old girl. (Bettmann / Getty Images)

Much of the sports world’s response to Brown’s death illustrates one of the more vexing challenges faced by survivors, advocates, activists, prosecutors, researchers and others in the domestic violence and sexual assault fields: the reluctance of people to acknowledge that men who are charismatic and successful in public—even those who otherwise might do good work—can be capable of deeply abusive and harmful behavior in private.

For women of color, this can be especially fraught terrain, as they are often forced to weigh the costs and benefits of “airing dirty laundry” about men who are important in the struggle against racism.

17. California Court Grants Restraining Order Based on Coercive Control 

Aug. 31, 2023. By Carrie N. Baker.

(FG Trade Latin / Getty Images)

In September 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed Senate Bill 1141, one of the country’s first laws explicitly allowing courts to consider coercive control as domestic violence in family court matters. The law defined coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty.” On Aug. 10, Vanessa A. Zecher—a judge of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County— entered a permanent restraining order against a man for coercive control domestic abuse.

“This case is one of the first cases in the United States where coercive control was considered domestic violence in the absence of physical abuse,” said Lisa Fontes, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, an expert on coercive control and author of the second book ever written on coercive control, Invisible Chains. “The judge essentially said, ‘A marriage license does not give a person permission to subjugate their spouse.’”

With campaigns for similar laws moving forward in several states, the case gives advocates concrete evidence of how coercive control laws are critical for freeing survivors from the grasp of abusive partners.

16. The Barbie Movie: “More Swipes at ‘The Patriarchy’ Than a Year’s Worth of Ms. Magazine” 

July 27, 2023. By Kathy Spillar and Jennifer Weiss-Wolf.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in Barbie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Reviews have run the gamut, too, from wildly euphoric to mildly conflicted to sheer outrage about what it means when broad principles of feminism waft into the mainstream (to the tune of the Indigo Girls and Lizzo). But it is the Wall Street Journal’s take, in particular, that caught our eye—and reviewer Kyle Smith’s quip that Barbie “contains more swipes at ‘the patriarchy’ than a year’s worth of Ms. magazine.” 

To this, we at Ms. say: Hear, hear! We know firsthand the force behind this magazine and its vast community of readers.  …

As the movie tagline goes: If you love Barbie—and if you hate Barbie—this Barbie discussion is for you. As is Ms. magazine.

Editor’s note: Our new book 50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine That Ignited a Revolution released in September in honor of Ms.’ 50’s anniversary. The book is a celebration the most startling, most audacious, most norm-breaking of the magazine’s groundbreaking pieces on women, men, politics (sexual and otherwise), marriage, family, education, work, motherhood and reproductive rights, as well as the best of the magazine’s fiction, poetry and letters. Get it here.

Katherine Spillar, Eleanor Smeal and Michele Bratcher Goodwin discuss 50 Years of Ms. at the Hammer Museum on Oct. 5, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images)

15. Women Lawmakers Have Pushed Back Against Senate Dress Codes for Decades 

Sept. 25, 2023. By Einav Rabinovitch-Fox.

Women senators in 1997 (left to right): Barbara Boxer, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Carol Moseley Braun, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Mikulski, Mary Landrieu and Dianne Feinstein. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Clothes matter, and even more so the politics around them. …

Although the Senate did not have specific dress code that banned pantsuits for women, the willingness of Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), the first Black woman to serve in the Senate, or Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) to appear wearing trousers was seen as a rebellion, or as Mikulski put it, “a seismographic event.” Despite vocal complaints from their male colleagues, the then sergeant-at-arms, Martha S. Pope—the first woman to fulfill this role—refused to reprimand them due to the lack of specific regulations.

The senators’ demand to wear pants was less about creating an alternative to the dress code, but more about wanting it to apply equally to all genders. Understanding the power of the suit, the women senators also wanted to reclaim it. …

Dress codes might not be the most urgent matter on the Congress’ plate right now. Even Fetterman is willing to conform and wear suits in return for passing the budget. However, the attention this seemingly unimportant change has gotten, also show us why what we wear matter. Fashion allows to reclaim and adjust old conventions, as well as to rebel against them and invent new ones. We are already doing it in our homes, in our streets, and in our workplace. It is time Congress will follow suit.

14. What Black Barbie Means to Black Women and Girls 

July 20, 2023. By Faith Crittenden.

Issa Rae attends the World Premiere of Barbie at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on July 9, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Rodin Eckenroth / WireImage)

She reminds me that representation does not always come in the form of a person; sometimes, it’s a doll that allows you to embrace your creativity, dreams and imagination far beyond what society believes you are capable of … all in pink stiletto heels. 

13. U.S. Clinicians Can Now Mail Abortion Pills to States Banning Abortion, Thanks to Shield Laws in Five States

July 24, 2023. By Carrie N. Baker.

Abortion rights activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on April 14, 2023, after the Court temporarily preserved access to mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill, in an 11th-hour ruling preventing lower court restrictions on the drug from coming into force. (Probal Rashid / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Massachusetts was the first state to pass a telemedicine provider shield law, later followed by Washington, Colorado, Vermont and most recently New York. Between mid-June and mid-July, seven Aid Access clinicians located across these five states mailed pills to 3,500 people located in states banning abortion.

“Seeing the number—3,500 patients—treated since the New York shield law took effect surprises even those who are experienced in doing this work. It shows what people want,” said Julie F. Kay, co-founder of the Abortion Coalition for Telemedicine Access, which works to expand the number of states with telemedicine abortion provider shield laws.

California is currently considering such a law.

Editor’s note: On Sept. 27, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed “shield law” Senate Bill 345 into law. 

12. Key Gender Studies Staff Resign from New College of Florida, ‘The State Where Learning Goes to Die’

Aug. 19, 2023. By Roxanne Szal, Aviva Dove-Viebahn and Karon Jolna.

Nicholas L. Clarkson, former assistant professor of gender studies at New College of Florida, has announced his resignation from the school, which used to be known as the most progressive public college in the state. Clarkson was the only full-time gender studies professor at New College. …

“Eliminating gender studies is a reactionary attempt to prevent cultural shifts that scare you,” wrote Clarkson, a trans man who transitioned almost two decades ago. “Gender has changed before, and it is changing again. You can’t keep your kids from being gay or trans. You can only make them hate you and themselves.

“Gender studies offers the vocabulary, conceptual frameworks, and practice tolerating the discomfort of the unfamiliar that would help us all navigate change more gracefully,” he continued. “But that’s why you canceled it.”

11. Hell Hath No Fury Like an Accomplished Woman Facing Down a Man-Boy 

Sept. 28, 2023. By Jill Filipovic.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy participate in the Republican primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 27, 2023, in Simi Valley, Calif. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

The second Republican debate was a chaotic disaster. … But one candidate stood out: Nikki Haley.

Don’t get me wrong—she’s exactly as terrible as the rest of them. But the best moment in the debate was when Haley turned to the smarmy Ramaswamy and said, “Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber.”

It was a movie-worthy insult, the culmination of Haley’s obvious and growing loathing of the young and entirely unqualified man on stage.

It also reminded me of the bad blood between Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg in the Democratic primary four years ago.

Both situations may feel familiar to women of a certain age who have had to deal with men of a certain age: There is little more infuriating than working hard for decades to become deeply competent and great at your job, only to have some little barely-legal dweeb show up and claim he can do it better—especially when he’s not just condescending to you, he’s trying to take the job you want.

10. The Danger of Incels—and How We Shift the Thinking of Men Attracted to These Groups

April 9, 2023. By Chuka Emezue.

Incels blame women and society for their lack of romantic success. They operate in online groups in the so-called “manosphere,” where violence against women is often encouraged. (Pixnio / Creative Commons)

The sources of misogyny and violence against women are complex, and it is critical to examine them—not just during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but always.

One such perpetrator of violence: incels, or “involuntary celibates.” The grievances of this group over their perceived sexual exclusion often takes the form of violence, especially violence against women. Society must come together to address the root causes of incel violence—or continue to face the deadly consequences.

9. How Does Your State Rank on Women’s Political Representation? Top Takeaways from the 2023 Gender Parity Index 

Aug. 11, 2023. By RepresentWomen.

The RepresentWomen team released the 2023 Gender Parity Index, an annual report outlining the status of women’s representation in the 50 states. Each year, using data from local, state and national office, we assign all 50 states a gender parity score, letter grade and ranking, according to their proximity to parity.

Ten years after the GPI first launched, Maine and Oregon have both achieved an “A” for the first time, 24 states are split evenly between “Bs” and “Cs,” and 23 states have earned a “D.” Louisiana is the only failing state. 

8. In ‘Baseless’ Texas Lawsuit, Matthew Kacsmaryk Could Singlehandedly Shut Down Planned Parenthood

Aug. 3, 2023. By Carrie N. Baker and Gracie Griffin.

An abortion rights activist holds a sign in support of Planned Parenthood at a rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin. That same month, legislators enacted Senate Bill 8, which was, at the time, the most restrictive abortion ban in history. (Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images)

On Monday, Oct. 23, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ordered a trial in a suit brought against Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and three of its Texas affiliates: Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, and Planned Parenthood South Texas. The case will now go to trial in April 2024. 

“This is a baseless case. The Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates did not commit Medicaid fraud and followed the law, period. Planned Parenthood organizations are nonprofit organizations that provide quality, life-saving health care to their patients,” said Susan Manning, general counsel for PPFA. “The plaintiffs’ only goal in this case is to achieve their decades-long goal of shutting down Planned Parenthood to advance a political agenda. We will never back down, and we look forward to winning this case at trial.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton, and an activist associated with the Center for Medical Progress—an organization that has engaged in illegal conduct itself, and been held liable for millions of dollars in damages—are pursuing this lawsuit as part of a longstanding right-wing effort to shut down Planned Parenthood.

7. Abortion Snitching Is Already Sending People to Jail

Aug. 19, 2023. By Morgan Carmen.

Police on bicycles monitor protesters as they march and chant in Atlanta on July 23, 2022, in opposition to Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, H.B. 481. (Megan Varner / Getty Images)

Last month, Celeste Burgess was sentenced to 90 days in prison after taking abortion pills when she was 17. Celeste was charged with removing, concealing or abandoning a human body; concealing the death of another; and false reporting, after burying her miscarriage with the help of her mother, Jessica.

The story of Celeste and her mother—who helped her get the pills and will be sentenced next month—went national. Most media attention centered on local police’s access to Facebook messages between the two, and for good reason: Companies like Meta amass intimate information—including but not limited to messageslocation databrowsing patterns, phone numbers and online searches—that may be accessed by law enforcement. This case was seen as a harbinger of intimate privacy violations to come.

But this case also exemplifies a disturbing phenomenon in the genesis of abortion prosecutions: friends and community members reporting on each other.

6. Our Abortion Stories: ‘I Want Greg Abbott to Look Me in the Eye and Tell Me I Deserve What Happened’

June 29, 2023. By Val Diez Canseco.

Abortion rights demonstrators gather near the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, June 25, 2022, in protest against the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images)

Last summer, the Supreme Court overturned the longstanding precedents of Roe v. Wade, representing the largest blow to women’s constitutional rights in history. A series from Ms., Our Abortion Stories chronicles readers’ experiences of abortion pre- and post-Roe. Abortions are sought by a wide range of people for many different reasons. There is no single story. Telling stories of then and now shows how critical abortion has been and continues to be for women and girls. Share your abortion story by emailing

“It felt like, does my life matter in this or is this just about bringing a baby into the world for a moment? It felt like my life didn’t matter, like I could just die and it would all be for nothing.

“I should not have to sit there all night staring at the wall and thinking about how the baby I wanted was still in me, with a failing heart and no head. I’ve never been that angry before in my life.

“I felt like a criminal. We lied to everyone we knew to get out. I knew I would get a lecture on how it’s my motherly duty to bring my child into the world.

“The nurse held my hand, petted my hair and talked to me. She kept me calm and wiped my tears.

“My boyfriend did his best to make sure that I was comfortable on the 11-hour drive back. But it’s not so easy to drive for hours after such an emotionally and physically taxing experience. We wanted to get as close to Austin as possible. He was worried that they would call somebody and report us. We’ve heard things about people getting reported and a whole investigation happening.

“I wish I could move past it. I’ve never felt defeated before in my life. I failed math tests, I’ve lost sports games, but I’ve never felt defeated. Not like this. I want to force people to see what they’re doing. I want Greg Abbott or anyone who voted for this law to look me in the eye and tell me that I deserved what happened. That I deserve to be punished by the law for what I’ve gone through. I want them to look me in the eye.”


5. Allan Kassenoff Resigns After Public Outcry Over Wife Catherine’s Apparent Suicide

June 12, 2023. By Amy Polacko.

Catherine Kassenoff holds a friend’s baby. (Courtesy)

Since news of New York attorney and mother Catherine Kassenoff’s reported assisted suicide in Switzerland, her husband’s former employer—the law firm Greenberg Traurig—has been in the hot seat. … Late Sunday night, the law firm, which had already stated Allan was on a leave of absence, released a statement announcing his resignation.

Many of Catherine’s supporters applauded the decision, but the victory is bittersweet. “It is sad, but no one helps us while we are alive,” said Elizabeth Harding Weinstein, Catherine’s friend and a court reform advocate who also lost custody of her children in a high net-worth battle.

4. What Boys and Men Can Learn from Ken

Aug. 1, 2023. By Jackson Katz.

Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling and Ncuti Gatwa in Barbie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The storyline around Ken was, in many ways, deeply empathetic with men. To be sure, the film’s main narrative highlights the many struggles of modern Western women, as told satirically through the odyssey of a famous female doll. But one reason the film has captured the zeitgeist is that Ken was more than an afterthought. …

The idea that feminism has many deeply insightful, constructive and hopeful things to say to men and their struggles presents a direct threat to the right. Because what if growing numbers of men began to wake up and realize that not only is feminism not their enemy, but in fact has many valuable things to contribute to building healthier societies and improving their lives?

3. A New Alimony Law Makes Florida Even Less Safe for Women

July 9, 2023. By Suzanne Kahn.

A new Florida law, which took effect July 1, restricts the ability of women (and sometimes men) to collect alimony for the rest of their lives for marriages that ended after July 1. (Catherine McQueen / Getty Images)

Florida’s new law … encourages people paying alimony to come forward with evidence that their ex-spouse has been in any new relationship at some point in the last year. Florida is essentially urging people paying alimony to closely monitor their ex-spouses behavior in especially close detail—which is not only invasive but also physically threatening. …

It’s not surprising that a governor who has been gleefully taking away women’s autonomy would sign this law. Women continue to have fewer and fewer choices in Florida. 

2. Surviving Hip-Hop: The Ms. Q&A with Drew Dixon

Aug. 9, 2023. By Janell Hobson. (Part of Ms.’ “Turning 50: Looking Back at the Women in Hip-Hop” series, recognizing the women who shaped the genre.)

Sean “Puffy” Combs, Andre Harrell, Drew Dixon and Anne-Marie Stripling on Nov. 12, 1994, in New York City. (Al Pereira / Getty Images / Michael Ochs Archives)

Hobson: How do you see your own legacy as it relates to hip-hop culture? 

Dixon: That is a complicated question. Because five years ago, I was totally invisible and erased from the story of hip-hop. And my contribution was almost painful to think about, because it was in some ways buried by me because it was tied to so much trauma and pain.

It’s gratifying to me that people now know that I had the idea for the duet that became ‘I’ll Be There For You’ with Mary J. Blige and Method Man. And, there are other things that I did that I think are still not known. I mean, it was my idea for Kanye to join Estelle on ‘American Boy.’ I introduced Wyclef to Whitney Houston, and they made ‘My Love is Your Love.’

A lot of records happened because I wanted to bring the magic of hip-hop genius into the mainstream of R&B and pop music. So, it’s nice that part of my story is, to some extent, being unearthed. I mean, I signed Nas to a publishing deal before Illmatic came out at Zomba Music Publishing, you know?


Hobson: Despite the marginalization and the male-dominated space of hip-hop, women are still driving it. Could you talk about that dynamic?

Dixon: I think the dynamic in hip-hop for women is not unlike the dynamic for Black women in our communities, where we hold so much on our shoulders, but then we fall back and don’t claim the credit or the coins because we are so deeply invested in lifting up the community as a whole, and Black men in particular. And we do that because we know our men and boys are in the crosshairs, and they always have been, and we are in the crosshairs in a slightly different way so we build structures to support our men and our boys, which I’m proud to say we do, and I do it as a Black woman.

But where is the reciprocity that Lauryn Hill asked about? “Tell me who we have to be in the music industry to get some reciprocity!” And if you won’t give us reciprocity, if we can’t get the coins and the credit, can you protect us and draw a line in the sand and say, ‘Do not rape Black women and girls,’ and do not laugh at sex tapes where Black girls are being defiled?

1. Remembering Catherine Kassenoff and Continuing the Fight for Fair U.S. Child Custody Outcomes

June 5, 2023. By Amy Polacko.

Catherine Kassenoff committed assisted suicide rather than continue a brutal custody battle for her children. (Jessie Watford)

If a superwoman like Catherine Kassenoff—who had grit, plus training as an elite legal mind—was defeated by our American family court system, what does that say for the rest of women terrorized and victimized?

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Roxanne Szal (or Roxy) is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.