Our Gilded Progress: ‘Great Gowns,’ Pop Culture and Reproductive Freedoms

This year’s Met Gala invited A-list celebrities in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, racial divides, rising inflation costs, and the widening gap between the top 1 percent and everyone else. 

During this event a leaked draft of the majority opinion from the Supreme Court immediately sent shockwaves, as the public learned that our highest court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the right to abortion. Suddenly, the extreme wealth on display at the Met Gala seemed to represent all the “gilded” hubris of an historical era that seemed more “golden” than it really was—as we are now thrust back to a dystopian and despairing future we must confront and resist at all costs. 

Motherhood as Unexpected: Stories That Defy the Mold of Being a Mother

Part memoir, part sociological study, (M)otherhood: On the Choices of Being a Woman is an intimate exploration of author Pragya Agarwal’s own experiences as a mother, first unexpectedly and then through the use of a surrogate. She brings forth voices, thoughts and realities often kept behind closed doors.

She highlights the ways in which women are discouraged from understanding and knowing our own bodies and the ways language around pregnancy and fertility remain gendered, biased and patriarchal.

May 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.

Whether you read for knowledge or leisure, books are so important. May is a big month for new releases by women and writers of historically excluded communities; I’ve highlighted 60 of them here, but there are many more. I hope you’ll find some here that will help you reflect and act in whatever ways you can. 

The Dark Side of Virtual Reality: Sexual Harassment and the Lack of Body Agency

People often focus on the positives of virtual reality (VR): It can provide more immersive experiences. Players can visit outer space or a foreign country without ever leaving their couches. They can interact with other gamers in those virtual worlds. But VR enthusiasts often overlook, or never know about, VR’s darker sides: namely, the risk of unwanted interactions, which falls disproportionately on women and people of color.

‘If These Dolls Could Talk’: Art Exhibit Explores Role of Black Dolls in U.S. History and Challenges Racial Stereotypes

Dolls—from ancient representation of humans in art, to familiar children’s toys or use in religious rituals—have held meanings more than meets the eye. Now employing the lens of race and gender, the New-York Historical Society exhibition “Black Dolls” explores further the significant role of the Black doll in American history.

From the horrors of slavery through Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to the beginnings of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, this collection of 200 objects, textiles, sewing tools, photographs and ephemera represents a push back against negative racial stereotypes.

Gender Is Still Burning: The Ms. Q&A with Jennie Livingston

When filmmaker Jennie Livingston stumbled upon drag ball culture in the late 1980s, they had no idea how much the resulting film would resonate. Released in 1990, Livingston’s first documentary Paris Is Burning showcases drag balls during the late 1980s in Harlem, New York City, and features interviews with numerous queer and trans Black and Latinx performers who comprised the various “houses” in competition at the balls. Decades later, the film continues to resonate.

Poetry for the Rest of Us 2022

April is National Poetry Month! Since my dormant love of poetry was reignited, I’ve found it so refreshing and inspiring to read beautiful collections each year and share my thoughts with you.

I’ve included these 66 poetry titles for a variety of reasons: because they are especially unique, because I wanted to shine a light on them, they are from debut authors, indie publishers, or because they stood out to me for any other reason. I hope you find collections that will have you reflecting on how poetry moves you, challenges you and represents you.