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.
It’s been a hell of a year for feminists.
But we didn’t sit around. We took to the streets, to protest the attacks on our right to decide what happens to our own bodies. To protest the lack of progress on voting rights, immigration, police and gun reform, and on finally enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. We wrote letters, sent messages, tweet stormed, rallied, called Congress, and gave money to support our causes in a year when budgets were tight—because we knew it was the right thing to do.
Happy new year from all of us at Ms., and thank you for sticking with us through the hard times.
From COVID vaccines to abortion rights, infrastructure bills to Olympic athletes, 2021 has been a monunmental year for feminists around the globe. With so many of our rights in jeopardy, and with so many women struggling to recover from the pandemic, activists have had to work even harder to stand up for the causes we believe in.
Tackling voting rights, public health, reproductive justice and much more, here are our top feminists of 2021.
For many Black women, bell hooks was part of a community of truth-telling “other mothers”—women who parent children who are not their own.
The National Women’s Studies Association mourns the passing of Dr. Gloria Jean Watkins, Ph.D./bell hooks—genius, scholar, cultural critic, author, professor, truth speaker, a lover of words and of us. She challenged us, taught us, spoke to and sometimes for us. She gave us the words to say and the courage to say them. bell hooks never gave up. She never gave in. She was more than we could have asked for and gave us more than we could have ever imagined. As someone said, our heroes are dying, and our enemies are in power.
As NWSA marks this moment, I reached out and asked some of our former presidents to join with me and share their reflections and stories to add their voices to our collective of love.
Weekend Reading for Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation.
This week: beloved feminist author bell hooks died this week; Claudette Colvin explains her motivation for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a bus; Keechant Sewell become the first woman to lead the N.Y.P.D.; the Center for American Women and Politics celebrates 50 years of unparalleled research on women’s representation; the merits of returning to multi-seat districts and adopting ranked-choice voting; German Chancellor Olaf Scholz named a gender-balanced Cabinet; women’s representation in Arab countries; and more.
“sista bell hooks,
an enormous debt
that can never really
“No need to cry useless tears for you.
Instead, let us pick up our pens
& write our way
to liberation and freedom.”
bell hooks’s death is a reminder that the work continues, and that it is even more imperative to continue resisting systemic oppressions, to carve a path to liberation.
Her signed message to me—”Janell! To loving blackness –bell hooks”—still resonates with me because I have approached my critiques through this radical positioning of “loving blackness” and doing so as resistance to “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”
We were devastated to hear bell hooks—scholar, writer, activist and feminist legend—died on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at her home. She was 69.
In this beloved interview from the Spring 2011 issue of Ms. between hooks and Jennifer D. Williams, hooks frankly shares her bold takes on the past, present and future of feminism, and how to *live* it—not just think it.
“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?”
bell hooks’ “All About Love” speaks to the erosion of the promise of American ideals—already apparent nearly two decades ago—and how a politics of love might reverse it.