AIDSAfrica

The Limits of Compassion

In August of 2000, I found myself in a remote rural village in Lesotho. I was working as an AIDS journalist and had traveled to Durban for a conference on the continent’s pandemic. There, a stout Basotho woman invited me to come and see what was happening in her country. It was my first trip to Africa. My first greeting by ululating women. My first experience as an ... [Continue Reading]

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An Unwanted Guest

I didn’t see the jellyfish, but I felt it—a searing pain at my ankle that shot up through my leg, bringing me, in a matter of seconds, to my knees in the sand. I looked down and saw its limp, blue body floating away from me down the rivulet I’d stumbled into when the sand along its border collapsed under my step. The creature had gripped me with its tentacles for ... [Continue Reading]

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Touring the Revolution

The green hills from which the Zapatistas descended to take San Cristóbal nearly twenty years earlier looked wet and blurred outside the windows in the rain. After the parched Oaxacan isthmus and clammy, tropical Tuxtla Guitierrez, San Cristóbal’s mountain air felt liberating, like emerging from a fever into quiet clarity. We rolled down the windows and watched the ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Sara Bernard's "Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness" in The Atlantic Sara Bernard's piece in The Atlantic this week is a feat of reporting about the high prevalence of rape in Alaska, "the rape capital of the U.S." On top of her haunting details about the rural landscape, a place where victims of sexual assault are often forced to conduct their own ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Jenny Nordberg's “The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys” in The Atlantic At school, Mahnoush is known as Mehran; at work, Niima is called Abdul Mateen. These girls do not know each other, but they do know what it is to have an open gateway into the world around them—as boys. They are bacha posh, girls dressed as boys, an uncommon but not unusual practice in ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: jhencolors2

The Postcard Days

Before flying north for a summer halfway through college, what I knew about Denali National Park was that it was big and remote, and that it had bears and one gravel road. Soon after arriving, I found myself with an unremarkable job in a remarkable place: working 40 hours a week selling books and postcards at the visitor center at mile 66 of said road—measured from its ... [Continue Reading]

Illustration: Jenny Williams

Bookmarked: Hannah Stephenson’s Five Female Poets

Poetess: for me, the word conjures up a lady in a white ruffled gown, flung across velvet chaise, sighing and scribbling with a pen that resembles a feather duster. What is most objectionable about the word is how it implies that a female poet isn’t a poet--she is something different. Something a little less--a poet(l)ess. Thankfully, the word doesn’t get thrown ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Lucinda Williams' "Where the Spirit Meets the Bone: A Memoir" on the Longreads Blog Nothing satisfies like a Lucinda Williams song. Her words, emanating from her achy soul and propelled—with great will, it sometimes seems—up through her gravelly throat always launch me on a sad, nostalgic bender, sending me adrift into a land of heartache and pain that seems to have ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Camille T. Dungy's "A Brief History of Near and Actual Losses" in Virginia Quarterly Review At the Cape Coast Castle on the Ghanaian coast, visitors can tour the dungeons of a 350-year-old castle where, during the Atlantic slave trade, 1500 men, women, and children at a time were shackled and packed into dank rooms on the eve of their journeys out of Africa. In 2013 ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Jorge Santiago

Leave to Remain

When I was younger I used to fantasize about having a button I could press that would pause the world around me while I caught my breath, had a nap, figured out a solution, came up with something witty to say. My current situation is the opposite of that fantasy - someone has pressed the pause button on my life, and I am suspended, watching the rest of the world go ... [Continue Reading]

VelaBookmarked

Bookmarked: Rufi Thorpe’s Five Debut Novelists

As a debut novelist, I tend to read other debut novelists. I didn’t always. I used to read mostly books that were recommended to me by my mother or by friends. I usually only found an author after they had published two or three books. I thought of this as waiting for the cream to rise, so that I wouldn’t have to suffer through that disappointing moment of setting a ... [Continue Reading]

Illustration: Jenny Williams

Women We Read This Week

Jeanne Marie Laskas’s "The New Face of Richard Norris" in GQ Richard Norris’s face transplant is life-threatening cosmetic surgery, and the fact that that would ever feel necessary tells us something deeply uncomfortable about the world we live in. Laskas approaches this delicately, through the layers of stories that have been built up around Norris: He is a ... [Continue Reading]

Illustration: Jenny Williams

Women We Read This Week

Janet Malcolm's "Iphigenia in Forest Hills" in The New Yorker In the erratic throes of new motherhood, I've been doing a lot of baby rocking while watching episode after episode of The Good Wife. In the process I've developed killer biceps and a fascination with the byzantine machinations of the legal system. It seems fateful, then, that in browsing through the endless ... [Continue Reading]

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Emergency Pot Cookie (Or, the Nascence and Destruction of my First Real Writing Job)

If you are ever nineteen and living in San Francisco for the first time, working at your first writing job, getting paid, getting laid, carousing 24/7 with your utterly lovable just-coming-out-of-the-closet gay bestie, bathing in a seemingly endless shower of free weed, passing effortlessly into the VIP lounges of the city’s newest clubs, eating Chinese food that pitches ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Sabrina Rubin Erdely's "The Transgender Crucible" in Rolling Stone At one point in the story of CeCe MacDonald, a trans woman who was charged with murder after defending herself from a violent attack, her defense lawyer tells Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely that his task was to inform the jury about the habitual violence trans women face. "We'd have to be ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Rachel Riederer’s "The Teaching Class" in Guernica I read Riederer’s piece about a month ago, and though at first it didn’t stand out to me, I’ve found that my mind keeps wandering back to it. What first seemed another piece about the injustice of adjunct workers in higher education has become that article I’m repeatedly referring people to. I suppose ... [Continue Reading]

VelaBookmarked

Bookmarked: Brittany Shoot’s Seven Science Writers

When I joined The Magazine as managing editor a year ago, the publication’s editor-publisher (and my boss) Glenn Fleishman and I had a number of discussions about gender, bylines, inclusion, and such. (And we still have those talks.) The Magazine launched about eight months before I came on board, and while it’s still a bit under the radar, it’s an iOS/web native ... [Continue Reading]

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The Lifecycle of Butterflies

In Michoacán, the migrating mariposas appear with November, as if trailing the marigolds trucked in for Day of the Dead. They come by the fragile millions, fluttering a few thousand miles from el norte to the transvolcanic range of their own origin. As such, the monarcas are seen to symbolize the annual returning of souls, they are the mascot of the local soccer club, and ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Meredith Broussard's "Why Poor Schools Can't Win at Standardized Testing" on The Atlantic Forget for a moment the irony of an article critiquing financial biases in public education leading to a pop-up ad for a $50,000 Masters of Education program at USC. Meredith Broussard's work of investigate journalism digs into the flawed system of standardized testing that has ... [Continue Reading]

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Why I Didn’t See the David (and other methodologies of heartbreak)

When I was twenty and graduating college, my grandmother gave me the kind of balls-out crazy gift-of-a-lifetime that characterized her gift-giving oeuvre. It was a three-week trip to Italy for myself and a friend. A shoestring trip to be sure: two coach tickets, enough money only for the cheapest hostels and maybe one meal a day. But it was Italy. I had been studying both ... [Continue Reading]

Women We Read This Week

Women We Read This Week

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger's "Why I Traveled the World Hunting for Mutant Bugs" on Nautilus In this thought-provoking piece on her role as a scientific illustrator, Hesse-Honegger begins this piece with a beautifully rendered description of her painting process--exacting and scientific in itself, but not without a philosophical bent: "When I look at my insects through the ... [Continue Reading]

VelaBookmarked

Bookmarked: Angie Chuang’s Five Female Journalists

The term “female journalist” implies that the gendered modifier is necessary because we assume that a plain old “journalist” is male. As with “male nurse,” “female journalist” is a retronym that reminds us of prevailing gender stereotypes in the field. I grew up watching “girl journalists” like Hildy Johnson on His Girl Friday or Mary Tyler Moore. ... [Continue Reading]