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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

Jessica Valenti

In GEN. More on Medium.

Column

Lessons from the busiest two years of my professional life — and arguably the worst stretch of modern American history

I’ve been writing columns for years; sometimes once a week, sometimes a few times a week, sometimes (back when I was blogging a million years ago) a few times a day. No matter how infrequently I publish, finding subjects to write about can be tough. There’s always a week when the news feels sparse or inspiration just doesn’t strike. That hasn’t really been the case of the last two years, the time I’ve spent writing at GEN.

Between Donald Trump’s presidency, the resulting rollback of hard-won reproductive rights, and a global pandemic, there’s been no shortage of headlines to stress…


Column

It turns out schoolwork is the pandemic parenting hack you never expected

There’s nothing quite like being a pandemic parent in the winter. Gone are the outdoor playdates and park time; being stuck in the apartment these past few cold months has taken on a whole new level of isolation. Yet one thing has made the dreary pandemic winter more bearable: doing math homework with my 10-year-old daughter.

Hear me out.

When it comes to parenting during Covid-19, there’s no shortage of woes to choose from. …


Column

So-called progressives are angry Biden ended a policy that allowed schools to discriminate against trans students

Just hours after being inaugurated, President Joe Biden signed 17 executive orders undoing some of his predecessor’s most egregious and discriminatory actions, from reversing the Muslim Ban to ensuring that the U.S. reenters the Paris climate agreement. And though he hasn’t yet signed an executive order, Biden is also preparing to reverse the global gag rule: a devastating policy that bans funding for international health groups that even mention abortion to their patients.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw, on Biden’s first full day in office, the hashtag “#BidenErasedWomen” trending on Twitter. Had the new president done…


Column

I felt numb at first, but the wisdom of someone 20 years my junior finally brought me to tears

As Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, I waited for the wave of relief to come over me. Friends were posting on Twitter and Instagram about how they hadn’t stopped crying since the morning, and how they felt hope for the first time in four years. I was desperate to feel the same.

The truth, though, was that I felt numb. Call it a defense mechanism or a trauma response to the violence and injustice of the Trump administration, call it the dull exhaustion of dealing with a deadly pandemic over this last…


Column

Just as we’ve been doing the bulk of the childcare

A woman pushes an elderly woman in a wheelchair across a sidewalk.
A woman pushes an elderly woman in a wheelchair across a sidewalk.

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that the state would start making the Covid-19 vaccine available to people over 65 years old, my first reaction was relief. The news meant my parents, both of whom are in their mid-seventies, would finally get some sort of assurance in the near future. The second feeling I had was one of pure and overwhelming exhaustion, because I knew I was about to spend countless hours trying to help my mom and dad schedule those vaccination appointments.

I’m far from alone. American women, who overwhelmingly are tasked with caretaking for senior…


Column

As women are being forced out of the workforce, Andrew Yang needs to give credit where it’s due: to his wife

Andrew Yang appears to be just a tad out of touch. The former presidential candidate and current New York City mayoral hopeful really stepped in it on Monday when he expressed incredulity about parenting while stuck in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. “Can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment and then trying to do work yourself?” Yang said to the New York Times, Actually yes, Andrew, a lot of us can imagine it! We might even have been living it for the past year.

Yang, who has spent the better part of…


COLUMN

Activists have known for years that far-right online chatter can turn into real-world violence

As insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, encouraged and inspired by Donald Trump, I was struck by how many people were apparently surprised. Pundits and politicians alike remarked how “unbelievable” the terrorism was, how shocking it was to see law enforcement’s lack of preparedness. Chief of DC Metropolitan Police Robert Contee even said on Thursday that there had been “no intelligence” to suggest Trump’s mob of supporters would attempt a breach of the U.S. Capitol.”

That’s just not true. For weeks — months, even — extremist Trump supporters had been openly discussing violently overthrowing the government. Some said they were…


COLUMN

Now more than ever, we need to embrace giving a shit about other people

Earlier this week, amid the usual barrage of dystopian headlines, I was treated to a rare and unexpected bit of good news: television host and new mom Meghan McCain pushing for paid parental leave on The View. “We are the only developing nation that doesn’t supply women with paid family leave,” said McCain, who has until now remained silent on the issue. “We as conservatives have to come together and allow all women in this country, no matter where they’re from or their socioeconomic class, the capacity to have what I just had.”

She’s right to point out that it’s…


Column

Social media may feel like some women’s only route to justice

Close up of a teenager using her smartphone. Her face is obscured by her phone.
Close up of a teenager using her smartphone. Her face is obscured by her phone.

Since Covid-19 hit, I’ve become a bit of a TikTok addict. The social media app offers entertaining, quick content that makes me feel connected to what young people are up to, an algorithm that’s proven remarkably mindful of my interests: dog videos, mom humor, and — of course — feminism.

It’s pretty heartening to watch a younger generation of women pick up the mantle of innovative activism and run with it. I’ve seen teens dancing to voicemails of their abusive ex-boyfriends as a way to raise awareness about red flags in dating, watched young women rapping about online abuse, and…


Column

If we want women to stop pushing dangerous ideas online, we need to understand why they believe this bullshit

When you think of conspiracy theorists, it’s likely you’re picturing an older white man holed up in a basement surrounded by newspaper clippings and a scribbled-on blackboard. The more accurate and modern picture, though, would be someone sleeker and more surprising: A younger, white, stay-at-home mom who dabbles in Instagram influencing.

Whether it’s Covid, QAnon, or vaccinations, there’s a new generation of conspiracy moms bringing a facade of palatability to some of the most dangerous ideas in America. …

GEN

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