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Long Reads From a Long Year: The Best of Broadly 2016

In honor of the long, bad year we've had, we collected a few long, good reads that explore a diversity of issues that directly impact women's lives.

by Lindsay Schrupp
Jan 2 2017, 3:36pm

Illustration by Eric Nyquist

At Broadly, we report on the multiplicity of women's perspectives and realities, and the ways in which a myriad of issues—from personal relationships and identities to global politics and cultural shifts—impact women's lives and behaviors. This means the range of topics of we cover is broad (hence the name, Broadly). At the core of this is our effort to interrogate the falsehood of a singular "woman's perspective" by instead pulling together a diversity of voices and experiences, including the satirical, the introspective, and the resolute. And while we cover an expansive timeline of narratives—our shared histories, current realities, and projected futures—we also examine the issues that affect the boundaries of our identities through the geographies and spaces we inhabit: from the private to the public, the body to the globe.

Below are a few of our favorite stories from the year that do just that.

Photo by Kim Raff

Elizabeth Smart Is Standing Up for Rape Victims—And Tearing Down Purity Culture

Fourteen years after she was kidnapped, sexually abused, and held in captivity for nine months, Elizabeth Smart is fighting to change the way we talk about sex, rape, and abstinence. We visited her in her Utah home to learn more about her advocacy.

Illustration by Grace Wilson.

'Jesus Hasn't Saved Us': The Young Black Women Returning to Ancestral Religions

Christianity still exerts a powerful force in many black communities, but some young women are turning their back on the faith and returning to the older, traditional religions of their ancestors.

Illustration by Julia Kuo.

How a Harrowing Photo of One Woman's Death Became an Iconic Pro-Choice Symbol

In 1973, Ms. magazine published a haunting photo of a woman named Gerri Santoro, who'd died of a back-alley abortion. At the time, no one could have predicted what an impact it would have on the pro-choice movement, or how many decades later we would still be fighting to keep women from having to seek out illegal procedures.

Illustration by Julia Kuo.

Real Life Is Not Enough: On Choosing Virtual Reality over the Physical World

With the advent of virtual reality modules, immersion in the already addictive worlds of games is increasing at what many feel is an alarming rate. But millions of people around the world would happily trade their lives for their avatars.

Illustration by Marne Grahlman.

Raped, Threatened, and Left to Die: How the US Fails Female Asylum Seekers

Claudia fled Guatemala after two men stalked, raped, and threatened to kill her over her ex-husband's ties to a guerrilla group. But when she arrived in the US, her pleas for asylum fell on deaf ears.

Photo by Christopher Bethel.

'Every Part of Me Changed in Their Hands': A Former ISIS Sex Slave Speaks Out

When ISIS forces swept into Nadia Murad's village in Sinjar, it marked the beginning of several torturous months of rape, abuse, and captivity. Now the freed Yazidi campaigner is furiously lobbying for the survival of her people.

Illustration by Katherine Killeffer.

What It's Like to Be a 'Trim Bitch' on an Illegal Weed Farm

As a weed trimmer—a position almost always filled by women—I can earn $3000 a week. But the sexism and stigma on marijuana farms have always made me wonder if it's worth it.

Illustration by Julia Kuo.

Fetus Funerals: The Dystopian New Turn in the Fight Against Abortion Rights

Anti-abortion politicians across the country want to mandate burial or cremation services for fetuses—regardless of gestational age, and regardless of whether they're the result of abortion or miscarriage. Although these politicians insist they're advocating for the dignity of "unborn children," critics say they're simply trying to attack women's right to choose.

Photo via Getty Images.

'I Had to Be the Voice of Women': The First Female Hijacker Shares Her Story

On August 29, 1969, 25-year-old Leila Khaled made her way into the cockpit of TWA Flight 870 and commandeered the plane on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After that, she became known equally as an icon and a terrorist.

Illustration by Eleanor Doughty.

'I Thought I Was Stupid': The Hidden Struggle for Women with ADHD

Women with ADHD have to deal with symptoms that range from disorganization to OCD-like rituals—as well as the fear of being found out. The Better Together Festival—where attendees are encouraged to doodle in notebooks or walk around during presentations—aims to ease some of that pressure.

Illustration by Julia Kuo.

'It's Hard to Show the World I Exist': Chelsea Manning's Final Plea to Be Seen

In 2010, Chelsea Manning leaked thousands of classified documents in an attempt to shed light on the "true cost of war" in the Middle East. But while other whistleblowers continue to attract media attention and concern, Manning is locked in a maximum-security prison, six years into a 35-year sentence. On the heels of a last appeal to President Obama for clemency, Manning tells Broadly about her struggle for visibility and justice.

Illustration by Eleanor Doughty.

The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret

A recently published study sheds light on the alarming relationship between hormonal birth control and depression. But the findings are only the latest in a long line of battles between women and their doctors over accurate information about birth control.

Illustration by Eric Nyquist

When a Woman Is Raped in Rural Alaska, Does Anyone Care?

When Jennifer moved to Alaska to teach in a rural village, she didn't know the state has the highest rate of reported rape in the country. Then, men started banging on her door at night.

Illustration by Vivian Shih.

Feminists Are Going to the Amazon to Drink Ayahuasca

The concept of harnessing the powers of ayahuasca for curative and revelatory experiences has gained popularity in recent years. Cosmic Sister, a psychedelic advocacy network, is hoping it can also help women heal from the wounds of the patriarchy.

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