Moira Donegan

  • How to Survive a Movement

    ONE NIGHT IN 2010, the writer Sarah Schulman was at the Manhattan gallery White Columns for the opening of a show she had helped create about the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, or ACT UP, the AIDS-activist organization she was a member of from 1987 to 1992. In her 2012 book The Gentrification of the Mind, Schulman writes of the evening as a kind of reunion for the group, with the ACT UP-ers, mostly in their fifties and sixties, “laughing and smiling and hugging and flirting,” all wearing the scars, physical and psychic, of the traumas they had endured together during the worst of the AIDS

  • Oh, Mercy

    SEVEN YEARS AGO, Aaron Coleman, who is currently twenty and a candidate for the Kansas state legislature, attempted to extort nude photos from a thirteen-year-old. When she refused, he circulated another nude photo of her in retaliation. Around the same time, he started bullying another girl, and persisted until she attempted suicide. Last December, months before he came to national attention, he hit and threatened a third woman, then his girlfriend, choking and slapping her in a hot tub after she joked about breaking up with him. After two of the women made their stories public, Coleman found

  • Sister Act

    EVEN AS A LITTLE GIRL, Benedetta Carlini, born in a Tuscan mountain town in 1590, had the kind of persuasive charm possessed by politicians and good salesmen. When she played with a feral dog and it attacked her, she told her parents that the dog was the devil, come to earth to torment her. When she was caught playing with a nightingale, then thought to be a dangerous symbol of sensuality and lust, she explained that the bird was a guardian angel. After Benedetta joined a convent of Theatine nuns in 1599, she began having revelations from God. In one vision, Benedetta was again attacked by

  • Sex During Wartime

    EVEN BEFORE her death from myocarditis in 2005, Andrea Dworkin was more read about than read. She had become less a public thinker than a symbol, an embodiment of feminism’s missteps and excesses. The right parodied her with the viciousness reserved for misogyny, mocking her overalls, frizzy hair, and excess weight. The left aggressively disavowed her, with other feminists going out of their way to contrast her opinions with their own. Almost fifteen years after her death, her exile from the sphere of acceptable political thought is near-absolute. It is still more common to see her ridiculed

  • Lavender, Menaced

    IF YOU WERE STRAIGHT in 1968, you would have had no idea the United States was on the cusp of the Stonewall riots. Gays were largely invisible, closeted, and discreet, and their appearance in public was checked by violence and vice squads. The gay organizations that did exist, loosely affiliated as the homophile movement, emphasized respectability and assimilation. There was only one organized lesbian group in the country, the Daughters of Bilitis, and it was named after a collection of nineteenth-century French poems written by a man. Originally intended as an underground social club, a less

  • The Bad and the Ugly

    Ottessa Moshfegh always wants you to know when one of her characters is ugly, outside or in. The unnamed narrator of "Malibu," one of the stories in her first collection, Homesick for Another World, fixates on his pimples and demands money from his sick uncle, who has to wear a colostomy bag. "I still had the rash," he says at one point. "There was nothing I could do about it before my date that night with Terri. I lay on my bed and reached down to the floor and picked little crumbs and hairs out of the carpet." Terri, his blind date, turns out to be fat. "Her chest was large but looked like