If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that good journalism is more important than ever. With the garrulous American president careening around yelling “fake news!” at the free press—referred to by political scientists as a cornerstone of true democracy, so you know—there’s no doubt that the prototypical democracy is in jeopardy.
It’s only with good journalism that we’ll get any insight onto what’s really going on. Enter Lauren Duca, a truly unf-ckwithable voice of reason in these uncertain times.
In an article for Teen Vogue at the end of 2016, entitled “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America,” she exposed President Trump’s use of the gas light (“to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity”) as a way to conceal the truth—namely, that he is a bigot who condones and encourages hatred. In one fell swoop, Duca pinpointed Trump’s abhorrent strategy while also showing that an interest in fashion (or any other stereotypically “frivolous” topic, to be honest) is not, has never been, and will never be mutually exclusive to being politically engaged.
Yes, Duca’s piece was critically acclaimed, but she angered a whole lot of opinionated, mean-spirited people and she’s been dealing with their misogynistic harassment ever since. The most encouraging part? She just. keeps. going. Case in point, a little over a week after her article went viral, she went head-to-head with Fox News political commentator (and devoted Trump supporter) Tucker Carlson in an extremely heated debate about Ivanka Trump’s complicity in her dad’s discriminatory fear-mongering.
Carlson repeatedly interrupted Duca and, after trying to undermine her authority by reading through her other articles about celebrities and fashion, told her to “stick to the thigh-high boots.” I still can’t believe Duca didn’t fly into a fiery hot rage and tell him to f-ck right off.
No, it’s at this point that Duca just calmly stares into the camera, her ever-resilient wheels already turning. Two months later, she launched a Teen Vogue column aptly named “Thigh-High Politics,” a collection of intelligent analyses of the Trump administration, American politics and the feminist fight. The column runs 30 posts deep and if you’re like me, you’ve read every last one.
Duca’s biggest wins of the year are those articles in which she uses an quick-witted understanding of political processes to explain WTF is going on in the White House—something that can be really difficult to comprehend for the average citizen. In March, she expertly explained the danger which lies beneath Trump’s treatment of the media, urging readers to “remain vigilantly informed and, above all else, insist upon safeguarding the freedoms of the press.” After the Las Vegas shooting, which claimed the lives of 58 people and injured countless others, Duca fought through the pain and shock that was rocking the country (and the world) to issue a call to arms: “Be part of a vocal consensus that refuses to accept our gruesome reality as an inevitability.” More recently, Duca put into words a cycle that all the women in my life have, at some point or another, gone through this year: burning rage, a desire to fight, a quick burn out and then unending exhaustion. “Even with an enduring dialogue about sexual abuse, even with the undeniable bull’s-eye of a misogynist-in-chief, sexism’s inherent denial of our oppression means that comprehending its full effect is a job that is never complete,” Duca writes. “Instead, it is a constant process, perpetually blurred by the ebb and flow of so many epiphanies clouded by self-doubt.”
What I find most jolting about Duca’s work is the fact that she’s not afraid to speak her mind in the face of an inhospitable, rage-filled and discriminatory demographic (a.k.a. the “alt-right”). When I’m confronted with someone who is deeply passionate about their contrary—sometimes even harmful—opinions, I’m more inclined to step back than speak louder. But not Duca. She constantly speaks her mind, and remains determined and unvarying in her beliefs despite the barrage of hate she’s constantly faced with. (And somehow, she always remains articulate? Like, how’s that fair?)
Lauren Duca is everything I aspire to be—as a journalist, as a woman and as a person.
As an aside, she personally replied to my email asking for a headshot within two goddamn hours of having sent it. If that’s not straight-up 2017 chivalry, I don’t know what is.
More from FLARE’s ‘12 Days of Feminists’ series:
Day 1: Anne T. Donahue on Fierce Truth-Teller Scaachi Koul
Day 2: Sadiya Ansari on Fearless Supernova Jane Fonda
Day 3: Janaya Khan on Mary Hooks Bringing Black Moms Home
Day 5: Nakita Valerio on Effervescent Community Leader Nasra Adem
Day 6: Anne Thériault on Tanya Tagaq Singing Truth to Power
Day 7: Laura Hensley on Unapologetic Activist and Entrepreneur Jen Agg
Day 8: Jennifer Berry on Exuberant Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante