Why tell history stories?

Mezrab Elyzabeth

I’ve always liked the idea that art holds a mirror to humanity. The other night at Mezrab House of Stories, I was shown how profoundly those images can connect strangers. I told a crowd of about 200 about the worst moment of my life, when I was a teenager expelled family and friends. I felt…

What’s the point, answered by Li Qingzhao

Li Qingzhao

Dear Badass, I’m a designer. I have been since I was born. I don’t remember when I first started playing with clothes. I was making outfits for my dolls before I even knew what outfits were. My favorite childhood game was dress-up. I went to Parsons after teen years spent religiously watching Project Runway and…

Yeah, Pride Still Matters


Every year, the same question becomes a drumbeat leading up to Pride: does it still matter? Some say it’s become a corporate parade of rainbow decorations and a chance for straight, cis people to get ally cred by partying instead of doing the hard work of showing up to rallies or confronting homophobic family members….

Waiting for the Axe to Fall, answered by Katherine Lescailje


Dear Badass, I’m driving myself crazy at work. I feel like a fraud and I’m constantly waiting to be exposed. I have no idea why I feel this way. I got good grades all through school. I started at my job as an assistant and kept getting promoted. I work hard and try to do…

Bounded in a Nutshell, answered by Caterina Sforza

Caterina Sforza

Dear Badass, How do I stop selling myself short? When I was growing up, I felt like other kids didn’t like me because I was smart. I thought I learned to be more social and that’s why I had more friends in college and when I started working. Now, though, I wonder if it’s because…

Tired, answered by Frieda Belinfante


Dear Badass, The other day, my friends and I were kicking a ball around outside our school. This car slowed down long enough for this guy to scream out this slur before speeding off. We didn’t see his face and none of us got more than the color of the car. I don’t think there’s…

Testifying in the Dark, answered by Hypatia of Alexandria


Dear Badass, How much do I have to keep fighting my family about their beliefs? I understand that white Americans like myself have a responsibility to push back on racism where we see it. I believe, I truly do, that racism thrives on being tacitly accepted and that my silence allows people who say racist…

Jealous of What My Friend Doesn’t Even Want, answered by Cornelia van der Veer


Dear Badass, All my life, all I’ve wanted to do was sing. I sing in my church choir. In high school, I got to play some cool parts in the annual musicals. I didn’t get into the schools I wanted to, but my back-up school has a good music program and no one’s going to…

Friendship Opens Old Scars, answered by Agrippina the Younger


Dear Badass, I just had a terrible fight with my best friend. She was pissed at me for not telling her when I disagreed. I didn’t tell her because she loves to fight and doesn’t know how to listen. I told her it was her fault for wanting to fight all the time and she…

Ready to Give Up, answered by the 99-day Empress


Dear Badass, What’s the point of being a good person? I see so many people doing whatever they want and taking whatever they can get and having a great life because of it. On a political level, I see people lying with impunity while they’re cheered by the very people they’re stealing from. My industry…

Belittled Shopping, answered by Shajar al-Durr


Dear Badass, What do I say when I’m out shopping and salesgirls are rude to me about my figure? Sometimes, it’s subtle, like a raised eyebrow or saying they don’t have anything in my size. Sometimes they’re just plain rude, like telling me to shop somewhere else. I was out with a friend the other…

Coming home for Women’s History Month


After some extensive adventures, Ask A Badass is coming back! Starting with international women’s day, we’ll celebrating Women’s History Month in March with weekly columns, then returning to posting on every other Thursday (fortnightly).

The Evening of the Old Year


In Dutch, December 31 is Old Year’s Day. Its night is not New Year’s Eve, but Old Year’s Eve. It’s not until 12:01 a.m. on January 1 that you wish people a happy/lucky new year. Before then, you hope that they have a good changing of the year. I didn’t notice that distinction during my…

1001 Stories to See


I’ve never seen anything like “1001 Women in the Twentieth Century”, the exhibit currently running at the Amsterdam Museum. I’ve been researching and writing about women’s history for years. I’ve sought out exhibits about women’s history wherever I’ve traveled, obsessively checked sites like Rejected Princesses, and practically wore a path to “The Dinner Party” when…

[Name Redacted], answered by Veronica Franco


Dear Badass, My girlfriend leave me. [Real Name Omitted] Dear [Real Name], Let me go, foolish ideas and useless hopes, blind, senseless and insatiable desire I am so very sorry your girlfriend left you. There is more that I can say to you, but I suspect what you wish most to hear is this. The…

The Most Beautiful City


Take good care of our city and of each other.  This entreaty ended the letter Eberhard van der Laan wrote last September to tell Amsterdammers that he was reaching the end of his battle with terminal cancer. He said it had been a privilege to be mayor of the most beautiful and beloved city in…

Why Don’t I Feel Lucky, answered by Murasaki Shikibu


Dear Badass, I went to a really good school for creative writing and I’m so proud of the writer I’ve become. I knew it meant that I would have to do some form of non-writing work to try to pay off my debts as I write my first book. I’m so aware that I should…

Daughter in Limbo, answered by Lakshmibai


Dear Badass, My now husband warned me from the first that his mother is opinionated. I thought that I’d won her over, though. We’ve always been friendly. On our wedding day, she came up to me AS THE MUSIC WAS PLAYING to tell me she knew that I didn’t love her son and I was…

Seeking Lady Luck, answered by Yolande of Aragon


Dear Badass, I’m just finishing up my last year of theater school. One thing everyone keeps telling me is that luck is important. Like you have to be good, you have to be professional, you have to keep working at your craft. But ultimately, there’s an element of luck that is beyond your control. So…

It Could’ve Happened to Anyone, answered by Livia


Today’s column was inspired by a Carolyn Hax column. Dear Badass, What are you supposed to do when your son has an oversensitive girlfriend? For months, my son has been dating a girl who is so spoiled. Every time she comes over to my house, she grills me about every single ingredient in the meal I cooked…