Welcome to another A2A Long Reads, a weekly roundup of the most in-depth and thought-provoking longform journalism pieces (according to me, of course). This week’s long reads are courtesy of Bust Magazine, GQ Magazine, Foreign Policy, Esquire and The Washington Post.

Women who regret motherhood share their stories

It’s the shameful truth few mothers are willing to admit: That having a child—or in some cases, children—is their biggest regret in life. In a world that too often affirms motherhood as a woman’s one true purpose, to regret a child is a burdensome truth that many women are forced to carry in silence. But as Orna Donath, an Israeli Doctor of Sociology, maintains in this long read from Bust Magazine, “pretending it doesn’t happen, or passing judgment when it does, are insidious ways of diminishing the truth about women’s lives.”

An excerpt from this long read:

I can predict that many of you will react with disgust or perhaps distrust to this very idea, believing that there is no such thing as regretting motherhood; that while motherhood might be difficult, no woman would look back and wish she could undo it. Yet, there are indeed women who do, and they come from a variety of socioeconomic, ethnic, educational, and professional backgrounds. They are women like Sky, a mother of two teenage children, who says, “If I could go back today, I’m sure I would not bring children into the world. It is completely clear to me.” 

Colin Kaepernick will not be silenced

Inarguably the most polarizing athlete in America today, Colin Kaepernick is showing no signs of backing down from his protest against injustice and police brutality. This week, he was named GQ’s 2017 Citizen of the Year in recognition of his nationwide movement. But in true Kaepernick style, the football player has chosen to remain silent, instead allowing GQ to use imagery to tell his narrative. Once again, without using words Colin Kaepernick has managed to say so much. And he won’t be silenced.

An excerpt from this long read:

When we began discussing this GQ cover with Colin earlier this fall, he told us the reason he wanted to participate is that he wants to reclaim the narrative of his protest, which has been hijacked by a president eager to make this moment about himself. But Colin also made it clear to us that he intended to remain silent. As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence. It has helped his story go around the world. It has even provoked the ire and ill temper of Donald Trump. Why talk now, when your detractors will only twist your words and use them against you? Why speak now, when silence has done so much?

China refuses to admit it has a rape problem. I would know.

Recent allegations of assault in Hollywood have exposed a culture of sexual misconduct that for too long, has forcibly remained a secret. In the wake of the scandal, Chinese media and government have been quick to paint rape culture as a “western issue” of which Chinese society is immune to. But as one writer and rape survivor writes, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

An excerpt from this long read:

The next day, one of them asked me to go swimming at a local hot springs with a group of his friends. It sounded fun. I said yes. But as it turned out, there were no friends, and I had no cellphone. Later that day, he raped me. That moment marked a new era for me — the Before Christ and Anno Domini that split my soul and altered the trajectory of my life. Unwittingly, I had walked into the middle of a struggle to redefine Chinese identity, in a nation at times unable to come to terms with its own sexual revolution — or the epidemic of violence behind its closed doors.

Kate’s still here

When Kate is diagnosed with advanced lobular breast cancer, she knows she doesn’t have much time left. Alongside her husband, Deloy, she begins to arrange her own funeral. It is to be simple, an “atmosphere of celebration” and most importantly, held at her home. In this moving and eye-opening long read, Esquire takes readers through Kate’s last days as she and her husband work to fulfill her last wish.

An excerpt from this long read:

Before Kate died at age 67, but when she realized it was coming, she knew she didn’t want any of the standard funeral packages most Americans buy. She did not want to be embalmed and placed in a casket underground, or to be cremated, or to have anything to do with a funeral home. She wanted to die in her house, to be laid out there, and to have everyone come and spend as much time as they wished with her body. She wanted an atmosphere of celebration, because, as she told me once, “if it’s my funeral we’re talking about, I’m dead and gone, so have a party, for goodness’ sake.”

Kim Jong Un’s North Korea: Life inside the totalitarian state

Almost six years of life under Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian regime have proven to be just as difficult as North Koreans initially feared. The state has all but broken down and its economy has come to a virtual standstill. In this long read from The Washington Post, almost 20 defected North Koreans explain how their disillusionment with the ruler and his party, coupled with their desire for a better life, eventually pushed them to flee the isolated country.

An excerpt from this long read:

I did so many things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I worked as a broker transferring money and connecting people in North Korea with people in South Korea through phone calls. I arranged reunions for them in China. I smuggled antiques out of North Korea and sold them in China. I sold ginseng and pheasants to China. And I dealt ice [methamphetamines.]. Officially, I was a factory worker, but I bribed my way out of having to go to work. If you don’t operate this way in North Korea, you have nothing.

These are the week’s best long reads According to Adrienne. If you’ve got a piece you think I’d be interested in, send it to info@accordingtoadrienne.com.

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