In the November issue of InStyle magazine, readers will be greeted with a new column called "Badass Woman," highlighting the work of iconoclastic women in a variety of fields.
The first piece in the series is an essay from Gretchen Carlson, the journalist and former Fox & Friends host who sued ex-Fox News president Roger Ailes for sexual harassment last July.
Carlson settled for a reported $20 million, but in light of the recent wave of lawsuits and allegations of harassment and assault against powerful men in a variety of industries — media, politics, entertainment, and tech — she encourages other women to speak out, too.
"Twenty-four hours after my improbable dream became a reality, my pride was stripped away," Carlson says of her immediate experiences after winning Miss America in 1989. "A well-known female reporter in New York City tried to take me down during my first press conference with a demeaning and ugly line of questioning. [...] As I stood at the podium in agony, every ounce of self-confidence drained from my body. Instead of feeling celebratory about having just accomplished something pretty spectacular, I was forced to fend off an attack. That feeling would become familiar over the years, but most of my assailants would be men, their attacks physical rather than verbal."
The perpetrators included a "high-powered television executive," "a powerful PR executive," and a cameraman with whom she worked early in her career. All of the men seemed to prey on Carlson's relative inexperience at the time — as well as the fact that she was unlikely to say anything, as few women do.
"Until recently, I had never publicly told any of these stories. In our culture, if you speak up against sexual harassment, you’re labeled a troublemaker, a bitch, or worse," she explains. "Twenty-five years later, you'd think things would have changed, but after my story made headlines last year, I found out that, even in 2017, every woman still has a story."
InStyle editor-in-chief Laura Brown is approaching the series with that idea in mind. Other features in the series include essays from Better Things creator Pamela Adlon, transgender soldier Jennifer Peace, and an interview between actress Laura Dern and MIT professor Neri Oxman.
"'Badass Woman' came out of a visceral reaction I had to President Trump's potential ban on transgender members of the military," Brown says. "As a response, we decided to profile army captain Jennifer Peace in our November issue. When I called Jennifer a 'Badass Woman,' the idea was born. 'Badass Woman' spotlights women who not only have a voice — like Gretchen Carlson, who writes about fighting sexual harassment in this issue — but defy the irrelevant preconceptions of gender. Not to mention, they are exceptionally cool."
Upcoming features will be written by a GMC truck designer, a PhD assistant professor studying the root of depression, and actress Gabrielle Union.