My Best Writing of 2022

It feels like everything and nothing happened this year. I did not get my own apartment, but I sold a novel. I found it hard to be social, but I drove to Canada for my best friend’s wedding. I did not adopt a pet, but I took care of seven different cats while their owners traveled. Elon Musk bought and broke Twitter, but I reached 50,000 followers. I failed to grow my Patreon to 400 patrons, but I got to know so many of my readers.

If you’d like to read more of my work, join my Patreon community, or click into the essays below below.

Here are the highlights of my writing from 2022.

A Sex Writer Takes a Thirst Trap— “It doesn’t matter what brought me to those private clubs and literary salons, or what kept me going back. For whatever reason, I forced myself to button up and socialize with people who didn’t share my values. I could describe myself a “critic” all I wanted, but I broke the rules by talking about sex, mental health, and disease. My whiteness and class privilege got me through the door, yet no amount of Connecticut prestige could overcome my Google search results. I am not respectable. Thank goodness. Respectable people throw terrible parties.”

survivor brain — “Me and my words. It always comes back to us, no matter whom I love, no matter who gets hurt. People talk about how dangerous words are, how they reduce people to a single decision. Words vilify us, flatten us, are a cheap replacement for justice. People see a word like this as a weapon. But the act is the true weapon. The word is a bandage I press against the mess he left behind. I am not accusing anyone. I am just trying to understand.”

baby — “It feels like recognition, like being given a new name, my true name. Like, ah, this is who I am with you. This is how you make me feel.”

This Is How You Leave — “Here is what you need to know: No one’s gonna love you out of this but you. A hero isn’t coming. Your friends and family don’t know how bad it is because you haven’t told them, which isn’t your fault but it means you will have to do this part alone. Your people are waiting for you on the other side. All you have to do is get in the car. All you have to do is put your laptop and your checkbook and your medication in your backpack and tell him a white lie.”

a rape essay — “I write around it because it isn’t simple. I write around it because I do not want to be sued. I write around it because it’s my fault for being such a good actress. I write around it because I didn’t stick to my guns, but at least I got out before he could buy a gun, but I worry about him showing up on my mother’s front porch with a gun and it is 3:30 in the afternoon and I am awake in a nightmare. I want to gnaw off my hands, I want to gouge my eyes out, I google “why do I want to gouge my eyes out” and “complex PTSD held captive??” and “sexual coercion trauma.” I scratch my arms and that helps, and I am horrified that it helps. I download a self-harm prevention app.”

Don’t Look Away From Marilyn Manson’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Evan Rachel Wood — “I know what you’re thinking: not this again. We just wrapped up an exhausting and dramatic celebrity domestic violence trial, and the mostly pro-Depp verdict was just as exhausting and dramatic. Now you have to pay attention to another tabloid defamation lawsuit? Do you really have to think about Marilyn Manson, of all people? Yes. Yes, you do.”

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

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