This Powerful Writer Will Be Standing Up for You

Her name is Lauren Duca, and a viral "Teen Vogue" article and a fiercely fought Fox News debate have made her a must-read in Donald Trump's America.

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As we embark on the new year, we're sharing a series of stories about the artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs and more who are poised to do big things in 2017.

How has your daily life changed since the election?

Well, I used to think of myself as a cultural journalist. I started picking up politics more under the umbrella of culture throughout the course of the year. Midway through, those things that I used to like to do started to feel really trivial and not as big of a source of passion for me.

"I've been thinking about how I can use my angry energy for good."

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Once I started using my platform to discuss political issues, the responses I got—even before going viral this month—showed me that people are looking to engage with those things, and to empower themselves with information, and to have smarter discussions. That has begun to feel really crucial and urgent. I wish that I could be using my energy to go be doing something like a profile of DJ Pauly D [laughs], but it just doesn't feel significant enough right now. It feels like we all have a lot of responsibility. I've been thinking about how I can use my work for good and my angry energy for good. That's how I wake up every morning now.

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Duca had no problem calling out Fox personality Tucker Carlson when she appeared on his show. "You're actually being a partisan hack that's just attacking me ad nauseam and not allowing me to speak."

Everyone has been talking about your interview with the Fox News host Tucker Carlson. I was stunned by how prepared you seemed for him trying to divert the conversation away from anything productive. How did you prepare for that? Were you surprised by the way it went down?

Yeah, actually I was not prepared for it to be like that at all. I was told that we would be attempting to have a conversation about Ivanka's role and her transparency. I made it very clear to two producers that my Tweets about Ivanka were about broader issues than [her being confronted on] the plane. They told me that the segment would open with the plane, but I made it clear that I didn't think she should have been confronted. It was very strange that then the whole mode of the interview was Carlson trying to twist my statements into an assertion that she deserves to be harassed.

"This was like a supercharged version of the worst possible political conversation you can be having."

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Going into it, my goal was to strong arm him into having a thoughtful conversation. I thought the way to do that would to be to get us to a point where we both said "Hey, I don't think she should be harassed, but, by the way, what is her role? What has she told us? How can we think about that with a little more vigor?" Obviously, that is not what ended up happening. I was shocked. This was like a supercharged version of the worst possible political conversation you can be having. What I was trying to do in the moment was to listen to precisely what he was saying so that I could engage with his specific claims or accusations and use that to circumvent back to the conversation that we should have been having.

I guess if I had to say one piece of advice that I'm going to keep in mind even just for my private conversations, it's to do a better job of listening, because we all get so defensive. That's true on debate shows, but it's also true, probably, in the privacy of our own homes with our family members who might not agree with us.

There was something else that came up in the interview that I thought was really important. He tried to attack your credibility by bringing up "lighter" topics you had previously written about. I think this is used against young people a lot—the idea that you can't hold both "serious" and "non-serious" interests simultaneously. What are your thoughts on that?

It's just such a flimsy way of attacking young people, specifically young women. Can you care about clothes and makeup and politics? Yes, of course you can. Overall, people who are having political conversations have other interests. Obama plays golf. It's OK. It's very bizarre that an interest outside of politics would be used to discount a right to a political conversation.

"It's rude. It's patronizing. It's also stupid."

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Discounting youth as inherently less-than is insulting. It's rude. It's patronizing. It's also stupid, because these are the people who are the future of the country. When somebody who's older raises an eyebrow whenever a young person is given a platform, that person should challenge where that's coming from. What are you bristling at? What are people disrupting that's upsetting to you? How can we all be working toward sharing more information and being more empowered to live politically active lives? That doesn't just belong to one demographic.

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I've been inspired by your resolve to not let anyone silence you. I think a lot of people have legitimate concerns about their own safety, specifically with the Women's March coming up, but also just in general with sharing their opinions. What is your comfort level and how much has that been tested?

My comfort level, just as a woman, is already pretty low. I get really angry about [online harassment] infringing on my time and energy. It's definitely upsetting. I try to avoid it as much as I can. No matter what, it won't silence me, but I hate the way harassment is trivialized. "Oh, you hurt her feelings?" like it's this silly, emotional thing. But it's actually taking something from me, especially when it's happening at this scale.

"It's not only not silencing me, it's lighting even more of a fire under my ass."

That said, the idea that you could work to silence a woman by threatening her physical safety is so incredibly malicious and misogynistic that it makes me want to fight even harder. It's not only not silencing me, it's lighting even more of a fire under my ass. It's a huge professional hazard for women writers—writers in general—but especially anybody who is presenting as female with their avatar on the Internet. I didn't want to be a poster girl for that, but bring it on.

What do you think someone who wasn't old enough to vote in 2016 can do to make change in 2017?

I think there's a lot. Voting, honestly, is like the starter pack. There are things you can do that are more powerful than voting. I think there are political options for volunteering, whether it's different activist organizations or grassroots organizations. Even helping to tutor, taking classes to bolster your knowledge on civics, and giving that back to other students. Just the act of young people becoming more engaged and being more politically active will shift the world in a significant way.

It's really about taking that practical step beyond feeling despair. I feel despair, too. There are days when I'm fighting it off more than others. The easiest way to combat it is to turn the energy into action.

To keep up with Lauren Duca in 2017, follow her on Twitter @LaurenDuca.

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