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As for Chenier, the original ending of her essay was: What I want to say about all the women out there who have ever been victimized is you are beautiful and its not your fault. Tolentino gave her the option of publishing under a pseudonym. But Chenier seemed confident that she knew what she was getting into. She was sure she wanted to build her writing career around this, Tolentino says.

Rather than feats of self-branding, they seem to belike, say, the gruesome recent viral sensation My Gynecologist Found a Ball of Cat Hair in My Vagina professional dead ends, journalistically speaking.

But we are currently in the midst of an unprecedented moment in the online first-person boom. The rise of the unreported hot take, that much-maligned instant spin on the news of the day, has meant that editors are constantly searching for writers with any claim to expertise on a topic to elevate their pieces above the swarm.

Those pieces, Aronowitz says, took off insanely; TPM typically considers an article to be a hit when it reaches 25,000 unique views, but these essays racked up about 100,000 each. It was scary to write about something so personal on a 24-hour deadline, says Kirsten Schofield, the freelancer who told the story of her sexual assault at UVA.

And in some ways, were in a golden age for first-person writing online. Just read Heather Havrileskys elegant essays-masquerading-as-advice-columns for The Cut, or Cord Jefferson for Matter on working the racism beat, or Steve Kandell for BuzzFeed on visiting the 9/11 museum after losing his sister in the attacks, or Jay Caspian Kang on the roots of Korean American male.

First-person essays have become the easiest way for editors to stake out some small corner of a news story and assert an on-the-ground primacy without paying for reporting. And first-person essays have also become the easiest way to jolt an increasingly jaded Internet to attention, as the bar for provocation has risen higher and higher. Early adopters such as. Gawker and, jezebel and xoJane and, salon jostle for attention alongside the likes of, buzzFeed, ideas and PostEverything and. Vox, first Person. Rookie has a rubric called Live Through This.