Excerpt from the essay “Professional” by Afua Hirsh in the book Pretty Bitches:
With the white man as the ideal and everyone else positioned somewhere along the spectrum, we must meet the standards of attractiveness applied uniquely–or disproportionately–to women.
The study of law and accounting professionals also found that women were penalized for dressing too “trendily” on the one hand and for having unattractive footwear on the other. When one female applicant turned up to an interview at a law firm, one partner reflected, “Okay, you were almost there honey, I almost would have taken you seriously,” but he didn’t because of her “gigantic shoes.”
Except from the book Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit:
One evening over dinner in March 2008, I began to joke, as I often had before, about writing an essay called “Men Explain Things to Me.” Every writer has a stable of ideas that never make it to the racetrack, and I’d been trotting this pony out recreationally once in a while. My houseguest, the brilliant theorist and activist Marina Sitrin, insisted that I had to write it down because people like her younger sister Sam needed to read it. Young women, she said, needed to know that being belittled wasn’t the result of their own secret failings; it was the boring old gender wars, and it happened to most of us who were female at some point or other.
1. Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
2. Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
-William Ernest Henley
3. Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Everyone of us is a facet of that jewel. We are all intimately related. May we never pretend that we are not.
4. Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional female equality. Please reject this entirely. It is hollow, appeasing, and a bankrupt idea. You either are or you are not.
-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5. I want to see all of the complexity and mess and joy and distress of being a complex human being, which is to say a human being. Because isn’t this the problem? That we must write the most exaggerated versions of ourselves to show them something they have already chosen not to see?
6. When I was twelve, a bookmobile came to the fields. I thought it was the Baptists, because they used to come in a van and give us blankets and food. So I went over and peeked in, and it was filled with books.
-Storm Reyes from Callings
Excerpt from The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman:
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust,
for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,
but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked, ‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’ now we assert, ‘How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be:
A country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the west.
We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country,
our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.