Celebrating International Women’s Day: Stories By Fantastic Women

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate women, their rights, and their contributions to the world. In honor of this auspicious day, we bring you five excellent reads by women from our sister site Longreads.

Queens of Infamy by Anne Thériault

Illustration by Louise Pomeroy

Court intrigue? Palace hijinks? Poison? You’ll find all three and more in Anne Thériault’s excellent series, Queens of Infamy, in which Anne explores the lives of history’s most adorably diabolical monarchs. Here’s a tasty sample from Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples:

Are you the sort of person who loves a high court drama with plenty of devious intriguing? Is learning about grisly murders one of your guilty pleasures? Do you get a voyeuristic thrill out of tracking the rise and fall of royal romances? What about plagues? Do you like plagues? If you are currently clutching your chest and muttering “yes, yes, a thousand times yes,” then: a) sick, and b) keep reading. We’re about to take a deep dive into the life of Joanna I of Naples, and shit’s about to get really, really real.

Living With Dolly Parton by Jessica Wilkerson

Listen to Jessica Wilkerson read an abridged version of “Living With Dolly Parton” on The Longreads Podcast.

Mark Humphrey / AP, Illustration by Katie Kosma

Jessica Wilkerson grew up listening to and loving the music of country star Dolly Parton — and she still does, to this day. When Jessica wanted to learn more about her idol, she decided to dig a bit deeper into Dolly’s business ventures. She found that asking tough questions came at a cost.

The love for Dolly that I learned was one without doubt. To question one’s devotion to Dolly Parton is to turn the world upside-down. Indeed, it is to question one’s investment in, and rehearsals of, mythologies of whiteness, which are rarely spoken, rarely noted as white. “Whiteness is an orientation that puts certain things within reach,” Sara Ahmed writes. Dolly Parton was crucial to my own orientation.

Because my grandma is right — inquiry is seductive — I needed to question Dolly Parton’s meaning in my and our lives.

I needed to confront Dolly Parton’s blinding, dazzling whiteness.

The Unforgiving Minute by Laurie Penny

Getty, CSA Images/Mod Art Collection

On behalf of women the world over, Laurie Penny is ticked off and she’s not going to take it any more — it being a world where some men think it’s OK to abuse their power when it comes to sex. A new world order is forming and Laurie Penny is narrating the play-by-play.

Men who believe they cannot change are already being shown up every day by the growing number of their fellow male humans who have changed, who are changing. We can rewrite the sexual script of humanity. We’ve done it before.

Unfortunately, we are in one of those rare and curious moments where we have to do something unfair and hurtful in order to answer decades of pain and injustice. We didn’t want to have to make an example of anyone. We tried to ask nicely for our humanity and dignity. We tried to put it gently. Nobody gave a shit. Now that there are consequences, now that there is finally, for once, some sort of price to pay for treating women like interchangeable pieces of flesh and calling it romance, you’re paying attention.

This is what happens when women actively place their own needs first. The whole damn world freaks out. I don’t blame you for freaking out right now. I’m freaking out. I didn’t expect this to happen so fast.

The Difference Between Being Broke and Being Poor by Erynn Brook

Illustration by Emily Flake

According to a report by the United Nations and the World Bank, “between the age of 20 and 34 years, women are more likely to be poor than men.” In this poignant essay illustrated by Emily Flake, Erynn Brook recalls having to carefully calculate the cost of her groceries to ensure her small budget covered her purchases.

Survival. Food. Rushing through the grocery store trying not to look at the things you can’t afford. Seeing pasta on sale and welling up because it meant you have an extra $2 to work with that week. Being afraid of messing up the math and not having a dime “just in case.”

Bundyville by Leah Sottile

Illustration by Zoë van Dijk

Cliven Bundy and his sons led two armed standoffs against the federal government and beat them twice in court. The Bundys and their supporters see themselves as Patriots fighting government overreach. Others see them as domestic terrorists rallying extremists and conspiracy theorists to their side. In this four-chapter investigation created in partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting, reporter Leah Sottile seeks the truth. Bundyville is also available as a seven-part podcast.

There’s Bundy’s version of himself: a rebel cowboy father of 14 and grandfather of 66 who believes the government is determined to either kill him or put him behind bars for life, while also stealing his livelihood.

Then there’s the government’s version of Bundy: a vigilante capable of summoning an army eager and ready to revolt against the federal government.


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March 7, 2019Inspiration