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  • Leslie Jill Patterson

gates open: #likeagirl issue

For Superbowl XLIX, Always launched a powerhouse commercial that focused on the frequently used insult “like a girl.” What does it mean to throw like a girl? the spot asks. To run like a girl? To fight like a girl? Since when did doing something “like a girl” mean doing it in some anemic, faint-hearted way? Well, apparently, since forever. Only young girls don’t know that. They aren’t taught socially accepted stereotypes until their adolescent years, when they suddenly learn that being a girl means lack of power, lack of privilege—and, also, of course, daily sexual harassment, as well as the threat of sexual and physical assault, by strangers and even, frequently, men they know well. Young girls are still too young to understand all the slights they will suffer in the workplace, including unequal pay but also the little jibes that tell us our work somehow doesn’t measure up. Young girls haven’t yet been exposed to the notion of “chick flicks,” “manic pixie dream girls,” or “our inner sluts” (!)—notions frequently promoted by women's magazines, including those for adolescent girls, like Seventeen.

Then, there’s the much darker side of this #LikeAGirl matter. All those women forced to become victims of systematic rape as part of some male army’s defense strategy, for example. Or the victims the #SayHerName campaign is finally educating this country about: the countless black women killed by police officers, an issue we rarely talk about because we’re focused on all the unarmed black men killed by police officers, which is, of course, a serious issue, deserving of our attention and action, too. The list of gender inequalities that hold this country down, that hold all nations down, is endless.

So . . . here we are, at Iron Horse Literary Review, wondering what on earth we can do about it. We write. We publish. It's what we offer to this world. Thus, we’re devoting an entire issue to those girls and women who, despite all the setbacks, keep swinging a fierce left or right hook. We're seeking stories, poems, and essays about the power of women. Women who create. Women who fight. Women who overcome. Women who speak. Women who love. Women who win. Sit down at your desk and #WriteLikeAGirl. Submit here, now through September 26th.

Let’s show all our young girls what that means!


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