A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day, the Fearless Girl on Wall Street broke glass ceilings. The sculpture is now surrounded by shards of broken glass.
Of course I celebrate the achievements of individual women, the first doctor, first firefighter, first woman CEO of a big bank. But I’ve covered too many “firsts” in my career. After a while, you start to recognize that glass ceilings reform themselves into glass walls, or different floors, or windows you can’t squeeze through. Patriarchal systems are more like halls of mirrors.
This week, we also had the story of Meghan, who appears to have fallen for the myth that princesses chose their own privileges. She didn’t even Google the Royal Firm before she married into it, only to realize she’d always be a servant of the system.
Of course the most famous princess story is Cinderella. In some of the more gruesome versions of the tale, the stepsisters are forced to dance on the shards of the broken glass slippers. Hierarchies are only good for the people on top, and for women, maybe they never are. In other versions, even Cinderella finds her feet sliced.
I think that’s one meaning of the broken glass in stories about women: No matter how high you rise, if you put a toe out of line, you’re apt to get cut.