By Divya Bharadwaj
Girlboss peeled the liner from her muffin and took a bite. It was soft and lightly sweet, but she noticed that the blueberries had all sunk to the bottom.
They should have coated them with flour, she thought, remembering a TikTok she had watched earlier.
Girlboss opened up the presentation she had spent the last two weeks working on and clicked through the comments. Rachel had clearly been up late last night editing. Most of her changes were unnecessary but agreeable. Girlboss clicked accept on every one of them until one specific paragraph. All references to race had been removed from their DEI stats. Rachel must have known she would notice because she had left a comment:
Hope you don’t mind! I just felt that the stat highlighting how well we’re doing with gender equality resonated more 🙂
Girlboss looked at the smiley Rachel had chosen. It wasn’t the emoji with a complete smile. It was the strange half-smile only used when the tone of the message was not-so-secretly the opposite of a smile.
Fuck you Rachel 🙂 she thought.
She accepted the suggestion and closed out the comments. She didn’t know what to do with this rage. She opened up LinkedIn and passively applied to a few jobs without reading the descriptions. She picked up her cold brew coffee, but the ice had melted and instead of a smooth, sharp richness, she only tasted a disappointingly faint bitterness.
“Hey!” Rachel appeared suddenly behind her and girlboss jumped.
In her hurry to hide the LinkedIn tab, she closed the entire window and felt even more annoyed with Rachel. She had at least six open tabs she had been meaning to revisit.
“Presentation looks great!” Girlboss said, “Thanks for the edits.”
Another email dinged in her inbox. This time from a company that made supplements to make all the peach fuzz on your face fall off but not your eyebrows somehow. Girlboss was intrigued. She responded with an invite for an informational call. Women were allowed to have body hair now, but unseemly facial hair was still taboo. She knew Mona would be interested. She felt a little warm glow at the thought of Mona’s approval.
When she interviewed, Mona offered to mentor her. Girlboss was thrilled. Finally, a mentor she could truly be herself with! A mentor who understood the importance of representation. A mentor who understood why she left her previous job and hadn’t called it a “bad work environment,” but named it: sexual harassment. Mona had laughed and agreed with Girlboss when she criticized the ridiculous advice of a VC bro that she hate-followed on Twitter. Mona Got It.
It was a relatively slow morning. She answered a few more emails, then attended an editorial meeting where she suggested changing the layout of the newsletter to look more like the Reformation ones she habitually opened, knowing she would not buy a thing. Martha loved this.
“Yes! Let’s speak the language of our consumers,” she said enthusiastically.
Girlboss smiled at her and thought for a fleeting second that Martha could be a friend rather than just a colleague. She seemed so harmless.
Girlboss decided to get a croissant from the cafe downstairs. If she skipped lunch, she could probably cancel out the flaky pastry in her unofficial calorie count. Gilrboss viewed her disordered eating through a feminist lens. How could individual women be blamed for trying to survive within a patriarchal system? Was it really so bad that she was trying to make her life under patriarchy and white supremacy just a little bit easier by chasing a terrible beauty standard?
“Next Tuesday is Earth Day,” Martha announced. “We should say something on our socials.”
The meeting was running long past the length of her attention span and girlboss clicked idly through her Free People shopping cart before realizing that her laptop screen was reflected in the glass door behind her. She quickly switched tabs to Asana and folded her hands in her lap.
“Well, we do sell that smart pill case,” Rachel offered, “What about something like, “Don’t forget to take your birth control and do your part to save the earth from overpopulation?”
Girlboss felt her heart skip a beat. She was fully engaged now, but her mouth was dry.
“What about: don’t forget to take your birth control and do your part for population control?” Mona suggested.
She thought of yesterday, when news had broken that a train carrying hundreds of these people had derailed somewhere between her hometown and another bustling city. She found out while scrolling through Instagram, her finger pausing on a post from the BBC. The death toll was already at 300 and rising. She scrolled to the comments and only got past three before it began.
They have enough people to recover dkm one user wrote. Her profile picture was a cartoon woman with black hair. Girlboss had to google what dkm meant on the internet. Don’t kill me. So this person at least felt some shame at their casual death wish. Population control wrote another, less worried about judgment from others. She had no picture in her profile. Girlboss kept reading, her head swimming. She looked up and realized that the meeting had ended but she hadn’t said anything at all. Not very girlboss of her.
She looked around and suddenly felt nauseous. This feeling was supposed to go away with this team with its women in leadership roles and emailed exclamation points galore. Hi! We are nice here! Be your true self!
Her true self would have said something. But here she was girlboss so she let it slide.
Martha was wearing a dark green collegiate sweatshirt, but instead of the name of a school, it said Pro Roe across the chest. Martha was very into items declaring her stance on feminist causes, usually in Blockletter Tall fonts. She had a Fuck The Patriarchy keychain, several Yes, She Can water bottles, and a GRL PWR sticker on her laptop. They could say it loud now, so it had to be true.
Girlboss clicked through the website of a “smart” razor. Their homepage had a banner that read, We stand in solidarity with the women of Iran. She browsed until she found pictures of the founders. They were white, of course. She wondered how much money these women had donated to organizations supporting the protests in Iran. She wondered if they knew any Iranian women.
Would Nomi be interested in stocking our product? The founders had emailed her to ask. No, sorry, she wrote back. It’s 2023 and we are in the era of embracing body hair.
The news broke at 10:45 am. The Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade. Mona and Rachel were discussing it in the open kitchen when girlboss came in. They stood stirring coffee and holding tiny pots of yogurt.
“It’s so awful.”
“It’s totally dystopian.”
Their words bounced off of each other like a volley between two well-matched but mediocre players, back and forth, back and forth. Nothing impressive in either of their techniques. The sentiments echoed around the room, and girlboss felt compelled to add to it.
“Yes, it’s terrible. I’m going to a protest in Union Square tonight if…”
Girlboss let the invite hang unfinished in the air. There was a brief but noticeable silence. Rachel busied herself examining an apple for bruises.
Mona excused herself, “I have an investor call I have to run to!”
The rest of the day passed in a haze. Before she left, girlboss clicked her direct messages on Slack to make sure that she didn’t have any messages from Martha. Martha was her office “bestie” (Martha’s words.) The last message in their chat was the one she had sent at 11:13 am.
going to the protest at union square tonight @ 7. wanna come with?
She closed her computer.
The next day, girlboss arrived to a hullabaloo.
Martha was on the phone, asking someone, “How long will it take you to arrive and assess the damage?”
“And how much will it cost!” hissed Mona
Rachel stood nearby, looking slightly forlorn. She held an iced latte loosely by the lid. Girlboss wanted to tell her that she had lost many a latte with that form but decided to find out what was going on instead.
“Someone threw a brick through our window!” Rachel said excitedly.
“That’s how we know we’re fighting the good fight.”
Divya Bharadwaj is a writer surviving Corporate America by laughing about it. She lives in Brooklyn with her puppy.