Women Who Do


in Heroes, Noa Gavin

UYou know who my heroes are?

Women who do shit.

Women who look at a world that automatically sees them as less capable or weaker or laughable in some cases, and say fuck it. Women who punch the world in the face because they have shit to do for their own lives. Women who don’t take shit, who don’t talk shit, women who do shit instead.

I like me some badass bitches.

This year was full–FULL–of women who decided to stand up and just do stuff, do what they wanted, without thought of what others would think or what would happen. They just saw what they wanted the world to be, and they did their thing.

This year, women fought for their rights and the rights of their sisters. Like in Turkey, where the first Women’s Party was established.


This year, women broke the glass ceiling wherever they could. Like Professor Maryam Mirzakhani, who was the first woman to win the Fields Math Medal.


Women turned to the fashion and entertainment industries and began loudly pointing out gender inequity in interviews.



This year, women said, “fuck you. I’mma do this thing.”

I’m for you, badass women who do their thing. I’m all the fuck about you.


UI got one of the biggest compliments I think I’ll ever get the other night, from a friend who is smart and funny and fantastic and so pretty.

“Seeing what you do and who you are inspires me.”

I’ve been thinking about that statement for a long time. It feels strange to me to hear that, because I feel like I barely have it together. I’m only mediocre at being an adult, and terribly unsure of everything that I’m doing all the time. I’m just trying to make my own shit work.

I’m not doing any of this for anyone else. It’s, admittedly selfishly, a way for me to make my own shit work.

I was listening to a TED talk the other day, and in it, this:

“Inspire yourself, and you will inspire others.”

That’s the key. That’s it–that’s the point of life. You must inspire yourself to grow and be better every day. You must inspire yourself to be the person that you really want to be, to have the life you really want to live. You must inspire yourself to be the most you that you can be.

In doing this, you will inspire others, accidentally, to do the same.

The world is full of pretenders. The world is full of people who say, “I guess this is ok,” about everything in their lives. The world is full of basic bitches.

You don’t have to be, and the more honest you are with yourself about who you are and who you want to be, then the more you’ll grow. The more others will be inspired by your own growth, and do the same for themselves.

It’s a domino effect of self-growth.

Inspire yourself, and you will inspire others.

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Dawn LOFB BadgeRight now, in this moment, Amy Poehler is my hero.  For a while now, I’ve had a girl crush on Amy.  She’s a co-founder of UCB, a long-running and highly respected sketch and improv group.  She made the cut at SNL and proceeded to kick some serious ass while there, both in sketches and as co-anchor of Weekend Update.  But I really fell for her when I was introduced to Leslie Knope, the enthusiastic bulldog Parks and Recreation employee who constantly strives to make everyone and everything around her better, whether they want to be or not.  (A part of me identifies fiercely with Leslie Knope.)

My adoration for Amy reached a new level, however, when I listened to her audiobook, Yes Please.  In it, she’s charming and vulnerable and open.  When I listen to her, I hear someone who is confident in herself but aware of her faults and unafraid to tell you about either of them.  I also hear someone who cares deeply for the people around her and creates community wherever she goes.  This sense of community has manifested itself in the creation of Smart Girls at the Party.  Initially a web series/impromptu dance party for girls that featured interviews with women from a wide variety of careers (scientists, fire fighters, doctors, etc.), it’s now expanded to include a website and camps for girls.  Throughout her book and through her efforts with Smart Girls, she seems to be shouting out to the world, “there is an alternative to the drama and the hate and the negativity and HERE IT IS”.  And I love that.

So, to summarize: Amy Poehler=intelligent, funny, confident, caring, encouraging, and making a difference in the world.  All things I admire.  There was also that time when she chased down a guy in the Toronto airport while screaming “FUUUUUCKKKKKK YOUUUUU!” in her natural south Boston accent because he had been a dick to her (for details, see said autobiography).  So you gotta admire that.

Dawn LOFB BadgeGlenn and I were at a Florence + the Machine concert at the Palladium once.  We were standing in line at the bar behind some ladies who were clearly having a good time.  Up walks a tall man who starts chatting them up.  They look a little perplexed.  I smell douchebag.

Me: Excuse me.  Do you know these ladies?

Mr. D. Bag: Uh… (stammer-stammer-looks at floor)

Me, to ladies: Do you know this guy?

Girl, bemusedly: No

Me: Line starts back there, buddy.

Mr. D. Bag: slinks off looking a bit perturbed and cursing under his breath

This sort of thing tweaks my ire.  Cutting in line is a tiny example of the many ways that people feel entitled to take advantage of others’ politeness or unwillingness to speak up for themselves.  The rules don’t apply to these assholes.  They’re above that.  They analyze the system and know how to work it to their advantage.  They bully.  They have no concern for how their actions affect other people.  Or worse yet, they revel in it.

The effects of this sort of assholery extend far beyond me being one person later to get my damned drink.  I’m guessing that Mr. D. Bag has made plenty of people’s lives suck, to a greater or lesser degree.  Maybe he was the bully on the playground.  Or maybe he was the kid who egged the bully on behind the scenes, never fighting his own fight but always the one responsible.  Ms. D. Bag (assholery knows no gender) might be the person who cut you off in traffic this morning or stole your idea at work and passed it off as her own.  She might be the person who has 5 Moscow Mules at Bolsa, then gets behind the wheel (because remember, the rules don’t apply to her) and kills someone.

Where do these people get the idea that they can get away with all of this shit?

In part because trusting, kind, good people let them.

It takes energy and strength and vigilance to stand up to bad behavior.  I fancy myself a crusader for good, but I have days where I just think that it’s all too much and I don’t have the energy for a fight.  Many of us are too polite or too tired to call people on their shit.  Or we want desperately to believe that people are good and have the good of others in mind, so we ignore those warning signs that say “this person is not healthy” or “this person is up to no good”.  Let’s face it: If Bill Cosby abused women for years, there were many people in his orbit who looked the other way, or even assisted him.

We don’t want a fight.  We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if we’re wrong.  We want to play peacemaker.  And in so doing, the bad guys win.

Every day, there are big heroes and little heroes and every kind of hero in between.  Most of us will (thankfully) never be called upon to be the big hero, to rescue someone from a burning building or shield someone from a bullet.  But we can be little heroes in our own way.  By standing up for ourselves.  By standing up for those who are being abused.  By saying “FUCK YOU!” to the bullies and takers and showing them that their behavior isn’t welcome in our world.

Be your own hero.  And when you say “FUCK YOU” to the assholes, do it in the most polite way possible.  It makes them really nervous.

UNever meet your heroes.

That’s what we’re always told. They’re never going to live up to your expectations. They’re never going to be the people you want them to be. They may be rude, even! So why even have heroes at all. Just do what you want to do, and never love or look up to anyone.

Fuck that shit.

The message should be, “Never put your heroes on a pedestal.” Everyone is fallible, even your heroes. You fail them when you lift their lives to such an impossible standard even they cannot achieve it.

Heroes are not meant to be gods. Heroes are meant to be people or stories or characters that have characteristics you’d like to have. They’re something to look up to, not something to hold to every possible perfection. They are meant to guide you and your forward progress, not to guardrail you to such a degree you become fanatical.

In an improv class, a teacher told me, “If you like the way someone performs, mimic what you like. You will gain their skills and eventually make your own way with them. Don’t become them, just mimic until you learn how to do what they do.”

A broader form of Fake It ‘Til You Make It.

This month, we’re all about heroes. Who they are, who they were, how they have affected us. How we made their characteristics our own. How we respect them.

Meet your heroes. Talk about your heroes. Share, love, look up to your heroes. Fuck the haters.