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In the early ’90s, a guy at Sony told a female singer that she was “too black, too fat, too short, and too old.” Lucky for us, she stuck with music, and twenty years later America finally discovered singer Sharon Jones. Now known as the “Queen of Funk,” Jones recently played with Prince in Madison Square Garden. (We interviewed her in 2011). In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re taking a moment to highlight ladies like Jones, who, whether in politics, show biz, or coding, have managed to defy or ignore expectations. Below, a sampling from Mother Jones‘ archives of smart, fearless, and “sassy” women.
Jack Hitt takes on the Rorschach-blot-like figure of Hillary Clinton, in which Americans see many things. “More than any other public figure,” writes Hitt, “Hillary forces us to acknowledge that the path to power for American women is not all that clear, more an odyssey than a march.”
New Yorker writer George Trow once described Jamaica Kincaid as “our sassy black friend,” a moniker Kincaid seemed to delight in when she talked to Mother Jones about her beloved Obama T-shirt, juggling motherhood and writing, and her newest semi-autobiographical novel.
Jen Pahlka left behind rock-star status in the computer-gaming world to launch Code for America, which places fellows in broke cities so they can build apps to conquer civic problems. We caught up with Pahlka last year to talk about breaking down barriers between the public and private sectors and solving Silicon Valley’s sexism problem.