When I sent an email out to The Pool team asking them to describe themselves in one word, I got a lot of question marks and "I don’t know"s, as well as a fair amount of panicked looks and "What did other people say?"s. Writers aren’t used to being told to use one, single, solitary word, they’re more comfortable with sentences or paragraphs, where there are more places to hide, more context to give.
But to celebrate the launch of 200 Women, a 395 page book that features interviews with 200 pioneering women I was only interested in that one word. The book features photographs by Kieran Scott alongside interviews in which each woman answers the same five questions: What really matters to you? What brings you happiness? What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? What would you change if you could? And which single word do you most identify with?
Feminist, black and queer warrior, Roxane Gay went with one of the most adaptable words in the English language: ‘Fuck’
The questions are so direct, so sincere, so...illuminating. They speak directly to the heart of who someone is and what they value, both in the world and in themselves. But, to me, the most revealing question was the final one: “Which single word do you most identify with?”
Ashley Judd, the woman who started the avalanche of sexual harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein that eventually lead to him being fired replied: "Crusader".
Amber Heard, who spoke out about the domestic violence she endured by her husband, Johnny Depp, most identifies with the word: "Bravery".
Feminist, black and queer warrior, Roxane Gay went with one of the most adaptable words in the English language: "Fuck".
Margaret Atwood opted for: "And", to represent how there's always something more to come.
As for our own team of pioneering woman at The Pool and some of our contributors, here are their answers:
"Intuitive" – Marian Keyes
"Overenthusiastic" – Emma Freud
"Resilient" – Sam Baker
"Excitable" – Gemma Cairney
"Determined" – Zoë Beaty
"Squawky" – Lynn Enright
"Pissed-off" – Lucy Dunn
"Ambitious" – Louise O’Neill
"Enthusiastic" – Daisy Buchanan
"Badass" – Viv Groskop
"Anxious" – Kat Lister
"Wonk" – Robyn Wilder
"Hopeful" – Stacey Duguid
"Smart" – Emily Baker
"Silly" – Lily Peschardt
"Dogged" – Amy Jones
"Ridiculous" – Hannah Bank-Walker
"Tall "– Hannah Varrall, (FYI, she’s not)
"Indecisive" – Rowan Ellis
"Cute" – Sally Moussawi