‘Upright Women Wanted’ and 8 Cowpeople With Secondary Jobs

‘Upright Women Wanted’ portrays the adventures of a group of LGBTQ+ librarians in a Wild West dystopian world. What other jobs can be cowpeople too?

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Books are of great importance because, with their help, I have learned to type in a more “sophisticated” manner. (Still can’t speak, though!) However, this is not what I’m here to write about. When I talk about being an English major, I like to point out the ability of books to improve people’s lives. This is fairly sappy, but I don’t just say it because I’m trying to convince people I’m not wasting my time. I believe that it is true, and Sarah Gailey’s Upright Women Wanted is a wonderful example of why.



Set in a dystopian future much like the Wild West, Upright Women Wanted follows Esther, who runs away after her girlfriend is murdered, hoping that joining the Librarians – a group that hands out reading materials – will help her ditch her feelings, because they are supposedly chaste. However, it turns out that all the Librarians Esther encounters are gay, and that they help marginalized people move to safety, as well as sneak unapproved literature that presumably has positive representations of marginalized groups, in with the approved literature they are supposed to pass around. With them, Esther begins to feel hope that she can have a happy ending.

Upright Women Wanted mostly focuses on Esther’s recovery from being drenched in self-loathing to accepting herself and feeling that she has hope. Esther’s story is a perfect example of why we need good representation of marginalized communities.

That being said, I also wanted to just write an article that considered, if there were librarian cowpeople, then what other types of cowpeople could exist? We need to tell a variety of stories, not just ones that reflect the same types of people. We can’t just let people think they’re invisible, or only see negative portrayals of themselves. You can see clearly how much Esther has been hurt by this. Upright Women Wanted is about her healing process and how she comes to have hope for her future, but the fact that she was hurt in the first place remains. Things are getting better, but we still have a long way to go.




Now, after a few deep breaths, here are a list of fun cowperson job combos I came up with for this article:


A Cowperson that Actually Interacts With Cows

Not a combo, I know, but it needs to be said. I am not an expert on the genre (by which I mean that I’ve almost never interacted with it), but it seems that people described as cowpeople just sort of ride around on horses and shoot at things. Where are the actual cows? Is it because it’s too unwieldy for the cowperson to bring them on their various adventures? I personally think it would make an excellent book if a cowperson went around clobbering bad guys with their cows in tow for support.


Cowperson Barber

Instead of carrying around a small gun, this variety of cowperson rides around with scissors (which I assume is a step up from the bad luck that comes with running with scissors) and seeks out villains with the worst haircuts. Actually, this makes this particular cowperson the true villain for attempting to change people’s beloved hair without permission. I imagine this playing out in the style of a horror movie, with the cowperson barber coming out of the shadows to cut hair, and then being defeated when they accidentally fall onto their scissors in a dramatic plot twist.


Cowperson Doctor

The exact opposite of the regular cowperson, the cowperson doctor rides around healing people rather than murdering them in cold blood. (What does this expression even mean anyway? What does it mean when you murder someone with lukewarm blood? Maybe it only makes sense if you’re a murderer). Being only a single person riding around in the vast desert, I’m not really sure how the cowperson doctor could get much done, but if they stay still, it sort of defeats the purpose of being cowperson (whatever that purpose actually is).


Cowperson Train Conductor

I feel like cowpeople are always riding horses on top of trains for some reason, so the train conductor cowperson has the advantage of actually knowing about trains and, more importantly, their schedules. Hopefully, the train conductor cowperson knows enough to realize that riding on top of a train is really a terrible idea and should never be done unless said person wants to break many bones (in which case they should leave the horse out of it). They also know how to react if their train is ever visited by another cowperson, which I assume is to get them off before someone gets hurt.


Cowperson Bank Teller

I think I’m mixing up cowperson and bandit (Are cowpeople supposed to be the good ones?), but either way, working at a bank feels like an advantage, whether you’re trying to protect it, rob it, or just make money.


Cowperson Veterinarian

The cowperson vet is similar to the cowperson doctor, but different in a few vital ways. The most important of these is that they probably have the healthiest horse around. The horse is so healthy that people on the street stop just to gaze upon it. The horse can outrun every other horse and look excellent while doing it. The horse is so incredible that it feels like a waste to be riding it around in the desert doing whatever cowpeople actually do. (Though what activities are actually fit for this horse? No one knows.)


Cowperson Singer

Cowperson clothing already appears to be heavily established in the music industry. (I despise country music, yet had to spend an entire summer listening to it because it was basically the only thing on the radio in the area I was working, so if I hear one more word sang about cowboy boots I will explode in rage and sadness). The cowperson singer already has their entire costume ready to go, and can seamlessly move from their work personing cows to being on stage. Even if they’re dirty, it will just come across as part of their costume.


Cowperson Detective

Everyone on television seems to be a detective in some capacity, so why not a cowperson? In fact, many of these probably already exist, solving mysteries of various murders (which seems to happen consistently no matter how small the area in which the detective lives is), while flirting with whichever member of their crime solving team is the designated love interest.


Cowperson Bootmaker

This cowperson would have the greatest of boots. They wouldn’t have to match everyone else’s cowperson boots. No, they would make their own, wonderful, glorious horse-riding shoes that would announce their presence from anywhere. They would have people all over the country marveling over their footwear. Unfortunately, they’d be recognizable everywhere they went, but I suppose this isn’t necessary a downside, unless you’re wanted for arrest for all the random people you’ve murdered in the desert as part of your cowperson aesthetic.


featured image via Tordotcom