Born in France in the year 1748, Marie Gouze (later to be known as Olympe de Gouges) was no ordinary petite fille. From a very early age she championed the rights of illegitimate children (of which she believed she was one) and their mothers, as well as writing abolitionist plays and speaking out for women's rights in France.
If you're thinking that de Gouges' speaking of truth to power didn't go over so well with those in power, you're right.
"I am naturally fond of adventure, a little ambitious, and a good deal romantic-but patriotism was the true secret of my success."
Sarah Emma Edmonds, one of only about 400 women known to have served in the military during the U.S. Civil War, was not even an American—though she risked life and limb in the name of "patriotism" to serve the Union cause for nearly two years as a soldier, nurse and spy.
As the year winds down the media stream is inundated with lists of political accomplishments, policy and presidential reviews and all of our hopes for 2010. Amid this maelstrom, I continue to remember that it was still in the last century that women were given the right to participate in the political process by voting and that the coming year's contests of candidates and legislation can, and should, be part of a modern feminist dialogue. In that light, today's Feministory focuses on a woman who worked tirelessly and radically through much of the twentieth century to secure equal rights for women: Alice Paul.
For whatever inexplicable reason, I started watching Gossip Girl a few weeks ago. Tonight's episode featured Tyra Banks as an actress playing Josephine Baker in a movie. At some point during the episode, it was brought up that Baker was part of the underground Nazi resistance movement during WWII in France, which I did not know about (you can learn something from Gossip Girl, who knew?). Ergo, I give you this week's Adventures In Feministory: Josephine Baker.
You know how most of the time everyone glorifies the forefathers of this nation and kinda glosses over the f*#$d up parts of our great nation's history? Yeah. Well, that's one reason why it's important to remember people like Oney Judge. Born in 1773 into slavery on the plantation of President Powdered Wig Boner himself (George Washington of course), Judge escaped after being offered up as a WEDDING GIFT to the Washingtons' granddaughter (and you thought that gift card to Target was an inappropriate present). Before we move on into greater detail, I'll let comedian Jen Kirkman take this one over:
Long before Lawrence Summers's unfortunate remarks at Harvard University a few years ago, there have always been powerful forces which assigned all manner of illogic to women's "inability" to excel at math and science. Their brains were too feeble to handle such difficult concepts, they claimed. And besides! Math and science were "right brain" and therefore "masculine" sciences so it wasn't in a woman's nature to be interested. Although there were some textbooks written to give women the knowledge they would need to carry on a polite conversation if the subject of science should arise, these books framed mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry in ways that the authors felt women could understand—through the lens of romantic love. Compound these shoddy arguments and weak study materials with the practice of barring women from attending universities and there was a pretty good chance you would not have seen an overwhelming number of women studying calculus 200 years ago.
However, there was certainly one women determined to pursue her love for mathematics, and she is the subject of our Adventure in Feministory today.
Doris Walker worked throughout her life protecting and defending leftist causes and activists. She participated as an activist and legal counsel throughout almost every major America progressive social movement in the twentieth century, from denouncing Jim Crow laws and McCarthyism, to being a labor lawyer and labor organizer, to helping to successfully acquit Angela Davis, and even challenging the Bush Administration's invasion of Afghanistan in Iraq.
This is not new information: Pat Benatar rocks. It's so obvious, I know. Yet I felt compelled to write this week's Adventures In Feministory about Pat because, frankly, I did not know as much about her as I thought. My recent renewed transfixion with all things Benatar formed because of her current tour with another ridiculously awesome '80s lady rocker, Debbie Harry. The Call Me Invincible tour might as well have been formed literally from one of my daydreams because Benatar and Harry are two of my favorite musicians of all time. Benatar's music is timeless, eternally relevant and oozes with lady empowerment. Read a little about how she got so damn huge after the jump!