Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Well-behaved women rarely make history”.
As a woman who has often been told to get back in line and stop making a scene, I like to celebrate the women who chose to be more than a pretty face and a breeding factory:
Voice of Baceprot
The Voice of Baceprot is an Indonesian thrash metal band of three teenaged schoolgirls. Their name means “noisy” in the ethnic Sundanese language.
Its members—vocalist and guitarist Firdda Kurnia, drummer Eusi Siti Aisyah, and bassist Widi Rahmawati—all come from poor, conservative backgrounds.
Now, thrash metal is hardly the type of music traditional Indonesian parents wants their daughter partaking in. Thankfully success is the best defense against that kind of negativity!
In June of 2017, Voice of Baceprot played for Indonesia’s biggest variety show. The trio has garnered enough attention that they began releasing self-written songs. The topics? The state of their nation, the environment, and their identity.
Born the Duchesse Mancini, Hortense was a pistol wielding cross-dresser who drank like a fish and danced like a gypsy.
She was bright, independent, and didn’t seem to give two fucks about what anyone thought of her. She escaped a conservative husband while still a teenager and fled to England where she – naturally – began an affair with the King.
Hortense famously took lovers of both genders. When one of her girlfriends was taken away from her, she merely shrugged and move on to the next – in this case, the Prince of Monaco.
In her later years, she hosted a salon where thinkers of every discipline would gather. She’s one of the few women of the Renaissance to have written an autobiography. I would have called for a movie, but it would be most certainly banned even now in 2018.
Amy Otis Earhart
Amy Otis was an unconventional mother. She sewed her daughters’ bloomers, encouraged them to build roller coasters in their front yard, and play rough like the boys.
All the society marms that gave her hell for it were promptly ignored. She got a divorce way before it was acceptable to do so, and made a living on her own merits. And without her support, Amelia Earhart would never have taken to the skies.
History often overlooks a mother’s role. Amy reminds us that you don’t have to be a soldier or a Strong Female Character to be a badass.
Descended from Crimean immigrants, Muazzez was expected to become a violinist, or maybe a French Teacher. Instead, she became one of the leading voices in ancient history and an expert in the translation of cuneiform.
At the age of 92, Muslim conservatives took her to court for her outspoken, secular position on headscarves. Her defense? That the first headscarves recorded were worn in the sexual initiation of men by older women. And that her accuser’s case was based on the erroneous belief that they knew more than she did.
They acquitted her within an hour.
Josephine Baker was a burlesque performer who became a legend. At first she became a celebrated performer in Paris and then, when the war broke out, she became a fearless member of the French resistance. She smuggled important documents on her tours and hosted meetings in her chateau. All the while pretending that she was much too silly to be considered a threat for the Germans.
After the war, Josephine used her fame and fortune to force out discrimination. She would not perform for segregated audiences and joined the NAACP in her Free French uniform with the Légion d’honneur pinned to her breast. Because fuck anyone who told her she was from an inferior race. They could say that straight to her motherfucking medal.
The unconventional road is a lonely path, and for most of us, it can feel like our struggles are futile, but I like to fight fire with examples.
Told that they weren’t good enough, smart enough, or white enough, these women barreled through every obstacle in their way and made history.
We, their daughters should learn from their example, forge our own paths, and make our own fucking rules.
Sabrina runs Women In Badassery on Facebook and she’s been feeding us a steady diet of awesome women we should all know about. If there’s a certain set of badass women you’d like to see featured, please let us know in the comments!