badasses

“Amal Alamuddin Clooney is a human rights activist and lawyer. She has had an incredibly successful professional career. Yet when Barbara Walters named her the "Most Fascinating Person of 2014,” she didn’t do so for Clooney’s great work in her field, but for marrying a movie star.

In her presentation of the award, Walters calls marrying George Clooney “one of the greatest achievements in human history." She then lists all of the women that Clooney dated in the last ten years before even getting to Amal.

Walters focuses on what Amal has worn, and how well she snatched up George Clooney, but glosses over the things Amal has done that are truly fascinating.

Not only is Amal Clooney an Oxford and NYU educated lawyer with a track record of working with highly esteemed judges, but she’s fluent in English, French, and Arabic. That’s two more languages than George.

As a student at NYU worked as a clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with Sonia Sotomayor, who is now a supreme court justice. Clooney is an entertainment lawyer, who is so well esteemed that she is often asked to advise on cases that are not her specialty. She served as an advisor to the United Nations as a consultant on crises in Syria and Lebanon, and has many high-profile clients.

In 2014 alone, Clooney has worked with British Foreign Secretary William Hague "to discuss how to drive forward international action to protect children in conflict zones from rape and sexual violence.” She was appointed to a three person UN committee to look at violations of the rules of war in the Gaza Strip, but she turned down the job because—as she wrote in a statement—she was, “horrified by the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, particularly the civilian casualties that have been caused, and strongly believe that there should be an independent investigation and accountability for crimes that have been committed.”

Instead, Clooney chose to take on one of the most controversial cases in art history—the property disputes over the sculptures taken from the Greek Parthenon that currently are on display in the British National museum. Despite the media hype surrounding her husband and their marriage, Clooney is still going to work every day.

Barbara Walters is wrong. Amal Clooney isn’t fascinating because she joined “the ranks of Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana and Kate Middleton” by marrying a rich and noteworthy man. Amal Clooney is fascinating because she is, in her own right, a badass.“

The Most Fascinating of Them All

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Mind-blowing oil paintings by Austrian/Jewish painter, LUDWIG DEUTSCH, LEON GEROME & RUDOLF ERNST in the late 1800s:  The subject, “The Palace Guard” were depictions of North African medieval Muslims, THE MOORS, who settled in & ruled Northern Africa and invaded and conquered many parts of what we would now consider “Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, France & Southern Italy-ala Sicily)” for nearly 800 years, from as early as the 7th to the 15th century. Their profound, cultural legacy, influence & what they left behind( Such as the great monuments, the Alhambra and the Mezquita) is evident on modern day spanish architecture, art, music and traditions. All but ignored now largely by both Arab and European world history, The Moors played a significant role during the shaping of prehistory in their early settlement.


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The Most Badass Man in History — Lt. General Adrian Carton de Wiart

Born/Died: May 5th, 1880 - June 5th 1963

Military Service: British Army, 1899–1923, 1939–1947

Awards: Victoria Cross, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Companion of the Order of Bath, Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Distinguished Service Order, Legion of Honour (France), Vituti Militari (Poland), Cross of Valor (Poland), Croix de Guerre (Belgium), Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium).

Wars/Conflicts: 2nd Boer War, Anglo Somali War, World War I (Western Front), Polish Soviet War, World War II (Europe and Pacific).

Wounded: 11 times, including face, groin, head, stomach, lungs, ankle, leg, hip, and ear.

Body Parts Lost: Left eye, left hand, part of left ear.

Plane Crashes Survived: 2

Prison Escapes: 7

Favorite Pastime: Hunting wild boars with a spear.

Friends With: Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Carl Gustav Mannerheim, Prince Karol Mikołaj Radziwiłł, Marshal Pilsudski, Pope Pius XI, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Chiang Kai Shek, and Clement Attlee.

Married to: Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen, Ruth Myrtle Muriel Joan McKechnie

Notable Quotes: “Governments may think and say as they like, but force cannot be eliminated, and it is the only real and unanswerable power. We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.”

Notable Instances of Badassery

- Shot in the groin and stomach during the Boer Wars, recovered and returned to combat.

-While fighting against Mohammed “The Mad Mullah” bin Abdullah in Somalia he was shot in the face twice, losing an eye.  Continued fighting.

-World War I — Took command of three infantry battalions and a brigade when his superiors were killed.  Led from the front at all times.

-Bit off his own mangled fingers when a surgeon refused to amputate them.

-Shot through the skull and ankle at the Battle of the Somme, through the hip at the Battle of Passchendaele, through the leg at Cambrai, and through the ear at Arras.

-Thoughts on World War I: “Frankly, I enjoyed the war.”

-Supplied weapons to the Polish during the Polish Soviet War.

-Fought in a gunfight against a band of angry Cossacks.

-Seconded in a duel with Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, later commander-in-chief of Finnish armies in World War II and President of Finland.

-World War II — House in Poland was bombed (with him in it) when the Germans invaded in 1939.  Escaped in a car to Romania as the German Air Force attempted to strafe and bomb him.

-Led British Ski Commandos in Norway.

-Survived airplane crash in the Mediterranean.  Swam 1 mile in freezing water to shore. Was captured by the enemy.

-The enemy considered him too “disabled” to live in a POW camp.  He was offered the chance to return home if he resigned from the British Army.  He refused and instead escaped from a POW camp after digging a tunnel for 7 months.

-In the last years of the war and after he served as a British ambassador in China.  Enjoyed watching Allied and Japanese fighters dogfighting from the bridge of the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

-Interrupted a propaganda speech by Mao Tse Tung to tell him he was a lunatic.

-In his old age he fell and injured his back.  During the resulting back surgery doctors removed “an incredible amount of shrapnel”.

Fight Like a Girl

Anhotep I, Ancient Egyptian Warrior Princess, Hyksos War, “cleansed Egypt of the Hyksos”.

Queen Boudicca, led the Iceni Rebellion against Rome, 1st century.

Relief of two Roman gladiatrices found at Halicarnassus, Roman Empire

Hua Mulan, Tang Dynasty China, disguised herself as a man to fight in her father’s stead.  Inspired the Disney movie “Mulan”.

The Trung Sisters, 1st Century Vietnam, rebelled against the Chinese Empire.

Joan of Arc, the Hundred Years War. Led the French to victory against the English.

Tomoe Gozen, 12th-13th century Samurai.  The woodblock print below depicts her beheading the Samurai Moroshige of Musashi at the Battle of Awazu.

Matilda of Tuscany, Middle Ages, Investiture Conflict, personal bodyguard of the Pope.

The Isabella de Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella Duel, circa 1552.

Julie d'Aubigny, 17th century swordsmen and opera singer. Considered one of the greatest duelists in history.

Mary Read and Anne Bonney, 17th/18th century pirates.

Elizabeth “Lady Bare Knuckles Stokes, popular bareknuckle boxer in Britain, early 18th century. Fought both men and women, was also noted for her skill with the broadsword and cudgel.

Hannah Snell, Royal Marine, Seven Years War, disguised herself as a man.

Deborah Sampson, American Revolution, disguised herself as a man. Removed a musket ball from her thigh with a knife.

The “Petticoat Duel” between Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone, circa 1792.

Nadezhda Andreyevna Durova,  most heavily decorated soldier in the Russian Cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars.

Pine Leaf, Crow Nation War Chief, 19th century

Harriet Tubman, American Civil War, spy, army scout, and co-commander of Union forces during the Combahee River Raid.

Loretta Valsaquez, American Civil War, Confederacy. Disguised herself as a man.

Frances Lousia Clayton, disguised herself as a man to fight with her husband, Union Army, American Civil War.

Cathay Williams, 38th Infantry (Buffalo Soldiers) during the late 19th century. Disguised herself as a man.

“Stagecoach” Mary Fields, Old West icon, once shot a man in the bum in a gunfight after he called her a nigger.

The Dahomey Amazon’s, West Africa 19th century.  The most feared warriors of the Kingdom of Dahomey.  Their favorite pastime was to decapitate their captured enemies.

Princess Pauline Metternich and Countess Kielmannsegg Duel of 1892

One of many “Soldateras” during the Mexican Revolution

Captain Flora Sandes, World War I, English woman who fought in the Serbian Army.  Won the Serbia’s highest honor (the Order of the Karađorđe’s Star) after leading her company on a successful assault despite being wounded by a grenade and in a bout of hand to hand combat.

Edith Gerrud, the Jiu Jitsu Suffragist

Spanish Civil War.

Lydia Litvyak, Soviet Air Force, World War II: First female fighter ace, first kill scored by a woman, highest scoring female fighter pilot with 16 kills. Heroine of the Soviet Union.

Nancy Wake, World War II, commanded a 7,000 man resistance group in France. Was tortured by the Gestapo for 4 days and never talked.  On the flip side she was known for interrogating enemy spies and getting them to talk, then executing them.

The 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Group, a Soviet all female bomber group during World War II.  Nicknamed “The Night Witches” by the Germans because of their stealthy bombing tactics.

Partisan Fighter, World War II

Lyudmilla Pavlichenko, Soviet Sniper during World War II, deadliest female sniper with 309 kills. Heroine of the Soviet Union.

Mariya Oktyabrskaya, Soviet tank driver during World War II, Heroine of the Soviet Union.

Capt. Kim Campbell, US Air Force, A10 Warthog pilot during the Iraq War, the pictures speak for themselves.

Rukhsana Kausar, defended her family from a band of terrorists with an axe and a captured assault rifle.

British Lt. General Paul Carton de Wiart, the Most Badass Man in History.

Wars he fought in: Boer Wars, World War I, Polish Soviet War, World War II.

Wounded: 11 times, including wounds to the face, head, stomach, groin, ankle, leg, hip, and ear.

Body Parts Lost: Left eye, left hand, and a lung.

Survived: Two plane crashes

Awards: Victoria Cross, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Companion of the Order of Bath, Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Distinguished Service Order, Virtuti Militari (Poland), Creux de Guerre (Belgium).

Thoughts on World War I: “Frankly I enjoyed the war.”

Fun Quote:“Governments may think and say as they like, but force cannot be eliminated, and it is the only real and unanswerable power. We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose." 

Other Interesting Facts:

  • During WWI he took command of three infantry battalions and a brigade after all his commanders were killed in action.  
  • Once pulled off his own fingers when the surgeons refused to amputate them.
  • Got in a gunfight with a gang of Cossacks.
  • Was forced to escape Poland when the Germans invaded in 1939.  Survived Luftwaffe strafing.
  • Led British Commandos in Norway.
  • When captured by the Italians after a plane crash, he became a POW.  He escaped by digging a tunnel for seven months.
  • Was friends with Winston Churchill, Carl Gustav Mannerheim, Marshal Pilsudski, Pope Pius, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Chiang Kai Shek, and Clement Attlee.
  • Hunted ducks with one arm.
  • When he was injured in a fall in his later years, he had to have surgery on his back.  The doctor removed a few pounds of shrapnel from his body.
  • Died at the age of 83

 

As 2014 comes to an end, I wanted to look back at the accomplishments of women of color who’ve been doing amazing work in the face of this really challenging and turbulent year. There would be no way to create a truly exhaustive list, so apologies in advance for all of the folks not included below. If you’re interested in perusing a much longer list, a post looking for suggestions on my Facebook page generated more than 50 possible women to recognize. Without further ado, 14 women of color who rocked 2014, in no particular order:


Vanita Gupta (Photo courtesy of the ACLU)

1Civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta is having a big year. As deputy political director with the ACLU, she spearheaded the group’s efforts in Ferguson. In October, she was selected to join the Obama administration as the acting assistant attorney general of the new Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. (She’ll face congressional approval before she can take the position on permanently.) Both roles are just the most recent steps in a career dedicated to eliminating excessive use of force by police departments, as well as prejudicial policing in communities of color.


Janet Mock (Photo by Aaron Tredwell)

2. You’re probably not surprised to see Janet Mock on a list like this—she is one of the most high-profile black trans women the U.S. This year started with the publication of her New York Times bestselling book, “Redefining Realness.” She’s continued her work in journalism as a contributing editor for Marie Clare, and she’ll start hosting her own weekly pop culture television show on MSNBC’s Shift network. Mock continues to elevate the issues facing the trans community with her hashtag #girlslikeus, and is bringing these issues to wider audiences all the time.


Alicia Garza addresses tech workers in San Francisco. (Brian Ward/San Francisco Chronicle)

3, 4 & 5:Even if you don’t recognize the names of Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, you’ve no doubt experienced the hashtag-turned-movement these three women* created: #BlackLivesMatter. While they came up with the hashtag in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal, it gained worldwide momentum this year after the police killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Thousands have used #BlackLivesMatter on- and off-line, the result of Garza’s, Cullors’ and Tometi’s organizing. (Garza lays out the origins of the movement over at Feminist Wire.) Outside of #BlackLivesMatter work, Garza is special projects director for National Domestic Workers Alliance; Tometi is the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration; and Cullors is an artist, organizer and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a group “dedicated to protecting incarcerated people and their families” in Los Angeles. 


Paulina Helm-Hernandez (Southernersonnewground.org)

6. As co-director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), an LGBT organization at the forefront of queer organizing in the South, Paulina Helm-Hernandez has led incredible work this year. The group has organized to stop deportations through the Not1More campaign, worked to hold police and government accountable for discriminatory profiling in small Southern cities, and continued their annual “Gaycation” event which attracts many folks from across the region looking to build community.


Ai-jen Poo (Photo courtesy of NDWA)

7. Ai-jen Poo recieved lots of media attention this year because she received a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. But Poo also made incredible strides in her work as executive director of the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign: Poo has been part of a successful push to get the Department of Labor to extend basic protections for home-care workers, including minimum wage and overtime pay. 


Mo’Ne Davis (Getty Images Sport/ Jeff Gross)

8.There’s no question that 13-year-old Mo’Ne Davis has had a great year. She pitched the first shut-out by a female player at the Little League World Series this past summer, and she boasts a 70-mph fastball. She even landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her memoir is set to be published by HarperCollins in March of 2015. You can also join the 34,000 people following her on Twitter.


Bamby Salcedo (Getty Images/ Jason Merritt)

9. Bamby Salcedo is the founder and president of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition. As the high murder rate of trans women of color receives more media attention, Salcedo has played an important role in organizing and advocating for the community. This year the trans Latina activist was also recognized in a new film, “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story.” 


Cherisse A. Scott (Photo courtesy of Cherisse Scott)

10. Cherisse A. Scott has been part of the reproductive justice movement for more than a decade. As the founder and CEO of SisterReach, the only reproductive justice organization in Tennessee, Scott recieved national attention this year for her work to defeat Amendment 1, a statewide anti-choice measure. SisterReach conducted phone banking and canvassing on two Memphis zip codes with high rates of poverty, sexually transmitted infections, low birth weight and maternal mortality.  It also reached out to voters at historically black universities. The amendment passed, but Scott’s continues to argue for a political strategy that engages black communities.


Lucy Flores (Getty Images/ Ethan Miller)

11. Lucy Flores: While Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis received much attention for telling her abortion story on the floor of the state legislature, she wasn’t the only politician to do so this year. As a Nevada state assemblywoman, Lucy Flores took a risk by telling the public she’d had an abortion becuase she wasn’t ready for a child. While she lost her bid for lieutenant governor of Nevada this fall, we’ll being seeing more of Flores, who many think has a bright future in the Democratic Party.


Veronica Arreola (Photo courtesy of Veronica Arreola)

12. Veronica Arreola: A long-time Latina feminist writer and activist, Arreola started a year-long feminist selfie project with one hashtag: #365feministselfie. What began as a Flickr group formed in response to a Jezebel article calling selfies a “call for help,” the project has collected more than 1,700 photos and you can find the hashtag across social media. As the first year of radical self-love and representation comes to an end, the project is moving offline and organizing two feminist conferences next year.


Gina Clayton (Photo courtesy of Gina Clayton)

13. An attorney, activist and advocate, Gina Clayton received three prestigious fellowships this year that have allowed her to start the Essie Justice Group, an organization centered on women with incarcerated loved ones. Essie brings these women together, providing them with healing, financial advice and advocacy. The first group is being piloted in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki (Photo by Morea Steinhauer)

14. Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki became a prominent voice on campus sexual assault after starting the #survivorprivilege hashtag. A sexual assault survivor from Tufts University, Wanjuki created her hashtag in June in response to a Washington Post column that minimized campus rape. Since then, she has continued to speak out—in writing and during media appearances—on the national conversation about campus sexual assault. An example: her recent piece about the Rolling Stone/UVA controversy. 

*Article updated to reflect the fact that only two of the women (Garza and Cullors) identify as queer, not all three as originally stated.