also: happy women’s history month to every trans woman
you’re constantly erased from history and pushed out of women’s spaces but you belong there and you have always been important parts of history.
let’s not forget trans women this year.
Last year I did a few write-ups and drawings about some lady fighters from history who fought openly as their gender (there are plenty of disguised-as-a-man soldiers and plenty of trans soldiers, but those are outside the scope of this series). This is by no means an exhaustive list; there were plenty of great figures that my schedule didn’t permit me to tackle (at least not yet). But as Women’s History Month gets started tomorrow, I thought y’all might enjoy reading about some of history’s toughest broads.
“They were going to the moon. I computed the path that would get you there. You determined where you were on Earth when you started out, and where the moon would be at a given time. We told them how fast they would be going, and the moon will be there by the time you got there.”—Katherine Johnson
We’re highlighting a couple of important TechMAKERS this week for Women’s History Month. These women have made incredible strides in STEM, despite the challenges they faced entering professional and academic fields that are overwhelmingly male-dominated.
It was only recently, with the release of Hidden Figures, that Katherine Johnson received the public recognition she deserved. There was not much visibility granted to a woman of color working at NASA in the 1960s.
Katherine made innumerable contributions to our space program, but the most important was being part of the team that put an American on the moon. She calculated the trajectory analysis for the mission because the computer they used was known to be faulty. We repeat: Katherine Johnson’s calculations were more trusted than that of NASA’s computers.
Today also marks the show of solidarity for women’s rights by way of a strike: A Day Without A Woman. Women around the world are refusing to take part in both paid and unpaid labor in the name of justice for all gender-oppressed people of all ethnicities, religions, and sexualities. In doing so, they join the ranks of women who have led protests, strikes, and movements throughout history.
Let’s celebrate a few of those women:
Dorothy Height (March 24, 1912—April 20, 2010)
Dorothy Height, former President of the National Council of Negro Women, was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington. She stood near Martin Luther King Jr. during his “I Have a Dream” speech, but did not publicly speak that day. In fact, no woman publicly spoke. “Even on the morning of the march there had been appeals to include a woman speaker,” wrote Height in her memoir. “They were happy to include women in the human family, but there was no question as to who headed the household!“ In 1971, she helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus with other notable feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm.
Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945—July 6, 1992)
Marsha P. Johnson spent her entire adult life fighting for the rights of LGBTQ people. She’s credited for being one of the first to fight back in the Stonewall Riots. She started the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with her friend Sylvia Rivera. Together they provided food, shelter, and care to young drag queens, trans women, and homeless children in need in the Lower East Side of NYC. She fought for what was right, and knew how to live life with exuberance and humor. When asked by a judge what what the “P” stood for, she replied “Pay It No Mind.”
Alice Paul (January 11, 1885—July 9, 1977)
Alice Paul was one of the leading forces behind the Nineteenth Amendment, which affirmed and enshrined a woman’s right to vote. She rallied 8,000 people to march in the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington—no small task in a world before the internet—with an estimated half million people watching the historic moment from the sidelines.
And some good activist blogs to follow:
Emily’s List (@emilys-list) slogan is “ignite change.” They aim to do so by backing pro-choice candidates for US office in key races across the country.
Women of Color in Solidarity (@wocinsolidarity) focuses on being a hub for the the WOC experience in the US. Original posts, incredibly informative reblogs…this place is wonderful.
btw: happy women’s history month to all the women of color whose extraordinary lives and accomplishments have been consistently overlooked and ignored by history textbooks and white media. happy women’s history month to all the trans women who are frequently and routinely erased from the conversation and pushed out of women’s spaces. we see you, we love you, you belong. thank you for your countless contributions to feminism, to lgbtq+ rights, to media, to social progress, to equality, to the arts, to the humanities, to science, to countless other fields, and to the world as a whole. let’s not forget trans women and women of color this women’s history month <3
“My LGBQTIA family, I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape. and go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.”
For the first full week of Women’s History Month, we’ll be celebrating women have broken down barriers. We call them HistoryMAKERS.
Lena Waithe made history at last year’s 69th Emmy Awards, becoming the first Black woman to not only be nominated, but also the first to win the award for writing for a comedy series. Her acceptance speech touched on the power of representation, and the importance of being recognized as valid.
“Growing up, I always assumed I would go into space. But I knew full well that people expected me to behave a certain way. I bucked the system. I don’t want mothers sayin’ ‘put that mud down, stop doing the because you’re going to ruin your dress.’ You get dirty sometimes. Who cares? You cannot do some of these things and keep your hair all nice.”—Mae Jemison
Today’s TechMAKER reached for the stars and then some. Mae Jemison saw the gender and racial discrimination in space exploration, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the very first African-American woman in space.
Because they’ve advanced the success and growth of those fields for just as long as men, even when they weren’t afforded the opportunity, the recognition, or the grants. Onward:
Rosalind Franklin (July 25, 1920—April 16, 1958)
Rosalind Franklin was a chemist and, get this, X-ray crystallographer. As far as titles go, you can’t do much better than crystallographer. Her work in understanding the molecular structure of DNA laid the foundation for the discovery of the double helix. She also made significant contributions to understanding the structures of RNAs. And viruses. And coal. And graphite. Her work was not fully appreciated until after she passed away. Two teams of all-male scientists who used her work to discover great things later went on to win Nobel Prizes.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler (February 8, 1831—March 9, 1895)
Rebecca Lee Crumpler spent most of her professional life being the first at things. She was the very first Black woman to become a physician in the United States. The first (and only) Black woman to graduate from New England Female Medical College. She authored Book of Medical Discourses, one of the very first medical books written by a Black person. Every obstacle she powered through was done in an effort to provide care for other people. Hero.
Mary Anning (May 21, 1799—March 9, 1847)
Mary Anning discovered the first full Ichthyosaur skeleton at 11, the very first Plesiosaur at 22, and then opened up her own fossil store front a few years later. We repeat: She opened up her own fossil store. We could go on and on, but Rejected Princesses (@rejectedprincesses) already did it best in this biographical comic. While you’re over there, check out their whole archive and the dozens and dozens of women’s life stories within.
Follow these too:
She Thought It: Crossing Bodies in Sciences and Arts (@shethoughtit) is a database dedicated to shedding light on women making strides in both science and the arts. A whole bunch of great things.
Lady Scientists of Tumblr (@scientific-women) promises everything you could ever want from a feminist science round-up blog: intersectionality and equal representation of all scientists who identify as female. Hell yeah.
Math Brain (@ihaveamathbrain) backs the novel idea that women are indeed capable of understanding math. Shocking. With the perfect amount of sarcasm, they tackle the idea some bozos have that women just don’t have the mind for mathematics.
“By the time I was in my mid-20s and working at a firm, I had everything that I was told I should want, but I could still feel that there was something missing. I started to ask myself some more important questions like ‘What do I really care about and how do I give something back?’ I wanted to be in a position to help folks from neighborhoods like mine, especially young people, have the opportunities that I had. So I quit my job at the law firm and found myself working in careers where I could spend my time lifting up the kinds of communities that I grew up in.”—Michelle Obama
The list of Michelle Obama’s contributions to the people of the U.S. is long. One of her most famous accomplishments has been the Let’s Move! program, which highlighted the importance of healthy eating and exercise. She’s hosted receptions at the White House for women’s rights advocates, publicly stated her belief that LGBTQ rights are equal rights, and while attending WWDC, called for tech companies to hire more women.
All month long, we’re partnering with MAKERS (@makerswomen), a feminist platform that highlights trailblazing women who are making changes today, and inspiring the ChangeMAKERS of tomorrow. For the next 31 days, MAKERS will put the spotlight on dozens of women who are making a difference. Each week will have a specific focus: HistoryMAKERS, TechMAKERS, TroubleMAKERS, and ChangeMAKERS. Be sure to follow them so you never miss a post.
Monday, March 19—We’re celebrating a Badass Black Women History Month takeover (@bbwhm). Founder Ashley Ray-Harris will curate a celebration of 28 incredible Black women who said, “Fuck it, I’ll do it!”
Monday, March 26—Magic in her Melanin will be a community-driven organization that focuses on elevating the stories of women of color, as well as bridging the gap between creatives of color and the tech industry. It’s going to be launching right on Tumblr. There will be a whole takeover dedicated to their launch, paired with an opportunity for you to submit your art to be featured on their Tumblr.
Wednesday, March 21—Everytown for Gun Safety (@everytown) operates under the very real notion that thoughts and prayers are not enough when it comes to gun violence. Change demands real action, and their goal is to make that happen. Chances are you’ve heard of them already. Now it’s time to connect with them directly. Their ask box will be open for questions before their Answer Time.
Wednesday, March 28—Run for Something recruits and supports young progressives running for local office, and they want to answer any question you have during their Answer Time. It’s to be held over on our official Action (@action) Tumblr.
Friday, March 30—Transgender activist Malaysia Walker will be graciously answering your questions during her Answer Time, hosted on the Transgender Freedom Project (@transgenderfreedomproject) Tumblr.
We’ll also be honoring various incredibly important days throughout the month, such as International Women’s Day (March 8), the March for Our Lives (March 24), Muslim Women’s Day (March 27), and the Trans Day of Visibility (March 31).
As we celebrate and honor the celebrities and activists who are striving to make things better for all of us, it’s important to remember you don’t have to start organizations or lead an entire movement just to make a change. It can be small. So we want to ask you, what do you want the headlines and history books to say about the women’s movement in 2018? #WhatWillYouDo to ensure that all women’s voices are heard in 2018?