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.
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.
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.
Today is the first day of Women’s History Month, Tumblr. For the next 31 days we’re going to celebrate women’s accomplishments, honor women’s stories, and draw attention to struggles women are still facing, even in 2017.
How we’re celebrating:
This special Women’s History Month explore page will be frequently updated with the top WHM posts found on Tumblr, because the best stuff always comes from you. Answer Times will be held, and important topics will be explored over on Action (@action). We also made some highly relevant stickers for you to put on your photos and GIFs, available right now in the Tumblr app. Take a look:
Why this matters:
👆 See that Planned Parenthood sticker? While we’ve got plenty to celebrate, we also have crucial fights to fight. Women around the world are currently facing the possible revocation of basic human rights and access to adequate health care. Here in the US, Planned Parenthood (@plannedparenthood) is set to lose all federal funding. 5 million people use PP’s services every single year. That includes access to sex education, birth control, prenatal care, STD testing, cervical cancer screenings, abortions, and so much more.
Tumblr stands with Planned Parenthood. Tumblr stands with women everywhere, regardless of sexuality, race, religion, or gender identity. We’re in this together.
Oh, and If you’re attending SXSW this year, we’d like to invite you to a couple things jointly held by Tumblr and Planned Parenthood. There will be a panel on activism and a rally featuring live performances by Sleigh Bells, Girlpool (@girlpoool), Hoops, and PVRIS (@thisispvris). Find the details here.
Lady Hay Drummond-Hay (September 12, 1895—February 12, 1946) was a star journalist who became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, and she did it in a damned Zeppelin. She went on to report from war zones like Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and Manchuria (now part of China), fell into a tumultuous romance with a fellow reporter, and was eventually captured by the Japanese during WWII.
…swim the English Channel.
Gertrude Ederle (October 23, 1905 – November 30, 2003) was a competitive swimmer, Olympic champion, and at one time held five world records. If there was a world record for coolest nickname she would’ve held six, because hers was “Queen of the Waves.” When Ederle set out to become the first woman to swim the English channel, she used motorcycle goggles and sealed the edges with wax to keep the salt water out of her eyes. Due to unfavorable and violent wind conditions twelve hours into her 14 hour and 34 minute journey, her trainer shouted at her to get out of the water and into his boat. She reportedly popped her head up from the water to simply ask “what for?”
…travel around the world in less than 80 days.
Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864—January 27, 1922) asked her editor at the New York World if she could take a stab at turning the story Around the World in 80 Days from fiction to fact. Using railways and steamships, Bly chuggah-chuggahed and toot-tooted the nearly 25,000 mile trip in just 72 days, meeting Jules Verne and buying a monkey along the way. If her name sounds familiar but these stories don’t, it’s probably because you’ve heard about how she once faked a mental illness so she could write an exposé on psychiatric asylums. Or maybe it’s because of her famed coverage of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. Or maybe it’s because you’re a big fan of farming and industrialist patents and heard she invented a novel milk can and a stacking garbage can. Nellie Bly did a lot in her short 57 years.
Follow these Tumblrs for more Women’s History:
Stuff You Missed in History Class (@missedinhistory) is not exclusively about women, but hoo boy, it turns out most history classes aren’t great at teaching us about women’s history. You’ll learn a lot here.
The New-York Historical Society (@nyhistory) has been pulling articles, artifacts, and documents deep from the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library this Women’s History Month.
The bad ass historical women we need to remember this month.
It’s officially Women’s History Month, which means it’s time to celebrate the many accomplishments that are so often looked over
throughout the rest of the year.
Nellie Bly - Nellie Bly entered the journalism scene in an unabashedly feminist way, by submitting a letter to The Pittsburgh Dispatch that rebutted one writer’s diatribe about how women belonged in the home. An editor saw Bly’s potential and hired her in 1885. Just two years later, Bly famously posed as a mental patient on Blackwell’s Island for a New York World expose; a few years after, she that took a record-setting, 72-day trip around the world, writing about it for the same paper.
Agent 355 - Long before 007, there was 355. History books would do well to liven their account of the American Revolution by mentioning
this member of the Culper Spy Ring, America’s
first elite spy network. One of George Washington’s most valuable
spies, the woman known only as “Agent 355” was likely the only one who
could rock an evening gown while gathering information critical to the
colonies’ achieving independence.
Murasaki Shikibu - Little is known about the Japanese author credited with writing the world’s first modern novel, The Tale of Genji, other than that she certainly overcame plenty of obstacles to do so. Even her
name is an invention, drawn from one of the novel’s characters and the
author’s father’s job, according to Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Not only
was Shikibu educated — a rarity for women at any point for most of
history, but especially around the year 1010 — but she also became
literate in both Japanese and Chinese.
Maria W. Stewart - Though her name is (unfortunately) not one often included in history books, Stewart can claim plenty of impressive firsts. She was
the first American woman to speak to an audience of mixed genders and
races, as well as one of the first African American woman to deliver any public speech at all.
Pauli Murray - Pauli Murray wore many hats, and each one was equally impressive. Murray became a civil rights
lawyer in the late 1940s, a particularly impressive feat given that
women in general, let alone black women, had been prohibited from becoming lawyers only decades before.