Monday, August 15, 2011

Feminist Feature: My Feministy Heroes

It's no secret; I'm a feminist.  I'd actually like to think I'm more of a humanist.  There are so many people without rights or respect.  But it's high-time women gained equal rights and respect.  My dad said he'd never want a woman covering him in the battlefield.  My response: history has proved otherwise.  Women get the job done, no matter what.  I wanted to share with you some women who've made me into the passionate feminist I am today.  I'll start with the earliest living...after the jump.

Sure, she may have failed in the long run, but she put up a good fight and put some fear into the Romans, nearly driving them from Britain entirely.  Boudicca became sole ruler of the Iceni people after her husband died.  Supposedly they had a joint rulership, uncommon for some societies who had become patriarchal in nature.  The Romans saw this an opportune time to take over the Iceni fully, taking Boudicca and her daughters' land and publicly flogging her and raping her daughters.  Boudicca, we can surely say, was one of very last vestiges of a matriarchy turned oligarchy.  Uniting neighboring tribes, she took back three cities, one being London, from Roman control before having her last stand against Paulinius Suetonius.  Leading her unisex army of untrained soldiers into battle against the uniform Romans, she declared death over slavery.  When her army was losing and many Brits were fleeing the battle, she took control of her fate and committed suicide to prevent further shame and prevent slavery or worse.  Do not take lightly to a woman scorned.

Bat-Zabbai of Palmyra
Better known to the Western World as (Septimia) Zenobia, Bat-Zabbai, daughter of al-Zabbā. She was a highly educated woman, fluent in multiple languages and literate when the majority were not, especially women.  She rode with her husband to war, camped and drank with the soldiers, and wielded weapons with the best warriors.  Once her husband and step-son died, the power was handed to Bat-Zabbai's one-year-old son Vaballathus.  But, as we all know, a one-year-old is incapable of pooping in a pot or even speaking full-sentences, let alone ruling a country.  Bat-Zabbai led her country into an expansion only Rome and Macedonia dreamed of in ancient times.  She successfully fended off Rome and drove them from neighboring lands.  But her conquest spread her too thin.  Rome got the best of her, and she and her son were captured and sent to Rome.  Supposedly her son died on the way, and she was led in chains through the streets of Rome in a parade of utter shame.  The same thing would be tried on Cleopatra if not for her suicide.  One account tells us that she could have been freed from imprisonment and/or execution and lived a life as a senator's wife with more children and influence over the government and revitalized the education system.

Sarah Emma Edmonds(on)
Sarah was born as Sarah Emma Edmundson, and throughout her life her name had changed for a variety of purposes, finally landing on Sarah Emma Edmunds before taking her husband's name and living out the rest of her unknown amount of time in a quiet manner.  After moving to the U.S. from her overbearing and scornful father in Canada, Edmunds began selling Bibles in the Northeast and later in the North Midwest.  It was there that she found her calling: serving in the Union army during the U.S. Civil War.  In the Union army, she served as a field nurse, a female spy, a male soldier, and a Black male cook.  Taking on various roles, unafraid of crossdressing and doing a "man's duty", Edmunds had a direct line to Lincoln, and he considered her a valuable asset to the country.  She was never acknowledged monetarily, though, as other veterans were.  She did not live to see her legacy and proper respect.

Susan B. Anthony
This woman could make a solid speech.  Part of one of the classes I teach focuses on rhetoric.  I use Anthony's speech "Are Women Persons?", and it amazes me every single time.  I think I even cry.  Not sure, but I'm pretty sure I do.  I at least get uber-passionate about it, as I do when I listen to Tommy Sands' "There Were Roses", which I also use as an example for their project.  Anthony was a pioneer in women's rights, even though her early efforts were heeded but left untouched by the government.

Photo courtesy of Sharat Ganapati, Chicago Maroon
Gloria Steinem
The feminist of all feminists Gloria Steinem is the modern-day Susan B. Anthony.  I guess we should consider her a humanist (as we should all be); she not only focuses on females being equal to males, but she deals with rights and equalizing race, religion, age, and culture.  Check out the HBO documentary (premiering as I write this) Gloria: In Her Own Words.  I'll have a review of that soon enough.  The more Gloria ages, the wiser she becomes.

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is coming to par with Steinem.  On top of her feminist and sociopolitical writing, she is an environmentalist.  Most recently, she's been battling the Toronto mayor in saving the libraries, to which he's been responding by slandering Atwood.  What a jerk.  If you read one book by her, make it A Handmaid's Tale.  If you read more, read Oryx and Crake and then Year of the Flood.  And then everything else.

Photo courtesy of Allison Ziemba, Missourian
Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin should be everyone's hero everywhere.  Not only was she revolutionary in the cattle industry, she was a woman in a man's world.  On top that, she has Autism and learned to work with it, despite people not understanding her and how she thinks.  Now she educates on Autism and on how cattle think and the benefits of happy cattle in slaughterhouses and transportation.  Definition of hero.  Also check out the brilliant HBO film Temple Grandin, in which Claire Danes plays Grandin, much to Grandin's approval.

I'd like to know.  Who are your feministy heroes?

No comments:

Post a Comment