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  • Writer's pictureAlanna Grayce

#45: MY TOP 5 inspirational women thru history

Hi friends. Today, I am bringing you a fun lil list of 5 of my personal favorite historical heroines in celebration of women’s history month!!!!! Now this was really hard for me ok? I was raised on girl power, so narrowing it down to these women all throughout history was really difficult. I wanted to include the first woman to take a bullet in battle for the United States of America, I wanted to include all of the women who cross-dressed to serve their country, I wanted to include all of the suffragettes throughout history, all of the women who fight for racial equality- all of that. But I realistically just couldn't. SO I came up with this list, and I hope you like it.

Boudicca- the baddest bitch. Boudicca was the queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe in modern day Britain. Her husband, Prasutagus, was an ally of Rome. Upon his death, Boudicca was to remain queen but the estate was to be split between his daughters and the Roman emperor Nero. The Romans did not vibe with that, though, and all their lands were taken by Rome. Also, the Romans did not respect a female leader, and they said screw y’all you’re not recognized as allies anymore. So, Boudicca objected, obviously.

Unfortunately, because she spoke out against them the Romans beat her publicly and raped her daughters. This didn’t fly with an independent bad bitch, though, so she gathered multiple tribes together to revolt against the Roman oppressors. Her revolt left major Roman cities, including what is now London, in burnt ruins, and cost over 80,000 lives. She was defeated only because the Romans retreated until they found the primo battlefield to use against her strategy. The true fate of herself and her daughters is unknown, but various explanations are guessed at, including that the three of them committed suicide by drinking poison. Either way, she makes my list because she did not let ANYONE, even a Roman emperor, tell her what to do- and when a man gave her a hard time, she gave him 15 shades of hell in response. We should all honestly be inspired by her confidence in herself and her people, her ruthlessness in the face of misogyny and oppression, and her courage of conviction.

Mary Wollstonecraft- AN ORIGINAL women’s rights activist. She was a writer, philosopher, and advocate in 16th century England. Mary wrote a book in 1792 called A Vindication of the Rights of Woman wherein she argues that women only appear inferior to men because they are not given the opportunity for education- in order for a society to be founded on reason, men and women must be both treated as rational beings. Incredible.

Unfortunately, upon her death her widower, William Godwin, published a memoir of her life which destroyed her reputation because she had a very “unorthodox” lifestyle for the time. She had multiple affairs, believed in free love, had a daughter out of wedlock- and she was educated. Wild.

She died a little over a week after giving birth to Mary Godwin, who would grow up to become Mary Shelley- the author of Frankenstein. Shelley was incredibly inspired by her mother’s life and death, and the influence of her mother’s legacy shaped Shelley into the woman she would become… including the inventor of the sci-fi genre.

Irena Sendler- born on February 15, 1910 in Warsaw to a physician and his wife. She grew up to be a product of her raising- her father passed away when she was seven after contracting typhus from treating patients that other doctors refused to treat because they were too scared of contracting the disease. After his death, Jewish community leaders offered to pay for Irena’s education in thanks for her father’s compassion and dedication to helping the ill in the Jewish community. She was always very opposed to the racist systems put in place at some prewar Polish Universities, such as the one she attended, and publicly protested. This actually led to her being suspended from the University of Warsaw for three years- just because she spoke up. She came from a rebellious family- her great grandfather actually led a rebellion against the Czars. I think it was in her DNA to stand up.

When the Germans invaded Warsaw in 1939, Irena began offering Jews food and shelter. In 1940, the Warsaw Ghetto was erected, and she could no longer help the Jews the way she had been- over 450,000 Jewish people were forced into the Ghetto. So, she helped how she could. She began saving orphaned children using her credentials as a Polish social worker and papers from a worker from the Contagious Disease Department, who was a member of an underground rebel group. So before she even joined this group, Zegota, she and some helpers made over 3,000 falsified documents to help Jewish families. Wild.

Irena and the volunteers who would go with her into the ghetto- they had a few preferred methods of smuggling kids out. 1) They would use an ambulance an take the kid out UNDER the stretcher 2) escape through an old courthouse on the edge of the ghetto 3) using underground tunnels and sewer pipes 4) putting kids in a suitcase or a sack and putting them on a trolley 5) legally removing a kid on an ambulance if they faked suuuuuper sick. Now the story of Irena went kind of viral a few years back because she would sometimes use a dog that barked over a babies cries to distract the guards from the sounds- which she did do, but out of the many rescues she did like a miniscule amount used the doggo.

She kept record of all the children she saved and what families she placed them with to keep them safe during the war- and after the war was over, she dug up the bottles of documents that she had buried so she could begin connecting children to families. Almost all of the children’s parents died at the Treblinka death camp.

Irena was arrested during the war, and she fed the interrogator the fabricated story that she and her organization had prepared for this situation. She was tortured. Zegota bribed the executioner, though, and he helped her escape. The announcement was made that she was executed, though, so she stayed in hiding until after the war. In the 1990s, a group of girls in Kansas were inspired by a clipping mentioning her as another “Schindler”. This group dedicated a lot of time to learning about her and sharing her story- so what started as a school project became a way to raise awareness about the incredible woman who risked everything for others.

I didn’t mean to tell such a long story about her compared to the others, but damn I couldn’t not. Her story is inspiring and heartbreaking, and I honestly encourage you to learn more. I hope that her story inspires you to be like her- to rebel against oppression and fascism, and to risk everything for what’s right. selflessness.

Ruby Bridges (And her mother, Lucille)- Ruby was born in 1954 in Mississippi. Her family eventually moved to New Orleans, and at six years old- SIX! A TINY BABY!- she became the first Black student to integrate an elementary school in the American south. In New Orleans, to be exact. To be six years old an instrumental in the Civil Rights movement. Iconic, literally.

Now Ruby was born in the year that the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown v Board that racial segregation in public schools was no bueno, but southern states continued to resist. A federal court ordered Louisiana to desegregate, and the schools created entrance exams to test Black students to see if they could academically compete at the all-white schools. Ruby and five others passed, but Ruby ended up being the only one to go to the specific school she went to. Her admittance was delayed, of course, and her family was torn about her going at all. Her dad was super scared about her safety, but her mother, a bad bitch, wanted Ruby to be given the education that she had been denied.

Four federal marshals escorted Ruby and her mother on their walk to school every day that year. They walked past crowds screaming slurs, and even one woman held up a Black baby doll in a coffin. Her first day was spent in the principal’s office because her attendance created chaos as angry parents withdrew their children from the school, some permanently. The only teacher willing to teach Ruby was a white woman from Boston, so she learned in a classroom alone, ate lunch alone, and sometimes played at recess with her teacher. She never missed a day though. Her family suffered, as her dad lost his job and her mother couldn’t even buy groceries at some stores because of their bravery. Her grandparents were evicted from their farm. She earned her education though, and graduated from a desegregated high school. Over time more Black students enrolled in that school, and eventually even her nieces would attend the same school.

Her story is iconic for obvious reasons, and she (and her mother) are on this list for their bravery and selflessness that changed the world for EVERYONE. I couldn’t not include her, the more I thought about this list; to be six years old and become a face of civil rights. To be six years old and to trek through HATE and VITRIOL every day as you maintained perfect attendance and learned in isolation because no one else wanted their children to learn with you. To be six and have the world put on your shoulders, whether she knew it or not. I think it would have broken my spirit, to have had all that hate put on me and my family. SO Ruby and her mother are on this list because of their courage, their strength, and their dedication. May we all learn from them and spend our energy bettering ourselves and the lives of others.

FINALLY, number 5:

Every single fucking one of the women throughout history who have taken up arms, taken up pen and paper- taken a SEAT to defy the oppression, the patriarchy, and/or the evil that they were faced with. I want to deserve to call myself a woman alongside them, so I’m going to use what I’ve been given to fight for myself and for others. I hope this episode inspires you to fight with all of your strength.

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