Bad Feminist

Let’s talk about the wicked cool things women do

Bad+Feminist

Photo by Carolyn Mennecke

It’s Women’s History Month, and so, as I was thinking about all the things that make me feel bad about being such a bad feminist, I realized that I still don’t know much about women and the things they’ve accomplished that have gotten me to … well, here.

I think it’s important to remember why women need a month to celebrate their history: It’s because their stories are all too often lost in a male-dominated narrative. It might be because of this that I don’t know a lot about the women who got me here.

In an effort to be a less-bad feminist, I asked people on social media about famous women in history that aren’t as famous as they perhaps should be. Here are my findings:

  • Sybil Ludington (1761-1839) warned the American colonists that the British were coming during the Revolutionary War, but most people have only heard of Paul Revere, who did the exact same thing, according to The Archive.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman in the United States to get her Ph.D in medicine, according to womenshistory.org.  
  • Huda Sha’arawi (1879-1947) created Egypt’s first female-geared society that offered various resources for women, according to The Archive.
  • Florence Price (1887-1953) was the first formally recognized African-American female composer, according to florenceprice.org.
  • Dorothy Lawrence (1896-1964) was a journalist who dressed as a man in order to fight in World War I, according to The Archive.
  • Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948) was the inspiration for a good portion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary masterpieces, according to The Archive.
  • Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985) led the team of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory that helped developed the Apollo mission’s software at NASA, according to The Archive.
  • Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was the first woman to get a doctorate in mathematics from Yale University, according to The Archive.
  • Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) discovered the double helix structure of DNA, though James Watson and Francis Crick published the collective findings and received most recognition for it, according to DNA From the Beginning.
  • Henrietta Lacks’ (1920-1951) cells helped develop the polio vaccine, and also helped figure out cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization, according to The Archive.
  • Alice Coachman (1923-2014) was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, according to The Archive.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-present) became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review according to biography.com.
  • Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) was the first African-American woman from the deep South to be elected to Congress and the first woman to be elected to the Texas Senate, according to biography.com.
  • Sally Ride (1951-2012), a Stanford University graduate with a doctorate degree in physics, was the first American woman to make it to space, according to biography.com.
  • Abby Wambach (1980-present) helped the U.S. women’s soccer team win an Olympic gold medal and the 2015 FIFA World Cup title, according to biography.com.

The list goes on and on and on.

This got me thinking about all the phenomenal women in my life:

  • My mom, who gave up so much so I could have every opportunity in my life;
  • my sisters, who helped mold me into the woman I am today;
  • the editor-in-chief of The Spectator, Emilee Wentland, who demonstrates day in and day out that women can be in leadership positions and absolutely kill it;
  • my awesome female friends who support me so much;
  • the female professors at UW-Eau Claire who further my education and push me to do my best.

These are all people who are accomplishing incredible things, and we don’t normally take the time to recognize those things. And we really should.

I’m probably a bad feminist because I don’t really take the time to think about the incredible things that women have done — and are still doing.  But, if I’m a bad feminist, then so is the rest of the world, because we never talk about the awesome things that women have done to get us to where we are now. And I think that’s worth talking about.

So here’s to great women. May we be them, and may we raise them.

Mennecke can be reached at [email protected].