Last week, we embarked on a magical journey through women’s history of awesomeness, courtesy of the Lumberjanes comic. This week, we’ll go through the rest of the series and get the scoop on the singing, educating, healing, mountain-climbing, world-shaking women name-dropped by the Lumberjanes!
bell hooks (née Gloria Jean Watkins) is a feminist writer and educator, but her writing covers everything from race and gender to mass media and capitalism. Unfortunately, that’s about all I know of her, other than her quotes are used in a special phone service to deter unwanted texts from creepy dudes, which is genius.
Agnodice was the first female gynecologist. She was an Athenian woman who had to disguise herself as a man to study medicine because the law banned women from practicing medicine beyond midwifery. She continued to practice disguised as a man until one of her female patients refused to be treated by a male doctor, at which point she revealed she was a woman. Her popularity exploded as more and more women called on her rather than her fellow male practitioners. Unaware of her true sex, they teamed up with the women’s husbands and accused her of seducing their patients/wives. When she publicly admitted she was a woman, they then put her on trial for her life for breaking the law.
Ultimately she was acquitted of the charges, thanks in part to a large crowd of her female patients who showed up to defend her. Her trial also overturned the law, allowing women to study and practice medicine (but only as long as they treated other women).
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was the “original soul sister,” a gospel/rock musician popular during the 1930s and 40s who influenced the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash. She was the first great gospel recording artist, and she made waves by combining spiritual lyrics with secular styles (and settings – she was contractually bound to play her songs at nightclubs, which naturally caused some controversy). The record she made for troops in 1944 (song above) is credited by some as being the first ever rock ‘n roll record. Basically she is one of the mothers of music as we know it! She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2007.
One more video, because she’s that amazing: here she is playing one of her hits during a blues tour in Manchester in 1964.
Annie Smith Peck was a mountaineer, travel writer, and suffragette. She wanted to attend Brown University like her father and brothers, but she was denied admission on account of being a woman. She finally talked her father into getting her a college education by writing, “Why you should recommend for me a course so different from that which you pursue, or recommend to your boys is what I can see no reason for except the example of our great grandfathers and times are changing rapidly in that respect.” She ended up studying at the University of Michigan and in Athens.
It was in Europe that she discovered her love for mountain climbing, and she spent the next 30 years climbing internationally and lecturing across the United States to promote travel and positive relations with South America. In 1911, to further prove her awesomeness, she planted a “Women’s Vote” banner on top of Mount Coropuna in Peru.