8 Feminist BABES Who Changed The Course Of History
It’s no surprise that some of the most influential people in the world are womxn. Historically, womxn played a very different role in society and were often expected to just get married, have kids, and look after the home (um, no?) – but many badass womxn in history bucked this trend and literally changed the world, breaking through glass ceilings to create a world where their daughters and granddaughters could enjoy freedom, gender equality, and more opportunities.
It’s important to take some time to reflect on the most inspirational women in history, since the lives we’re able to live as womxn today are directly due to their influence. There are so many great womxn who changed the world that we sadly don’t have space to name them all, but below are a few of our fave feminist babes who changed the course of history.
1. Susan B. Anthony
Seems completely obvious that womxn should be able to vote in elections, right? Unbelievably, womxn in the US didn’t get the right to vote until 1920, when the 19th Amendment gave womxn voting rights (though we must remember these rights weren’t extended to Black womxn until nearly half a century later).
Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony played a huge role in advocating for the rights of womxn, traveling across the country to speak on the importance of female equality. Although she sadly passed away 14 years before the 19th Amendment came to be, we know Ms Anthony would be proud to see so many fierce females in politics today.
Image by Natalie Hua on Unsplash: Inspirational womxn in history are role models for womxn today.
2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or RBG, became only the second womxn to sit on the US Supreme Court. Throughout her time on the court, she was an advocate for equality under the law, working to get rid of legislation that discriminated against womxn.
Before her role on the Supreme Court, she was director of the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. These days you’ll often see young girls dressing up as RBG for Halloween, and we love seeing so many tiny tots looking up to such an amazing feminist role model.
3. bell hooks
bell hooks is the pseudonym of activist and scholar Gloria Jean Watkins – she’s a staunch supporter of Black feminism, having written several books on the topic.
Her bold, intelligent work examines the oppression womxn faced on behalf of the patriarchy, the media, and society. Check out some of her amazing books to learn more, such as Talking Back and Ain’t I A Woman?.
4. Gloria Steinem
Who is the most famous feminist? Some would argue that it’s Gloria Steinem, a feminist and activist who became the face of the movement in the 1960s and 70s.
As a young journalist, she had to fight to have her work taken seriously by male superiors, pushing to tell more hard-hitting stories rather than fluffy fashion and lifestyle pieces. Over time, she continued to be outspoken for gender equality, touring the country to fight for female rights.
We also love that she founded Take Our Daughters to Work Day, one of the first initiatives to encourage girls to learn about future careers.
5. Sojourner Truth
One of America’s most amazing feminists has to be Sojourner Truth, a formerly enslaved womxn who escaped to freedom with her infant daughter in 1826.
She devoted her life to advocating for equality, womxn’s rights, and abolition, and was even invited to discuss the subject with President Lincoln. She’s best known for her famous speech, ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’, which focused on racial equality.
Truth went through an unimaginable number of hardships in her life, but that didn’t stop her from standing up for what was right – something that gives us chills. If only we could all be half so brave.
6. Shirley Chisholm
In 1968, feminist babe Shirley Chisholm became the first Black womxn elected to the US Congress. That wasn’t enough, though, as she also went on to become the first Black major-party candidate to run for president in 1972.
Although Chisholm encountered plenty of opposition, she didn’t let that hold her back, dedicating her career to fighting for equality, education, health care, and a higher minimum wage.
Chisholm literally opened the door for womxn of color to take a seat at the political table, making her one of the most important female politicians in US history.
Image by Library of Congress on Unsplash: So many amazing womxn in history paved the way for us to enjoy the rights and freedoms we have today.
Many of us know Sacagawea as the Native American womxn who accompanied explorers Lewis and Clark on their expedition to explore the American continent, but she was also a feminist leader who did what no womxn had done before.
A member of the Shoshone nation, she was kidnapped at a young age and sold into slavery, later brought along with the expedition of white settlers as they needed a translator – luckily, she later regained her freedom.
She helped the expedition with finding edible plants and water, and she’s remembered today as a strong, independent womxn who did the best she could in the face of adversity. She’s honored on the US one-dollar coin.
8. Simone de Beauvoir
French writer and activist Simone de Beauvoir played a huge role in the feminist movement of the 20th century. Her book The Second Sex became iconic for feminists worldwide, examining the treatment of womxn throughout history.
She also led the philosophical feminism movement, which is an approach to philosophy from a female perspective.
So, which womxn has had the biggest impact on world history? It’s hard to say. We’re so grateful for all of the womxn mentioned above – true trailblazers who overcame hardship and adversity to change the world, paving the way for today’s feminists. That’s pretty damn amazing in our book.
If this list has piqued your interest, don’t stop now! You can find out more, as there are plenty of amazing biographies and films dedicated to these incredible feminist role models. We’ll leave you with some food for thought from the fantastic RBG: "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."
Now that’s a statement we at RBL can get behind.
Featured image by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash