Let’s be real: The whole spirit of female solidarity, women’s rights, and feminism in general has been commodified. Companies noticed the recent trend and slapped feminist-y slogans on t-shirts made in sweatshop like conditions, people have used female solidarity as a way to shame women who are critical of other women, and there are literally people out there who are claiming that one can be a feminist – someone who advocates for the rights and power of women – and not support a woman’s right to choose and be A-okay with the government separating undocumented women from their families. LOL, uh, no. Yo, there are even dudes out there who will claim to be feminists and use every single feminist hashtag that goes viral…just to get you to hook up with them. Woof, what a mess.
Yeah, there’s a lot that needs to be sorted out, but for the time being, let’s take a minute to chill and go back to the bare basics of female empowerment and justice. A lot of us start caring more about women’s rights and all that good stuff because we’re inspired by other women. They can be our moms, our friends, our teachers, but they can also be politicians, celebrities, or random people we love on social media. We know there’s probably already a ton of women you look up to, but why not add some more to your list? From musicians, to actresses, to activists, check out these nine random badass women you should fall in love with right now.
Poly StyreneI'm always shocked when I find out that so many people don't know about Poly Styrene! Poly was a black, mixed-race woman who fronted the '70s punk band X-Ray Spex. Having someone of her background as a lead singer of a punk band was a rarity at the time, to say the least. Her energy and passion for political issues like consumerism, environment, and identity were super influential to other musicians, especially women. In fact, without Poly, the infamous feminist AF Riot Grrl scene of the '90s would have never happened!
MalalaYou probably know about Malala and how she was shot and nearly killed by a Taliban militant, just because she was an activist for women and girls education in Pakistan. Well, she's older now, and you should know what her current passion is: The refugee crisis. She recently made waves after calling out Donald Trump's "Muslim Ban." Honestly, at 18, she's a lot more wise about the dangers of extremism and Islamophobia than any effing politician.
Angela DavisIf we're going to be honest, Angela Davis, by most, is known as an activist who had a really dope afro. But if you dig deeper, she was and still is a lot more than a badass image. She's an activist who has spent over 50 years fighting for justice for marginalized people, particularly in the realm of black liberation, women's rights, and prison policy. Check out her books Women, Race and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete?
Laverne CoxYou might know Laverne Cox from the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black. What you probably don’t know is that this transgender actress is also an activist who dedicates her time to advancing LGBTQ causes, especially when it comes to the trans community. Most recently, she has been a strong advocate for Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen boy who sued the state of Virginia for discrimination after his school wouldn’t allow him from using the boy’s bathroom.
Alice RooseveltFun fact: The daughter of Teddy Roosevelt was a savage in the best way possible. Here's some proof: she wore pants when it was discouraged for girls to do so, she drove cars so fast through DC that she could have been a character in Fast and Furious, and she thought that conservative Christianity was--for lack of a better phrase--"the worst" and considered herself a pagan. Yes, all of this in the early 1900s. Can you imagine?
Marsha P JohnsonThe Stonewall riots were an essential moment in the history of the fight for LGBTQ rights. Unfortunately, most don't know that the person who threw the first brick was Marsha P Johnson, a black transgender activist who would spend the rest of her short life fighting for liberation. She was also an icon in the New York City drag scene and was a mother figure to impoverished youth; it's worth noting that over 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
Flossie Wong StaalWe don't learn enough about female scientists, especially not contemporary ones, especially not ones who are Asian either. But meet Flossie Wong-Staal, an Asian scientist who, in 1983, led the team that discovered that HIV is the precursor to the AIDS virus. It's safe to say that her research has helped save millions of lives.
Audre Lorde"Your silence will not protect you" is probably my favorite quote from this brilliant woman, and it feels more relevant now than ever. Please, if you want some new reading material to look into, check out the works of Audre Lorde. She was a black queer feminist writer and activist whose words are beautiful and poetic and whose politics are biting. Start with Sister Outsider and get woke.
Gloria SteinemYes, the second wave feminism of the '60s is considered by many of us to be outddated, but I think it's fair to give props where pros are deserved. Gloria Steinem was a huge feminist figure back in the day and helped lead the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment in the '70s, founded Ms Magazine (a feminist publication), and became enemy number one to sexist conservatives around the world...which is badass enough for me.
What other women do you think don’t get the love and appreciation they deserve? Tell us in the comments!