10 (Lesser Known) Women Who Changed History
Women are powerful by nature.
They have to bring children into the world, they are often holding their families together, and most of the time they are the ones who are managing the finance and value structure of the family. Since the beginning of civilization, there have been many matriarchal societies going back upwards to 6,000 years ago like the Sitones in what is now modern Sweden, the Queendom of Kush in what is now Ethiopia and Sudan, and the Mosuo who have lasted to this day near the Tibetan and Chinese boarder.
Studies of ancient bones have found that the women of the agricultural revolution had upper body strength comparative to modern athletes. This leads historians to believe that while men hunted, women did heavy physical activity such as farming, building, and running the leadership of the villages.
This balance shifted around 2,000 BC when the idea of ownership led the hunting men to claim women and land as their own in an effort to create a line of decedents and to leave them with belongings. This, as well as the introduction of religion, pushed a narrative that urged the importance of a woman’s virginity and modesty.
Women became valued as an object to be owned. Ultimately, it led to the rise of patriarchal societies.
What history has witnessed since then is the movement of women striving to take their power back. From Cleopatra, to the Suffragettes in the 1920’s, to Maya Angelou women have progressed over centuries to claim their equality to men. The most recent events gracing our Facebook timelines and newspaper headlines are the results of thousands of years of progress.
Within the last year, thanks to the courageous women who came forward to start the “me too” movement, we’ve seen a domino effect towards the achievement of true women’s rights in Hollywood as well as in the workplace. Accentuated by Oprah’s moving, “Time’s Up.” speech at the Golden Globes a few months back, the movement is only gaining momentum with no signs of slowing down.
Though many of our modern celebrities are using their influence to progress the Women’s Right’s movement, today being International Women’s Day, I wanted to take the time to celebrate women throughout history who may be less known for their steps towards equality.
1. Sappho (620 BC) Sappho made a name for herself as one of the greatest Greek poets in history. She emphasized emotion and subjective experience in her work which influenced the evolution of poetry.
2. Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) Christine de Pizan challenged stereotypes of women within her early society by becoming an author and writing the Book of the City of the Ladies.
3. Margaret Brent (1601-1671) She is thought to be North America's first true feminist. She was one of the largest land owners and used her influence to advance the rights of women under the laws.
4. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) Best known for her book, the Vindication of the Rights of Women where she argued for the equality of the sexes, Mary pushed for furthering women’s education.
5. Victoria Woodhull (1838 – 1927) In 1872, Victoria became the first female presidential candidate in the United States.
6. Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) Despite being one of the more famous contributors to women’s rights on this list, I cannot bypass her efforts. She was the first woman to vote to test whether the 14th Amendment would be interpreted broadly to guarantee women the right to vote.
7. Margaret Abbott (1878 – 1955) The Olympics of 1900 were the first to allow women participants. Margaret then became the first American woman to win a gold medal by taking first place in golf.
8. Anaïs Nin (1903 – 1977) Anaïs Nin was one of the first women to explore the realm of erotic writing. She wrote both fiction and non-fiction erotica, causing controversy and discussions about women’s sexuality.
9. Hattie Wyatt Caraway (1878 – 1950) Hattie was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
10. Jerrie Cobb (1931 – Present) In 1953, Jerrie become the first U.S. woman to undergo astronaut testing. Though NASA, canceled their women’s program in 1963, she still reigns as a pioneer in her field.
Women are a force of nature, they are powerful, expressive, and intuitive. Their contribution to life and society is undeniable. It is time for women to use their natural power and wisdom to create the future culture. The culture of unity, equality, and mutual collaboration among people and nations.