Women who count: Post them here for spring 2009


In Introduction to Women’s Studies, we talk about women who have made a difference in the United States and around the world.

These are women who have influenced the world of work, culture, government, law, or social policy. These are also women who have worked to prevent violence against women or have taken on an activist role in some other way.

In all cases, these women are “Women Who Count.” Post your well-written facts and comments about the women on our list here.

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21 Responses

  1. Madonna has the reputation of a pop princess gone bad, but as a feminist she over stepped boundaries and showed people she did not care what they thought about her. She has always backed her music, even when the media scrutinized her work and all of her beliefs, such as her religious view of Kabballah.

    Some look up to her for choosing to be a newly single mother, after being married for so long. Feminism is about having the freedom to make these choices and Madonna does not care about the judgment she gets for her decisions.

    Madonna was born in 1958 and raised with knowledge of the effects of feminism and the factors it had on woman. She has strived over years to challenge people’s ideas and become an influential role model to not be confined in any norm. From her notorious concerts to her erotic dancing, Madonna has helped push boundaries for women and take a bow for the freedom to do what she wants.

  2. Amy Tan was born in 1952 in Oakland, California. Both of her parents were Chinese immigrants. Her life as a child was very hard, and when her father and brother died of brain tumors, her mother moved Amy and her other brother to Switzerland. Amy finished high school here and by this time in Amy’s life, she and her mother were always fighting.

    Amy went to college at a Baptists college her mother picked out for her, although they had not been speaking for 6 months. Her mother wanted her to pursue a degree in pre-med but Amy wanted otherwise. She eventually transferred to San Jose City College which was the same college her boyfriend was going to. She changed her major to English and linguistics. This made her mother even more upset with her. She received her bachelors and masters in these areas. In 1974, Amy and her boyfriend Louis DeMattei were married and later moved to San Francisco. Tan studied for a doctorate in linguistics first at the University of Santa Cruz, but later at Berkeley. She gained a passion for those with mental disabilities and left the doctoral program in 1976, and took on a job as a language developmental consultant to Alameda County Association for Retarded Citizens. She eventually started a business writing firm with a partner, but a dispute found Amy as a full-time freelancer writer.

    She was also a pianist, and this became a more personal expression for her. Since she has started writing she has many major accomplishments such as The Joy Luck Club, Kitchen God’s Wife, Bonesetter’s Daughter, Opposite of Fate, and Saving Fish from Drowning. All of these books have been nominated for many awards, and most have won awards. She also won an Emmy award for Sagwa animated series for PBS. The Film: Joy Luck Club also won many awards as well.

    It is quite obvious that Amy Tan went for what she wanted despite what anyone told her. Her own mother gave her no support but that didn’t stop her from accomplishing what she wanted.

    Sources: http://www.amytan.net/ATBiography.aspx
    http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/tan0bio-1

  3. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was social activist and leading figure of the women’s rights movement in the United States. She devoted herself to the cause of women rights. Elizabeth put in a strong effort to organize women to win greater equality. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was also the president of the woman Suffrage Association. Stanton also organized America’s first women’s rights convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the most gifted leaders in American history.

  4. Bessie Coleman was also known as “Queen Bess”. Bessie was an American civil aviator and was the first African American to become an airplane pilot, male or female. Not only was that great accomplishment but Bessie Coleman was the first American, of any race or gender, to hold an International Pilot License.

    Bessie had a dream of establishing a school for young, black aviators, but unfortunately did not live long enough to fulfill this dream.

    Lieutenant William J. Powell (From the movie Black Wings in 1934) said that, “Because of Bessie Coleman, we have overcome that which was worse than racial barriers, we have overcome the barriers within ourselves, and dared to dream.”

  5. Margaret Sanger was an American Birth Control Activist. She was an advocate of negative eugenics, and the founder of the American Birth Control League, now known as Planned Parenthood. She was able to see firsthand as a nurse how women were dying (literally) to learn how to prevent pregnancies by self-induced abortions.

    Sanger was a big part of The Women Rebel, an 8 month newspaper that promoted contraception. The slogan was, “No Goads and No Masters.” and coined the term, “Birth Control”. Each woman was “the absolute mistress of her own body.

    “When the history of our civilization is written, it will be a biological history, and Margaret Sanger will be it’s heroine”

  6. In 1970, Angela DiFranco was born and later became a folk rock artist. She was known for her abilities to sing, play the guitar, and write lyrics. Aside from the recognition for creating over twenty albums, she is known for being a feminist icon world wide. The “Woman of Courage Award” was given to Ani and the National Organization for Women Conference, but it’s not typically given to musicians. To recieve this award, one must set herself apart by her contributions to the feminist movement. She worked hard supporting women’s causes; such as abortion rights and gay visibility (sexual orientation: bisexual). She has also written songs about love and political issues such as unemployment, racism, capital punishment, reproductive rights, and the “war on drugs” through Righteous Babe Reconds Company. “I’d rather be able to face myself in the bathroom mirror that be rich and famous.”–Ani DiFranco.

  7. Gloria Steinem is an American feminist icon, social and political activist as well as a journalist. Gloria Rose to prominence in the 1970’s when she became one of the leading political leaders of the decade. She is one of the most important figures of the women’s rights movement in the 60’s and 70’s. In relation, she is the founder and original publisher of Ms. Magazine. She is also an activist, writer, organizer and lecturer. She helped in founding the Women’s Action Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and Choice USA. She is also recognized for the first Doctorate of Human Justice, the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and the National Gay Rights Advocates Award are just a few of many. Parenting magazine selected her for its Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in promoting girls’ self-esteem in 1995, and was listed as one of the 25 most influential women in America by Biography Magazine.

  8. Lisa Jervis is the co-founder and publisher of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture magazine and has written articles that have appeared in Ms. Magazine, as well as many other magazines and journals. She was born in Boston and raised in New York City. In Jervis’s spare time, she squeezes fruit at farmers markets, bikes around Oakland, and resists adopting more cats. She speaks and writes about feminism, media criticism, and the independent press. Bitch is a national nonprofit quarterly magazine that offers feminist commentary on our mediated world (http://fora.tv/speaker/554/Lisa_Jervis). Articles from the magazine offer a third wave feminist perspective on political events and social and cultural trends. The first issue was published in January 1996, in San Francisco California. She is currently working on a cookbook called Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Local, Healthy Eating. A few of her favorite things are Buffy, knitting, tattoos, contemporary mystery novels, hammocks, vodka smoothies, and sweet potatoes.

  9. Kathleen Hanna
    Kathleen was born in Portland, Oregon. She was first interested in feminism around age 9 when her mother took her to a feminist rally in Washington, DC. where Gloria Steinem spoke and became a major influence in her life. She today is an outspoken feminist and has left an impression on the world. She is an American musician, activist, and writer who is best known for starting the Riot Grrrl zine, which became an incredible call to ation for increased feminist activity and female involvement in the punk rock scene. Along with being an arist, one major accomplishment was being a candidate for Ladies Lotto. Ladies Lotto is an international women’s lifestyle network that cultivates and empowers women with their support, inspiration, and tools for professional and personal success.

  10. Audre Lorde was born in 1934 in New York City. She learned to read and write when she was four and wrote her first of many poems by the 8th grade. She went through high school and college supporting herself by working numerous jobs. She was studying library science and spent her time at many different schools. Particularly at National University of Mexico was it that Lorde found her true self and became involved in gay culture. She was married to a man, had children but divorced 2 years later, when she found long term relationship with a female partner.

    Lorde continued to write her poems and her main message was to challenge white women, bringing up issues of racism their feminist thoughts. She maintained that a great deal of the scholarship of white feminists served to augment the oppression of black women and this was a conviction that obviously led to angry confrontation.

    While arguing her point Lorde suffered 14 years from breast cancer before losing the battle.

  11. Joan Wile founded Grandmothers Against the War in 2003. She gathered her own grandmas and other fellow ‘grannies’ and they began to try to put an end to the war. Joan and some of the grandmas were arrested in New York City’s Time Square for enlisting at a reqruitment office. They were arrested and jailed.

    Not only did they try to enlist, this group of women walked from New York to Washington over a 10-day period, they took a trip to Berlin to speak and sing to peace groups, and perform some of Joan’s original song material, their Granny Chorus line dance, a comedy monologue as Barbara Bush, and dramatic monologues by famed actress granny, Vinie Burrows. They were very active and willing to get their message across.

    Having lived the life of war before, these women are just looking for and trying to provide the best future for their kids and grand kids.

  12. Eve Ensler devoted her life to stopping violence against women and girls and promoting an atmosphere which would allow women to advance and thrive. She is best known as the author of “The Vagina Monologues” and creator of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, which was inspired by her authorship and performance in “The Vagina Monologues”. “The Vagina Monologues” is based on Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women. The vagina monologues combines humor and graceful tact and celebrates the strength and sexuality of all women. She also authored the play, The Good Boy”, which has been performed on Broadwayand at ACT in San Francisco. She has written an extensive list of feminist plays including, “Necessary Targets”, “Conviction”, “Lemonade”, “The Depot”, Flloating Rhoda And The Gllue Man”, and “Extraordinary Measures”. “Necessary Targets”, “Insecure at Last” , “Memory, a Monologue”, “A Rand and a Prayer” and, “Vagina Warriors”. Ensler graduated from Middlebury College in 1975. She married Richard McDermott in 1978, and divorced ten years later. “The Vagina Monologues” was written in 1996 and first performed in the basement of the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village. “The Vagina Monologues” has been translated into 45 different languages and performed in over 119 countries.

  13. Susan Faludi is the author or two popular novels and a Pulitzer Prize winner. Her first novel, “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women,” was published in 1991 and fought against what she called a “backlash against working women” in the 1980’s. Her second novel, “Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man,” was published in 1999 and discusses the truth that, though men are stereotypically thought of to have power, many men in America are unable to live up to this belief, leaving them “divorced and disillusioned.” Falludi won her Pulizter Prize in 1991 for Explanatory Journalism for a report on the leveraged buy-out of Safeway Stores, Inc.

  14. Phyllis Chesler is an author, a psychotherapist, and a professor of both Psychology and Women’s Studies. In college, Chesler met and married an Afghan man and moved with him to his father’s house in Afghanistan. There, Chesler lived under the patriarchal, polygamous roof of her father-in-law. She was forced to surrender her passport and, for months, was a virtual prisoner to her husband. After contracting hepatitis, Chesler’s father-in-law granted her a temporary visa that allowed her to return to America. There, she graduated from college and went on to receive her PhD in psychology. She attributes feminism to her stay in Afghanistan.

    Chesler went on to co-found the Association for Women in Psychology. At Richmond College, she taught one of the first Women’s Studies classes and created such programs for female students as a rape crisis center, self-defense classes, and a child care center. She has also co-founded The National Women’s Health Network, and is editor at large for the magazine “On the Issues.”

  15. Barbara Seaman was born on September 11th, 1935 and passed away on February 27th, 2008 due to lung cancer. She was an American author, activist, journalist, and a principal founder of the women’s health feminism movement. Seaman brought a new kind of health reporting to the field. She wrote articles that centered more on the patient and less on medical issues. She wrote The Doctors’ Case Against the Pill which focused on the safety of hormonal medications. Basically, this book led
    to congressional hearings on oral contraception and ultimately to the first safety warning on the drug. Seaman was very judgmental and was known as being “a muckracker”. It was the loss of her aunt who had been taking estrogen for many years and conflict with doctors when her first child became sick that led to her obsession with informed consent.

  16. Born Jan 11, 1885 to Quaker parents, Alice Paul is known for her standing ups for womens rights. She made a huge parade to stand up for womens rights on president Wilson’s inauguration day. She picketed in front of the White House when Wilson was in there also, everyday rain or shine and kept going through WWI. Finally later, they were sent to jail and went through hunger strikes to prove a point. They went though things that I don’t know how they did; force feeding, beatings, and thrown into rat infested cells.
    In 1919 both the House and Senate ratified the 19th amendment. The last needed vote was the 24 year old Henery Burn, son of Lucy Burns, who originally voted no, but received a message and changed his vote, passing the 19th amendment on Aug 18, 1920.

  17. Mary Wollstonecraft was born April 17, 1759. She was an 18th century British writer, philosopher, and feminist. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the french Revolution, a conduct book, and a children book. She was best known for “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. She died on September 10, 1797 and her daughter wrote a Memoir of her.

  18. Jessica Valenti
    Jessica Valenti has her master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University. She is the founder and executive editor of the feminist blog feministing.com. Jessica also worked with NOW legal defense fund. She is mentioned as part of the third wave feminist. She wrote Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to why Feminism Matters and He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut …And 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.

  19. Patricia Hill Collins
    Patricia Hill Collins was born May 1st, 1948 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Her first book was written in 1990 and was called Black feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. Collins was also a professor at the University of Cincinnati.

  20. Anita Hill
    Anita Hill was born July 30th, 1956 in Lone Tree Oklahoma. She taught women’s studies at Brandeis University. She is also a former colleague of the United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She testified under oath at the 1991 Thomas’ confirmation hearings that her supervisor Thomas had made provocative and harassing sexual statements.

  21. Emma Goldman
    Emma Goldman was born June 27th, 1869 in Kovno in the Russian Empire. She migrated to the US in 1885. She was arrested several times for “inciting to riot” and illegally distributing information on birth control. She wrote the book called My Disillusionment in Russia and an autobiography called Living My Life.

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