More Than the Entrails and the Breast & Warriors Worth a Thousand

Name: Paulina Luisi

Born: 1875    Died: 1950

What they did: Leader of the feminist movement in the country of Uruguay and first Uruguayan woman to earn a medical degree.


  • Paulina Luisi was born in Argentina in 1875. Her mother, Maria Teresa Josefina Janicki was of Polish descent and her father, Angel Luisi was believed to have come from an Italian ancestry.
  • The eldest of eight children seven of them girls.
  • Paulina received a bachelor’s degree in 1899 and later was the first female physician and surgeon that graduated from the Medicine School of the Universidad de la República (University of Uruguay, 1908).
  • “As the first female medical student, Paulina faced a lot of harassment from her classmates. One day, Luisi found a severed human penis in the pocket of her lab coat. Luisi reportedly waited until class was over, when she held up the offending member and asked her all-male classmates, Did one of you lose this?’
  • She was not only a physician but also a teacher and the primary editor of the magazine Acción Femenina
  • While Paulina was still a student, Argentine liberal feminist Petrona Eyle wrote to her, in her capacity as president of the Universitarias Argentinas recruiting her to join the organization. In a letter dated 1 May 1907, Eyle encouraged Paulina and her female colleagues in the university to form a Uruguayan branch of the Universitarias, this happened in 1907.
  • She participated in the Women’s Congress held in Buenos Aires in 1910.
  • Organized by the Universitarias, the conference brought together more than 200 women, representing Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay, and Chile.
  • In 1916, Paulina founded and led the Uruguayan branch of the National Women’s Council. In late 1932 Uruguay became only the second Latin American country to grant women full voting rights. At that point, Paulina was in Europe serving as a diplomatic representative, but she resigned to return to Uruguay to fight totalitarianism at home and abroad.
  • In 1917, Paulina published a definition of feminism in the magazine Acción Femenina stating: “…demonstrating that woman is something more than material created to serve and obey man like a slave, that she is more than a machine to produce children and care for the home; that women have feelings and intellect; that it is their mission to perpetuate the species and this must be done with more than the entrails and the breasts; it must be done with a mind and a heart prepared to be a mother and an educator; that she must be the man’s partner and counselor not his slave.”
  • She worked as a teacher at the Teacher’s Training College for Women and as an advocate reaching out for social hygiene related to the teaching profession.
  • Her lectures and arguments were specifically designed to introduce prophylaxis as a subject within the teachers’ training syllabus.
  • A controversial aspect of Paulina’s moral reform platform was obligatory sex-health education programs in the public school system.
    • She suggested having these programs first introduced in the primary schools and then continuing on to the secondary level. She defined sex education as the pedagogic tool to teach the individual to subject sexual drives to the will of an instructed, conscientious, and responsible intellect.
    • Classes in sex education would emphasize the need for will power and self-discipline, regular moderate physical exercise to burn up sexual energy, and the desirability of avoiding sexually stimulating entertainments.
  • In 1944, her suggestions about sex-health education were finally incorporated into the Uruguayan public school system.
  • Paulina is also known for writing papers addressed to students, as well as, to the general public which were included in magazines, brochures, and even in Congresses’ acts.
  • Paulina became the founder and primary editor of the magazine “Acción Femenina” (Feminine Action), which was primarily focused on topics revolving around women.
  • She dealt with Women’s rights in two ways , first by developing new domains of activity for women, and later by organizing the first feminist associations in the country.
    • She founded the Consejo Nacional de Mujeres (National Women Council)
    • the Alianza de Mujeres para los Derechos Femeninos (Women alliance for women’s rights)
    • Uruguayan and Argentine branches of the International Abolitionist Federation.
    • The two first feminine trade unions that ever existed in Uruguay – “Unión de Telefonistas” (Telephone Operators Union) and the “Costureras de sastrerías” (Seamstresses from Tailor’s shops) were created by Paulina as well.
  • As the secretary of the Abolitionist Committee of the River Plate, she made a significant contribution to reform the dispositions regulating prostitution in Buenos Aires.
  • She organized and also chaired the University Women Association.
  • At 65 years of age Paulina died in Montevideo.

The Onna-Bugeisha

Emily did a wonderful job talking about three different women who were Onna-Bugeisha. Onna-Bugeisha, or woman warriors, were just as, if not more fierce than the
samurai they fought alongside (or against.)

  • Mentions of onna-bugeisha can be traced all the way back to 200 AD.
  • Women learned to use weapons such as naginata, kaiken (dagger), and fight using the art of tantojutsu (traditional Japanese knife fighting.)
  • This was important so women could help protect their communities, especially if there was a lack of male warriors.
  • Onna-bugeisha were part of a noble class of feudal Japanese warriors who, in some cases, even served as stewards of newly conquered lands.

Name: Empress Jingu

Born: 169    Died: 269


  • Legend says that following the death of her husband, Emperor Chuai, the pregnant Empress Jingu took the throne, dressed as a man, and led a successful invasion of modern day Korea where she ruled for 70 years, until she was 100 years
  • Though Jingu’s legendary invasion of Korea can’t be verified, she was honored as the first woman featured on a Japanese banknote.

Name: Tomoe Gozen

Born: 1157   Died: 1247


  • Tomoe Gozen was immortalized in The Tale of the Heike, an epic that
    commemorated the stories of samurai during the Genpei War.
  • In the epic, Tomoe is the wife of General Minamoto no Yoshinaka, who fought during the Battle of Awazu on FEBRUARY 21, 1184.
  • Tomoe is described a “a remarkably strong archer, and as aswordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on
    foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.”
  • During the battle, Tomoe took the head of at least one enemy and killed a famous samurai.
  • Unfortunately, their army was overpowered and Yoshinaka told Tomoe to flee because he would have been ashamed to die with a woman.
  • Here is a 3 minute YouTube clip from a show called Ancient Assassins that depicts her defeating a samurai during the battle.
  • Another interesting thing about Tomoe is that she was known as an onna-musha, as she engaged in offensive battle, rather than the traditional defensive fighting which was common for onna-bugeisha.
  • Though it’s not confirmed whether Tomoe was a real person or a legend, accounts of her ferocity inbattle significantly impacted the warrior class and she has been remembered through art, plays, and even into modern pop culture.
    • We give it the Wining About Herstory truth stamp.
    • Anyone who is a fan of the Persona 4 video game will recognize Tomoe as the inspiration for one of the character’s Persona’s.

Name: Nakano Takeko

Born: April 1847   Died: October 16, 1868


  • Nakano Takeko was born in Edo.
  • Nakano was trained in martial arts and literature from an early age.
  • Her father, Nakano Heinai, was an Aizu government official.
    • At this time, Aizu was a feudal domain and
      known for its military skill.
    • At any given time, Aizu had a standing army of over 5,000 which wereroutinely deployed for security operations.
  • Nakano trained as a martial artist with her father until 1868 when she finally entered Aizu for the first time.
  • The ruler of Aizu, Matsudaira Katamori swung his military might around a bit too far and pissed off the Imperial Court who categorized Katamori (the ruler) and Aizu as “enemies of the Court.”
  • Katamori joined to fight against the Imperial Court in 1868.
  • Though Aizu originally fought as part of a greater effort against the Imperial Court, they were eventually abandoned and continued the fight alone.
  • Battle of Aizu
    •  In October of 1868, the seat of Aizu’s power, Tsuruga Castle was attacked by 30,000 Imperial troops, beginning a month-long siege which would become known as the Battle of Aizu.
    • Aizu had about 3,000 warriors to defend themselves with.
    • Nakano fought, wielding a naginata.
    • She also led a rag-tag corps of 20-30 female combatants, later called the Joshigun or Women’s Army, who fought independently during the battle.
      • They did not fight as part of the larger army because the senior military leaders would not allow them to be an official part of the army.
    • During the battle, it is said that Nakano had killed 172 samurai.
    • While leading a charge against the enemy army, Nakano was fatally shot. Nakano asked her sister to cut it off her head and bury it in the Hokai Temple
      under a pine tree. (So it couldn’t be taken for a Trophy)

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