A Rebel by Nature & A Bilingual Lit Queen/Nazi Resistance Fighter

Sorry that this is a week late! I thought I had set it to auto post. I am the worst! ~Kelley

Name: Ana Mendieta

Birth: November 18, 1948  Death: September 8, 1985

What she did: Cuban American performance artist, sculptor, painter and video artist who is best known for her “earth-body” artwork.

  • Ana Maria Mendieta was born into a middle-class family in Havana on Nov. 18, 1948.
  • Her father, Ignacio, was a prominent political figure who ran afoul of Fidel Castro’s government; her mother, Raquel, was a chemistry teacher.
  • At age 12, Ana and her 14-year-old sister Raquelin were sent to the United States by their parents to live in Dubuque, Iowa through Operation Peter Pan, a collaborative program run by the US government and the Catholic Charities.
  • Ana and her sister were among 14,000 children who immigrated to America on their own in 1961.
  • Ana’s first two years in the United States consisted of constantly moving from place to place. The sisters were able to stay together during this time due to a power of attorney signed by their parents mandating that they not be separated.
  • When she and her sister were sent to Iowa, they were enrolled in a reform school because the court wanted to avoid sending them to a state institution.
  • When Ana studied English in school, her vocabulary was very limited. In junior high school, she discovered a love for art.
  • In 1966, Ana was reunited with her mother and younger brother; her father joined them in 1979, having spent 18 years in a political prison in Cuba for his involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
  • Ana was first a French major and art minor, but when she transferred to the University of Iowa, she was inspired by the avant-garde community and the hills of Iowa’s landscape.
  • She earned a BA and MA in painting and an MFA in Intermedia under the instruction of acclaimed artist Hans Breder.
  • In college, Mendieta’s work focused on blood and violence toward women. Her interest in spiritual and religious things and primitive rituals developed during this time.
  • She has said that she faced a great deal of discrimination in art school. After graduate school, Ana moved to New York.

Work

  • Through the course of her career, Ana created work in Cuba, Mexico, Italy, and the United States.
  • Her work was somewhat autobiographical, drawing from her history of being displaced from her natal Cuba, and focused on themes including feminism, violence, life, death, identity, place and belonging.
  • Her works are generally associated with the four basic elements of nature. Ana often focused on a spiritual and physical connection with the Earth. Ana felt that by uniting her body with the earth she could became whole again: “Through my earth/body sculptures, I become one with the earth … I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body. This obsessive act of reasserting my ties with the earth is really the reactivation of primeval beliefs … [in] an omnipresent female force, the after image of being encompassing within the womb, is a manifestation of my thirst for being.”
  • During her lifetime, Mendieta produced over 200 works of art using earth as a sculptural medium.
  • Ana Mendieta’s art was sometimes violent, often unapologetically feminist and usually raw.
  • She incorporated unusual natural materials like blood, dirt, water and fire, and displayed her work through photography, film and live performances.
  • “Nothing that she did ever surprised me,” Mendieta’s sister, Raquelín, told The New York Times in 2016. “She was always very dramatic, even as a child — and liked to push the envelope, to give people a start, to shock them a little bit. It was who she was, and she enjoyed it very much. And she laughed about it sometimes when people got freaked out.”
  • As an immigrant, Mendieta felt a disconnect in the United States. The trauma of being uprooted from her Cuban homeland as a girl would leave her with questions about her identity and make her more conscious of being a woman of color.
  • These questions would echo in her work, which explored themes that pushed ethnic, sexual, moral, religious and political boundaries. She urged viewers to disregard their gender, race or other defining societal factors and instead connect with the humanity they share with others.
  • In 1978, Ana joined the Artists In Residence Inc (A.I.R. Gallery) in New York, which was the first gallery for women to be established in the United States.
  • During that time, Ana was also actively involved in the administration and maintenance of the A.I.R. In an unpublished statement, Ana noted that “It is crucial for me to be a part of all my art works. As a result of my participation, my vision becomes a reality and part of my experiences.”
  • At the same time, after two years of her involvement at A.I.R. she concluded that “American Feminism as it stands is basically a white middle class movement,” and sought to challenge the limits of this perspective through her art. She met her future husband Carl Andre at the gallery when he served on a panel titled, “How has women’s art practices affected male artist social attitudes?”
  • Her resignation in 1982 is attributed, in part, to a dispute instigated by Andre over a collaborative art piece the couple had submitted. In a 2001 journal article, Kat Griefen, director of A.I.R from 2006–2011,[14] wrote, The letter of resignation did not site any reasons for her departure, but a number of fellow A.I.R. artists remember the related events. For a recent benefit Ana and Carl Andre had donated a collaborative piece. As was the policy, all works needed to be delivered by the artist. Edelson recalls that Andre took offense, instigating a disagreement, which, in part, led to Mendieta’s resignation. Even without this incident, according to another member, Pat Lasch, Ana’s association with the now legendary Andre surely played some role in her decision.
  • In 1983, Mendieta was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. While in residence in Rome, Mendieta began creating art “objects,” including drawings and sculptures. She continued to use natural elements in her work.
  • Silueta Series (1973–1980)
    • The Silueta Series (1973–1980) involved Ana creating female silhouettes in nature—in mud, sand, and grass—with natural materials ranging from leaves and twigs to blood, and making body prints or painting her outline or silhouette onto a wall.
    • When she began her Silueta Series in the 1970s, Ana was one of many artists experimenting with the emerging genres of land art, body art, and performance art. The films and photographs of Siluetas are in connection with the figures surrounding her body.
    • Ana was possibly the first to combine these genres in what she called “earth-body” sculptures. She often used her naked body to explore and connect with the Earth.
    • Ana’s first use of blood to make art dates from 1972, when she performed Untitled (Death of a Chicken), for which she stood naked in front of a white wall holding a freshly decapitated chicken by its feet as its blood spattered her naked body.
    • In a slide series, People Looking at Blood Moffitt (1973), she pours blood and rags on a sidewalk and photographs a seemingly endless stream of people walking by without stopping, until the man next door comes out to clean it up.
    • Mendieta also created the female silhouette using nature as both her canvas and her medium. She used her body to create silhouettes in the grass; she created silhouettes in sand and dirt; she created silhouettes of fire and filmed them burning. Untitled (Ochún) (1981), named for the Santería goddess of waters, once pointed southward from the shore at Key Biscayne, Florida. Ñañigo Burial (1976), with a title taken from the popular name for an Afro-Cuban religious brotherhood, is a floor installation of black candles dripping wax in the outline of the artist’s body.
    • Through these works, which cross the boundaries of performance, film, and photography, Mendieta explored her relationship with a place as well as a larger relationship with mother Earth or the “Great Goddess” figure.
    • Many have interpreted Mendieta’s recurring use of this mother figure, and her own female silhouette, as feminist art. However, because Mendieta’s work explores many ideas including life, death, identity, and place all at once, it cannot be categorized as part of one idea or movement.
    • Claire Raymond argues that the Silueta Series, as a photographic archive, should be read for its photographicity rather than merely as documentation of earthworks.
  • Photo etchings of the Rupestrian Sculptures (1981)
    • As documented in the book Ana Mendieta: A Book of Works, edited by Bonnie Clearwater, before her death, Mendieta was working on a series of photo-etchings of cave sculptures she had created at Escaleras de Jaruco, Jaruco State Park in Havana, Cuba.
    • Her sculptures were entitled Rupestrian Sculptures (1981)—the title refers to living among rocks—and the book of photographic etchings that Ana was created to preserve these sculptures is a testament to the intertextuality of Ana’s work.
    • Clearwater explains how the photographs of Ana’s sculptures were often as important as the piece they were documenting because the nature of Ana’s work was so impermanent. Ana spent as much time and thought on the creation of the photographs as she did on the sculptures themselves.
    • Ana returned to Havana, the place of her birth, for this project, but she was still exploring her sense of displacement and loss, according to Clearwater.
    • The Rupestrian Sculptures that Ana created were also influenced by the Taíno people, “native inhabitants of the pre-Hispanic Antilles,” which Mendieta became fascinated by and studied.
    • Ana had completed five photo-etchings of the Rupestrian Sculptures before she died in 1985. The book Ana Mendieta: A Book of Works, published in 1993, contains both photographs of the sculptures as well as Mendieta’s notes on the project.
  • Body Tracks (1982)
    • Body Tracks (Rastros Corporales) are long, blurry marks that Mendieta’s hands and forearms made as they slid down a large piece of white paper during a performance heightened with pulsing Cuban music.
  • In 1979 Ana presented a solo exhibition of her photographs at A.I.R. Gallery in New York.She also curated and wrote the introductory catalog essay for an exhibition at A.I.R. in 1981 entitled Dialectics of Isolation: An Exhibition of Third World Women Artists of the United States, which featured the work of artists such as Judy Baca, Senga Nengudi, Howardena Pindell, and Zarina.
  • Ana Mendieta died on September 8, 1985, in New York after falling from her 34th-floor apartment in Greenwich Village’s 300 Mercer Street, where she lived with her husband of eight months, minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, who may have pushed her out the window.
  • She fell 33 stories onto the roof of a deli.
  • Just prior to her death, neighbors heard the couple arguing violently. There were no eyewitnesses to the events that led up to Ana’s death.
  • A recording of Andre’s 911 call showed him saying: “My wife is an artist, and I’m an artist, and we had a quarrel about the fact that I was more, eh, exposed to the public than she was. And she went to the bedroom, and I went after her, and she went out the window.”
  • In 1988, Andre was tried and acquitted of her murder. During three years of legal proceedings,Andre’s lawyer described Ana’s death as a possible accident or suicide.
  • The judge found Andre not guilty on grounds of reasonable doubt.
  • The acquittal caused an uproar among feminists in the art world, and continues to remain controversial to this day.
    • In 2010, a symposium called Where Is Ana Mendieta was held at New York University to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her death.
    • In May 2014, the feminist protest group No Wave Performance Task Force staged a protest in front of the Dia Art Foundation’s retrospective on Carl Andre. The group deposited piles of animal blood and guts in front of the establishment, with protesters donning transparent tracksuits with “I Wish Ana Mendieta Was Still Alive” written on them.
    • In March 2015, the No Wave Performance Task Force and a group of feminist poets from New York City traveled to Beacon, New York to protest the Andre retrospective at Dia: Beacon, where they cried loudly in the main gallery, made “siluetas” in the snow on museum grounds, and stained the snow with paprika, sprinkles, and fake blood.
    • In April 2017, protesters at an Andre retrospective handed out cards at the Geffen Contemporary with the statement Carl Andre is at MOCA Geffen. ¿Dónde está Ana Mendieta?” (Where is Ana Mendieta?). This was followed by an open letter to MOCA Director Philippe Vergne protesting the exhibit from the group the Association of Hysteric Curators.

Legacy

  • In 2009, Ana was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cintas Foundation.
  • Ana Mendieta’s estate is currently managed by the Galerie Lelong in New York City. The estate is also represented by Alison Jacques Gallery, London.
  • In 2018, The New York Times published a belated obituary for her.
  • The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York hosted Ana’s first survey exhibition in 1987.
  • Since her death, Ana has been recognized with international solo museum retrospectives such as “Ana Mendieta”, Art Institute of Chicago (2011); and “Ana Mendieta in Context: Public and Private Work”, De La Cruz Collection, Miami (2012).[42]In 2004 the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., organized “Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance”, a major retrospective that travelled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, and Miami Art Museum, Florida (2004).
  • Ana’s work features in many major public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva; and Tate Collection, London.

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Name: Mildred Fish Harnack

Birth: September 16, 1902     Death: February 16, 1943)

What she did: Nazi Resistance Fighter

  • Mildred Harnack was born on September 16 th , 1902 in good old Milwaukee, WI as one of four children to German-American parents. She grew up in a large population of German immigrants and grew up learning how to read, write, and speak in both German and English.
  • In 1919 her family briefly moved to Washington, DC but Mildred returned to Wisconsin in 1921 to attend university. She studied English literature and was a skilled writer. Her stories and poems were published in the Wisconsin Literary Magazine and she eventually became an assistant editor for the magazine.
  • In 1925, Mildred earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and then her Masters in English in 1926. While working and studying at the university as a lecturer on German literature, she met German jurist Arvid Harnack and the two were wed.
  • Mildred eventually left her job at the Wisconsin Literary Magazine before moving to Baltimore, Maryland where she taught English at Goucher College.
  • In 1929, Mildred and Arvid moved to Germany where Mildred worked on earning her doctorate at the University of Giessen.
  • Then, in 1930, she moved to Berlin and studied at the University of Berlin where she also worked as a lecturer in English and American literature and as a translator. She also worked with the American Student Association, served as president of the American Women’s club, and was secretary of the Berlin chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • In 1932, Mildred was fired from her teaching position for being a foreigner and a woman. I’m assuming this was under the same act that removed Jews from government service.
  • Without a job, she and Arvid joined other academics on a tour of the United States and Soviet Union. Mildred had become interested in Communism and its potential as a solution to poverty.
  • Mildred and Arvid had a lot of connections in Germany and in 1937 they began inviting friends over to chat politics. While most people today can’t get through a single meal without bringing up politics, at the time this was incredibly dangerous as saying anything negative about the government could get you arrested.
  • Then, Germany and the Soviet Union officially went to war. Mildred and Arvid would not stand by.
  • That group of friends coming over for political discussions became the Red Orchestra, a Nazi resistance group helping the Soviet Union. They came up with the name because they named their secret radio transmitters after musical instruments.
  • From 1940 through 1941, the Red Orchestra supported the Soviets by transmitting messages to Soviet fighters that revealed information about the Nazi air force, planned attacks, the number of planes, how much fuel they had, and even where they were storing chemical weapons.
  • Mildred helped send information to the Soviets regarding Operation Barbossa which was the planned Nazi invasion of Russia so the Nazis could repopulate Russia with Germans and use the Russians as slaves. Mildred also worked to recruit others for the resistance, working as a contact between her husband, other members of the Red Orchestra, and Soviet agents.
  • In the midst of all of this, Mildred also managed to earn her doctorate!
  • Unfortunately, because Nazis ruin everything, they discovered who was behind the Red Orchestra. I read in one account that they captured a Soviet spy who revealed their identities and in another the Nazis decoded a message from them.
  • However it happened, Mildred, Arvid, and 116 other members of the Red Orchestra were arrested.
  • In December of 1942, after a four day trial, Mildred and Arvid were found guilty of espionage. Arvid was sentenced to death and hanged on Christmas Eve of the same year.
  • Initially, Mildred was sentenced to 4 or 6 (history) years in a prison camp. However, this was not good enough for Hitler, who refused to endorse her sentence. On his orders, she was retried and sentenced to death.
  • Mildred spend her last month in prison reading, and translating works of poetry.
  • On February 16 th , 1943, at 42 years old, Mildred was beheaded. Her last words were “I have loved Germany so much.”
  • This made Mildred the only American woman executed on Hitler’s orders.
  • After Mildred was executed, her body was turned over to Hermann Stieve, an anatomy professor at Humboldt University who then dissected her to study the effects of stress on the menstrual cycle.
  • This next part I’m quoting straight from Wikipedia because it’s so creepy:
    “After he was through, he gave WHAT WAS LEFT to a friend of hers.”
  • Mildred was buried in Berlin’s Zehlendorf Cemetery, making her the only member of the Red Orchestra whose burial site is known. However, the headstone in Zehlendorf Cemetery bears both her name and Arvid’s.

LEGACY

  • Mildred is celebrated in Wisconsin on her birthday, September 16th.
  • Though she’s not very well known, Mildred is remembered as a hero.
  • There is a book available on Amazon called Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra which looks pretty fucking amazing.

A Catholic Sexologist and 10 Years of Badass Babes

Ten Episodes! Whoo! Glad your still here. Today will be a little different and Emily tried to really stretch the 10 thing and I did what has occurred in the last 10 years for women. Enjoy! ~Kelley

Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Born: 1098     Died: 1179

What they did: Christian mystic, visionary, and first sexologist?

Facts:

  • In 1098, Hildegard was born as the 10th (and final) child to a noble family and therefore offered by her parents as tithe (or giving one tenth) to the church when she was 8 years old.
    • Giving your 10th child to the church was a common practice at the time. This may have also helped her parent’s politically.
  • As a child, Hildegard was sickly and experienced visions. This may have also contributed to their decision to give her to the church.
  • During her time in the church, she was taught for 10 years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta.
  • Together, Hildegard and Blessed Jutta created a close nit and growing community of women in a male dominated monastery.
  • Jutta also taught Hildegard to read and write and they would work together in the garden, recite psalms, and tend to the sick. Hildegard studied music.
  • After 10 years of instruction, at 18 years old, Hildegard became a Benedictine nun.
  • When Blessed Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was elected as magistra or head teacher by her fellow nuns.
  • She was also offered a position as a Prioress by the monastery’s Abbot. This would have meant she would serve under him. Instead, Hildegard, wanting more independence for herself and the other nuns, and asked that the Abbot allow them to move from the monastery to a temporary dwelling where they would live in poverty.
  • Hildegard came down with a serious illness which left her bedridden. She felt that the illness was God’s way of showing His disappointment in Hildegard not following the Abbot’s wishes.
  • The Abbot finally relented and granted the nuns their own monastery. Stubbornness and paralyzing illness for the win!
  • In 1150, Hildegard with 20 other nuns moved to the St. Rupertsberg monastery.
  • 15 years later, Hildegard founded a second monastery for nuns at Eibingen.
  • Back to her visions, she described these visions a “The Shade of the Living Light.”
  • She would experience her visions with all five senses and said she saw all things through the light of God. The only one she shared her visions with was Blessed Jutta who in turn had told Volmar (who was the priest living at her monastery now)
  • Though she experienced visions all her life, when she was 42, she experienced a vision that she felt was God telling her to write down what she saw and heard.
    • However, she was still hesitant to share her visions and became seriously ill and experienced horrific visions which caused her to suffer.
  • She confided in Volmar who alerted the archbishop. A committee was formed to authenticate her visions and a monk was appointed to help Hildegard record them.
  • The collection of writings, known as the Scivias (Sivvy-us) or “Know the Ways” held 26 visions that ranged from prophetic and apocalyptic and covered topics about the church, redemption, and the relationship between God and humanity.
  • The Scivias was split into 3 parts, reflecting the trinity and contained illustrations. She completed the 3 parts when she was in her 70s.
  • Now, beyond her holy visions, Hildegard had a great love of music and composed pieces, each with original poetic text. 70 still survive.
    • One of her better known works, the Ordo Virtutum or Play of the Virtues is a morality play comprised of 82 songs. While it addresses morality, it doesn’t celebrate the church making it the earliest known musical drama that is not attached to a liturgy.
  • Hildegard didn’t stop there. She also wrote about medicine and science. Her scientific and medicinal writings come from her experience working in the garden with Blessed Jutta and caring for the sick along with her own independent study of the monastery library texts.
  • She explored topics including psychology, physiology, and women’s sexuality, making her one of the first people to do so.
    • Though a lot of her assertions were ‘unscientific’ by today’s standards, for example, she wrote that a waxing moon is good for human conception because it was also good for sowing seeds.
    • Hildegard was hailed as an expert and counseled kings, emperors, and even the Pope which was mind-blowing at the time.
  • Hildegard was the first person to write a description of the female orgasm from the point of view of a woman. She also advocated that sex was a beautiful and passionate act.
  • SHE EVEN CREATED A MAP OF THE UNIVERSE BASED ON THE VAGINA.
  • None of this was meant to go against the church. She thought people’s passion and their sexuality was an exhibition of divinity and she worked to expand understanding of sex and its ties with religion. Because the two can have a healthy relationship.
  • Hildegard was a curious, open-minded, and compassionate person.
  • Shortly before her death, a man who had been excommunicated from the church had died and was buried at the St. Rupertsburg Monastary. The clergy wanted to remove his body from the sacred ground but Hildegard would hear none of it, saying it would be a sin to move the man’s body as he had been reconciled to the church at his time of death.
  • When Hildegard died on September 17th, 1179. Upon her death, the sisters claimed they saw two streams of light appear in the skies and cross over the room where she lay.
  • Though Hildegard was one of the first people to begin the canonization process to become a saint, it actually took many attempts as the process was so long.
    • For a long time, she was stuck in the beatification stage, where the church acknowledges someone has gotten into heaven and can intervene on behalf of those who pray to them.
    • In 2012, Hildegard was canonized on May 10th 2012 by Pope Benedict the XVI and she was named a Doctor of the Church.
    • This title signifies someone who has made significant theological contributions through research, study, or writing. This made her the 4th woman of 35 saints to receive this title.
    • Her feast day is September 17th.

Highlights from the last 10 years! (condensed from the podcast)

2009

  • Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, for The Hurt Locker (2008).
  • Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, and since she was American, the first American woman to do so; she shared the prize with Oliver E. Williamson.
  • Jeanne Shaheen became the first woman to hold the offices of U.S. Senator and state Governor, being elected as governor of New Hampshire from 1997 to 2003 and U.S. senator for New Hampshire since 2009.

2010

  • Jennifer Gorovitz was the first woman to lead a large Jewish federation in America (specifically, the Jewish Community Federation, based in San Francisco).

2011

  • Angella Reid was the first female White House Chief Usher.

2012

  • United Nations passes a resolution banning female genital mutilation. The terror—and, unfortunate reality—of young girls up to the age of 15 having their genitals mutilated came to a screeching halt in 2012 (at least on paper) when the United Nations called on citizens worldwide to stop the practice, which has been most common in countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, affecting as many as 200 million girls and women. Thanks to increased awareness of this physically and emotionally scarring practice, February 6 was named International Day of Zero Tolerance.
  • Janet Wolfenbarger was the first female four-star general in the U.S. Air Force.
  • New Hampshire elects the first all-woman congressional delegation in U.S. history, with U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and U.S. representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster.

2013

  • Danica Patrick was the first woman to win a pole in the Daytona 500 and a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race.
  • Rabbi Deborah Waxman was elected as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. As the President, she is believed to have been the first woman and first lesbian to lead a Jewish congregational union, and the first female rabbi and first lesbian to lead a Jewish seminary; RRC is both a congregational union and a seminary.
  • Erika Schmidt was the first female director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.
  • General Motors named Mary Barra as its first female CEO and the first female CEO of a major automaker.
  • Deborah Rutter was named as the first female president of the Kennedy Center.

2014

  • Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate as the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve.
  • The first women competed in ski jumping at the Olympics.
  • Michelle J. Howard began her assignment as the U.S. Navy’s first female and first female African-American four-star admiral on July 1, 2014.
  • Katie Higgins was the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.

2015

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Michelle K. Lee as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).[283] Lee is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the USPTO.

2016

  • Hillary Clinton was formally nominated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016, becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
  • Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the popular vote in a United States presidential election.
  • Faith Spotted Eagle became the first Native American and second woman to receive an electoral vote for president, which she received from a faithless elector.

2017

  • Saudi Arabia lifts ban on female drivers. Imagine being a woman in this Middle Eastern country and needing a man to give you a lift for simple errands like picking up groceries at the market or visiting a friend. Last fall, the Saudi Arabian government lifted the ban on female drivers, set to take effect in June 2018.
  • India rules sex with minors illegal. A sign of the modernization of India was a Supreme Court ruling in October that deemed rape with a female under the age of 18 (even if the minor is a child bride) illegal. Further, being charged with this crime can result in a ten-year prison sentence. This ruling helps discourage the tradition of child brides and speaks to the country’s attempt to create more equal marriages.
  • Lebanon repeals law that sided with male rapists. It’s hard to believe, but until last summer, a male rapist in Lebanon could be exonerated if he married his rape victim. In August, Lebanon’s Parliament finally repealed the ancient law at the urging of women’s rights activists not only in Lebanon but around the world.

2018

  • Iceland requires fair pay for women. Some countries talk a good game about equal pay for women, but Iceland made it the law of the land. Earlier this year, Iceland became the first country in the world to make it illegal—resulting in a fine—to pay men and women in the same job differently. One major difference between this law and the Equal Pay Act in the United States is that the burden is no longer on the employee to make this claim. To support women in business, take your money to one of these 23 amazing shopping sites that support women.
  • Gina Haspel became the first woman to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • Stacey Cunningham became the first female President of the New York Stock Exchange.

2019

  • Nancy Pelosi became the first women to be reelected as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

 

Top 10 Women of 21st Century

  1. Ellen DeGeneres

    220px-PortiadeRossiEllenDeGeneresHWOFSept2012

    Portia de Rossi and DeGeneres in September 2012 From – Wikipedia

Born: January 26, 1958 (age 61)

According to a poll by Variety magazine in 2015, Ellen DeGeneres did more to influence American attitudes in regard to gay rights than any other celebrity. The talk show host came out as gay in 1997.She has authored four books and started her own record company, Eleveneleven, as well as a production company, A Very Good Production. She also launched a lifestyle brand, ED Ellen DeGeneres, which comprises a collection of apparel, accessories, home, baby, and pet items.She has won 30 Emmys (29 daytime 1 prime-time), 21 People’s Choice Awards (more than any other person), and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts. Recently, on 2016, she won the Presidential medal of Freedom aka the United States’ Highest Civilian Honor which given directly by President Barack Obama.

  1.  Ai-jen Poo

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    Poo at the 2012 Time 100 gala From – Wikipedia

1974 (age 45 years)

Ai-jen Poo was a driving force behind the worker-led movement Domestic Workers United (a city-wide, multiracial organization of domestic workers) in New York City. The organization’s campaigns led to better conditions for domestic workers, raised awareness of economic contributions that domestic workers provide, helped get legal representation for abused workers, and crafted a framework of legal standards for workers. Ai-jen is a 2014 MacArthur “genius” Fellow, TIME 100 alumna and has been featured at United State of Women Summit, Aspen Ideas Festival, Obama Foundation Summit and the Women’s Convention. She is author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America as well.

  1. Malala Yousafzai

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    Yousafzai in October 2015 From – Wikipedia

July 12, 1997 (age 21 years)

Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for women’s education rights, won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17, making her the youngest recipient ever. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. She started her activism for the first time on September 2008 when she was 12, when her father took her to Peshawar, to a local press club in which she gave a speech titled “How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right To Education” . This caused the Taliban issued a death threat because of her activism. On 9 October 2012, while on a bus in the Swat District, after taking an exam, Yousafzai and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism; the gunman fled the scene. Yousafzai was hit in the head with a bullet and remained unconscious and in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but her condition later improved enough for her to be transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The attempt on her life sparked an international outpouring of support for Yousafzai and on her 16th birthday on 2013, she gave speech for the United Nations to call for worldwide access education and even the United Nations called the event “Malala Day”.

  1. Oprah Winfrey

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    Winfrey at the White House for the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors From – Wikipedia

January 29, 1954 (age 65 years)

Oprah Winfrey, the first African-American female billionaire, has had a significant influence on American culture since her time as a television talk show host. She played a key role in the emergence of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate and continues to be politically active.

 

 

 

  1. Judith Butler

    JudithButler2013

    Butler in March 2012 From – Wikipedia

February 24, 1956 (age 63 years

Judith Butler is a philosopher and gender theorist who has written influential books on feminist and gay topics. Her books, such as “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity” and “Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex,” challenge conventions about gender.

 

 

 

 

  1. Beyonce

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    Beyoncé performing during The Beyoncé Experience tour (2007) From – Wikipedia

September 4, 1981 (age 37 years)

Beyonce has more Grammy nominations, 66, than any other female performer, and she has won 22 times. She is an icon for feminism and for African American culture. She dipped her toe into politics at Super Bowl 50, when she had her backup singers dress in black with black berets and afros to protest racial injustice.

 

 

 

 

  1. J.K. Rowling

    J._K._Rowling_2010

    Rowling at the White House, April 2010 From – Wikipedia

July 31, 1965 (age 53 years)

J.K. Rowling emerged from relative poverty in the United Kingdom to become the world’s first billionaire author as the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy book series. Her influence was such that she was the runner-up as Time magazine’s person of the year in 2007 because her books had been such an inspiration for her fans. Aside from her literary work, Rowling has established and contributed to charitable organizations to fight poverty and social inequality throughout the world. Since becoming so wealthy, Rowling has donated funds to several different charities, especially in the areas of poverty and multiple sclerosis (the disease from which her mother died). Her contributions, as well as her volunteer work, have been an example to millions of young readers.

  1. Yoani María Sánchez Cordero

    IRedes_2013_(7)

    From Wikipedia

September 4, 1975 (age 43 years)

Yoani María Sánchez Cordero is a Cuban journalist and entrepreneur who gained notoriety and fans such as President Barack Obama for writing critically about Cuban daily life. She depicts life on the island nation through her blog “Generacion Y” that is translated into 17 languages. Sánchez Cordero overcomes censorship by emailing her blog to friends living outside Cuba, who then post them online.

  1. Laverne Cox

    220px-Laverne_Cox_by_Sachyn_Mital_cropped

    Cox in July 2014 From – Wikipedia

May 29, 1972 (age 46 years

Laverne Cox is one of the highest-profile figures in the transgender community. She plays a transgender character on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” and does much advocacy work on behalf of her community. Cox has played other transgender characters on television, appearing in 2008 on the VH1 show “I Want to Work for Diddy.” She is the first transgender woman of color to appear on a reality TV show. She is the first transgender person to be on the cover of Time magazine. In May 2016, Cox was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The New School in New York City for her progressive work in the fight for gender equality.

 

 

  1. Michelle Obama

    Michelle_Obama_at_National_Craft_Museum,_Delhi,_2010

    Obama with children in Delhi, November 8, 2010. From – Wikipedia

January 17, 1964 (age 55 years)

Michelle Obama is a lawyer and writer who was First Lady of The United States from 2009-2017. She is married to the 44th President of United States, Barack Obama. She is also an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, physical activity and healthy eating. Her political and activism works as First Lady are really inspiring, some initiatives of First Lady Michelle Obama include advocating on behalf of military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, and promoting the arts and arts education. On May 2014, she joined the campaign to bring back school girls who had been kidnapped in Nigeria. In 2010, Obama undertook her first lead role in an administration-wide initiative, which she named “Let’s Move!,” to make progress in reversing the 21st century trend of childhood obesity. She’s also supports the LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

  1. Women and girls everywhere. “Unnamed and often unrecognized, many women and girls put their bodies and their lives at risk every day, fighting for social justice in small and big ways, to make the lives of other women and girls better, along with a more just world for us all. Any list of the most influential women must include all of those who remain unnamed.” – Mary Ebeling, PhD
    Everyone is capable of enacting change. We are the future and are in control of what we want the future to look like. As Amelia Earhart once said, “the most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

A Fleeing Physicist & The Cinderella of Science

Hedwig Kohn

Born: April 5, 1887          Died: November 26, 1964

What they did: Physicist

Facts:

  • Hedwig was born in Breslau, Germany (modern day Wroclaw, Poland) to Jewish parents Georg and Helene.
  • When she was 20, Hedwig entered Breslau University as an auditor, a year before women were actually allowed to attend, and earned her doctorate in physics in 1913, becoming the second woman to do so.
  • In 1914, she as appointed as an assistant by her advisor, Otto Lummer, a physicist known for precision radiation measurements that contributed to Planck’s law.
  • Her career would focus on radiation and spectroscopy.
  • Throughout World War I, Hedwig taught and advised doctoral students, despite only being in her 20s.
  • Her efforts were recognized and she received a medal after the war.
  • In 1930, Hedwig earned Habilitation. This means she was now qualified to conduct teaching on her own and is a key step towards full professorship. During this time, she guided the work of eight doctoral students.
  • In 1933, Hedwig was forced out of her position at the University for being Jewish.
    • Due to a new Nazi law, “The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” which prevented Jews from government service.
  • Hedwig continued working in a small back room in the Physics Institute, fulfilling contracts for applied research.
  • In 1935, Hedwig was able to work for 3 months in the Licht-Klimatisches Observatorium in Arosa, Switzerland where she measured ultra-violet light intensity from the sun. Unfortunately, this didn’t result in a permanent position.
  • By 1938, Hedwig was without work or financial resources.
  • With the growing violence and political hostility towards Jews, Hedwig realized that she needed to escape quickly. However, without a job or money, she was trapped.
  • There were a lot of barriers to finding a job and escaping Nazi Germany for Hedwig.
    • Lack of University jobs due to the Great Depression
    • She was a well-respected physicist in Germany and was not she internationally known or a professor
    • The fact she was foreign
    • The fact she was German
    • She was Jewish
    • She was a woman
  • Something else that made it impossible to obtain a U.S. visa was that the United States required applicants to have held a teaching job within the last two years and have held that position for two years.
  • Finally, in 1938, physicist Rudolf Walter Ladenburg began working to help Hedwig immigrate to the U.S. Rudolf had been a lecturer at Breslau University and helped direct Hedwig’s doctoral research.
  • Rudolf worked with the International Federation of University Women and the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning to secure Hedwig a job at Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1939.
  • Unfortunately, before she could flee, war broke out and England immediately canceled all visas for “enemy aliens.”
  • After this, there was an exchange of 70 letters between Hedwig, Rudolf, other prominent physicists, representatives of the American Association of University Women, and more as they tried to secure Hedwig another way out of Nazi Germany.
  • Together, they were finally able to secure Hedwig 3 consecutive one-year positions at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, Sweetbriar College in Virginia, and Wellesley College in Massachussetts.
  • This allowed her to secure a U.S. visa by way of a visa to Sweden in July of 1940.
  • Though out of Nazi Germany, Hedwig’s troubles were not over. She still had to get from Stockholm Sweden to Greensboro, North Carolina. The only thing separating her from the U.S. was a war torn Atlantic Ocean.
  • After a two month journey, Hedwig was finally able to make it to the United States in January of 1941.
  • She started teaching at the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and stayed there for a year and a half.
  • She was described as having a persistent optimism and good humor.
  • She moved to the next University, Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
  • There, she established a research laboratory for flame spectroscopy.
  • She was well regarded at Wellesley and even won a college research
    award.
  • She ended up staying at Wellesley until her retirement in 1952.
  • After her retirement, she was awarded a pension and the title of professor emerita by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • This is a title given to female professors who retire with honorable standing and they get to maintain the title of professor even after retirement.
  • After she retired, for the next 12 years, she pursued independent research as a Research Associate at Duke University.
  • While at Duke, Hedwig established a research laboratory, guided two graduate students to their doctorates, and recruited two post-doctoral fellows to assist with her study of flame spectroscopy.
  • This work led to a breakthrough in the framework of combustion science and plasma physics.
  • She continued this work until shortly before her death in 1964, when she was 77 years old.

Legacy

  • Early in her career, Hedwig wrote 270 pages of a leading textbook called “Mueller-Pouillets Lehrbuch
    der Physik” (Mueller-Pouillets Physics Textbook) and received one patent.
  • Her doctoral thesis was still being cited through the 1970s.
  • She was most recently commemorated with the Google Doodle on April 5 th , 2019, which would have been her 132nd birthday.

Caroline Herschel

Born: March 16, 1750     Died: 1848

What they did: Cinderella of Science

Facts:

  • Born Caroline Lucretia Herschel in Germany on March 16, 1750.
    • She was the eighth child and fourth daughter of Isaac Herschel, a self-taught oboist, and his wife, Anna Ilse Moritzen.
    • Her father who encouraged her education but a mother who wanted to keep her as a lifelong servant.
  • When she was three years old, smallpox left her face scarred. Then, at age 10, typhus stunted her growth at 130 centimeters (4’3″) tall.
  • Her family assumed that she would never marry and her mother felt it was best for her to train to be a house servant rather than becoming educated in accordance with her father’s wishes.
  • Her father sometimes took advantage of her mother’s absence by tutoring her individually, or including her in her brother’s lessons, such as violin.
  • Caroline was briefly allowed to learn dress-making.
    • To prevent her from becoming a governess and earning her independence that way, she was forbidden from learning French or more advanced needlework than what she could pick up from neighbors.
  • When she was 22, following her Father’s death her brothers William and Alexander rescued her, inviting her to live with them in Bath, England.
  • Caroline did not blend in with the local society and made few friends, but was finally able to indulge her desire to learn, and took regular singing, English, and arithmetic lessons from her brother, and dance lessons from a local teacher.
  • Eventually she became an integral part in William’s musical performances at small gatherings. She became the principal singer at his oratorio concerts, and acquired a reputation as a vocalist.
  • She was offered an engagement for the Birmingham festival after a performance of Handel’s Messiah in April 1778, where she was the first soloist.
    • She declined to sing for any conductor but William, and after that performance, her career as a singer began to decline.
    • Caroline was subsequently replaced as a performer by distinguished soloists from outside the area because William wished to spend less time in rehearsals to focus on astronomy.
  • When William became increasingly interested in astronomy, transforming himself from a musician to an astronomer, Caroline again supported his efforts.
  • She said somewhat bitterly, in her Memoir, “I did nothing for my brother but what a well-trained puppy dog would have done, that is to say, I did what he commanded me.”
  • In the 1770s, William started to build his own telescopes from lenses he had ground, unhappy with the quality of lenses he was able to purchase.
  • Caroline would feed him and read to him as he worked, despite her desire to burnish her career as a professional singer.
  • Caroline spent many hours polishing mirrors and mounting telescopes in order to maximize the amount of light captured.
  • She learned to copy astronomical catalogs and other publications that William had borrowed.
  • She also learned to record, reduce, and organize her brother’s astronomical observations. She recognized that this work demanded speed, precision and accuracy.
  • She became a significant astronomer in her own right as a result of her collaboration with him.
  • Caroline and William gave their last musical performance in 1782, when her brother accepted the private office of court astronomer to King George III.
  • Caroline was asked to move from the high culture of Bath to the relative backwater of Datchet in 1782, a small town near Windsor Castle where William would be on hand to entertain royal guests.
  • He presumed that Caroline would become his assistant, a role she did not initially accept.
  • While William worked on a catalogue of 3,000 stars, studied double stars, and attempted to discover the cause of Mira’s and Algol’s variability, Caroline was asked to “sweep” the sky, meticulously moving through the sky in strips to search for interesting objects.
  • On 28 August 1782 Caroline initiated her first record book. She inscribed the first three opening pages: “This is what I call the Bills & Rec.ds of my Comets”, “Comets and Letters”, and “Books of Observations”. This, along with two subsequent books, currently belong to the Herschel trove at the Royal Astronomical Society in London.
  • On 26 February 1783, Caroline made her first discovery: she had found a nebula that was not included in the Messier catalog.
  • That same night, she independently discovered Messier 110 (NGC 205), the second companion of the Andromeda Galaxy.
  • Caroline was relegated to a ladder on William’s 20-foot reflector, attempting impossible measurements of double stars.
  • William quickly realized his method of searching for nebulae was inefficient and he required an assistant to keep records.
  • Naturally, he turned to Caroline.
  • In the summer of 1783, William finished building a comet-searching telescope for Caroline, which she began to use immediately.
  • Beginning in October 1783, the Herschels used a 20-foot reflecting telescope to search for nebulae.
  • Initially, William attempted to both observe and record objects, but this too was inefficient and again turned to Caroline.
  • She sat by a window inside, William shouted his observations, and Caroline recorded.
  • This was not a simple clerical task, however, because she would have to use John Flamsteed’s catalogue to identify the star William used as a reference point for the nebulae. Because Flamsteed’s catalogue was organized by constellation, it was less useful to the Herschels, so Caroline created her own catalogue organized by north polar distance.
  • The following morning, Caroline would go over her notes and write up formal observations, which she called “minding the heavens.”
  • She discovered her first comet  on 1 August 1786.
  • Five of her comets were published in Philosophical Transactions. A packet of paper bearing the superscription, “This is what I call the Bills and Receipts of my Comets” contains some data connected with the discovery of each of these objects.
  • William was summoned to Windsor Castle to demonstrate Caroline’s comet to the royal family. William recorded this phenomenon, himself, terming it “My Sister’s Comet.”
  • Caroline Herschel is often credited as the first woman to discover a comet; however, Maria Kirch discovered a comet in the early 1700s, but is often overlooked because at the time, the discovery was attributed to her husband, Gottfried Kirch.
  • In 1787, she was granted an annual salary of £50 (equivalent to £6,200 in 2019) by George III for her work as William’s assistant.
    • Caroline’s appointment made her the first woman in England honored with an official government position, and the first woman to be paid for her work in astronomy—at a time when even men rarely received wages for scientific enterprises.
    • It was the first money that Caroline had ever earned in her own right.
  • She wrote a letter to the Astronomer Royal to announce the discovery of her second comet. The third comet was discovered on 7 January 1790, and the fourth one on 17 April 1790. All  of these were discovered with her 1783 telescope.
  • In 1791, Caroline began to use a 9-inch telescope for her comet-searching, and discovered three more comets with this instrument.
  • Her last comet was discovered on 6 August 1797, the only comet she discovered without optical aid.
  • In 1797 William’s observations had shown that there were a great many discrepancies in the star catalog published by John Flamsteed, which was difficult to use because it had been published as two volumes, the catalog proper and a volume of original observations, and contained many errors.
  • William realized that he needed a proper cross-index to properly explore these differences but was reluctant to devote time to it at the expense of his more interesting astronomical activities.
    • He therefore recommended to Caroline that she undertake the task, which ultimately took 20 months.
  • The resulting Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars was published by the Royal Society in 1798 and contained an index of every observation of every star made by Flamsteed, a list of errata, and a list of more than 560 stars that had not been included.
  • In 1802, the Royal Society published Caroline’s catalogue in its Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A under William’s name. This listed around 500 new nebulae and clusters to the already known 2000.
  • After her brother died in 1822, Caroline was grief-stricken and moved back to Hanover, Germany, continuing her astronomical studies to verify and confirm William’s findings.
    • However, her observations were hampered by the architecture in Hanover, and she spent most of her time working on a catalog.
  • She arranged two-and-a-half thousand nebulae and star clusters into zones of similar polar distances so that her nephew, John Herschel, could re-examine them systematically.
  • The list was eventually enlarged and renamed the New General Catalogue. Many non-stellar objects are still identified by their NGC number.
  • Caroline added her final entry to her observing book on 31 January 1824 about the Great Comet of 1832, which had already been discovered on 29 December 1823.
  • Throughout the twilight of her life, Caroline remained physically active and healthy, and regularly socialized with other scientific luminaries.
  • She spent her last years writing her memoirs and lamenting her body’s limitations, which kept her from making any more original discoveries.
  • In 1846, at the age of 96, she was awarded a Gold Medal for Science by the King of Prussia, conveyed to her by Alexander von Humboldt, “in recognition of the valuable services rendered to Astronomy by you, as the fellow-worker of your immortal brother, Sir William Herschel, by discoveries, observations, and laborious calculations”.
  • Caroline Herschel died peacefully in Hanover on 9 January 1848, she was 98 years old.
    • Her tombstone inscription reads, “The eyes of her who is glorified here below turned to the starry heavens.”

Legacy

  • In 1828 the Royal Astronomical Society presented her with their Gold Medal for this work – no woman would be awarded it again until Vera Rubin in 1996.
  • The asteroid 281 Lucretia (discovered 1888) was named after Caroline’s second given name, and the crater C. Herschel on the Moon is named after her.
  • Adrienne Rich’s 1968 poem “Planetarium” celebrates Caroline Herschel’s life and scientific achievements.
  • The artwork The Dinner Party, which celebrates historical women who have made extraordinary contributions, features a place setting for Caroline Herschel.
  • Google honored her with a Google Doodle on her 266th birthday (16 March 2016).
  • The gold medal from the Astronomical Society was awarded to her in 1828 “for her recent reduction, to January, 1800, of the [2,500] Nebula discovered by her illustrious brother, which may be considered as the completion of a series of exertions probably unparalleled either in magnitude or importance in the annals of astronomical labor.”
  • The Royal Astronomical Society elected her an Honorary Member in 1835, along with Mary Somerville; they were the first women members.
  • She was also elected as an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin in 1838.