Men have dominated the historical narrative since the beginning of time. From the legends of King Arthur to the Founding Fathers of America, you would think women didn’t accomplish anything in ancient times. However, there are more than a fair share of badass women who left their mark on the world.
Here are six of the many badass women who broke away from the stereotypes and societal norms, yet did not get an iota of the credit or recognition they deserve:
1. Anne Lister, 1791-1840
Growing up in the Victorian era, Anne Lister was not your conventional Victorian woman.
Instead, she decided to dress as a man and was the “first modern lesbian”. Over the course of her life, she kept diaries chronicling – usually written in an impressive code made up of algebra and Ancient Greek – her many lesbian relationships, detailing her adventures across the world, her financial concerns, and her industrial activities. She signed everything under the pseudonym as Gentleman Jack.
2. Rani of Jhansi, 1828-1858
Laxshmibhai, the Rani of Jhansi, was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became the symbol of resistance of the British Raj.
When British forces besieged the city in 1858, Laxshmibhai took up arms and defended the city. The British siege became too much for the city and she fled to raise up another army and gather support, continuing to fight before being killed by a British soldier after she dressed as a horse-soldier in disguise and attacked him.
3. Tomoe Gozen, c.1157-1247
Tomoe Gozen was a 12th-century onna-bugeisha (female samurai warrior).
Married to her general, Minamoto no Yoshinaka, she successfully commanded 300 samurai in a struggle against 2,000 warriors of a rival clan. During the Battle of Awazu, Yoshinaka’s troops were outnumbered. With only a few men standing, Yoshinaka told Tomoe to run away as he would be ashamed to die beside a woman. Tomoe responded by beheading the leaders of the enemy clans and presenting their heads to the leader of the rivals. Talk about a badass!
4. Noor Inayat Khan, 1914-1944
Noor Inayat Khan descended from Indian royalty and signed up to the war effort in order to fight against Nazi tyranny in Europe.
She joined the Women’s Auxillary Air Force and trained to be a wireless operator before being stationed in Paris. There, she never gave up her post even when things got dangerous and she was caught by the Nazis. She said nothing to her Nazi captors about any intelligence she had (which could’ve changed the entire course of the war) and remained silent until she was executed at the age of 30.
5. Bessie Coleman, 1892-1926
Bessie Coleman was the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license.
She developed a love for flying at a young age but Native Americans, African-Americans, and women had no flight training opportunities available to them in the United States during her time. So, she saved up money and traveled to train in France. There she earned her international pilot’s license in 1921. She soon became a successful air show pilot in the United States and had hopes of opening up a flight school for African-Americans but, sadly, died in a plane crash while testing a new aircraft.
6. Sacagawea, 1788-1812/1884
Sacagawea was a Shoshone Native woman who joined the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the newly acquired western lands and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. Her French-Canadian husband was hired by the expedition to act as an interpreter and Sacagawea was also hired while being pregnant with her first child.
Her knowledge helped the expedition countless times and the group successfully reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805. In truth, the Expedition would not have survived without her help and she did it all… with a baby on her back!
Celebrate the badass women of today with our annual 40 Women to Watch List. Nominations close on November 30, 2019.