Happy March, readers! Our theme this month is “Strong Women,” since International Women’s Day is March 8 and in my opinion, we should have an entire month devoted to badass women. So we’re going to do it here on the blog!
The theme for the IWD 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. One of the statements on the IWD website is: “We can choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.” To kick off a month of celebrating/acknowledging strong women, let’s talk about the achievements of women who we’ve never met, but who have impacted our lives in some way (Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou, etc). Pick one and tell us who and how.
For me, I’ve always loved the story of journalist Nellie Bly, known for her time undercover in a mental institution to expose the awful conditions in which women were being made to live. Her investigative journalism prompted reforms for the system and also paved the way for serious women journalists. So cool!
Edith/Maddie. I’m going for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I didn’t realize the impact this tiny brilliant woman had on my life until the last ten years. She fought so hard for women’s rights, for civil rights. She had an equal loving marriage. She survived illness after illness and worked hard in the gym to stay fit well into her old age (planks at eighty-two!). And with all that, she was apparently funny and caring – as well as Notorious. Rest well, RBG.
Jessie: At some point I ran across the book The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson, a biography of Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tenny Claflin. I was so astonished by their audacity and persistence. Victoria ran for president long before she could legally vote. The pair of them set up as the first female stock brokers in NYC. They had progressive ideas on birth control, marriage and love affairs. They practiced Spiritualism. Completely fascinating and inspiring!
Liz: Edith, I’m with you on Ruth for sure! I also have to shout out Glennon Doyle – she is one of the most inspiring women out there today. Not only is she an amazing role model for women and girls about being true to yourself and living the life that works for you, she is also a fierce activist. She created Together Rising, a non-profit led by all women that impacts causes all over the world. Her book, Untamed, is a must-read for women and girls. It’s one of those books I keep handy to refer back to regularly for inspiration.
Barb: I am going to go with the mystery author PD James. Forced to drop out of school by a father who didn’t believe higher education was for girls, she married and had two children. When her husband returned from WWII so mentally compromised he was eventually institutionalized, she took over as the only source of income for the family, went back to school to become a hospital administrator and rose through the ranks. All the while writing her wonderful mysteries while commuting, until she was able to live off her writing. I mention her story because this is how so many strong women persevere, balancing the worlds of family, money, and creativity, any one of which can be all-consuming. I highly recommend her autobiography, A Time to be in Earnest.
Sherry: Barb, I’d never heard that about PD James! Phyllis A. Whitney influenced me. I loved reading her books when I was young. Her books are part of why there is always a touch of romance in my books. I was also fascinated to find out that a letter she wrote to Mystery Writers of America in the eighties pointing out that it had been fifteen years since a woman had won an Edgar for Best Novel was one of the reasons that Sisters in Crime was formed. I’ve read the letter before, but of course can’t find a link to it to share right now. All of us are members of Sisters in Crime and I can’t imagine my writing life without being part of SinC.
Julie: There are so many women who have inspired me over the years. I do remember the story of a woman named Deborah Sampson. I read a biography of her when I was in third or fourth grade, Even then, the Revolutionary War fascinated me. Anyway, she disguised herself as a soldier in order to fight the British. At one point she was shot, and removed the bullet herself to keep her secret. She was finally discovered to be a woman when she got sick, lost consciousness, and was taken to the hospital. She was honorably discharged, and went back home and got married. Anyway, learning about Deborah Sampson opened my eyes to thinking about the stories we don’t know, of which there are many.
Readers, what about you? What strong women have influenced your life? Tell us below!