For not the first, nor I suspect the last, time in my life, I have been pegged as a Bad Influence. The only detail I want to highlight here is a single common thread: each time I’ve been slapped with that label, it’s because the woman who I’m purportedly influencing has started to show signs of confidence, tenacity, and self-worth.
As much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for these evolutions. None of us is powerful enough to fundamentally change another human being. Any moxie and/or gumption rearing its wild-eyed head can only be attributed to each of these women finding and deciding to make use of her long-stifled voice. If I played any part in helping her get there, then all I can say is: hoo-ah, hells yes, bully for me!
This also got me thinking about all the names and phrases thrown at me over the years, dripping with judgement, disdain, and acrimony. So I made a word cloud! It’s just a fun little sampling of the labels and monikers I’ve been branded with. You’ll notice that my cloud includes both prude and slut and a few words in between, because if there’s one thing people love to do for women, it’s define our sexual behaviors for us. #patriarchy
Some of these words were hurtful at the time, others have always proved a consistent source of amusement, and many I wear with pride. Every one of them has undoubtedly molded me into the woman I am today.
Know what else I am?
So here we are, on this afternoon of ye old Friday Feminist Funtimes, faced with the delightful prospect of celebrating women of a certain influence. As a good little feminist, you’ve almost certainly heard the quote “Well behaved women seldom make history”, which is frequently misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt or Marilyn Monroe. It was in fact a statement made by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who coined the phrase in an academic paper in 1976, and later went on to write a book of the same name.
In honor of all lady misfits, hotheads, and rabble rousers, I dedicate this post to some of my favorite women – both historic and contemporary – who have, without a doubt, been a very, very bad influence on me.
For tellin’ it like it IS.
Many, many great things resulted from my 1995 trip to China for the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women, but meeting Bella Abzug was by far one of the greatest.
S will be happy to see me acknowledge Lena Dunham here, because I’ve just got to give it to her. Girl is ruffling a lot of feathers.
Grace O’Malley aka Gráinne Mhaol – Pirate Queen
Almost all of my ancestors are from Ireland. I like to believe that she’s one of them.
Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup rebels! Who are some of your favorite badly behaved women? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep fighting the good fight.