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5 Bad Ass Women From History

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Durham chapter.

Through both the trials and tribulations, against the setbacks and hurdles that have opposed women over the course of history, there are many whom have triumphed. Here are five bad-ass women from history that demonstrate the determination, audacity, strength and kindness that has proved to be the essential qualities that enabled these women to achieve all that they did.

Although arguably she is a more contemporary figure, Princess Diana was not only an icon of grace, of beauty, and of kindness but she also a woman of utmost strength, and is my favourite woman from history. 

Diana herself once spoke of the hostility that strong women are often confronted with: ‘I think every strong woman in history has had to walk down a similar path and I think it’s the strength that causes the confusion and the fear. Why is she strong?  Where does she get it from?  Where is she taking it?  Where is she going to use it?’. Diana’s desire to bring nothing but kindness to a world of intolerance saw her undertake charitable roles that were decidedly unglamorous, namely her work in removing the stigma that then surrounded victims of AIDS.  She raised concerns for the plight of the homeless, the neglected and the unloved, and shortly before her untimely passing in August 1997, had been greatly involved in campaigns against landmines.  In short, an icon.

Marie Curie is a further iconic female figure from history, and in turn fought against the restrictions opposed against her gender to become a highly successful and renowned scientist, specifically in the field of radioactivity.  She was the first women to be awarded a Nobel Prize, the first and the only woman to be twice presented with such a prize, and also the only person to be awarded a Nobel Prize in two separate sciences.  In addition, she was the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.

Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  Landing in Northern Ireland after a flight of nearly 15 hours, she was bestowed with numerous awards, such as the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, the Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society.  A female figure of many talents, including an ability to remain calm in moments of turmoil, courage and a drive to succeed have rendered an icon of feminism.

Jane Austen, the author of one of my favourite novels, Pride and Prejudice, is another bad-ass woman from history.  Defying the societal convention and familial expectations that she would marry and raise a family of her own, she devoted her time and life to writing, and in turn produced some of the most iconic female works of literature.

Lastly, the tireless efforts of Emmeline Pankhurst throughout the British suffragette movement are undeniable.  It is often too easy to overlook the efforts of those of fought with such audacity for political equality across society.  Regardless of your political mind-set, it is privilege to have the right to vote, as in many other countries women are still consistently denied such an important opportunity.

Always remember the following expression: ‘Well-behaved women rarely make history’.