Meet History’s Most Badass Woman Adventurers
TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, and in honor of the event, we want to show off one particularly awesome Facebook and Instagram page. It’s called “Women Adventurers Worldwide,” and it’s run by Matador’s own Ailsa Ross. The page focuses on “history’s trailblazers, from surfer princesses to mountain climbing opera singers,” and the women it shows off are true badasses. Here are some of our favorites.
“No happiness can be built on hate.” Josephine Baker was a cabaret siren in 1920s Paris. She brought the Charleston to Europe and became a spy for the French Resistance in World War II. Next up? She became an activist against segregation in 1950s America, and refused to perform in theaters until anyone — of any color — could come and see her show. #empower #inspire #educationforgirls #girlpower #makehistory #history #historypics #womenshistory #herstory #womenartists #womeninhistory #womeninpolitics #feminism #womensrights #Quoteoftheday #dancer
“After a short, moonlit night spent on a mat in front of the Moorish cafe in Beni Ounif, I awoke happy, with the euphoria that takes me when I have slept outdoors under the great sky, and when I’m about to set off on a journey.” For more than a century, Algerians were exploited, taxed, and ruled by the French Empire. Isabelle Eberhardt was a young Swiss anarchist who converted to Islam, dressed as a young Arab male, and fought colonial rule as a war reporter. She also had a predilection for dive bars, brothels, heavy drinking, and getting caught up in riots, all while women at home in Europe were still in corsets and riding sidesaddle. Her cap in this picture says ‘Vengeance’. 17 February, 1877 (Geneva, Switzerland) – 21 October, 1904 (Aïn Séfra, Algeria) #empower #inspire #educationforgirls #girlpower #makehistory #history #historypics #womenshistory#herstory #womeninhistory #women #history #algeria #politics #womeninpolitics #feminism #womensrights #Quoteoftheday
“Marriage? A terrible experiment” — Marianne North (1830-1890, England) Like many upper class women of her time, Marianne North was devoted to painting to flowers. Unlike other women, at the age of 40 she set off alone to travel the world, braving rough ship and living conditions to document over 900 plant species in just 14 years. Wherever she was in the world, her days would begin at dawn when she would take her tea outside to watch the world wake up. She would then paint outdoors till noon, consumed in what to her was “a vice like dram-drinking, almost impossible to leave off once it gets possession of one.” #girlpower #makehistory #historypics #womenshistory #womeninhistory #feminism #Quoteoftheday
Polar bears and wolves, frozen tundra and wild rapids — treacherous conditions were endured by the men who plied the Canadian wilderness for Hudson’s Bay Company. They had to be young, strong and brave, and John Fubbister fit the bill. Except John Fubbister wasn’t a man. He was an Orkney woman named Isobel Gunn who’d voyaged more than 1,800 miles across Canada as a fur trapper. Kicked out of HBC when her sex was discovered, Isobel wasn’t respected in her day, but now she is known for her daring, and for proving that women can be just as strong and brave as any man. c.1780 – 7 November, 1861 (Orkney, Scotland) #historypics #womenshistory #herstory #womeninhistory #feminism #Quoteoftheday #Orkney #Canada
“Health to the ocean means health for us.” In 1970 Sylvia Earle (30 August, 1935, United States) led an all-women team of aquanauts to live for a fortnight underwater. Since then she’s walked the ocean floor 1,250 feet below the surface and been the first female chief scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. A National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998, she’s sometimes nicknamed “Her Deepness” and “The Sturgeon General.” #Quoteoftheday #womandiver #diving #diver
People call them the diving grandmas of Jeju Island, but to each other they’re just haenyeo — sea women. No oxygen tanks for these Koreans, the oldest of whom are over 80 years old and have been heading into the ocean for more than six decades. Dodging storms, stinging jellyfish, and sharks in search of octopus, oysters, urchins, seaweed, and abalone to sell, these women represent a tradition that transformed the jelly bean-shaped island into a semi-matriarchal society more than 300 years ago. Diving didn’t make men much money back in the 18th century, so they didn’t do it unless they really had to supplement their farming income. But women didn’t have to pay taxes, so they could make big profits digging for sea creatures on the ocean floor. Tens of thousands of female divers created an industry that saw gender roles reversed, the women becoming breadwinners as the men took on the bulk of shopping and childcare duties. In an interview with Lucky Peach, modern haenyeo Mun Yeon Ok said “Jeju women are tough and burly. Most Koreans, when they are old, they are dependent on their children for an allowance. But haenyo, even if we are eighty, we earn our own money and we don’t have to be dependent on anyone.” Asked about the future of haenyeo, she said “I don’t know. The ocean is polluted and nothing grows in it.” Image via Baraka50 on Flickr. #diver #womandiver #jeju #history
In 19th-century Boston, working-class women were expected to center their lives around their family and eschew having dreams and ambitions of their own. Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (1870–1947) was not your average woman. A Jewish Latvian immigrant and young mother to three children, Kopchovsky decided she was going to become the first woman to circumnavigate the world by bike, and she was going to make a ton of money while doing it. Learning to cycle just a few days before she set off on June 27, 1894, she left home with nothing more than a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver. A master saleswoman, her main income came from turning her body and bike into a mobile billboard that bore signs and ribbons advertising everything from perfume to bicycle tires. She sold promotional photos of herself as well as souvenir pins and autographs. She even changed her last name to ‘Londonderry’ in exchange for $100 from the Londonderry Spring Water Company. She told wildly exaggerated stories about hunting tigers and going to prison to packed lecture halls, and in doing so largely created her own myth, becoming a figure onto which men and women could project their hopes and fears about changing gender roles. Londonderry’s trip was described at the time as “the Most Extraordinary Journey Ever Undertaken by a Woman” but she died in obscurity. #history #women #feminism #girlswhobike #womenshistory
Aviation schools in the United States barred entry to Bessie Coleman because of her color. What did she do? She learned French, moved to France, and learned to fly there instead. In 1922, she became the first licensed female African American pilot. —– As a barnstormer back in the US, performing daring stunt flights for big crowds, she designed the coolest flying outfit for herself, complete with knee-high leather boots and a nifty military jacket. —– “Because of Bessie Coleman,” said Lieutenant William J. Powell in 1934, “we have overcome that which was worse than racial barriers. We have overcome the barriers within ourselves and dared to dream.” —– #blackhistory #history #aviators #blackhistorymonth
New Yorker writer (1905-1997) Emily Hahn was an engineer until it bored her, a Red Cross worker in the Belgian Congo until she decided to walk across East Africa on foot, an opium addict and mistress of a Chinese poet in Shanghai until Hong Kong came calling, and a truly prolific writer who would become a pioneer in the fields of environmentalism and wildlife preservation. Her favorite saying was, “Nobody said not to go.” Over the course of 72 years, Hahn would write 52 books and hundreds of articles and short stories, flitting seamlessly from genres as varied as memoir and history, humor and cookery, and writing about subjects as disparate as D.H. Lawrence, diamonds, apes, and the history of bohemian America. The whole world delighted her. Image via DeGolyer Library, SMU #history #ladiesofhistory #powerfulwomen #newyorker #writer
You can follow Women Adventurers Worldwide on Instagram here, and Facebook here.