Have you ever wondered who are the greatest female icons of all time? Perhaps you can name more badass men in history than women. Hence, we decided to look into several history books to answer that question. Lucky for you, we’ve decided to compile a list of some of the most iron-willed, courageous, and badass women in history.
You’ll get to learn how these women struggled due to patriarchy and other societal factors, as well as how they have made a profound difference in their communities— and even the world. From a Georgian queen to a professional gamer, here are 25 women who empower us to be badass in every walks of life.
(1) Althea Gibson
Althea Gibson was Venus and Serena Williams before there were Venus and Serena Williams.
The first major African-American female tennis player, Gibson was an unstoppable force who dominated the sport. She was the first Black player to compete at Wimbledon and the first African American to win a Grand Slam title. Fun fact: Gibson went on to be the first African-American woman to compete in the pro women’s golf tour.
(2) Oprah Winfrey
Iconic media executive and talk show host Oprah Winfrey grew up in poverty with an unmarried teenage mother in Mississippi and went on to build one of the largest entertainment empires the world has ever seen. An inductee to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Oprah was North America’s first Black multi-billionaire, held the highest-rated television program for well over a decade, and is considered one of the most influential women on the planet.
(3) Ida B. Wells
African-American journalist Ida B. Wells was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, se-xism, and the menace of extreme ferocity. Born into s-lavery, Wells’ journalistic skills (she’s considered the first female journalist) opened up the world to the inhumane conditions of the South, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Having traveled abroad, she was also busy on the ground floor boycotting and filing injustice.
(4) Aretha Franklin
A modern lyricist, Civil Right activist, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after a career that produced 18 Grammys, 75 million record sales worldwide, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a top spot on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Recognized as a prodigy, Franklin recorded her album The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin when she was only 14 years old. Talk about a badass achievement!
(5) Harriet Tubman
The Queen of the Underground Railroad and the “Moses for her people,” Harriet Tubman was a slave who became a spy, scout, guerrilla soldier, nurse, and leader of the Underground Railroad, helping other escape. She had a bounty on her head, once suffered a skull, and we feel is one of the strongest people to have ever existed.
(6) Misty Copeland
You might have seen Misty Copeland in Under Armour ads, but the American ballet dancer is more than physically strong. Growing up with a single mother, Copeland’s determination drove her to become the first African-American female principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theater. She is an outspoken advocate for diversity and the support of young girls.
(7) Grace Jones
Supermodel, singer, actress, Grace Jones is not only an ’80s icon but an all-around badass woman who influenced the countercultures of art at the time. Listen to her music, pin up her posters, and “create oneself.”
(8) Voting Activist Annie Lumpkins At The Little Rock City Ja-il (10 July, 1961)
(9) Angela Davis (b. January 26, 1944), American Activist, Scholar, Author & Feminist.
(10) Claudette Colvin – The First Woman To Refuse To Give Up Her Seat On A Montgomery, Al Bus
(11) Political Activist Dr. Wangari Maathai Founded The Green Belt Movement, 1977.
(12) Tamar the Great of Georgia
Then 18-year-old Tamar was crowned co-ruler of the Georgian kingdom in an epically cool move by her father and began her 29-year reign in 1184. Tamar’s intense drive to build a strong and successful kingdom was evident to daddy. She went on to take the moniker of “king” and commanded a gang of intense medieval knights before building one of the most unstoppable armies in history. Under Tamar’s badass rule, Georgia became a major power known for its military campaigns from Trebizond all the way to Iran.
(13) Greta Thunberg
TIME Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year was Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg. Her iconic and powerful address to world leaders (theoretically putting old political cronies in their place) echoed through the speakers of computers and cellphones, forever changing the world’s perspective on climate change and the lack of action being taken to assure young people of a future, inhabitable planet. Thunberg will no doubt go down in history, and her legacy is only beginning to take shape.
(14) Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The second female justice to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, RBG is a notorious gender-rights badass. In the 1960s, she faced gender discrimination in the workplace despite having top-notch academic credentials. But the shackles of patriarchy did not stop RBG from succeeding as she was one of only nine female students during her time at Harvard and became the lead counsel for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.
RBG can be credited with building a better legal foundation of women’s equality. Watch the 2018 RBG documentary ASAP.
(15) Ronda Rousey
Talk about female fighters — Olympic, UFC, and WWE athlete Ronda Rousey couldn’t speak until the age of six but grew up to be the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo, the first female UFC fighter, and the first woman to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. She also achieved the fastest UFC title fight by submission. In her own words, offered to one opponent, “Don’t cry.”
(16) Irom Chanu Sharmila
For more than 16 years, Irom Chano Sharmila fasted in protest of India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gave the government power to search, arrest, and abuse anyone who acted suspiciously against the state. Sharmila became an icon of resistance, constantly imprisoned and re-released during her extensive hunger strike. She’s been nicknamed the “Iron Lady.”
(17) Angela Vorobeva
At 86 years old, Russian-born Angela Vorobeva became the oldest woman to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Word has it that she spent an hour at the summit celebrating, then went about her business (like a BAMF).
(18) Hedy Lamarr, Inventor & Actress
(19) Mother Teresa
(20) Christina Noble:irish Children’s Rights Campaigner&founder Of Christina Noble Foundation.
This is how people reacted to this post:
ronkirk50 – This is what happens when you have old white guys writing most of history – women and minorities get short changed.
Alexis Welsh – Some things that were left out about Zheng Yi Sao, she ruled the South China Sea, defeated three navies (Chinese, British and Dutch), and made her own surrender terms, which included the government making her a noblewoman, and giving amnesty to most of her crew.
Ned Ludd – I am not surprised that you ignored one of the most badass American women, Victoria Woohull. She was the first woman to run for president, and she and her sister Tennessee were the first women on Wall Street. She was a real feminist who was rejected by the proper thinking ones because she advocated for free love. However, she had the best résumé. No one ever talks about her.
Josh Jacob – A nun didn’t invent Kung Fu she invented a style called ‘Wing Chun’ which was the one taught to Bruce Lee by his master. Kung Fu was derived from the Indian martial art called ‘Kalaripayattu’ which was brought to China by an Indian Prince or so goes the story.
This Article Was First Published on themanual.com