A Feminist a Day: Kathleen Hanna

Who is she?

kathleenKathleen Hanna is an American musician and feminist activist, best known for being the lead singer of the 1990s punk band Bikini Kill.

She was first introduced to feminism when her mother took her to a rally where Gloria Steinem was speaking and has been an outspoken feminist her whole life.

Kathleen formed Bikini Kill in 1990 and the band was considered the pioneers of the riot grrrl movement. At Bikini Kill concerts, she would encourage women to move to the front of the stage to avoid harassment. Kathleen and the band helped to forge a way for women in punk rock, which with a few exceptions had been dominated by male acts.

She and the band supported abortion rights and Planned Parenthood, performing and speaking at protests.

Bikini Kill disbanded in 1997 after only two albums, but they left a legacy that inspired many other bands, such as Sleater Kinney.

Why should we thank her?

Kathleen was one of the key drivers behind the riot grrrl movement, which encouraged and supported women in punk rock and female music fans.

Best quote 

“There’s just as many different kinds of feminism as there are women in the world.”

Fun facts

Kathleen is married to Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz and inspired the name of the song Smells Like Teen Spirit – she memorably wrote on a wall “Kurt (Cobain) smells like teen spirit”, the name of a deodorant brand.

 

A Feminist a Day: Kathleen Hanna

A Feminist a Day: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Who is she?

ruthRuth Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and a modern feminist icon, having spent much of her legal career working for women’s rights at a legal and constitutional level.

Ruth went to Harvard Law School and Columbia, where she tied for first in her class, but was later rejected a clerkship because of her gender. While at Harvard, where her husband Marty was also studying law, Marty was treated for cancer. Ruth looked after their daughter, managed her own course work, took all of Marty’s notes from his classes and typed up his dictated essays.

She went onto teach law and co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the U.S. to focus exclusively on women’s rights. Ruth also co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. As its chief litigator, she argued landmark cases for women’s rights, including a case that challenged laws which made jury duty voluntary for women.

rbgBill Clinton nominated Ruth to the Supreme Court in 1993 and during her time on the bench has supported abortion rights, gender equality and civil liberties.

Ruth has become a modern feminist icon, with a Tumblr called Notorious RBG celebrating her general amazingness. It’s also a book and Ruth’s image emblazons many a feminist t-shirt, tote bag and meme.

Ruth and her husband Marty also had an enviable marriage – he supported her career, which is unusual, even today. He said: “I think that the most important thing I have done is enable Ruth to do what she has done.”

Why should we thank her?

Ruth has been an inspirational lawyer and judge and a staunch defender of women’s rights her entire career. She’s still on the bench in her 80s and is totally incredible. Love the RBG!

Best quote

“When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough (women on the supreme court)? And I say ‘When there are nine’, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

A Feminist a Day: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

A Feminist a Day: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Who is she?

ayaan-hirsi-aliAyaan Hirsi Ali is a a Somali-born activist, author, and former politician, who is critical of female genital mutilation and calls for a reformation of Islam.

Ayaan was raised as a strict Muslim and underwent female gential mutliation. She escaped a forced marriage and moved to the Netherlands, where she became a member of Parliament and started criticising Islam for its treatment of women.

She collaborated with Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh on a documentary called Submission, which showed how Islam condones violence against women. After the movie’s release, Van Gogh was killed by an Islamic extremist and a letter was pinned to his body threatening Ayaan’s death.

Ayaan has written several books that call for the reform of Islam, and she has come under criticism from many who accuse her of Islamophobia, including some western feminists. She believes that Islam’s main teachings are fundamentally sexist and its treatment of women unjust.

Why should we thank her?

Ayaan has bravely spoken out against Islam’s treatment of women, defying criticism and death threats. She is recognised as a champion of free speech and her books, including the best-selling Infidel, chronicle her life and work for women’s rights. Her AHA Foundation is the leading organisation working to end honour violence against women and girls.

Best quote

“Let us recognise that we can no longer tolerate violent oppression of women in the name of religion and culture any more than we would tolerate violent oppression espoused by any other bully in the name of a twisted rationale.”

 

A Feminist a Day: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

A Feminist a Day: Florynce Kennedy

Who is she?

floFlorynce Kennedy was an American lawyer, who was heavily involved in the civil rights and feminist movements, both as a protester and activist, and in the courts as a lawyer. She was known for her flamboyant outfits and sharp wit.

Florynce was one of the first black women to graduate from Columbia Law School (she was refused, but threatened a lawsuit, and was admitted), and went on to represent civil rights leaders and members of the Black Panthers.

She sued the Catholic Church in 1968 for interfering with women’s rights to abortion, and was one of the lawyers in the Abramowicz v. Lefkowitz case, which wanted to repeal New York’s strict abortion laws.

The case was one of the first to use women who had suffered from illegal abortions as expert witnesses – this tactic was later used in Roe v Wade, which went on to legalise abortion in the US.

She spoke with Gloria Steinem at US colleges, was an early member of the National Organisation for Women (NOW) and helped found the Feminist Party and Women’s Political Caucus.

Florynce also represented radical feminist Valerie Solanas, who was charged with the attempted murder of Andy Warhol. Early in her career, she also represented jazz musicians Billie Holliday and Charlie Parker.

She also famously led a mass urination at Harvard, protesting a lack of female bathrooms.

Why should we thank her?

Florynce dedicated her life to political activism (she famously said “if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up space”) and was relentless and fought in the courts and on the streets on all fronts. Her peers said that she gave women the courage to fight, and showed a generation of Americans the right way to live their lives and stand up for what was right.

Best quote

“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

 

 

A Feminist a Day: Florynce Kennedy

A Feminist a Day: Emma Watson

Who is she?

emma-watson-un-portraitEmma Watson is a British actress, best known for her role as Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter movie series.

In 2014, she delivered a landmark speech to the United Nations to launch the #HeForShe campaign, to encourage men and boys to become advocates for gender equality. The speech outlined how men stood to benefit from feminism.

The speech went viral and Emma suddenly became the latest celebrity face of feminism worldwide.

Notably, the wonderful Malala Yousafzai chose to call herself a feminist after hearing Emma’s speech.

She is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and has toured the world promoting girls education and women’s political participation.

Why should we thank her?

While some people are critical of celebrity feminists (and equally, many are critical of the whole “men in feminism” movement), I think Emma should be applauded for her speech, which brings the whole definition back to basics, and addresses the role men can (and should) play in bringing about true gender equality.

Best quote

“If you stand for equality, you’re a feminist – I’m sorry to tell you, but you are.”

 

 

A Feminist a Day: Emma Watson

A Feminist a Day: Ina Higgins

Who is she?

ina higginsFrances Higgins, known as “Ina” was a horticulturist, landscape architect and feminist – she was the first female landscape architect in Victoria.

Ina enrolled at the Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne after the director of the college allowed women into the institution. She became a professional landscape architect and a political activist, and was vocal about women joining the profession.

Ina was also the secretary of the United Council for Women’s Suffrage from 1894.

After WW1, Ina was involved in the cooperative women’s farm, The Women’s Rural Industries Co. Ltd, in Mordialloc. Noted feminists like Adela Pankhurst and Vida Goldstein were also involved in the farm.

The idea of the farm was to support women who wanted to work outside the home and not depend on men for their livelihood – but didn’t want to necessarily work as servants or in factories.

Why should we thank her?

As the first female landscape architect, Ina broke new ground (literally) for women in her field and paved the way for women to follow her. Her work with the women’s farm was also groundbreaking for its time and helped teach many women new skills

 

A Feminist a Day: Ina Higgins

A Feminist a Day: Miles Franklin

Who is she?

miles franklinStella Miles Franklin was an Australian writer and feminist, most famous for her novel, My Brilliant Career. The leading Australian award for women writers, the Stella Prize, is named in her honour, as well as the country’s leading literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award.

Stella was raised in a life of poverty and was greatly affected by the drudgery and endless childbearing that was her mother’s experience of marriage. She started writing My Brilliant Career at the age of 16, and through the help of Henry Lawson, she gained an agent and had the novel published. It was released to criticism and outrage for its depiction of marriage and the church. The story focused on the rebellious Sybylla Melvyn, who resists the limits placed on women.

Stella was taken under the wing of NSW feminist Rose Scott and influenced to influential feminists of the time, who urged her to travel to the United States. It was there she suffered a nervous breakdown. After her recovery, Stella she edited various union magazines, and when the war broke out, she travelled to Europe and worked in Macedonia as a cook.

She returned to Australia to care for her ailing mother in 1932, and during WW2 worked as a broadcaster for the ABC. She lived frugally, saving her money to found a prize to encourage Australian authors. That award, the Miles Franklin Award, was first won by Patrick White’s Voss.

Why should we thank her?

Stella’s legacy on Australian literature is enormous – she was an influential writer, who no doubt encouraged many women writers in her wake. She also created a memorable character in Sybylla, who in print and on film, rebelled against the lot of women of her time.

Best quote

“It’s a sign of your own worth sometimes if you’re hated by the right people.”

 

A Feminist a Day: Miles Franklin