Throughout history girls and women have been told, ‘You can’t do that! You are a girl!’ Luckily, this attitude is becoming less common in many countries and cultures, but what did women do in the past? If they wanted to be a doctor, a musician, a sportsperson or even a soldier?
Most women put aside their dreams or practised other activities that were deemed appropriate for women. Some women protested, like the suffragettes who demanded to be allowed to vote. And a small number of women went much further. Today we are taking a look at the women who disguised themselves as men in order to follow their dreams.
The first woman to circumnavigate the world – to go all the way around the globe. Born in France, and with an interest in botany (the study of plants), Jeanne became first the housekeeper, and later the partner of a famous botanist Philibert de Commerson.
In our series of Great Women You Should Know … here comes daredevil and adventurer Betty Skelton
When she was eight, Betty fell in love with aeroplanes. She watched them flying over her house every day, she devoured books about them, and she begged her parents to take her to airfields where she would persuade pilots to take her on rides above the clouds.
Betty must have been a very persuasive person, because she also talked a young Navy pilot into giving the whole family flying lessons. And when I say whole family, I mean it: Betty flew her first plane solo when she was just twelve years old. She might have been a tiny daredevil, but she was so scared her mother would scold her for doing it that she kept it a secret for a week!
Louise is a feminist writer and activist who loves women’s history, reading, feminism, cats and Star Wars.
She has three cats and two daughters. Louise also runs a blogging network for feminist writers called A Room of Our Own: A Feminist/ Womanist Network.
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As March draws to a close, we look back at Women’s History Month, and find out why it is important that we celebrate women’s history.
“I read (history) a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put in heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs – the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books”.
This quote is from Catherine Morland, the heroine of Northanger Abbey, which is my absolute favourite book by Jane Austen (1775-1817). Austen is a famous British novelist who also wrote Pride & Prejudice and Emma. This is also my favourite quote ever from a book because I love history but it’s incredibly boring when it’s just about men fighting with each other over who gets to be king or pope.
I love March because the entire month is dedicated to celebrating women’s history. Women’s History Month isn’t just about learning of famous queens like Queen Elizabeth I or empresses like Catherine the Great of Russia but about recognising the rebellious women who’ve changed history like Joan of Arc, who dressed as a man and led the French to victory against the English. This was despite the fact that Joan had no real military training and girls were most definitely not allowed to dress like men. Or, lead armies.