Today is International Women’s Day and I would like to take a moment to share some of my favorite women in life and in fiction. Warning: this may have some slight spoilers from Jessica Jones and Breaking Bad.
Favorite Female Artists
Ariel Bloomer (Icon for Hire): Not only does Ariel Bloomer have one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard, she is also active in the feminism community through both music and the occasional video (this one is especially moving) or interview. One of their most recent singles, Now You Know (you can listen to it here), she sings about how women shouldn’t have to compromise her femininity to be taken seriously in the male-dominated music industry.
Marina Diamandis (Marina and the Diamonds): Like Ariel Bloomer, Marina Diamandis spreads messages of vulnerability, independence and female power through her music and interviews. On this day several years ago, she stated, “To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you’re the reason it exists.” In another recent post, she answered the question of “Are you a feminist?” with “Is that a real fucking question?” I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that a non-feminist woman (or any person, really) is becoming a prehistoric idea.
Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!): After coming out as transgender rather late in life, Laura Jane Grace has encountered mixed emotions about her transition, including the departure of two band members. However, Laura Jane and new members are pressing on, continuing with transgender activism and planning to release a new album in summer of 2016.
Favorite Female Characters
Skyler White from Breaking Bad (portrayed by Anna Gunn): With an evasive husband, handicapped son, kleptomaniac sister and an unexpected daughter on the way, Skyler is put through hell and back to keep her family together when she finds out her husband, Walter, is cooking meth to pay for his cancer treatment and secure his family’s future. She helps her husband launder his money and lies to the rest of the family, including her D.E.A. agent brother-in-law, to keep Walter out of prison, all while working and being the a homemaker. Some people might write her off as a “bitch” because some of her conversations are emotionally charged, yet, they are always justified. In my opinion, Skyler White is one of the best characters ever written, and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so as Anna Gunn has two Primetime Emmy Awards under her belt.
Trish Walker from Jessica Jones (portrayed by Rachael Taylor): After shedding her image as a child actress and starting her own radio show, Trish Walker is determined to be a hero, even though her friend, Jessica, is the one with the special abilities. Trish stands by Jessica even when things get dangerous, taking up fighting lessons and installing extra security measures for her apartment to defend herself. She has been proven time and time again to be more than a spoiled child actress and has truly become her own person with the best of intentions.
Louise Sawyer from Thelma & Louise (portrayed by Susan Sarandon): I only saw Thelma & Louise for the first time fairly recently, so a lot of you know better than I do that Louise is of a prime example of a strong-willed, determined and independent character. While I wouldn’t recommend following her example of committing homicide and more, the way she handled these situations (or didn’t) shows us how a character can be both vulnerable and tough at the same time.
Most Inspiring Women
Angelina Jolie: This famous actress is not only that, but an outstanding humanitarian as well. Her humanitarian accomplishments are grand, including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ambassadorship, conservation, child education and women’s rights. She makes a valiant effort to keep her adopted children connected to their cultures of southeast Asia and Africa by visiting often. Perhaps one of her bravest feats was getting a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an extremely high risk of developing breast cancer. While the media gave her hell, she says she “feel[s] empowered that [she] made a strong choice that in no way diminishes [her] femininity”.
Laverne Cox: Known for her supporting role in the popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox portrays a transgender woman in prison who goes through the same cycle of violence and discrimination she has faced her whole life. Last year, she toured many universities, including Arizona State, to share her story, and I was lucky enough to hear it. She really shed light on the lives of transgender people and how to recognize your privilege was a cisgender person and be a good ally. She continues to bring awareness and break glass ceilings like nobody has never seen before, including being the first transgender person on the cover of Time magazine.
Fran Drescher: Although she is most recognizable by her nasally voice and iconic role on The Nanny, Fran Drescher is so much more than that. She has faced enormous challenges that she always spins to help other people. After her husband came out as gay and they divorced, she worked to support LGBT rights issues. After getting a clean bill of health from uterine cancer, she wrote a book for people to become more aware of the early warning signs of cancer and to empower themselves. I have been lucky enough to see her act in the Broadway revival Cinderella last March, although I didn’t get to meet her.
I love all the women in my life and I hope you feel appreciated and empowered today!