The Most Influential Women
Although all these women inspired me in various ways, some of them stood out more than others. They all have lead very diverse lives comparatively. Some do not classify themselves as feminists, but never the less, they have made and are still making impacts in the feminists movement.
Emma Goldman had the largest influence on me throughout my studies. Her courage and strength would inspire anyone. She was an activist for free speech, homosexuality, and birth control. Anarchy is what Goldman was best known for, but also for atheism and feminism. Her fight against unfair labor and patriarchy was ongoing. Emma invisioned a world in which the goal was to put power in the hands of the people, based on the community and not in government. The president and many other powerful figures demonized her. She found herself jailed and exiled from the place she loved most, the United States. Goldman believed that the U.S, of all places, should have the right to free speach, but that was not the case. The unfair treatment of anarchists sparked her activism. Emma Goldman was an incredible woman and a feminist. More can be read about her on my woman leader website.
"Women must not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open."
- Emma Goldman (Think Exist.com)
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Actions speak louder than words...Although Shiva does not call herself a feminist, her actions prove otherwise. A valuable member in the ecofeminist movement, Dr. Shiva is not only an ecofeminist, but also a writer, physicist, and activist; and has written and co-authored hundreds of books. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, a participatory, public interest research organization. Shiva travels worldwide speaking passionately about the dangers of genetic engineering, biopiracy and seed patenting, and the importance of sustainable agriculture and preserving seed varieties. She spoke on these topics at the Organicology conference held in February in Portland, OR. (Organic Consumer Association)
"Women were among the first to notice a connection between deforestation and a lack of water, Shiva said. As the homemakers, women were in charge of collecting drinking water. However, after deforestation campaigns, they often noticed a severe decline in the resource, Shiva said." -Forest Policy Research article on Shiva and women
Simone De Beauvoir
Simone De Beauvoir was a french existentialist and has been an influence to me throughout my career in women's studies at East Tennessee State. I was first introduced to her in my introduction to women's studies course and got more into depth in philosophy of feminism. She was an atheist, writer, and philosopher. Beauvoir classified herself only as a writer and her most famous work was the Second Sex. It dove into the oppression of women and was the first to identify them as "other". She worked with Jean-Paul Sartre and wrote many influential peices. Her other works include an autobiography, a prize winning novel called The Mandarins, and The Coming of Age. A Very Easy Death was written about her mother. Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre was one of the last novels and was a tribute to her dear lifelong friend and philosopher Sartre.
"Woman is the 'other'; she lives in a world in which men have compelled her to be the second sex."
Shidzue Cato was a feminist and birth control activist in Japan. She moved to America, met and worked with Marget Sanger and they became very close. Kato was even jailed for her activism like many others.
"I was so impressed to learn that a peasant girl rescued her country, because Japanese women were forced to be obedient to their husbands and only to do housework at that time. Thanks to her, I realized I could also contribute somehow to society." (All Her Paths Are Peace by Michael Henderson 1992)
Learn More about Kato