Thursday, March 14, 2019

Hear Us Roar: 11 Women Who Shaped Feminism

BAY CITY, Mich. -- Throughout history, there have been many courageous women who have and continues to work tirelessly for the advancement of gender equality. They've shaped the world in positive ways for women everywhere, and this National Women's History Month, we'd like to share with you their stories!


The concept of feminism is widely thought to have been introduced in 1792 when Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men and that both genders are entitled to equal treatment, both socially and politically. Later on, in 1848, the fight officially began in Seneca Falls, NY when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott held the very first Women's Rights Convention; presenting The Declaration of Sentiments and setting in motion the agenda for women's activism around the world for years to come. One of the most famous figures of the movement, Susan B. Anthony, signed on in 1851 and traveled around the United States with Stanton and Mott giving speeches demanding that women be given the right to vote.

Across the pond in the United Kingdom, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union in 1903. Unsatisfied by anything but action, the English suffragettes were quite radical compared to their American colleagues, often using violence to achieve their ends and frequently being sent to prison. Both movements were ultimately successful and clinched a huge win for women, with the 19th Amendment (US) being passed in 1920 and the Representation of the People Act (UK) being passed in 1918.


Prior to her tenure as First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was already an outspoken advocate of women's rights, heavily involved with the Women's Trade Union League and the International Congress of Working Women. Two years after taking up residence in the White House, she began writing a weekly newspaper column entitled "My Day" which addressed issues regarding gender equality - all before the term "feminism" even existed and despite her views being considered "controversial" given her station.

Post-presidential, Roosevelt continued her work towards equality as the first US delegate to the United Nations, the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and chair of the President's Commission on the Status of Women under JFK.


One of the most glamorous stars of Old Hollywood, Marlene Dietrich might not have been directly involved in the fight for women's rights, but her defiance of traditional gender roles throughout her career made her a feminist icon nonetheless. Most notably through fashion, as she was well-known for wearing pants and suits during a time when it was considered extremely scandalous and taboo for a woman, and in some places even illegal to do so in public! Although this certainly didn't stop Dietrich, who was famously quoted as saying: "I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for men."


When the United States entered into World War II, the government encouraged women to enter the workforce and fill the suddenly vacated industrial jobs left by the men who joined the military. As part of a morale-boosting campaign, the character "Rosie the Riveter" was created - clad in her iconic blue jumpsuit and polka-dot bandana flexing her bicep under the headline "We Can Do It!" - and became the wartime personification of a strong, female production worker. While the thousands of women she inspired were promptly sent back to their "traditional" roles upon the soldiers' return, Rosie became a major symbol of the feminist movement, representing capable, working women and female empowerment.

A little known fact is that Rosie the Riveter was actually based on a real person. In the photo on the left, Naomi Parker Fraley is seen leaning over a munitions table at the Naval Air Station machine shop in Alameda, CA. She was photographed by artist J. Howard Miller, who then created the famous poster for Westinghouse Electric on the right, inspired by Fraley.


Called "The Mother of Feminism", Gloria Steinem led the charge in the women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. A freelance journalist by trade, she's written extensively on women's issues in various culture, and helped to create both New York and Ms. magazines. Her fierce activism has also helped to form several female groups such as the Women's Action Alliance and Women's Political Caucus and continues her trailblazing work today with her Viceland series, WOMAN, as well as post-election initiatives for young girls and women.


A prolific author and critical voice for women of color, Alice Walker's legacy include several groundbreaking works of literature including The Color Purple, for which she won the National Book Award for hardcover fiction as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was later adapted into a multi-Academy Award-nominated film starring Oprah Winfrey. Her work primarily focuses on the struggles of black women in both a racist and sexist society, and in 1983, she coined the term "womanism" defined as a "black feminist or feminist of color", effectively expanding the culture in terms of inclusiveness.


In the midst of the Taliban occupation of her native Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northwest Pakistan, the courageous Malala Yousafzai became the voice of every girl and woman also living under the group's extremist thumb. At just 11-years-old, Yousafzai wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC Urdu, which detailed the Taliban's unspeakable acts of violence against the locals and particular cruelty towards women, whom they had banned from receiving an education. Handwriting each blog then passing them off to a reporter who would scan and email them, her work shed a bright light on what was going on to the rest of the world, earning her the distinction as the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and she has since been a tireless activist for education rights for women and children across the globe.


One of the newest and undoubtedly the strongest feminist voices today, actress Emma Watson gave the world pause when she delivered her moving speech to the UN as a Women Goodwill Ambassador, launching the HeForShe campaign in an appeal to men to advocate for gender equality. Watson says that she began questioning gender-based assumptions at the age of eight, when she noticed the positive/negative disconnect between words used to describe boys and girls who perform the same behavior, and became strongly invested in her work at 14 after being objectified by the media.

In her speech, she defines feminism as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities", and subsequently declared that both the practice and perception of "man-hating" is something that "has to stop" in order for any positive change to happen.


In addition to her extensive work as a UN diplomat, personally providing aid to people in wartorn nations and donating millions of dollars to several relief efforts, Angelina Jolie is an incredibly strong voice amongst women. In 2013, Jolie chose to share her story of receiving a double-mastectomy - changing the face of breast cancer awareness and empowering countless survivors everywhere by encouraging them to come forward with their own stories of their battle with the disease.


Even before becoming the second female Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an avid crusader for women's rights, co-founding the Women's Rights Law Reporter in 1970, the first publication of its kind in the United States to focus exclusively on the subject. Two years after that, she co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU, further ensuring that women's' voices be heard in law. Now at the age of 85, she maintains her position in the Supreme Court, and continues to use her platform to further the advancement of gender equality.


"Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me."

Enough said.

Hank Graff Chevy is located at 3636 Wilder Road, Bay City, MI 48706 and we are here to help our community grow to become an even better place to call home! For more information on Hank Graff Chevrolet, or for any questions call us at (989) 684-4411 or visit our website:

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