I generally consider myself in the category of strong, independent females. Over the years I’ve been distressed to see women get the short-shrift when it comes to their place in history whether it’s back in the day or now.
One day while trolling on Tumblr.com, I found a post about Julie d’Aubigny (via http://www.badassoftheweek.com) and my fate to create this blog was sealed. I was enamored with the stories of her daring—dueling men was one thing but to be an out and open bisexual in a time when being promiscuous alone was severely punished—this woman was well on her way to being my hero. Furthermore, I was irritated that she was someone that I was never told about. Where was she in my AP European History class?!?! I definitely would have paid more attention! Since her story was my main motivator for starting this blog, I’ve honored her with being my first post.
I am in no way qualified to be reporting history (I was an English major) but thankfully Jessa is a historian so hopefully she keeps my creative story telling in check. I want this blog to inspire women of all ages, that they be “ill-behaved women” in their own ways, or to at least recapture a bit of that fighting spirit that I think too often gets quelled within us. Women do shape history, despite what the textbook writers may think, and it’s time the world knew it too.
I am a historian in the “up to the elbows in book-dust after spending hours poking around in a remote archive” sense of the word. I’m hooked on that feeling you get from finding a single line on a forgotten paper somewhere deep in an archive somewhere that brings a life from years ago back into focus, if only for a moment.
I was drawn to women’s history because I saw in these women something of myself. The “objective” kind of history I learned in high school was a one-sided story about men and the political fallout of their actions. Those stories were interesting, but I discovered in college that they were only the skeleton of what really happened “way back then.” The narratives I was drawn to, the ones that I seek out, were those that went beyond the political power plays and delved into real lives.
Without the narratives of women and others of the margins, we don’t get the whole story. I believe strongly in history as a complex, contradictory tangle of a mess of stories, and as a strong women raised by generations of strong women, I have a special place in my heart for the narratives of ill-behaved women. These women, who saw through the gendered conventions of their time and realized that they could do better, inspire me to do better too.