a captive little soldier on her finger

Aung San Suu Kyi is a woman who should be widely celebrated amongst society, yet many are ignorant of her good deeds. She is a social democratic stateswoman, politician, diplomat, and author. She serves as the leader of the National League for Democracy. She is the first woman to be a Minister of Foreign Affairs in Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, Burma. She graduated from the University of Dehli in 1964, and Oxford in ’68. She went on to work for the United Nations for three years. Leading the NLD, her and her league won 81% of the vote for Parliament, but the military did not want that leadership, so she was put in house arrest before the elections. She was under house arrest for 15 years, which created an international outcry.

In 2015, her party won the elections by a landslide. Aung San Suu Kyi gained international acclaim. She received many honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Rafto Prize, the Sakharov Prize, the Order of Australia, and many others. She was among the honorary members of Nelson Mandela’s elders. During her time in house arrest, Suu Kyi devoted herself to Buddhism, which is reflected in her writings that had emphasis on love and compassion. Those who put her under arrest offered her freedom if she had left the country, but Suu Kyi refused, showing her bravery. She would have gotten the position as Prime Minister when the NLD won 50% of the vote for Parliament, but she was not permitted and it was a complete showing of discrimination.

Suu Kyi influenced Buddhist monk protests, despite the increasing pressure of military forces. She was released in 2010, and appeared in front of a crowd of her supporters, free and wizened. She finally got to see her family after 10 years. Some activists discriminated against Suu Kyi for her silence on the 2012 Rakhine State riots, and denied the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the state. She announced she would run for President in 2012 for the 2015 elections, even though she was barred constitutionally from presidency. She is currently the State Counsellor, and as soon as she was admitted at the position she released the order for amnesty for students arrested in jails for objecting to the National Education Bill. She’s the first female Foreign Minister of Myanmar, and she won’t be the last, because of how she can influence young girls that are in her previous position.

Title from “Taking What’s Not Yours” by TV Girl.

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they call her out by name

IMG_7549  Lupita Nyong’o is a woman who is long past due to have been featured on this blog. She is strong, she is talented, and she is passionate. On March 1st, 1983, the woman was born in Mexico to Kenyan-raised parents. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Hampshire University in Film and Theatre studies, and from then on pursued her acting career. She started as a production assistant in Hollywood, and in 2008 made her debut in the film “East River.” In 2009 she starred in the television series “Shuga” and in the same year wrote, produced, and directed the documentary “In My Genes.” She’s won countless awards, among them an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “12 Years a Slave.” The movie is something most consider to be her acting breakthrough.

IMG_7555In 2015, she co-starred in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which she pulled off amazingly. Besides being incredibly talented artistically, Lupita is fluent in many languages; Spanish, Luo, English, and Swahili. She speaks openly about the troubles of being a black woman in a very white Hollywood, and life in general. She’s also spoken about her insecurities as a teenager, and helped girls worldwide feel comfortable in their bodies. She’s worked behind the scenes in many productions, and will continue to appear in Star Wars movies. Among all of her philanthropy, she publicly advocates for elephants in Kenya, as a part of environmental conservation.

IMG_7552Lupita is also involved in the organization Mother Health International, which is dedicated to providing aid to women and children in Uganda or other impoverished, developing countries where they can’t get proper help by themselves. Once feeling self-conscious about her dark skin, Nyong’o admits to having thought about using cream to lighten it. She now embraces her beautiful skin with pride, modeling and showing children all over to love themselves no matter what. Her father works in the Kenyan Senate, while her mother took leadership in the Africa Cancer Foundation. With amazing role models like that, it’s no wonder the girl grew up to be such an influential, beautiful woman.

Title from “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes.

you’re put down in her book

IMG_7540  Benazir Bhutto is the face of sexism against women around the globe. Benazir is a woman who stood up for women in her country, and faced the misogynistic consequences. She was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two times (one from 1988-90, the other from 1993-96). She was the oldest daughter of a former Prime Minister, who founded the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Bhutto was the absolute first woman to be democratically elected to be the leader of any Muslim country in the world. Three years following her father’s execution in 1979, Benazir rose in the ranks of the PPP and became chairperson of the party. She remains the only woman to have ever headed Pakistan’s government.

IMG_7542Bhutto was known for her charismatic authority, and she drove for Pakistan’s national and economic security. She implemented capitalistic tendencies that promoted industrial growth and development. Other policies favored deregulation, flexible labor markets, the denationalisation of state-owned corporations, and the withdrawal of subsidies to others. Her reign was admit high levels of corruption in organizations, as well as high unemployment, so the woman’s hard work was constantly dismissed in favor of men’s accomplishments. Since she was unforgiving of her values in her work, she was known as the “Iron Lady” in India. She was unfairly accused of corruption in 1996, so-exiled-she fled to Dubai. In 2007, she returned to Pakistan, having come to an agreement with the president. At a PPP rally on December 27, 2007, she was assassinated by a bombing. She was the leading candidate at the time for the polls for Prime Minister, and it seems as if someone was not too fond of the idea.
IMG_7541Her entire time in office, Benazir promised and promoted to repeal controversial laws that curtailed women’s rights in Pakistan. She was the founder of the Council of Women World Leaders. It must have been hard in a place like Pakistan to speak outright about the rights of women, and be under so much scrutinization. But Bhutto took it in stride, and despite all the threats and disgust thrown towards her from men and misogynists, she prevailed twice. Benazir Bhutto was an iconic figure for little Muslim girls who constantly face oppression from boys and men, and for women all over the world.

Title from “Femme Fatale” by The Velvet Underground.

love her & she’ll bring you luck

IMG_7532This week’s influential woman is someone who was involved greatly in the fashion industry. Mary Quant was born February 11, 1934. She was one of the main designers of the invention of the miniskirt and hot pants. She married her husband Alexander Plunket Greene in 1957, who became her partner in working fashion. Her first shop was open on King’s Road in London, called the Bazaar. It was right above her husband’s restaurant, called Alexander’s. Quant opened up a second branch of her shop later on. Some of her successful designs included white plastic collars to keep sweaters and collared shirts up, bright stockings, dress-length men’s cardigans, and a pair of lounging pajamas. She eventually started to design the clothes herself, instead of buying stock from other suppliers.

IMG_7534Quant designed the miniskirt in the 60s. The idea was challenged by others, probably because it wasn’t matronly enough and showed too much leg for young females. Many people and magazines credited men with creating the style, but it was Quant who really put in the work. She said the miniskirt would now allow women to run to the bus. She named the skirt after her favorite car, the Mini. She said of the people that wore it:  “They are curiously feminine, but their femininity lies in their attitude rather than in their appearance … She enjoys being noticed, but wittily. She is lively—positive—opinionated.” Later in the 60s, Quant made the hot pants popular as well. She quickly became a British fashion icon because of her outrageous ideas and amazing designs.

IMG_7537Mary was the first winner of the “Dress of the Year” award, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Later she was upgraded to be Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1990 she won the Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council. I find Mary Quant so inspiring because even today, and especially in the 20th century, women were and are still ridiculed for what clothing they wear (no matter how matronly, expressive, or revealing). Quant expressed her love for fashion and said that all girls should get to wear what they like without being judged. This applies to Muslim women who wear hijabs that are called terrorists, and women who get told that “they were asking for it” if they get raped while wearing revealing clothing.

Title from “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins.

stars fading but i linger on dear

IMG_7516My sister is in awe of this week’s influential woman. Jane Austen, born in 1775 and died in 1817, was a fantastic author of her time and still amazes readers today. She’s most famous for her novel “Pride and Prejudice” which was adapted into multiple famous movies, one including Keira Knightley. She’s also written “Sense and Sensibility,” “Mansfield Park,” “Northanger Abbey,” and “Persuasion.” She started writing a final book in her lifetime, titled “Sandition” but she never completed it because she passed away after she started writing it. Austen’s novels are often used to inspire cultural arts. She wrote in a notebook that is now considered the “Juvenilia.” It was written in between the years 1787 and 1793. It was in this notebook that she compiled stories essentially mocking popular novels of sensibility, as well as historical texts. Jane wrote rather humorously at some points in her books. In one novel, she mocks the name Richard, saying the man amounted to nothing other than the abbreviation of his name.

IMG_7513Jane was a feminist in her time as well. She proposed many lessons that had female equality within them; such as the fact that you can’t judge women for their choices, to never accept less than you deserve, it’s up to you to chase your own happiness, to have confidence, and to accept that it’s okay to be a work in progress. She also promotes the idea that women should always support other women, and those who take down others emotionally are following the wrong path. She constantly wrote about strong women in her books, and gave young girls in her time the impression that they were just as equal to men. She was similar to Mary Wollstonecraft in that regard, who was the mother of modern feminism. Both ladies promoted self-love for women, and sent the message that girls can do whatever men can do.
IMG_7528Jane Austen is an incredibly talented writer. My sister has all of her books in her room, and constantly urges me to read the author’s craft. The way she writes and the messages she sends alone would cause me to open a book of hers. I admire her courage, because it couldn’t have been easy to be a successful woman in the 18th and 19th centuries. I consider her an incredible influential woman, and so should girls worldwide.

Title from “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by The Mamas and the Papas.

work hard and say it’s easy

IMG_7263I have always loved photography, and all of the ways it can portray one thing. I admire many photographers, but recently I have started to look at Petra Collins’ work. She’s young to be as famous as she is (23), but she’s been taking pictures since high school. She grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and attended Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. She’s now attending Ontario College of Art and Design. When she was shooting in high school, she met Richard Kern, and he soon became her mentor. She uses mostly 35mm film, adding an antique and beautiful quality to her photos. Collins has shot for many famous brands, such as Vogue Italia, Urban Outfitters, and Rookie Magazine (plus many more side projects and just for herself).

IMG_7288What I love about Petra is that she’s an avid feminist, contributing to global controversies through photography. For example, she designed a number of graphic tee-shirts for the clothing store American Apparel. These shirts were controversial because they showed a woman’s body parts that aren’t normally on display, and sending the message that women shouldn’t be censored. She’s very interested in what’s hidden in our culture, saying that “We’re taught to hate our menstrual cycle and even to hide masturbation.” She takes all the controversy with stride, not caring what people have to say about her views. She celebrates girlhood, and the feminine side of girls’ lives. She also understands that gender roles are applied pretty heavily in our society, and breaks them constantly.

IMG_7262Petra Collins has had a huge impact on my life, and discovering how society has taught me to censor myself. I now know that I shouldn’t apologize for my body or who I am, and that women’s bodies aren’t some sacred or taboo thing. I hope to be a photographer one day, and to have a role model like Petra is so nice. I want other people to realize gender roles, and how they can corrupt society just has misogyny and sexism has. Many people disregard feminism as man-hating and unfair, but what they don’t realize is that it’s striving for equality in all aspects of life. Petra shows that in her beautiful photos, and that’s why she’s my inspiration.

Title from “The Modern Age” by the Strokes.

i think i feel a change of tide

IMG_7494Margaret Booth is this week’s influential woman. She was a film editor in Hollywood, back when the workers had to actually cut the film and splice it to make different scenes with different shots of the camera. Margaret was a lady of three centuries, having been born in 1898 and died in 2002. The 104 year-old lady saw many changes in the film industry in her lifetime. She started as a “patcher” for D.W. Griffith’s films in 1915, and later for Louis B. Mayer. When Mayer merged with other producers to create Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in ’24, Margaret got promoted to director’s assistant. Booth was consistent with her editing, truly talented, having edited many diverse films.

IMG_7503The Hollywood editor received awards for her talent such as the Academy Honorary Award, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Oscars. She also holds the place for being the second-oldest person to win and Oscar. Booth was also given the Women in Film Crystal Award. This is an important recognition because it was given to Margaret because of her endurance and excellence in her work, and her help in expanding the role of women in the entertainment industry. Back in the first half of the 20th century, it was uncommon for women to be involved in the inner-workings of the film industry. Margaret refused to acknowledge the bias against women in her work force, and inspired many young ladies to go do the same.

IMG_7505Margaret Booth inspires me because film editing might be something I want to do later in life, and the fact that I get to learn about how she basically made it common for women to be involved in film editing is truly amazing. Now, it’s pretty even between men and women in film, and I’m glad she lived as long as she did to see the outcome. Girls shouldn’t be afraid to try something new, and see where it takes you. I’m sure Margaret didn’t know what competitive force she was getting into when she took her first editing job, but she took it in stride. Confident women are the backbone of society and are necessary to be the role models for young girls who aspire to do great things.

Title from “Someday” by The Growlers.

but you never shake me

IMG_7470Nicola Adams is this week’s influential woman because of her perseverance, pride, and strength (literally.) Adams is a British boxer who was the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title. She won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, and is also reigning at the Commonwealth Games and the European Games. As of 2012, Nicola is rated number two in the Flyweight division, just behind world champion Ren Cancan. Adams has been winning bouts since she was 13, being the first woman boxer in 2001. Staying strong, she became an English amateur champion for the first time. Adams hasaccomplished a lot of “firsts” in the world of boxing. Her titles go on even more, like her being the first English female to win a medal in a major tournament, or the first female boxer to receive an award from the Boxing Writers’ Club of Great Britain. Aside from gaining wins on the boxing front, Nicola accomplished in getting her Doctor of Laws degree at the University of Leeds in England. She’s not just a buff girl, she has brains too, and that’s what so inspiring about her.

IMG_7464Nicola Adams is openly bisexual, uncommon in the world of hardcore sports. She was named the most influential LGBT person in Britain by the Independent in 2012. This made her the first queer person to win an Olympic boxing gold medal. I think this shows young girls that no matter how society shapes you, you shouldn’t be afraid of being yourself and also excelling in what you love. She’s an inspiration because she stayed in school as well as boxing. Queer and woman representation in the world of boxing is important because since its such an male-run sport, it’s good to have females who are confident in who they are doing what they love, destroying prejudices and gender roles. People try to erase the representation of LGBTQIA+ people in media and the news, but Nicola is making sure that doesn’t happen.

IMG_7490It’s necessary to remember the women in the world that work as hard as they can, while being overlooked constantly for men. Women like Nicola destroy the concept of gender roles, and condemn society for the unfair expectations that are placed upon them.

Title from “Stuck on You” by Elvis Presley.

oh, will you take me as I am?

IMG_7442 This week’s influential woman is friends with the girl in my previous post, Rowan Blanchard. Amandla Stenberg is a 17 year-old actress who has represented feminism and black culture in beautiful ways. She’s most known for her acting of the young Catelaya in the film “Columbiana,” and as Rue in “The Hunger Games.” As well as being a successful actress, Amandla is a model. She has co-written for the book “Niobe: She is Life” with Sebastian Jones. The actress runs a Tumblr blog, where she reposts beautiful pictures of men and women of color, and posts about feminism and protecting black peoples’ rights. For a young woman, Amandla is extremely composed, as shown by her video “Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows.” In this iconic video, Amandla calmly explains the origin of cornrows, and how they help keep a black persons’ hair out of their face, because it is usually pretty wild. She explains that black stars would incorporate this hairstyle in their videos and to fashion events, as well as locs, braids, twists, etc. These hairstyles are also just a part of black culture.

IMG_7450Soon, in the early 2010’s, famous people who were white adopted these hairstyles as their own, and dubbed them as “fashion statements.” Even girls on the runway were seen wearing their hair in cornrows. Around the time of Iggy Azalea’s song “Fancy” and Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” were famous in the hip-hop world, police brutality was growing rampant. Deaths of boys like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and many more, caused many black stars to speak up on those topics. The stars who were white often were silent on this, even though they had previously taken black culture in their own hands. They were essentially only into the hairstyles and grills for the aesthetic, but when real issues sprung up, crickets chirped.

IMG_7457Amandla isn’t angry during this five-minute long video, she’s not aggressive. She just simply states the facts about cultural appropriation in the media and in stars, as well as common society. It’s an example of extreme maturity, an extent to which some adults cannot achieve. On her blog, Amandla constantly advocates for womens’ rights and misogyny in the workplace as well as in schools and Hollywood. Amandla recently came out as bisexual, having taken over the Teen Vogue snapchat and posting several videos explaining that Willow Smith gave her confidence to be who she really was. She surrounds herself with good, honest people and I look up to her immensely. Amandla Stenberg is a brave, young, woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone who’s unopposed to criticizing her, which should be common in all females. Be confident.

Title from “California” by Joni Mitchell.

 

remember, how the stars stole the night away

IMG_7410 Rowan Blanchard is a 14 year-old girl who I look up to infinitely. She’s an American actress mostly known for her role as Riley Matthew’s on Disney’s “Girl Meets World.” Rowan has also appeared in the movies “Back-up Plan,” “Little in Common,” “Spy Kids,” and “A World Away.” In her TV career, the actress appears in “Dance-a-lot Robot,” “Girl Meets W0rld,” “Best Friends Whenever,” and “Invisible Sister.” Even though she’s so young to be in the film industry, Rowan has bravely spoken out about feminism and LGBTQIA+ rights. She has recently come out as queer, stating that while she “use to feel only attraction towards boys,” she now feels more comfortable with her sexuality open to liking any gender. Rowan uses platforms like Twitter and Tumblr to speak on equality issues, but she has also spoken at the UN Women and US National Committee’s annual conference for the feminist campaign “He For She.”

IMG_7416Rowan is such an inspiration to me because in her I see all the young girls apart of the LGBTQIA+ society, being represented by this passionate young girl who has power to recognize the inequalities associated with women. It makes me think that if I were famous, as she is, I would be doing the same thing, hoping to be at least half as inspirational as she is. It’s necessary for woman who have a platform of power to recognize the problems in the industry and call people out on what they have done wrong. Rowan is a perfect example of this because she’s not intimidated by those older and more powerful than she is. She holds her ground and stands tall against them. Rowan can show young girls that they can stand up to the oppression and use their voices to support equality.

IMG_7434To all the girls out there reading this, don’t let men oppress you and put you down just because of your gender. Use people like Rowan Blanchard to stay strong and speak out about global issues. Don’t be afraid to get out there and let others hear your voice. I know Rowan would be proud. Also, don’t be afraid to be yourself, because even though there’s a world of prejudice out there, the young actress stood up and came out publicly and proudly.

Title from “September” by Earth, Wind, & Fire.