Women in history are inspirational

From a young age, learning about women in history was inspiring, as they showed me how to use my own power to create a legacy for myself. In third grade we were supposed to give a report on a person in history. While dressed up as that person, we were supposed to stand in front of the class and recite our report. I was attracted to the dressing up bit of the rubric, and, having always wanted red hair, I decided to report on Queen Elizabeth I of England so I could try on a ginger wig.

Researching her was so fun for me, learning about a woman in power who was praised for her government and her patronage of the arts. I fell in love with history and the women who filled its pages, and since then I have looked forward to every history class. In class, however, we do not get to learn about many women, and when we do, they’re a footnote on a page. So, over the past couple of years, I have taken to doing my own research into women in history, watching video after video on different women who left their mark on the world. These women inspire me in my own life, and show me how to make my own mark.

I remember talking to my mother about my love for Elizabeth I, and she told me that in her college studies she looked up to Catherine the Great of Russia. I looked up videos of her online, and found out how great she really was. Married to a man who was unfaithful and incompetent to rule, she rallied the support of her people and had him overthrown, declaring herself as Empress of Russia. Throughout her reign she continuously fought to make reforms for the people and improve her adoptive nation. At a time where women had little power, Catherine the Great proved to the world that women are capable of anything. She showed me that despite what constructs may limit me, I have the power to make my own mark on the world.

My mother also introduced me to Jane Austen, a female writer who continues to inspire audiences with her stories that portray headstrong women. Her stories helped to tell the real experiences of women during this time, portraying their everyday lives and their experiences in love, her humor and wit exposing the true desires of the real woman. She really has inspired me as a writer because she manages to tell beautiful stories with a feminist lens, showing me what a true woman intellect can do for women all around.

More recently I had heard the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was the daughter of the French duke of Aquitaine, who left his extensive lands to her on his death. She married the king of France, and was largely the one in control in government. Once her marriage was annulled with him, she married King Henry II of England and continued to be the true leader of the state. Once her husband’s rule was disproved by the people, she helped her sons revolt against him and become king. Throughout her sons’ rule, she remained the person in control of the state and maintained England’s lands and foreign relations. Even in her old age she continued to fight and make alliances. She is the epitome of a strong woman, a powerhouse who uses her intellect to get what she wants.

Reading and listening to these women’s stories, and many others like them, I feel inspired to continue their fight to end sexism for women. Hearing these stories of women who exercised great power and influence showed me that women’s power is not a modern construct, but a constant throughout time. I use their stories for inspiration in my future studies and career, honoring their legacy.

 

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