Bright Side
Bright Side

11 Badass Women of History That Defied All Expectations

It’s undeniable that women over history have mostly been subjected to strictly-led lives. Even within the same countries, different groups of women could live completely different lives. For example, in Ancient Greece, Athenian women led very restricted lives, but Spartan women could enjoy liberties such as owning land and divorcing their partners.

However, there are some dark horses and female figures throughout history that have rebelled against the norms by standing their ground and defying all expectations.

Bright Side loves to see people empowering others no matter if they lived 1,000 years ago or are still awesome as ever today. That being said, we’ve collected 11 instances of badass women throughout history who’ve fought against conventions and come out victorious.

1. Artemisia I of Caria — naval commander

Queen Artemisia I of Caria was a fierce, courageous, and determined ancient Greek ruler who is most well-known for her role in the Greco-Persian war, the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. Here, Artemisia served as the naval commander where she sided with the Persians against the Greeks. In the modern-day, Queen Artemisia was portrayed by Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire.

Sources say it was during the Battle of Salamis that Artemisia found herself trapped by a fleet of ships and in all manners of the word, broke herself free. She rammed her ship against one of her Persian allies in an attempt to confuse her enemies, and it worked! The Greeks believed Artemisia to be one of theirs and let her pass.

2. Sabiha Gökçen — first female fighter pilot

Sabiha Gökçen was one of the adopted daughters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey. However, that’s not why Gökçen is on our list. As a result of her father’s orders, she was able to enroll in the Military Aviation Academy and take on further pilot training.

Following her training, Gökçen went on to become what is believed to be the world’s first female fighter pilot in 1937 and, in total, took part in 32 different service operations. Her memory continues to live on as she has since been commemorated by the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport in Istanbul and with a wax sculpture at Madame Tussauds there.

3. Annie Oakley — sharpshooter

Annie Oakley was born into a poor family so she adopted typically masculine responsibilities in the home, such as hunting. Oakley grew up during the Wild West era and developed her shooting skills to become a legendary sharpshooter and cowgirl. She eventually became the first female to join Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and received worldwide fame.

She was fixed on empowering women as Oakley encouraged other women to learn how to use pistols in order to protect themselves and their children.

4. Donna Tobias — first female deep-sea diver

Despite women being banned from becoming US Navy divers, Donna Tobias’ bravery and intelligence as a hull technician impressed her superiors. She eventually applied for a waver to go to dive school, which she was accepted into in 1975.

Tobias faced extra pressure due to being a female, but she persevered and graduated that same year to become the Navy’s first female deep-sea diver. And deep-sea diving requires a lot of bravery, as there are risks involved, including potential joint disorders, breathing issues, and the possible malfunctioning of the equipment.

5. Nakano Takeko — samurai

Nakano Takeko came from an influential family of samurais, but she went against social norms that prevented women from becoming skilled fighters. She also taught women and children how to wield the naginata, a type of traditional Japanese blade.

During the Boshin War through the 1860s, women were not allowed to fight, so Takeko took it upon herself to command and create her own female unit. Sadly, it was during this war that Takeko lost her life at the age of 21. Few photos of Takeko exist, with the above image being of an actress.

6. Mary Read and Anne Bonny — pirates

These 2 literally go hand in hand. Mary Read and her cohort, Anne Bonny, were 2 of the most notorious female pirates to ever live.

Bonny spent some of her childhood posing as a boy, but later married and moved to New Providence in the Bahamas, which was riddled with pirates. There, Bonny met a pirate captain, Calico Jack, and abandoned her old life to be part of his crew.

Read spent a lot of her childhood in poverty and also ended up pretending to be a man, calling herself “Mark Read.” It was in the 1710s that Read took up piracy and only revealed herself as a woman when meeting her fellow female pirate, Bonny.

During their time, Read and Bonny both garnered fearsome reputations, but eventually, along with the rest of the crew, they were captured and charged with the crime of piracy. Read’s fame eventually came into pop culture with things like the Black Flag installment of the Assassin’s Creed games. Bonny was also featured in the same game along with the TV series, Black Sails.

7. Kate Warne — first female detective

Kate Warne walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in 1856 and changed her life forever. The Pinkerton Detective Agency is a US private detective agency that is still active to this day. Warne was answering a job advertisement and supposedly persuaded Pinkerton to employ her as the first female detective.

As a detective, Warne was excellent at going undercover, befriending wives and girlfriends of major suspects in their cases to unveil valuable evidence. She went on to be Pinkerton’s respected right-hand partner.

Warne was probably best known for foiling the Baltimore assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln while he was on the train. Warne went undercover and was able to uncover plot details to then implement disguises for her and the future president.

Kate Warne’s disguises were really quite something, take a look at the images! The portrait is alleged to be Warne in disguise. The group image above also allegedly shows Warne standing at the back holding the tent pole.

8. Hedy Lamarr — actress and inventor

Hedy Lamarr was one of the most talented and recognized actresses of the classic Hollywood era, but there was more than meets the eye. Lamarr was also an inventor, where she helped create a communications system to be used in World War II. The invention created an unbreakable code that was used to prevent confidential messages from being intercepted.

This technology would form the basis for Wi-Fi and GPS, which we’re all too familiar with today!

9. Valentina Tereshkova — first woman to go to space

Have you ever wondered who the first woman to go to space was? That title belongs to Valentina Tereshkova, who, in 1963, spent 3 days in space orbiting the Earth. The 26-year-old Tereshkova had no pilot training but was a recognized amateur parachutist. She volunteered for the cosmonaut program in 1961 and was accepted on the basis of her parachuting accomplishments.

Tereshkova remains to be the only woman to have gone on a solo space mission and was also the youngest to go to space at the time.

10. Khutulun — warrior

Born in the mid-late 1200s, Khutulun was the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan, and Khutulun followed in his footsteps. Mongol women were often warriors at the time, but Khutulun was not only an excellent cavalrywoman but one of the best wrestlers the Mongols ever saw.

She went mostly undefeated both in battle and in the wrestling ring. In the modern-day, pop culture recognizes Khutulun’s achievements with her portrayal in Netflix’s Marco Polo.

11. Isabella Goodwin — New York’s first female detective

Isabella Goodwin may very well be the female version of Sherlock Holmes. Having become the widow of a police officer in 1896, Goodwin was hired as a police matron with the role of having to watch over the women and children prisoners. Sometime between 1900 and 1910, Goodwin began helping with investigations.

After going undercover and solving a seemingly unsolvable robbery in 1912, Goodwin was appointed as New York’s first female detective. Goodwin mainly specialized her career in exposing fortune-tellers and swindlers. She retired from the police department in 1924 after serving for nearly 30 years.

What do you think are the most important qualities in these female figures? Let us know!

Got some cool photos or stories and want to be featured on Bright Side? Send them all right HERE and right now. Meanwhile, we’re waiting!

Bright Side/People/11 Badass Women of History That Defied All Expectations
Share This Article