The thing about being a simultaneously strong and weak woman is that I have exactly two fear-inducing problems. One) My personal strength and self-reliance makes me intimidating and off-putting. Two) My weakness (not as a woman but as someone who lacks self-confidence) makes me easily preyed upon by the creepy and gross. These issues are fear-inducing because the second issue makes me think this is the best I can do, and the first has me thinking I’m doomed to the solitude I’m trying to learn in. I don’t, however, want it to last forever.
So I’ve been doing some research. Noteworthy single women:
Louisa May Alcott
A transcendental feminist who wrote a bit romantically about marriage and families, but spent her life doting on her sisters and their children never starting her own family. Best known for Little Women.
Controversially taught human sexuality at the YWCA. Told her Presbyterian seminary students they would not pass if they did their fieldwork in the church rather than seeking out impoverished communities. Fought against ageism after she was forced by the Presbyterian Church to retire. Started the Gray Panthers.
A minimalist painter awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Medal of Arts in 1998.
Susan B. Anthony
Worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in co-founding the first Women’s Temperance Movement. Aided in bringing women’s suffrage to the United States. Annually gave an average of 75 to 100 speeches. A key player in the government acknowledging women’s right. You’ll recognize her from her coin.
Pioneering French fashion designer. Used men’s fashion as inspiration for women’s fashion. While she never married she did play mistress. She was also a Nazi spy during World War II.
E. Cora Hind
Western Canada’s first female journalist. Agricultural editor for the “Winnipeg Free Press.” Women’s rights activist.
Agnes Campbell Macphail
First woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons. One of the first two women elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Wrote agricultural columns for the “Globe and Mail” in Toronto.
Wrote 35 books and multiple essays. Translate the works of Auguste Comte. Supported herself entirely on her writings, a difficult task for a woman in the Victorian era. Wrote autobiographically to be published posthumously, “…In short, should popularize while could neither discover nor invent.”
Reverend Dr. Pauline “Pauli” Murray
Women’s rights activist, civil rights activist, writer and lawyer. First black female ordained Episcopalian priest. Many of her arguments were used in Brown v. Board of Education.
Dame Christabel Pankhurst
Co-founded Women’s Social and Political Union, suffragette. Was arrested in 1905 for interrupting a Liberal Party meeting shouting demands for women’s voting rights. Earned a law degree. Appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1936, after hiding in Paris to avoid prison.
Dame Freya Stark
Travel writer who wrote 21 books. She went alone into areas women rarely traveled, particularly alone.
I don’t have a picture of these two women, but I wish I did.
Happy Waltz and Aida Toffolo started Blackhawk Christian School in 1973 with the school now educating over 600 students from Kindergarten to 12th grade in general education founded on Biblical principles.
None of them ever married. Perhaps because they were intimidating for all of their independence and strength. Maybe it’s because they were too engrossed in their careers and caused. Or maybe, and it’s something more people should consider, they simply didn’t want to. I may be alone, but I’m not alone.