Episode 31: Everything About Badass Women

Episode 31: Everything About Badass Women

Viking Women

  • Since the late 1880s it was believed that the body of a Viking called the “Birka warrior” was a man because the body had been found with swords, arrowheads, a spear, two sacrificed horses. There were even gaming pieces in the lap of the body indicating that the person had been a great strategist. It was assumed to be a man. Stockholm University bioarcheologist, Anna Kjellstrom examined the pelvic bones and mandible and said, “This is a woman.” It took DNA evidence to finally prove that the warrior was female. Some still think it was a woman yes…but buried with a man’s stuff.

Learn More:

History.com Viking Woman Warrior

National Geographic Viking Woman Warrior

National Geographic Vikings


Jeanne Calment: Lived 122 years

  • Born in Arles, France on Feb 21, 1875. A year before Bell invented the telephone. Supposedly had the longest lifetime in documented history.
  • She once said, “If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.”
  • Died in 1997 at 122-years-old
  • smoked and ate two pounds of chocolate per week until she was 119.
  • learned to fence at 85
  • still riding a bicycle at 100
  • last living person to have personally met Vincent Van Gogh
    • she was 12 or 13 and said later “he was very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick – I forgive him, they called him loco.”
  • lived alone until 110
  • walked on her own until 115

The Life of Jeanne Calment (UC Davis)

New York Times Obituary for Jeanne Calment


Julie d’Aubigny: An Absolute Badass. (Or troublemaker. You decide)

Julie d’Aubigny Julie Dob-knee-sea 17th century French opera singer

  • Grew up in Versailles. Her father worked for the king’s Secretary of Horse, Count d’Armagnac
    • Over a thousand blacksmiths etc.
    • Julie lived there from the age of nine. Studied with the pages
    • Learned horseback riding, swordsmanship, dancing, courtly manners drawing. WELL EDUCATED
  • Taken as a mistress by the Count at the age of 14 and he arrange a marriage to a man named Maupin. After the wedding, Maupin was transferred south. Some accounts say the day after the wedding. Julie stayed in Paris.
  • Julie ditched the Count for a fencing master
    • He accidentally kills a man in a duel. She and he go one the run with her dressed as a man.
    • She left her fencer for a girl.
    • Girl’s parents stashed her in a convent to get her away from Julie.
    • Julie became a nun. Stole a body of a decease nun, put it in girfriend’s room, set room on fire and ran away with the girl!
    • 3 months later, the girl went home.
      • Trial in absentia. Julie would be burned at the stake if anyone could catch her.
  • One of Julie’s lovers got her a spot in the Opera and a pardon for the girl nun thing. Julie joined the opera and was really good. The King at the time, Louis the 14th loved the arts.
    • Audiences loved her androgynous look
    • fought duels backstage
  • Never hid her bisexuality. Being gay wasn’t cool in France at the time, but Louis the 14th brother was gay – so he didn’t come down on anyone.
  • 1695
    • Louis brother invited Julie to a ball. And she came as a man AND kissed a lovely woman. She was challenged to three duels. She killed them all. Then went back to the party
    • This was a crime during a royal event. OOPS. Crime against the king.
      • She fled and had an affair with a German Prince.
      • Returned to Paris a year later and reunited with her husband.
      • She sang for the Royal court.

After a few years, She fell for a woman. Two years later, when that woman died, Julie was crushed. Retired from Opera, joined a convent, and died at the age of 33.


Anne Bonney and Mary Read

They have an amazing story. It’s already been told by the hosts of Stuffed You Missed In History Class-check it out here.

Stuff You Missed Anne Bonnie & Mary Read

Dr Jocelyn Bell Burnell Physicist and Philanthropist

Smithsonianmag.com Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Bell Burnell made the first documented observations of the energetically charged corpses of bygone stars known as pulsars, her contributions to the field are being honored with a $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

“Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s discovery of pulsars will always stand as one of the great surprises in the history of astronomy,” says Edward Witten, the chair of the Breakthrough Prize selection committee

Read the whole article. She’s worth your time. bell burnell

Badass Physicist Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Image courtesy SmithsonianMag.com

Ching Shih

The Way of the Pirates Ching Shih

Ching Shih

Badass Pirate and ..ahem.. Entrepreneur Ching Shih

Image courtesy of theWayofthePirates.com

Born in 1775

she was Cantonese prostitute who quickly rose through the ranks in the brothel of her birthplace city Guangzhou.

Really good at pillow talk

She eventually gained control over a large number of pirate ships and organized them into a well-oiled machine that attracted the attention of the famous Chinese pirate Cheng I.

Married and united their pirate empires.

300 pirate ships and 20 thousand pirates

approximately 70,000 pirates aboard 1,200 vessels.

she managed to forge alliance with many other pirate leaders who followed her and created a naval force that counted over 1500 naval ships and 180 thousand pirates.

Ching Shih’s control over the pirate fleet at that time was absolute,because of her well maintained political maneuvers her insistence that all pirates under her command respect very strict pirate code.

The core rules of Cheng I Sao’s fleet were::

  • Pirates who gave unsanctioned orders or who refused to follow orders were executed on the spot.
  • Stealing from the “public fund” of captured goods or money or raiding villages that supported pirates was punishable by death.
  • All captured goods, money or slaves had to be presented for inspection. The rewards were handed out in a predetermined way.
  • It was absolutely prohibited to have sex or rape female captives. Pirates could marry pretty captives if they had means to support them and be faithful to them, but rest were either ransomed or freed. Punishment for having sex or raping them was death.
  • Various other offenses were punishable by flogging, ironing, quartering and mutilation (this was almost exclusively performed on deserters).

As a ruler of the largest pirate fleet in the human history, Ching Shih even managed to create problems for many governments with largest naval fleets in the world.

After the death of her husband Cheng I in 1807, she took control of the fleet, immediately starting a romantic relationship with Cheng’s adopted son (and lover) Chang Paou.

she started loosing grip of her fleet in 1810 and the pirate alliance broke into six distinct groups, she elected to take the big opportunity that was offered to her by Qing Emperor Jiaqing. She and Chang Paou received full royal pardons.

Ching Shih returned to land and resumed her life as Mistress of a local brothels and organizer of various smuggling and gambling enterprises.

She died in her sleep at the age of 69 in 1844.