RP on Refinery29!

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Jason Porath compiled 200 of “history’s boldest heroines, hellions and heretics” for his new book, Rejected Princesses. And when you start reading, you’re reminded that villainous shit against women has really, truly been going on forever.

This is an INCREDIBLY thorough writeup that reveals the art for fifteen book-only entries – including the art for the absolute most complex entry in the entire book, Christine de Pizan. I’ve referenced this piece here and there – it’s a double page spread that features every single woman in the book (and a Where’s Waldo-style cameo from me). It took around 100 hours to complete. It’s all the diversity in the book in one image. I’m pretty damn proud of it.

Go to the link above and check out the rest of the pieces! Escaped Jamaican slaves, fierce samurai, scarred Moroccan folk singers, and itinerant gangs of Nigerian teachers await you!

(and full disclosure: the writeup does get a fair bit wrong. there’s 100 entries, not 200, in the book. it overstates how much my mom gave up to raise me and my brethren. but the core of it is there.)

  • bbnan

    I just got to that center spread a day or two ago! I actually said “oh WOW!” out loud as I realized what you’d done. I’m really loving how much of each woman’s life you are getting into each image, and that was a perfect, and possibly (though I’m withholding judgment until I’m finished) the best example (I still haven’t managed to find you in that image, though. OR all the damn coins in Gracia Mendes Nasi’s entry!! I suck at puzzles. :() I also love how your respect for other cultures extends even into your drawings, such as Aisha bitn abi Bakr’s art. I was excited just to get this and open it up, and so far, it has not just not disappointed, but exceeded my hopes for how enjoyable it would be to read. I’ve been trying to read slowly in order to enjoy it as long as possible (I have Hortense Mancini and Marie Mancini open in front of me as I type this), but it’s really hard to put down every time I get started!

    I haven’t gone past the intro for the R29 article as I don’t want to spoil any as-yet-unread entries for myself, but I find their take interesting. I’m getting so much more out of this than just “rage and anguish […] after reading through what propelled these women to commit these acts of valor and horror”. Not that there isn’t some real horror in here, which I think is good to have included. But what I am getting is vindication, over and over, in story after story after story, for feelings and wishes and wants that I’ve been taught are not okay for my gender. My aggression, my love of adventure and challenge and a good throw-down fight, my curiosity about the world around me, my want for passion and lust, hell, even just my love of getting dirty and my complete lack of interest in ever wearing a dress, ever! – that and so much more are traits that I have been taught over and over again are ‘wrong’ or at the very least, ‘weird’ or ‘unattractive’. And here is a whole book full of women, aggressively, defiantly, joyfully, and/or vengefully, running around having those traits in spite of the whole big damn world. *Here* are the role models I sought, the role models hidden away from me, when I was a book-devouring little girl. Here is my gender represented in the way that was conspicuously absent from all the sources I could find pre-internet, proving that I was *not* wrong when I kept thinking to myself “surely I am not the only girl that was like me, in the history of ever? There are and have been so *many* people in the world, *surely* I cannot be such a freak of nature as that?” Proving that I was *not* wrong for simply trying to be me. Here is vindication and justice and satisfaction, all wrapped up in a beautiful cover. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: this book is a treasure and a gift, and I cannot express how happy I am that it exists for other little girls like myself to find, and through it, find connections to women throughout history, and find a firmer sense of their own identity, possibly and hopefully earlier and more smoothly than I ever did.

    … sorry. I tend to go on for ages when I get really enthusiastic about something. :P