Ma Rainey made dozens of recordings, wore diamond tiaras and beaded gowns, and was once arrested for an intimate party involving several other women.
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This most-wanted WW2 spy rescued Jews and POWs, blew up Nazi trains, and used an X-rated radio rhyme to identify herself to Britain.
Sigrid the Haughty
When some scrubs hit on her, she burnt them alive. When a king slapped her across the face, she obliterated his kingdom. Sigrid the Haughty was not to be messed with.
This Mongol stood up to the most fearsome man in the world and in so doing, prevented a genocide.
Born without arms or legs, this artist learned to write, sew, and paint with her mouth - and came to work for kings and queens.
Trung Trac and Trung Nhi
Sisters who led an army on elephant-back to overthrow oppressive Chinese rule and establish a short-lived Vietnamese kingdom.
This pope was largely assumed to be male until she gave birth in the midst of a procession - and largely assumed to be factual until the 13th century.
The first Japanese woman to go to college didn't have a choice. But the experience changed her - and she changed Japan in return.
Muslim sultan who took the throne, defeated Louis IX in battle, ransomed him back to France for 30% of their GDP --- and did it all in secret.
When the English laid siege to her castle home, this Scottish woman bedeviled them until they gave up.
After disguising herself as a man to be the physician women needed, she was put on trial - and won.