Michele Roberts, N.B.A. Union’s New Leader, Confronts Gender Barriers ‘My past,’ she told the room, ‘is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.’
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When this indigenous Brazilian warrior mermaid proved too awesome for her tribe, she just took up residence in the water, and started an aquatic harem of passers-by.
After escaping the Armenian Genocide (by walking across the Syrian desert while pregnant), this woman went back into Armenia to rescue her sons, then made her way to America -- where she invented the recipe for Rice-a-Roni.
Ida B. Wells
One of the first anti-lynching advocates, she risked her life for decades to report on the truth when nobody would believe her.
Ludicrously over-accomplished athlete who invented flying ambulances and won the only gold medal ever awarded by the French Academy of Sports for "all sports" - yes, all of them.
Marguerite de la Rocque
Stranded by her cruel relative on an abandoned Canadian island (literally named the Isle of Demons), she survived for two years by hunting animals and eventually made it back to France.
Cross-dressing Queen of Thieves who flouted social norms and had plays written about her.
The illegitimate daughter of a minor noble, after losing her husband, she became one of the most powerful and fierce women in Italy - commanding troops, insulting Machiavelli, and fighting Cesare Borgia with unmatched ferocity.
Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz
This brilliant poet rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the luminaries of her age - until she flew too close to the sun.
Carolina Maria de Jesus
Brash, funny, and difficult, this mother of three wrote her way out of extreme poverty with her uncompromising look at Brazilian society - and was alternately lauded and berated for it.
The greatest ruler of Yemeni history, she defeated her numerous foes to usher the country into its golden age.