Women’s History Month Smackdown: West Meets South
12:31 pm, March 15th | by Colette McIntyre
Earlier this week, we put together a March Madness bracket in honor of Women’s History Month, featuring some of the most impressive, famous and notorious women in American history. This week, we match up the four ladies from the West and four ladies from the South to see who will emerge victorious.
Florynce Kennedy v. Ann Richards
Florynce Kennedy, the woman who said “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament;” one of the founders of the National Organization for Women; the bold and fearless activist who toured the country with this broad named Gloria Steinem — maybe you’ve heard of her? — and once led a mass urination on the Harvard grounds in order to protest the university’s lack of female bathrooms. If you’re not enamored with this woman, there is something wrong with you.
I’m happy that Florynce Kennedy is going up against Ann Richards; the former Texas governor may be the only woman in this bracket would could hold a candle to Flo. (Well, her and Tallulah Bankhead, but I’m so obsessed with Tallulah, I would say her name for anything.) Feisty and funny as hell, Ann Richards became a national star when she delivered the keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. A choice quote from her speech: “I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.” BURN.
I think Ann Richards could go toe-to-toe with ol’ Flo; that dame was tough as nails and had some great wisecracks, which may be why she has her own autobiographical play. With that said, the flamboyant and outrageous Florynce Kennedy would probably just push her cowboy hat down and challenge the Texan to an arm wrestling match. After coming out on top, pink sunglasses would drop onto Florynce’s face, and she would turn to Ann and say, “Deal with it.” My vote’s for Flo!
- Ann Richards (67%, 8 Votes)
- Florynce Kennedy (33%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 12
Mary Ann McMorrow v. Laura Ingalls Wilder
What we love about Mary Ann McMorrow, perhaps more than her convention-defying journey to becoming the first female justice on the Illinois Supreme Court in 1992 (yeah, the nineties — way to be progressive, ILLINOIS), is how committed she was to mentoring other women, offering advice and inspiration to female lawyers struggling against a male-dominated system.
Unlike my fellow Doughite Sarah, I’m not much of a Laura Ingalls Wilder stan. My pioneer fantasies were satiated by The Oregon Trail computer game; once your last family member dies of cholera and you lose your entire food supply while attempting to ford the river, it’s hard to have romantic notions of the past. With that said, the Laura of the Little House books was adventurous and active and yet still feminine, providing an important lesson to young girls that you don’t have to be either or. And I grew up to be someone who lusts after the men in the L.L Bean catalog, so maybe the Little House books affected me more than I think.
Mary Ann is cool and all but Laura Ingalls Wilder survived life in a sod house. Do you know how ripped Laura must’ve been from all that butter churning and wheat grinding? Sorry McMorrow, but I don’t think you stand a chance.
- Mary Ann McMorrow (60%, 6 Votes)
- Laura Ingalls Wilder (40%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 10
Anna J. Cooper v Bessie Coleman
Anna Julia Cooper was born into enslavement in Raleigh, North Carolina; sixty-five years later, Cooper received her Ph.D in history from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, becoming the fourth American-American woman to earn a doctoral degree. Cooper also published what has become known as one of the first articulations of Black feminism, A Voice From The South: By A Woman From The South — oh, and that was only her first book. Inspirational? Absolutely. Empowering? You bet. Just waiting to be turned into an uplifting film produced by Oprah Winfrey and starring Kerry Washington? Well, obviously.
If daredevil aviation is your thing (and as well it should be), Bessie Coleman is your girl. Known for her madcap maneuvers like figure eights and near-ground dips, “Queen Bess” became a highly popular stunt flier. Coleman’s aviation career wasn’t just entertaining, it was pioneering: Coleman was the first African-American woman in the world to earn an aviation pilot’s license and the first American to earn an international aviation license.
I recognize that I’m biased but I just really want a female aviator to go far in this competition — is that so wrong? I mean, Bessie Coleman did loop-the-loops in a propeller-powered airplane miles above ground. Who could scare this girl? I’m going with Coleman.
- Anna J. Cooper (50%, 5 Votes)
- Bessie Coleman (50%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 10
Fannie Lou Hamer v Tallulah Bankhead
Fannie Lou Hamer. Just saying her name should be enough. An instrumental organizer behind 1962′s Freedom Summer, an activist who faced down racism and was left with permanent kidney damage and a limp because of it, a politician organizer who was literally willing to die in a Mississippi jail for her convictions, Fannie Lou Hamer was a courageous and indomitable woman who was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” so she helped lead a movement. Words cannot express the remarkable spirit of this woman.
Oh, Tallulah, Tallulah, Tallulah — if only I could be you. The real-life Cruellla de Vil. A glorious, loose canon that tore men apart with razor-sharp wit. The kind of woman who attends a women’s seminary and gets kicked out for biting a teacher. Someone whose last words were “codeine…bourbon.” I know that if Tallulah Bankhead was alive, she would narrow her eyes at me from above a tumblr of whiskey and read me to filth…and I would love it.
Oh god, this one really tears at my heartstrings. I don’t even want to decide! I love them both! I want to invite them over my apartment and get foot massages by men whom Tallulah roped into doing our bidding just by calling them “Dah-ling” and winking at them. I want to cook them up some pizza bagels and snark about all the people who underestimated Fannie. We’d talk about how cute Obama is and Tallulah would make some lewd comment and I’d act shocked but only because I didn’t know how Fannie would react. Fannie would start to cry and we’d get nervous that she was offended about what Tallulah said (“Do you see what you did?” I would silently mouth to Lulu, pretending to be mad, but really how could you stay mad at that goddess?) but then Fannie would compose herself and explain how much Obama’s presidency means to her, means to the people she fought for and fought with, and Tallulah and I would understand and we’d all get silent and grab hands and smile at each other.
- Tallulah Bankhead (75%, 6 Votes)
- Fannie Lou Hamer (25%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 8