Nevertheless, She Persisted

“She was warned.  She was given an explanation.  Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Eleven words.  Eleven words spoken by Senator Mitch McConnell to Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Eleven words that captured the essence of the long struggle of women to be treated as full human beings.  A struggle that continues around the globe to this day.  

I could write about the struggle.  I’ve written before about the need for the church to be at its forefront.  However, I feel that more powerful than my own words would be the words of women who have persisted and changed the world in doing so.

My hope is that, if you haven’t heard of some of these women, you will take the time to learn about them.


“I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated. ” –  Malala Yousafzai


“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” – Rosa Parks


“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.” – Aung Suu Kyi


“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” – Amelia Earhart

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“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller


“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.”  – Wangari Maathai


“Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” – Rigoberta Menchu


“As a woman, I’m expected to want everything to be nice and to be nice myself. A very English thing. I don’t design nice buildings – I don’t like them. I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality.” –  Zaha Hadid


“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” – Virginia Woolf


“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg


“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” – Rosalind Franklin


“I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.” –  Katherine Johnson

As the father of a young son, I am thrilled to be able to look at him every day and tell him that there are no limits to how far he can go.  As the father of a young girl, I hope to help create a world where I can say the same to her.  And I am forever indebted to the women of the world who have persisted, paving the way for her.


5 thoughts on “Nevertheless, She Persisted

  1. Here’s a timely list fo books

    Who would’ve thought the newest rallying cry of feminism would first be stated by Mitch McConnell?

    In response to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s attempted reading of a letter by Coretta Scott King and subsequent silencing (by McConnell), he stated “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

    “Nevertheless, she persisted” is SO GOOD. It would’ve taken us maybe all day in our feminist witch coven underground meeting to come up with it, and he just HANDS it to us.

    Since Book Riot aspires to giving its readers the very heights of articles concerning bookery and bookishness, we would be intensely remiss if we did not immediately give unto you this list of books about women in history who also, nevertheless, persisted.

    boudica warrior queen book cover

    Boudica: Iron Age Warrior Queen

    OMG BOUDICA. “You may be a massive and well-trained army that is determined to take over the globe, Roman Empire, but this is MY house and I will lead my people against you until the bitter end.” Yes, the Romans defeated Boudica and her people in Britain, but the fact we’re still talking about how kickass she was thousands of years later is a win for her. Also, according to Tacitus, she said “It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters” and can’t you imagine Elizabeth Warren saying that because I can.

    njinga africa’s warrior queen

    Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen

    Nzinga (also known as Njinga) was queen of the Mbundu people in Angola in the 17th century. The Portuguese were like “hey, so we’re expanding everywhere and haha we’re basically gonna seize control of your country, mmkay?” And Nzinga said “NOPE” and fought a 30 year war against them, which sounds exhausting as hell, but Nzinga was awesome and led troops into battles in her sixties. I don’t know about you, but when I’m 60, I hope I’m sitting on a cruise deck with a fanny pack and a margarita. Nzinga was fighting against colonizers and forging alliances and when those alliances fell through, she kept fighting anyway omg she’s so cool.

    transgender history cover

    Transgender History

    SYLVIA RIVERA your struggle must have been so hard, but you knew it was worth it and so you kept going. She became an activist in the 1960s, co-founding the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. She also fought hard for transgender rights starting in a time that at its best ignored and at its worst was deathly violent on that issue. Sylvia kept going until her death in 2002, despite pushback even from major LGBT organizations. Her continued insistence on inclusion reminded us that even within our own ranks we need people who push us to be better. Sylvia, your persistence was so necessary.

    crusade for justice by ida b. wellsCrusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells

    They told journalist/activist Ida B. Wells she couldn’t stop the widespread lynching happening in the U.S. and she orchestrated a massive anti-lynching campaign. They told her she couldn’t march with her state in the Woman’s Suffrage Parade in 1913 because it was a segregated march and she said f*** that noise and marched with her state anyway. Ida B. Wells spoke truth to power at a time when it most definitely could have gotten her killed. She never gave up her principles, and she persisted in reform work until her death in 1931.


    Sponsored by A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas.

    study-in-scarlet-womenDiscover the new Sherlock Holmes inspired series from bestselling author Sherry Thomas.

    While the inquisitive Charlotte Holmes has never accepted the demureness expected of women in London society, even she did not predict that she would become an outcast.

    When the city is struck by a series of unexpected deaths, suspicion falls on her sister and father. Charlotte is determined to find the true culprits. She’ll have some help, but in the end, it’s up to Charlotte, a brilliant mind wrapped in a most feminine package, to challenge society’s expectations and solve the mystery under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes.

    A few notes on my choices: I didn’t want all of these feminist books to be heavily academic, so I did include a few fiction books that I feel illustrate women’s experiences in feminist ways – or, in the case of scifi, re-imagines women’s experiences in feminist ways. While academic feminist books are wonderful sources, I don’t think feminist fiction should ever be disregarded. Also, although I tried to stay away from exclusionary literature, I think none of these books come without problematic aspects. The point here is to make the reader think in deeper ways about gender inequality and feminism – and I hope these titles help achieve this goal. (And a side note: I love bell hooks and it was really difficult to choose which one of her works is essential so I may have included more than one… Sorry, not sorry.)

    Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua
    borderlands la fronteraAll the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men: But Some of Us are Brave, edited by Gloria T Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith
    Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body by Susan Bordo
    Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
    Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
    Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
    Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
    Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
    We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
    Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
    The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love by bell hooks
    A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolf
    If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoIf I Was Your Girl Meredith Russo
    Witches, Midwives and Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich, Deirdre English
    The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
    The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
    The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
    Les Guerrileres by Monique Wittig
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    This Bridge Called My Back by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua
    The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World by Nawal El Saadawi
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
    Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison
    The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
    The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues by Angela Y Davis
    Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    I-Know-Why-the-Caged-Bird-Sings-Maya-AngelouI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape by Susan Brownmiller
    Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin
    Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by inga musclo
    Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes
    Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
    Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano
    Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More by Janet Mock
    Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein
    Separate and Dominate: Feminism and Racism After the War on Terror by Christine Delphy
    Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta
    Brown-Girl-in-the-Ring-Nalo-HopkinsonBrown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
    Milk and Honey by rupi kaur
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
    Oranges Are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
    Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
    Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natash Walter
    The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol J. Adams
    The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth
    Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
    Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
    Sexual Politics by Kate Millett
    Playing the Whore by Melissa Gira Grant
    Woman’s Estate by Juliet Mitchell
    Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts
    The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
    Female Man by Joanna Russ
    sultanas-dreamSultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
    Easy by Tamara Webber
    Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
    Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
    The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
    Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
    All the Rage by Courtney Summers
    Our Bodies, Ourselves by Judy Norsigian
    The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
    Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader edited by Stevi Jackson
    Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
    Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
    The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
    The Sex Which is Not One by Luce Irigaray
    Obasan by Joy Kogawa
    the-awakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin
    From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism by Patricia Hill Collins
    Intersectionality (Key Concepts) by Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge
    Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
    The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
    Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
    Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement, by Robin Morgan
    Woman Hating by Andrea Dworkin
    The Queer Art of Failure by Judith Halberstam
    Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement by Charlotte Cooper
    Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank
    Undoing Gender by Judith Butler
    Gender and the Media by Rosalind Gill
    What Can A Woman do with a Camera? Photography for Women by Jo Spence and Joan Solomon
    Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature by Donna Haraway
    Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Talpade Mohanty
    the color purpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres
    Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape by Jessica Luther
    Black Feminist Though by Patricia Hill Collins
    Vagina by Naomi Wolf



  3. 4
    Compiling this list was an intense privilege, coupled with the pain of knowing that 100 books does not begin to cover the complete history of women in one country, let alone the entire world. I discovered amazing women who worked together or on their own to achieve remarkable things, and who suffered bottomless tragedies. They need to be remembered.

    In 1979, the first women’s history conference was held at Sarah Lawrence College. In 2016, our history is still overwhelmingly male-centered.

    The fact I hadn’t heard of so many of these women before making this list makes me more determined than ever to share the history of women when I can, and to do what is possible to change the perception of history from the deeds of men to the deeds of humans.

    Feel free to leave your own favorite women from history in the comments below so we can expand this list past 100, and continue to try and make the voices of women from all times and places heard.

    General History

    A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom

    No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women by Estelle Freedman

    Women Artists: An Illustrated History by Nancy G. Heller

    Women in the Middle Ages: The Lives of Real Women in a Vibrant Age of Transition by Frances & Joseph Gies

    Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby

    Nike Is a Goddess: The History of Women in Sports by Lucy Danziger

    Feminist Theory

    The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

    The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

    Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks

    The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner

    The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan

    Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis

    Ancient World

    Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska

    The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War by Antonia Fraser

    Daughters of Isis: Women of Ancient Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley

    The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler

    Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

    The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor


    The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe by Nwando Achebe

    Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation At War by Leymah Gbowee

    Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers

    African Feminism: The Politics of Survival in Sub-Saharan Africa by Gwendolyn Mikell

    In Praise of Black Women, Volume 1: Ancient African Queens by Simone Schwarz-Bart, et al.


    The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women by Deborah J. Swiss

    Wise Women of the Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of Ancestral Powers by K. Langloh Parker


    Slave Women in Caribbean Society: 1650-1832 by Barbara Bush

    Women in Caribbean History by Verene Shepherd

    Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Women in Barbados by Hilary McD. Beckles

    East Asia

    Women of Korea: A History from Ancient Times to 1945 by Yung-Chung Kim

    In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

    Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History by Canyon Sam

    The Voice That Remembers: A Tibetan Woman’s Inspiring Story of Survival by Ama Adhe

    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

    The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

    Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China’s Eternal First Lady by Laura Tyson Li

    Manchu Princess, Japanese Spy: The Story of Kawashima Yoshiko, the Cross-Dressing Spy Who Commanded Her Own Army by Phyllis Birnbaum

    Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back by Janice Nimura

    Eastern Europe

    Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

    Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia’s Women Pilots in WWII by Bruce Myles

    Thousands of Roads: A Memoir of a Young Woman’s Life in the Ukrainian Underground During and After World War II by Maria Savchyn Pyskir

    Latin America

    Dreaming With the Ancestors: Black Seminole Women in Texas and Mexico by Shirley Boteler Mock

    Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico by Jocelyn H. Olcott

    Isabel Orleans-Bragança: The Brazilian Princess Who Freed the Slaves by James McMurtry Longo

    The Mapmaker’s Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon by Robert Whitaker

    Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina by Rita Arditti

    Eva Peron: A Biography by Alicia Dujovne Ortiz

    My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile by Isabel Allende

    Women & Guerrilla Movements by Karen Kampwirth

    The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War by Gioconda Belli

    Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America by Dana Franks

    I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Rigoberta Menchu

    Middle East

    Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson

    Palestinian Women of Gaza and the West Bank by Suha Sabbagh

    Golda by Elinor Burkett

    The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

    Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

    South Asia

    Humanizing the Sacred: Sisters in Islam and the Struggle for Gender Justice in Malaysia by Azza Basarudin

    The Bandit Queen of India: An Indian Woman’s Amazing Journey from Peasant to International Legend by Phoolan Devi

    It’s Always Possible: One Woman’s Transformation of India’s Prison System by Kiran Bedi

    White Saris and Sweet Mangoes: Aging, Gender, and Body in North India by Sarah Lamb

    Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India by Ritu Menon

    The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria

    Undaunted: My Struggle for Freedom and Survival in Burma by Zoya Phan

    Wives, Slaves, and Concubines: A History of the Female Underclass in Dutch Asia by Eric Jones

    South Pacific

    Amazons of the Huk Rebellion: Gender, Sex, and Revolution in the Philippines by Vina A. Lanzona

    From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii by Haunani-Kay Trask


    The Myth of Seneca Falls by Lisa Tetrault

    Women on Ice: The Early Years of Women’s Ice Hockey in Western Canada by Wayne Norton

    Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth Century America by Lillian Faderman

    Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses

    Louise Pound: The 19th Century Iconoclast Who Forever Changed America’s Views About Women, Academics, and Sports by Marie Krohn

    Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush by Lael Morgan

    In the Days of Our Grandmothers: A Reader in Aboriginal Women’s History in Canada

    The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age by Myra MacPherson

    Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E.W. Harper by Melba Joyce Boyd

    Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

    America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins

    Walking in the Sacred Manner: Healers, Dreamers, and Pipe Carriers–Medicine Women of the Plains by Mark St. Pierre

    Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States by Alice Kessler-Harris

    Daughters of the Earth: The Lives and Legends of American Indian Women by Carolyn Niethammer

    Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America by Kali Nicole Gross

    Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence by Carol Berkin

    Pretty-shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows by Frank Linderman

    Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven

    A Jury of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx by Elaine Showalter

    Far More Terrible for Women: Personal Accounts of Women in Slavery

    The Belles of New England: The Women of the Textile Mills and the Families Whose Wealth They Wove by William Moran

    Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir by Dorothy Height

    Western Europe

    Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World by Catalina De Erauso

    Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm

    The Winter Queen: Elizabeth of Bohemia by Carola Oman

    The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown

    Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

    Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach & Jud Newborn

    The Pope’s Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere by Caroline Murphy

    Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

    She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor


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