If you read our blog, you’ve probably seen quite a few stories about the interesting accomplishments of many different kinds of men throughout history. For International Women’s Day this Tuesday, we thought that we’d shine a spotlight on the badass women that are lesser known and deserve to be celebrated. From soldiers on the battlefield, to pioneering mathematicians, women have been doing crazy and exciting things for as long as men have, and sometimes in ways that are even cooler.
The first badasses we want to talk about today are a group of women that became known as The Night Witches. Led by Marina Raskova, the first women to become a navigator in the Soviet air force, The Night Witches were a bomber regiment in World War II that struck swiftly under the cloak of night. Even though women were mostly in supporting roles during the war, many wanted to get in on the action themselves. Realizing this, Raskova petitioned for an all-female squadron of fighter pilots, and her request was granted.
With hand-me-downs and leftover hardware that wasn’t being used, a group of 80 or so women formed the regiment. Flying at night was far more dangerous back then than it is today; the women would have had to deal with extreme cold and almost no vision, compounded by the fact that they had very little equipment and were being continuously shot at. Still, they chose to risk it for the surprise factor they knew would give them the upper hand. The squadron dropped more than 23,000 tons of bombs throughout the war and became infamous to the Axis powers. Their dedication paid off so well that the Nazis became fearful enough to give them their now iconic name. Honestly, we’re just glad they were on our side.
More locally, we want to talk about Buffalo Calf Road Woman. A fierce fighter in any situation, she is credited with being the sole person to turn the tides at both the Battle of the Rosebud as well as the Battle of Little Bighorn to help the Native American people. At Rosebud, her brother Chief Comes in Sight fell off of his horse and was left behind as the Cheyenne and Sioux retreated. Despite the advancing United States Army, Buffalo Calf Road Woman rode onto the battlefield and grabbed her brother amid the chaos, bringing him to safety. This heroic act bolstered the confidence of the retreating soldiers, causing them to turn around and fight, eventually winning the battle. What’s more, is that this wasn’t even the most badass thing she ever did. In 2005, the Northern Cheyenne finally spoke openly about the Battle of Little Bighorn. They credited Buffalo Calf Road Woman as not only a ferocious fighter, but as the soldier to administer the blow that famously knocked General Custer off of his horse, leading to their victory. Most soldiers are lucky to have one moment of glory, but two? No matter your thoughts on those battles, you have to admit that’s pretty awesome.
We’ve all heard of Albert Einstein, but what about Mileva Marić? While we can never know for sure, Einstein’s first wife is widely speculated to have been just as important to many of his early studies as the famed scientist himself. To us, that’s pretty badass. The two met while studying at the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich (Marić was one of the first women admitted) and quickly became inseparable. By the end of their time in school, Marić actually had slightly higher grades than he did, notably in applied physics. From letters that have been preserved, we know that Einstein credits Mileva as the person who kept him focused and grounded, helping him to understand complicated theory.
Through letters and anecdotal evidence, it is heavily implied that many of Einstein’s published articles were co-written by Marić but were signed in his name alone. While sexism of the time could have played a role, it is likely that this was done because he refused to marry her until he had a stable career and being credited as the sole author would accelerate that process. These articles include his work on special relativity (responsible for the equation) and the photoelectric effect, which eventually led to the 1921 nobel prize. In Marić’s first biography written in 1969 by Desanka Trbuhović-Gjurić, Einstein was even credited as saying “I need my wife. She solves for me all my mathematical problems.”
So, why isn’t she more talked about in the conversation about physics? Well, after Einstein’s affair and their inevitable divorce, his star grew and hers shrank. She did threaten to reveal the role she played in his writing on a few occasions, but ultimately chose not to out of modesty, and intimidation from Einstein. Maliva Marić sadly never got her due in life — but even though we’ll never know the full extent of her influence on modern science — at least we can look back now and give her the credit she deserves as a true genius. The engineering that went into the bikes we ride today traces back to her developments, after all.
Speaking of bikes, this list wouldn’t be complete without talking about some of the most badass women bikers to ever ride. We’ll start off with the Van Buren sisters, some of the first women to ever ride cross country in 1916. Their journey was heavily publicized and made media history for women everywhere. This eventually led to motorcyclists like Dot Robinson and Theresa Wallach proving themselves as formidable racers, opening the door for women everywhere to ride. One such woman was Bessie Stringfield, the first African American woman to ride across the United States. At a time when the deep south would have been a very unsafe place for her to travel through, her trips showed true toughness and actually contributed to the perception of bikers as rule-breakers (pretty badass if you ask us).
With so many impressive feats of strength, intelligence, and courage, we could only discuss a small few of the badass women that have impressed us in this article. Even though the world is more often than not a men’s club, hopefully we were able to show that women are just as badass as men are. If you know any badass women in your own life, be sure to show them some love this week. If you’re a badass woman yourself, you should have a look at our Untamed Flying Tiger Army Green Embroidered Button-Down Shirt. Click on the picture below to see the awesome embroidery work on this button down shirt!