Here we are in the middle of March, and I bet you didn't realize that we were also in the middle of Women's History month. If you did, then major kudos. If I'm being honest, I actually forgot. It only remembered when the topic was brought up by my dear friend, Margaret, during our monthly book club meeting. I was slightly embarrassed by this faux pas when she called me out on it because typically, I never forget things like that. I'm usually the one bringing up such facts. Maybe this turn of warm weather is messing with my internal circuitry.
Come on, even Leslie Knope drops the ball sometimes...
After the meeting, I tried to forgive myself for this error by thinking about all my favorite female heroes from both real history and fictional history, that have blazed trails in their own times, and inspired me in my own. So, this week, I'd like to reflect on my history in the world of fandom and present to you, my top five women that are responsible for turning yours truly into Geeky Pheebs.
5) Lisa Simpson
Since "The Simpsons" and I have been on this earth for almost the same amount of time, I really don't remember a time without it in my realm of fandom. Like most Americans, everyone can relate to at least one of its colorful characters. For me, it was always Lisa. Lisa Simpson was always hungry for knowledge and knew all the icons of feminism. Her willingness to embrace the things she was passionate about no matter the labels by her brother Bart or other school children always inspired me to do the same long before fandom was fashionable.
4) Ursula Le Guin
When I was in the third grade, I had to do a book report for class. While roaming the bookshelves, the kind librarian, Mrs. Wellington, noticed my proclivity for all things Lisa Frank and suggested I read a book called "Catwings
" by her favorite author, Ursula Le Guin. That's where my love for all things Fantasy began (my love for all things Sci-Fi began sometime before that, but that's a tale yet to come). It's also when my own fandom for Ursula Le Guin began. I ended up acing the book report, and subsequently read the other books in the series (looking back now, they're much better when you're under 10). I've gone on to read almost everything Ursula has ever published and admire her not only for being a trailblazer for other female authors in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genres, but for not imitating the voices of male authors before her. Instead, she crafted her own unique style that inspires many authors today, both male and female. As a special bonus, check out this short film, "The Field of Vision" by my filmmaker friend, Siri Rodnes. It's based on the Ursula Le Guin short story "The Field of Vision."
3) Amelia Earhart
Ever since I've been into Sci-Fi, I've always dreamed of flying, and when I first learned there was another woman born a long time ago that also dreamed of being beyond the sky, I knew I had to learn more about her. Talk about being a bold woman, this aviatrix dove head first into an all boys club and demanded to be a part of it with or without her their blessing. Just think for a moment, if this woman never existed, we wouldn't have had a Sally Ride! Heck, a myriad of fictional female pilots or space captains wouldn't have existed, as I am sure many creators based their characters on the Ms. Earhart.
2) Ellen Ripley
Speaking of famous, female Space Captains. I saw the original "Alien" way too young. When I was a kid, my babysitter (knowing that I liked Sci-Fi) grabbed the first video on the shelf in the Sci-Fi section of the local Blockbuster, and plopped my little sister, Stella, and myself in front of the TV so she could "hang out" with the boyfriend. While the movie scared Stella for life, I was in awe of this strong sweaty woman named Ripley. There she was, in command of a crew of men and had to lead them against a ferocious monster. She was also the first female character I saw on screen that wasn't pining for the attention of a man. All she was interested in was doing her job. I must admit, Ripley has been the basis for a lot of the characters in my own work and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm really looking forward to seeing her in the saddle again for the Neil Blomkamp reboot.
1) Grace Hooper
The number one spot goes to the MOTHER (^bonus points for "Alien" reference?^) of computer science, Grace Hooper. She worked on Harvard's Mark 1 computer, invented the phrase "debugging" and was a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. So if the "Avengers" were real, I'm pretty darn sure she'd be on the team.
As a Linux lover myself, I owe a big debt of gratitude to this woman for inspiring me to learn just the point and tap aspects of computers. Also, I can almost guarantee that without her, we'd still be using typewriters and pagers.
That about rounds it out. Although I did this list 1-5, the truth is I love all these ladies equally in their own unique way. As a way redeem myself for my forgetfulness I presented this list to my Margaret and asked for hers in return and I'll issue the same challenge to you. So, what women have inspired your fandom?