And the Ladies Have It

Welcome spring, and welcome Suzy–please enjoy the first blog post from our newest contributor, who will be joining us monthly in the writing staff rotation.

For Women’s History Month I wanted to honor the “bad” girls of history. Then I got hung up on the definition of “bad” in this case. Do I mean bad like Nell Gwyn, orange-seller, comedienne and long-time mistress of King Charles II of England? Or bad like Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and fan of bathing in virgin blood? Both ladies are fascinating, but there are degrees of bad. I think Gwyn’s amorous misdemeanors sort of pale in comparison to murdering 600 people. But I’m judgy like that.

So, being the scientific chick that I am, I chose my favorites.  Without further ado, my top 10 bad girls of history:

 Nell Gwyn –Reputed to have told her coachman fighting for her honor, “I am a whore. Find something else to fight about.” Gwyn’s feisty wit and lusty personality are the reason King Charles II, on his deathbed, begged his brother, “Let not poor Nelly starve.” And she didn’t.

Cleopatra–Sure, she was an amazing administrator and Egypt’s culture and economy flourished under her reign. But she murdered her own brother and sister to become the Queen of Egypt! She was the mistress of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony! She swallowed a priceless pearl to demonstrate her wealth!

 Elizabeth Bathory–As mentioned above, killed 600 people in pretty gruesome fashion. 600 PEOPLE. That’d be like killing all of my Facebook friends. Twice.

Bonnie Parker–I freak out if I get pulled over for speeding. Parker was involved in at least one hundred felony criminal actions during her two-year career in crime. This includes, but is not limited to, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and one major jail break. She also chain-smoked Camels.

Mae West–The very first play she wrote (“Sex”) got her convicted on a morals charge. But the lady who said, “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often,” was an instant success and never looked back.

Marie Antoinette–Hopefully we all know by now that Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” But she wasn’t that into helping the starving masses either. And she really, really, really, really liked clothes.

Margaret Sanger–Considering the current controversy over birth control and woman’s health, we ladies may need to channel the spirit of Sanger in 2012. She promoted the pill before the pill existed. And got tossed in the clink for it.

Anne Boleyn–Did she sleep with her brother? And a poet? And a groom? Did she really commit treason?  I don’t know, but she had six fingers and a killer sense of style.

Lucretzia Borgia–Again with the incest. But also a poisoner!

Wallis Simpson–King Edward VII of the United Kingdom abdicated his throne to marry her. Enough said.

Your turn–who’s your favorite “bad” girl? 



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8 responses to “And the Ladies Have It

  1. Émilie du Châtelet, according to her lover Voltaire: “a great man whose only fault was being a woman” she translated newtons Principia Mathematica into French. A brilliant mathematician and physicist.
    Passionate Minds is a recent biography of this extraordinary harlot.

  2. Interestingly enough, I just read a book called Scandalous Women: the Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women by Elizabeth Kerri-Mahon. She profiles many of the women mentioned in this blog, including Emilie du Chatelet.

  3. Sheila Jackson

    Welcome Suzy – you bring a much needed point of view. Keep on reading and sharing.

  4. Reblogged this on notsomuchwisdom and commented:
    Women are dangerous in so many more creative ways than men…. Achtung baby!!!

  5. Great list! Isabella of Castille’s a favourite: she united Spain, drove the Moors out (with some help from her husband and their army), standardized Spanish… and started some horrific procedures to expel Jews from the country. If you couldn’t prove that you had ‘pure’ blood, you lost your position in society.

  6. lizzy

    Playhouse Creatures is an interesting play about the advent of women being allowed on stage. Putting women’s roles of that society in context helps illuminate Nell’s history and choices… (I almost got to direct it!)

  7. linahw

    Reblogged this on linahslittleworld and commented:
    This is both gruesome and amusing- who doesn’t love a bit of badass? Although maybe (this may just be my goody-two-shoes-gene coming through) killing 600 people or your siblings is just plain….well, bad.

  8. linahw

    Relevance may be questionable but I think Catwoman is pretty bad… :)

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