Unbought and Unbossed

As  I’ve grown wise in my advanced age, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how amazing women are and how feminism is more important than ever, especially as it becomes grossly apparently that people hate women. (See: how women are treated in public, in private, in the workplace, in government, by government, and basically everywhere.)

In the spirit of that, I’ve been diving into one of my new favorite podcasts, Stuff Mom Never Told You. In the well research twice-weekly podcast by How Stuff Works (which also produces one of my favorite other podcasts, Stuff You Missed In History Class), the hosts Cristen and Caroline “get down to the business of being women from every imaginable angle.

In the few short weeks I’ve been listening to it, they’ve examined the history of retail work and how women and particularly women of color have factored in it; the “bury your gays” TV trope in which LGBT characters are routinely killed off on television shows; and the history of “weather girls” and social workers, to name just a few careers dominated by women. (The main takeaway I’ve gotten from the career-focused episodes is that women comprise the majority of the worker bees and men a disproportionate number of leadership roles, even still today. BUT EVERYTHING’S TOTALLY FAIR AND AMERICA IS THE LAND OF THE FREE OKAY).

Far and away the most interesting episode I listened to recently was on Shirley Chilsom, a genuine kick-ass lady and one I wish I had known about from infancy. In the spirit of Shirley, here are the most inspiring things about her.

Shirley Chilsom

There’s SO much to dive into, and honestly you should look to more researched literature on her to get a good understanding (the podcast episode is a good place to start) but here are some of my favorite Shirley facts:

  • She was the first African American woman elected to Congress
  • Girlfriend was one of the truest politicians who worked for the people, and for ALL people. She was intersectional way before it was popular, folks. Just a few of my favorite facts:
    • She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus
    • She advocated for improved access to education, was instrumental in the formation of WIC, fought for the rights of immigrants, and sponsored a bill to expand childcare for women
    • She freaking RAN for PRESIDENT in 1972 and while she knew she wouldn’t get the Democratic nomination (because remember, America not only hates women, they also hate black people. Freedom!), she hoped to get enough delegates to leverage the eventual nominee – George McGovern – to create an ACTUAL representative government with a female Cabinet member, and a Native American as Secretary of the Interior.
    • Her campaign slogan? “Unbought and Unbossed.” May that be ALL of our slogans.

And, of course, some genuinely inspiring, or genuinely horrifying that things are still the same 40 years later, Shirley quotes to lead us into the Christmas season.

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.'”


“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.”


“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”


“That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.”


Educating My Sinfully Uneducated Readership

I’ve started into a routine where I use my half-hour commute every day to *expand my mind* (it’s important to stay active as you get older, guys). So I will read while I am sitting on the train and pop in a podcast while I am walking from the station. I love me some NPR (I need a shirt that says Peter Sagal is my homeboy), but I like to mix it up with stories from The Moth or with my new favorite podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class.

You guys. YOU GUYS. History is so freakin’ interesting! And I honestly learn so much every time I listen to this one. The best part is that I will share it in my staff meeting as my “high” for the week and therefore impress/disgust everyone with my listening skills For your benefit, I have culled a few of my favorite facts I have recently learned. You’re welcome.

  • Michaelangelo wore boots made out of dogskin for months at a time and when he would finally take them off, he would peel off a layer of skin with the boot. 


  • Edgar Allan Poe (who, as much as UVa wishes to claim was an alum judging by their bookshop, actually only went there for a year) MAY HAVE DIED OF RABIES. It was claimed he died of alcoholism, but considering he was not drunk or have a lick of alcohol in his system at the time, that is debatable. During the four days that Poe was in the hospital, he was hallucinating and confused before falling quiet and dying; in the periods when he was lucid, he refused to drink water (hydrophobia, y’all!). While he had no bite marks, you can also be infected with rabies for a YEAR before showing any symptoms. So I probably have that.


  • Two awesome people to know: Charley Pankhurst and Nellie Bly. Charley was born Charlotte in 1812 but lived his life as a man; the fact that he was biologically female  was not discovered until his death. Charley voted in California in 1868, making him the first female to vote in that state. Way to go, you! Also, Nellie Bly in general is a kick-ass lady. You should definitely read more about her, but to sum up: she was a female reporter in the late 1800s-early 1900s who, among other things, committed herself to an insane asylum to report on the horrific conditions; beat the Around The World in 80 Days by traveling the distance in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds; and then landed a millionaire who was 40 years older than her.


Nothing else really important to say except history rocks.