As a young boy growing up in a family where the women outnumbered the men, my understanding of the world came from them. I understood sexism form the stories my mother and my aunts used to tell of how often less qualified men would get promotions over them. They did not merely take these things, they often stood up because of being slighted, being overlooked and for the mere assumption that they should accept such inequity. The women that Pénelopé Bagieu writes about in Brazen, remind me so such of the fire that the women in my family often shown in my upbringing.
In “Clementine Delait”, we find out exactly who the “bearded Lady” was and though she has been immortalized many times including Hugh Jackman’s most recent movie, that her life was not as sad, as the stories surrounded usually implored. In” Nzinga”, we find out about the queen of present day Angola, how she ruled it with an iron fist, and was more of a warrior than any other ruler during her time. In “Margaret Hamilton”, the actress best known for playing the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz, was more prolific than any male actor during her time but with less acclaim. In” Las Mariposas” Minerva Maribal and her sisters, fight “the patriarchy” by refusing the advances of the dictator in in the Dominican Republic, which leads to the jailing of their family but leads to public outrage which leads to eventual replacing of the country’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo.
In “Josephina Van Gorkum”, a woman whose marriage challenges society’s ideas of coexisting between Catholics and Protestants. In ”Lozen”, an Apace chief, who vows to never marry and breaks centuries of tradition within the tribe, but becomes of one of the tribe’s fiercest warriors. In “Annette Kellerman”, we find about a swimmer in Australia, who used the sport to build muscles due to her contraction polio at a young age and would go on to break world records and make movies. The last story that caught my eye” Delia Akeley”, who becomes one of the world’s first prominent researchers in ethnography.
Overall, these stories and the many more included that I did not speak of are each equally entertaining, enlightening, and important. The stories by Bagieu, is at times, heartbreaking, melancholy, hopeful, but at all times masterfully told. The art by Bagieu, is beautiful, engaging and breathtaking. Altogether, this book is not only of our time but for all times, as these women deserve as many or more pedestals. Their accomplishments have changed the world.
Story: Pénelopé Bagieu Art: Pénelopé Bagieu
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy