women who slay the balance

yesterday, as i was preparing to fly from texas day the other day (where i wrote the open letter/THIS happened) on home (to get ready for THIS), someone tweeted a question at me…

he was referring to this bit of the letter to sinéad:
It’s a Chinese finger trap that reflects the basic problems of our women-times: we’re either scolded for looking sexy or we’re scolded for not playing the game. Those who manage to find a perfect balance are rare, and the culture at large seems hellbent on undermining our ability to create that balance peacefully within ourselves. And weirdly, it’s generally women scolding other women…we’re our own worst enemies.

responding to the tweet with a few of my favorites (patti smith, diamanda galas, tilda swinton) created a really wonderful dialog and spontaneous twitter-list, with lots of people sending in suggestions of amazing women that should be included.
the internet loves its lists, that’s for sure (THANKS, BUZZFEED)…BUT, it’s actually surprising how at a glance, there seem to be very few notable galleries of awesome females.

why not make one? why don’t we ALL make one fer fuck’s sake?
disclaimer: there are a LOT of great people missing here – in fact, this is almost all musicians with a few random badasses sprinkled throughout (it’s just what me and sean put together quick to get us going with a few from neil at the end). there are plenty of actresses and advocates and politicians and AUTHORS we didn’t even broach. and THAT my dear friends, is what the comments are for. know of a particularly good book by a particularly rad woman? you know what to do.

GRIMES (@Grimezsz)


GRACE JONES (@Miss_GraceJones)






JOAN BAEZ (@joancbaez)

BITCH (@BitchMusic)

MERRILL GARBUS aka tUnE-yArDs (@tuneyards)



PUSSY RIOT (@freepussyriot)



MARGARET CHO (@margaretcho)


“DR. RUTH” WESTHEIMER (@askdrruth)

JANELLE MONÁE (@JanelleMonae)

YOKO ONO (@yokoono)


WENDY DAVIS (@WendyDavisTexas)




FELICIA DAY (@feliciaday)




KATHLEEN HANNA (@kathleenhanna)

KIM GORDON pictured w/ thurston moore (@KimletGordon)


DOLLY PARTON (@DollyParton)


TAVI GEVINSON (@tavitulle)

FLORENCE WELCH (@flo_tweet)



BJÖRK (@bjork)

BRODY DALLE (@BrodyDalle

TORI AMOS (@therealtoriamos)


TEGAN & SARA QUIN (@teganandsara)


TINA TURNER (aunty entity, mofos)

NICO (wiki)

MARA WILSON (@MaraWritesStuff)

JUNE CARTER CASH pictured w/ johnny (June’s wiki)


ANI DIFRANCO (@anidifranco)

MEOW MEOW (@MeowTopia)

CYNDI LAUPER (@cyndilauper)

NEKO CASE (@NekoCase)

ANNIE LENNOX (@AnnieLennox)

(bonus awesome via KRISTEN BELL and LOLA the SLOTH – video)




last but not least…


and now…
well, today is ROAD TRIP DAY to a secret location.
i can’t wait to come back here later and read the comments. HIT IT!!!


Back to Blog
  • Sarah

    Matana Roberts (saxophonist/composer/singer/etc) has been inspiring me lately…

    • Anne

      Meredith Brooks saw her with Bonnie, Sarah and Queen Latifah. She rocks and produces young artists.

      • Maggie

        What an inspirational list of fabulous women. Here are some more:

        – Penelope Cruz
        – Hildegard of Bingen
        – Diane Arbus
        – Caroline Morahan
        – Tig Notaro
        – Brigitte Bardot
        – June Browne

  • Erin D Lindsey

    I pretty much love everyone on this list but FSCK YEAH TINA TURNER AS AUNTY ENTITY!11111~ :D

  • Ewa

    This list made me so happy – while scrolling down I kept on thinking of my own suggestions and then finding them included later on. The only three others I managed to think of were Kaki King (an AWESOME guitarist), Ellen Page and, well, you. :)

  • jen

    Alanis Morissette, Nancy McKeon, Cloris Leachman, Cher, Ashley Judd, Wynona and Naomi too, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Holly Hunter, Alice Walker, Judy Blume, Ellen, Sandra Bernhard…

  • Derek_anny

    Carmen Dell’Orefice, “Oldest working Supermodel.”'Orefice

  • Heike von Alqualonde

    Beautiful!!! I’m thinking about printing them all – and several others including Anais Nin and you, of course – and creating a huge collage of powerful female epicness for my living room.

  • Joanna

    Eve Ensler, Jane Austen, Starhawk, Amber Benson, J. K. Rowling, Emma Watson, Judy Chicago, Rosario Dawson.

    • hi

      Defiantly J.K Rowling :)

      • Vicky

        I.P. Freely ;)

      • TheDeadUnicorn


    • Dryadiabluestar

      Absolutely Starhawk and Rowling.

    • Abigail Rose

      EVE ENSLER!!!!

  • Carmen V
    • OMG2

      I look like her!!!! ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      (& she’s half naked – yay!)

    • Séverine Cuveèle

      thousand of yes !!

  • Michelle @QofTU

    So much awesome. Keep doing what you do. It keeps me going.

  • Hackenbush

    Sarah Vowell

  • Musings

    I am one of those fans who had grown weary of controversy after controversy after controversy overtaking the ART, but this list… this list reminds me of what happens when you use your powers for GOOD – and I hope the conversations that come out of it in the comments are less of a battle and more of a group huddle.

    I’ll think more and get back to you — Audre Lorde, Staceyann Chin, Adrienne Rich, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Gertrude Stein come to mind immediately.

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Also, Peaches is missing. Mary J. Blige. Me’shell Ndegeocello. Erykah Badu. Susan Sarandon. Jane Fonda. Grace Slick. Nina Hagen. Lydia Lunch. Carla Bozulich. Jeanne Moreau. Ute Lemper. Judith Butler. Joyce Carol Oates. Skin. Camila Vallejo.

  • Dimi

    Going to add some Aussie woman here: Missy Higgins, Megan Washington, Kate-Miller Heidke, Chrissy Amphlett, Wendy Saddington, Julia Gillard, Marieke Hardy, Nicole Kidman.

    Also: Kim Boekbinder, Molly Crabapple, Amanda Palmer

    • Hunchie

      Mia Dyson

    • bookwombat

      Penny Wong

      • FeministicsVirtuesUnited

        Rebecca Bradshaw

        • Stacy

          Sammy Goldenbush

          • NamesNamesNames

            Holly Ryder

    • theapostrophe

      Van Badham

      • GrrlPower

        Jeniffer Wrinklebottom

    • Anna

      *INSERT FEMALE ARTIST’S NAME HERE* (it doesn’t matter really)

    • Tayla

      Hannah Gadsby

    • Bridget Jane Davis

      Great to see some Aussie women … I would include Tanya Plibersek

      • OMG2

        fuck me Tanya Plibersek … wait, I mean Amanda Palmer

    • OMFG


      no, gang rape her instead

    • EJ Westlake

      Other Aussies: Jane Campion (from NZ, but lives in Aus), Jill Ker Conway

    • Shola Lee

      Emily Lubitz, Kavisha Mazzella

  • lydiapresley

    Margaret Atwood, Ann Patchett, Lousie Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver, for some literary names.

  • Sarah A

    Sara Douglass, Anne Rice, Anne Bishop

  • Hunchie

    Eleanor Roosevelt, Tammy Baldwin, Thea Clara Spyer, Diane Keaton, Juliette Lewis, Hedy Lamarr, Rachel Carson, Daryl Hannah, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Caroline Herschel, Marie Curie, Elizabeth Warren, Susan B Anthony, Juliette Lowe…

  • saharajinni

    Shaka Kahn, JR Ward, Patricia Briggs, Elizabeth Fraizer, Silver Ravenwolf, Kim Harrison, Mae West, Maureen O’Hara, Rosemary Clonney, Vera Ellen, Carol Lombard, Kate Winslet, Marie Curie, Georgua O’Keeffe

  • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

    What about the transgender side of things? I’m including Poppy Z. Brite aka Billy Martin to the list. This Earthling is nothing short of amazing to me.

    • bookwombat

      Brite may be amazing but it seems like, as a man, he would be out of place on a list of amazing women.
      I agree though, Julia Serano, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock are three trans women that leave me in awe.

      • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

        Gotcha, wasn’t quite sure how that worked. Thanks for clarifying! :)

        • ListsOfStuffFTW

          Hannah Humpers the first trans porn star.

    • B.

      I would say transgender women absolutely count. They may not have been born women, but that doesn’t exclude them IMHO. Is also include Caitlin R. Kiernan to the list.

      • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

        *facepalm* Thanks for remembering Caitlin R. Kiernan!
        Yes, I was kinda thinking that if this were a list of say, super awesome kids for example, I’m not 8 yrs old anymore, but when I was, I was an awesome 8 yr old. So in this train of thought, I figured to include Brite/Martin. Much respect & love.

        • Sally

          Nope, sorry unless you are popular you don’t make the list.

  • Who fucking cares?

    Keiko Fukuda, Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate, Cynthia Rothrock, Rusty Kanokogi, Hillary Wolf

  • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

    And if we’re including the deceased, Louisa May Alcott, Harper Lee and Carson McCullers.

    • kmwilliams

      I believe Harper Lee is still alive.

      • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

        No kidding! Wow, that just made my day!

  • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

    Ohhh, Frida Kahlo, good addition.

  • lentower

    Apologies if any of these are in the blogs or already in the comments

    Molly Crabapple.

    Mali Sastri, Molly Zenobia, Zoe Keating, Zoe Boekbinder, Kim Boekbinder, Cassandra Long.

    Sherry Turkle, Barbar Liskov, Rosalind Picard, & most of the woman faculty at MIT & Harvard.

    Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, Janet Reno.

    Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hilary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Rosalind Carter, Lady Bird Johnston, JackieO, Eleanor Roosevelt (Pat Nixon had balance issues, don’t now about Mamie(sp?) Eisenhower and Beth Truman).

    • lentower

      Katie Couric, Barbara Walters

      • OMG

        Lenny, do you live in a van down by the river?

    • OMG2

      “most of the woman (sic) faculty at MIT & Harvard” but not ALL for some reason


      • lentower

        Does Larry Summers “kick ass”? Has he achieved the kind of “balance” Amanda remarked on in her last blog?
        (For anyone who doesn’t know, Summers is a male tenured professor at Harvard, who ended up resigning as Harvard’s president because of quite inappropriate remarks. (I picked this example because he and his behaviour has been widely reported in the media for the last few decades.))

        There are other tenured professors like him, both male and female, at MIT and Harvard.

      • okeydokey

        most of the women who dance at my local strip club

  • TearSong

    Regina Spektor, anyone? ;-)

    • Terry

      Amanda cut and paste from yahoo music so it makes sense.

      • DerpyLand

        This list is the definition of ‘arbitrary’. When the roof caves in on your argument just list a bunch of names and hope that things will improve eventually. Have a nice day!

        • PickleTits

          I love the ‘Lick My Legs’ with PJ Harvey. I always thought Amanda came up with that idea back when she was in The Dresden Dolls. Good to know!

          • Investigator

            Are all these his children?

    • Darcy Boyd

      YES! She is fucking gorgeous

    • Cath Fryer

      Just came down here to include her myself!

      • Anon

        And not one picture of Miley for a change. Nice point!

        • Anon

          Put a bunch of pictures of female artists and people will go wild over it. Nice one Amanda!

          • anon


        • Opie Ever

          Okay Anon, here she is. :-)

          • Perfunctious

            Can’t be her.. where’s the “tongue”?!?

    • OMG3


      no, let’s gang rape her instead

  • J. Mario Agmendariz

    Remedios varo,clarice lispector,alejandra pizarnik, why not M.I.A….

  • veracityweatherwax

    talia joy castellano [], megan kowalewski []

  • kmwilliams

    Sylvie Guillem (dancer). Sally Mann (photographer). Yayoi Kusama (artist). Francesca Lia Block (writer). Janeane Garofalo (comedian). Insectavora (Coney Island fire-eater and tattooed lady).

    Peaches. Kimya Dawson. Joanna Newsom. Regina Spektor. M.I.A. Nina Hagen. Lene Lovich. Gabriela Quintero (of Rodrigo y Gabriela). Yoshimi P-We (of Boredoms/OOIOO/Free Kitten).

    Polly Styrene (RIP). Ari-Up (RIP). Pina Bausch (choreographer. RIP). Maya Deren (filmmaker, RIP).

    • Mitch

      Yay for Polly Styrene and Ari-Up… totally agree

  • Who fucking cares?

    And Kaori Matsumoto, “the Beast.” Wouldn’t want to forget her ….

  • Deborah

    Dr. Helen Caldicott, Naomi Klein, Cynthia McKinney, Birgitta Jonsdottir.

  • TumbleweedB

    “there are plenty of actresses and advocates and politicians and AUTHORS we didn’t even broach.”

    Can we please stop calling women actors “actresses”? Women are doctors, singers, painters, authors, scientists, dancers, pilots, senators, chefs, presidents…why, WHY, are still feminizing this one?? This transcends pet peeve for me…seriously, people are even getting away from saying waiter and waitress and just saying server these days. There is no good reason to differentiate this one job by gender. As an actor, and a woman, and a big damn feminist, I’m asking everyone to stop this unnecessary gendered labeling.

    Sorry for the mini-rant, but this drives me nuts!

    Did anyone say Diablo Cody yet? How about Meryl Streep?

    • lentower

      The media started calling women actors, over a decade ago …

      • LennysOtherMother

        Lenny, even your own mother would tell you to shutup sometimes. Now is one of those times. Shut up.

        • lennyisawtf?

          OMG … he’s the only actual male weighing in

    • whoami

      There’s an argument to be made that either all jobs or position should have a separate noun for both gender, or just one for both. The reasons why this isn’t the case I might inclue the fact that languages are organic and change all the time. They’re not a list of laws and rules that people suddently decide to abid by or vote on. They spawn up arbitrarily and randomly when some people or groups start using some word or convention. So the main reason I see why there isn’t such a symmetry and consistence in language, especially when it comes to gender, is simply because that’s not how language works. It takes time for words to appear and disappear, for usage and conventions to change. For some reason, when more and more female “actors” started appearing, the word “actress” appeared to differentiate(as nouns are used for-classify entities) them from men actors(thus making “actor” a male working in the acting world). Why that didn’t happen for other jobs also depends on lots of factors, such the history of women within that business. I don’t understand why that’s such a big issue. Language is a tool. It changes in function of our needs. If people deem it inappropriate to have different nouns depending on the gender of what we’re talking about, then it will change, at some point. Not instantaneously, because it takes time before some common usage becomes universal usage, or official usage, but it will. If on the opposite, people see it fit to differentiate depending on genders, then I guess each job will have one noun for each gender. I’m pretty sure the argument could be argued by feminists on both side, but in the end, that’s not something that’s critical in our society or in any bigger issue, I think. Not a lot of people, except for linguists maybe(or those interested in linguistics), thinks about the implication or etymology of some usage of some words depending on the situation. Some people use words differently than others, too, and might not even make the distinction some others are making. In the end, if a language works as a way to communicate meaning efficiently(and that’s another argument to be made for or against gender nouns), then why bother getting all worked up about it?

  • Violetsteel

    That awesome moment when one of your heros lists all of your other heros. This list is utter perfection!

  • Rapperport

    Personally the artist that has inspired me above all others is Vivian Maier. Her work is hauntingly beautiful and the story of her life is astounding and ground breaking. The images and lives she captured are breathtaking. It was her choice to remain undiscovered and she was relatively unknown until after her death. An amazing women and role model.

    • Hunchie

      why I like these kinds of posts? I can learn about someone I am unfamiliar about. Thanks for this. Looking forward to learning more about Vivian Maier.

      • Rapperport

        You are most welcome and glad to share, let me know your thoughts.

        • SandraPerkins

          It read like the whos-who of the local health clinic down the street.

  • Nikos Dunno

    Chavela Vargas ( – I miss her sooooooo much!

  • Lena C. Paulus

    I might add Vivienne Westwood, Kate Fletcher, Katharine Hamnett … and a lot of the before mentioned. If only one could remember all of them at once.

  • Clark

    COCO ROSIE! COCO ROSIE! And coco rosie. Are missing from the list.

  • Maggie

    Joan Wasser AKA Joan as Police Woman. A wonderful artist.

  • geekinacardigan

    N.K. Jemisin, Mary Shelley, Sean Yseult, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Sigourney Weaver, Wonder Woman.

  • katie

    Caitlin Moran!!

    • TuneFishes

      I can hear the cats following this list down the block.

    • lulu

      ugh, no!

    • jennifer lemons

      Absolutely Caitlin! Good call!

    • Corinne

      Caitlin is transphobic and contributes negatively to the movement (I guess feminism? or like coolness?) so also ew.

  • Tonella

    Regina Spektor, Feist, Angela Nathalie Gossow, Shayna Baszler, Hayley Williams :)

    • Sally

      This is just a list of female names. Anything is fine.

  • V

    Andrea Gibson.

    • Jenette

      “Women who are there (for no reason specifically)”

      • Carlie

        Cheryl Droopers

    • Julie D

      Thanks! Love Andrea! <3

  • joy

    Isabelle Huppert. Mercedes Sosa. Jeanette Winterson. Pauline Black.

  • geekinacardigan

    Lana Wachowski, Maria Bamford, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Sofia Coppola, Oprah, Rosalind Franklin, Sally Ride, Octavia Butler.

  • lottie

    Rebel Wilson, Anne Frank, Cece Mcdonald, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Ellen Page, Gabi Fresh, Franchesca Ramsey, Courtney Love, Ang San Suu Kyi, Nicki Minaj, Kat Bjelland, Harriet Tubman, Patricia Quinn, Allison Wolfe.
    …unfortunately, I’ve now had a mind blank, but you’ve mentioned some great people.

  • gabakulka

    Joni Mitchell.

    • H.Brydie

      She’s so perfect. swoooon.

  • Lottie

    Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Beyonce, Madonna, Courtney Love, Lyn-Z Way and Kitty of the band Mindless Self Indulgence, Wendy O. Williams, Talia Joy Castellano, Nicki Minaj, Franchesca Ramsey, Gabi Fresh, Rebel Wilson, Ellen Page, Kimya Dawson… i’ve had a mind blank now.

    • cherriebomb

      Can’t say I agree with including Courtney Love. The bad she’s done for feminism and art outweighs the good. jmo.

  • highnumber
  • aaa

    annie clark? carrie brownstein?

  • hi

    Emilie Autumn anyone? Or Kate Nash? :)

    • Terry

      What do all of the women have in common on her list?

      • Sam

        Pussy Galore

  • aivlysann

    Someone else already said Missy Higgins and another said Beyonce. I also want to add Scarlett Johansson and Diana Wynne Jones.

  • Lindsay

    Oh, you made me cry. I completely lost it over Gilda and Miss F. Piggy.

  • CharlieF

    Caitlin R. Kiernan – a wonderful writer of weird tales

    • Hunchie

      I leaned over at work and wrote this author’s name down. I ordered The Drowning Girl – just received it. just started, and already wow’d. thanks for typing this. Appreciate it!

  • Gudrun Holck

    Madonna (especially after launching her #SecretRevolutionProject”), Miriam Makeba, Edith Piaf, Oumou Sangare, Marie Daulne alias Zap Mama, Marie Bergman, Susanne Bier (Danish Film Director)…

  • Leigh Wilder

    My childhood heroes: Laura Ingalls, Nellie Bly (19th century journalist), Amelia Earhart. (For some reason I had the idea that heroes should be historical figures…)

    Also writers! Judy Blume, Jennifer Crusie, Robin McKinley, Terri Windling, Jane Yolen, Patricia MacLachlan, JK Rowling, Francesca Lia Block, Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott!

    • Weetzie133

      Louisa May Alcott hated writing the Little Women books and only ever did so because she knew that it was easy money.

  • miranda

    Lydia Lunch Siouxsie Sioux The Slits Debbie Harry Jessicka Addams (of Scarling/Jack off Jill) Katie Jane Garside Emilie Autumn Melora Creager Inger Lorre (for the musicians/singers as well as the ones mentioned)
    Romola Garai Zawe Ashton Gillian Anderson for current actors Marlene Dietrich Louise Brooks Marilyn Monroe Elizabeth Taylor Ava Gardner for old school Hollywood.
    Plus so many more -

  • Phoeline

    So many that come to mind are already mentioned, I’m not sure these aren’t yet, and I find it hard to define the balance, but here are just a few more. Melissa Etheridge, Emma Thompson, Mayim Bialik, Indira Ghandi, Astrid Lindgren.

    I’d add Margaret Thatcher.. But that might be weird. I thoroughly dislike the little I know of her politics (too young, different country), but the woman was strong. Would Lady Gaga fit in?

    A Dutch one: Annie MG Schmidt, a children’s author.

  • Cara

    Joan Didion

  • Barbara

    Lauren Ambrose, Chana Joffe-Walt, Louise O. Fresco (a Dutch scientist/writer/all round amazing person).
    Also, I love that Mara Wilson is on your list!

    • Barbara

      and Emily Graslie!

  • lep106317

    All the female comedians I wanted to mention were already listed so i’ll add one that hasn’t: Kathy Griffin.

  • Andrea Song Maria Charpentier

    Marjane Satrapi!!!!

  • pimpmyattitude

    Why has no-one mentioned Gaga? Is there some unspoken something that I don’t know about that makes me somehow uncool to have been insanely inspired and moved by her talks?

    • hah hah


      she is just a mediocre Amanda Palmer

      didn’t you know that?

  • barnitka

    Siouxsie Sioux!

  • Kim

    Kate Winslet?

  • mistersaxon

    Anne Hathaway should be on the list. Tempted to say “both of them” but not sure I know enough about the Elizabethan one :)

  • Nickel

    Amanda Palmer

  • lentower

    Elizabeth I Rex of the UK,
    Elizabeth II Rex of the UK,
    Princess Diana,
    Catherine the Great

    • LeslieObvious

      Lenny, this still isn’t going to get you laid. Just sayin’

    • lennyisaweirddrone

      Lenny, we don’t want to know

  • Jason Sherry

    Helen. Mirren.

  • Nikki

    How about more comediennes?

    Sarah Millican, Lauren Laverne, Cal Wilson, Shappi Khorsandi, Ava Vidal, Sue Perkins, Jo Brand, Sandi Toksvig, Susan Calman, Doon Mackichan, Julia Zemiro, Dawn French, Meera Syal, Liza Tarbuck, Jessica Hynes, Ronni Ancona, Katy Brand, Nina Conti…

    • jennifer lemons

      Good list. Maria Bamford, also.

    • Hunchie

      sarah silverman?

  • Kathy M Wray

    Joni Mitchell?

  • lele

    Virginia Woolf

  • Rebecca

    Mariska Hargitay!

  • Khaled

    Beth Gibbons, Gwen Stefani, Erykah Badu, Georgia O’Keeffe, Anais Nin, Eartha Kitt, Stevie Nicks, Angela Davis, Amy Winehouse, Nancy Sinatra.

  • fdgdsfg

    Hannah Arendt, Ayn Rand, Katherine Hepburn, Hillary Clinton, Betty Friedan, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, GERTRUDE STEIN!!!, Alice B Toklas, Rubi Jones who linked your letter so I could know about it, SUSAN SONTAG!, Sofia Coppola, Eva Hess, Rosa Luxembourg, George Sand, Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Susan B Anthony, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Madame C.J. Walker, Eleanor Roosevelt,

    • sanemoments

      nah…angela merkel, not in a list for feminist achievements… what for?

  • jwdmeow

    You already have my idol, Ms. Shirley Manson, but I’d also add Daphne Rubin-Vega, Julia Butterfly Hill, Jane Goodall, Poe, Dolores O’Riordan, Noomi Rapace, Franka Potente, Eva Green, Zolani Mahola, Angelina Jolie, Hedy Lamarr, Kathryn Hepburn, Lena Headey, Summer Glau, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Carpenter, Myrna Loy, Gillian Anderson…

    • PhoenixRyzing

      Poe is a must. Her debut album Hello was one of the first at home recorded DIY on her computer albums that actually reached the massed, also paved way with artist/fan interaction via the computer. I wish she would release something. She’s recently been peeking her head out in the interwebz.

      • jwdmeow

        Has she really? God, I miss her. Haunted is a perfect album.

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Catherine Breillat, Dolly Parton, Edith Piaf, Carla Fracci, Maria Callas, Anna Magnani, Marie Curie, Fabiola Gianotti. And, no, Thatcher and Merkel definitely not. Not for me, at least.

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Lena Dunham.

    • Corinne

      Again transphobic and racist, get these privileged second wavers outta here

    • Opie Ever

      Personally I am convinced mommy and daddy bought her career.I don’t think she belongs on this kind of list at all.

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Margaret Cho.

  • Harriet

    Vienna Teng, Thea Gilmore, Regina Spektor, Charlotte Martin, Loreena McKennitt, Unwoman, Sierra Boggess

    Angela Carter, Marguerite Yourcenar, Ellen Kushner, Lynn Flewelling

    Catherine Tate, Gina Bellman, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett

  • akvae;

    Where is LENE LOVICH?

    • Beatrice Biggio

      somewhere down there, someone listed her

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Marguerite Duras. Elsa Morante. Karen Blixen

  • Beatrice Biggio

    I would also list Divine here, don’t you think?

    • Mara

      YES, DIVINE!

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Violeta Parra.

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Aung San Su Qi

  • kym clapham

    this list can’t exist without Emily Haines

  • Helen

    Anjelica Houston

  • Beatrice Biggio

    Gail Ann Dorsey.

  • Prue


  • Regina Wade

    Heather Christian, Unwoman, Somi, Miriam Makeba,

  • XineLively

    Amanda! We need trading cards for these women who kick ass. I would love to give them out to my students as role model cards!

    • lentower

      As “We are the Media”,
      you might want to get a small team together to make this happen.

      You might do a few web searches,

      to be surer no one else has done this.

      Crowd fund such a deck?

      Some years back, Team AFP looked into doing an AFP Tarot deck,
      and decided not to.
      Recently a small team did a more than successful Kickstarter
      to do this deck. One example of how to create this
      “Woman who Lick Ass” deck.

      You also have to get copyright clearances for any images you used.

      • Anon

        Well, maybe lenny if Team AFP whatchamacallit decided to actually PAY people for a change you MIGHT have better luck getting some of those things you want. I wouldn’t do anything like that for free. No way.

        • Sarah Moon

          Good thing you aren’t on the list.

          • lentower

            “Anon”s are ofter gender-less neuters. ; – }

        • lentower

          Why do you assume Team AFP wants anything to do with producing this deck?

      • Alix

        what about as an online thing… like a website or an app?

        • lentower


          List this info for each woman:

          thumbnail picture, name, career(s),

          if any: twitterName, officialWebSite, wikipediaBio

          Anything else?

          • lentower

            A printed wall calendar could be done too.

            First a collage of the woman born in that month.
            Second a collage of those who died in that month.
            Third a collage of those who married in that month.
            Fourth a collage of those divorced in that month.
            Fifth a collage of those who birthed a child in that month.

  • HorrayforBoobies


  • schnoogs

    Amber Benson. Carly Simon.

  • schnoogs

    Oh shit man, Amy Winehouse.

    • Beth Muir

      As amazing as Amy way, she didn’t get the balance right. The game played her, and alas, she lost. Amazing woman, yes but i don’t think she belongs on this list.

  • Danielm80

    The funny thing is, as I was reading this blog, I happened to see Nellie McKay sitting outside a vegan restaurant. I wasn’t sure if I should say anything to her. I didn’t know how she’d feel if I told her she was a “female icon.” But she is.

  • una

    Octavia Butler, Science Fiction writer.

  • 80’sLady

    Lisa Gerrard, Sofia Coppola, Sacheen Littlefeather, Lorraine Hansberry, Marie Curie, Anna Pavlova, Maria Tallchief, Miriam Makeba, and many many more… <3

  • Dead Roman

    Jeanette Winterson and Lee Miller need to be on this list

  • Jean

    Madonna, Courtney Love, Laura Nyro, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Siouxsie, Cesaria Evora…

  • Alejandra San Miguel Jordá

    Lhasa de Sela

  • Bruno

    No Courtney Love though??

    • Hannah

      freudian slip

  • christine

    Kristin Hersh?

  • anon

    uma thurman?

  • Effy Starr

    Annie Sprinkles

  • Elspeth Faber
  • cherriebomb

    Bianca and Sierra Casady a.k.a. CocoRosie, all day long.

    • Alix

      they are so very interesting, i’m going to see them at the end of the month!

  • Mitch

    ANN MAGNUSON… I think one of the reasons I was open to hear and see and love you so much as an artist is that I fell in love with Ann Magnuson’s work while in college. You two should talk.

  • Alisha Rose

    Kinda sad but not surprised that Amy Lee, Otep or Lzzy Hale aren’t on this list. They’ve made a huge impact for women in rock but yet go highly unnoticed.

    And Amanda, you should’ve added your photo to that list :)

  • Es

    Ocativa Butler, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H.D., Carol Ann Duffy and Dionne Brand.

    And your list already covered my music scene…. oh, Zoe Keating and d’bi young.

    • Es

      Seed to Harvest and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler! Amazing books!

  • Lia Turner

    Margaret Atwood!

    Tracey Emin!


    Penny Smith!

    Jeanette Winterson!

    Kim Deal!

  • Beadmaven

    Rachel Carson, Barbara Kingsolver, Julia Child, Laurel Richardson, Frances Moore Lape, Etty Hillesum (An Interrupted Life ~ The intimate journal of a young Jewish woman in Holland during the Holocaust years)

  • elisa

    ursula k. leguin!!

  • gamoonbat

    Neko Case!

  • Biscuit

    I nominate Siouxsie Sioux (musician), Jeanne Kalogridis (author), Lucy Lawless (activist/actress), Sofia Coppola (director) and Audrey Hepburn (actress/goddess). I apologize if some of these were already suggested. :D

  • Es

    And Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home!!

  • PhoenixRyzing

    Nancy McKeon, Raven Simone, Poe, Cibo Matto, Ana Voog, Katzenjammer, Lily Allen, LP, Shakespear’s Sister, Storm Large, Tracy Bohnam

    • PhoenixRyzing

      Forgot Meryl Streep

  • Charlene


  • Carrie James

    No Natalie Merchant? Even her 10,000 maniac stuff is still relevant, socially and racially sensitive. She also fights fracking. I love her. Leave Your Sleep is a great album. She can be frumpy because she’s so talented.

  • Elena Leong

    Ita Buttrose (Australian), Helen Mirrin

  • Irena

    Lots and lots that I would also add have been added, but it looks like Helen Mirren and Suze Demarchi (from the Australian band Baby Animals) could also be tagged on!

  • ronwild

    Why are we still separating gender roles? Surely we have moved on now, let the media the ill- informed, the divisive and the common mediocrity, separate society in to manageable, bite-size chunks, each with its own stereotype they can be trained to love or hate. We are not our religions or lack of, we are not our race, we are not our nationality, we are not men and women, adults and children. We are HUMAN, we are transformed from other animals by our ability to reason, to produce art, literature and music. Let these things bind us together, rather than being pulled apart by things we have not control over. For every brilliant white, heterosexual male there is an equally talented coloured, homosexual female, or any combination of human kind. The lists of great women below is subjective and superfluous, each one is as great as their effect on each of us as an individual. Who is greater, the artist who connects superficially with millions or the one that nails a tenuous mood, for an individual, that covers so many emotions their respiration is affected? The answer is ‘Neither’.

  • Claire

    Grace Slick, Poly Styrene, Exene Cervenka…

    • Bikil

      Finally someone mentions Exene! I was coming to mention her too. As well as Limor Fried who founded Adafruit Industries. Kick fucking ass!

  • Rachael

    Annie Clark (AKA: St. Vincent)!

  • Mara

    Olvido Gara (Alaska)

  • Andy Cropper
  • chrissy

    Liz Phair, Maggie Estep, Nicole Blackman, Natalie Merchant

  • RiverVox

    UK Journalist & author Laurie Penny – @pennyred on twitter.

  • Zoe

    Years ago you did a Ninja Gig in Melbourne and one of the sound guys was playing Florence and the Machine. You looked at us in the front row and said, “Who’s this?” A whole bunch of us yelled/screamed the answer with a lot of enthusiasm. So glad to see she made your list, along with Annie Lennox, Shirley Manson and several of my other role models. :)

  • Amy Pass

    Artists Judy Chicago, Kiki Smith and Beatrice Wood. Or how about Simone de Beauvoir, Helen Mirren and Vivienne Westwood? And Lucy Liu!

  • Damon

    Dessa, Anais Nin, Brenda Ueland, Ursula Le Guin, Erika M Anderson (EMA)

  • Amie

    You forgot Joni Mitchell, Amanda!

    • lentower

      Audrey Niffenegger

  • Sam

    Siouxsie Sioux
    Poly Styrene

  • Attila the Honey

    Melanie Safka!

  • Sam

    Marina & the Diamonds and Regina Spektor!

  • MellBert

    Melissa Etheridge, Dar Williams, Patty Griffin, Sarah McLaughlan, Sheryl Crow, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, Amanda Fucking Palmer, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, Chrissie Hynde, Catie Curtis, Jewel, Pat Benetar, Joan Osbourne. Virginia Woolf, Georgia O’Keefe, Audre Lord, Mary Oliver. Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth. Twyla Tharp and Martha Graham.

  • Katie

    Caitlin Moran

  • Beth Muir

    Margaret Atwood. Joanne K. Rowling, Madeleine Vionnet (, Katharine Helpburn ( , Elsa Schiaparelli ( Stella McCartney.

    (reposted from AFP app and facebook)

  • Imogen

    I would add Molly Crabapple and Catlin Moran!

  • διαφανής

    I want to highlight a woman that many people do not know, Lee Miller (1907-1977). Her life was very intense, and she was brilliant. She was a great photographer (in surrealism and portrait), war corresponsal and model. She was one of the first photographers to take photos of the Dachau camps and the liberation of Paris (for example). She lived in New York, Egypt, Paris and England (and she worked for Vogue, Frogue and Brogue). When she was about to die, she “adopted” a bunch of young women to teach them that they didn’t have to be submisive to a man to be happy (she lived a terrible marriage). She was friends with other great women like Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning or Mina Loy. She didn’t have complexes about sex. And she fucking bathed in Hitler’s tub to mock him, for heaven’s sake! Go check her!

    I love to see in the list people like Kate Bush, Marina Abramovic and Beth Ditto, though :)

  • darklucia13

    Definitely Erica Jong. ‘Fear of Flying’ gave us the ‘Zipless Fuck’…priceless.

  • Vampdaddy

    Siouxsie Sioux

    • Ranee Hilbers


      Specifically came here to add Siouxsie, Chrissy Amphlett, Helen Mirren, and Caitlin Moran. I’ve seen 3 of the 4.

      Still looking for Caitlin…

      • TheDeadUnicorn

        Agreed on Caitlin!Though I don’t agree with her about some things,she was the one who,along with Amanda,introduced me to feminism.

    • Lili

      I was gonna suggest the same! :-)

    • Sherry Peterson

      Damn straight, Siouxsie has to be on this list. When I read the list the first time on my phone I actually said, “Where’s Sioux?” I would also like to add Katharine Hepburn, Betsy Johnson and Georgia O’Keefe.

  • TheBibliothecary

    Kate Nash. Miranda July.

  • Emily Bell

    Betty White, Lana Del Fahking Rey, Scarlet Johanson, Helen Mirren, M. I.A., Eartha Kitt, Courtney Cox, Jane Goodall, Rose McGowan, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Lena Headey, Condoleeza Rice, Nichelle Nichols (Uhura in old star trek if you didn’t know), Sally Ride, and Julie Andrews just to name a few for now. :)

    • Emily Bell

      OH! And Karen Horney, if anyone happens to know who she is :)

    • Emily Bell

      AND CHER!!!!

    • Barb

      Yeah! Betty White!

  • Laura Bee

    Very random list, mostly pulled from my twitter: M.I.A., Indigo Girls, Salt N Pepa, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sarah Harmer, Sarah Polley, Laurie Penny, Christiane Amanpour, Soraya Chemaly, Adria Richards, Helen Lewis, Alyssa Rosenberg, Jill Pantozzi, Allie Brosh, Jill Filipovic, Amy Davidson, Tatiana Maslany, Fairuza Balk, Kristen Schaal, Laura Dern, Maggie Q, Jenny Lawson, Elizabeth May, Arlene Dickinson, Kenojuak Ashevak, Susan Aglukark, Catherynne Valente, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Renae de Liz, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Laura Hudson, Gail Simone, Karen Walton, Lydia Litvyak, Cecilia Payne, Mary Blair

    • Emily Bell

      I had M.I.A. too! :)

  • terre

    A very white list.

    • Lucy Merriman

      I don’t know who downvoted you; you have a good point. Feminism is nothing without intersectionality. Celebrating women should mean celebrating women of all races, ethnicities, classes, religions, and abilities, not just the ones who already have race and class privilege.

      So let’s get to celebrating! Who are your favorite boundary-pushing women artists of color?

  • anonymous

    audre lorde

  • Barb

    Indigo Girls, Aimee Mann, Shelby Lynne, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Courtney Love, Maya Angelou, Danica Patrick, Venus and Serena Williams, Kathy Bates, Helen Hunt, Lucille Ball, Brandi Chastain, Brandi Carlile, Tina Fey, Alice Walker, P!NK, Gina Davis…

    • Emily Bell

      I indeed do LOVE LUCY! :)

  • TheL

    Laura Jane Grace from the punk band Against Me! is pretty awesome.

  • kamikazecook

    Yes, women who act are called actors, not actresses, which carries unfortunate casting couch connotations. I read quickly so didn’t see if you have Kate “‘I don’t want to spend time thinking about the size of my arse” Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Fiona Shaw (who does male roles sometimes). Also in the American political realm the late greats Anne Richards and Molly Ivins, plus Rachel Maddow, who like Ellen Degeneres just is her own self in enviable simplicity. recently I would have to add Hillary Clinton too, who seem finally to have found her sweet spot (no sexual innuendo intended), Amy Klobuchar and CA-Reps Barbara Lee and Jackie Speier, who survived the gunmen at the Jonestown massacre. I’m sure I’ll think of many more in the middle of the night.

  • IgorG

    Joni Mitchell, Bessie Smith, Bill Holliday, Mary Pickford, Remedios Varo, Zelda Fitzgerald, Ada Lovelace, Emmy Noether, Mary Shelly …..

  • Jennifer Sutton

    I would say Lucy Lippard, Cate Blanchett, and Wanda Sykes

  • JoAnn DeAngelo

    diane arbus

    • Lauren

      yeahhh DIANE ARBUS

  • Laurie

    Isabelle Allende, Siouxsie Sioux, Amy Goodman, Maya Angelou, Yoko Kanno, Erykah Badu, Birute Gimbutas, Jane Goodall, Naomi Klein, Rosalind Franklin, Florence Nightingale, Wangari Matthai, Artemisia Gentileschi, Clara Lemlich, Mother Jones, Shonen Knife, Lynda Carter, Mary Pickford, Ann Richards, Mary Edmonia Lewis, Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Jordan these ladies: …….

    (posting as guest because I can’t get this silly thing to work, embarrassingly enough…)

    • Laurie

      I forgot – Julia Butterfly Hill, Hypatia, Marie Curie, Georgia O’Keefe, Barbara Eirenreich, Maria Sibylla Merian, The Gorilla Girls, Betsey Johnson, Vivien Westwood, Zora Neale Hurston, Betty Smith ….

  • Kirin Dickson

    chelsea wolfe! shes really not known but shes amazingly talented. she makes gothic folk music…lol

  • Meagan Elizabeth

    If you don’t know her, you should! She did a kickstarter for her movie Face 2 Face. <3

  • Lady J

    Melissa Ferrick, Bell Hooks, Eve Ensler, Sia, Harriet Tubman, Bianca and Sierra Casady (CocoRosie), Daphne Oram, St. Vincent, Joanna Newsom, Patty Griffin, Emylou Harris, Marnie Stern, Courtney Love, Vashti Bunyan, Memphis Minnie, Miho Hatori, Cyndi Lauper, Erykah Badu, Holly Golightly, Patsy Cline, Anais Mitchell, Kimya Dawson, Dar Williams, Kaki King, Erin McKeown, Jade Castrinos

  • Wade

    Anneke Van Geirsbergen. From the world of heavy metal: Angela Gossow and Sigrid Sheie.

    • Katie

      Angela Gassow! Good call.

  • Ana Romanov

    please don’t forget Laura Nyro…and yes, Regina Spector

    • Christian

      Oh yes, Laura Nyro, please ..

  • Isabel

    gonna throw in a few dancers..Zoe Jakes, Madame Onca, Donna Mejia, Rachel Brice

  • lentower

    Tania Stavreva, Valerie Thompson, Vessela Stoyanova, Zea Barker, Brianna Olson

  • jennifer lemons
  • Katie

    My favorite two women in psychoanalysis, Sabina Spielrein and Julia Kristeva. As well as the insightful Ayn Rand and the lovely Cate Blanchett, Dolores O’ Riordan (of The Cranberries), Marion Cotillard, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Stewart (I mean have you seen The Runaways?), Imogen Heap, Tarja Turunen (of Nightwish), Elizabeth Warren, Marina Diamandis (of Marina and the Diamonds), Maria Brink (of In This Moment), Grace Slick (Of Jefferson Airplane), Nikki Reed, Emily Haines (of Metric), Kate Hudson, Frances Mcdormand, Zooey Deschanel(Honestly every female in Almost Famous), Gwen Stafani, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond), and Rachael Weisz. Oh and Carey Mulligan, Kathryn Bigelow and Jessica Chastain. There are too many awesome women, really.

    • Lucy Merriman

      Tarja! Oh, I loved her. I like Annette too, don’t get me wrong, but Tarja was fantastic.

  • whatsername

    Jennifer Lawrence!

  • Matthew

    A “particularly rad woman”

  • Amy

    Harper Lee. Oh and Wu Zhao, the only woman to rule China in her one right.

  • Natasha Moustache

    Nomi Ruiz of Jessica 6

  • Lotrimo

    Kathy Acker (pictured below) belongs here, most certainly, with her searing, relentless, intelligent novels. Also: Jeanette Winterson, Dodie Bellamy, Lidia Yuknavitch, Carole Maso, Kate Bornstein, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Ali Liebegott, and Michelle Tea. And another shout out for the incomparable surreal poetry of Alejandra Pizarnik, recently translated beautifully into English by Cecilia Rossi; and also the poetry of Muriel Rukeyser, Alice Notley, Juliana Spahr, and Amy Gerstler. Can’t forget the performance art of Karen Finley, Carolee Schneemann, Holly Hughes, and Linda Montano; the visual art of Cindy Sherman, Hannah Wilke, Nan Goldin, Ana Mendieta, and Nancy Spero. Musicians are clearly well covered here, though I don’t think anyone has mentioned Danielle Dax or Alison Moyet yet; or some of the feminist musicians of the 1970s like Cris Williamson, Holly Near, or Ferron (who is currently working with Bitch, bringing her music to a whole new generation.) And also the punk ferocity and fun of Tribe 8. And, lastly, the brilliant Lydia Tomkiw who delivered her too-cool-for-school spoken word in the 80s band Algebra Suicide and a fine solo effort, Incorporated.

    • Corinne


    • Laureen


  • rosie

    cindy sherman!

  • Corinne

    I wish Amanda had included descriptions cause I don’t recognize some of them (and am to lazy to click links)

  • HariKari123

    Wendy Wasserstein, Buffy St. Marie, Dame Diana Rigg I (if only for Ms Emma Peel, if nothing else)

  • HariKari123

    June Millington
    Jean Millington
    Alice de Buhr
    Nickey Barclay
    Patti Quatro
    Brie Brandt
    Cam Davis

    AKA Fanny

  • Anita

    exene cervenka,siouxsie sioux,norah jones,alison mosshart,luscious name a few….

  • Tom Steiger

    Laurie Penny, Elizabeth Warren, Ondi Timoner, Carrie Brownstein, Liz Phair, Erica Mulkey (aka Unwoman), Kate Slepicka (aka SuperKate)

  • Chey

    Katherine Hepburn?

  • bitch you

    Amanda Palmer: FEMINIST ICON

    UNTIL she and Margaret Cho simulate gang rape on Katy Perry

    • lentower

      Are you referring the skit they did on the WKAP tour,
      on an female actor playing Kate Perry?

    • bitch too

      sorry Amanda Fucking Palmer, feminist icons don’t simulate rape on other women

      • Guest


  • Meg

    Lydia Lunch, Poly Styrene

  • Kelsi

    Mary Oliver, Anne Lamott, Dr. Jane Aronson, Claudette Colvin, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, Hillary Clinton, Andrea Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Brenneman, Meredith Walker, Madeleine L’Engle, Oprah, JK Rowling, Marie Curie, Kate Walsh, Elizabeth Warren, Jeanette Winterson, Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman, Madeleine Albright, Anne Frank, and on and on and on

  • SweetRPea

    Okay, I’m going to be all boring and bring up the “bell-shaped curve.” So, in looking at many of the women on your list, it seems you could draw a “bell-shaped curve” around them in terms of the extent to which they use their sexuality or feminine appeal to express themselves in their work. The photos of PJ Harvey, Dolly Parton, Margaret Cho and Beth Ditto stand out as being more strongly sexual because of the emphasis on bare legs, large chest, cleavage and nudity. So, lets put them at one side of the bell curve. Many of the rest appear more conservatively dressed, so I don’t know that I can pick out any that particularly would fit at the extreme opposite of the bell curve in terms of lack of sexual expression. The point is, some people/women/artists enjoy expressing themselves in a highly sexual way and/or using seduction and/or their femininity as a selling point. Others avoid this to the point it can seem that their gender is practically negated. However, most will fall somewhere in between. While I get the point that it is good to have a balanced approach to things, not all people will want that and some people, by virtue of who they are and what they want to be, will just end up inevitably falling at one extreme side of the bell curve or the other. Rather than try and shove them back toward the middle, where everyone else that is not them are, why not let them be where they feel most comfortable? If we allow for this, then we allow for the whole range of human expression including it’s extremes as well as what is in the middle. For me, that should be the end goal. Not to achieve perfect balance. But then, I might be misinterpreting what you mean by seeking balance with respect to the above….

  • http://@leah_v leah_v

    calpernia addams, poets lauren zuniga & andrea gibson, erika linder

  • Crien

    Nina hagen!!!

  • lamissv

    Roxy Epoxy.

  • DFA

    Bette Midler

  • Mattias Nahlin

    Jennifer Lawrence, Regina Spektor, Suzanne Vega, my mom, Robin Hobb, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter

  • Meursault

    I’m sure you didn’t mean to exclude Annie Clarke (St. Vincent) from that list Amanda. Also I would like to add Lydia Lunch.

  • Drya

    Regina Spektor and Anais Mitchell

  • Dawn W

    …and Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor and Sia – super high on my list anyway!

  • Celestiteblue

    bell hooks. Naomi Shihab Nye. Staceyann Chin. S.J. Tucker. Imogen Heap. P!nk. Robyn. Joanna Newsom. Beth Cavener Stichter. Lee Jinju. Kiki Smith. Wangechi Mutu. Helen O’Leary.

    • Celestiteblue


  • Anne

    Meredith Brooks saw her with Bonnie, Sarah and Queen Latifah. She rocks and produces young artists

  • Petra

    Stoya and already mentioned but extremely important Ada Lovelace and Ursula K. Leguin.

  • Aly Shetter

    No one will want to hear this, probably– But in addition to Amanda Palmer, Lady Gaga is a dear guiding grace of mine.

    I remember when her Born This Way album came out. She really pushed me into finding my own individuality. To not be afraid to show my insides on my outside with a sense of self expression through fashion. Of course, “Ampersand” taught me to hold on to it.

    Thanks. I really needed a list like this.

  • León

    Ángeles Mastretta:

  • León

    Lila Downs

  • Jana Volkmann

    “… and AUTHORS we didn’t even broach.” –

    I suggest Jeanette Winterson.
    And Sofi Oksanen.

    (For a start. And Margaret Atwood, of course. And if it’s not required to be alive to be an important female artist: Sylvia Plath & Virginia Woolf.)

  • León

    Lila Downs:

  • SolveigStokkeland


  • León

    Carmen Aristegui:

  • León

    Silvia Pinal

  • León

    Silvia Pinal:

  • Josie

    Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord.

  • Betty

    Winifred Holtby would get a place on my list. Peaches, too. Being Swedish, I would also add Robyn.

  • quersumme

    What about COCOROSIE?????!!!!
    Also, Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes, Katie Stelmanis of Austra, Diane Cluck, Kaki King, Kinnie Starr and last but not least PEACHES!

  • Ben Perkins

    Regina Spektor, Sarah McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt, Rachael Sage, Kathleen Edwards, Natalie Merchant, A Fine Frenzy, Suzanne Vega, Unwoman…. there are so many I can’t name them all! lol

  • mlissamalone

    Molly Crabapple, for sure. Also Rebecca Sugar, the HAIM sisters, Lykke Li, Annie Clarke, Alanis Morissette and one of my personal favourites, Laura Marling.

  • hippiegoth

    Some semi-random suggestions for additions:

    -Wangari Maathai []

    – Ursula le Guin []

    – Skin []

  • Lucy Merriman

    In a whole other category of rad, groundbreaking feminist women, I’m going to geek out about some underloved lady scientists (both Social and Hard). I realize that women in science don’t have to strike a balance between the expectation of having sex appeal and not wanting to be a sex object, but there’s a lot of other bs to cut past–mainly that women in science tend to get passed over for things like promotions, leadership positions, and tenure because of sexist biases in academia. So when women are able to push past that and come up with brilliant discoveries and inventions, I want to celebrate them too.

    Jane Elliott is a social scientist who’s done groundbreaking studies on racism, smashing social barriers.

    Jane Goodall is not only the world’s leading primate expert, she’s a wildlife ambassador for the UN.

    Fabiola Gianotti led the team that built the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and discovered the Higgs Boson particle.

    Rosalind Franklin made critical discoveries about DNA.

    Patricia Bath invented laser eye surgery and cured many forms of previously incurable blindness.

    Lillian Gilbrith basically invented ergonomics, the study of how to make environments work symbiotically with the people in them, and created many, many inventions that seem small and we take for granted like: refrigerator shelves, trash cans with foot pedals, blenders, and kitchen layout. She also made a lot of discoveries about how sleep and lack of sleep affects the human body.

    Ruzena Bajcsy invented a lot of the robotics and AI technology that’s being used in everything from the Google Smart Car to the robot arms monkeys can control with their brains. If the future becomes a robot-ruled dystopia we know who to blame ;)

    Elizabeth Blackburn discovered telemorase, an enzyme that caps DNA and doesn’t break down in cancer cells. Her discovery led to the creation of a vaccine that could prevent cancer, as well as many discoveries about cellular aging.

    There are thousands. Part of the thing with scientists, too, is that they’re team players. Women have contributed to research in many fields, from astronomy to neuroscience to biology, but rarely are they in a position to make a big discovery; rather, they most often make small discoveries, which then lead to a million more questions.

    Anyway, shoutout to awesome women in every field!

  • Mimi_Mac

    Definitely Julia Gillard – you should check out her misogyny speech directed at Tony Abbott.

  • Helen

    St. Vincent (Annie Clark)

  • Alex Gomez

    Siouxsie Sioux.

  • Lucy Merriman

    Writers who taught me what it meant to be a woman (or a girl, depending on my age): Margaret Atwood, Gail Simone, Madeliene L’Engle, Sharon Creech, Katherine Peterson, Patricia Wrede, Gail Carson LeVine, Zora Neele Hurston, Ursula K. LeGuin, Toni Morrison, Andrea Gibson, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Nariya Waheed, J.K. Rowling, Carla Speed McNeil, Colleen Doran, Octavia Butler, Zena El Khalil, Jean Craighead George, Yoon Ha Lee, Nancy Farmer, Kaja Foglio, Ruth Stone.

  • stef terrieriest

    A fantastic list of ladygrrrrrrrrrls – but you gotta add Nina Hagen, Katie Jane Garside, Poppy Z Brite and Anne Rice!!!!

  • Domi Nika

    Amy Winehouse, Adele, Clarissa Pinkola Estez (not only but mainly for “The Women WHo Run With The Wolves” :))

  • Orlitza

    Deborah Anne Dyer (Skin from Skunk Anansie) Saw her at a show on Friday night… was completely blown away by her brilliance. She’s definitely doing it right.

    • flux freak

      you is south african. I’m sad I missed that show. This woman is something else.

  • robyn

    zadie smith!

  • Feeble Asclepius

    Dessa, Dessa, Dessa a million times over; she’s a rapper/singer/essayist with a philosophy degree. Regina Spektor, as people have already noted. Julie Fowlis, for reviving the Gallic language. Yasmin Levy for doing likewise with Ladino. Zoe Raman: effortless 11/8 jazz. Souad Massi, Lura, Monica Vasconcelos and many more if we extend beyond an anglo-centric view.

  • Luke

    I would’ve loved to see Meg White land on this. She’s awesome :-)

  • Ellen

    Annie Clark (St Vincent) , Aimee Mann and k.d. Lang should be added to the list, as they are incredicool… no other word would suffice!
    there’s also this tremendous Irish musician called Cathy Davey who I’d put on here (:

  • saar

    The Deschanel sisters and Sarah kramer

  • Denise Cummins

    yeah that’s covered my favourites, including Siouxsie and Joni – did you get Tiffany Aching? There are also some on that list that I will add to my favourites. and Maybe you could add Leila Adu she’s a favourite of mine too.

  • Sadie Dave Hemmings

    Peaches! Surely she totally slays the balance?

  • Lili

    Since you wrote “know of a particularly good book by a particularly rad woman”, I thought I would suggest Lionel Shriver. We Need To Talk About Kevin has become by obsession, and Shriver is the one woman who can write a whole book around character who are incredibly difficult to love because of how flawed they are while making it impossible to put down the book until it’s over (or not reading it again once it is over). This is also a film starring Tilda Swinton by the way, and shot by another wonderful woman: the Scottish director Lynne Ramsay.

    Also, Emma Watson (so far), Gwen Stefani, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Emiliana Torrini, Lisa Hannigan, Lily Allen, Lou Rhodes (Lamb), Emily Haines (Metric), Skin (Skunk Anansie), Sia Furler, Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo (Ladytron)…and I am going to stop here otherwise I am going to take over this comment page. :-)

  • Carla Black

    Suzi Quatro!!

  • Sadie Dave Hemmings

    Also Skin from Skunk Anansie

  • Gabriel

    Maggie Estep!

  • Edna

    jessie mae hemphill, joni mitchel, ricki lee jones, stevie nicks, louise post, juliette lewis, kat bjelland, pat benatar, heather nova, aimee mann, melissa etheridge, emmylou harris, juliana hatfield, kristin hersh, natasha kahn, anita lane, lisa loeb, kaki king, dolores o’riordan, liz phair, kt tunstall, suzanne vega, victoria williams, lita ford, ann and nancy wilson, and so on… these are just some of my favorites.

    • Jen

      Joni Mitchell. Yes.

  • Lola

    Diane Keaton, Sarah Waters, Toni Morrison, Anaïs Nin, Martha Gelhorn (one of the greatest war correspondant of the 20th century), Molly Crabapple and…
    Daniela Sea. One of the most beautiful, smart, engaged and humble artists today.

  • me

    Stoya, Jenny Trout aka Abigail Barnette, Jennifer Lawrence.

  • anjuschka

    … time for a new playlist

  • James C

    Ellen Pagels has caused us to re-examine the Christian tradition beyond traditional gender roles (see esp. The Gnostic Gospels).

  • me again

    Oh, and “Michael Field” = Katherine Harris Bradley and Edith Emma Cooper. Atheists, suffragettes, made “sapphic” relationships fashionable in Victorian London. Wrote poems to their chow.

  • Morticia
  • Neverm0re

    So many great women in here.. A lot of them would be on my list, so I won’t put them again. Just wanted to add a few, maybe some of you haven’t heard about.. or forgot.. (or I haven’t seen on lists here..)

    -Simone Veil (french political woman who made abortion legal here in France in 1975)
    -Jeanne Cordelier (french writter, most known for her autobiographic novel about prostitution “La Dérobade”)
    -Simone de Beauvoir (french writter, philosopher, political activist and feminist)
    -Barbara (french singer)
    -Catherine Ringer (french singer from “The Rita Mitsouko”)
    -Virginie Despentes (french writter and film maker)
    -Billie Holiday
    -Josephine Baker
    -Tura Satana
    -Béatrice Dalle (french actress)
    -Claire Denis (french film maker)
    -etc.. etc..

  • Rachel Marsden

    PEACHES!!!! She should totally be on this list!

  • Cindytattoo

    we can`t forget Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Princess Diana and Sarah Mclachlan just to name a few more on this fab list!

    • Conor Mcvarnock

      Mother Teresa is a bit problematic, like everyone else on the list is fine but you should probably read some of the critical biographies and books about Mother Teresa, there are plenty out there.

  • Conor Mcvarnock

    Genesis P. Orridge should definitely be on this somewhere. Delia Derbyshire was one of the great unsung heroines of modern music, check her out because if you don’t know who she is you should. Wendy Carlos too. Beyond music I would include Tracey Emin, Ursula K. LeGuin (bad form on Neil for leaving her out!) and if you’re going to go back into history, Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxembourg
    and Countess Markovitch.

  • AnnaB

    It’s interesting to note that many of these women got scolded pretty bad back then, too, when they were making their mark. They were “bad, bad” women. Terrible. “Bad role models!” And so on and so forth. Their perfect balance, it seems, came not because they changed, but because they stuck to their guns and got the respect they deserved simply because people stopped scolding them. They are awesome, but they had to display courage under fire, much like the Miley Cyruses and Megan Foxes of today.

  • Josie Palmer

    cate blanchett, kimya dawson, mia jovovich, josephine baker, amy sedaris, “kitty” clive…and of course i save the best for last…my youngest sister, Lex!

  • Josie Palmer

    Celia Cruz!

  • koko

    Sylvia Plath.
    Elizabeth Warren.
    Betty Friedan.
    Betty Dodson.
    Jennifer Lawrence.
    Jennifer Connolly.

  • bitterplastic

    Joyce Carol Oates
    Warsan Shire
    have my votes for this list.

  • martinapet

    Ahem….Betty White people!!

  • Tina

    Thanks Amanda. At 56, I’m in that generation that always says “we had no role models. we had to be our own role models”. Thanks for reminding me that I DID have role models. loads of them. It also made me realise that many of them were younger than I was. A role model is someone you look up to , not someone who is older than you are. Women like you, who I was introduced to by my 4 daughters back in the Dresden Doll days….

  • Michael Valdez

    Bianca and Sierra Casady of Cocorosie.

  • jarich

    Joni Mitchell.

  • Mona Rose

    This is a fantastic list! It includes many of my favorites and has turned me on to a few ladies I did not know about. I have an addition you might agree with, Audre Lorde

  • CarolinAnahita

    Nina Hagen!
    And I have to add: I am coming to your concert in Cologne on 1st of November, SO looking forward!

  • TheDeadUnicorn

    Agreed!It makes me so happy to see a good 70% of my favourite people on here.I’d throw in Salma Hayek and Lucy Lawless,as well (from the ‘actresses’ portion of CelebrityLand.I won’t go on with awesome female singers,because I’d have to create another 100 voices list).

  • Howlin’ Hobbit

    how about Bonnie Raitt’s inspiration, Alice Stuart?

  • Clark Heijbroek

    Coco Rosie anyone?

  • Grandmother Toad

    Re: Trans women. Fallon Fox, the pioneering trans female MMA fighter. As a woman and a fighter, she’s been very influential as women’s MMA starts making headway in the media.

  • CoinOperatedBear

    Leslie Feist
    Canadian spoken word poet Beth Murch
    Solange Knowles
    Exene Cervenka

    I’ll post more as I think of them…

  • Séverine Cuveèle

    Edith Piaf

  • Séverine Cuveèle

    Fab Edith Piaf

  • Guest

    Virginia Woolf

  • Séverine Cuveèle

    Diane Arbus and Virginia Woolf

  • Joi Popernack

    This list could go on forever. I hope it does. I would add women Ive known and women Ive admired.
    (not that the groups are mutually exclusive.) Amanda Palmer! Add yourself to the list!

    You’ve given me an Idea…..

  • Séverine Cuveèle

    Wow how can i forget incredible Peaches !! have to watch “Peaches does herself” … brilliant !

  • jenster8dc

    Hedy Lamarr!

  • Stella

    Kimya Dawson?

  • MistyBlue

    Director Deepa Mehta. She has had to have bodyguards to protect her in her home country of India because of movies she has written and directed. I admire her greatly.

  • Tammy Dalton

    Margaret Atwood

  • Morgan

    Miss Dynamite. Maya Jane Coles. Mary J Blige. Sade. M.I.A

  • Gary Woollerton

    Anna Karina, Maruerite Duras and my daughter for not bowing to peer pressure and being herself

  • raliel

    Toyah, Lene Lovich and millions of women world wide who may not be in the media spotlight but are making a real difference

  • Courtney Bates

    Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Lorna Crozier, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Ursula K. LeGuin…

    • Lucy Merriman

      Yes! And other brilliant women in comics: Carla Speed McNeil, Jill Thompson, Amanda Connor, Kaja Foglio, Faith Erin Hicks, Colleen Doran, Lynda Berry–the list goes on. Tamora Pierce is finally returning to comics after years of YA novels to write “Legends of Red Sonja,” I’m so psyched!

  • EJ Westlake

    This is a fantastic list! Thank you and Neil for reminding us of these amazing women.

  • Gary Woollerton

    Oh and of course Jehnny Beth

  • Easy Lou

    Ella Fitzgerald.
    Elif Shafak (author of “Bastard of Istanbul”, to name the book that got her the most trouble with the Turkish government)
    Marlen Haushofer, austrian author.
    Christa Wolf, german author.
    Simone de Beauvoir!!

  • Kent Walker

    Wonderful list. Can’t understand why Cathy Acker is missing. Wasn’t she a friend of Neil’s?

  • Katy Ganaway

    Paloma Faith. She’s up and coming, and she’ll steal your heart and make you think.

  • April Gunn

    I love love love this list.

  • Chris Allen-Riley

    For authors, I’d like to include Margaret Atwood, Jenny Trout aka Abigail Barnette and Maggie Steifvater.

  • jay

    Nina Hagen.

  • kmwilliams
  • Meg

    Youtuber Laci Green is someone I would highly recommend young women watch. She teaches sex ed on Youtube, rants against slut shaming and is totally, unashamedly comfortable with her sexuality.

    I’d also love to see Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page on there.

    • Lucy Merriman

      I like Laci Green, but I’d put a huge asterisk about her videos for two reasons. One, she has more than one video that is trans*phobic. The worst offender was a video she made on trans* issues, and she explained trans* people as people who “chose” to be the opposite gender or have a “preference” for feminine/masculine things. Obviously not only is this not true scientifically (in fact: trans*men are neurologically male and trans*women are neurologically female, even if their chromosomes don’t align that way) but it was a problem that could easily have been avoided by, you know, asking an actual trans*person to guest-host that episode. There was a similar scandal when she made an episode about interracial dating and used a bunch of slurs as a “joke.” She also admitted that she’s never been in an interracial relationship, but she felt A-Ok with giving advice anyway.

      Two, she is atheist to the point of being anti-religious. She deleted her channel GoGreen, which had at least twenty videos bashing religious groups, and apologized for it, but the apology seemed like an ass-cover. Plus, she continues to claim that any personal choice a person makes regarding their sex life that take religion into account (for instance, taking a vow of celibacy or abstinence) is damaging and unhealthy, when there is no evidence that abstaining from sex for personal reasons causes anyone harm.

  • Aloo

    Kate Nash!! and Dusty Springfield.. :)

  • Hans Hogervorst

    Nina Hagen

  • kmwilliams

    Two clips of the inimitable Sylvie Guillem dancing William Forsythe’s ‘In the Middle Somewhat Elevated’ (a modern dance/ballet piece that was choreographed on her in 1987.. music by Thom Willems)..

  • kmwilliams

    Incredible classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa (here playing Rachmaninoff’s (frankly terrifying) ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ etude.. at speed.)

    (She asked fans on the internet to chose her setlist for her debut solo performance at the Royal Albert Hall last year. She does this regularly. And webcasts. And uploads loads of amazing stuff to her Youtube channel. She SLAYS. Dig in.)

  • Blarg

    I am surprised nobody included St. Vincent (Annie Clark) to this list. She is a perfect example of a female badass that can play the guitar better than most men I’ve seen.

  • Arsenio Ricaurte Samaniego

    I would add Suzzane Vega, Paula Cole, Sarah Brightman and Beth Gibbons.

  • Nattfall

    They might very well already have been mentioned, but I think Helen Mirren and Sofi Oksanen deserve to have their names on the list.

  • fbfbfb

    Wendy Cope- poet.

  • Laureen

    I’d like to add Emilie Autumn!

  • Meg

    Evan Rachel Wood would also be a great addition.

  • Andrea

    Miss Kittin.

  • bex0r

    Cary Ann Hearst (Shovels and Rope)

  • Meagan Elizabeth
  • Arieke

    Louise Lecavalier

  • Yule

    Kate Nash!

  • Arieke

    Krystle Warren

  • Jon Phillips

    Annakalmia Travers of the band Rubblebucket

  • Nathalie Derrick

    Caitlin Moran, Tairrie B, Courtney Love, Helen Mirren, J.K. Rowling, Helena Bonham-Carter…oh the list could go on for days!

  • Jyl Johnson

    Oh, wow…great list! I have so many friends that fit this criteria…I could spend all day on it, and still probably leave a few of my VIP’s off, but, Sally Fowler Haughey, Marion Winik, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anita Dimant, Eartha Kitt, Isabella Rosselini, Lisa Potter, Toni Willis, Jeni Cooke, Amanda Ruyle, Joey Mechelle Stenner, Jen Jones, Samantha Bee, Marilyn Ihloff, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Lauren Zuniga, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Tamara Lebak, Jo Parker…and so many more

  • Patrycja M.

    Emilie Autumn

  • Christian

    I would like to add Christina Aguilera (one of the most awesomest voices ever) and Peaches (generally awesomest).





  • H.Brydie

    Laura Jane Grace.


    Diane Arbus !

    • Peter

      Yes! Such an amazing woman. In terms of ‘slaying the balance’, her talent and ability in creating her distinctive photographic style, and then incredible courage and insight when she departed from that in search of deeper truths and tougher subjects truly qualifies. A brightly burning but sadly shortened life.

  • le

    lena dunham

  • Clár Ní Raghallaigh

    Emma Donoghue – Author of Room, Kissing the witch, Astray, Slammerkin and many more amazing books. I absolutely love her style of writing.

  • Jen

    George Sand.

  • Joanna Routledge

    Octavia Hill – The amount she achieved in her life was unbelievable. She made the first parks (for everyone – National Trust/Open Spaces), invented the first playground and playground toys, created social housing, the army cadet force. Check her out! She is in awe inspiring woman who changed the UK for those suffering from poverty. She was one of the first social workers, and not in the ‘steal the bairns’ stereotype way. She helped change peoples lives for the better.

    While I’m at it, Jane Nassau Senior (who was Octavia’s friend). She worked for the rights of women, children, prostitutes and servants. She even helped set up the Red Cross

    These women truly kicked ass in a time when women were wholly subjugated. They were social reformers and I hope we don’t forget them.

  • Cristina

    I hope to someday be in a list like this. I hope to make a contribution to the worl in an artistic way. Thanks for the inspiring list!

  • Arieke

    Lucinda Childs
    Pina Bausch
    Nanine Linning

  • Nathalie

    Aung San Suu Kyi / Simone de Beauvoir / Agnès Varda / Pina Bausch.

    So many fucking great women

  • lalalalalalallalalalaaaa

    margaret atwood

  • Jen

    Caitlin Moran

  • Ali Ce

    Writers? Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edith Wharton, Harper Lee, Qiu Jin, Gita Mehta, and Lensey Namioka. Just to name a few.

    Random awesome: Alice Huyler Ramsey was the first woman to drive cross country. She is quoted to have said “Good driving has nothing to do with sex. It’s all above the collar.”

    Elizabeth I refused to marry because she knew that in marrying anyone she’d be screwed politically, which is why she had a long list of scorned bachelors.

    Eleanor of Aquitaine was a badass who rode a horse into battle during the Crusades.
    Amelia Earhart, first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. Caroline Lucretia Herschel first female astronomer. Roza Shanina, first woman to be a sniper WWII. Mariya Oktyabrskaya, first female tank operator, fucked shit up for the third reich in WWII. Marie Marvingt was a bomber pilot in WWI for the French army. (They played with boy’s toys)

    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the most controversial woman in modern American history. She was a woman who didn’t care about what was popular but what was right.

  • Tom Coyne

    Drummers Cindy Blackman, Terry Lyne Carrington and Shela E. All 3 are world class players and true bad asses!

  • insignifikunt

    I’d add Megan Washington @WASHINGTONx
    Missy Higgins @missyhiggins
    Marieke Hardy @mariekehardy
    Hayley Mary @hayleymary
    Sarah Blasko @sarahblasko
    Kate Miller-Heidke @kmillerheidke
    Dido @didomusic
    Gillian Anderson @gillianA
    Kim Boekbinder @kimboekbinder
    Sia Furler @sia
    Regina Spektor @respektor

    SO MANY more probably

  • Sabrina Diane Pauloo

    Ummmm… P!nk anyone? Talk about never straying from who she is and standing her ground while finding that perfect balance. She’s gone from being criticized for her ‘outrageous behaviors’ to being Woman of the Year?!?!?! I say that makes the list.
    Also Tina Turner being on the list instantly made my heart smile. She was my first favorite artist and first concert at the age of 8. That woman is a living legend and opened many doors for many women.

  • Ane Holm

    Angela Carter and Dorothy Parker.

  • kdnavrat

    Annie Dillard

  • bozo

    I’m not entirely sure I get the quote from Sinead, though I suspect I agree with her. ““It’s a Chinese finger trap that reflects the basic problems of our
    women-times: we’re either scolded for looking sexy or we’re scolded for
    not playing the game. Those who manage to find a perfect balance are
    rare, and the culture at large seems hellbent on undermining our ability
    to create that balance peacefully within ourselves. And weirdly, it’s
    generally women scolding other women…we’re our own worst enemies.” Are the women who get this “perfect balance” she refers to actually those who manage to please everyone? Mightn’t that come at a cost, too? She then says we should be able “to create that balance peacefully within ourselves” which sounds like a great idea in theory. But surely the drive to “look sexy” is driven by the desire for external approval which is what musicians and actors who live in the world of visual media seem to do – it isn’t just the expression of one’s personal sexuality, is it? I’m all for talking and learning about amazing women, but many of the comments still refer to just how ‘sexy’ the commentators find them. I think this is a bit sad and something women are very unclear about these days, including the artists/actors themselves. Everyone insists they be sexy, and their success seems to be dependent upon it as they continue to be judged for their appearance, not just their work. How do we get out of this? Is aiming to please everyone really the answer?

    • bozo

      apologies, I got that round the wrong way, it was Amanda to Sinead… have now read Amanda’s whole letter, and while I agree in essence I think it’s unrealistic to be use your sex and hope to remain in control of it – everyone else and especially the media seem to want to own all women’s bodies/sexuality… very sad.

  • CubicCircle

    Tina Weymouth, Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads. Anne Marie Hurst, Skeletal family and The March Violets, Lydia Lunch….Artists all!

  • Lawrence

    Don’t forget BETH GIBBONS!

  • Lawrence


  • Lorie

    sorry but when I come to think , a new name pops in my mind and this time is KAREN MANTLER. For those who don’t know her, you should really ckeck out her music! I think you (Amanda) would also love her music!

  • Missie

    you forgot PEACHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Eddie

    Is it just me who is missing Missy Elliott from this list?

  • Jolly

    Amanda Palmer ;-)

  • Lelietje

    The original sledgehammer wielding woman in a cropped white tank top:


  • Mae Lewis

    Janis Joplin , Bunny Bennett, Otep,Morticia Addams

  • Opie Ever

    I’d like to see Alison Krauss on that list. Woman who started in Bluegrass when it was still pretty much male dominated and in her own quiet way became it’s biggest star. Attracting new fans, inspiring young artists successfully leading her band for almost 25 years now and quietly becoming the most awarded woman in Grammy history. IMO often looking right sexy yet being known for her terribly dress sense and just pretty much not caring one damn bit.

  • Opie Ever

    And no Madonna???

  • Vasily A.

    Meg White, in case no one mentioned! and i don’t care what some of you might say about how she drummed, she’s awesome anyway ♥

  • :3
  • HariKari123

    Laydeez an gennulmens- i give you NOBEL PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR Alice Munro!!!

  • CorgiOreo

    Marina from Marina and the Diamonds. She is always fighting social norms in her appearance and the messages in her music.

  • Raquel Gramiscelli

    kate nash!!

  • Tonius Maximus Voda

    Great list both above and below. Not being able to read EVERY comment, the two I saw that were missing, that add youth to their movement are Kate Nash and Lorde.

    Ms. Nash decided to forego the major label (remind you of anyone), pick up the bass, change her style to punk, AND decided to empower the young girls in her area by giving her time to help young girls in music. and

    Lorde? Well, she is only 16, but her views countering the rap/pop culture is a breath of fresh air, especially for the new generation. Turning down a chance to tour with Katy Perry, while writing/singing her own songs just pumps up her stock in my book.

  • Abigail Rose


  • Meg McGuire

    Notably absent thus far is the legendary gender vagabond and writer:
    Claude Cahun. And already mentioned but not pictured, the woman who
    arguably birthed the Science Fiction genre: Mary Shelley.

  • Meg61

    Linda Perry!!!!!

  • Moxie McMurder

    Dory Previn, Tairrie B, Grace Slick, Wendy O, Carol Burnett.

  • @BashbyKnows

    Miranda July!

  • cowboyjones

    :o leslie feist is missing from this list

  • Kelly Adlington

    Rachel Carson?

  • Bush

    My lovely fiance, my dear sister and my departed mum. All great women who don’t feel that its bad that I am a man.

  • Jackie O’Toole

    Hey thanks for reminding me of all these fabulous women in a time where good female role models seem to be diminishing? The thing I found most interesting post the Miley Cyrus circus was that rather than how she is choosing to portray herself, it’s why?….”to make history”… quote. Perhaps the issue is whether fame alone is an unworthy ideal to pursue rather than the desire to be an artist, express and create. Even Madonna seemed to do that…or am I getting old? Anyhow, it’s why I love your music…it’s truth (with reverence to influences of course) that we are all seeking I think.

  • kingdombeyondthewaves

    Don’t forget Emilie Autumn!

  • wannabe

    Joanna Newsome.

  • Bush

    Catherine the Great, Marie De Medici, Maria Theresa, Elizabeth I, Queen Ranavolana, Margaret Thatcher.

  • Bush

    Oh yeah… Lucretia Borgia.

  • A random muser

    May I suggest Cate Blanchett, Bessie Smith, Ofra Haza, Amanda Donohoe and Helen Mirren?
    A bit disparate perhaps…

  • Jacqueline

    Diana Wynne Jones.
    Her refusal to stick to the rules expected of children’s author’s resulted in the greatest fantasy stories I’ve ever come across, adult or child. And she did it all twenty years before anyone had even heard of Harry Potter.

  • kamila

    +elizabeth fraser (cocteau twins), lisa gerrard (dead can dance), lisa germano, joni mitchell, sofia rei, joan osborne, paula cole, sarah mclachlan, skin (skunk anansie), anita baker, oleta adams, stevie nicks, florence welch, dolores o’riordan, alanis morissette, kimbra, regina spektor, anna calvi, julee cruise….

    anyway, it’s great to see tilda swinton, diamanda galas, patti smith, kate bush, pj harvey, sinead, tori amos, bjork on list. they are the most real and unique artists & women (with amanda palmer too) that i know.

  • Luci

    I enjoyed the youtube playlist…but it has certain drawbacks as a format. Like adverts. Was mildly alarmed when Spice Girls Wannabe started playing in an ad when I was expecting Kate Bush -.-;;

  • Anna

    Joan Armatrading. And as for Tilda – still not happy with her collaborating with fugitive child intoxicator and anal rapist, Roman Polanski. Tilda is not balanced on that front by a very long way.

  • Patricia Magicia

    My personal female musician role models (not listed above, that is) are Esperanza Spalding (jazz vocalist, bassist, singer/songwriter, and winner of I believe the 2011 Best New Artist Grammy? That was that year everyone was mad about Justin Bieber etc.) and Caroline Shaw (violinist, vocalist in Roomful of Teeth, and just won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in composition as the youngest winner ever). Incredible musicians and incredible women, both of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet.

  • Beate

    As far as I
    can see there are no Norwegian artists her. You really should get to know them
    better as most of them fit the criteria. As a treat today a few of them:

    Tuva Syvertsen

    Kristin Asbjørnsen:

    Mari Boine:


    Solveig Slettahjell

    Karin Krogh

    Anne Grete

    Øyonn Myhren


  • graham

    Annie Dillard.

  • CC

    Khaela Maricich!

  • jmaney28

    Dollface, where oh where is my Stevie?!

  • Volt
  • Mariana Méndez

    Me!! from Argentina ;) Kisses for all

  • Jessica


  • Nothing

    Angela Gossow

  • alibricca

    i miss le tigre, violeta parra, mercedes sosa, i would also say courtney love but it could just be many-years-ago courtney love. giovanna marini if i have to speak for my country. and many others :) thanks for this awesome collection!!

  • Heidi Hocking

    no alanis :(

  • Mano

    You’re so right, Amanda!!! Love you <3

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