You know, in the examination of why girls are cool, you come across some mighty fine women. In a historical sense, obviously. I decided for this week’s Girls are Cool entry, we’d assemble a RaisingElle’s All-World All-Woman Dream Team. Girls these days ain’t gotta freaking clue. Who are these girls they look up to these days? Lady Gaga: a city girl who played dress-up and took the shortcut to a soon-to-be short-lived career in the music industry? Or how about Paris Hilton: a girl who hadn’t put in any sort of grind and sat atop of an endless fortune? Or Rihanna, the tragic diva who got whooped by a diminutive Chris Brown…getting played like Ike played Tina? What a bleak landscape for a girl coming into this world. Sure, you could take Oprah, someone who has created an empire by selling hype and manufacturing fear and rattling the collective psyche of American women for decades. Lame. No room for women of tragedy on this list. This is a list of badasses, heroes, villains, sharpshooters, wives, prostitutes and stone-cold killers. This is the RaisingElle’s All-Woman All-World All-Time Dream Team.
Joan of Arc
Her village was burned as a child and, at the age of 19, Joan of Arc had divine visions telling her to fight for her country and drive the English out of France. One tough-ass woman. When she was captured, she was forced to wear women’s clothes and then she was burned at the stake. In fact, not only did they burn her once, they burned her raked coals so that no one could collect relics. Reportedly, one of the executioners later remarked that he “greatly feared to be damned.” Sometimes, you have to hire a woman to do a man’s job. Joan was a dragon slayer. She didn’t take no jive from anyone. She rocked men’s clothing, swung a big sword and died in defense of her countryside. Heroic and ready to take someone’s life. In the power forward position, she can change the game in only a few possessions.
Every good team needs someone with deadly accuracy to fill it out. That’s where we got Annie “Get Your Gun” Oakley. She led a fairly dull life other than being one of the finest sharpshooters the world has ever known. She could split a playing card and then put repeated holes in a playing card before it landed on the ground. That’s when guns were clunky chunks of metal with rusty mechanics and less-than-stellar accuracy. At the age of six, she began hunting to support her family and by the age of 15, she was putting most of the food on the table. Now, that’s a provider. Most 15 year-olds these days can’t even comprehend Normally, husbands of women like Annie don’t have any fidelity issues. Firstly, their wife has assassin-like abilities and are worth having around. Secondly, their wife has assassin-like abilities and will shoot your pecker off from 50 yards away without batting an eye. Put her behind the three-point line and she’s Lights-Out Annie.
You always need a scrapper on the team. My brother was a scrapper. Still is. They’re sometimes deceptive, usually built for speed and ain’t afraid to take an knee to the frame or an elbow to the face. The combination of these skills means they’re especially gifted at creating turnovers. They’ll get that rock. That’s why I tapped Sue Mingus for starting point. This woman, the quiet and soft-spoken fourth wife to an often formidable and increasingly difficult Charles Mingus who was in the twilight of his career, stood by her man like crazy. After his death, she made it a personal mission to reclaim the bootlegged performances of her late husband’s 1964 European tour so she did what any rational widow of jazz legend would do–she walked into record stores across Europe, took the bootlegged recordings from the fixtures and col’ walked out with them. Stole ’em. Damn right she did. Now that’s gangsta gangsta. She took the recordings, had them faithfully restored, released them and undercut the bootleggers under her Revenge! label. Girl was hood.
I always remembered liking what Bill Laimbeer resembled. Didn’t like him as a player. Hated to watch him win. Could care less what kinda man he was. But liked what he resembled. Dude was willing to go up to the toughest dudes in the league like, “I don’t believe you.” And he’d take that hard foul. He’d disrupt the play. He’d get in your head. That’s why I’m electing to put Lizzie Borden on the squad. Now, Lizzie never admitted to killing her stepmother and father, but everyone in the nation knew it was her. Her stories were inconsistent. She couldn’t lie. Despite that, poor forensics proved to be her saving grace and she eluded jail time for the hatcheting. Lizzie was crazy. You want her on the baseline putting a body on dude’s under the basket. You want her instilling fear along that baseline. Most offenses use that zone as a cornerstone of almost any play these days. Having Lizzie down there keeps ’em honest. Also, I love a woman who never marries. Something pretty nasty about that. Of course, it kinda goes without saying that she never married. Not only did she murder her parents with a rusty hatchet, she lied about it. Not really marriage material.
Harriet is a little small for a center, but the woman created more paths to freedom than any big man in the history of the league. Harriet was shameless, guiltless and one of the bravest women ever in American history. As a youngster, she took a shot to the dome from an irate slavehater with a hefty metal weight. Damn near disabling her, she suffered many seizures, headaches and, eventually, like Joan of Arc, had divine visions. She carried hundreds of slaves to their eventual freedom during the Civil War through use of the “Underground Railroad” which was essentially a series of homes, holes and pathways that, with her assistance, slaves would navigate through to the north. Sheesh, you know the story. Harriet Tubman was one great woman. And, despite the head trauma, she lived to be 93 years old.
Nothing screams “utility” like a woman who worked as a nurse, dishwasher, dancer, cook, ox-team driver and a prostitute. And, add to it, she’s uglier than sin (insert “bless her heart” here). Calamity Jane did all that on top of engaging in some ferocious battles with indians of the Western territory. She earned her name because of ability to start trouble or rarely avoid it. Just my kinda woman. Calamity “shot like a cowboy, drank like a fish” and had no problem exaggerating reality to anyone willing to endure her stories. Her exploits are well documented and she’s a woman that you’re not likely to want a piece of once she’s had a couple of cool ones. And, like Annie Oakley, she did a stint as a trick shooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West variety show. Chicks with guns.
Betty Davis was just one bad woman. Born Betty Mabry, she shook the musical scene in Cali with her incredible musicality, her fashion presence and her marriage to Miles Davis who was wandering into a new realm of funk and fusion. In fact, Betty’s often credited with being the link between Miles and the funk sensitivity of Sly Stone and psych-rock of Jimi Hendrix. She buffered the two worlds and mused to Miles for years until a rumored affair with Jimi Hendrix fractured the marriage to Miles. Before the divorce, she encouraged Miles to change the name of his then-new recording Witches Brew. He accepted the change. As a musician, Betty was beastly. Her recordings, which began to release in 1973 with her self-titled debut, are ferocious funk records that’ll melt your freaking face. Check out this kodiak bear of funk right here: “Get In There“…love me some Betty Davis. She’s a my secret weapon.
Could be more folklore than reality, but Kitty Leroy (or as my lovely wife insists: Kitty L’roy) was a slick gambler, saloon owner, prostitute and trick shooter. She got around like a flu in a crowded middle school classroom and married her first husband at 15. Divorced. Married in Dallas when she was 20 when she was dancing for patrons at a bar. She later became a skilled gambler and made that her hustle. She left her second husband and met another man. When they got in a fight (get this right here), he said he wouldn’t hit a woman so she ran inside and changed into men’s clothes. She pulled a gun on this sonuvabitch and when he didn’t shoot her, he put a bullet in his tail end. He didn’t die immediately so she called a preacher, married him and he died two days later. That’s my girl, right there! She was later heralded as having “five husbands, seven revolvers, a dozen Bowie knives and was always armed to the teeth.” That’ll do.
Girls are cool because they got these women on their team and even Oprah don’t want none of that.