1. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
2. The Mirabal sisters
3. Raden Ajeng Kartini
4. Hildegard von Bingen
Name your daughter Hildegard for Hildegard von Bingen. (Or Hilda, if you must. Or even Sybil, as she was also known as "Sybil of the Rhine".) Old Hildy, you see, was an adviser to kings and popes and more. She was a composer and a writer and a mystic and a poet and about 100 other things. She also wrote important scientific and medical treatises because why the fuck not?
Is your future daughter a mystic and a polymath? Then let's hear it for Baby Hilds.
5. Ida B. Wells-Barnett
6. Artemisia Gentileschi
Look closely at your ultrasound: Is your baby in possession of a fine artistic mind? Then name her Artemisia.
Artemisia Gentileschi was "one of the most famous and skilled painters of the Baroque era" who achieved great artistic acclaim at a time when women were not allowed to attend the artistic academies. Her father, also an artist, had encouraged her artistic training as a child. At age 18, Artemisia was raped by a colleague of her father's, and went through a brutal trial in which she was tortured to "confirm" her story. Her rapist was convicted, but never served out his sentence.
After the trial, Artemisia painted one of her most famous works, Judith Slaying Holofernes, pictured above on the right, which some see as a "revenge" for her trial. So, name your daughter for this ridiculously gifted master of painting who achieved great renown against all odds. And anyway, Artemisia is a ridiculously beautiful name.
7. Nancy Wake
Nancy Wake was a spy, a journalist, and a hero of the French Resistance during World War II. Would you like your baby to be exceedingly glamorous? Then name her Nancy.
Born in New Zealand, Nancy ended up settling in Paris, where she worked as a journalist and passed her time in the enjoyment of "a good drink" and handsome French men. When war broke out, she joined the Resistance and saved the lives of "hundreds of Allied soldiers and downed airmen between 1940 and 1943 by escorting them through occupied France to safety in Spain", and later joined the British Special Operations Executive as a spy.
One time, Nancy got her parachute stuck in a tree. A nearby Frenchman said he wished all trees could bear such "beautiful fruit", to which Nancy responded, "Don't give me that French shit."
Just think, these could be your baby girl's first words.
8. Tomoe Gozen
9. Yaa Asantewaa
Is your daughter liable to be a brave and tireless leader? Yes? Then name her for Yaa after Yaa Asantewaa, who was a leading figure in a war against British colonialists from 1900-1901 in what is today Ghana. The war had broken out when a colonial governor demanded he be given the Golden Stool, a sacred symbol to the Asante, apparently because he was a whiny asshole. Unfortunately for the governor, there was a certain Warrior Queen (who also happened to be a 60-year-old grandmother) who was not having it.
Nowadays Yaa Asantewaa is celebrated in Ghana and elsewhere as "an epitome of African womanhood and resistance to European colonialism". A great name for a powerful baby, no? 💯
10. Madam CJ Walker
Do you want your baby girl to grow up to be fabulously wealthy? And also a trailblazing businesswoman and a great philanthropist? But, like, a fabulously wealthy businesswoman and philanthropist? Then name her after Madam CJ Walker, born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 – America's first self-made female millionaire, who made her fortune creating a line of haircare products for African-American women.
Yes, money can't buy everything – but it can buy you a convertible like the one above. Just look at her driving her friends around town. Look at their fabulous hats. That could be your daughter – little baby Maddy, perhaps.
11. Rosa Luxemburg
Place a hand upon your pregnant belly, and feel for kicking. Are those the kicks of a future leftist revolutionary? Of a little girl who longs for the overthrow of capitalism? Whose dearest wish is a socialism that upholds its democratic ideals?
If yes, then name your daughter Rosa, for Rosa Luxemburg. She was a brilliant Polish-German Jewish revolutionary and political theorist who developed and advocated for "a humanitarian theory of Marxism, stressing democracy and revolutionary mass action to achieve international socialism". Even when imprisoned, she managed to smuggle out her articles and pamphlets. She also worked "to persuade her women friends to take an independent role in politics, and to free themselves from the domination of their husbands".
Name your baby Rosa, and watch her grow to overthrow the bourgeoisie.
12. Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians
There are many good reasons to name your daughter for the Anglo-Saxon Warrior Queen Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, daughter of Alfred the Great – but here are the two most important reasons:
1. Your daughter will be named for a warrior queen who, after her husband died, took over to rule from 911 to 918 AD, during which time she fended off Vikings and proved herself a talented ruler respected throughout the land.
2. Your daughter will walk through life with the satisfaction of having not one, but two of those fun little a and e combination letters in her name.
Name your daughter Æthelflæd (or maybe just...Ethel) and she will never surrender to any man – especially not a Viking.