What Makes a Badass Woman a Badass?


Did you read Lisa's story already?
Well, ok then, you can jump straight to the gallery page.

Today's badass woman portraits are:

Day 28/31: Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) 
Puerto Rican poet. 
"I am life, I am strength,I am woman.”

Day 29/31: Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) 
American transgender activist.

Day 30/31: Ina Garten (1948 - )
American author and creator of Barefoot Contessa store, cookbooks, and Food Network television series.

Day 31/31: Mitsuye Endo (1920-2006)
American plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit that ultimately led to the closing of Japanese internment camps and return of Japanese Americans to their homes in 1945. She was a state employee who was detained at Tule Lake camp in California.

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Past days:

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
English chemist and molecular biologist
Michelle Obama (1964 - )
First Lady of the United States of America, 2009 to 2017
Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010)
First woman Chief of Cherokee Nation
Toni Morrison (1931 - )
American novelist, editor, and professor Meryl Streep (1949 - )
American actress
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
American civil rights activist
Emma Watson (1990 - )
British actress, model, activist
Malala Yousafzai (1997 - )
Pakistani activist for female education, humanitarian, and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
Sacagawea (1788 - died 1812 or 1884)
The mysterious and powerful Shoshone woman who guided Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the American West.
Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
American poet, writer, civil rights activist
Yayoi Kusama (1929 - )
Japanese artist and writer
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) 
American politician, educator, author
Shruti Kapoor
Indian social entrepreneur, economist, women’s rights activist.
Lydia Cacho (1963 - )
Mexican journalist, human rights activist, author
J.K. Rowling (1965 - )
British novelist
Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991)
Indian writer of Urdu fiction
Lauren Graham (1967 - )
American actress and author
Zadie Smith (1975 - )
English novelist, essayist, short story writer, professor.
Tina Fey (1970 - )
American actress, comedian, writer, producer.
Gloria Steinem (1934 - )
American journalist, activist.
Selena Quintanilla (1971-1995)
American singer, songwriter, actress, fashion designer.
Miriam Makeba (1932-2008)
South African singer, actor, UN goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist.

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So, What Makes a Badass Woman a Badass?

If you want a good answer, you ought to ask that question to a badass woman; and that woman would be the latest addition to the ITSP Team: The Roaming Illustrator-Reporter, Dr. Lisa Chu.

It is never easy, and I do not like it at all, to define who someone is. Definitions frame people, puts them in a box and sometimes the key gets lost; even if it is a glittering and shiny box it confines them in a particular mental space and it is very limiting and quite oppressing. We all need to grow, embrace new challenges and adventures; sometimes these require drastic changes. Boundaries are, quite frankly, no good. Lisa says “A badass woman is bold enough to step outside the box of what others expect of her… A badass woman defines herself, rather than conforming to others’ definitions of her.” The team at ITSPmagazine agree. For me personally, I find it much, much easier and constructive to define someone by who/what is not. It leaves the door open to so many more rooms and alternate realities to explore.

To be honest, I have known Lisa for a very short amount of time, but it is enough to feel comfortable about telling one of the things that I believe she is not. She does not appear to be someone that avoids challenges. Rather, it seems to me that she is one of those crazy individuals that goes around looking for them. She reminds me one of those fantasy characters that are always looking for “trouble,” just for the fun of getting out of it. These characters are comfortable when challenged; knowing what they can do, learn, and how much they can push their limits.

One day in late January, Lisa contacted ITSPmagazine to see if she could join our team at the RSA Conference 2017 in San Francisco because she became fascinated with Cybersecurity and decided to learn more about it. I did not know anything about her, but I knew that I wanted to connect the magazine with art, somehow, someway. So, after a brief phone conversation, I said: “why not.” Now Lisa is writing and illustrating for us. She is so damn good and passionate about what she does that we asked her to take over our new upcoming column "Cyber Living" as the Column Editor. This column should prove to be one of the most important columns for our magazine; at a minimum, it will be my personal challenge to make it so - I wanted Lisa's support. But here is the problem: Lisa said that over the next months she would be traveling to Fiji for a volunteer surgical mission and then creating a book from the images/stories she captures there. Upon her return, she will be doing some volunteer work in Yosemite, and off traveling again to Gettysburg for a week of teaching. Now, did we mention that she has an A.B. magna cum laude in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard-Radcliffe College, and an M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School, that she is a classically trained violinist performer, a life coach, an illustrator artist, and now a journalist for a start-up cybersecurity magazine? 

But I am losing track here… so let me take a sip of wine and try to re-focus. Why am I writing this chronicle? Oh, yes, I am supposed to introduce something new for the magazine.

Well, here it comes...

Not too long ago, maybe because she was bored for, who knows, 45 seconds or a possibly a entire minute, Lisa accepted an invitation to exhibit her art in Half Moon Bay. Shortly after, she realized that she needed a topic and enough artwork to fill up an entire wall. Long story short, while searching online for some inspiration, she saw something called the 'Badass Women Challenge.' There was already a list of badass women, from pioneering actresses to politicians, writers, activists, and more. The list includes Gloria Steinem, JK Rowling, Malala Yousafzai, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, Jane Austen, and Shonda Rhimes. She did not even know of half of them, so she had to investigate and learn about who they are, and the reason why they are who they are. An added challenge was that she has never drawn faces before - it would have been too easy, wouldn’t it?

And here we are. I need to wrap this up and explain the connection between us and this story. You see, since day one, our magazine has a column managed by another couple of badass women, Selena Templeton and Dr. Chenxi Wang; the column is called Equal Respect. Though this column was initially started with women in cybersecurity in mind, we have been expanding into the many areas of diversity that our readers and contributors want to take us. So in addition to gender, we are exploring diversity across age, race, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, and neurodiversity. 

Now, I am no genius, but when I heard what Lisa was doing, I thought that it would be quite fitting to feature all these badass women portraits on ITSP and share it with our readers. This isn't too much of a stretch, especially since we already featured several badass women in Cybersecurity in the column.

I like to think that badasses, women or men, are needed by everyone, no matter what gender, color, age, or even the beliefs they follow. Badass, for me, is just another word for hero, and heroes have been with humans since when we cold communicate with each other. They have been present in one form or another; in many stories, in every culture, in every time. We, as humans, desperately need heroes to be inspired, feel safe, have hope, become better individuals, and better as a human race as a whole. And let's face it, sadly, we need heroes nowadays more than ever. 

Heroes do not need to have superpowers, they need to teach us to do the right thing, to inspire us to be better, to care, to take responsibility for the future generation, to love each other. 

A hero, or a badass, is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

Most of the time the real heroes go unsung. Most of the time they are people like you. They are your parents, a neighbor, a teacher, a friend, and yes, even yourself. Today we do not need superheroes that come from another planet; we just need to be our own heroes; we simply need the inspiration to become one ourselves.

My hope is the new gallery created by Lisa will make you think. And, more importantly, we hope it inspires you.

Visit the gallery, and let us know, is there a badass woman not pictured here who inspires you? We would love to know and share your story.

So who are these 31 heroes, and what makes a Bad Ass Woman according to a badass woman?

Find out here

Marco Ciappelli