Categories
antifeminism antifeminist women chill girls misogyny

Marie Marvingt: Athlete, early aviator, world-class badass and … “chill girl?”

Marie Marvingt at the controls

The 4th quarter 2016 We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now WHTM pledge drive continues! Please send MONEY please? SERIOUS THANKS! 

Marie Marvingt was a world-class badass, by almost anyone’s standards. Just reading Wikipedia’s capsule biography of the women who became known in her native France as “la fiancée du danger” makes me a little tired. Born in 1875, Mlle Marvingt was, variously, an

athlete, mountaineer, aviator and journalist. She won numerous prizes for her sporting achievements including those of swimming, cycling, mountain climbing, winter sports, ballooning, flying, riding, gymnastics, athletics, rifle shooting and fencing. She was the first woman to climb many of the peaks in the French and Swiss Alps. She was a record-breaking balloonist, an aviator and during World War I became the first woman to fly missions during conflict as a pilot. She was also a qualified surgical nurse, was the first trained and certified Flight Nurse in the world, and worked for the establishment of air ambulance services throughout the world.

Marvingt was also, sad to say, an early example of what feminists today call a “chill girl.” She was an accomplished woman who didn’t, apparently, think that most women could accomplish much of anything, at least in the overwhelmingly male-dominated arenas in which she herself had had so much success.

A friend of We Hunted the Mammoth passed along this newspaper clipping from 1910 in which the famed “woman aviator” explains that aviation isn’t really suitable for most women:

You can see the original article in context in the December 5th edition of The Coffeyville [Kansas] Daily Journal here.

H/T — Susan Barnum, aka @megalibrarygirl

43 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
personalpest
personalpest
5 years ago
Jesalin
Jesalin
5 years ago

Speaking of remarkable women, one from my neck of the woods is being honoured. Viola Desmond, who has been called Canada’s Rosa Parks, will be on the front of the new $10 note. Here’s a link to the CBC story.

I also recommend that you watch the “Heritage Minute” video at the bottom of the article.

I read that earlier, I think she’s a great choice! I also read many of the comments, but I could only get so far before disgust overwhelmed me.

Dalillama, Effort Chicken
Dalillama, Effort Chicken
5 years ago

@Hashtag Ravenclaw

When it comes to badass ladies, I like Julie d’Aubigny, bisexual opera singer and swordswoman, known for her outrageous-at-the-time lifestyle.

If we’re just citing badass women from history, I’m gonna mention Grainne ni Mhaille (often Anglicized to Grace O’Malley), Sea-Queen of Connemara. She took command of one of her father’s ships at an early age, and eventually parlayed that into command of a whole fleet, with which she spent the next half century alternating between trading in Spain, France, Scotland and Ireland, running guns and mercenaries to Irish rebels, and robbing English shipping. She negotiated in person with Queen Elizabeth (the basic outcome of which was that Elizabeth agreed to let her sons out of prison and not hang them, in exchange for which Grainne would refrain from financing rebellions in the Pale (the English controlled portion of Ireland at the time).

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Viola Desmond! Beat Rosa Parks to standing up by sitting down and integrating a segregated space, by nearly a decade. (As usual, Canadians get no credit, and often too late even at home, but hey.)

Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House
5 years ago

Ahem: must de-lurk to put in a pitch for Katya Budanova. (Can’t vouch for how good Wikipedia article is, but it seems at least a good intro. In its favor, it does cite the best scholarly monograph covering Budanova: Reina Pennington’s Wings, Women and War: Soviet Airwomen of World War II and Korea (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001)…..so whatever the source, Budanova is awesome. Mention Soviet women pilots and everybody usually just thinks of the “Night Witches” and that’s it…and *they* were indeed badasses!….but for badass awesome women VVS ***fighter ace*** Budanova (and Lilya Litvyak too) deserve to be up there!!! And she did it all in a Yak-1 and later freakin’ P-39 Aircobra. Neither were horrible fighter aircraft but think of the Fascists she would have shot down in a La-5, P-51D20, etc.!!!!!

Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House
5 years ago

@bina and other Canadians

http://www.deebrasseur.com

[early R.C.A.F. fighter pilot]

Falconer
5 years ago

It seems like Ms. Marvingt flew in the Coupe Femina in 1910 in a wing-warping Antoinette aircraft, so I’m not surprised that she’d consider that no one who hadn’t been in sports all their life could fly any airplane. (Wing warping distorts the shape of the entire wing in order to shift the plane — and she had to do it with no hydraulics.) So I’m inclined not to argue with her on the physical front. She’d have needed muscle and endurance, but apparently she didn’t have enough. She lost the 1910 Coupe Femina to Hélène Dutrieu, who flew almost four times as far (167 km to Marvingt’s 45 km) in about three times her flight time (161 min to 53 min).

And she lost the cup again to Ms. Dutrieu in 1911, this time by only 6 km. That was the last time she competed in the Coupe, and it was discontinued during the war.

Her remarks about sang froid and decision making are total bull, on the other hand.

Neurite
Neurite
5 years ago

Has anyone mentioned Ching Shih yet? Who went from prostitute to pirate widow to ruler of a huge pirate army, undefeated by the Chinese, Portugese, and British navy, was eventually offered amnesty and retired on her terms, keeping all her loot, opened her own gambling house and died in old age.

guest
guest
5 years ago

At a panel discussing Kameron Hurley’s essay ‘We have always fought’, I asked whether anyone had done any academic work on historic women military leaders (like Joan of Arc, Ching Shih, and Grainne ni Mhaille, as well as Zenobia, Cleopatra, Queen Christina, Catherine the Great, Alexandra Kudasheva, Boudicca, the Trưng Sisters, and who knows how many others).

I’m interested in knowing how they presented themselves (as ‘honorary men’, as sexless, or as women), how they interacted with superiors, fellow commanders and their troops, how they overcame any obstacles to commanding men, what they may or may not have in common (it seems many of them led insurgencies or attacks on the status quo) and what differences and similarities we might see between men and women military leaders in terms of strategy, leadership style, handling information, etc.

As far as anyone knows no one has done anything like this, and it’s way outside my area of historical expertise (though I’ve recently been asked to look at some aspects of military management), so I’m hoping someone picks up this idea someday.

guest
guest
5 years ago

Edit window closed before I could add Deborah 🙁

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
5 years ago

A very long list of known women who fought in battles and duels from ancient times to about WW2 (after that there’s too many to keep track of. :))

A good jumping off point for more research (From ‘Rejected Princesses’).

The Master List of Historical Women in Combat

epitome of incomprehensibility

@wwth – Oksana Chusovitna is awesome! I saw her vaulting routine this past Olympics, and it was one of the ones that stood out for me.

@Dalillama – Grainne ni Mhaille/Grace O’Malley is a fascinating character. There’s a section about her in Finnegans Wake. If anyone’s interested, it’s pp. 21-22 – James Joyce calls her “grace o’malice”, “prankquean”, “ribberrobber” (i.e. river robber, but the rib thing is also a reference to Eve).

About Marie Marvingt and her special-snowflake attitude: from reading various things, I get the impression that essentialism flourished in the Victorian and modernist eras; “men are like THIS and women are like THAT” statements abounded, and differences were classed as exceptions. It wasn’t only gender essentialism – there were also a whole lot of pseudoscientific justifications for racism and classism.

Fiona McCool
Fiona McCool
5 years ago

Hi folks,

What’s the difference between a Chill girl and a Cool girl? Is there a difference?

Thanks

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

As far as I know, they’re the same thing.

Rosalie Maggio
4 years ago

Marie Marvingt did more for women than just about anyone of her era. I’ve just finished writing a biography of her, and I use that very article, where she basically says only 1/4 of women would make good pilots, to show how things get distorted. All the headlines about her remark generalized to “Women Not Good Flyers” (The Washington Herald), “Flying Not the Sport for Women” (El Paso Herald), “Says Women Will Not Excel in Air” (Trenton Evening Times), “Not Suitable for Women” (New Castle [Pennsylvania] Herald). Ha! As some percipient commenters have noted, the same is true of men. Marie was a literal woman — when they asked her about women, she told it like it was. Neither 100% of men OR women would make good pilots. I can hardly wait for y’all to read the book and see how, for one thing, she used her position as a journalist to illuminate women’s accomplishments and how, for another, she gave hundreds and hundreds of talks to schoolchildren, urging both girls and boys to take up sports, to consider aviation, to reach for the sky, and how, in the third place, she broke barriers and changed the face of sports for women (along with other good women, to be sure).

Rosalie Maggio
1 year ago

A couple of years ago, there was a thread here about Marie Marvingt. When she’s mentioned at all, it’s pretty superficially — a list of her accomplishments, for example. I’ve just had published the first English-language biography of her, which tells ALL of her story and makes her come to life as (they used to say this about her) “the most incredible woman since Joan of Arc.” No wonder many people thought she — or at least her exploits — were a hoax! Nope, she was the real deal: one of the all-time top-ten female athletes … set first world’s aviation records for women … invented the ambulance airplane … is the most decorated person (not woman, person) in the world … fought in WWI disguised as a soldier … first female bomber pilot … AND … tada! … she was the model for those old-time silent films, “The Perils of Pauline” (Pauline’s last name was Marvin, a tribute to Marie). You don’t have to buy the book (Marie Marvingt, Fiancée of Danger by Rosalie Maggio, McFarland, 2019, 302 pp.) although Midwest Review of Books did say it was “deftly written and inherently fascinating … unreservedly recommended.” No, really, my main goal is not selling books, it’s spreading the word about Marie. For free you can find out about her at http://www.mariemarvingt.com or, if you like your info in French, http://www.mariemarvingt.fr. I’ve been researching her life since 1980 and have published a French-language bio of her, but Marie wants to be as internationally known today as she was during her lifetime. She is dead, of course (1875-1963), but I’m telling you, this woman has harassed me for years. I don’t know why I got chosen, but whenever I set her aside, she’s back, prodding me to DO something. I would like to get on with my own writings, so please tell people about Marie Marvingt, a bold, badass, fun, energetic, super-talented, fearless woman! (Before every airshow — in an age when 87% of pilots died–she used to make arrangements for her own funeral.)

Threp (formerly Shadowplay)
Threp (formerly Shadowplay)
1 year ago

A necro in good cause!

Congrats on the book – it’s a hell of a buzz getting one out of your head and onto the shelves! 🙂

Will pick it up with the next bit of spare cash – she sounds like just the sort of person I like to read about.

Rosalie Maggio
1 year ago

Threp! Thanks for the cheery note! You made MY day. I hope someone comes along and makes yours a little brighter! Rosalie (P.S. Did you know Marie was also a Major in the Red Cross, a certified nurse who invented a surgical suture? And, btw, she only slept 2-4 hours a night — she is what has been recently discovered and described as a “short sleeper.”)

%d bloggers like this: