It’s always a special treat to pay tribute to the commendable women who have made an impact, and with March being Women’s History Month, it is the perfect excuse. But what about the ladies, who are notorious for their forward thinking ways? Intelligence is the sexiest quality. We want to acknowledge those who rocked society with not only their brains but with their bodies too.
These intrepid women dared to be different and went against the establishment at some great risks. It is because of their actions, their voice, and their incredible bravery we now have sexperts, porn, birth control, erotic novels, and art. It’s because of their “bad-girl” persona, we get to experience all types of sexual adventures.
Sit up straight and shine your apples. We’re about to get schooled with a tawdry history lesson on some of the most controversial female figures in history.
Hot, sexy, and powerful, Joan Jett gave a voice to the struggles of the American middle class through her hard-rock jams with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. At 51, she has produced eight albums and is considered the baddest of the bad-girls of rock-n-roll.
The Hot Mess
Valeria Messalina was the third wife of Roman Emperor Claudius and is mostly known for her sexual shenanigans. Roman historians claim she used sex as a weapon to control politicians with the assistance of top-class prostitutes. Most likely the OG of Madam’s, Messalina used blackmail tactics to control those in power.
The Petite German
Dr. Ruth Westheimer changed the way we talk about sex. Even at the age of 87, the most famous sex therapist in the world rarely turns down an opportunity to discuss sex. In fact, she celebrated her 85th birthday by giving a talk, “The Art of Arousal,” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. And she continues to dispense frank advice as she had since her first radio show, “Sexually Speaking” in 1980.
The Happy Hooker
Xaviera Hollander is a former call girl, madam, and memoirist. She is best known for her best-selling memoir The Happy Hooker: My Own Story. The book was notable for its frankness by the standards of the time and is considered a landmark of positive writing about sex. It was based on her personal experience as a Manhattan call girl, where she made $1,000 a night. She also had her own brothel, the Vertical Whorehouse, and soon became New York City’s leading madam. For 35 years, she wrote an advice column for Penthouse magazine called Call Me Madam.
The Wonder Woman
Margaret Sanger opened the first birth-control clinic in the United Stated and popularized the term ’birth control’. She was a radical feminist, sex educator, and nurse. Although an extremely controversial figure, Sanger wanted women to have better sexual health and access birth control. She went on to found the Planned Parenthood Federation in 1932. She devoted her life to legalizing birth control and making it available to women.
The Naked Lady
According to legend, Lady Godiva felt bad for the people who suffered from being heavily taxed by her husband. So in order to convince her husband to give the people relief from the taxes, she stripped naked and rode a horse through the town in nothing but her long hair. The term “Peeping Tom” stems from this story, as it was said one man watched Godiva through a hole in his shutters and was struck blind.
Annie Sprinkle was an NYC prostitute and porn star for twenty years. She then morphed into an artist and sexologist. A passionate explorer in sexuality for over forty years, Sprinkle shares her experiences through her own unique brand of feminist sex films, books and articles, visual art making, theater performances, and teaching. She is the first porn star to earn a Ph.D. and is now a popular lecturer, mover and shaker in the new “eco-sex movement,” which is committed to making environmentalism more sexy, fun and diverse.
Tallulah Bankhead is perhaps best remembered for her flamboyant personality and open sexual lifestyle. Always the life of the party, she was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table and a popular Hollywood hostess. Outspoken about drugs and sex, she could always be counted on for a titillating sound bite: “Cocaine isn’t habit-forming should know—I’ve been using it for years.” This southern belle turned bad girl was not only famous for her risqué Hollywood roles but her steamy Hollywood romances. Rumor has it, she bedded the likes of Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Billie Holiday.
As the author of the groundbreaking 1962 advice book, Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown paved the way for an army of women to be financially independent and engage in, and enjoy sex before marriage. She subsequently took the helm of Cosmopolitan as the Editor-in-Chief and spent a 32-year career spreading the gospel of hot sex and better orgasms.
The OG Lesbian
Sappho of Lesbos is perhaps the first female poet still known to us today and remains one of the very best poets of all time, regardless of gender. She is so revered for her erotic love poetry that we get our terms “sapphic” and “lesbian” from her name.
Mae West was a bawdy blonde actress known for her busty sex appeal and her ribald one-liners—“I’ve been on more laps than a napkin!” Undeterred after her first Broadway 1926 play, Sex, landed her in jail on obscenity charges, she went on to become one of the major theater and film stars of the first half of the 20th century. West is also an early supporter of civil rights. When management prohibited her African-American lover from entering her apartment, she simply bought the whole building.
It would not be Women’s History Month without this powerful woman. What’s there to say about Grace Jones? For starters, she’s a model, pioneering artist, actress, and musician. Grace Jones is also well-known for her controversial moments. She was the first international supermodel to embrace androgyny. She could swing her sexuality from remote and alien, to animalistic and overpowering. Among the most famous John Goude (her husband) images is the cover of Jones’s 1981 album, Nightclubbing, in which she appears sporting her trademark flattop, a cigarette dangling from her lips, and wearing a power suit with lapels—appearing strong and masculine.