5 thoughts on “Cool Women of the Last 100 Years, SFGate’s Mick LaSalle makes a list

  1. I’m not sure I accept his definition of “cool.” The list does, as one commenter (on that site) pointed out, seem to be very lacking in the sciences. I’d love to see authors, instrumentalists, athletes, etc. represented as well.

    Really, I’m not sure I’m in favor of the idea, period. I’d prefer to see The 100 Most Impressive Women. I think every woman has strength to offer the world, and I object to categorizing some as “cool” (and therefore some, presumably, as “not cool”). I was happy to leave that sort of categorization behind when I left high school. (in case you haven’t guessed, I was not one of the “cool kids” in high school)

    • Hi Suzanne,

      I hear what you are saying. I like that he used cool because it seems like men so rarely use that word to describe women. It resonated with me b/c I was making a list of cool characters in kids films. I feel like girls don’t get to be cool enough. When girls can be cool, more girls and boys will want to be like them. But yes, what does cool mean exactly? Women in sciences should be cool too. Who do you think should be on the list? He also did a list for men, first, and I was thinking why doesn’t he do a list of cool women? Are women not cool? And then he did.


      • MM,

        It’s perhaps a good concept in the sense that girls should get to be “cool” with respect to boys (i.e., it’s not fair if only boys are considered “cool”), but his unequal definitions really irked me. Why should women only be cool if they have “power” over men, whatever that means? And why should men only be considered cool if they have (presumably conventional) sex appeal? I object to *both* of his definitions of coolness, and also the very fact that they are different. It seems to me that having a different definition (as opposed to, say, a definition that would let one just be defined as a cool *person*) is sexist in itself. I do understand what he is trying to do, I just don’t think he succeeds.

        That said, the one thing I really did like about his selections is that they were relatively balanced in terms of race.

        If I were in charge of this list, I guess I’d redefine “cool” to mean “confident, competent and smart.” If I had to pick names I would include far fewer actors and singers overall, and specifically I *would* include: (this is by no means an exhaustive list)

        Marie Curie (scientist)
        Charlotte Perkins Gilman (author)
        Rosa Parks
        Joanie Benoit Samuelson (runner)
        Midori (violinist)
        Rosalind Franklin (discoverer of DNA)
        Margaret Atwood (author)
        Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track and field star)
        Maya Moore (basketball star)
        Anne Frank
        Golda Meir
        Germaine Tailleferre (composer)
        Ursula LeGuin (author)
        Marilyn Horne (opera singer)
        Rachel Carson (scientist and author)
        Jane Goodall (scientist)
        Jodie Foster (actor)
        Trina Schart Hyman (illustrator)
        Mary Cassatt (painter)
        Mary Leakey (anthropologist)
        Erin Brokovitch (activist)
        Mother Theresa
        Babe Didrikson Zaharias (athlete)
        Julie Andrews
        (and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton only fall off by a few years – if it were a list of women from the last 125 years, they should be on it)

  2. Since you’re asking directly…

    An operative question emerges with #16: “Can you be a feminist without leaning left?” If the answer is to the affirmative, Tina Fey doesn’t belong on the list. At least, not for the reason given.

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