“A Dame who knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”-Mae West

In the great film noirs of the 1940s, a dame was a beautiful, dangerous, mysterious, independent woman. She was a danger, a woman who knows her own mind and power, and “Dame” was often used in a derogatory manner. But no longer. In the long history of socio-cultural advocacy, we reclaim the word. At its roots, a dame is an honorific of British society, an acceptance of British women in all their ferocious glory. And the word means so much more.

Dames are the pioneers, the rebels, the beauties and the beasts that broke boundaries and kept on pushing the world forward. A dame is the woman who demands her corner. She took risks, and reached for the rewards beyond the confines society created. She was a challenge, a paragon, a profile in courage. She rewrote the landscape that all women gaze upon today.

She said it could be done. And she did it, if for no other reason than to prove to the world it could. She’s our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, friends. She’s our ancestors and we are her future. And in remembering the Dames of the past, honoring the Dames of the present, and encouraging the Dames of the future, we continue along this varied, vicious, candid continuum of our history.

These Dames were, and are, the first to stake a claim on their own intellect and demand recognition. They were the first to challenge gender and remind the world women are beyond their sex.  All shapes, sizes, layers, talents, beauty. Young, old, cis & trans, every race, ethnicity, religion, or no religion at all. History is brimming with stories of women who took the path less travelled, who challenged society, changed the world, and did it with grace and a nod to the future. These moments, memories, lifetimes are our legacies.

Now, we stand to honor the mysterious, dangerous, powerful femme fatales. These are the stories of the rebels, the iconoclasts, the pioneers, the women before their time. These are our roots. Roots of an imperfect past and flawed characters.  In recognizing identity beyond the confines of culture, women have built the foundations we stand on today. And to honor them is to honor ourselves. To remember them is to remind us that we to can do great things in small ways every day to elevate women around the world to a platform of equity and grit and grace. We can and will do so, as long as we remember it is a beautiful Dame.