Qiu Jin (1875 – 1907)


Illustration by Leanna Wright, courtesy of Rookie.

Gang member, revolutionary, poet, feminist, essayist—Qiu Jin really crammed a lot into her 31 years. An outspoken critic of the traditional Chinese practice of binding women’s feet and advocate for freedom from oppressive marriages, Qiu Jin attempted to unite various underground revolutionary forces in a massive uprising against the Qing dynasty. But Qiu Jin wasn’t only a “Woman Knight Of Mirror Lake” in the actual “riding into battle” sense. She also wrote passionately about feminist issues and, in 1906 founded a radical women’s journal with a friend and fellow poet (it was promptly shut down by authorities, but published two full issues first). She headed up a secret military training school for revolutionaries. When she was tortured and beheaded by the government, she became a martyr for the revolutionary cause of women’s rights in China. Once, during a speech about freedom, she straight up thrust a dagger into the middle of the podium. Bad. Ass. ♦

(Via Rookie)