Monday, January 30, 2006

Emily "Mickey" Hahn: Pioneering Churl Girl

With all this talk of convincing versus doing, I was reminded today of possibly the most amazing woman in all of history: Emily Hahn. Have you ever heard of her? I hadn't, until I randomly picked up her biography in a bookstore one day. She was an incredibly accomplished and independent woman who didn't wait around to convince people that she could do something before she tried it. She was a pioneering mining engineer, reporter, writer, and she even owned a monkey. How cool is that? In her twenties, she traveled across the country by car (disguised as a man so as not to attract too much attention, being a woman traveling without a man) to become the 1920's equivalent of a Hooters girl. She was friendly with the movers and shakers of the Harlem Rennaisance, and rubbed elbows with just about any interesting 20th century figure you can think of. She spent several years in China as an expatriate, and married a dashing British spy, though alternately lived as a concubine with a Chinese poet. Her first book was entitled Seductio ad Absurdum, "an exploration of how men court women."

How her name had never come up in any US history class I took is beyond me.

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