Wednesday, December 31, 2014

16 Badass Women Who Made St. Louis A More Interesting Place in 2014

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Miranda Duschack & Mimo Davis, badass ladies No. 3 & 4.
  • Miranda Duschack & Mimo Davis, badass ladies No. 3 & 4.

As 2014 winds down, Daily RFT thought we'd take a look back at some of the strong, artistic, dedicated, daring and inspiring women who didn't waste this year taking any shit.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of female badassery. Rather, consider this list a highlight reel of our favorite lady-power moments of the year.

In no particular order, meet fifteen badass ladies who ruled the news this year:

1. Lindsay Itzkowitz

click to enlarge STEPHANIE COTTA PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Stephanie Cotta Photography

Mom-To-Be Bares Her Belly, Poses with Cop Cars in Delmar Loop Photo Shoot

Itzkowitz caught a lot of flack for her urban maternity photo shoot, first from catcallers in the Delmar Loop, then from obnoxious Riverfront Times commenters and finally from delusional photographers who hounded her (and us) to say she'd "stolen" their idea of taking pictures of pregnant ladies outside. But for Itzkowitz, her bare-belly photo shoot was always supposed to be a celebration of her pregnancy after a long struggle with infertility. That's pretty badass.

2. Jessie Wright

VIRGINIA HAROLD
  • Virginia Harold

This St. Louis Family's Tiny House Will Be Smaller Than Your Kitchen

Wright is building a new house for her family -- a place of their own, a true home, she says -- but this isn't your typical house. Wright, her boyfriend and their baby August will move into a "micro house," 190 square feet of space built onto a 25-foot trailer. Wright's story was one of the most popular Daily RFT posts of the year. The key to small house living? Having fewer things, Wright says.

3 & 4. Miranda Duschack and Mimo Davis

The happy couple with Mayor Francis Slay and Shane Cohn, the first openly gay man elected to St. Louis city government.
  • The happy couple with Mayor Francis Slay and Shane Cohn, the first openly gay man elected to St. Louis city government.

Meet the First Four Gay Couples to Marry in St. Louis

Duschack and Davis married in a secret ceremony in the office of St. Louis mayor Francis Slay to challenge the state's ten-year-old, voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and sparked the legal battle that eventually allowed all gay couples to marry in St. Louis city, St. Louis County and Jackson County. The morning after her wedding, an emotional Davis told supporters, "When that torch was passed to me, when I had an opportunity to pick up that torch, I need to wake up every morning and know I took it and ran with it."

The newlyweds have been together for more than four years and grow specialty-cut flowers at their urban St. Louis farm, Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers.

5. Sasha Pain

click to enlarge Sasha Pain (L) joins the protests in Ferguson with friend Jessica Bella Hollie. - LINDSAY TOLER
  • Lindsay Toler
  • Sasha Pain (L) joins the protests in Ferguson with friend Jessica Bella Hollie.

Webcam Girl Sasha Pain Comes to Ferguson, Will Donate Sex Video Proceeds to Protesters

Pain and two friends drove for 34 nonstop hours from San Francisco to help demonstrators in Ferguson. Pain, who makes webcam sex videos, didn't stop working just because she was on the road. When she had an Internet connection in Ferguson, she made sex tapes and donated proceeds from videos to buy supplies to protect protesters from tear gas.

6 & 7. Sadie Pierce and Lilly Leyh

click to enlarge LINDSAY TOLER
  • Lindsay Toler

First Same-Sex Couples Wed in St. Louis City Hall Following Judge's Ruling

Pierce and Leyh didn't know they were making Missouri history when they raced to city hall. A judge had ruled hours before that Missouri's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, so the lovebirds decided to make things official by applying for a marriage license. Turns out, they were the first LGBT couple to wed after the judge's ruling.

8. Patricia Bynes

COURTESY PATRICIA BYNES
  • Courtesy Patricia Bynes

Patricia Bynes on #FergusonNext: Calling All Teens: I Need to Hear From You

Remember when Bynes, the Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson, gave an epic smackdown to FOX News blowhard Sean Hannity? "I don't need your kind of education," she fired back at him when he said he was trying to educate her about police shootings. It was just one of the badass moments we witnessed from Bynes, who spent nearly every night of the Ferguson unrest on the ground, ready for anything. If you're a young person, be sure to read her essay calling on more participation from youth (linked above).

9. Faring Purth

Purth asked RFT not to publish photos of her working on her art, so here's a photo of her first St. Louis creation, which she named Prime. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • Purth asked RFT not to publish photos of her working on her art, so here's a photo of her first St. Louis creation, which she named Prime.

Vandal Graffitis Sanctuaria's New Mural, Artist Responds Beautifully

Purth made her mark on St. Louis instantly. A gifted artist known for painting haunting female figures, she didn't let early online criticism of her work keep her from painting murals on Cherokee Street and in the Grove. And when a vandal graffitied her mural at Sanctuaria, she responded with an open-hearted understanding that proves she's one tough badass.

ALIX CARRUTH
  • Alix Carruth

10 & 11. Kelaney Lakers and Alix Carruth

Mizzou Students Block Michael Sam from Homophobic Protesters with Wall of Love

When the Westboro Baptist Church is protesting against you, it's usually a sign you're doing something right. But when the "church" tried to protest against Michael Sam, the out gay man who played football with the St. Louis Rams and Mizzou Tigers, Lakers and Carruth organized a badass response: a half-mile-long human chain called the "wall of love."

12. Dina van der Zalm 72 Hours Later: How a Mizzou Student Turned Waiting into an Abortion Rights Protest

The Missouri Legislature passed a law this year requiring women to wait 72 hours before accessing an abortion. Before legislators gave their final votes, Van der Zalm, who called the bill an "abuse of legislative power," told committee members that if they really believe women can't make up their minds in less than 72 hours, then she'd wait that long before giving her testimony to prove her opinion won't change.

13. Ann Leckie

JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg

St. Louis Sci-Fi Author Ann Leckie Makes Science Fiction History With Debut Novel

Leckie's sci-fi epic Ancillary Justice destroyed the 2014 award circuit -- winning the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke awards in a single year. Not even sci-fi master and Missouri native Robert Heinlein pulled off that feat. Now Leckie, a Shrewsbury native, is working on the sequels to her award-showered debut to complete her Imperial Radch trilogy.

14. Libbie Higgins

Aunt Claudette and Libby Higgins. - CNN IREPORT
  • CNN iReport
  • Aunt Claudette and Libby Higgins.

"Aunt Claudette" Is A Proud Troll We Can't Help But Love

Higgins is a 40-year-old special needs teacher from Maryland Heights, but online, she's so much more. Using a bejeweled neckbrace, Higgins transforms herself into Aunt Claudette, the Internet troll we can't help but love. Don't miss her scathing "exposé" on Target's hatred for "obese shoppers."

15 & 16. Brandy Apple and Amanda Sheer

Strippers' Lawsuit Against PT's Clubs Makes Exotic Dancing Sound Like the Worst Job Ever

Two strippers from Missouri battled against big bosses by filing a class-action lawsuit this year accusing VCG Holding Corp., which owns PT's Brooklyn, PT's Centreville, PT's Sports, the Penthouse Club and Roxy on the east side, for cheating about 300 women out of their minimum wage and benefits and threatening to steal their table-dance tips if they complained about it.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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