By day, she is Elise S. Carter. Onstage, she is The Lady Aye, a professional sideshow performer. She can eat and breath fire, lay on a bed of nails, escape from a straightjacket, and is one of the few female sword swallowers in the world (and the only Jewish female sword swallower in America). In this mini documentary by Martyna Sarosta for The Jewish Daily Forward, you can watch The Lady Aye doing part of her act. But just as compelling is the story about how the self-discipline of her highly-skilled act has helped her cope with an eating disorder. Her thoughts on what it means to be “pain-proof” — a sideshow term that means smiling through the pain — carries a certain poetic justice. [Forward]
Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, human rights activist, and St. Louis resident, knows a thing or two about standing up against injustice. She’s spent her life fighting inequality, so when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to get involved in the unrest in Ferguson following the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, she showed up at a peaceful march on Monday protesting his choice. The protestors planned to march through downtown St. Louis directly into Nixon’s office to request that he take a different approach to the situation. As they walked, they chanted “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” and ”Hey, hey! Ho, ho! National Guard has got to go!” When they reached the building, the group was blocked from the office by police officers who told them Nixon was not around. The protestors were told to leave, but Epstein and 8 others refused, only to be arrested and carted to a police station downtown. She told Newsweek, “I really didn’t think about being arrested or doing anything like that. I was just going to be somebody in the crowd. I guess maybe I was impulsive: Someone said, ‘Who is willing to be arrested if that happens?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m willing.’” Epstein was released, but she has an October court date looming. Keep reading »
Maryam Mirzakhani, who is 37, became the first woman to win the Fields Medal this week. In the world of mathematics, the Fields Medal is equivalent to the Nobel Prize. If you’ve seen “Good Will Hunting,” you might remember hearing it referenced quite a few times. Mirzakhani was one of four recipients and was presented the award at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul. Mirzakhani grew up in Iran, where she initially thought she might become a writer before she fell in love with math, and then went on to study at Harvard. Now a professor at Stanford University, she is known for her studies of geometry and dynamical systems, especially the symmetry of curved surfaces. Mirzakhani says on Stanford’s website, “This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.” Keep reading »
At 108 years old, Lucy Coffey is the United States’ oldest living female military veteran. Coffey was an accountant-statistician and served in the procurement office through the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. With 150,000 members during the war, the WAC was the first group of women besides nurses to be members of the Army. When she enlisted in 1943 around age 37, Coffey had already been turned away from the military several times for being too short or slim. Throughout the war, she served in Australia, Dutch New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan. Keep reading »
Danae Mines, a firefighter of 11 years, has long been one of New York City’s few women in the position. Now, she’s taking on another first — the only woman to be featured in the formerly dudes-only FDNY Calendar of Heroes.
The annual display of sexy firefighters raises money for the FDNY Foundation — and gives us all an excuse to gawk at shirtless heroes for a good cause. Mines’ interest in the calendar wasn’t met with the enthusiasm her male peers usually receive. Mines told the New York Daily News that she was told that only men were allowed to be featured and that “if I made it in the calendar, I would look like a pinup girl.” Considering that all of the men featured in the calendar are scantily dressed themselves, a comment like that is positively blood-boiling. It seems that Mines felt the same way: “I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I was determined.” After all, it only makes sense that anyone who risks their life everyday to protect others, male or female, deserves eligibility for such honors. Keep reading »
In its 236 years of existence, the U.S. Navy has never had a female four-star admiral — until now. Vice Admiral Michelle Howard was just promoted to an admiral and is now the Navy’s new vice chief of naval operations, which is the branch’s number two position. (The Air Force and the Army have both named women as four-star officers in the past.) As if Howard weren’t already enough of a badass, she was also the first Black woman to command a Navy ship. Keep reading »