Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. This not only includes fictional female characters in geeky media but creators as well. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for young girls to have said example to follow.
DISCLAIMER: The following contains spoilers galore for HBO’s Gentleman Jack. Of course, the show is based off the real-life Anne Lister. If you haven’t watched this utterly refreshing series, you may want to remedy that now. You won’t regret it.
Anne Lister (portrayed by Suranne Jones) was born in 1791 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. She was always viewed as “peculiar,” specifically for her masculine dress during that era. Anne favored the color black, long coats and leather boots, which were considered “unladylike” at the time. She was steadfast in her love of the fairer sex, and had several same-sex relationships leading up to her debut on Gentleman Jack. Anne was an accomplished mountaineer, an avid lover of science and a frequent traveler. When her uncle passed away, Anne inherited her ancestral estate Shibden Hall.
In 1832, she returned to Halifax in the hopes of restoring Shibden Hall to its former glory. She oversaw its affairs, supervised her tenants and her coal reserves. Anne was acquainted with Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) for quite some time, but their relationship soon blossomed into a full-fledged romance. At the end of Season 1, the pair quietly took the sacrament together to serve as a stand-in wedding ceremony.
The Real Deal:
Now, Anne is the real deal. She was truly a revelation and crucial trailblazer for her time. Anne broke gender norms and marched to the beat of her own drum. She shooed away what was conventionally ladylike. Anne was assertive and refused to take sh*t from anyone. There are several instances in Gentleman Jack wherein Anne takes matters into her own hands and knocks arrogant men off their collective pedestal.
Not to mention, Anne Lister loved who she loved without shame or reticence. Anne was somewhat open regarding her sexual inclinations – as much as she could be in 19th century England. In episode 4, Anne delivered a beautifully poignant monologue to Ann, touching on the fact that she’s only capable of loving women. She is as God made her to be. Watching someone with that much conviction stand firm in their beliefs is inspiring. Oh, and she wrote her intricate diary entries in code. Said codes were derived from a combination of algebra and ancient Greek. In other words, Anne was really intelligent. She was also immensely loving, kind and charming. Anne exuded charm in spades.
Why She Matters:
Alright, why does she matter? Her impact has reverberated through the annals of time to this day. She was the first documented modern lesbian, who lived her truth during a time when members of the LGBTQIA+ community were heavily discriminated against. Nothing is more powerful than someone who’s confident in themselves, and who’s unafraid to break the cycle of hatred. Anne is an inspiration to us all. My hope is that the LGBTQIA+ community will study Anne Lister and find encouragement in her story.
Now, Anne’s living unabashedly is admirable in and of itself. She didn’t care about the latest fashions – she wore what she wanted to wear. Anne loved discussing science, philosophy and even dissected a human head during her travels. She loved exploring the world around her, savoring every last possible drop. Anne wasn’t content with just sitting on her bum. She was active in her community and beyond. I think that should motivate us all to pursue our dreams and live life to the fullest.
So, be like Anne. Be tenacious. Stand firmly in your beliefs, even if those around you attempt to dissuade you. Love who you love, wholeheartedly and with a burning passion. Break gender norms. Be assertive. Take no sh*t. Oh, and never be without a stylish top hat. Everyone looks good in a top hat.