The final installment of the Hunger Games movie franchise hits theaters this weekend, and at its center is the indomitable, ever-brilliant Jennifer Lawrence. Her character, Katniss Everdeen, has been lauded by critics and fans alike for being a strong, capable female character who is defiant and brilliant. She gets these accolades because she is a woman who stands up for those who are weak, who fights for justice above all else, and who is a pretty great badass. But as awesome as Katniss Everdeen is, she's also fictional.
Here are five women from the history books who embody her principles and general badassery and are worth admiring:
Though Katniss Everdeen is a compassionate and empathetic character, she is also a fierce fighter who knows when to wage a war. One of the earliest female leaders in battle was TRIỆU THỊ TRINH.
TRIỆU is often described as the Vietnemese Joan of Arc, but homegirl predated Joan by a full century. She was 20 years old when she gathered up 1,000 troops to rebel against Chinese forces who were trying to take over her homeland. She carried two swords, wore a yellow robe, and though she lost the war against the Chinese, she insisted on fighting. In the book 3000 Years of Courage and Heroism by Rosalind Miles and Robin Cross, this quote is attributed to TRIỆU:
"I'd like to ride storms, kill sharks in the open sea, drive out the aggressors, reconquer the country, undo the ties of serfdom, and never bend my back to be the concubine of whatever man."
One of the most poignant moments of the first Hunger Games book/movie is when Katniss Everdeen chooses to pledge herself to the games in order to save the life of her younger sister. It's a moment filled with compassion and a desperation to help a person weaker than she is.
Tawwakul Karman of Yemen is a woman who stands by her principles, too. As a 32-year-old mother of three, Karman chairs a group in Yemen called Women Journalists Without Chains, which works to defend human rights and freedom of expression in a country that does not always defend those freedoms for its people. She has a resilience and a tenacity that's unbelievable. Every single Tuesday since 2007, Karman has protested the leadership of Yemen in front of Sana'a University. She has been arrested, but she remains firm in her belief in justice.
Katniss Everdeen is a woman who fights for social justice in her realm. She stands up for the people of her district who are poor and underrepresented in the governmental structure. Throughout American history, many women have fought for justice as activists. One of history's greatest is Sojourner Truth, who fought for the abolition of slaves and women's rights. She was the first black woman to win a case against a white man.
Harriot Stanton Blanch, the daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and an activist in her own right, remembered meeting Sojourner Truth when she was 10 years old. Truth, who had formerly been a slave, could not read. When asked, she told Stanton Blanch, "I can't read little things like letters. I read big things like men."
Katniss's district isn't perfect—it has high rates of poverty, and is very far away from the richer and more politically significant capital city. But she fights to protect the district that she loves because she believes it to be full of good people, and that outsiders have no right to invade and humiliate them.
This is a similar stance to the one Boudica of Britain took in 60 AD when she led her tribe in an uprising against Roman occupation. Her husband had been promised that their land would remain independent from Rome, but when he died, the Romans ignored that contract and his will and took over their land. She, too, lost the battle to protect her people and her land, but she fought valiantly against a greater oppressive force.
Remember when Katniss has to find a way to save herself and her friends so she creates a hole in the constructed sky above her head? Margaret Hamilton did a pretty similar thing. Born in 1936, Margaret Hamilton broke new ground for women in computer science. She was for a period of time the lead software designer for the Apollo mission at NASA. Just like Katniss, Hamilton broke through the sky over our heads and helped put a man on the moon.
Here's a photo of her standing next to a giant stack of source code she wrote by hand:
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.