The First Female Olympic Champion to Strike Gold

The first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece, April 6–15, 1896. Women athletes could not participate for ninety-four years. Hélène de Pourtalès of Switzerland became the first female athlete to compete at the Olympic Games and the first female Olympic Champion to strike gold. About Hélène Hélène de Pourtalès (pronounced El-én day Por-tá-lay) was born in New York, New York on April 28, 1868 to Henry Barbe and Mary Lorillard Barbey.They named her Helen Barbey.  Her father was an affluent financier. Her mother came from a family whose wealth came from a tobacco empire. Helen inherited her passion for horses and love of sailing. Her uncle, Pierre Lorillard IV, lived in Newport, Rhode Island and helped make it a yachting center. He was also a Thoroughbred racehorse owner. On April 25, 1891, Helen married Hermon Alexander, Count von Pourtalès, (1847–1904). He was a captain of the Cuirassiers of the Guard, a heavy cavalry regiment of the Royal Prussian Army. She became known as Hélène de Pourtalès. Hélène had dual citizenship, Swiss and American. Her husband had dual Swiss-German nationality. They had three daughters. In 1896 Europe’s most prominent families had personal flotillas. Among them were members of the […]

Are You an Anti-Strong Female Protagonist Protester?

Have you read the protests? Did you nod your head and agree? Are you Anti-Strong Female Protagonist? You say you’re not against strong female characters, you’re against the label, the marketing term. Perhaps you’ve overlooked the reasons we need book and movie categories for strong female characters. Consider rethinking and rephrasing your argument. Yes, there are reasons to wish we didn’t need this label and there are lots of books and movies that get the strong female character wrong. But not all women recognize a strong woman or know how to be one. For now, we need all the strong female protagonist examples we can get. Where the Anti-Strong-Female-Protagonist Protesters Get it Wrong It’s a sign of male oppression, so say the anti-strong-female character devotees. Yes and no. Yes, the patriarchal societies of the world often/usually/always suppress the females in their societies. That oppression is wrong-headed, but real. Like it or hate it, it still exists in far too much of the world. “Male characters aren’t labeled that way so female characters shouldn’t be.” It would be a wonderful world if we all naturally understood that both males and females are powerful characters. Too bad that’s not reality. To say […]

How Do You Recognize a Strong Woman?

For the past four years, this blog has featured brief biographies of women. Each woman featured shows strength, but it’s not necessarily physical strength. If it’s not physical strength, how do you recognize a strong woman? Daring greatly is being brave and afraid every minute of the day at the exact same time. Brene Brown She doesn’t wait to be saved or given permission to act. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Mother Teresa Sensitive, kind, and dedicated to serve others, Mother Teresa was a strong woman. She acted on her convictions and founded the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa and her missionaries cared for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, ran soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, children’s and family counseling programs, as well as orphanages and schools. She put her own health at risk and worked tirelessly to help those in need. Strong women challenge themselves.  Where there is no struggle, there is no strength. Oprah America’s most decorated gymnast, Simone Biles is physically small, but she didn’t let that stop her. Her strength isn’t only physical. A focused and dedicated athlete, she challenges herself and works hard to achieve her […]