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Move over, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella! Rejected Princesses likely to find place in Disney Movies

Rejected Princesses is incredibly popular, with nearly 200,000 followers.

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Hatshepsut, the second female pharaoh of ancient Egypt, as drawn by animator Jason Porath for his book, Rejected Princesses. VOA

Move over, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella!

Movie animator Jason Porath got tired of seeing the same fairy tale-princess type of character over and over on the big screen– beautiful, kind and lucky. His quest to find notable women outside that traditional mold led to a blog he calls Rejected Princesses. It is incredibly popular, with nearly 200,000 followers. Now, he’s collected stories about dozens of those extraordinary women who defined for themselves what it means to be a strong woman in a new book.

The Wrestling Princess

Once upon a time—more precisely in 1260 — a girl was born in Mongolia. She was the great granddaughter of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. Her name was Khutulun, and she became known as the Wrestling Princess.

Khutulun grew up with fourteen brothers and seemingly learned from an early age how to confront and beat them.

Khutulun grew up with fourteen brothers and seemingly learned from an early age how to confront and beat them.

“Khutulun had a single rule,” Porath explains. “This rule was simple and clear: if you wanted to marry her, you had to beat her in wrestling, but if you lost, you had to give her a hundred horses. She ended up unmarried with 10 thousand horses.”

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Khutulun is one of the women Porath includes in his book, Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics. He notes that her story has been told and re-told — and changed — throughout the years. “[Puccini’s] opera Turandot is loosely based on her, but instead of wrestling, she’s outwitting people in games of wit and chance. She shows up in the Netflix series Marco Polo, but she’s immediately roped into this Romeo and Juliet-style thing where she immediately falls in love, which is completely against her character and her history. She was a big, hefty wrestler woman in real life, but in the Marco Polo series, she’s thin.”

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Real Women

Khutulun exemplifies Porath’s vision for his blog and his book. From the very beginning, he says he wanted to meet these women where they were, without trying to make them look cuter or wiser or kinder.

“I’m trying to portray people in a more well-rounded manner, where they have actual character flaws as opposed to what you see in animated movies where the biggest flaw you could put on someone is maybe that they’re clumsy.”

Rejected Princesses, by Jason Porath, grew from his blog about amazing women in history.

Rejected Princesses, by Jason Porath, grew from his blog about amazing women in history.

Ada Lovelace, the 19th century English mathematician, had actual character flaws. “You only hear she was an amazing woman who invented computers before they existed, which is definitely true,” he notes. “She’s a first-class intellect super genius. But she also had a lot of downsides. She had a gambling problem. Same with Josephine Baker. She was the world’s biggest mega star, but she also kind of ended up hurting a lot of people. She had an enormously tough childhood. All these people were very complex, fleshed-out human beings. They are not presented as such in history books.”

The women in Porath’s book come from different times and different cultures. While some are mythological, most are historical figures: the 12th century spy queen of the Yoruba, Moremi Ajasoro, who married the leader of the tribe to help her village… deaf American scientist Annie Jump Cannon, who revolutionized astronomy in the 19th century… Phoolan Devi, India’s resilient “Bandit Queen,” who later was elected to the lower house of Parliament.

Women Warriors

Many of these women became icons because of the role they played in defending their countries. Josefina Guerrero became a spy for the Philippines resistance against the Japanese occupation during World War II. In the 17th century, Nzinga Mbande defended Ndono, now Angola, against the Portuguese occupation.

In a meeting with the Portuguese governor, when he had a chair and she did not, Nzinga Mbande had one of her assistants serve as a chair for her, to establish her equality with the Portuguese crown.

In a meeting with the Portuguese governor, when he had a chair and she did not, Nzinga Mbande had one of her assistants serve as a chair for her, to establish her equality with the Portuguese crown.

“She went off into the jungle for forty years where she conquered a tribe of cannibals and became the utterly ruthless ruthless warrior and disturbed the lines of trades and killed Portuguese people for about four decades until the Portuguese were like,’You can have it! We’re leaving your country, it’s yours!'” Porath says of Nzinga. “She’s celebrated all over Angola to this day. Tracking down what’s factual about that story is really difficult. There was a lot of propaganda that was put forward by the Europeans. Some of those (stories) actually were put forward by Nzinga herself because she wanted to be feared.”

Women Rule

The book covers also introduces women who ruled empires, like Empress Myeongseong of Korea in the 19th century, and Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor who lived and ruled in the 8th century. Centuries before that, around 1478 BCE, Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt, the second woman to become Pharoah.

“She reigned for basically 22 years by herself and it was a golden age, with a boom in architecture and art. She engaged in a trip to a land called Punt, which historians believe is Ethiopia. To Egyptians of that time, that was like going to the moon. It was a tremendous achievement. After she died, the following pharaohs systematically tried to remove her name from pretty much everything. But she had made such an enormous quantity of stuff that despite of generations-long attempts to erase her from history, almost every single major museum in the world has a number of artifacts from her reign.”

Jason Porath continues to search for exceptional women for his blog and says there’s no problem finding them. (VOA)

Next Story

Pence Criticizes Europe For Iran, Venezuela, Russia Links

The atmosphere this year is one of apprehension, according to analyst Florence Gaub of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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United States Vice President Mike Pence briefs the media during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. VOA

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence strongly criticized European allies Saturday for their stance on Iran and Venezuela, in a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining U.S. sanctions against this murderous, revolutionary regime. The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Pence told delegates.

He also called on allies to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. More than 20 European states have done so, but the European Union has stopped short of fully recognizing Guaido as president. Disputed president Nicholas Maduro is widely accused of vote-rigging to win last years’ election, while the country is mired in poverty and hyperinflation.

“Once more the Old World can take a strong stand in support of freedom in the New World. Today we call on the European Union to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela,” Pence said.

China repeatedly was singled out by the vice president as a threat to the United States and its allies.

“The United States has also been very clear with our security partners on the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies, as Chinese law requires them to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network or equipment.”

Pence repeated Washington’s calls for European NATO allies to do more to meet their military spending targets — and cautioned against developing economic links with Moscow, such as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline currently under construction between Russia and Germany.

United States Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
United States Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. VOA

“We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” Pence said.

Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took the stage later Saturday, and said Europe was losing out because of its stance on Russia.

“At a time when the Europeans allowed to draw themselves into a senseless standoff with Russia and incurred multi-billion-dollar losses from the sanctions pushed for from overseas, the world is rapidly changing. Actually, the EU has lost its monopoly on the regional integration agenda,” Lavrov said.

China’s senior delegate did not respond directly to the accusations made by Vice President Pence, but instead he offered a defense of multilateralism.

“Our world stands at a crossroads and faces a consequential choice between unilateralism and multilateralism, conflict and dialogue, isolation and openness,” Yang Jiechi, a senior member of the politburo and a former Chinese ambassador to the U.S., told delegates.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. VOA

Those sentiments were earlier echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who strongly criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s claims that Europe was taking advantage of America on trade.

The Munich Security Conference is seen as a key annual forum for world leaders to discuss global security concerns and conflicts — both in public and in private — in dozens of closed-door meetings taking place inside the venue.

The atmosphere this year is one of apprehension, according to analyst Florence Gaub of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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“There is still a lot of grief over the old order being gone where everything was much more predictable, or at least appeared to be more predictable. So that’s slowly setting in,” said Gaub.

The tone of the conference speeches suggests that even among allies, tensions over a changing world order are no closer to being solved. (VOA)