Great dames


levork / WonderWoman / Flickr

levork / WonderWoman / Flickr

Dames have different connotations for different people: a ‘classy dame’ comes straight out of an old black and white movie, someone who’s made a ‘Dame’ will appear on the Queen’s Honours List. The term can appear derogatory or class ridden. But we’d like to propose an alternative. We’d argue for the recognition of dames who have made a difference to our world. Little or large, young or old, dead or alive…their vibrancy will have made them a force to be reckoned with. These are women (and in some cases, men, who we’ve termed honorary dames) who sometimes make us laugh, sometimes make us angry, but who always make us think. Indeed, they can be unsung heroes, someone you’ve come across in the course of your daily life, who is not well known but by their sheer existence changes the lives of those around them.

We have nominated several women – and not just women – and would like to encourage you to do the same. What woman (or women) has provoked a sufficient reaction in you so as to challenge preconceptions and possibly change your direction in life? Why do they seem to stand out from the crowd? Why do they particularly appeal to you?

In essence, these people are not so much dames, as Great Dames – not to be confused with great danes. They’re larger than life: they could be Joan of Arc, Vivienne Westwood, or a teacher who changed your view of the world.  Great Dames are often fearless, not bound by convention or by what people think of them.

So join us in celebrating the Great Dames of this world, and send in your nominations. These women deserve it!


  1. Germaine Greer. She is a pain, a thorn in the side, often inappropriate, wrong headed and authoritarian. However, it was the Female Eunuch that gave me the underpinning for my own moves away from the repression inflicted on women by a mysogynistic Australian culture

    • ‘Good call. Yes, she is everying you say, and yet . . . As a polemicist, her method is clearly to overstate her case wildly, so that even if you only accept 10% of what she says, she’s made inroads into your thinking.

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