because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Anna Henryka Pustowojtowna

Polish nationalist Anna Henryka Pustowojtowna was the daughter of a tsarist general of Hungarian roots and a Polish mother who apparently felt strongly about her motherland. She lived for a time with a family of Polish soldiers who taught her how to fight. And she was arrested for her nationalist political activities the first time -- and escaped! -- at only eighteen years of age.

Taking the name Michal Smok, she fought valiantly under insurrectionist Marian Langiwicz. She was so valiant, in fact, that she was reported to have ridden into a hail of bullets in one battle, striking those who cowered with the flat of her broadsword and shouting, "Shame on you! Forward! Win or die!" Captured by the Austrians (along with Langiwicz), Pustowojtowna tried several times after her release to break her leader out of jail, but was ultimately forced to face the fact that she wasn't going to live long if she tried to stay in Poland.

So she went to Paris where she spent the rest of her life selling artificial flowers, teaching music, and raising children (her own and other people's). Oh, yes...and also fighting on the barricades to establish the Paris Commune of 1871. Sometimes, the in-your-faced-ness is part of a situation in which an ordinary woman finds herself. Sometimes, on the other hand, the in-your-faced-ness is part of the woman.

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