Today we say goodbye to one of the most kickass women I have ever read about. Her name was Rita Levi Montalcini and she was a 103-year-old feminist.
A daughter of a man she herself defined as Victorian, she got a degree in Medicine without his consent and she pursued her studies, racial laws against Jews be damned!
At 20, she had decided not to be a wife or a mother and when asked whether she regretted her choice, she answered “Never”. Science was her calling and even after her Nobel Prize, she never stopped studying. Her niece, commenting on her death, told the press that “she studied till the very end.” As with most great people, other than her inspiration and her work she left behind some quotables. I thought I’d share some of her most famous ones, in case you haven’t had the chance to stumble upon her.
“The future of our planet depends on the possibility of giving to women access to education and leadership. Women have the hardest but most productive task of inventing and managing peace.”
“My body can do what it wants. I am not the body: I am the mind”
“Despite my age, I don’t live in the past, I live in the future”
“In life, one should never give up, surrender to mediocrity, instead one should leave that “gray zone” in which everything is habit and passive resignation…It’s necessary to nurture the courage to rebel”
“It’s better to add life to days than days to life”
“There is a difficulty in realizing that our behaviour is very complex, that our brain is made up of different components. And there is a difficulty in seeing in any catastrophe the possibility of a reversal. Maybe I am an innate optimist, but I believe that there is always something saving us”
“Women were blocked for centuries. When a woman has access to culture, she is hungry. And food is much more useful to hungry people than to sated ones.”
Goodbye, Rita, we’ll miss you!