by Lisa VanDyke Brown
1974 – Karen Silkwood
This badass labor activist raised concerns about corporate practices related to health and safety of workers at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site, where she worked as a chemical technician making plutonium pellets for nuclear reactor fuel rods. In the summer of ’74, she testified to the Atomic Energy Commission. A few months later, while driving to meet a New York Times journalist, she died in a mysterious car crash.
1999 – Cathy Harris
While working for U.S. Customs Service (USCS) at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, Harris blew the lid off rampant racial profiling against black travelers, resulting in a landmark U.S. Government Accountability Office study of USCS profiling, and the introduction of federal reform legislation.
2001 – Kathryn Bolkovac
She went to Bosnia as part of a UN mission, discovered something terrible, and refused to stay silent. Ultimately, she sued her employers for unfair dismissal following her attempts to expose misconduct and human rights abuses committed against young girls forced into prostitution and used as sex slaves by U.S. military contractors and other UN-related police and international organizations.
2012 – Phyllis McKelvey
Before leaving her job as a chicken inspector for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, McKelvey reported the agency for turning inspection duties over to company employees and increasing line speeds to the point where inspectors only had one-third of a second to review each carcass. Her petition to halt USDA plans gained over 180,000 signatures.
2017 – Rose McGowan
She emerged as the most outspoken woman involved in the Harvey Weinstein scandal after the New York Times published its bombshell report. Now, she’s not only speaking out, but doing it in a big way—publicly accusing other entertainment bigwigs of lying about sexual misconduct, and encouraging other victims to come forward with their reports of sexual harassment and assault.
About the author: Lisa VanDyke Brown is a bad-ass beeotch and seasoned media pro. She's also the mother of twin preschoolers, so no time for long bios. Her heroes include Dorothy Parker, Phyllis Diller, and Grandma VanDyke. Fun fact: She's the most metal chick you'll ever meet.