Ela Darling and Sovereign Syre Want to Teach You About the Boss Bitches of History

Ela Darling and Sovereign Syre might not be who you’d expected to be at the helm of the new, totally feminist, herstorical web series “Boss Bitches of History.” But together, the two adult entertainers are ready to bring women’s history to life – and redefine society’s expectations and pre-determined narratives for women at the same time.

“Personally, the thing that mattered the most to me was telling the whole stories of women in history who tend to get relegated to supporting roles while telling the greater stories of men, which is bullshit,” Darling told me. “Women in history have incredibly compelling narratives in their own right and my favorite part about writing this show was falling in love with the stories of strong, impassioned women through the ages.”

The first two episodes of the show, which I can honestly best describe as Drunk History meets Rebel Girls,  both premiere today on Wisecrack’s YouTube channel: One on Cleopatra, who used pussy power to literally dominate the world; the other on Marie-Josèph dite Angélique, a Portuguese slave who burned down half of Montreal to exact her revenge. After today, new episodes will air bi-monthly. The women featured will range from the well-known to the lesser-known, but each episode will come packed with the same humor, charm, and dry wit of the dynamic duo who birthed it into this world.

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“I’m excited to see how people respond to the episodes about women they may not be familiar with,” Darling told me. “That said, I’m most excited to watch the episode on Cleopatra, with whom most people are already familiar. I love her story and I think that Sovereign and I riffed off of each other really well for that one.”

Darling and Syre, long-time friends, came recommended to the Wisecrack team, who have produced web series including Earthling Cinema and 8-Bit Philosophy. They stuck around when they realized they were working with folks in their element.

“It was really great to be working with people who respected mine and Sovereign’s academic backgrounds and vision,” Darling said. “It’s very common, when working with porn stars, for collaborators to pigeon hole us into a sex role across all media. These guys were very receptive to the idea that we wanted to create something that acknowledged sex but wasn’t focused on it. They were open and eager to hear what we had to say and how we wanted to say it. I appreciate that they make an effort to elevate our voices instead of speaking for us. They gave us creative control and allowed us to research, write, and host the show which made the whole project incredibly precious to me.”

“I knew this was going to be an awesome collaboration,” Syre echoed in the press materials for the series. “I’ve always wanted to do something with history, and the show is the perfect outlet. Working with Wisecrack is awesome. These guys get it.”

Darling and Syre

Darling and Syre

The team ultimately embraced Darling and Syre as unconventional but totally perfect feminist leaders and teachers for the modern age – two intelligent, multi-dimensional, kick-ass chicks on a mission who live their own damn lives, judgements be damned.

“This project, for me, was a grand opportunity to show that women in the adult industry are much more complex, capable, and knowledgeable than most people give us credit for,” Darling told me at the end of our interview.

“But mostly it’s about pussy power.”

Carmen is the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. , host of Bitch Media's POPAGANDA podcast and co-founder and Contributing Editor at Argot magazine. She previously served as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 926 articles for us.

35 Comments

    • “pussy power” is a phrase from the 90s that’s a slightly cruder take on ‘girl power’ which was always a little annoying bc it was infantalizing after you reached a certain age. pussy is less about the exact appearance of one’s ‘genitals’ and more about reclaiming the pride of being a woman, or an old girl, or a woman person who acknowledges that she fucks and likes it. pussy power doesn’t mean that the only way to have power as a woman is to have a pussy. and pussy is slang for whatever’s between your legs when you’re a woman. since everyone at AS vehemently agrees that trans women are women, whatever they have between their legs can/is/shall also be a pussy!! pussy is a word that was used against women (cis and trans) (it’s also a word that has been used to denigrate anybody who is perceived as “too feminine”) and then women decided to reclaim it, and it feels really weird to have it be treated as a shameful word on a website for women. it’s really not about cisnormativity.

      • I see what you’re saying, but like Rie said ^, it feels like it reduces power to a person’s genitals. Whether or not that was the intention doesn’t disregard its effect. I mean, I’m not a trans woman, so I might not be qualified to comment. And I get trying to reclaim the term, but it’s also important to look at how people are using “pussy power,” which is in an overwhelmingly radfem attitude. If you look it up, you see vaginas exclusively. If a trans woman decides to call her genitals a pussy, that’s fine and her choice. But that doesn’t mean that all women’s genitals are by default pussies.

        • ok but i just gave you the historical context of the phrase, so if it felt like it reduced power to genitals and now you know the historical context of the phrase, hopefully it doesn’t feel that way anymore! and no, all women’s genitals aren’t default pussies. no one here would ever say that. but ‘pussy’ is a slang word, so it can literally mean whatever someone says it means. actually i guess that goes for all words forever. just whatever we agree it means is what it means.

          also seriously, radfems cannot have ‘pussy power’ for their hateful usage. i refuse to let them have it! they already took ‘radical feminism’ which meant something totally different and RAD before they came along, so they just cannot have this. they just can’t.

          but anyway, a cool way to show support to trans issues would be to read and share and comment on the stories written by trans writers on trans issues that are killing trans women! like this amazing post on immigration, which is full of educational info and includes a solid breakdown of this new situation. or really anything that a trans writer publishes here — mey’s got an awesome weekly post up right now on comics and it’s very exciting and she’d probably love to hear from you re: comics!

          • i know, radical feminism sounds like such a cool thing, like the ninja turtles would be all about it! and then you find out what it is and it’s SO GROSS.

          • I appreciate you giving me the historical context, but that’s the thing. Not everyone will have that. One of the major tenets of any kind of writing is to anticipate how the words might misrepresent the message, and I think the phrase “pussy power” needs to go under that kind of examination. Research into the history of terms isn’t always accessible to people, and any kind of movement that claims to be progressive should be aware of that.

            Like, to be clear, I’m not targeting you or anyone else who either creates or loves this video series. I just think there needs to be more critical thinking on the message the wording uses and who that appeals to.

    • I feel like in this context it’s absolutely in no way transmisogynistic. This article is talking about a specific cis woman (cleopatra) using her own “pussy power.” It’s not saying that you’re only a woman if you have a “traditional” pussy, it’s saying cleopatra had a pussy and that it was powerful.

      The phrase pussy power could be used in a way that’s meant to exclude trans women, but that’s definitely not the case here.

  1. To be honest it sound like they’re trying really hard to be funny but have no idea how to write jokes so they just say words they think will shock people… like the slur in the title, the “pussy power” stuff (honestly wft?) or calling an enslaved black woman “so metal” when she tries to fighting back against white supremacy.

    • there’s a very wide line between using “bitch” as a pejorative and having it leveled at you by, really, a dude who wants to put you in your place, and using “bitch” as an affectionate or complimentary term to call out the historic use of that word and reclaim it. these are women who didn’t listen, didn’t fall in line, didn’t allow themselves to be made subservient or dominated by anyone. they *are* bitches, and celebrating them for being bitches is subversive. i also really don’t see the “shock value” in making a metal joke? like, how is that shocking. it’s not shocking. it’s just a joke!

      • It’s totally fine to want to reclaim slurs for yourself but I don’t think it’s ok to call other women slurs without their permission.

        Frankly I would not want these women to call me a bitch and I don’t see any proof that any of the women covered in this webseries wanted that either. It’s not subversive to call me or any woman a word that is hurtful to us and that we did not want to be called… it is in fact the opposite of subversive or feminist to act like women can’t want to define themselves in their own words and not want to be constantly reduced to same misogynist words / tropes.

  2. Can dissenting views be respected here? I’m reading the responses from the staff as being unnecessarily defensive which is disappointing. I really like the concept for this webseries, but after watching the videos, I’m not empowered or enthusiastic about this project because I don’t care for the humour or the way these women are being presented. People should be allowed to raise their criticisms about particular language and tone without being lectured.

      • I think PaperOFlower’s means that just because there are people that disagree with the way the videos/article is presented doesn’t mean that everyone should jump up and defend it. You like it and that’s awesome. Other’s don’t for their own valid reasons, and it’s as important to look at why you like it as it is to look at why others don’t.

  3. Oh I’m so excited! This looks awesome.

    And a word to pussy power. Keep in mind that these women WERE reduced to their genitalia. They were denied rights because of it. Their humanity was stripped away because of it. Pussy power is a rebellious cry against the second class citizen status that having a pussy guaranteed (and still guarantees) these women.

    We’re allowed to be proud of the pussy. We should be.

    There’s a difference between having pride in your version and history of womanhood, and denying that other forms of womanhood are valid.

    • “Pussy power is a rebellious cry against the second class citizen status that having a pussy guaranteed (and still guarantees) these women. We’re allowed to be proud of the pussy. We should be.”

  4. After watching it, and considering the climate over on Youtube for ladies and ladies’ history (aka “being an idiot and reading the comments”), I’m more on board. I gave them a subscribe. Like, still not into some of the humor/marketing language but I’m down with teens (and everyone else!) browsing Youtube finding it and being inspired to do research and learn more about other badass women.

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