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Women’s History Month: Wikipedia linkaround, pictures, and we’ve never known our place edition.

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I meant to blog more for women’s history month, but it’s been a heller. So instead of doing individual posts like I wanted to, I’m going to present you with a shitload of links and pictures. My first women’s history month was about women at peace,  but given all the fuckery that’s been flying around, I feel compelled to opine on women rulers and warriors.

There is an interesting narrative that is a close cousin of the “Western women don’t need feminism! You need to quit whining and save those brown women over there!” trope, which is that prior to the rise of feminism, women knew their goddamn place and goddamn well stayed in it. And that place was as breeding livestock and house slaves (and that this was a natural and effective social order, which I will write about more later, because, LOLWhut?).

This assertion that women had no agency receives regretful assent from some (young, usually white, usually American) feminists, and crowing chest beating posturing when spouted off by misogynists (who also like to threateningly imply that when modern civilization breaks down, the worst of the patriarchy will rise again and put us uppity bitches back in our place as fuckable footstools).

LOLLERSKATES.

The point of this post is to demonstrate that there has never been a time in  human history where there were not uppity women, picking up weapons and getting all uppity-in-your-fucking-skull with them, and building giant ass monuments and just generally seizing power where power existed to be seized.

It should serve as a reminder that men are women are much more alike than we are different, and that we are equally capable of violence, courage and politics.

Some of these women took the reins of power in the most Machiavellian ways imaginable (I’m looking at you Shammuramat, oh god please don’t haunt-murder me with your lioness), and ruled with an iron fist.

Some fought against colonization, and fought in spite of the patriarchy at home. They had different motivations, noble and base, which should shock absolutely nobody, since women are just people like men.

Finally, I hope that this post is also a slap to the face of racist-misogynists who would very much like to believe that women of color are just naturally subservient exotic playthings and always have been, because nature!

So.

In no particular order, but maybe sort of chronologically, I don’t know– let’s begin with evidence for ancient Eurasian warrior women, who may have been the basis for the Greek legends of the Amazons (some of the article is meh, but wev).

Shit is about to get REAL.

 

Also,  Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

 

Not to be fucked with

Hatshepsut was not to be fucked with, ruled as Pharaoh (very successfully) for 22 years, and had this built as her mortuary temple:

Fancy!

Assyrian Queen Shammuramat. Not to be fucked with. At all. Military and (evil) political genius, and that’s saying something when you talk about Assyrians.

 

I will fuck your shit up. I have a fucking lioness laying behind me. Try it.

Shang dynasty general and priestess Fu Hao. Mother, wife, oracle, warrior, bad ass woman with a god damned huge ax.

 

Look at the huge fucking ax. And ask yourself, would you fuck with her?

The Gladiatrix. I urge you to click through and read Juvenal’s whingy passage about women “denying the sex they were born with” to be fighters. There is NOTHING NEW about the shit spouted by evo-psychers and anti-feminists (venn diagram shows massive overlap between these groups). Oh look, they’re being called Amazons!

Stop! You're supposed to be subservient and weak, damnit!

Tomyris, Scythian Queen, defeated Persian king Cyrus the Great and stuck his fucking head in a fucking bag of blood, just to be witty: “I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall”.

 

Just to be witty, you guys.

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, Syrian queen of Egypt who famously revolted against the roman empire. She was defeated by Aurelian, and there are various accounts of her death. One account is that she was so awesome that she was given a villa and became a prominent socialite in Rome and died a natural death. However, she may have gone on a hunger strike, or been beheaded. Regardless, she was badass.

 

Zenobia, conquerer of things, possessor of epic side-eye.

Of course I’m going to include Queen Boudica!

 

The Roman empire inspired many women to rage, it seems.

 

The Tru’ng Sisters, martial arts practicioners and badasses, who pushed the Han chinese out of Vietnam in AD 43, with an army mainly comprised of women warriors. This section also warrants a special mention of the bad-fucking-assery of one Phùng Thị Chính, a noblewoman who fought alongside the sisters, and was in charge of protecting the flank. She was pregnant, and legend says she gave birth on the battlefield and held her newborn in one arm while swordfighting with the other. Someone explain to me why this has not been in a movie?

 

Did I mention that they rode into battle on God damned Elephants?

Tomoe Gozen, Lady Samurai about whom this is written: “She was [. . .] a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.” –Tale of the Heike

 

Beheading has never been so colorful.

Some delightful information about  Saxon, Viking, and Scots women warriors.

Gráinne Ní Mháill, Irish pirate who met queen Elizabeth (who also deserves a nod on this post), and was generally bad ass.

 

Axes seem to be a common theme here.

Yaa Asantewaa, Queen Mother of the Asante people ( a kingdom in present day Ghana), who fought against British colonizers for her people, and is quoted as saying:

Now I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it [was] in the brave days of Osei TutuOkomfo Anokye, and Opoku Ware, chiefs would not sit down to see their king to be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight the white men. We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

I'll bet she has an ax hidden somewhere.

” 

 

Lozen, Apache Warrior and Prophet. She fought beside Geronimo in resistance to the colonization of America, among other things.  Click through the read the account of her leading women and children across the Rio Grande. She was a badass.

Bad.Ass.

Rani Lakshmi Bai, Resisted British colonial rule in India, and was a leading figure in the 1857 rebellion. Bad.Ass.

Again, I would bet you anything that there's an Ax somewhere nearby.

Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko, WWII Soviet sniper with 309 confirmed kills. She was studying history in 1941 when the german army invaded, and was among the first volunteers for the war effort.

Tell me again about women in combat, and how they ought not be there. No, tell her!

Jewish Women Resistance Fighters.

Sara Ginaite at the liberation of Vilna.

With more information on women soldiers here via the BBC.

This is hardly an adequate or complete list of women who took power, or who resisted the march of empires. But I hope that the it stands as evidence that there have always been, and will always be, uppity women, taking up arms, being badass, fighting for their people and for themselves–being human.

Oh, and I hope that it’s also evidence for hollywood sexism, because jesus cheese and crackers christ, you can’t tell me that none of these women are fucking epic, and deserve movies. Not scantily clad 18 year old blonde nymphets with guns movies, real movies.

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About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

13 responses »

  1. You know, somehow it’s more awesome that this is all one post, rather than posted throughout the month.

    How much do I love this post?

    *****THIS MUCH***** <– pretend that's bigger

    I've never heard of some of these women, and this kind of learning is my very favorite kind. Thanks! ^_^

    Reply
  2. I kind of think so too! And that doesn’t even cover the many, many, many examples of women in history being total badasses.

    Thanks for reading and commenting 😀

    Reply
  3. I don’t think any man could deny these women their deserved titles of ferocity and badassery. Too bad Hollywood’s idea of a badass chica is exactly what you described. More emphasis on how much side boobage they can push out of her pink bikini than the actual depth of the character.

    That being said, not that I’m in ANY WAY trying to say that women don’t absolutely deserve to be in combat, but there are a few discrepancies that would certainly help push the cause forward if they could be cleared up.

    Reply
  4. And before I get shitstormed for saying that, it’s not discrepancies like the whole men and women being unequal according to X and Y bullshit. It’s simply discrepancies in how the system is currently set-up and how it needs to change in order to accomodate women in combat.

    Reply
  5. First of all, the whole “shitstormed” thing is unnecessary. Comment in good faith, and you’ll get good faith responses from Paprika and me.

    I assume by “discrepancies,” you are referring to the high incidence of mishandled and unreported sexual assault and the generally toxically sexist atmosphere faced by women in the (U.S) military?

    Obviously, not every woman would or should qualify for combat duty, but I have no doubt that there are plenty who could, and again, especially if you read the linked BBC article, women have been doing combat duty since forever, in conditions (like wearing a bright red coat and directly facing your enemy) much more stupid than what your modern soldier will probably encounter (not to disparage the bravery of modern soldiers at all, but I’m told trenchfoot isn’t a problem anymore).

    The arguments against women in combat that I’ve heard seem to boil down to:

    Ladies be delicate (eeew icky periods!)!!

    and

    Men will disobey orders to go save female soldiers, because ladies be delicate!

    and

    Men will rape, so let’s bar women from serving as equals.

    I shouldn’t need to point out that the only way for men to get over their ingrained perception of female/feminine incompetence and weakness is to actually be around tough women. The only way to change the rape culture of the military is for women to be treated as equals, rapes to handled quickly and justly, and for the guys who are not rapists to stand up to the ones that are and make sure they know damn well that it won’t be tolerated.

    Keeping women out of combat in name only re-enforces all the bullshit perceptions, and the whole chivalry thing is awfully nasty to male soldiers, who are supposed to follow orders no matter what, and ought to want to prove that they can and will do so. The gross unfairness of barring women from doing something on account of men being stupid should be glaringly obvious too.

    I’ve also heard the eeeew icky periods bullshit tossed around as though we don’t have medical technology to suppress menstruation right now this very minute, if it’s really an issue. I strongly suspect that any woman meeting current physical standards to serve in combat would probably “naturally” not be menstruating anyway. But seriously. Most women already take it, and the military already pays for it if they are serving! Magic pills!

    Reply
    • So actually amongst us normal-minded military bro’s it boils down to a very simple point. The fact that “men might rescue a woman soldier over their own life” and “menstruation is bad mmkay” is kind of a beaurocratic way for sexist men to give semi-“logical” arguments to keep women out a place they believe should only be male.

      I’m not trying to cover for the guys who are just sexist period because no amount of logic will sway their minds. For us rational thinkers, as I said, it boils down to a very simple discrepancy.

      Women have the ability to claim due to their “gender inequality” that they should be required less physical fitness points to place in the same positions that a similarly placed male would be. So for a NON COMBAT role a male is required to have the same level of fitness that is required for a COMBAT role even though they may never use it. A woman can essentially bypass that stringent physical minimum due to gender.

      It’s all well and good if WOMEN want to claim “less physically able” due to their gender. This makes it all too easy for the military to say “well you claimed less physically able so I guess we won’t let you in combat due to your own words.”

      If women want to claim that they are just as physically able and be allowed in combat then if the bar were raised to the male standard then that would alienate women who truly can’t pass the male minimums and would raise a cry because the fitness test was sexist.

      By allowing women to serve in combat roles if they meet the male standard AND accomodating women serving in non combat roles with a lower standard it basically gives women an unfair advantage. I’m not saying that I would personally be offended with this scenario, but in order to get realistic legislation passed you can’t set up a system that favors one group over the other. Especially not in a governmental role.

      The other tricky part that most people don’t really recognize is that we have plenty of people serving in non-combat roles that get dragged into combat regardless. It’s called an asymmetrical combat line, and all modern wars will have these. This is the prime reason why the male fitness level doesn’t change regardless of what role you serve. You may get dragged into combat, and you need to by physically fit enough to survive whatever happens.

      By lowering the bar for women they are essentially providing less of an opportunity to survive a drastic scenario involving extended physical needs. If there WERE to be two standards I feel it would put women at a disadvantage and may even cost unnecessary lives due to insufficient training.

      My stronger feeling is that the bar should be equal for men and women, and all roles served should be open to men and women. I have this stance because I do not know how to most efficiently address the issue of women claiming differential treatment due to gender yet still wishing the same opportunity.

      I would again like to reiterate that this is the viewpoint of the rational soldier. No doubt there is a toxic environment created by “manly men” who will never falter in their belief that women don’t belong in combat (or the army for that matter). But for those of us who do give a shit, it’s a lot different than the moronic reasons given by Washington.

      Reply
      • Is there a particular reason you have scare quotes around gender inequality? And speaking of “scare quotes,” didja actually read the linked BBC article, or did you just “read” it?

  6. Ask any un-sexist military guy if he would be okay with a woman watching his back if she met the same standards as he and I can almost guarantee he would be okay with it.

    Raise the same question to the same guy if women were held to a lower standard and I can almost guarantee he wouldn’t be comfortable with it.

    In combat since NO ONE is left behind or neglected for the greater good (army core values) the weakest link of the squad is extremely pertinent. By having less physically fit soldiers than others it creates an environment without confidence which in combat obviously isn’t so smart.

    Reply
  7. I’m actually reduced to quoting myself at you:

    “Obviously, not every woman would or should qualify for combat duty, but I have no doubt that there are plenty who could, and again, especially if you read the linked BBC article, women have been doing combat duty since forever”

    I personally, am not actually suggesting lowering the standards for combatants, at least not until enough women have proved themselves that we’re ready to have that conversation.
    Also, you acknowledged in your own comment that non-combatants get dragged into combat anyway, including women .

    I’ve also heard a military dude make the argument that women make better combat fighters in modern urban combat situations because they are smaller, stealthier, lighter, faster, and (he claimed) less impulsive and more willing to follow orders to the letter. He also argued that since women combatants are less likely to engage in rape, which helps with the whole “don’t hate us” part of the fight. Obviously, his ideas are not shared.

    Again, given that the second world war, was won to no small degree on the backs of soviet women, I’m not sure that the physical standards aren’t skewed slightly sexist, personally speaking. It’s laughable that even after women proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they could fight in combat, we’re still having this conversation in the U.S.

    Also, the idea that women have “advantages” of any sort in the military would make me laugh, if I hadn’t read the testimony from the class action suit about mishandled rapes against the DOD.

    Reply
  8. And I’m also reduced to quoting you back at you:

    “By lowering the bar for women they are essentially providing less of an opportunity to survive a drastic scenario involving extended physical needs,”

    Did you read ANY of the stories of the Jewish Women Partisan fighters? At all? Go read their stories and then talk to me about ability to “survive a drastic scenario involving extended physical needs,” seriously.

    Oh yeah, it’s all “rational” for sure.

    Reply
    • Yeah I did. We aren’t dealing with Jewish Women Partisan Fighters. Removing sex from the discussion, if you have been trained to survive for weeks on end with little to no food you have a much better chance of surviving that scenario. The problem is that only men can get this training. Stuff like Special Forces, SEALs, and Delta. I’m not saying that those without training can’t get through it, just that people who don’t recieve such training are more ill-equipped.

      Your articles suggest that women can have the capacity to survive drastic scenarios involving extended physical needs. That has never been the question for most of us who support women in combat. I would have the same trepidation about men who weren’t trained going into drastic scenarios. I’m simply trying to say that by lowering the bar in combat they are affecting not only the survival rate of their squad but also themselves. That’s all.

      I wonder if you think that I don’t realize that women can be equal or excel in combat. I guess where we differ is how to go about enacting such a change in terms of law and requirements. There are standards and people have to pass them regardless of how well they do in other tests. The physical fitness requirements are one of the tests that must be passed. It’s just how it’s structured.

      Now if the argument was based on the structuring itself being stilted and sexist, then I would be listening. Perhaps that’s why you don’t put too much credit into the “bar” and whether it should be changed or not?

      Reply
  9. Alllllriiight. I’m going to say this for the last god damned time, the third god damned time, actually.

    At no point did I suggest the physical standards be lowered.

    Not right now.

    Maybe later after there have been women in combat for the U.S. The reason I asked you to click through and read those links is that they are evidence that women can do this shit and HAVE done it without special training, ergo, there is no “rational” reason to bar them from doing it.

    For the second time:
    Yes, I think the bar right now is skewed sexist, however, I think it shouldn’t be altered until a good number of women have met or exceeded it.

    Then we can get past all of the straight up sexist bullshit surrounding the concept of women in combat and actually have an honest conversation about what standards really need to be met in order for combatants to be effective.

    Also, demonstrate to me that you are actually reading and comprehending my posts and comments, because right now you’re not doing so. I don’t ask lots, but reading my comments thoroughly is required.

    Reply
  10. Also, I’d really like to close out this merry go round about women in combat, since it was NOT the subject of the original post. In fact, I referred to it exactly once, in the caption on Miss Pavlichenko’s picture. Considering that the original post was meant to honor those women above who did, in fact, serve as military leaders or directly in combat, I find this whole conversation annoying, and UScentric to an intolerable degree. So, yes, we are actually talking about Jewish Women Partisans, Native American freedom fighters, and so on.

    Reply

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