Women Warriors, the strength of a woman.

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Jul 15, 2010
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South Eastern Oregon
This is my mom's thesis for college, and while it has nothing to do with rabbits, I thought it was very thought provoking and wanted to share. I got her permission to, so YEA!!!

And writing isn't even her strong point. I think she did AMAZING!!!

Women Warriors
The Strength of a Woman

Shambre 11/10/2010

With all the advancements in technology and medicine it is sad to say that we are still, at times, in an infant stage of development when it comes to mature, rational thinking concerning the woman’s role and rights in today’s society. I would like to shed the light on the dark stagnation that still stunts the growth on woman’s freedom.

Forward to instructor:
After carefully considering your advice I dedicated the main body of my essay to the pre-industrial era only focusing briefly on how this relates to today’s society. I concluded that the essence of studying the history of women was not only for the recreation of learning the times and cultures of past civilizations but also appealed to a higher calling; the ability to apply what we have learned to our life today and how it structured our culture and where our culture is going in the future. I believe anyone who reads this essay will be educated on the role some women played in the preindustrial era and why this information would be of importance to us today.

When I embarked on my mission to research Amazons I was on a feminist track; a head long journey to uncover the truth. “Women are warriors” I wanted to shout, “and I have the research to prove it!” “We are strong and capable and can handle anything a man can and maybe even more.” What I discovered is nobler then I had ever imagined.
In society today we are raised and imparted with the knowledge of right from wrong; morals and values are instilled in us preparing us for the world. By the time we are in high school we feel it is high time that we get out on our own and start exercising these skills making our own life choices. Did you ever run across something that you wanted to do but for some reason you were not allowed? The first time I encountered this was during a family movie night. We were all sitting around watching ‘Top Gun’. As I watched Tom Cruise I wanted nothing more than to be a fighter pilot. I informed my family proudly “that’s what I want to be when I grow up!” “You cannot,” my mother informed me, always the practical dasher of dreams, “girls are not allowed to be pilots.” I was truly hurt, way down deep. The chance that I was really going to grow up and become a fighter pilot, even if allowed, was very slim; but the knowledge that it was not even an option shocked me to the core. I could not even begin to understand why a girl could not be a pilot. Should not everyone be allowed to do what they have a desire to do? If I was capable of being a pilot then why could I not do it? I had not truly encountered gender biases until this very moment and did not know how to handle this information.
In 1991, the restriction of women from flying combat aircraft was repealed, but the 1948 law still bans women from serving on naval combat vessels. Author Jake Willens wrote in an article outlining gender roles concerning the military, “Policy emphasized that no job will be closed to women just because it is dangerous, but fails to open direct offensive ground combat jobs to women…..the policy of the Army and Marine Corps excludes women from combat which precludes 12 percent of the skilled positions and 39 percent of the total positions.” It is argued that it is too dangerous to put women in the position of becoming prisoners of war. Do I need someone (a man) to make a decision of this nature for me because I am unable to make it for myself? Do I not understand what I am doing? Others argue men would not be able to trust women to be capable of accomplishing the physical demands of combat; that it supposedly is not an equal rights issue but one of military effectiveness[ii]. Our Constitution protects our rights. Yet, did you know the Equal Protection Clause found in the 14th Amendment provides that, "... a state shall not deprive any person of equal protection under the law." This clause requires that the government treat similar people in a similar manner. However, it does not require the government to treat people the same way all of the time. The government routinely classifies/identifies a group of people and treats them differently from others. A means-ends test of intermediate level scrutiny is used to determine if classifications based on gender are permissible. Presently, the law prohibits woman in the military from serving in combat roles. This law classifies people based on their gender and treats them unequally. The law has been challenged and it passed the intermediate scrutiny test. The Court found that the classification based on gender and the unequal treatment of the two groups was significantly related to achieving an important state (government) interest.[iii]
After careful study I discovered women have always lived in a patriarchal society. In ancient times women were under the care of their father until they were married. Then they were adopted into the husband’s family. They were welcomed into the house the same way as guests or slaves might be welcomed. They were considered an outsider in their own home. Many times they did not even get to choose their husband; it was prearranged for them through their family. Husbands were likely to be 15 years their brides senior and the young bride would be transferred to his control from that of her fathers[iv]. She never was allowed to be her own woman with independent thoughts and ideas; looked upon no fonder than a thing to reproduce an heir.
It is no wonder some of these women would like to entertain the idea of a total matriarchal society. The Amazons of ancient Greek mythology are a great example of this. Lyn Webster Wilde writes about the many characteristics associated with the Amazons. They were said to be as beautiful as they were cruel; violent resistors of masculine rule, they fought ruthlessly, they maimed or killed their male offspring, and they had uninhibited, anonymous sex in order to reproduce. The true Amazons fought in the pages of Homer and Herodotus in the Bronze and Iron Ages; yet the idea of a brutal bred of women who live independent of men arouses people at a unconscious level. Some women would like to avenge themselves from the harm they feel they have incurred at the hands of men; while some men see it as a stimulating fantasy to be dominated by the sheer beauty and power they possessed. Others are deeply disturbed by the unnatural order to life it presents.[v]
The Greeks used stories about mythical gods in their society to illustrate desirable characteristics and praise for submission among women and unhappiness and misery for noncompliant free thinkers. The stories of the Amazons demonstrated the impractical and useless pursuit of a woman dominant society. Tim Newark cleverly depicts the age old story in his book “Women Warlords”. Hercules was said to have landed at the mouth of the River Thermodon in northern Turkey sometime before 1000BC. He and his warriors were seeking Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons. Hercules sent an envoy demanding her girdle. The girdle “is a symbol for sexual power, channeled and kept within civilized bounds “wrote Lyn Webster Wilde. “In a Greek marriage ceremony, when the bridegroom loosed the bride’s girdle it signified the end of her free maidenhood and the opening of her body to her husband and to pregnancy.” For the Amazon women it was also a symbol of their independence; Hercules wanted it surrendered. Hippolyte refused and met Hercules in battle. Her warriors, each a well-known champion, was slain one by one. Until Hercules captured Melanippe, their commander’s, girdle (raped her). The Amazons were seen by the Greeks as barbarians who had to be defeated to ensure the survival of a settled, civilized society. Thus any attempt by women to maverick out and entertain the notion of self-government outside of male control could rest assured the utter nonsense had no hope of survival even with the best of warriors they would be defeated. It would be anarchy and uncivilized barbarianism at its crudest[vi].
However, there has never been a historically proven instance of a society in which the sex roles have been completely reversed. Indeed, many feminist historians maintain that ancient examples of matriarchies have only been mentioned by male historians to prove their ultimate impracticality and eventual failure. Tim Newark recounts how among the Indians of Brazil myths of female domination have been discovered; invented for the very purpose of justifying male rule. Other South American tales express of the incompetence of female rule and how the chaos had to be settled by men who forced the women into submission. These tales are not too dissimilar from the Greek accounts of the Amazon life beyond the Black Sea. Despite the insecurity laden accounts to warn and dissuade women from the noble calling of serving her county, some women still aspired to be warriors.[vii]
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, soviet archaeologists made a series of remarkable discoveries. On the north-west coast of the Sea of Azov, east of Odessa, the skeletal remains of a young woman were uncovered. The usual items identifying her as having a privileged background were found. In addition to these items two iron lance blades, a quiver of arrows and a suit of iron-scale armor were found. She was a warrior who had lived in the fourth or third century BC and belonged to a society known as the Sarmatians. This was not an isolated discovery. Several other skeletons were found in varying locations, all dating to the same time period and the woman warriors were all of Sarmatian decent. They were not a matriarchal society. They did not thrive on the demise of the male species, but rather lived in harmony with it. Sarmatians were an Indo-European people whose territory stretched from the Ukraine to Kazakhstan. They lived in treeless grasslands bordered by the Siberian forest in the north and Central Asian desert in the south. Sarmatians were excellent horse warriors; naturally nomadic, they followed a regular cycle of grazing horses and cattle, hunting fish and game. Within this society women enjoyed a greater degree of equality and power than among other neighboring cultures. Sarmatians were monogamous. Women once married were devoted to their families but it was more on a partnership basis. Young girls before marriage were free to hunt and fight alongside boys. The Sarmatian culture was the closest in type to modern day American culture than any other ancient society I have studied. Other women who aspired to be warriors did not have it so lucky.[viii]
Women have shared an active role in battles since the beginning of time. Warfare throughout written history has been portrayed in modern times as a matter for men, but women also have played a role. Until recently, little mention of these activities was included in the historical records. Feminine idols, with pre-historical origins, are present in most early cultures. Often they were portrayed as warriors, which signal a universal presence of women among such activities. Throughout ancient Mediterranean, there are several occasions when women assumed power on the death of their husbands. Many more were content to wield influence behind the scenes, becoming formidable allies for their husbands and sons.[ix]
Hatshepsut (1508–1458 BC), Ahmise-Nefertari’s granddaughter, was a powerful woman in ancient Egypt. She was daughter of great warrior king known for creating the first “world empire” in Egypt’s history. Hatshepsut seized the rule form her royal charge prince Thutmose III. She claimed divine sanction and her father’s approval. Egypt was open to a sense of equality between men and women. The state called on men as well as women for national service. Illustrating women were as much citizens as men. Hatshepsut did not receive resistance to her rule and she was capable of the position. She was strong-willed and passionately continued the policies of her father to strengthen Egypt’s defenses. She bolstered the economy through trading expeditions to foreign lands. Hatshepsut reign saw the improvement of Egypt’s landscape through many splendid building projects, including her impressive terraced temple at Deir il-Bahri, the greatest surviving monument from antiquity to a woman. After the death of her daughter she succumbed and accepted Thutmose III as her heir. He was so bitter that he attempted to destroy her memory after her death by having her figure chiseled from the walls that decorated the temple.[x]
Artemisia I of Caria (480 BC) became the ruler of Ionia as a client of the Persians. She was a trusted military adviser to Xerxes, King of Persia. He led his great army against the Greeks in contradiction of Artemisia’s advice. When Xerxes rallied his subjects in preparation to invade Greece; Artemisia was compelled to recruit her own small force and join the army. Xerxes had assembled one of the greatest armies the ancient world had ever seen. It was recorded to be 1,700,000 men strong. It was accompanied by the Persian navy, equally vast in scale. Herodotus writes of 1,207 triremes and 3,000 smaller ships of 30 – 50 oars. Artemisia led five ships from Halicarnassus and the islands of Kos, Nisiros and Kalimnos. At first Xerxes army did well. They broke through stiff resistance at Thermopylae and seized Athens. All Xerxes military commanders except Artemisia was in favor of finishing the Greeks off by destroying their fleet anchored at Salamis. She iterated “The Greeks are much stronger at sea than us, just as men are stronger than women. So why endanger yourself at sea? You have possession of Athens, the aim of this campaign. On land, no man stands against you. You could even advance into the Peloponnese and easily gain victory. The Greeks cannot hold a united front and will scatter to their individual cities. I hear the Greeks on Salamis are short of food and if you lead your army into the Peloponnese, then those Greeks will be fully occupied and have no wish to support the Athenians in a sea battle. But to push for a naval confrontation now risks great harm to both your fleet and your land army.” Despite her advice, with autumn storms approaching, the fleets set off. Xerxes sat upon a gold throne and overlooked his ships. At one point in the battle, the Greeks were close to capturing Artemisia trireme when she devised a cunning plan to escape. She had her own ship bear down on another Persian ship causing the Greeks to think that she was fighting on their side. When she sank the ship the Greeks left her alone. Xerxes watching from a nearby hill also assumed that she had defeated an enemy ship and praised her for her bravery. Xerxes was so full of praise for her that he said: “My men have turned into women and my women into men!” He thanked Artemisia for her wisdom and entrusted his sons to her. [xi]
Joan of Arc (1412–1431AD), a peasant girl from eastern France, claimed Divine guidance as she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War. The historian Kelly DeVries describes the period preceding her appearance in the following terms: "If anything could have discouraged her, the state of France in 1429 should have." Joan began seeing visions when she was 10 years of age; in these visions she was compelled to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. By the time she was 16 she petitioned for permission to visit the royal French court at Chinon. Initially denied she was not dissuaded, by the following January her request was granted. She traveled through hostile territory disguise as a man. Upon arriving at the Royal Court Joan asked for permission to travel with the army and wear the equipment of a knight. Joan depended on donated items for her armor, horse, sword, banner, and other items utilized by her entourage. After years of one humiliating defeat after another, France was desperate. They allowed Joan a try. She prevailed and led the troops on several victories. However, the unusual nature of her circumstances impelled people to question her authenticity. How often do you see an illiterate farm girl who claimed that the voice of God was instructing her to take charge of her country’s army and lead it to victory? Joan was captured by the Burgundians it was customary for a captive's family to ransom a prisoner of war. Joan and her family were peasants who lacked the money. Many historians condemn King Charles VII for failing to intervene, yet he did not. During her military campaigns, and while in prison, Joan dressed like a man, kept her hair cut short, and preserved her chastity. She was sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake for heresy when she was merely nineteen years old. Twenty-five years after her untimely demise, Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.[xii]
Yet another illustration to representative feminine achievement, Fù Hǎo (died c. 1200 BC) was one of the many wives of King Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty. She served as a military general and high priestess during her life. How did she achieve such positions? Little is known of the early life of Fu Hao. King Wu Ding would encourage the allegiance of neighboring tribes by marrying one woman from each of them. Fu Hao entered the royal household through such a marriage. She was able to take advantage of a semi-matriarchal slave society to rise through the ranks with in her domiciliary. Fu Hao led numerous military campaigns; commanding 13,000 troops and important generals Zhi and Hou Gao serving under her. She was the most powerful military leader of her time. The Tu-Fang fought against the Shang for generations until they were finally defeated by Fu Hao in a single battle. As a priestess, oracle bone inscriptions show that Wu Ding repeatedly instructed Fu Hao to conduct special rituals and offer sacrifices. This was very unusual for that time and shows that the king must have had unwavering confidence in his wife.[xiii]
Tamar of Georgia (1160–1213AD) is another example of exemplary military achievement and female rule. She presided over the "Golden age" of the medieval Georgian monarchy. A daughter of the king, she was anointed successor by her reigning father George III in 1178. Tamar was co-ruler with her father for six years until his death, in 1184. She continued as the sole monarch and was crowned a second time. Tamar faced substantial opposition from the aristocracy upon her rise to full ruling power. She was plagued with uprisings and attempts to undermine her rule and authority. As Georgia had never previously had a female ruler, a part of the aristocracy questioned Tamar's legitimacy, while others tried to exploit her youth and supposed weakness to assert greater authority for themselves. The aristocracy even challenged loyal supporters; men her father had appointed to sequel the defiant nobles’ attempt to induce feudal constitutionalism and limit the royal authority. The nobles even required Tamar to marry in order to have a leader for the army and to provide an heir to the throne. Her consort, David Soslan, was dictated by the necessity of male aspects of kingship, but he remained a subordinate ruler who shared the throne with, and derived his power from Tamar. Tamar and David had two children. In 1191, the queen gave birth to a son, George – the future king George IV– an event widely celebrated in the kingdom. The daughter, Rusudan, was born two years later and would succeed her brother as a sovereign of Georgia. Tamar was a powerful role model, a dominant figure, and an inspiration; she stood against the odds and excelled. Defining the position and characteristics of women she was even named as a saint in her lifetime. Having made the number one position in a top ten female warriors list it is no wonder Tamar was fashioned as mep’et’a mep’e – "king of kings".[xiv]
These accounts make it clear that women from any time or culture, regardless of opposition, risk or social status, were able to excel in military endeavors. Official, Pentagon rules still prohibit women from participation in ground combat missions such as infantry fighting or tank operations. Nor are they allowed in support roles, like vehicle maintenance or cooking, that take them to the front lines of war[xv]. Being in the military is a physically demanding job that not everyone is fit to handle whether male or female. Women and men are different. Women are different from other women, as well. Men are different from other men. John might be a whiz on a computer. He can just see and relate to the contraption that leaves many of us pulling our hair out; but maybe he could not march to the top of the hill to save his own life. Should he be excluded from military consideration? Can we not use the skills he excels at to benefit our country? Should this not apply to women as well? Excuses for the exclusion of women from specific roles are numerous. Can women handle the gravitational forces of an aircraft? There is absolutely no evidence that says they cannot but this excuse is used. Unless it is proven that a woman’s body is incapable of withstanding gravitational forces it should not be used as an excuse to limit a woman’s options. The very idea that women would become pregnant in order to avoid their combat duties, another illogical excuse, is absurd. No one is trying to force anyone to sign up for combat. If a woman wants the right to fight then why would she devise some way to get out of it? Anyone who believes men can be programmed to kill, but it’s not easy to program men to neglect women (the issue being could he focus on his duties while in battle) has never visited a domestic violence shelter. But maybe we are looking at it all wrong. Jake Willens in an article published in August 1996 states “It is interesting to note that everyone, including women, believe the physical standards for military occupational specialties should be identical for both men and women. “Serving in the military is a right of American citizenship, and when you limit women’s role in the military, you’re limiting the opportunity of women to play a full and responsible role as a citizen,” said Johnson, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 20 years as an Air Force nurse. “Any position that a woman is qualified to do; she should be able to do.” General George Casey, speaking on women in Iraq states, “Like all of our soldiers, they perform magnificently every day. We could not do what we’re doing without them in the positions that they’re in. [xvi] ” We know women have desired, and devised, ways to participate in combat roles throughout history either at their husbands side, or taking up arms at the demise of their husband, even disguising themselves as men to enter into the ranks. Maybe with the known gender differences; women should not be trying to compete with men and work shoulder to shoulder with them. Maybe her role would be better served as a leader. Women do have the gender specific traits that make her exceptional for this role. Girls are known to have excellent social skills such as team work and compromising; social skills are needed in all great leaders. Girls are known for their negotiation skills from a very early age where it comes natural for boys to push and fight. Which skills would you rather have in your leader? When one excludes pregnancy leave, women have a lower rate of lost time at work than their male counterparts (Minerva Spring 1994).
An Educator’s Guide to Gender Bias Issues suggests that girls’ stagnation in present day society may be due in part to a lack of female role models. Perusing history reveled to me that history does not lack female role models. There is hundreds if not thousands of role models; we as a society as a whole may be uneducated and unpracticed in relating these stories to our daughters and granddaughters. Do you want your rights restricted? No one is trying to force you to do anything you do not want to do but don’t you want to have the option? Do you want your children to not be given the right of choice? Are we still living in the Dark Ages? I think not, the women, beginning at antiquity, have demonstrated we as women are not a lesser being.

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J. Willens, ‘Women in the Military: Combat Roles Considered’ http://www.cdi.org/issues/women/combat.html
[ii] J. Willens, ‘Women in the Military: Combat Roles Considered’ http://www.cdi.org/issues/women/combat.html
[iii] Business Law, 13th edition, The Ethical, Global, and E-Commerce Environment. Pg. 62-72
[iv] M. Katz, ‘Becoming Visible; Women in European History’, pg. 53-54,57
[v] L. Wilde, ‘On the trail of the women warriors: the Amazons in myth and history’, pg.1-2
[vi] T. Newark, ‘Women Warlords’, pg. 9-11
[vii] T. Newark, ‘Women Warlords’, pg. 40
[viii] T. Newark, ‘Women Warlords’, pg. 19-20
[ix] T. Newark, ‘Women Warlords’, pg. 60
[x] B. Lesko, ‘Becoming Visible; Women in European History’, pg.19-21
[xi] T. Newark, ‘Women Warlords’, pg. 60 ;
Wikipedia, online encyclopedia ‘Artemisia I of Caria’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_I_of_Caria
[xii] T. Newark, ‘Women Warlords’, pg. 124-136 ;
Wikipedia, online encyclopedia ‘Joan of Arc’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_of_Arc
[xiii] Wikipedia, online encyclopedia ‘Fu Hao’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fu_Hao
[xiv] Wikipedia, online encyclopedia ‘Tamar of Georgia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamar_of_Georgia
Top 10 Badass Female Warriors http://listverse.com/2008/03/17/top-10- ... -warriors/
[xv] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ‘Women’s Combat Role on Front Burner’, Military.com http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,1 ... 05,00.html
[xvi] J. Willens, ‘Women in the Military: Combat Roles Considered’ http://www.cdi.org/issues/women/combat.html;
Wikipedia, online encyclopedia ‘Women in the military’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_military;
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ‘Women’s Combat Role on Front Burner’, Military.com http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,1 ... 05,00.html