Women and Men Are Feminist Warriors

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Women and men are feminist warriors. It is a strange time. The earth is in peril, democracy worldwide is threatened. Human rights are stripped away from us at every turn. In a race for global domination, personal rights and freedoms have become trading cards for those in power. Human rights have become currency bartered and traded by corporations and politicians. Those in power ask themselves “How can we further our own economic desires while still convincing people they matter?” All of us feel the impacts of these disturbing trends. And as a result, women and men must be allies rather than enemies.

Consequently activists, politicians, business owners, trend setters, entertainment industry players regularly make headlines by publicly denouncing antiquated and hurtful practices. Organizations make policy changes to cement equality and respect. Women and men are working together to make these critical and urgently needed changes.

Because feminism works to advance the status of women worldwide, it is easy to assume that feminists fight only for women.

I believe that women AND men can be feminist warriors.

Feminist warriors go to bat for all humans. Wikipedia offers this sentence in it’s definition of feminism –

“Although feminist advocacy is, and has been, mainly focused on women’s rights, some feminists, including bell hooks, argue for the inclusion of men’s liberation within its aims, because they believe that men are also harmed by traditional gender roles.”

My play, Shield Maiden, intentionally highlights relationships between men and women. Both positive and negative aspects of the male/female dynamic are brought forward. I address violence, abuse and discrimination directed towards women. So many women HAVE suffered for millennia at the hands of men and patriarchy. I do not know one single woman who has not suffered. The #MeToo movement sparked outrage and that outrage spurred on change. But I also address how men can and do support women.

It’s not just men in power who have the power to make change. It can start with a man choosing to see a woman’s accomplishments. Witness her strengths, her enduring fortitude, her determination in the face of repeated defeat. For a woman to be seen rather than “mansplained, manhandled, mistreated or abused” can give a woman such dignity. With that dignity comes focus and success. And that success benefits us all. Begin by seeing. Then take bigger steps to help your sisters, mothers, wives, daughters, aunts, cousins, friends, sheroes. It’s not impossible. So many men already are doing this. We simply need more men need to do this too.

Certainly, I believe we will continue to suffer if we do not stridently work together to end abuse of marginalized groups including women, children, people of colour and the economically forgotten. I know that this work is already being done in partnership. My hope is that we continue and don’t falter. It’s truly time to fight like our lives depend on it because maybe, for some of us, our lives do depend on this. The rallying cry is for everyone to take up arms and storm onto the battlefield in a united front against oppression of any kind.

Get your swords and shield ready…I’ll see you in Valhalla! Sköl!

Courage To Be Women Warriors

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Do you have the courage to be women warriors? Courage comes easily to some and harder to others. Your level of courage can also fluctuate depending on the time of your life. Are you pushing to finish university and be the first woman in your family to do so? Do you have young children that require your constant attention and energy? Have you found yourself, later in life, needing a new creative outlet but face doubt and scepticism from your family or community?

Each of these examples and more compose the fluid and complicated question of what it means to be a woman warrior. I believe we all have the capacity for courage. In my experience, courage comes from deep inner work and honesty. Courage comes from making mistakes and analyzing them until a new answer arises. Even more, courage arrives when we feel like we have nothing left to give yet you continue. It’s also deeply courageous to know when to stop, when to walk away from something that no longer serves you.

I love these quotes by women on women’s courage.

I wrote my play because I needed to see and feel what courage looks like in a woman. I needed to see what lies beneath the rage, the frustration, the fear, the hopelessness, the pain. Beneath every #MeToo confession was an ocean of courage. Voices came together to cry out “enough!” but words on pages or on computer screens don’t always carry the real power you sometimes need to see. I needed to see an embodiment of that collective courage. I needed to ride that wave of rage and shout “enough!” with my own, tired, tattered voice. I needed to see courage.

Shield Maiden play explores why you need courage to be women warriors.

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Shield Maiden Cultivate Festival Gabriola, BC

This fiery and provocative one woman show does not spell out the answers to you in a convenient point form. Your assumptions are challenged. You are asked to think about yourself and your own life. Where do you demonstrate courage? When were you without courage and where is courage required now? Who was there for YOU when you needed help finding your own source of courage? How can you be solid and offer that back now? How fearless can you be?

I’m writing from a raw place today. This is a vulnerable and worn out place. A midwinter place. My courage is still there just not big and showy. It’s quiet and dark and deep. I fight to get closer to the truth of who I am as a mother, partner, friend, artist, woman, human. I have people who support me with their own courage.. They are invaluable and fearless. They are warriors. No stranger to their own fears, struggles, questions. They stand quietly beside me, witnesses, as I emerge bloodied but victorious on the other side. They are truth and compassion and joy embodied for me to remember.

I know where we find the courage to be women warriors. We find it in each other.

Amazon Warrior Women

Adrienne Mayor’s book about Amazon warrior women is a real treat. My play Shield Maiden asks me to continually work to find the warrior spirit in myself. I was thrilled to find a book steeped in proof of the existence of women warriors in history. It is quite dismaying that the notion of a woman warrior is still so heavily disputed.

The Amazons Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World

Mayor uses historical Greek artifacts to build the case that women warriors were more than cartoon fictionalized characters. These women were real people, living and fighting, loving, bearing children.

This past week, Mayor was interviewed by NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about a recent archaeological find of women warriors buried in Russia. Here is a link to the transcript. The gravesite includes the bodies of four women. Their ages range from 13 to 50.

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“Many people had thought, in the past, that perhaps women of childbearing age or mothers or older women would not be participating in warfare. But this shows that women of childbearing age and even up into their 50s were participating in battle when necessary.”

Shield Maiden is based on the Birka warrior confirmed by DNA testing carried out in 2017 to be a woman. However, this discovery led to quite a loud uproar to the notion of women warriors. The idea of Amazons was met with equally rabid protest. Amazons were relegated to the land of myth and cartoons. Mayor rigourously cites ancient proof that these women in fact existed.

Therefore, this recent Russian burial site which “shows that women of all ages were active warriors and participated in battle alongside the men and were buried with the same honors as the men.” is a goldmine of proof and vindication to Mayor’s research.

All of this recent proof about ancient/ amazon women warriors makes my one woman show so much more exciting to me. My character is no longer just one woman from history but an army of women who were warriors rolled into one body.

Feminism, Activism, Vikings, #MeToo

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Shield Maiden Play came from feminism, activism, Vikings, and the #MeToo Movement. This one woman play explores the framework of today’s #MeToo Movement laid on top of the ancient woman warrior archetype.

The catalyst for Shield Maiden play is a 2018 article about DNA testing done on a corpse found in a Viking burial site in the 1800’s. The testing revealed that the “ideal warrior grave” was occupied by a female. Not a male. This challenges every discovery of every warrior burial site world wide. What happens if scientists do more DNA studies on remains assumed to be male?

What does it mean when feminism and activism enter into the scientific study of Vikings? “Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. just opened up a whole line of research questions that remind us how complex, rich, and fascinating human societies actually are when we study them for who they were and not to reflect who we think we are.Holly Norton, The Guardian

These researchers rolled feminism, activism, Vikings and #MeToo up in one tasty, spicy, mind-blowing, intellectual taco.

Women serve in active combat, fight for human rights and raise and protect their children. When strong women do step forward, there is STILL an immediate attempt to silence them, humiliate them, denigrate them and ultimately, erase them.

Recent examples of women warriors include Jody Wison-Raybould and Jane Philpot in Canada and “The Squad” in the US as well as the most amazing young female warrior, Greta Thunberg . These women are examples of warrior spirit. Furthermore, they are in actual battle because their lives are threatened for speaking out against status quo assumptions.

Maybe it’s difficult for you to imagine a Viking woman warrior existed. But feminism and activism will continue to challenge scientific assumptions. Why not take a page out of the Birka DNA study and assume that all people are capable of amazing things.

Warriors Aren’t Nice

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Warriors aren’t nice. In my solo show, Shield Maiden, our main character Ingrid states emphatically “Nice was never in my job description.” Ingrid is an elite warrior, a leader. However, she feels a behavioural expectation encroaching into her professional domain that doesn’t square up with the definition of who she is and what she’s expected to accomplish at her job.

So let’s talk about Megan Rapinoe, @mPinoe is an American professional soccer midfielder/winger who plays for and captains Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League. She is also a member of the United States women’s national soccer team which won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The team also won gold at the 2012 London Olympics. She co-captains her national team with Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.

Rapinoe is an elite athlete trained to strategize and win. But not just win. She and her teammates have been trained to dominate. That’s what elite sports is about. Winning. All that money, time, energy, effort does not go into an individual and ultimately a team without expectation of winning. It’s not just a feel-good exercise at this level.

The terms the sporting world uses to describe sporting events are the same terms used to describe war. “Slayed”, “Murdered”, “Destroyed” “Devestated”. This is not accidental.

These athletes are warriors.

The analogy of battle on the playing field is a literal analogy. High level athletes are warriors. And warriors aren’t nice. Warriors are ruthless, focused, triumphant in their victories. Rapinoe is ruthless in her job. That is what makes her and her team successful.

When the #USWMNT obliterated (another war word) Team Thailand 13-0, they were called out for reveling in their victory. These women sent a scorchingly clear message that this US Women’s team showed up at the World Cup to dominate. Team USA stomped their opponent leaving absolutely no doubt what they planned to do to the next teams they played. Their strategy was brilliant and clear. This was NOT nice. And they took a lot of heat for it. The Washington Post even wrote and article with the headline ” US Women’s Team Soccer Team Stirs Up Debate About Celebrating Too Much”

The Washington Post article states that good sportsmanship should be the goal for all athletes male or female and that the US Women’s Team modelled bad behaviour for young athletes. This was my initial response when I first heard about the game and in fact, my husband and I even used it as a teaching moment for our daughter. I think we said something to the effect of “You can succeed, but do it with grace and humility.” I do believe this. Furthermore, I want my daughter growing up with this awareness.

But when I dig a lot deeper, I’m completely turned on by watching these women win without apology, without taking our feelings into consideration. I don’t actually want Rapinoe to be nice.

Women warriors get to be brutal and ruthless. It’s their job.

Who Megan Ranpinoe is on the field is what she’s getting paid for. She is hired to lead her team to victory. As long as she doesn’t break any rules (which she doesn’t) she gets to be ruthless and unapologetic. She gets to rub her opponents into the field and take a beautiful and perfect victory lap. I don’t know what kind of a person Rapinoe is in her personal life but in the public eye she’s an advocate for women and the LGBT community. She fights for pay equity for women athletes. Rapinoe uses her voice as a public figure to stand up to politics and policies that directly contradict what she’s fighting for. On the field, she’s ruthless.

When men are ruthless and brutal at their jobs they are classified as successful. Full stop. They are given a wide berth on their behaviour because they get the job done. They give their investors high returns. Their company sells the most widgets.

In this World Cup, I see many male sports commentators praise some of the women soccer players for “playing nice” after rough play (intended or otherwise). Specifically, women get praised for apologizing. I agree with the WaPo article in that just because men have behaved ruthlessly for centuries doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m not even getting into the historical proof of this ruthlessness.

I am teaching my daughter grace and humility. It’s a harder lesson for me personally to teach her that she doesn’t have to apologize for who she is. That lesson was burned into me and most women I know. I am so grateful we get to see women warriors out there in their full power without apology.

Thank you Megan Rapinoe and all the women before you using your breath and bodies to move us a little closer to the truth.

Archetype of the Woman Warrior

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Shield Maiden Play shines a light on the archetype of the woman warrior. What happens when women step beyond nice and polite? How do you feel when you witness one woman’s vulnerability, sexuality and rage all in one conversation? What does unapologetic female power look like? And…

What’s it like to see a woman warrior wield deadly weapons?

I’m supported by a team of amazing warrior sisters including director Nicolle Nattrass and production manager, Sandy Cumberland. I worked with my friend EJ Hurst, a blackbelt in the Kyokushin Karate tradition. She helped me ground down into some deeper warrior energy. Her energy is with me every time I’m on stage. When I rehearse, when I go over lines, when I listen to music that inspires my inner warrior – I feel that strong archetypal influence.

However, some of the physicality of being a warrior is really tough for me to access. I’m specifically talking about weapons and how to use them. Sandy found a hot shot to help me dive in deeper. He is Choreographer R Robinson Wilson. Not only is he a highly respected Fight Guy, he is super well versed in all things Norse. We have our first fight rehearsal session tomorrow. I am so excited to see how we can further develop the visual strength of the Viking warrior woman. We have discussed the possibility that my character, Ingrid, needs a sword, a shield AND an axe. Keep your eyes open for posts of my practice injuries. They could be phenomenal.

Most of us will never need to be proficient with axes and swords and other forms of weaponry. But I want you to come away from my production feeling like if you ever needed to…you could. That’s the power of art. Archetypes work this way too. They tap into the common unconscious experience and reflect it back.

The archetype of the woman warrior is needed now more than ever. 

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This is the zeitgeist of the #MeToo movement, the #TimesUp movement. The line has been crossed for the Fourth Wave of Feminism. As a result, don’t expect the mother/nurturer to show up and explain things gently and hand you cookies while she’s doing it. Nope. Warrior Woman shows up solid and unyielding to your incorrect assumptions about her. And she is ready to dissolve the arena where all the injustice has occurred.

So I’m working very hard to get this play out in front of people. Because sometimes, unless you see and hear a strong woman speak her truth and not back away from other people’s bullshit, you don’t realize how much you’ve been groomed to stay quiet and well behaved. Above all, you don’t realize how strong the woman warrior is in YOU.

Go see shieldmaidenplay.com

Contact us for information regarding our modern day woman warrior post show panel discussions.

  • United Solo This is the largest juried solo show in the world and happens off Broadway in the famed Theatre District of New York City.

Want to help get Team Shield Maiden to NYC this fall? Email us and donate air miles and/or funds. Have friends and family in the NYC area who love kick ass feminist theatre? Spread the word about our show at USolo.

  • British Columbia this fall (dates tba)

Women Warriors

Shield Maiden Play, Melanie Teichroeb, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York City, Canadian Theatre, Canadian Actor, #meetoo, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria, Viking Warrior, Woman’s Rage, #timesup, Women Warriors, Strong Woman, Panel Discussion, Feminist, Canada, United States, Playwright, Canadian Playwright, Feminist Playwright, Iyeshka Farmer, April Warn-Vanini, Sheila Malcomson

While writing “Shield Maiden” in 2017, the #Metoo Movement was at full tilt boogie. I had a moment where I thought that women warriors were irrelevant. That moment was incredibly short lived. Yours truly was temporarily deluded by hope and denial. The truth is that women warriors are needed now more than ever.

Marginalized people have gained so much in the last few decades. But the current back-sliding of civil rights is terrifying. Our most vulnerable people are at risk. There are amazing white men in power attempting to stave off this tsunami of degradation. Even more powerful are the heroes from the marginalized population. These are the voices that carry. These are the voices we need to hear. “Shield Maiden” represents my very humble attempt to add volume to the uproar.

Panel Discussions

We need a howling chorus to affect change. Post show panel discussions take the theatrical experience of “Shield Maiden” and demonstrate the power and possibility of modern day women warriors. The panel discusses topics from the play. We cover sexism, gender bias, sexual freedom, trauma and more.

The women warriors on our panels are real life super She-roes. Black belts, politicians, therapists, business leaders, researchers, and artists to name a few. Sheila Norgate is a visual artist and performance artist who boldly states that “the risk of flying without a net finally became smaller than the risk of never having flown at all.”. She inspires so many women to find creative expression despite their fears. Sheila Malcomson is the MLA for the Nanaimo, BC riding. As a politician, Sheila works hard for women, indigenous people and environmental rights. As a human, she encourages women to take positions of leadership.

It’s important to me as the play’s creator that the message NOT end when the curtain drops. Interested in bringing “Shield Maiden” to a theatre near you? Inspired to rally warrior women for a post show panel discussion? Please contact us for more information.

Shield Maiden Play, Melanie Teichroeb, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York City, Canadian Theatre, Canadian Actor, #meetoo, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria, Viking Warrior, Woman’s Rage, #timesup, Women Warriors, Strong Woman, Panel Discussion, Feminist, Canada, United States, Playwright, Canadian Playwright, Feminist Playwright
Shield Maiden Play Panel Discussion
Shelila Norgate, Shield Maiden Play, Melanie Teichroeb, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York City, Canadian Theatre, Canadian Actor, #meetoo, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria, Viking Warrior, Woman’s Rage, #timesup, Women Warriors, Strong Woman, Panel Discussion, Feminist, Canada, United States, Playwright, Canadian Playwright, Feminist Playwright
Shiela Norgate
Shield Maiden Play, Melanie Teichroeb, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York City, Canadian Theatre, Canadian Actor, #meetoo, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria, Viking Warrior, Woman’s Rage, #timesup, Women Warriors, Strong Woman, Panel Discussion, Feminist, Canada, United States, Playwright, Canadian Playwright, Feminist Playwright
Shield Maiden Play Panel Discussion