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.

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.

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)