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!

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.