Fierce Women in History
by Alexandra Kiosse
United States history curriculums have never been good at telling the full story. It’s no secret that the winning side of each conflict gets to write the narrative that is told time after time with pride in classrooms all over the fifty states. The stories of combat, of claiming nations, glory, and respect revolve around white men as the victors and heroes. However, narrative can’t replace reality, and badass women can’t be overshadowed by Napoleon Bonaparte or Genghis Khan.
Many myths circle the mysterious Amazon women. Until recently, it was unknown whether or not they even existed, but the misconceptions don’t stop there. Many sources still paint the historic Amazon warrior women as man-hating lesbians with an insatiable desire for blood and violence. Realistically, this band of warrior women probably originated either in what is now known as Crimea, or farther south in Libya. They were known as “those who fight like men” in Greek history, and were believed to go to extreme lengths to fight with a fatal efficiency, even inhibiting the growth of their right-breasts to increase the strength in their dominant shoulder and arm. However, they are impressive for a different reason. The Amazons existed during a time of exclusively male-dominated societies, usually without basic rights granted to women. Breaking the mold, the Amazons ran their society completely without men. With this, they were able to found towns, win wars, and exist as a self-sufficient society.
A more modern example that, recently acknowledged by Western media, is of the Kurdish women fighting the terrorist group, Isis. This militia, called the “Women’s Protection Units,” is taking matters into their own hands by working against the terrorist organization’s beliefs that being killed by a woman will prevent their entry into heaven. The group of women is allied in their fight against an evil organization, but more importantly they are valiantly fighting against the misogyny women deal with on a regular basis. The bands of Kurdish women fighters are often escaping immense repression, including rape and abusive marriages. They fight with the fury of all the women in Iraq, especially of the minority religion, who face enslavement and assault by Isis for being of a different culture.
History of combat has always been told from a single-perspective, but it doesn’t end there. Female accomplishments are rarely valued as highly as men’s, and the disparity becomes even greater when looking at accomplishments of women of color. Badass women don’t only exist on the frontlines. They are nurses, doctors, engineers, mothers, caregivers, teachers, journalists. They built the governments, business, societies, the very foundations of the modern world, whether they were in the spotlight or in the sidelines.
Knowing this, it is our duty as a modern society to change the status quo. For women this means continuing the fight against all kinds of oppression to act as a voice for those unable to join the struggle. For men this means to fight with us, while allowing all historically silenced voices to speak for themselves. As a society, we can change the course of history curriculums by seeking all sides of a story with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and justice.
As a bare minimum, remember us when you read your history book.