Women Warriors: Myth or Reality.

Essay by cripplestickmick March 2004

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Women as Warriors. This is an attempt by the author to answer the question of whether women fought in wars alongside men in the early medieval period. It was writtain from the viewpoint of animal behavior and uses some illustrations from animal behavior to argue points.

The author originally wrote the piece as an article for publication in a re-enctment societies in-house journal.

Thanks to a recent episode of Time Team on televison, the argument about women warriors has reared its head once more. What is below is not an argument for the banning of female members of our re-enactment society from taking the field, just my thoughts as to how realistic the idea of a female warrior fighting alongside men in the shieldwall actually is. When Kat and I were first on the e-group back in 2000 the topic of female warriors came up. At the time the e-group managed to grab several laws from the continent saying that if women fought as men then their Weregeld would be equal to that of a man, as well as another law which forbade women from fighting in battles because according to the law they did it far too well.

At university I am studying a lot of animal and primate behaviour, and one fact keeps getting repeated, the female of the species doesn't fight. Females may defend their lives, nests, dens or the life of their young, they may hunt and kill, but they don't fight on behalf of the troop or family unit. The male does.

The reasons why males fight are many and varied. These include food and other resources, mates, and territory. To cope with this evolutionary history and sexual selection have given the males larger body size, weaponry (antlers, tusks etc) and deeper voices amongst other...