Amazon fetish

Amazon fetish

What researchers are discovering is that the Greeks and Romans were fascinated by the concept of female warriors. Motifs, pictures, cups, vases and other artifacts depicting and describing all aspects of the lives of “Amazons” were common even in patriarchal societies, especially ancient Greek. Yet, they were a way of keeping their women and girls in check. It was fine to have fun reading about these mischievous women, but the stories about them always ended in failure. Before marriage, girls were encouraged to act out Amazons in their games and play. When they got married, they were encouraged to be as sexually free as an Amazon (was imagined to be) with her husband. Yet, it ended there. Women learned that if they had the free life of an Amazon, they would lose their status, their femininity and ultimately their minds. They would become wild savages who lose their lives on a battlefield against men. 

Despite this mindset, there were quite a few female gladiators, called gladiatrixes. These were not only captured prisoners, but free noblewomen who loved the fight. It was looked down on, but they did it anyway, just like their noblemen counterparts. They were no different.

In fact, they mirrored the societies, like the Scythians and Sarmatians, in which women and men fought alongside each other (or in each in their separate regiments), in going to war. And they hunted together. These were the people who shocked the Greeks in battle. Imagine meeting a formidable opponent only to find that he was a woman.  There were the female Celts, who shocked the Romans. They described the Celts as wild and the women almost better fighters than their men. 

In other cultures, the examples of female fighters are almost endless. The Siamese king used extremely trained female fighters as his elite soldiers, whose job was to protect him, his family and the palace. In Africa, the Dahomey female soldiers had started as trained elephant hunters, whose strength and skill were later developed for war. There have been female Samurai, Onna-musha or Onna-bugeisha. The school still exists in Japan. The Vikings have examples of vengeful princesses turned pirates, queen called king and, of course, shieldmaidens, but their stories are mostly known through the writings of Saxo and Ibn Fadlan. Saxo was a Danish historian from the medieval times. His descriptions are influenced by his Christian beliefs and desire to please his benefactor. He also lived a few hundred years after the Viking period. The traveler and philosopher, Ibn Fadlan, is a much more reliable source, because he wrote about what he saw as he spent time with Vikings. 

Both men seem to be fascinated by the strong and capable Scandinavian female fighters, as do so many of the men who wrote about women who “…desiring not the couch but the kill” (Saxo). Amazons were admired and desired, to the point of Greek warriors wanting to fight them. They were worth battling because they were the equals of the male warriors … as long as the women lost. And they always did in the end, as the stories go. But, what a glorious battle. They made the Greek heroes look like heroes. No wonder there were so many artifacts with Amazons. They incited feelings of fear, excitement, hate, love, courage, desire, disgust and so on. They filled the psyche of whole societies. I think that ancient women dreamed of becoming them and men dreamed of being with them. Even though we don’t know where the name Amazon came from, the word continues to incite many feelings and desires. The Amazon fetish lives on.   

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