[LMB] Men and Women (circling back to topic)

Tony Zbaraschuk tonyz at eskimo.com
Fri Mar 6 19:06:17 GMT 2009

On Fri, Mar 06, 2009 at 10:54:51AM -0800, Judy R Johnson wrote:
> And, for what it's worth, Paula was talking about warrior women, and I 
> perfectly agree that there probably were some, but that would have been 
> more in historical times, probably in nomadic cultures should think, at 
> least where it was a culturally approved fulltime profession and not an 
> anomaly - "I'm the tribal chief and if my big daughter wants to go on our 
> raiding party and even fight, she will 'cause I say so, see?"  

There's probably some of that, but then there are also the Greek accounts
of the Amazons, who do seem to be coming from exactly the same place
(the steppes north of the Danube) as these graves of women with weapons.
Converging lines of evidence are stronger than individual bits.

> Women have always fought when they had to for defence, but only a few 
> because they wanted to.  

There's also the question of effectiveness: if you're trained you can
do a lot better than someone who isn't, but not so many women had the
time for training (among other things, time off for pregnancy; then
there's the lower upper-body strength).   

> But the discussion has caused me to rethink my 
> post about the hunter-gatherer cultures that were the norm in pre-history 
> although lately only exist in marginal lands where nobody else could scrape 
> a living.  There might very well have been infertile women who were the 
> acknowledged defenders of the women's groups, and maybe trained the boys in 
> hunting/fighting skills, although hardly any women lived long enough to be 
> post-menopausal, so that rules that category of possible defenders out.  

Where are you getting the idea that "hardly any women lived long enough
to be post-menopausal"?   

(I might also note that after a whole lifetime of not being a warrior,
it's hard to start training at a late age.  Not impossible, but I'd
guess that many people would have preferred being a skilled weaver to
being a less-skilled warrior.)

> So far as I know, nobody has investigated the fighting-women possibilty in 
> pre-history by analyzing the few bones and artifacts discovered of these 
> hunter-gatherer groups, or searched the scanty verbal traditions for 
> references.  

One difficulty is that hunter-gatherer skeletons are few and far between.
(I remember reading somewhere that we don't actually _have_ a single
Mesolithic cemetery in Europe, despite centuries of looking, and it's
suspected that they either put their dead in trees, or in boats, in
either case decay assuring no bones for the modern archaeologist, 
but I welcome correction of my fallible memory on this point.)

The question of what infertile women did is certainly worth 

Tony Zbaraschuk

In the theater of memory every play is an improve
Stored bits remade from piles of scattered stuff --
Yet the taste of the first kiss remains so real.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list