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female knight women medieval kick ass

 

The ‘Strong Female Character’ (SFC) has been something that has been under much discussion lately. Generally, the response from the feminist element has been that we no likey.

(see articles like: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/i-hate-strong-female-characters
and http://feministfiction.com/2012/05/24/the-problem-with-strong-female-characters-tm/)

You see, the problem is by using the term ‘Strong Female Character’ we imply that women aren’t usually strong, and men are. But that’s silly. People are people, and some are strong and some are weak. So, why doesn’t our media reflect this? Also, irritatingly as a woman, we are often offered “strong” women who turn out to be nothing new. My latest annoyance was with Amy Adams in Man of Steel. She orders a whisky to trick us into thinking she is some tough-nut journalist who’s strong and edgy, not some white-wine-drinking princess and then proceeds to spend the rest of the film getting rescued and screaming.

Boo boo boo modern media. It is time for me to educate you with some medieval examples of ladies (properly) kicking ass (not just drinking whisky – I drink whisky all the time I haven’t done anything brave or daring since 1997) and men who appear with them.

BEOWULF

Grendel’s Mother  – Goes all mad and kills literally almost everyone when she finds out that Beowulf killed her son. After she has gone on the rampage and eaten half of the men, B’s friend is all like “Oh yeah we knew there was a lady monster, but ladies be all like checking their hair and buying shoes so we didn’t think to mention it.”

Beowulf  – Generally badass until the end, when he ignores his friend who is like ‘Hey B., you’re super old. Maybe don’t fight the dragon all on your own’ and then he does and then he dies. Oh, sorry, spoilers. But come on guys it was written more than a thousand years ago. Keep up.

Malory’s MORTE DARTHUR

Morgan Le Fay – She don’t take no shit from nobody. Best known for kidnapping the men that she fancies and taking them to her sex lair to make them hers, hers all deliciously hers, Morgan even has the sass to – after trying to murder her brother Arthur – turning up at the end when he’s dead (MEDIEVAL SPOILER, sorry not sorry. Seriously if you don’t know by now that King Arthur dies at the end of the MORTE DARTHUR, then I can’t help you) and being all like “ooh my poor brother” like butter wouldn’t melt. Serious badass, serious sass. Favourite badass moment: kidnaps a guy, and deliberately almost kills him in order to show off her magic skills to make him well again, so that he will be all hers to possess.

Lancelot –  Best knight ever. Still gets stuck up a tree in his underwear because he is in his own words “an evil climber”.

BEVIS OF HAMPTON

Josiane – The heroine of this goodly romance tale Josiane, when separated from her love Bevis, goes with their kids to find him, making her own money on the way as a travelling performer. Before we even get to this, Josiane is forced to marry someone else but murders them in bed on their wedding night, cos Josiane don’t take no shit.

Bevis – He’s the hero, but he’s really annoying, and like a weirdo would prefer to be buried with his horse than his wife.

THE PLAYS OF HROSVIT OF GANDERSHEIM
sidenote: Hrosvit was a badass nun lady writing plays.

The Three Virgin Martyrs – Just the sassiest martyrs that you ever see. The Romans try to set them on fire, but that doesn’t work, and eventually after being all like “screw you guys, I’m going to heaven” the last one is killed with an arrow, and goes to heaven.

Governor Dulcitius – Fancies a bit of Virgin Martyr action, but because all nuns know that lustful men are indiscriminate, he accidentally has sex with some pots and pans instead (???) gets pot grease all over his face, and all his friends laugh at him. Oh and his wife turns up and tells him he looks stupid.

THE TAIN BO CUALINGE

Queen Medb (Maeve) – Decides she wants a bull, tries to buy the bull, her ex husband is all like, “You can’t have the bull” so she starts a war to get the bull. She fights in the war, gets shit done, and even though they lose the war, she gets out alive with the bull when she gets her period so bad that it frightens away the enemy’s great hero who is like “ewww, menstrual = gross”. Also her period is so big that it carves a valley in the land. True story.

Fergus Mac Roich – The hero of the tale (supposedly). Is v. easily seduced by Medb, who then gets her husband to steal his sword. Feels very conflicted about fighting for Medb because, y’know, she’s kind of being a dick just demanding to have that bull, and so instead chops some mountains rather than people because… y’know… man-rage.

SO studio execs of the world: read well, and see how strong female characters were being written. Medievals have been doing it since the 6th century. Catch up.

 

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