28 March, 2008

Strong women

From idiots to inspiration. Welcome to SSS's top three amazing women.

Number one on the list - Boudicca, ancient English warrior woman. Queen of the Iceni, her husband Prasutagus was allowed to rule by the Romans post invasion. After his death, they confiscated his property and had Boudicca stripped and flogged in public, presumably to make an example of her. Possibly the biggest mistake the Romans made was to have Boudicca's daughters raped. Did she get mad? You betcha. She raised an army and destroyed most of Colchester (the then capital of England) before charging her way up the country, setting fire to things and killing people along the way. Okay, so it didn't end so well for Boudicca. Her army was defeated and she was killed, although some say she committed suicide. But she had a go. She didn't say "Ho hum, they've nicked my stuff and made a fool of me. What shall I have for tea?......." She went out and did something about it. It could be argued that raising an army and destroying medium sized towns in Essex isn't the way to solve most problems (although anyone who has ever been to Dagenham or Romford might disagree) but she didn't let her uterus get in the way of achieving something. Those Romans pissed her off so she got some friends and weapons and kicked arse.

Two - Elizabeth I, Queen of England. If ever a woman had the cards stacked against her this was the one. Elizabeth was born into difficult circumstances; firstly, both her parents wanted a boy. Her mother was a figure of hatred and eventually had her head chopped off on her fathers orders. She was a middle child (and we all know how much they think they miss out on things) and lived under constant threat of death from her sister Mary. Now then, sisters don't usually mean it that literally when they say, "I'll bloody well kill you," but this was a little different. Mary was scared of Elizabeth because she was Protestant and Mary was Catholic and then of course there was all that stuff about Elizabeth's mum being the reason for Mary's mum having her crown taken off her. Once she became Queen of England the Pope made it part of his lifes work to have her bumped off because she wasn't Catholic. *and they say religion is all about peace* On top of all that she was a ginger. Did that stop her? Hell, no. She ruled for 40 years and is one of the most popular and enduring figures of English history. Her country survived several invasion attempts and she survived several attempts to marry her off to a series of weedy and inappropriate suitors. In short, she kicked arse.

Three - Kathryn Janeway, Captain of the starship USS Voyager. Okay, okay, so I know she's not real. But she broke the mould as the first female lead in a Star Trek series and what a lead she was. Yes, I know Star Trek has had women characters before but not like this one. Faced with being stranded at the arse end of the universe with two groups of people who hated each other she had to hold it all together. She tried to reason with people from other species but when they wouldn't listen and tried to fight with her she just got Tuvok to charge the photon torpedoes. She took on the Borg and won. She got them all home safely. Kathryn never let being a woman get in the way of doing her job. She had long hair and wore lipstick and guess what, she kicked arse.

Strong women don't necessarily have to be ball breakers. They don't have to set fire to towns, chop peoples heads off, flatten foreign armies and battle aliens. They have to have strength of spirit, the courage of their convictions. Strong women don't accept limitations placed on them an out of touch society. Let's face it, it isn't just the men who think we're not up to it, very often it's other women as well. Strong women believe they have value as a person and respect themselves. One of the most amazing women I've ever met was my great aunt Lil. She didn't lead an extraordinary life in most peoples eyes but to me she was an inspiration. Well respected, well loved, funny, independent, she enjoyed life to the fullest. If I get to the age of ninety and still like a drop of gin I'll raise a glass to her.

I want you all to take a moment to think about the strong women you've known. It's not just women from history. I know it will be mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, friends. I pride myself on coming from a long line of strong women and I know I'm not the only one. I hope I'm not the last.


mscrankypants said...

Great post, SSS, and made me think about strong women I respect. There are famous ones like Germaine Greer, Robyn Davidson, Rosa Parks, and lesser-known like my grandmothers who kept going while their husbands fought wars, my friend's sister who's raising a profoundly disabled child, some women at work with tough lives but keep infectiously positive attitudes that move me.

SSS said...

Yep, I don't think this generation realise what women did not a hundred years ago. I like to think I would have been able to do the same as both of my grandmothers but I'm bloody well glad I'll never have to be tested like that.