Monday, February 28, 2005

Fierce Women

Via Emily of It Comes in Pints? we get this wonderful piece by Katherine Dunn discounting the feminist-as-victim idea of women who are unable or unwilling to look after themselves.

Just as Fierce on one level deals with Dallas Malloy, the woman who sued US Amateur Boxing for gender discrimination and won the right to box in sanctioned matches. On another level it is a tribute to the women in Dunn's family that fiercely protected their children - or in one case the prize turkeys.
But most of us would not be here without a generous sprinkling of physically aggressive women in our bloodlines. Throughout most of human history, long before antibiotics and prepackaged foods, many women had to be strong or they didn't survive. They had to be fierce or their young did not survive. And these gifts have not declined in this upholstered age of air conditioning.
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One of Mom's favorite relatives was her Aunt Myrtle, a gentle woman, revered by her farming clan. A classic Myrtle tale describes how she dashed into the subzero cold one winter night, clad only in boots and a nightie, to battle a pack of prairie wolves who were killing her prize turkeys. My mother, a child then, watched amazed from the kitchen window as Myrtle the dainty, the kind, danced with her kindling hatchet flashing into the skulls and spines of fanged and flickering beasts. Blood exploded in black sprays across the snow. "And that Christmas," the story always ends, "she gave us kids wolfskin mittens, with the fur side in, and stitched snowflakes on the cuffs."
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During the last few decades, American women have proven their efficacy in every law enforcement agency, earned the trust of those who fight forest fires beside them, and struggled for the right to demonstrate brains, resourcefulness, courage, and strength in a thousand venues from sports to the space shuttle. But the idea that women can't take care of themselves still permeates our culture.
The idea that women are delicate flowers should have gone out with long gloves, but it unfortunately remains.

We also get a few glimpses of a fierce woman in Emily's family, her mother.

Emily's final thought I found completely refreshing:
The pathetically stupid idea that we ultimately have no control over the choices that we make and that we are somehow driven by forces that are beyond our power to counter or resist is probably the worst thing to happen to women since the invention of the corset. And it's twice as damaging.
For several years, one of the passions in my life has been teaching women (and some men) how to defend themselves with firearms. (Or if they can't honestly use a firearm, to get them to think about some other means of defense.) Make a plan and take responsibility for your own safety, your own well being. There are no guarantees in life - your plan may not work. But to fail to plan is to fail to take responsibility for your own safety. Stop waiting for the knight to rescue you; fierce women are responsible adults.

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