This was a section of an unpublished essay I wrote, but I decided to take it out because I felt it ruined the flow of the essay. However, I still think the material in here is pretty potent, so I’m going to post it up separate.
Male Protectors, Female Supports
And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole…and he called it the title of liberty – Alma 46:12-13
From what I’ve read, and conversations I’ve had, Feminists have only one way of interpreting male power, and that is that it’s always oppressive to women. No advances in society, or sacrifices that men made for their families ever register in feminist dialogues; Men are only ever seen as cruel and heartless exploiters. The power dynamic laid out by our biology creates an unequal playing field for women, if you expect them to be like men.
Instead of trying to flip the victim narrative on its head, and change their environment with their power and strengths, as you would expect someone with masculinity capacity to do, feminists exaggerate it in order to achieve new levels of personal victim hood. They teach that men have only ever looked down on women, along with the ridiculous notion that men have never held women to any real value. To the feminist, History is turned into a long and arduous tale of oppression in which men are always the oppressors and women are the victims.
The end game of this logic is that it is impossible for men and women to have a balanced or desirable relationship with each other. They do this by cherry picking cultural customs that look bad in secular modern-day hindsight, and highlight the worst stories in history of bad or corroded relationships, and blanket them out over all relationships, period. How most women felt about their cities customs or their relationships with their men doesn’t matter. What matters is that how the feminists interpretation of events.
For the sake of balancing out the dialogue, I’ve dug up a handful of ancient records that might show otherwise.1
In “Germany”2 written by Tacitus, he wrote of the ancient Germans respect for women, saying:
It is a principal incentive to their courage, that their squadrons and battalions are not formed by men fortuitously collected, but by the assemblage of families and clans. Their pledges also are near at hand; they have within hearing the yells of their women, and the cries of their children. These, too, are the most revered witnesses of each man’s conduct, these his most liberal applauders. To their mothers and their wives they bring their wounds for relief, nor do these dread to count or to search out the gashes. The women also administer food and encouragement to those who are fighting…
Tradition relates, that armies beginning to give way have been rallied by the females, through the earnestness of their supplications, the interposition of their bodies, and the pictures they have drawn of impending slavery,3 a calamity which these people bear with more impatience for their women than themselves; so that those states who have been obliged to give among their hostages the daughters of noble families, are the most effectually bound to fidelity. They even suppose somewhat of sanctity and prescience to be inherent in the female sex; and therefore neither despise their counsels,4 nor disregard their responses.5
Plutarch dedicates a whole chapter to the females, entitled “The Bravery of Women,” in his book. Some excerpts read:
(The Women of Phocis)
“Nearly all voted approval of the plan, but one man arose in the council and said it was only right that the women approve this also; otherwise they must reject it, and use no compulsion. When speech reached the women, they held a meeting by themselves and passed the same vote, and they exalted Daïphantus for having conceived the best plan for Phocis…
(The Women of Chios)
“…Later, however, they became involved in war with the Erythraeans, the most powerful of the Ionians; and when these marched against Leuconia, they were not able to hold out, and agreed to evacuate the town under truce, each man to have one cloak and one inner garment and nothing else. The women, however, called them cowards if they purposed to lay down their arms and go forth naked through the midst of the enemy. But when the men said that they had given their oath, the women bade them not to leave their arms behind, but to say, by way of answer to the enemy, that the spear serves as a cloak, and the shield as a shirt, to a man of spirit. The Chians took this advice, and when they used bold words towards the Erythraeans and displayed their weapons, the Erythraeans were frightened at their boldness, and no one approached nor hindered them, but all were well pleased at their departure. So the Chians, having been taught courage by their women, were saved in this way.”
(The Persian Women)
“At the time when Cyrus induced the Persians to revolt from king Astyages and the Medes he was defeated in battle. As the Persians were fleeing to the city, with the enemy not far from forcing their way in along with the Persians, the women ran out to meet them before the city, and, lifting up their garments, said, “Whither are you rushing so fast, you biggest cowards in the whole world? Surely you cannot, in your flight, slink in here whence you came forth.” The Persians, mortified at the sight and the words, chiding themselves for cowards, rallied and, engaging the enemy afresh, put them to rout. As a result of this it became an established custom that, whenever the king rode into the city, each woman should receive a gold coin; the author of the law was Cyrus. But Ochus, they say, being a mean man and the most avaricious of the kings, would always make a detour round the city and not pass within, but would deprive the women of their largess. Alexander, however, entered the city twice, and gave all the women who were with child a double amount.”
“Before the Celts crossed over the Alps and settled in that part of Italy which is now their home, a dire and persistent factional discord broke out among them which went on and on to the point of civil war. The women, however, put themselves between the armed forces, and, taking up the controversies, arbitrated and decided them with such irreproachable fairness that a wondrous friendship of all towards all was brought about between both States and families. As the result of this they continued to consult with the women in regard to war and peace, and to decide through them any disputed matters in their relations with their allies. At all events, in their treaty with Hannibal they wrote the provision that, if the Celts complained against the Carthaginians, the governors and generals of the Carthaginians in Spain should be the judges; and if the Carthaginians complained against the Celts, the judges should be the Celtic women.”
(The Women of Salmantica)
“When Hannibal, the son of Barca, before making his campaign against the Romans, attacked a great city in Spain, Salmantica, at first the besieged were terrified, and agreed to do what was ordered by giving him six thousand pounds and three hundred hostages. But when he raised the siege, they changed their minds and did nothing of what they had agreed to do. So he returned and ordered his soldiers, with the promise of plunder, to attack the city. At this the barbarians were panic-stricken, and came to terms, agreeing that the free inhabitants should depart clad in one civilian garment, and should leave behind weapons, property, slaves, and their city. The women, thinking that the enemy would search each man as he came out, but would not touch the women, took swords, and, hiding them, hastened out with the men…At this juncture the women, calling upon the men, handed them the swords, and some of the women of themselves attacked their guards. One of them snatched away the spear of Banon the interpreter, and smote the man himself; but he happened to have on his breast-plate. Of the others, the men struck down some, routed the rest, and forced a way out in a body, accompanied by the women. Hannibal, learning of this, sent in pursuit of them, and caught those who could not keep up. The others gained the mountains, and, for the time, escaped. Afterwards, however, they sent a petition to him, and were restored to their city, and received immunity and humane treatment.”6
Stephen Pressfield said that in his book “The Gates of Fire”, the story of the 300 at Thermapylae, that the one scene that he got the greatest reaction across the board was where King Leonides said that he chose his 300 men to fight because of “the courage of their women”, and “the strength of their wives and their mothers.” In his book, “The Warrior Ethos,” he notes a handful of stories that note the attitudes that Spartan women held towards war and masculinity in men:
“A messenger to Sparta from a battle. The women clustered. To one, the messenger said, “Mother, I bring sad news: your son was killed facing the enemy.” The mother said, “He is my son.” “Your other son is alive and unhurt,” said the messenger. “He fled from the enemy.” The mother said, “He is not my son.”
A different messenger returned from a battle and was hailed by a Spartan mother: “How fares our country, herald?” The messenger burst into tears. “Mother, I pity you,” he said. “All five of your sons have been killed facing the enemy.” “You fool!” said the woman. “I did not ask of my sons. I asked whether Sparta was victorious!” “Indeed mother, our warriors have prevailed.” “Then I am happy,” said the mother, and she turned and walked home.”
… “ A Spartan mother handed her son his shield as he prepared to march off to battle. She said, “come back with this or on it.”7
1 This is only a brief overview of what I’ve found. I did find a lot more material, but for the sake of time I’ve decided not going to present every scrap and note I found, and have instead condensed it to a handful of quotes that I feel deliver my point the best.
2 “The Germany of Tacitus,” The Oxford Translation Revised, With Notes. With An Introduction by Edward Brooks, Jr. ancienthistory.about.com, retrieved 2030, Sept 17th, 2016.
3The 55th footnote reads: “Thus, in the army of Ariovistus, the women, with their hair dishevelled, and weeping, besought the soldiers not to deliver them captives to the Romans. — Caesar, Bell. Gall. i.”
4 The 57th footnote left by the Oxford translator here remarks that “See the same observation with regard to the Celtic women, in Plutarch, on the virtues of women. The North Americans pay a similar regard to their females.” (emphasis mine)
5The 58th footnote left by the translators reads: “A remarkable instance of this is given by Caesar. “When he inquired of the captives the reason why Ariovistus did not engage, he learned, that it was because the matrons, who among the Germans are accustomed to pronounce, from their divinations, whether or not a battle will be favorable, had declared that they would not prove victorious, if they should fight before the new moon.”
7“The Warrior Ethos,” by Stephen Pressfield, pg 1-3. Additional stories:
“A Spartan colonel, a man in his fifties, was accused of accepting bribes in an overseas command. When his mother back home learned of this, she wrote him the following letter: “Either quit your thieving of quit breathing.”… We have no reports of a mother weeping or protesting.”