Eve And Her Daughters

Part II: The Amazons

From The War Against The Amazons by Abby Wettan Kleinbaum

“The Amazon is a vision of women doing the art and work of civilization. Western literature abounds in tales of women leading armies, building cities, founding nations, and establishing powerful and long-lasting civilizations. These stories belong to the realm of myth: the Amazon is a dream that men made.

For nearly three millennia Western men have been fighting a war against the Amazons. Their opponents are make-believe but the battles are nonetheless real.” (Front cover).

“Yet she is tough to defeat. Men made her strong, fierce, beautiful, and desirable, a superheroine whose fall would clearly signal the transcendent and heroic quality of her conqueror.” (Back cover).

“Through the Amazon idea there is a glimpse of women as the builders of civilization. But many women approach the Amazon with caution and insist on taking a long pause for reflection. The Amazon is, after all, a dream with a past, a vision originated by men. As surely as no spider’s web was built for the glorification of flies, the Amazon idea was not designed to enhance women, but to serve the needs of its male creators.

This book is an attempt to investigate the long war against the Amazons. Its data are not mythical women, but the artistic and literary artifacts of Western culture that document the long struggle against them. It is not a survey of dead Amazons, but of the high endeavors for which the imaginary women were sacrificed. Not surprisingly, the women who have used the Amazon image have opted not to fight the Amazons, but to join them.” (Introduction)

When I first read this, I was surprised; I never thought about Amazons being an invention of men. When I was growing up, I had an interest in Greek mythology, and as I read books on the subject, I read occasional mentions of Amazons, but I did not focus on them. Most of what I read focused on the Greek gods. But, the idea of Amazons was interesting to me. What woman hasn’t at one time or another identified with, or at least wanted to identify with, these warrior women?

But I can see how this could be a myth made up by men.

The war between the sexes has been going on for a long, long time; ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden. The author is saying that men, not satisfied with oppressing ordinary women, as they have since the Fall, now had to invent a stronger, larger-than-life group of women to be their opponents. The Greeks were the first to do this. Ancient Greek artifacts are full of depictions of Amazons.

Women desire to use the Amazon image for a different reason; they want to identify with women who are not easily conquered or oppressed by men. The idea of the Amazon brings out the feminist in all of us women.

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