Yennenga. Lozen. Zenobia. Boudica. Sekhmet…warrior princesses all. Long before Disney popularized Xena (a noteworthy character in her own right), these women colored folklore, myth and imagination for centuries.
Some, like Oya, are goddesses and spirits. She commands the winds, lightning and storms, as well as is the bringer of change, specifically life, death and re-birth. For the uninitiated, Oya is an African deity and protector of women whose “territory” covers rainbows to thunder. WOW. I want to be her!
In art, these tremendous beings are depicted in paintings, statues, symbols, and yes, cartoons, but are largely unrepresented in comparison to Sampson, Atlas, Zeus, and other male superstars. And yet, however warrior princesses are in short supply and vary from culture to culture, we can agree on one thing; they were bad asses for the ages. It is time to celebrate these marvelous icons because imagery is important, and challenging stereotypes critical to the progression of society. Take the Valkyries for example; these Norse ladies chose who lived or died on the battlefield, and their slain got to go to Valhalla! They were lovers, maidens, and often mated with mortals to produce hero offspring. Or how about the Amazons? No one in Ancient Greece would bet against them.
Interestingly – apart from the very large exception of Native American artworks – we as a nation are laggards when it comes to female warriors in storytelling. A reflection of modern times that no doubt will change.
So pass it on…write verses, make art and let yourself be heard this November. I for one am embracing my inner warrior princess. She may not control the winds or lightning, but she’s alright with me.