Last night’s Pints and Politics was about women in politics. How to get more women to run, more involved et cetera. It was a good discussion, though some of what was said has been repeated a fair amount. A lot of the barriers to more women in politics seem to me to be excuses, not very different from women in combat (also here scroll down to Women on the Frontline). The one argument, whether politics or combat, that makes me roll my eyes is women aren’t as aggressive.
Could we dispel the myth that women lack aggression already, please? Some people, regardless of gender, do lack aggression. Some people have aggression that comes out in less overt ways. Some people have a ruthless, cut throat style of aggression. Yes, maybe, in our still evolving past misogyny culture women more than men have to keep their ambitions and aggressive streak hidden. That is reason enough to stop perpetuating the myth that aggression is tied to testicles. Maybe it is time to start showing examples of aggressive women in politics. After all, having aggressive women bottle the aggression up is a ticking time bomb.
Throughout history war and politics have gone together with many aggressive women taking politics to war. The ancient certainly knew of women in politics and aggressive women at that. Athena was the Goddess who protected Athens, Artemis Goddess of the hunt and the Amazons. To this day powerful, aggressive women get called Amazons. Archaeology shows these warrior women were real with many tribes around the black sea. There are matriarchal societies around the world where politics was for women only. Queen Puduhepa of the Hittites was one of the most influential people in the Middle East in her time. Fu Hao was queen and general with one of China’s most impressive Bronze Age tombs.
Skip ahead to the Iron Age/Classical Age. How many Greek or Roman men were in politics or war because they were pawns in a powerful woman’s plans. Tom Holland’s book Rubicon and the HBO series Rome are full of examples. Mark Anthony’s first wife Fulvia attacked his enemies while he was off partying in Greece(with his legions). Cleopatra VII of Egypt gained power by attacking her sister’s armies, then having her poisoned, had two brother’s killed and another sister essentially sold into slavery, murdered a famous Roman general, used at least two other Roman generals to gain Roman troops resulting in one of the largest Egyptian Empires in history. Not all of history’s examples of aggressive women are success stories, like the Roman princess who tried to cut a deal with Attila the Hun to remove her brother the Emperor.
The Middle Ages saw Queen Matilda attack her cousin King Stephen to gain the throne of England for her son. Women don’t always have to take the field to be the aggressor in war, they just need to inspire their generals. Or in the case of Elizabeth the First her admirals and pirates. Aggression is essential when leading pirates and keeping them from choosing a new leader, Cheng I Sao and Grace O’Malley were to very successful pirate leaders. Another example from England is Mary and Anne Stuart politically manoeuvring their father off the throne and into exile. Queen Anne secured her throne and choice for successor with the help of Sarah Churchill. Eighteenth Century Europe had two other aggressive women, Empress Catherine the Great and Empress Marie-Theresa, both were fond of grabbing territory from their neighbours.
More recent examples include the Suffragette movement itself. If those women weren’t aggressive women would still wait for their husbands outside the polling place. Who was the more aggressive Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain or Margaret Thatcher? Golda Meir was Prime Minister of Israel during some troubling times such as the Munich Olympics and Yom Kippur war. India and Pakistan can be considered a little more chauvinist than Canada yet both nations have been lead by ambitious women trying to build dynasties.
Aggressive, cut throat women are everywhere in society. It takes a certain amount of ruthlessness to get to the top of any field of endeavour. To rise above you have to actively seek other people’s failure or at least block their progress. We all have to choose whether we stand high on a mountain of victims or level with the mob. Many women are holding their aggression in check and their potential with it. Destroying the myth of women not being aggressive could lead to an explosion of new businesses, political solutions, academic progress, science, art and social changes.
Ambition, aggression, ruthlessness is a primal part of being human, part of survival, eat or be eaten. Finding channels for positive release of those primal instincts in constructive directions is essential for human progress. Politics actually no longer exists in Canada, instead we have personalities attacking one another when politics is about attacking bad policies. The office holders now trump the offices, party unit trumps national unity and ideology trumps pragmatism. We need aggressive people to attack that stagnate mess that we have and drive the country forward and to do it before someone needs to march her army into Ottawa to fix things.
For Canada’s future let’s not just teach children of both genders to Carpe Diem but to Carpe Jugulum too, but only in positive constructive ways. To attack the problems not the person and to lead from the front not slander from the rear. We all must recognize in Democracy leaders are expendable and thus we must all know how to lead in some way, in some area of life. Which means we need to teach and exercise leadership earlier if we want better people in politics. Canada is a hockey super power because we train a lot of players from an early age to develop the legendary players.
Apt piece from BBC about venting some of the aggression. Much more positive than the Greek legend Atalanta who killed any suitor who couldn’t beat her in a foot race. Post your feedback in the comments please.