Amazoness!
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  18/05/07 Muscle Museum  
 

Salutations! The first order of business for today is, for those of you who haven't yet seen it, the brand-spanking-new RSS feed. Many thanks to the people at RSSPECT, who saved me the trouble of having to work out all the intricacies for myself.

Secondly, for anybody not overly familiar with the background of this comic, I thought I'd talk a bit about the Amazons and their place in the legends of Ancient Greece. The Amazons exist in that odd state between fact and fiction, in that the accounts we have are clearly fictitious, but were more than likely based upon real events and real people.

This is most evident from the fact that the Ancient Greeks can't seem to agree on where the Amazons are from. They've been variously placed in Turkey, Ukraine, North Africa... and even on Lesbos. While there's no direct evidence of a race of exclusively female warriors residing in these places, we do know that some civilisations, particularly those that worshipped a Goddess as their primary deity, did give women a much higher status. The Sarmatians, certainly known to the Ancient Athenians, had female soldiers and are perhaps the most likely source of the Amazon myths. Elsewhere, women enjoyed high status in Sparta and (as you may have guessed) Lesbos. This all seemed rather strange and foreign to the Athenians, and thus the seeds of a legend were sown.

The Amazons, when looked at in isolation, are maybe best described as an ultra-feminist society, but they were the creation of a male-dominated society to whom feminism was, at best, an amusing and ridiculous foreign concept, and at worst, outright heresy. Perhaps this is why so many of the legends concerning Amazons end with them being soundly defeated by big strapping men. Assuming she didn't end up skewered, the Amazon queen would, more likely than not, end up falling in love with the bloke who'd just ransacked her country... because, deep down, what every Amazon queen wants is a dominant man to order her around. Frankly, most of these legends are so contrived and misogynistic that even Hollywood would probably pass on them.

So in a way, it's odd that the Amazons, whose initial purpose in legend seemed to be to denounce the concept of a female-dominated society and confirm the superiority of men, have endured and become a symbol of modern-day feminism. Perhaps this, too, can be credited to the originators of these legends. After all, the legends had to be exciting. The enemies had to be genuinely threatening. So, the Amazons described in, for example, the Twelve Tasks of Hercules, are pretty damn cool. Of course, Hercules wins, thanks largely to his protective lion skin of Godmoding, but the descriptions of the courageous Amazons are so compelling that they totally overshadow Hercules and his other tasks, whatever they were. They lost, but only because they were set up to be the bad guys. Personally, I think it's about time the bad guys won... and that, my friends, is how this comic was conceived.

 
     
 
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© George Hutcheon 2007

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