Being the fourth part in a series on different feminisms. The third part was, ‘Today’s Feminism: A Brief Look at Third-Wave Feminism’
When I first heard of Amazon Feminism, I was a little confused. It both ended up being exactly what I thought it was, and even more, in the best possible way. Born in the unlikely place of being inspired by Ayn Rand, Amazon Feminism is a branch of feminism that emphasizes female physical prowess as a means to achieve the goal of gender equality.
At the most basic level, adherents of Amazon Feminism are dedicated to the image of the female hero in fiction as well as in real life – as expressed in the physiques and feats of female athletes, martial artists and other powerfully built women in society, art and literature.
The fictional poster-goddess of the Amazon Feminist movement was Wonder Woman, who was conceived in the early 1940s and based partially on the Amazons in Greek mythology.
During the women’s suffrage movement, there existed militant suffragettes. Amongst these, those who practiced physical culture and who engaged in violent forms of political protest were frequently referred to as ‘Amazons’ by novelists and newspaper journalists.
In the early 70’s Gloria Steinem drew attention to the concept of Amazon Feminism with her praise of Wonder Woman as a feminist icon, and her criticism of DC’s decision in 1968 to change Wonder Woman’s powers. Wonder Woman’s famous equipment had been replaced with mere-mortal Kung-Fu. The year after Steinem generated attention toward this issue, Wonder Woman was changed back and her popularity with young female readers increased.
According to Thomas Gramstad, “Amazon feminism is concerned about physical equality and is opposed to gender role stereotypes and discrimination against women based on assumptions that women are supposed to be, look or behave as if they are passive, weak and physically helpless.”
Further, “Amazon Feminism rejects the idea that certain characteristics or interests are inherently masculine (or feminine), and upholds and explores a vision of heroic womanhood. Amazon Feminism supports and celebrates female strength athletes, martial artists, soldiers/women in combat, firefighters, lumberjacks, astronauts, power lifters, etc.”
Ultimately Amazon Feminism is about the ability to view oneself as the captain of their own soul, as a person willing to face and resolve any conflict – and, as a woman, to refuse to see oneself as a victim of man-made or biological circumstances – separates oneself as a warrior from those ‘ordinary’ people, male or female, who are willing to drift with the current and bend with every breeze.
Wonder Woman remains central to the ideals of Amazon Feminism, she embodies this idea that through hard work and discipline women can become strong and independent and free themselves from their economic and psychological dependency on men.