Amazon Feminism: Erasing Biology as a Barrier to Equality

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.

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Categories: feminism, Jessica Fisher | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Amazon Feminism: Erasing Biology as a Barrier to Equality

  1. “The feminist movement must use Patriarchy and Chivalry as much, if not more, than the Complementarians.”
    http://ajrogersphilosophy.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-feminist-patriarchy/

  2. Esme

    Amazon Feminism is very inspiring to me. Physical prowess is key to women’s liberation. The myth that strong women are ugly or less “feminine” [whatever that means] needs to go the way of the dinosaurs. Strength is INHERENTLY better than weakness. Strength — physical, emotional, etcetera — is beauty.

    It seems so obvious to that these myths are tools of our oppression, yet so many fall for it.

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  4. Matrim Cauthon

    @Esme – please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you get to define whether or not you are beautiful.

    You don’t. Others do.

    You only get to define whether you are beautiful when you DON’T care about the consequences. If you think tattoo on the nose is hot, but no one agrees with you – it’ll be quite an expensive mistake to not have anyone interested in you any longer with that tattoo on the nose.

    So – the only way Amazon feminism will work, is if these amazon women continues to maintain the standards of beauty set by others, so they won’t get discouraged and abandon their efforts.

    Good luck.

  5. Interesting thoughts, Matrim.

    I would ultimately have to disagree with your premise, however, as it seems to me to hinge on this idea that women will, and even more so, that women should (or maybe that all people will and should) care what people think about them, so much so that they let other people dictate ideas of beauty to them.

    If a nose tattoo is beautiful to me, then that is enough of a reason for me to get a nose tattoo. If someone doesn’t like it, or if given the highly unlikely chance that no one likes it, that doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful, only that the rest of the world doesn’t find me beautiful.

    I think it’s highly unfortunate when we try to use external locus’ of control to not only stifle feminism, but to stifle individuals.

    Again, thank you for your thoughts Matrim, I look forward to hearing from you again on this discussion.

    Sincerely,

    Jessica

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