|C30 Citadel Amazons | 3rd Citadel Compendium|
"Second wave" feminism in the 1970s created an entirely new mythology founded on completely dodgy archaeological grounds. The central story goes something like this: once upon a time in Neolithic Europe women were dominant and as women are all naturally "peaceful, nurturing and in tune with nature" they worshiped the Great Mother Goddess and humanity all lived together in universal peace and harmony. And then, boo-hiss evil patriarchal male dominated society invaded and destroyed them all, with their evil man-idea of The Wheel and enslaving horses and being male-chauvinist pigs and stuff.
|Amazon Branchwalker | David Sims / Daria Werbowy | Vogue US 2010|
Fortunately someone has put an amateur documentary up on Youtube about Gimbutas so you can watch it rather than wade through her texts, it is a relentlessly pro-feminist prehistory, and provides less critical substance as the average History Channel piece (i.e. not much). Like Erich von Danikens Chariots of the Gods before it, the rhetoric is rather barefaced - notice how the the connective tissue of argument is dsicarded in favor of parading images of artifacts in front of the viewer with assertion after assertion, with no explanation of how the objects are actually related across great oceans of time. Best example putting Willendorf Venus (24,000BC) in a sequence with a piece of Greek sculpture (3,500BC) with no mention of how these artifacts could be related, they just are :
This central myth of "matriachal prehistory" as it is known, requires women to be seen as 'peaceful and nurturing' and men as 'violent and dominating' which, rather than being based on actual historical evidence, is just projecting the negative stereotyped gender-roles of contemporary society onto prehistory. As this actually does nothing to improve the social standing of women (or men for that matter), it's no wonder contemporary feminists reject it wholeheartedly as a useful mythology, but in the late 1970s, early 1980s, much of this discource' was actively taking place within archaeology - and unlike Von Dankiens "the aliens did it" which is alternately scoffed at and ignored by academia, Gimbutas curried some favour with proper historians and archeologists of the time (typically ones promoting a feminist agenda, and those wanting to just point out how ideologically constucted our notions of pre-history are).
The slightly less imaginative bits of Gimbutas writings (largely about migrations of people in the neolithic period) do still have some currency, although in the decidedly dodgy area of Aryan racial origins, the beloved field of many a right-wing extremist. Amusingly it's centered around invasion of eastern europe by the Kurgans. Which is totally hilarious, as any fule kno the Kurgan look exactly like some 1980s Chaos Warriors sculpted by by Aly Morrisson:
|Prehistoric Male Chauvanist Kurgan of Khaos|
|WH40k: Waaaargh the Orks Goff Banner |
according to Gimbutas, this is a uterus and a butterfly
But returning to our Lustrians and the Second Citadel Journal. If we skim over the Shrine of Rigg, we see that the scenario centers on the conflict between greedy violent male Norse raiders seeking treasure, and primitivist eco-feminist Amazons, who are scientifically (they have high technology), spiritually (they can physically manifest their Goddess) and morally superior, defending their home and prehistoric cultural heritage.
The scenario essentially reproduces the core discources of feminist archeology: On the one hand we can read the Norse as a portrayal of the male archeologist as looter and defiler of ancient acred space (the Shrine), and the female as a preserver of history and culture (ancient technology and its manuals), and on the other hand this is also a reproduction of the central Gimbutasian myth of invading male aggressors (Kurgans) on an otherwise peaceful and indigenous matriarchal society ( indigenous Proto-Indo-Europeans).
|Men are from Norsca, Wymmin are from Amazonia | John Blanche | 1984|
|Punks, Old Market Square, Nottingham, 1983.| via Nottingham in the 80s|
Putting matters of intentionality to one side, I would argue the myth of matriachal prehistory is exactly the kind of ideologically constructed pseudohistory that is ripe for developing fantasy (Tolkiens conceptual and discarded Mythology for England project by way of example, or Nazi UFOs for another). So rather than playing out the Napoleonic Wars on Mars or Space:1945 Warhammers Lustria could be seen to be gaming with the text of 1980s Gender Wars and the myth of matriarchal prehistory.
|Amazon Tracker | Daria Werbowy | Vogue US 2010|
Gimbutas bronze-age feminists were completely peaceful with no weapons - while the same cannot be said of Halliwells Amazons, who are most certainly armed. However, they do not seem to have a formal, standing army. The "warriors" are either priestesses, with ceremonial weapons, tribal hunters -with bows and arrows and hunting knives or bodyguards with spears. We are informed that the Amazons lived peacefully alongside the Old Slann (the only other faction existing in Warhammer prehistory), although that peace has now ended since the collapse of the Old Slann empire. Also, like Gimbuas' imaginary prehistoric Goddess, the Amazons are mysteriously self-generating, having no males to produce their offspring. If we are to take our radical-feminist reading of the Amazons back in time from the fantasies of the "second wave" we can see in the Suffragette movement a potential parallel of the Amazons access to advanced technological weapons as the militant members of the Women's Social and Political Union being known for arming themeselves with hand guns... but I'll save that for another post.
OK, so that;s the narrative, but what does that mean in gamist terms? I hear you ask. Well, I've updated the Tribeswomens stats from 1E to be compatible with 2nd/3rd edition (that's the 2E S+T kicker and numerical T), and points value calculated as per the Oldhammer Points Value calculator so we can make some numerical comparisons.
So the 1E Amazons are faster than men, both in that they can move further and will attack first. So while not exactly representing gender equality, nor going over the top to make them overcompensated fetishised super heroines as in the dominatrix mould that plagues current representations of the female in current Warhammer imagery either. although the bonuses to speed and agility are within the gender-role norms (i.e. why not excessive Strength or Toughness?). Again a useful comparison to Dungeons & Dragons may be made, where feminine characters Strength is capped at a lower than the masculine, wheras in Warhammer these are equal.
|| John Paul Gautier 2010|
In this kind of reading, fantasy gaming becomes more of a socially aware text than pure escapism and can even be seen to have a socio-political dimension. And of course, the idea of radicalised female tribal warrior still has currency today, as I hope the photos of Daria Werbowy and the 80s Nottingham punk scene illustrate...
*unless of course, the Orks are Goddess worshipping Orks with diagrams of a uterus on their banners, and the cave itself a symbol of deep feninine reproductive ability, into which the adventurers must delve... anyone done a freudian analysis of Gygaxan gaming?
Again, let's finish this trip to Lustria with a look at every ones favourite 1980s Franco-Japanese Greek-myth in space cartoon series, Ulysees 31. In this episode (#23: Calypso) Ulysees lands on a planet entirely inhabited by a race of alien women. There has been some discussion about the emotional weight of this series in the comments, and I feel it only justified to warn you that not only do we see clearly adulterous intent on the part of Ulysses, several people die - on camera, and we also see our hero cry.
"Melancholia Factor 10, Captain".