Friday, 10 August 2012

I am BATTLE-AXE Hear me roar!

‘The Battle-Axe’

The battle-axe is understood to be a domineering, outspoken & powerful woman who embodies traits previously seen as “masculine” - she's a forthright, practical and blunt person. 
She is the epitome of courage. 
The courageous warrior-woman Britannica, with her huge bosom and ‘go-get ‘em’ attitude, could well have been the original poster-girl for the battle-axe look!
Yes, the battle-axe has a ‘look’! 
The battle-axe is a woman of great stature who could in no way be muddled with ‘the hero’s prize’ and nor would she wish to be! 

The Original Poster Girl for the Battle-Axe?

Throughout history, the battle-axe has been much maligned and criticised – and she’s been the brunt of many jokes:
“She’s a right battle-axe!”
This phrase is often used in British culture as a put-down for strong, no-nonsense working-class women over the age of forty, who possess any of the battle-axe traits. 
Frankly, the time has long past that we reclaim the ’insult’ - battle-axe!

Fighting Battle-Axe Women

“Let’s hear it for the battle-axes!”
If a woman outstrips expectations when it comes to what’s believed possible for her sex – she’s labelled as a battle-axe.  Perhaps this is an attempt to ‘shame’ her.  It was almost certainly always intended to demean her.   
Well, no longer!   
In the spirit of ‘Spartacus’ I declare:
"I am battle-axe! Hear me roar!"
Let's re-word Helen Reddy's magnificent song!
The Battle of the Sexes
An important point to note here is that the battle-axe is not a misandrist – she actually enjoys the company of men - viewing herself as their equal. 

This is a waste of time to the Battle-Axe.
She's already equal. 

When a woman shows battle-axe traits she’s understood to be overbearing and annoying.  When a man shows these same traits he’s seen as King Arthur! 
Yet the battle-axe is a woman who has risen above gender stereotypes & embodies pluckiness at its best.   
She is wise, spirited, resilient & incorrigible!
Things that the battle-axe is called:
  • Dragon-lady
  • Harpy
  • Harridan
  • Shrew
  • Hatchet-face
Things that a man who displays battle-axe traits is called:
  • King
  • Boss
  • Warrior
  • Hero
  • Rugged
Oh give me an axe, and I'll teach you the facts!

Origins of the Archetype

According to WIKIPEDIA:
“The prime example was the militant temperance activist Carry Nation, who wielded a hatchet and made it her symbol, living in Hatchet Hall and publishing a magazine called The Hatchet.   She became involved in the suffragette campaign for votes for women and this campaign further established the archetype”
Fascinating isn’t it? 
A tough, fearless woman, unafraid to fight for her rights and she gets written in history as a person to be suspicious of, at best.  Yet, if a man possesses these same traits - he's labelled a HERO!
Draw your own conclusions!
On a recent BBC Radio 4 programme by director Jude Kelly; ‘The Battleaxe’ they looked at the history of the label – the following is an explanation from their publicity:

“A battle is an armed fight.  And an axe is a tool for cutting trees.  The two words were joined in the early nineteen hundreds.  During those days, people began to call a fierce-acting woman a battle-axe.  Soon the saying became popular.
But some people say calling a woman a battle-axe may not be an insult.  Almost two thousand years ago, the Goths used battle-axes.  The axes were very strong and sharp.  They could cut through heavy metal armour worn by Romans to protect themselves.  The battle-axe permitted the Goths to win battles against the Romans”
BATTLE- AXE – The Roll Call of Honour!
There's few who wouldn’t be proud to fit in amongst this lot.

The Battle-Axe as Matron
Hattie Jacques
Carry on Matron
The Battle-Axe as Busybody
Irene Handl
A life-time of battle-axes!
Prunella Scales
Playing Sybil Fawlty

Violet Carson
Playing Ena Sharples

Mollie Sugden
Playing Mrs Slocombe
Kathy Staff
Playing Nora Batty
The Battle-Axe Who “Wears the Trousers”
Yootha Joyce
Playing Mildred Roper
Patricia Routledge
Playing Hyacynth Bucket

Flo Capp
Long-suffering wife of Andy Capp
Peggy Mount
Another career in the service of the Battle-Axe!
The Battle-Axe as Mother-in-Law
Stephanie Cole
Playing Sylvie Cropper (Coronation Street)

Maggie Jones
Playing Blanche Hunt (Coronation Street)
The Battle-Axe as Fishwife
Cushy Butterfield

“She’s a big lass she’s a bonny lass and she like her beer and the calls her Cushy Butterfield and I wish she was here!”
The Battle-Axe as Campaigner
The vicious Anti-Suffrage post-card campaign
The Suffragettes were often derided in postcards and newspapers as being angry, rough, ready & bitter women – akin to the male-vision of the battle-axe.
The Battle-Axe as Warrior Woman
Queen Boudicca
The Battle-Axe as Virago
Most of the Nuns from Sister Act
The Battle-Axe as Tyrant
The Psycho-Biddy
The Harpy
The Battle-Axe as Witch
Molly Weir
Playing Hazel McWitch (Rent-a-Ghost)
Agnes Moorehead
Playing Endora (Bewitched)
All Hail the Battle-axe!
When it comes to enthralling, absorbing women who aren’t afraid to fight for what they believe in, the battle-axe has to be up there with the best of them as a character archetype to be celebrated and reclaimed as a SHEROE!  
There is precious little written about this subject; shameful when you think about how important the archetype is within our culture - as well as the contributions made by amazing battle-axes through the centuries! 
Long live the Battle-axe!
You were once wild here, don’t let them tame you – Isadora Duncan

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