Of course we live in a post-sexism society! Not.

23 Sep

Originally posted to the community section of MyMedia

Back in the 1870s, Scandinavian archaeologists studying the Viking site of Birka excavated a number of burial sites, among other things. One of these has since been known as Bj 581.

Bj 581 contains one skeleton, weapons, two horses, and game pieces, long thought to be used as strategy tools to plan battles. Obviously, this was the grave of a warrior.

A male Viking warrior, natch.

Fast forward a hundred years or so, when osteological studies of the skeleton indicated that this person was female. Immediately, there were two camps in the scientific community.

  • One, the osteological experts were confused by the age of the bones; the grave clearly belonged to a warrior, there was one skeleton, of course it was a male, case closed.
  • Two, the grave clearly belonged to a warrior, there was one female skeleton–who clearly couldn’t be the warrior in question–ergo, she was his wife/servant/tribute, and his body had been stolen or…something.

Never mind the fact that legends and myths about fearsome female Viking warriors (hello, Valkyries! hello, shield maidens!) have been around for over a thousand years. Those are just legends!¹

Fast forward again, just about four decades this time, and we have more studies on Bj 581–this time with more science and technology! And…not only do the bones look female, the DNA shows they are female.

So we have a warrior’s grave, with offerings showing this was a high ranking individual, held in enough regard to merit burying two freaking horses with them–and I remind you, horses at the time were highly valuable, not everyone had one, let alone two, to toss in a burial–and the skeleton in the grave is indisputably female.

Yay, proof that female warriors were actually a thing! And a number of pieces pop up explaining how androcentrism in science, in this case archaeology, hurts everyone by making unwarranted assumptions about humanity in general, based on artificial gender constructs.

…and simultaneously, a number of articles pop up explaining how this is all about ‘political correctness’ and not actual history, and how probably the bones from which the DNA was taken are not even the ones originally in the grave, and how the Valkyries in the Edas and runic inscriptions are obviously not a reference to actual people, and…

Oh yeah, we live in a ‘postsexism’ era, don’t we?

~ * ~

¹ Britain’s Arthur might be a historical figure, because male! but female warriors? c’mon, that’s just silly.

2 Responses to “Of course we live in a post-sexism society! Not.”

  1. KeiraSoleore 24/09/2017 at 1:14 AM #

    This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing this male slant to archeology and anthropology. Patriarchy pervades and corrupts everything.

    • azteclady 26/09/2017 at 8:06 AM #

      I didn’t add the one response I got over there: a guy mansplaining how the Vikings were actually really mean to women, but that he’d concede that yeah, women warriors, “much respect.”

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