What Would Boudica Do?
You don’t see the bumper stickers much in godless Massachusetts, but they’re pretty common in the Midwest: What would Jesus do?
I think it’s a nice question to ask, because Jesus told us to love each other and to forgive seventy times seven (at least). But lately I’ve been asking myself a different question:
What would Boudica do?
You’ve probably never heard of Boudica. That’s okay. Most people haven’t heard of her. As queen of the Iceni tribe in Britain, she led a revolt against the Roman army in the year 61 C.E. She’s one of my heroes, though not for the reasons you might guess.
I was thinking about Boudica because of all the recent news stories about women in combat. They suffer post-traumatic stress just like male soldiers. They’re forced to leave their families. And that’s not even counting the danger that they will be killed or be forced to kill other people.
I’m no fan of libertarianism. But when people criticize them for wanting to legalize recreational drug use, gambling, prostitution, and other “victimless crimes,” libertarians make a good argument in their own defense. They point out that supporting people’s freedom to do some things doesn’t necessarily mean that they think it’s a good idea to do those things. They just think that the decision should be left up to the individuals involved.
Certainly, any person regardless of sex should be free to serve in any military role for which she is qualified. But do we women really want to emulate men in their ability to kill and destroy? Is that really a good idea? Is that what it means to be free and equal?
Boudica didn’t go to war against the Roman Empire out of mindless male aggressiveness, which causes most wars. She did it for good reasons. Her dead husband, king of the Iceni, had left half his kingdom to the Roman Empire in hope that his wife and daughters would be left in peace. Instead, the Romans seized his entire kingdom, flogged Boudica, and raped her daughters.
Boudica would have understood one of my favorite quotes, from a movie called “She Gets What She Wants:”
Boudica led the tribes of her kingdom in a devastating military campaign against the Roman occupiers, defeating battle-hardened Roman legions and burning Roman towns including London. Eventually, Roman reinforcements slaughtered Boudica and her followers, but not before she had made the Romans pay in fire and blood for their betrayal and cruelty.
The difference is that Boudica had a really good reason for going to war. Do most of us?
And if not, do we really want to seek out situations in which we might have to kill people or be killed ourselves? Testosterone-induced brain damage might make guys believe that it’s a glorious way to live, but I don’t. No thank you.
Copyright 2009 by Rinth de Shadley.