Home > feminism, Life, Politics > What Would Boudica Do?

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:”

“That which does not kill me is going to wish that it had.”

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.

  1. Sherry
    November 28, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for telling me about this Rinth. I was unaware of this woman. Let me also apologize for not getting over here as much as I would like. You continue to publish interesting insights and information. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and good luck with law school this year!

    • Rinth de Shadley
      November 29, 2009 at 2:29 am

      Hi, Sherry 🙂

      I’m glad that you liked reading about Boudica! Don’t worry: I’ve been so busy with school that I’ve hardly had time to write anything on my blog. I always enjoy reading your blog articles, too.

      I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. December 1, 2009 at 3:27 am

    Also important to note that Boudica (no doubt) lived in a time that required all people, regardless of sex, gender OR age, to be…well, somewhat defensive (aggressive?). Contrary to popular belief, we do *not* live in that time. I’m not a fan of anyone going to war, or even being in the army (gasp!), but I am a fan of following through on your commitments. It also goes something like: there are consequences for our actions. Even Bodica (no doubt) had to deal with some negative consequences of her justifiable bloodshed…right? It’s easy to judge other people, so maybe {women} could just learn from this, and Not Commit to things we can’t, won’t or shouldn’t follow through on just to be part of ‘the Norm’.

  3. Rinth de Shadley
    December 1, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Hi, Lee Lee 🙂

    Thanks for the great comment! You’re right about commitments and consequences. I hope that it didn’t sound like I was judging women who choose to serve in combat. From what I’ve read, a lot of them join the Army because they have few other options in life. And once in a war, very few people could be shot at and not shoot back in self defense. I’m not even sure it’s right to be that pacifistic, though it requires great courage and moral commitment. I usually think that I couldn’t kill anyone, but there are probably circumstances in which I would. I hope to avoid those circumstances.

    BTW, I was over on the 30POV.com site and didn’t see any recent articles or stories by you. Did I just miss them? I hope that everything’s OK. You’ve got some great writing over there and I enjoy it a lot.

  4. David
    December 10, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I kinda want to bring up the Jesus side of your blog…Certainly Jesus told us to love one another and forgive, but what is love, really? God is love, and Jesus is God. Jesus sacrifced himself for us sinners, and thus, love is self-sacrifice. This is exactly what you describe Boudica as doing is sacrificing her self for her family, her tribe.

    Regarding women serving in traditional male roles, there’s a reason that some of those roles is traditionally male…this is not to suggest that women couldn’t fill those roles, it’s just that it should be as a last resort in some cases. My wife is better at many things than I am, all of which entail running a home. She’s the CEO of our corporation. I’m the CFO. I’m good at earning a living, keeping the books, oh yeah, and I’m the head cook, too (she’s the queen of clean-up, though, and organization). And I dare anyone to cross her the wrong way-Black Friday, some guy flipped us off in a parking lot, and it was all I could do to keep her from jumping out of our moving vehicle…
    I guess I just want to say that there are traditional roles, and they are traditional for a reason. Are they set in stone? Is anything, except God??

    • Rinth de Shadley
      December 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

      Hi, David —

      Of course, God made the stone, so He can do whatever He wants with it. 🙂

      I mostly agree with you about traditional roles, with the proviso that people should be free to take on different roles if it works for them and doesn’t hurt others. Like most social reform movements, feminism is a good idea that got pushed a little too far in some areas: especially the idea that men and women are interchangeable and that sex roles are always a bad thing. Today, a “post-feminist generation” (including me) is re-thinking some of it. Society seems to be like that: we bounce back and forth between extremes, and finally settle down in a sensible middle ground.

      • David
        December 11, 2009 at 12:33 am

        Bravo! The last thing I need is to have a fire in my home, and have a 150 lb woman trying to rescue me…:) Now if she was 200 lbs and a body builder, that’s a different story.

        Yeah, I know what you mean about bouncing between extremes…Vatican II comes to mind (or more like what people did with Vatican II…I’ve read the docs now, and wonder how they came up with some of their ‘reforms’.

      • Rinth de Shadley
        December 11, 2009 at 1:28 am

        Hi, David —

        Thank you!

        However, in my case it’s “brava,” unless you want me to try to carry you down a fire escape. And I’m still a few pounds under 150. 🙂

  5. March 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Bob A. here.
    I have Boudica as my heroine. I became interested a few years back when I happened to catch something about her on the history channel. I have several blogs going including queenboudica.wordpress.com where I’m starting to put together some information on her life. Take a visit and if you have anything I might use let me know.

    • Rinth de Shadley
      March 12, 2010 at 12:26 am

      Hi Bob —

      Thank you for stopping by. I checked your WordPress blog and it’s great.

      I don’t read about Boudica a lot these days (between my classes and actual life, there’s not much time for it), but I’ll tell you if I see anything interesting!

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