Norse migrants to England in the latter ninth century were supposed to be mostly males. However, a recent study suggests that the ratio male/female might be different from that previously thought. Till now, researchers had misidentified skeletons as male in burials just because they were buried with their swords and shields, while female burials were identified because of the jewelry found in them. However, researchers have found out that around a 46% of the burials belonged to female.
Though the study doesn’t say that half of the females were female warriors, as many pages around the net suggest, nor the study is wide enought as to verify that this practice as normal among Vikings, reality is that the idea of more Viking females as “Lady Sif” is quite an appealing idea. At least if we connect it with THOR becoming a woman in Marvel Comics this fall.
It is well-known that there have been female warriors along history. Romans were more than once puzzled with female “barbarian” warriors who were as fierce as men. However, there are no accounts as to verify the exact number of female warriors among the Vikings. Even though we might love the idea, we must wait a little bit longer for further evidence that might give more light. However, we can take the reaction of the internet, while connecting different media and news, as a way pop culture has to express itself.
Thinking about female Vikings as Lady Sif is a very appealing idea that the internet has embraced as a whole. The interpretation of a study by someone, stating that half of the female warriors were women, went viral, to a point that it was rejoiced by many online. However, the study does not state that half of the Viking warriors were females. What the study reveals is that from a group of sets studied by researchers, many of the remains in burials do belong to women. This does not mean that there were lots of Lady Sifs in the Viking army.
However, that among the settlers the number of women is higher than previously thought, along with applying different techniques to discover the sex of the remainings (not only applying certain objects to certain genders) opens the door to know more about the Vikings, their culture, their practices and the status of women.
It is obviously misleading to think that only men were capable of defending or making the war. Nordic women might have been prepared for defending their posts as well. In times were war was common, and Norse settlers were taking land, is also logic to think that female who accompanied these settlers might have been as tough as their fellow mates.
Internet embraced the idea of tough female warriors because this is how society is feeling at this moment. In times of deep change, one takes a look at the past as a mirror, trying to find something that tells us that we are not-so-different as those who walked on this Earth some millennia ago. We must see the reaction in internet and how this research got viral not as some new fashionable internet myth, but as a way to explain how popular culture is explaining what’s happening around us right now.
Thor will be a female norse warrior in comics from this fall. Marvel comics is trying, with its ups and downs, to appeal women and convince them into reading more comics, while Hollywood sees how women demand more media narratives that portray women as independent and equal to men.
Pop culture can be found online expressing the opinions of different sectors in society. We must explore online narratives, specially those which create appealing ideas. That this viral nordic news has set several communities online on fire is not a coincidence: we must connect the dots among media and real life to discover what lies beneath them.
- “Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 AD,” in Early Medieval Europe.
- “Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female,” Tor.
- “Invasion of the Viking women unearthed,” USA Today.
- “Sorry, but That Study Doesn’t Say Half of Viking Warriors Were Women,” the Mary Sue.
- “The “Potent” New Influence Of Women’s Wallets On Hollywood,” the Mary Sue.
Copyright: Images on this post (C) Marvel (C) Vikings / Comments on images are dePepi’s.