Amazons are as Mythical as Centaurs

So I am given to understand that Andrew Klavan, pundit and author, publicly said that women could not picked up a sword and rush off into the thick of combat facing doughty warriors of the masculine persuasion, similarly armed, in a medieval setting, and hope to survive.

Apparently this cause a fury and a twitterstorm and a blithering argument of those who disagree.

No one has asked me my opinion, but, just for the record, Klavan is correct and those of contrary opinion are blind in the thinking box, displaying a contemptuous disregard for facts.

Ask yourself how man wives and mothers ask their husbands or sons to open a jammed pickle jar, versus how many husbands or fathers ask their wives or daughters? I am not saying it never happens, nor that there are not rare and exceptional cases.

But the exceptional case is the exception. We notice exceptions because and only because they stand out from the rule.

But if common sense is not enough, science confirms the conclusion.

A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men had an average of 26 lbs. more skeletal muscle mass than women. Women also exhibited about 40 percent less upper-body strength and 33 percent less lower-body strength, on average.

The grip strength of men differed: 90 percent of the women scored lower than 95 percent of the men.

In general, men are also faster than women. The fastest woman in the world, Florence Griffith Joyner, ran the 100-meter dash in just 10.49 seconds in 1988, and that record remains unbroken. Yet her fastest time wouldn’t have even qualified her for the men’s 2016 Olympic competition, which requires competitors to finish the 100-meter sprint in 10.16 seconds or less.

Woman have slower metabolisms, lower red blood count, smaller hearts, all of which means that even with muscles of the same mass, the muscles are less well fed with oxygen, less strong.

Also the average male warrior is taller and has longer reach than the average female athlete.

In a fight between two snipers firing from concealed positions using lightweight phaser rifles with no kickback, this is not an insurmountable difference. But in medieval combat, in forty pounds of armor, wielding a five pound sword, fighting shield to shield and nose to nose with your foe, it is.

Or in the case of women, fighting nose to collarbone.

In general, even if male and female physiognomy were the same, the difference in average height and weight would make such combat equivalent to fighting a teenager before his growth spurt: a twelve year old.

While I am sure that, from time to time somewhere in history, a twelve year old boy has slain a grown and armed man muscled like a linebacker, or even a giant, such events are rare enough that they may be considered miraculous.

Does this mean I myself will never write a story with a martial maiden in it? Will there be no Joan of Arc, no Britomart, no Camilla in any tales of mine, no Queen of the Black Coast, no Eowyn of Rohan, no Brunhilde, no Batgirl?

By no means. I adore such characters.

But I will either give such a character divine birth, or make her a member of the Amazon race, who are as strong as men, or grant her magic powers or a ring of invisibility or something, because otherwise, she would just be clobbered quickly and brutally, and no one wants to reads that.

Or, I should say, I hope no one wants to read that.

Young men’s faces when bruised and bleeding look like tough guys. Young women’s faces when bruised and bleeding look like victims of assault and battery.

Luke having a hand chopped off in combat was the price he paid for facing an enemy above his strength. It is what a man fighting an evil cyborg space wizard and veteran black knight should expect. But I would wince in shock and pity to see Rey’s hand chopped off in combat, no matter how much I dislike the character, and would leave the theater feeling as if a sick stain of moral nastiness had been spread over my soul.

I am not sure which is worse: folk who like to see women take a beating, or folk who think we all should become accustomed and acclimated to the sight of a woman taking a beating.