War Boosters

In simple societies, the role of women in warfare varies cross-culturally, but women generally support more than oppose war (Goldstein, 2001, pp. 301-322). No society routinely requires women to fight in wars. But often women "engage in ceremonial activities... while their men [a]re away fighting"—dancing, acting out the war, remaining chaste, and so forth. Women sometimes help to drive the men into a war frenzy by dancing, singing, and other supportive activities: "Rwala women bared their breasts and urged their men to war" (Goldschmidt, 1989, pp. 23-24). Women commonly egged men on to war in Norse legends, among Germans fighting the Roman Empire, and among Aryans of India (Turney-High, 1971, pp. 160, 163-164). In the Kitwara Empire, the Zulu kingdom, and elsewhere in Africa, women stayed at home during a war expedition and followed strict taboos (such as silence in an entire village) to bring magical powers to the war party. Zulu women also ran naked before departing warriors (Turney-High, 1971, p. 161).

Among American Indians, in Arikara culture, during a 2-day war-preparation ceremony, women danced in their husbands' clothes and took turns praising their husbands' valor. In the Comanche war preparations, women held up one side of a large drum while men held the other. Teton women wore ornaments indicating their husbands' success as warriors, and Ojibway widows and mothers received the enemy scalps (Turney-High, 1971, p. 153). Among the Chiriguano and Chaneof Bolivia, women performed special dances and songs to support the warriors, both before and during battle. Apache women did not sing for the war dance, but did see off the departing warriors and fulfilled special obligations during their absence, such as keeping the woodpile neat. Thus women participate in various ways in promoting and rewarding warrior roles for men (Goldstein, 2001, pp. 316-317).

In various societies, from Germanic tribes of Roman times to American Indians, women have been "the sacred witnesses to male bravery" (Elshtain, 1987, p. 181). Women performing feminine roles on the battlefield, such as nursing, "improve morale by enhancing a man's identification of himself as a warrior" (Holmes, 1985, p. 103). Women also often actively participate in shaming men to goad them into fighting wars. In Britain and America during World War I, women organized a large-scale campaign to hand out white feathers to able-bodied men found on the streets. Before the 1973 coup in Chile, right-wing women threw corn at soldiers to taunt them as "chickens." Apache women met successful warriors with "songs and rejoicings" but unsuccessful ones with "jeers and insults"; Zulu women did likewise (Goldstein, 2001, pp. 272-274).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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