The Rebel Queen

Boadicea Doll by Diane Wood
Boadicea Doll by Diane Wood

I’m asking why women’s achievements are written out of history by making Feminist Zombie Dolls. I’m researching and creating notorious bad girls and freedom fighters. These strong, independent women swam against the tide of their times, and challenged the public belief: “You can’t do that because you’re a WOMAN!”

I discovered Boadicea, a rebel warrior from 1st century Britain. She led a rebellion against the Roman Occupation. She was a queen of the Iceni tribe, as was her mother. They were called Barbarians by the Romans, so what I learned in school is that they were un-civilized.

I was told about the advancements the Romans brought, like highways, aqueducts and plumbing – but nothing about the situation for women, or that they had sex with children. How “civilized” were their blood sports, which made Mad Max look like a Boy Scouts’ picnic?

As it’s said, history is written by the winners. Patriarchy stresses dominance, competitiveness & violence. It is the blueprint for a global system of injustice, exploitation, and persecution.

A Roman female wasn’t a citizen; she had no rights and was from birth to death the property of her male relatives. Romans enforced their ways with beatings and slavery, and like every warring nation, its enemies’ women were bought and sold, or raped and murdered. Celtic women chose their own partners, and could be leaders and Druids.

Boadicea would have been schooled by Druids, or been a Druid priestess herself. Druids were the spiritual leaders of the Celts, their historians, philosophers, prophets, and judges. They were the keepers of the Old Ways, which they passed on in poetry and song.

When the Romans invaded, an earth-based egalitarian nation fell to an Empire gorged on conquest, war, and greed. They slaughtered everyone in the Druid colony, including the refugees and dissidents they sheltered, and leveled their sacred forests.

Boadicea’s husband was a Celtic puppet-king of the Invaders. When he died, she assumed power, which the Romans would not have honoured. She gave rousing speeches calling for “freedom!” and led her people into battle riding a chariot. She destroyed the capital city of the Roman colony, Colchester, and killed all its inhabitants. She then burned London to the ground.

Why don’t we hear about these heroines when we’re school-age girls? It wasn’t til turn-of-the-century suffragettes and 1970s feminists researched them, sifting through the biased language of male historians, that their names are remembered.

In 1979, after five years of research and preparation, American artist Judy Chicago exhibited The Dinner Party. She created 39 place settings at a triangular table for historic & legendary female guests. She wrote, “the general lack of knowledge of our heritage as women was pivotal in our continued oppression. Because we were educated to think that women had never achieved anything of significance, it was easy to believe that we were incapable of ever accomplishing important work. But a closer examination of history taught me…women had always made significant contributions to the development of human civilization, but these were consistently ignored, denied, or trivialized.”

We grew up without this knowledge. Female role models were in-visible, because a feminine set of values was different than the status quo based on war and colonization. Would daughters have realized they had other options than marrying their parents’ choice of husband? This would have upset family plans to acquire land, wealth and status. This would have upset the whole house of cards we call the Patriarchy! Then we would have the basis for a true freedom and equality, not just the empty words of war-making politicians.


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