Why There Are So Few Women Warriors
3. Societies with Women Warriors Page 3


Title/Summary page

1. Introduction Page 1

2. Cross-Cultural Methodology
Page 2

3. Societies with Women Warriors
Page 3

4. The Exclusion of Women from War
Page 4

5.Type of Warfare Determines Marital Residency
Pages 5-6

6. The Prehistory of Warfare
Pages 7-8

7. Interaction of Biology and Culture
Page 9

8. Conclusion
Page 10

Tables
Pages 11-12-13-14-15-16

Footnote and References
Page 17

Copyright Agreement
Page 18


In nine of the 67 cultures in the subsample it was found that women take part in war, at least occasionally, as active warriors (Tables 1 and 2). All nine were among the 33 cultures characterized by exclusive external warfare and/or community endogamy (i.e., marriage partners come from the same community). In contrast, there was not a single case of a culture in which women are allowed to fight as warriors among the other 34 cultures characterized by internal warfare and some community exogamy (i.e., at least some marriage partners come from different communities). These data, significant at a .01 probability level by Fisher's Exact Test, support the hypothesis that women are excluded from warfare at least in part because of the problem of split loyalties derived from the contradiction between marriage and warfare systems.

Women warriors have been described in five of the sampled cultures with exclusive external warfare. Among the Crow, "there are memories of a woman who went to war. ..indeed one of my woman informants claimed, to have struck a coup" (Lowie, 1935, p. 215). Among the Navaho "a woman, if she wished, might join a war party. There were never more than two women in a party. They fought just as did the men " (Hill, 1936, p. 3). Among the Gros Ventre, "women not infrequently went with the war parties" (Kroeber, 1908, p. 192). Among the Fox women could go to war with their husbands and it has been reported that "even some women have become warrior women" (Michelson, 1937, p. 11). Among the Delaware, although "the women seldom go into battle, they have however a right to fight, which entitles them to a place in the ranks" (Kinietz, 1946, p. 132).

Women warriors have also been described in four cultures with exclusive local or community endogamy. Among the Comanche women sometimes would "snipe with bows and arrows from fringes of the fray" (Wallace and Hoebel, 1952, p. 253). Among the Majuro of the Marshall Islands, "women take part in war, not only when they have to defend the home ground from the enemy, but also in attacks, and although in the minority, they form part of the squadron. ..(throwing) stones with their bare hands" (Erdland, 1914, p. 93). Among the Maori, women occasionally took part in the fighting and also accompanied raiding parties (Best, 1924, p. 231). Finally, among the Orokaiva "the women were always ready to urge on the fighting men and even to mingle in the fray as W.E. Armit found. ..when they finally were beaten off that two of the women lay dead with spears in their hands" (Williams, 1930, p. 164).

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