Why we need more Vikings

Lagertha and the shield maidens

I have just finished binge watching Season 4 of Vikings and I am now completely intrigued by viking culture.

I’m not talking about the pillaging and rapacious violence.

What I’m referring to is how women were treated.

As equals.

Women went on raids. Women engaged in warfare. Women were high priestesses and queens who had the same rights and responsibilities as kings.

Sex and sexuality (including the whole LBGTI spectrum) weren’t a big deal. It was seen as a normal part of life. People got married to raise families, but sexual relationships were non-exclusive for men and women.

How very different to most ancient cultures.

How very different to even modern culture where men still dominate in religion, government and at the executive levels of business, and female sexuality is fetishised and compartmentalised into wife, mother, whore and siren.

What interests me is how a show like this makes me feel.

There’s been a lot of hype around the feminist value of the recent Wonder Woman film but this storyline does nothing for me. It’s a fairytale.

But the vikings were real, and Vikings is based on historical fact. Legendary queen and shield maiden Lagertha exists in recorded viking legend that dates back as far as the 12th century.

Beyond the exceptional production value, acting and writing, I wish there were more of these shows.

Shows where women are central, powerful characters who are not elevated above men but given equal footing.

Depictions of women who get dirty, who work hard, who are strong and powerful and dangerous. Women who are sexual and still maternal. Women who look beautiful in a dress or full body armour, and who still have really good hair.

We need more of Olivia Williams’ character from The Night Manager. More Frances McDormand’s detective from Fargo. More of Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen and more of Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria.

We need these characters because they are reflect the complex truth about women: that we are so much more than window dressing.

Who are your favourite female characters and why?



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