Copyright © Diana the Valkyrie 2000. All rights reserved.
Editor's note: In Germanic and Norse theology, the Valkyries were Odin's handmaidens; during peacetime they served beer and mead to heroes and during wartime they chose who would live and who would die. Owing to Wagner, Brunhilde became the most famous of these Valkyries. But there are other named ones. See, for example, the Norse mythology site at http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~cherryne/mythology.html. There are also other Valkyries; their job was the same, they just served the goddess Frejya at her castle at Folkvang rather than the god Odin at Valhalla.
A Valkyrie, armed and armored for battle
Now, in more recent times, Diana the Valkyrie is the web master for a British-based Internet site devoted to strong women. After she added EJMAS to her links page, our hit count went way up. In appreciation, we immediately asked her to share her thoughts about strong women and the Internet with our readers. The following is the result.
The printing press made books cheaper. That's all it did. But the outcome of making books cheaper was an explosion of new books, literacy and learning. We're still working through the consequences; when the price of a book falls from one year's wages to one dollar, there are big, big results.
The Internet does the same thing again. If you wanted to publish a book, you'd have to make and sell a few thousand copies to be economic, an investment of several thousand dollars. And radio and TV is even worse, the audiences need to be in the hundreds of thousands for a channel to be economic. But with the Internet, you can publish whatever you want, and the start-up costs are nil.
What's more, the Internet is worldwide. A concert hall can only exist in a substantial city, because the percentage of people who would use a concert hall is small. So it can only exist in a large centre of population. The low cost, and global catchment area of the Internet makes it possible for people with minority interests to contact each other, even to form communities. If your interest is Etruscan vases, AltaVista reveals 1330 web sites you can visit. Interested in Etruscan vases around the year 500BC? I found eight web sites, and if you go to them and follow their links, you'll find more. If you're passionately interested in Etruscan vases 500BC, you could set up the definitive web site and bring together all the other folks around the world (maybe someone already did). They'll find you. You'll talk with them about your favourite subject. You'll all have a great time, because none of you ever found anyone else who was passionately interested in Etruscan vases 500BC.
The goddess Artemis Elaphebolos; in Roman theology, she was known as Diana, Queen of the Hunt
After Etruscan artwork dated circa 500 BC
The first thing that most people do when they get on the net is look for the porn. And they are very frequently disappointed. Yes, there's porn, but once you've seen one gynaecological study, you've seen them all. Pretty soon, people lose interest in the stuff that's presented in the name of "porn" on the net, and discover the search engines. And then they can go look for the stuff that they really want. Which might be 500BC Etruscan vases, it might be steam locomotives, or it might be Valkyries. It's a minority interest. But this is the Internet, the ideal place for minority interests.
I'd guess there's more interest in Valkyries than in Etruscan vases, because there's no sex-and-violence in Etruscan vases. Well, not much, anyway. Sex-and-violence is one of the great human fascinations. Look at your TV, rent some videos. Go to your local bookshop. Maybe 80% of the books there are to do with sex (usually called "Romance") and 20% to do with violence (usually called "action" or "adventure"). A huge bunch of books have both. Read Shakespeare and the Bible -- they're sex-and-violence. Sex and violence is the common currency of storytelling, because that's what people want. So is it surprising that there are hundreds of fighting-women and muscle-women sites on the net? Not to me it isn't. The Internet is the place for minority interests, and sex-and-violence isn't particularly a minority interest. One of the things that people frequently say to me (either on the Message Boards or in my chat room) is "I thought I was the only one with this interest". That's because a preference for strong women is not as common as a preference for blondes, for example. And because it's not so common, it doesn't get discussed in pubs and bars. And people are delighted to discover that They Are Not Alone. There are other people with the same interests, and you can discuss the relative merits of Kim Chizevsky vs. Vicky Gates without someone calling you names for being interested in female bodybuilders. Or the problem of drug taking in the sport. Or the question of how judging should be done. Or what it's like to wrestle Gaby Hames. And, of course, the interest is universal. People live in different cultures, but the fundamental human needs are the same. So the web site gets half a million hits per day, from all over the world. Wherever there are folks, there's an Internet connection, and there are folks interested in sex and violence, and some of those are attracted to strong women. So, on my web site, a community has formed. People from all races, creeds and cultures have come together with a common interest, and they meet and talk (including in-the-flesh get-togethers) about all the things that people everywhere talk about, plus about their common interest. And we discuss the cultural similarities and differences between the people living in different cultures, which is very interesting. And people from outside a culture can sometimes throw light on something that people within the culture can't see.
An image of a Valkyrie from Diana's website.
My web site is possibly the largest and most comprehensive, but there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of related sites. Some are "shrine" sites, where someone has made a web site devoted to his favourite bodybuilder or fighter. Some have other specialisations, such as fine photography or Martial Arts. I could try to list these sites for you, but that would really just be trying to duplicate my list of links at http://www.TheValkyrie.com/links.html.
What sorts of people are interested in Valkyries? Well, they're either married or not, have children or not, are male or female, over 40 or under, and live in the UK or in foreign countries. The same sorts of people who are interested in Etruscan vases 500BC or steam locomotives, actually. And I know that at least one of them is also interested in steam, because he came back from America with some photographs that he'd taken at an event, and as I was processing them, there were some very fine steam locomotives amongst them. So I put those on the web site too, I also appreciate a fine steam locomotive. All that power contained for such a noble purpose. It's almost sex and violence again.
Why, people ask me sometimes, do some men find strong women attractive? I have a better question. Why do some men find weakness attractive? The purpose of sex is to have babies. The purpose of reproduction is to continue the species. Evolutionary forces mean that those best fitted to survive, will have more offspring who survive to reproduce, and so evolution means that those who are best fitted to survive, will have the most children. You'd expect that, after you strip off the cultural overlays and get down to the basic human urges, a stronger mate would be more attractive, as being more likely to result in more babies surviving. The descendants of those people who preferred mates who are less able to reproduce would have been crowded out by the descendants of those who are better able to reproduce and get their babies up to the age of maturity. Clearly, a stronger woman is going to be better able to have strong babies, and better able to look after them till they're adults. And so, you'd expect that men would be more attracted to strong women. So there's no mystery there. Now explain to me why some men find weak women attractive? A long time ago, if you had some "meat on your bones" then you would be more likely to survive a long hard winter, better able to feed your babies. Today, this isn't usually an issue; we can store food in other ways, keep warm by burning coal, and feed babies with artificial feeds. But after millions of years of sexual selection, it isn't surprising that there's still some who don't go for the "waif" look. Of course, civilisation and culture overlay this. Cultural preferences can be for men and women to be more or less hairy, to wear particular clothes, to have a particular shape, or a particular coloration. But while these cultural differences change with time and geography, the basic human desires were formed millions of years ago, and won't change every time the fashions change.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in Valkyries,
the Internet is the place to go.