British historian Bettany Hughes in a London Evening Standard article this week said that despite misleading portrayals in movies and on tv of powerful women, “the world never had this many sexpots.”
Hughes has created a tv production company to counter the notion that powerful women in the past were “super-sexual.”
Beauty and sex appeal are seen as going hand in hand. When I wrote my post “Do We Demand That Cleopatra be Good-Lookin’?”, I was surprised at the number of people who assumed that Cleopatra must have been beautiful to attract Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Contemporaneous coins of the time suggest she wasn’t attractive.
Hughes includes Boudica as a woman who is trivialized to be a sexpot. I don’t see how anyone could think of Boudica that way. After all, any queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who fights against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire is too busy to be a sexpot.
Still, commenting on a woman’s looks is a way to reduce her power, even back then. Boudica had to have discipline, strategic thinking, and an ability to lead an army. Cassius Dio, an ancient Greek writer, also had to note that “a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips.”
I’m trying to remember when an ancient historian mentioned the hairstyle of a male enemy.
Hughes has a job ahead of her. But I’m glad she’s willing to undertake the challenge.
Because even the History Channel’s video on Boudica shows she has attractive white teeth.