Women Who Dressed in Men’s Clothes to Fight
Women have been dressing in men’s clothing as far back as recorded history. Historically, women have dressed in men’s clothing in order to fight alongside men in battle, under the guise of being a man. In doing so, these brave women have not just disguised their gender, but also managed to usurp oppressive gender roles and fight for greater rights.
Famous Examples of Women Dressing in Men’s Clothing
Many famous women have dressed in men’s clothing to fight for their beliefs and countries. Here are three of the most renowned examples.
- Joan of Arc: Joan of Arc fought in battle against England during the Hundred Years War while dressed as a man. In her lifetime, she fought ten different battles and became a celebrated French heroine.
- Deborah Sampson: Deborah Sampson was an American Revolutionary War veteran who enlisted in the Continental Army under the name Robert Shirtliff. She served for more than a year before her gender was revealed and she was honorably discharged.
- Holly Hayes: Holly Hayes was a Union Army Officer during the American Civil War. She was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her bravery and unwavering dedication to the Union cause.
The Success of Dressing in Mens Clothing
These famous women are only a few examples of the many women who have dressed as men to fight for their beliefs and countries. Despite the risks associated with doing so, these brave women have largely been successful in their endeavors. In Joan of Arc’s time, men and women fought similarly, so dressing as a man didn’t grant her the combat advantages held by male soldiers today. Yet, she still managed to lead her troops to victory against the English. Similarly, Deborah Sampson and Holly Hayes also managed to maintain successful military careers, despite their gender being revealed. This speaks volumes to their courage and determination.
Women in Modern Combat
Though women no longer need to dress in men’s clothing to engage in combat, women today are still hard-pressed to achieve equal representation in modern military forces. Women serve in all branches of the military and in many different roles. As of 2017, 14% of all active duty U.S. military personnel were women. Progress has been steadily made in recent years to increase the representation of women in all branches of the military.
The stories of these brave women who dressed in men’s clothing to fight are a testament to the strength and courage it takes to fight for what is right. They remind us that no gender should be held back from any opportunity or position and that all people, regardless of gender, have the capacity to fight for their beliefs, rights and countries.