Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Girl teams

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is Representation and Diversity in Traditional Stories. I am looking for rare and interesting motifs in folktales, fairy tales, and legends that add variety to the well-known canon.

Following my train of thought from yesterday: On top of female friendships, I would also love to see more stories about teams of women. Girl heroes. Marvel is doing it, right? There are several amazing brotherly team-ups in world folklore and mythology, but not so much on the female side.

But, fear not! I managed to rustle up a few.

The Nakhi creation tale
This matrilinear minority from China tells a story about an evil serpent, and four women - Wisdom, Doer, Thinker, and Seer - who made a plan, tricked it, and destroyed it so people could live in peace. Talk about an epic teamup.
(Read in in Tales from Within the Clouds)

Seven sisters
I already mentioned this Miao folktale in my post about elder and middle siblings, but I am mentioning it again because it features four girls defeating seven wolves together.
(Read it in Seven sisters)

The water-splashing festival
(Chinese minorities seem to be the theme of the day)
In this story, twelve women are kidnapped by a demon who is seemingly invincible. The smartest girl coaxes his secret weakness out of him, and kills him, but the head of the demon cannot be put or buried anywhere without causing destruction. Because of it, the twelve wives take turns carrying the head to keep it from hurting anyone, until the curse is broken. People splash water on them to help clean off the blood - a rite that is reenacted every year.
(Read the story in South of the Clouds)

How the women saved Guam
In this Pacific legend a  giant fish is devouring islands and no one is able to stop it. Men don't allow women to help them hunt it, claiming they know nothing - but they themselves fail at stopping the threat. Finally the women get together, make a plan, weave a net from their own hair, and manage to capture the beast and save their homes.
(Read it in Pacific island legends)

The army of women
The Ossetian Nart sagas are regarded as close relations to the Greek Amazon myths. In one of the sagas, the Nart village is attacked while the men are away on a raid, and the Nart women put on armor and weaponry and ride out to defend their homes together.
(The Ossetian Nart sagas will be published in English for the first time this July!)

Gulaim and her warrior maidens
I wrote about her last year for Epics A to Z. Instead of getting married at the age of fifteen, Gulaim gets her own fortress, and forty like-minded girls that she trains in the martial arts. They end up saving their homeland from an invasion, defeating the leader of the enemy, and liberating another kingdom as well in the process.
(Read about the epic here)

The Rebel Princess
In this amazing Jewish folktale, the persecuted heroine recruits a crew of clever maidens, steals a ship from pirates, and goes on to become a queen by her own right until her lost fiance finds her again.
(Read the story in The serpent slayer)

The Giant Caterpillar
(Adding this one by Sharon's recommendation in the comments. Thanks!)
In this folktale from the Ivory Coast, a giant caterpillar swallows an impertinent boy. After the men of the village fail to save him (and run away), the women go out together to beat the monster to death and rescue the boy.
(Read the story in this book)

The Amazons

Are there any other girl hero teams I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Good to know all these wonderful stories are in your safe hands! I think in general, women have a certain type of strength that exceeds what the average man has. Not a physical strength, but a strength to go on, to endure in the face of most any obstacle for the benefit of their family or people they care about.
    Revisit the Tender Years with me during the #AtoZChallenge at Life & Faith in Caneyhead!

  2. Amazing stories... Love your references .. "Seven sisters' ' The Army of women' ..makes me feel proud being a women myself.. :)

  3. All your story choices sound interesting. I'll be checking out the one about how the women save Guam. Thanks for the suggestions, Zalka.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
    Theme: The Fun in Writing #235

  4. Yay for the ladies :) Now this is awesome girl power :)
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  5. It's nice to have stories outside of what we normally have to share with students about women in literature.

  6. The western cannon does marginalize women, and these stories from other cultures seem to offer evidence of that. I want women's voices in my reading and teaching, but fantasy and fighting wolf stories haven't been my go-to genres, although I do know many teens who love them. Choice is good!

  7. I tell "The Giant Caterpillar" from the Ivory Coast of Africa. I don't remember where I first read it, but there are links online to the story. It's a smart aleck boy who taunts the creature & gets eaten by it. The village men go after it with great bravado but flee from it in fear. The women get together, led by the wisest & bravest among them, and kill it, cutting the offending boy free from inside. There's a punch line that turns it into a how-and-why story. Love those brave & fearless women!

  8. Really great stuff! I need to start checking out some of these stories you talk about on your theme.

  9. A great collection of examples. I'd definitely like to read some of the full stories.

  10. It's so nice to see old stories and myths with women characters of note. This is a wealth of information for us, thanks, Zalka!

    LuAnn (approx #369 on the list) @ Back Porchervations.
    (and one of co-host AJ Lauer's #wHooligans)

  11. I always liked those kinds of stories, particularly when they feature all-sister lineups. They're perhaps nicest when they come from cultures which traditionally are androcentric and don't acknowledge any daughters in genealogies.

  12. Amazons instantly came to mind. Wonder Woman came from such a tribe of women warriors.

  13. Women stepping up to the "plate" to save their homes grabbed my attention. I love stories of women working in concert to accomplish a task.

  14. Absolutely fantastic. I particularly like "How the women saved Guam". It has that particular sense of: right gals. We need to thake this in our hands ;-)

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

  15. Women do work well together and there should be more stories about their teamwork. I remember reading Three Strong Women about 3 Japanese women.

  16. Women do work well together and there should be more stories about their teamwork. I remember reading Three Strong Women about 3 Japanese women.

  17. Sarka of The Maiden's War, a Bohjemian Tale I learned about through the music of Smetna:'_War

  18. I like the idea of strong female teams too. I'd prefer a team where they don't lose that sense of female-ness. It seems like a lot of times, when women are main characters, they become like men. I'd love to see more women being women.
    @DoreeWeller from
    Doree Weller’s Blog

  19. Great stories! I'm especially drawn to "The water-splashing festival", I guess because it most especially displays teamwork.

    @dSavannahCreate from
    #AtoZChallenge2016 theme: dSavannah Defects

  20. This is an impressive list of strong, female heroines. Thanks for the introduction!

  21. Girl power. :) Great to see so many books featuring strong and able girls.
    Discarded Darlings

  22. These all sound so good! We need more stories like this, including modern ones.