Battle-axe (woman)

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This article is about the archetype woman. For other uses, see Battleaxe (disambiguation).
Carrie Nation, brandishing a hatchet

A battle-axe is an aggressive, domineering and forceful woman. The prime example was the militant temperance activist Carrie Nation, who wielded a hatchet and made it her symbol, living in Hatchet Hall and publishing a magazine called The Hatchet. She became involved in the suffragette campaign for votes for women and this campaign further established the archetype.[1][2]

In Britain, the foremost example of the type was Margaret Thatcher — the Iron Lady who, in the popular imagination, wielded her handbag to terrorise male politicians. Other examples, listed by Christine Hamilton in her Book of British Battleaxes, include Nancy Astor, Boudica, Ena Sharples and Ann Widdecombe.[3]

The battleaxe is one of several stereotypes found in nursing - a tyrannical, fierce matron exemplified by Nurse Ratched or Hattie Jacques in popular medical dramas and comedies.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Helen Rappaport (2001), "Nation, Carry (1846-1911)", Encyclopedia of women social reformers 1, pp. 478–479, ISBN 978-1-57607-101-4 
  2. ^ Fran Grace (2001), Carry A. Nation, p. 243, ISBN 978-0-253-33846-4 
  3. ^ Christine Hamilton (2003), The Book of British Battleaxes, ISBN 978-1-86105-610-8 
  4. ^ Philip Darbyshire and Suzanne Gordon (2005), "The Battleaxe or Monstrous Figure", Professional nursing, ISBN 978-0-8261-2554-5 

Further reading[edit]

  • Josephine Kamm (1966), Rapiers and battleaxes: the women's movement and its aftermath, Allen & Unwin