Battle-axe (woman)

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Carrie Nation, brandishing a hatchet

A battle-axe is a term, generally considered pejorative, for 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]

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