Growing up, I could always be found outdoors. With my dogs in tow, exploring, building and learning what isn't taught in classrooms. When I wasn't outside or in the animal pens, I was usually reading. Stories of strong women instilled, in me, an unwavering determination to imitate their qualities and immense admiration for females that struggle, strive and overcome constant obstacles, tackling goals and taboos, then moving on to the next. Heads held high. Not attempting to impress, but beaming with pride with how far they have come. Curiosity of the unknown and questioning what's assumed, has driven me to learn and experience as much as I can, regardless of gender norms, lack of finances, physical limitations or expectations of others. To this day, I remain an avid lover of the outdoors and animals, a builder/maker/creator, hungry for knowledge, hell bent on achieving my goals, a history fanatic, and an advocate for creating and supporting strong, like minded, women. I created Virago Tactical USA to celebrate and showcase the strength and beauty of the female mind and body. We are strong. We are capable. We are brilliant. We are Virago. We do no harm, but take no shit.
The word comes from the Latin word vir, meaning virile 'man,' to which the suffix -ago is added, a suffix that effectively re-genders the word to be female. Historically, the concept for the word virago reaches back into antiquity where Hellenistic philosophy asserted that elite and exceptionally heroic men were 'virtus.' Women and non-elite or unheroic men (slaves, servants, craftsmen, merchants) were in a lesser category, and believed to be less excellent. A woman, however, if exceptional enough could earn the title Virago. In doing so, she surpassed the expectations for what was believed possible for her gender, and embodied masculine-like aggression and/or excellence. Virago, then, was a title of respect and admiration. In Christianity, a female nun or holy woman who had become equal in divinity to male monks through practiced celibacy, exemplary religious practice and devotion, and intact virginity, was considered to have surpassed the limitations of her femaleness and was called 'Virago.' The word Virago has almost always had an association with gender transgression. A Virago, no matter how excellent, was still technically a biological woman. There are recorded instances of Virago women (Joan of Arc is a famous example) fighting battles, wearing men's clothing, or receiving the haircut of a male monk, called a tonsure. This could cause "social anxiety". For this reason, the word Virago could also be used disparagingly, to infer that a Virago was not excellent or heroic, but was instead violating cultural norms. Thus virago joined pejoratives such as termagant. and shrew to demean women who acted aggressively or like men. Today, in standard dictionaries, Virago is defined as both a woman who has unexcellent male characteristics, such as being noisy or domineering, as well as a woman of "great stature, strength, and courage." The word Virago continues to be associated with the naming of a woman who has risen above cultural and gender stereotypes to embody heroism at its best. For example, the British Royal Navy christened at least four warships Virago. The word also refers to a masculine aggressive woman. Also, the Merriam-Webster dictionary describes a virago as : a loud overbearing woman. Synonyms from Merriam-Webster include dragon lady, fury, harpy, harridan, termagant, shrew, vixen. The American Heritage Dictionary defines virago as a woman regarded as noisy, scolding, or domineering. Dictionary.com refers to a virago as loud-voiced, ill-tempered, scolding woman; shrew.
What the Vulgate Bible says About Virago
The Vulgate Bible, translated by Jerome and others in the 4th Century C.E., was the first Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible Old Testament. In the in Genesis 2:23, Jerome uses the words Vir for man and Virago for "woman" attempting to reproduce a pun on "male" and "female" (Is and Issah) that existed in the Hebrew text. The Vulgate reads: Dixitque Adam hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis et caro de carne mea haec vocabitur virago quoniam de viro sumpta est. "And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." The Middle English poem Cursor Mundi retains the Latin name for the woman in its otherwise Middle English account of the creation: Quen sco was broght be-for adam, Virago he gaf her to nam; þar for hight sco virago, ffor maked of the man was sco. (lines 631-34) "When she was brought before Adam, Virago was the name he gave to her; Therefore she is called Virago, For she was made out of the man."