The Motherland: Women as National Symbols


France>Liberty Leading the Revolution
France>Liberty Leading the Revolution

As a woman and an artist, I find it curious that patriarchal countries choose to symbolize their nation with females. Of course, they are pretty darn muscular women, in the case of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People and the U.S. Statue of Liberty (which was a gift from France.) Delacroix’s Lady Liberty is so focused on her task she doesn’t notice that her boobs are exposed, but the French men probably noticed. Because Freedom!

Then again, according to cognitive researcher George Lakoff, we humans think in metaphors and the metaphor of the Motherland exerts a strong pull on our emotions. Our nation gives birth to and nourishes us, says the metaphor. If she is threatened, we must defend our mama! What kind of heinous children would we be if we allowed our mama to be ravished by some swarthy rapist? To arms! The rapist is swarthy in the cases of a white majority; perhaps the rapist is some other hue in other nations.

Karl Rove's Poster Girl
Karl Rove’s Poster Girl

Adolescent males often post pictures of hot women on their bedroom walls, but in Karl Rove’s case, he posted America the Beautiful as a vulnerable young woman sleeping while danger approaches. Never fear, America! Karl is going to rescue you as soon as he attains manhood. You have been captured by the Evil Dragon of Liberalism and locked in a tower, awaiting the kiss of a true conservative to rouse you to freedom and glory.






Brittania, who ruled the waves, was more feminine and dignified. She sits with scepter and is often accompanied by a lion (harking back to ancient Mistress of the Beast motifs.) She is going to bring civilization to her wild children in the colonies, make them wash up, dress properly and eat their porridge.







motherland germaniaGermania is appropriately self-controlled. The sun is rising on a new day (this was painted in the Year of Revolutions-1848.) She has a sword and knows how to use it. Interestingly she also has a hemp branch wrapped around it, indicating her willingness to live in peace, relax and eat snacks if only the rest of Europe will leave her alone. 🙂


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