I was mostly going to leave this be. Hell, I barely heard about it as I don't usually care what Klavan and the powerline gang are saying, but "rebuttals" came up in my recommended vids, specifically one by Shad, who occasionally has interesting things to say, but man, the soy is real and he still swallows the mainstream narrative. He's also a bit too proud of his "what you think you know is wrong" schtick.

Then the most excellent author John C Wright discussed it in his ongoing series of Amazons being mythical posts. It's well worth your time. There's an interesting discussion there of viking women and how and why they carried arms: pretty much the same reason they were property owners - the men weren't around that much.

So I'll just discuss Shad's video, not the others, and not more modern combat.

What I find interesting is that right at the opening Shad concedes that in unarmed combat, women are severely disadvantaged. The remainder of the argument boils down to "but weapons are a force multiplier and an equalizer, so..."

Yeah.... but.

He massively overstates how much of an equalizer swords are.

Here's why women are at a disadvantage:

  • Lower body mass. I've pointed out before that even between men, weight classes for wrestling and boxing exist for a reason.
  • Less muscle as a percentage of body weight.
  • Less muscle in the upper body per pound mass.
  • A lower percentage of "fast twitch" muscle fibers.
  • Physically smaller.

Due to these root causes, men:

  • Can absorb more damage.
  • Can take a stronger hit without getting knocked down.
  • Move faster.
  • Have more strength.
  • Have more reserves for manipulating armor and weapons of any weight.
  • Can do more damage when hitting.
  • Have more reach.

The use of a sword, at least when neither side is armored, goes some ways in mitigating differences in how much damage is done. As a percentage, differences in reach are closer, but still matter. Bleeding out due to being cut vs simply being bruised mitigates differences in how much damage is taken. That said, your average fit man will still have more blood to lose due to sheer size. He will cut or stab deeper, especially once some form of armor is factored in.

It does nothing about speed or endurance. How fast can you strike, avoid a block, or block. How many times can you keep striking, blocking, etc. before slowing down. In short, things that dramatically influence whether you strike first, whether a strike succeeds, and whether you can block or avoid a strike.

In short, almost everything that makes men massively more effective in martial arts is still in play. Actually, given the damage multiplier, it's at least arguable that, if anything, it gives more of an overall advantage to the fast, large, and strong. Especially if they have any kind of armor.

So, yes. Women can use swords. Historically, there are cases where women have used weapons, even swords. Successfully even. See again shieldmaidens and such.

It doesn't change the fact that, quibbling about percentages aside, against equal numbers, women are at a severe disadvantage.