Disclaimer—I do not own the movie 'Thor,' etc. etc.
Author's Note—This piece was inspired by some of Thor and Sif's lines in the movie: "…who proved wrong all who scoffed at the idea that a young lady could become one of the fiercest warriors Asgard has ever known?" "I did!" and by some fantastic character analysis essays I read on tumblr. I've always thought it would be interesting to explore what Sif had to go through to get to where she is in a society that is extremely advanced yet holds to the rather archaic belief that the battlefield is for men only.
Sif doesn't cry when she returns home bruised and bloodied, her slender girl's body battered from sparring with men larger and stronger than she.
Sif doesn't cry when the other girls whisper behind their hands as she passes in the hall, laughing cruelly as they mock her calluses and scars.
Sif doesn't cry when her aunt berates her for seeking glory and fame through war rather than the more 'womanly' arts of magic and politics.
Sif doesn't even cry when the boys in the training yard bully her, pushing her down into the mud and pulling her long hair, taunting her when she loses a sparring match and hooting that she should go back inside where she 'belongs.'
She does not cry, nor does she heed the taunts, because Sif will not allow anyone, not her family and not her peers, to tell her what she should or should not do, who she should or should not be. To do so would be to lose a part of herself, her independence, and Sif will bow to no one who would lock her in a box and constrain her to a life in the niche society has carved out for her sex.
Sif's first loyalty has always been to herself.
She decides what she does, who she is, and no one else.
She has wanted to be a warrior ever since the day she punched the school bully in the nose, cartilage crunching under her fingers as blood spurted over her fingers, and found that fighting back, despite the costs, feels a thousand times better than being pushed around. The lust for battle burns hot in her veins, and she refuses to listen to those who say a maiden like herself cannot live by the laws of sword and shield. Every day, despite the taunts and scoffs, the titters and insults, she slips into her leather training gear and makes her way to the training grounds, spends her days learning the arts of war, perfecting how to disarm her opponents in unarmed combat with a few well-placed moves, mastering the dance that is sword and spear. Every day.
Whether or not she feels like it.
Even on the days when the sky pours freezing rain and her clothes are soaked through the moment she steps outside, sending chill deep into her bones, even on the days when her every muscle and bone ache with weariness and pain, even on the days when she thinks she won't be able to stand the ridicule a second longer, she goes to the training yard, because skipping even one day would be letting her critics win.
And Sif is not a woman who gives in easily.
She builds herself a suit of armor, thicker and heavier than the plates that encase her body, to keep her emotions locked deep in her heart, away from public view, when she does crack inside. Bit by bit the armor melds to her soul, hardening her heart to the insults, keeping her eyes dry when she's thrown painfully to the ground once more, filling her spirit with a fire that will not burn out no matter how much she is beaten.
She is bruised, bloodied, battered a thousand times, but she does not break.
That does not mean she does not feel pain. Alone at night in her room, she winces as she spreads healing salve on the wounds she knows will be re-opened the next day, shudders when the guard in the weapons room leers at the bosom of her shirt, bleeds inside when she looks up, panting, smiling triumphantly, when she wins her first wrestling match to see the onlookers gazing at her with disgust—and pity at her defeated opponent.
But she does not cry. Sif will not cry for anyone, not even the worst of the bullies—Hel, she would not cry for the king himself, were he to betake himself from his throne room and come down to the training grounds to laugh at a girl trying to play what her society sees as the role of a man.
Or rather, almost anyone.
Sif cries when her father sneers at her, saying her mother would be ashamed of the daughter who is trying to play the part of a man.
"You are not a boy," he growls, roughly shaking her arm with none of the tenderness Sif has always craved from her father. "yet you think you can be a soldier. It is bad enough that the Norns saw fit to curse me with a daughter at the same time they stole my wife, must you bring more shame on my head?"
Sif's gasps. Her Father has never made any secret of the fact that he wishes for a son, but never has he been so blunt, so cruel about his displeasure with the gender of his only child. "But Father," she protests. "It is an honor to live as a warrior, wouldn't—"
"It is an honor meant for men!" he thunders, pushing her shoulder. "Not little girls. Your mother would be ashamed!"
"I am not a little girl!" Sif cries, straightening. "I have worked just as hard, no TWICE as hard as any of the boys; I deserve the honors they bear just as much, if not more than they do. And as for mother..." she falters, tries to gather her defiance. "I think she would be proud that I am working to be who I feel I'm meant to be."
It is more question than statement. More suggestion than conviction.
Her father's eyes are cold and hard, his voice like freezing water when he speaks. "You are an idiot, girl," he says, turning away. "You will fail."
"I will not," Sif whispers through her tears as her father storms out of her bedroom. Her heart beats loud and traitorous in her chest, her blood rushing in her ears like a battle chant. "I will prove you all wrong."
She does. The day she kneels on the dais to recite her rites before Odin Allfather, it is all she can do not to break into triumphant laughter.
"Do you, Lady Sif, swear to protect Asgard, and her citizens, with your life no matter what the cost?" The Allfather's voice is deep and rough, holds just a hint of tenderness and doubt as she kneels before him on the marble floor every bit as cold and hard as the stares boring into the back of her skull.
Fortunately for her, Sif has long ago learned the art of ignoring her critics, the mockery and the laughter. The doubt. Her voice, when she speaks, holds not a hint of doubt or fear, only cold pride and steely determination, an icy promise. "I, Lady Sif, do swear it."
"Then rise." The Allfather exhales the words on a sigh, like a father doing a favor for particularly troublesome and persistent child just in order to stop its nagging.
Sif stands, bows to her king, and faces her audience, back straight, chin up. Resolute.
The hall breaks into applause, more required politeness than heartfelt approval or joy. Sif doesn't let this sway her; she has come far too far to allow such pettiness to affect her any longer. Instead, she searches out her father's disapproving yet oddly proud gaze in the sea of faces and allows the corners of her lips to tug up in a smug smirk.
He scowls, the message she is wordlessly sending him clear.
I did it. I proved you wrong. I proved you all wrong.
This, standing before Asgard with sword and shield and helm, is her victory.
Uhm, well, there you have it! Any feedback or constructive criticism would be appreciated.