Women have not been just incidental to world cultures but have been an integral part. The role of women in history and their contributions to society are unnoticed or barely acknowledged by a world focused on male achievement and male images in religion, business and governing. Little value has been placed on the female sex throughout history other than as child bearers and hearth keepers, or, in reality, as a support structure for the deeds ...
Women have not been just incidental to world cultures but have been an integral part. The role of women in history and their contributions to society are unnoticed or barely acknowledged by a world focused on male achievement and male images in religion, business and governing. Little value has been placed on the female sex throughout history other than as child bearers and hearth keepers, or, in reality, as a support structure for the deeds and misdeeds of the men in their lives.
Through the influence of ancient philosophers and early institutional religion, women were proclaimed inferior, driven by lust, responsible for men’s sexual misbehavior, unfit for the religious ministry, in need of male guidance, and unclean due to menses. The early church’s gradual suppression of women eventually became cultural rules and laws firmly creating women’s secondary status in society. Women not only were silenced and deprived of their rights, they were the opposite of holy unless a woman was fortuitously blessed as a Madonna. Anything other than a Madonna was classified as a whore. Women became the property of men early in ancient history and remained so until the 20th century.
The many ways women have been controlled throughout history are shocking in intensity. Illiteracy (knowledge means power) is at the top of the list but gender infanticide, abandonment or neglect of female babies, and sex-selective abortion are close behind. Accusations of religious heresy as witches under the control of the devil spurred mass executions of healers and midwives during the Middle Ages. In the city of Cologne, Germany alone between 1627 and 1630 “nearly all the midwives were wiped out,” with one out of every three women (being) executed as a midwife.”
Continuing into the third millennium, the practice of genital mutilation to control the sex drives of female children is a historical reminder of the religious belief that the female body is unclean and at the root of men’s sexual misbehavior.
Reclaiming history by restoring the female sex as the other half of humanity, with equal standing and equal rights and equal responsibility, is the purpose of this book. Recapturing past achievements of females while recognizing the ways women have been unjustly controlled in history will help to shape the present.
It is possible that women have misunderstood their exclusion from political and social history by fighting for “liberation” from the shackles of anonymity, when the real issue has always been the lack of value given to women in a world dominated by the male image.
In September 2008, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, supported the U.N. report on global discrimination toward women, from health care to politics, by emphatically expressing his personal feelings on valuing women:
“If any man asks why I support better accountability to women, this is my response: because a government that answers to women will answer to you, too.” What can be added to Ban Ki-Moon’s commentary is the consensus reportedly reached at the World Economic Forum in 2009 that if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters the company would still be in existence.
Julia Hughes Jones is known as a trailblazer for women in Arkansas elective politics. A public speaker, her speeches have been excerpted or published in full in magazines, How-To books, textbooks and business leadership books since 1992. She believes women have what it takes to lead in politics, business and religion.