The words memorial and memories were still in the air during my morning ritual today. After exercising some heartfelt compassion for everybody who had to take part in wars all over the world I thought of war without guns; the fight for freedom women went through for thousands of years.
Oppress what threatens you is a millennia-old game; our female virtues, love, compassion, caring and understanding were deprecated, passion vilified and our amazing power to give life was beaten into us as a duty, and our only value. The dark ages were pretty damn dark for everybody but especially gruesome for women and in that respect they lasted much longer than history accounts for.
With a few lucky exceptions women didn’t have any rights as respected members of society for centuries.
Famous philosopher Aristotle propagated that women were evil, disorderly, "utterly useless and caused more confusion than the enemy." Because of this, Aristotle thought keeping women separate from the rest of the society was an enlightening idea.
1200 AD theologian Jacques de Vitry described women as being "slippery, weak, untrustworthy, devious, deceitful and stubborn" - just to name two influential men shaping the opinion of their time.
The “weak and irrational” female had to be controlled; our fathers and husbands would keep us silent and powerless. We were disregarded in the worst ways, abducted or sold to men “in marriage”, raped and insulted on all human levels; worldwide slaves.
The most obvious hands-on control was the practice of foot binding in China, which literally crippled women’s activities from the tenth to the early 20th century.
Suppression was, with a few exceptions like Spartan and Viking women, rampant in the ancient world and later fortified by the story of Adam and Eve; an interpretation painting Eve as the disobedient, lustful heretic who was to be punished forever after.
That we are nasty and worthless is deeply ingrained in our genes.
But in our shared cosmic data bank are also stories of matriarchal societies, goddesses and Amazones; a rich passionate world of female power mostly described as myth.
There are those few who were revered, like priestesses and oracles and those incredibly brave who resisted, who wanted their freedom no matter what.
Rebel queens and conniving noble women, women fighters and beautiful tricksters, educated courtesans and fierce prostitutes left fear and shame aside and took what was not given freely. Autonomy. Their self worth was defined by rebellion.
Medicine women, witches and sorceresses, artists and gypsies, wild women and troubairitz, many of them punished for standing up for their beliefs are the colorful and fierce minority keeping our true female heritage alive.
From Hildegard von Bingen’s mystical writing to Elizabeth Cady Stanton who wrote the "Women’s Bible," or Wild West Rebel Helen Jackson who stirred up public outrage with "A Century of Dishonor", her book about the mistreatment of Native Americans, the occasional poet and writer brought light into the mess of their societies.
Many of them are forgotten. Their resistance is barely talked about.
Remembering, honoring and celebrating our history is part of our power.
We also have the memories of our greatness in our genes.
Let's celebrate our foremothers. And remember that this was just about 150 years ago
"Stanton’s version read, “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.” Then it went into specifics:
- Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
- Women were not allowed to vote
- Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
- Married women had no property rights
- Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
- Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
- Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
- Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
- Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
- Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
- With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
- Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men
Elizabeth Stanton's Declaration of Sentiments
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