Women's History for Beginners
Bonnie Morris, Phillip Evans
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History books have either blurred, glossed, or omitted many events and people throughout history involving women and their roles in furthering the progression of the world's cultures. What is women's history? Is it the history of sex or gender? Is it scholarly history, or a feminist viewpoint? Is it the story of queens? Witches? Housewives? Rosie the Riveter? Why would one need to study the world from such a perspective? If women contribute so much, why didn't we learn about them in our early school years? Women's History For Beginners will demystify these very questions and set the record straight.
priestesses who had ritual sex as a means of uniting with the Divine were highly regarded; but the dress code for plain harlots reveals that the on the subject of women have poMiddle Eastern practice of “good” women covering their heads was already in place over 5,500 years ago. During the reign of King Hammurabi, a major legal code created around 1760 B.C.E. demonstrated how women’s sexual behavior determined their fate in a settled community. The Code of Hammurabi had about 282 laws—73 of
and a powerful, much-admired royal consort to men of state: Queen Cleopatra. The stately Roman matron might have enjoyed respect within the home, but like her Greek counterpart, she was limited politically. And Roman law allowed for female infanticide. Only men could initiate divorce; a husband had the legal authority to kill his wife for adultery or even for drinking; and a virgin who was raped was simply burned to death—as was a housewife who slept with one of her male servants. With Roman
live apart from men, tending goddess temples in a sacred sisterhood. Thus, the emerging model of convent life in a sisterhood of virginal Christian women was not really alien, and attracted many converts. Nuns were some of the first European women to be educated, and convents and monasteries allowed nuns to copy or illustrate Bibles centuries before the invention of the printing press. Nuns also served as teachers and visionaries whose words might be respected. Where other women were silenced,
mounting campaigns to preserve traditional family values in government, law, and education. Many parents upset with values discussions in the cl illustration of how women All four of these rationalizations for excluding women’s history are interconnected, as we’ll see. Basically, looking at and admiring women [the female body] has been forbidden by most religions, so that looking at and admiring women’s history, too, takes men into problematic terrain. Much of Scripture suggests that women are
New York: Viking, 2000; p. 198. 92 Again, see Lillian Faderman’s excellent guide, To Believe in Women, an overview of the founders of women’s colleges and their strong relationship ties. 93 James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me. New York: Touchstone, 1996; pp. 301–302 94 Opal Palmer Adisa, “Lying in the Tall Grasses, Eating Cane,” From The Eloquent Essay, ed. John Loughery. New York: Persea Books, 2000, pp. 185–86; originally published in ZYZZYVA, 1998. 95 Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open, p.