When Women Ruled the world
My copy of Professor Kara Cooney’s new book, When Women Ruled the World, arrived this week. When I had a moment to think about the title and what it means to me as a 21stC woman, this is what struck me:
In Australian politics this week, a female journalist’s sexual assault was used by a government minister to gain political mileage.
In American politics, a record number of women were voted into political office.
My class of seniors - all girls - are heading out into world that is dominated by men in powerful positions and, the power frameworks in which they must operate, were designed and built by men over millennia.
Women still make up the highest number of practicing teachers - a very powerful position.
the Qld ancient history syllabus does NOT include a women in unit 4 titled: People, Power and Authority…… why not?
I could wax lyrical about this inequality, but more eloquent people than I have already done so, including Dame Professor Mary Beard in her book, Women and Power. What I am excited about, is that Prof Cooney’s books is now out in the public domain, a domain that continues to ask - why is this so? But, as always, we have history on our side!
I teach senior ancient history and I try to include as many female figures in the course as I can fit in. I explicitly teach Hatshepsut and Cleopatra and, I include at every opportunity, the women of Rome who managed to wield incredible power behind the scenes. I recently wrote a post about Artemisia and how my Year 9 history class discovered this military genius and how it prompted them to look for more silenced women in the ancient world: Zenobia, Agrippina. My current year 12 class has just analyzed why Hollywood insists on representing Cleopatra as a one dimensional sex goddess and not a multilingual strategist who almost ruled two mediterranean empires! Their findings were damning and it opened their eyes to just how poorly strong and powerful women have been treated by history (read Dame Beard’s book if you don’t believe me! It’s all there is the evidence.)
So, I look forward to Prof Cooney’s book. I suspect there will be extracts that will be deconstructed and analysed in my classes next year,. There may even be extracts that appear on and exam. Hell, I may even use it as more ammunition to change the title of Unit 4 in the Qld Ancient History syllabus!
Go forth and conquer!