What is Women's History?
Gender vs. Sex
HISTORY TO THE 1960'S
A correction/revision of traditional history
- men have been at the forefront of world history
- female historians put them in the background.
- 1400s-1950s: 1st histories of the Americas white, elite, MEN
Great men, great events, great ideas, etc.
Few mentions of WOMEN
- WWII/ "Baby Boom"/ 1960s activism
- New voices incorporated into US History + Contributions of females + Variety of experiences..
- New perspectives & sources + Social History + Cultural History + Gender History
A partial history is NO GOOD
GENDER & World HISTORY
Scholars debate the true origins of patriarchy
- Predates the Neolithic Revolution & history itself
- Greek word meaning "rule of the father"
- Male dominance accompanied the rise of most "civilizations" + Hunter gatherers -> sedentary agrarians + Entrenched in both family & society
- Further institutionalized through codes of law + Most assigned female subordinate roles + Expected to obet in public & private.
No "hard" proof true matriarchy has EVER existed
- Greek word meaning "rule of the mother"
- Aspects of matriarchy evident in some cultures. + Ancient priestesses & fertility rituals + Egyptian pharaohs + Inheritance in India + Native American & African traditions
- Matrilocal societies
- Matrilineal societies
( EX: Nefertiti & Hatshepsut & Cleopatra; Egypt rulers)
(EX: Sappho & Amazons)
Women & Pagan Religions
Some powerful women and goddesses in Western Civilization
- Venus figurines
-Egypitian pantheon + Women= Anuket, Isis, Mut, Nut
- Greco-Roman mythology + Women= Hera/Juno, Athena/Minerva, Aphrodite/Venus.. + Fertility goddesses like Pandora & Medusa were vilified
Most goddesses were suboridinate to male deities.
Women & Christianity
Patriarchy bolstered by rise of monotheism
- Judeo-Christian & Islamic traditions + Adam, Eve, & "original sin" + Sampson & Delilah + Mary Magdalene
Patriarchy & Western Civilization
- Reinforced by nature, history, & religion
- Spread to the "New World" after 1492
Women & Western Europe
1492: Europe was extremely patriarchal
- Family= Model for the STATE
- Women's economic fate tied to men (father/husband)
- Valued for domestic roles (wives/mother)
- Seen as physically & intellectually inferior
- Education & employment restricted mostly to men
- Politics & government closed to most
- Laws= little help to females (married vs. single woman)