Ever since the Agricultural Revolution the world has been dominated by Patriarchal societies. With few exceptions (Cleopatra, Wu Zetian and Elizabeth 1st being rare examples) the world has been dominated by men. Women were considered inferior, given few, if any, opportunities to receive an education or develop skills. Their roles were limited and peripheral. Their duty was to serve their men, look after the house and raise children. Men ran the country and did the important work. All the politicians, lawyers, military chiefs, religious leaders, scientists, theologians, artists, writers, musicians, architects, poets, judges and philosophers were men. Even in the courts of the rare female leaders all the other roles were masculine.
Strangely this mindset is one that has been perpetuated by women as well as men. They are often the ones who create the loudest clamor if a female steps out of line – they can be the cruelest in terms of abuse for promiscuous girls, the strongest advocates for FGM and, as leaders, least likely to give a helping hand to fellow women. Thatcher’s cabinet was a good example. She only appointed one woman to her twenty plus cabinet during the whole of her term.
It is only in recent times, in many societies, that this is beginning to change. People such as Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel have taken leading roles. We have women as successful CEOs, Bishops, Lawyers, Artists, Police Chiefs, Scientists and Politicians. As more women take on these roles, and demonstrate that they are not hysterical or incapable, they are setting examples for other women to aspire to and gradually changing the mindset of society.
It is a very gradual business. They have to overturn the preconceptions that have been built up for thousands of years. But it is happening. Things are changing.
Perhaps this is the dawn of a new era for women? Perhaps the dawn of a fairer society built on meritocracy and not gender, race, class, caste or affluence?
There are things worth fighting for!