It often feels like we’ve been fighting for equality for an eternity, but if we study human history, you will see that there wasn’t always gender inequality. So at what point in time were women designated secondary citizens by a vast majority of humans?
If you go back centuries ago, you will learn that prehistoric women were actually pretty brawny and had stronger arms than most of today’s female athletes. There have been female rulers in at least Egypt and China back then. More recently among Vikings and in England back when the queen actually had power and wasn’t simply a useless figurehead.
Most Native Americans societies acknowledged 3 to 5 different gender roles: Feminine, Masculine, Two Spirit female, Two Spirit male and Trans-gendered. There was no gender undervalued. Each tribe has their own specific term, but it all came down to these 5 genders. It was also a custom for Native Americans parents to not interfere with nature and so among some tribes, children wore gender-neutral clothes until they reached an age where they decided for themselves which path they would walk.
So what changed? Was religion the cause? I’m betting on religion. Specifically a sad and/or insecure pope and male associates avid with power.
So, at what point did women get the shaft figuratively speaking? The answer varies depending on the area you live, probably a sound bet on religion though.
The Malleus Maleficarum, published in the 15th century by Catholic clergymen. It kicked off the massive persecution and execution of “witches”. I use the quotations because it gave license to torture and kill any woman or girl accused of witchcraft. Essentially it gave frightened men a tool to crush women under their boot. Really horrifying when you think about it. If any woman did anything anyone didn’t like, all it took was an accusation to get rid of them. I highly recommend a visit to Salem, Massachusetts.
Women became the scapegoat for others’ actions and beliefs for centuries.
We must continue to use our voices to support the advancement of gender equality.