The hidden strength of women…if only it could be shown (Journal #3)

NOTE: This is a journal for sociology class. Do not take anything I write in this post literally.

I’ve read at least three chapters from our Sociology book over the Labor Day weekend, as well as the slides provided in our class site. Quite fascinating indeed. But I’ve also been quite observant. I’ve noted that everything I’ve read, from the chapters to the lecture slides, reveal one clear fabrication concocted by man: the idea that a male-dominated society is the “paradise” of the world.

In the book, I balked when I read an excerpt from a 19th century French “psychologist” who claimed that women’s brains were the same as children and gorillas, incapable of higher learning. Further on, I actually laughed when I read about how American doctors and professors were against women attending college and other schools of higher education, simply for the “reason” and “proof” that women would lose their ability to procreate and reproduce. Absurdity! Complete absurdity! Women are just as capable as men in numerous fields, sometimes even excelling men in various fields. But the belief doesn’t marry the reality, as women have been treated as lesser citizens since the time of the Greeks to only recently. Only recently have the women been granted greater freedoms in a so-called “man’s world.”

So, I choose to show a few examples of how women have risen to the call, become as capable as men in many fields. The first I wish to speak of is women, actual women having fought in warfare. Many they were, just as able as men. One of the earliest examples was the legendary swordswoman of ancient China, known as the Maiden of the Southern Forest. Another lesser known example is the queen Tomyris, leader of the Massagatae tribe in ancient Iran and said to have been the one to kill Cyrus the Great during the expansion of his Persian Empire. Yet another is the Greek woman Artemisia, said to be the only one of the Persian king Xerxes’ military commanders to be female. She was the one who instigated and participated in the Battle of Salamis, one of the great naval battles of the Greco-Persian Wars.

I move on to later women in warfare. One of the earliest is Queen Boudicca, who led her tribe, the Iceni, against the Romans, successfully winning campaign after campaign against them, though she eventually lost. Centuries later, the young peasant girl known as Joan of Arc became a military figure, leading the French to oust the English from their lands in Orleans. Yet another came a few centuries later, the Spanish woman known as Agustina de Aragon. She was there originally to feed the defenders who were fighting the French during the Spanish War of Independence. She alone manned one of the cannons and was said to kill a handful of French with just one blast, inspiring the fleeing Spanish defenders to rally and join her side. She later became a captain in the Spanish Army and a renowned military officer, one of the first female officers of her time. Even today, she’s known in Spain as the “Spanish Joan of Arc.” And we can’t forget Molly Pitcher, the unknown American woman who helped man the cannons during the American Revolution. Recently, women have become a more common sight in the military, especially in our air force, army, marines, and navy.

But it isn’t just in warfare that women are as capable as men. In terms of leadership, women are just as able. One of the earliest examples is Hatsheput, the very first female pharaoh of ancient Egypt and one of its greatest. Cleopatra was also a female pharaoh, and the last one of ancient Egypt. One female ruler whose echoes throughout history is the empress Theodora, wife of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. She really gives meaning to the phrase “behind every great man there’s a great woman.” Justinian was considered one of the greatest Byzantine emperors, but it wouldn’t have been possible without her. She ruled the Byzantine Empire in co-partnership with her husband, and was the one who rallied Justinian and his loyal followers to stop the Nika riots of Constantinople. Elizabeth I is another example of a female ruler, but the most recent and most widely renowned of all is the female ruler of 18th-century Russia, the woman known as Catherine the Great. She was the longest-ruling female of Russia, restoring it to its former glory once created by another previous ruler of Russia, Peter the Great. These two are considered to be the greatest rulers of Imperial Russia, only two centuries apart.

Another excellent example of women’s equality with men can be found in ancient Sparta. Sparta was one of the most famed Greek city-states, and the most militarized. Sparta was forever equated with warfare and hardship. All Spartan men, of course, were required to serve in the army. But Spartan women were unique in all of Greece in that they had far greater independence than other Greek women. For one, Spartan women were reared almost the same as Spartan men during their childhood, learning pretty much the same things as men until they came of age. In Sparta, a woman could even own land and were considered equal citizens. They also controlled many administrative positions in Sparta. And like Spartan males, Spartan females also underwent thorough physical training and exercise throughout their lives. It’s a fact that Spartan women in Greece were much more fit and stronger than other Greek women of the era, superior to them in every respect.

Recently, women have become a driving force in the modern world. The first true jumpstarts which I think started the women’s uprising and unification would be the home front of both WWI and WWII. While the men in both wars were away fighting, women took up the call of working in the factories and other male-oriented jobs. In WWII, you definitely saw women welders, machinists, technicians, construction workers, etc. In WWII, women got a little more freedom in the military. Women were permitted to fly supply missions and become pilots in their own right. Others worked in top-secret facilities. Others helped in the logistics branch of the military, supplying the Allied armies. There were several women’s military organizations in WWII, one of the foremost being the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP.

Overall, women are as capable as men in numerous fields and roles. The lie that it’s a male-dominated society has tainted everything we stand for as one race of humanity. I really hope that one day women’s status becomes far more equal than it is today, and before.

Works Cited

1. <http://www.colorq.org/articles/article.aspx?d=asianwomen&x=nanlin>

The Maiden of the Southern Forest- master swordsman and military trainer. ColorQ.org. Web. Accessed 5 Sep 2012.

2. <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/tomyris.asp>

Herodotus. Queen Tomyris of the Massagetai and the Defeat of the Persians under Cyrus. www.Fordham.edu. Web. Accessed 5 Sep, 2012.

3. <http://www.pbs.org/empires/thegreeks/background/42.html>

Artemisia-Warrior Queen of Halicarnassus. www.pbs.org. Web. Accessed 5 Sep, 2012.

4. <http://www.historynet.com/boudica-celtic-war-queen-who-challenged-rome.htm>

Margaret Donsbach. Boudica: Celtic War Queen Who Challenged Rome. www.historynet.com. Originally published by Military History magazine. Web. Accessed 5 Sep, 2012.

5. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agustina_de_Arag%C3%B3n>

Agustina de Aragon. en.wikipedia.org. Web. Accessed 5 Sep, 2012.

6. <http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/easteurope/theodora.html>

The Empress Theodora. http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/index.html. Web. Accessed 5 Sep, 2012.

7. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_ancient_Sparta>

Women in ancient Sparta. en.wikipedia.org. Web. Accessed 5 Sep, 2012.

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2 thoughts on “The hidden strength of women…if only it could be shown (Journal #3)

  1. What a powerful blog. Thanks so much for sharing. Excellent discussion, and well researched. 5.4/5.4

  2. konor55 says:

    Many thanks. This is my favorite so far.

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