Being a woman in itself gives a sense of power, happiness and satisfaction — regardless of age, time or place. However, when we talk about the past, we show women in an oppressed light where — women were denied voting rights, divorce was near impossible, the inability of women to work outside, and the violence against women which was more rampant than it’s now.
You’d be surprised to know that there are many instances from history which stand out and show women having the upper hand in societies. There was no feministic movement back then and no personal agenda of these women own to motivate their cause. They ruled their societies to serve as the salvation of their people time and again.
From the long list of such societies, I will mention three instances where women held power and changed the course of history.
The Spartan Women
Spartan laws were laid down by the legendary lawmaker Lycurgus. He established the laws in the 7th century BCE keeping in mind that the Spartan society must progress as a powerful and threatening one. They were very advanced for their era. Women were given a lot more freedom and allowances so as constantly help advance the nation of Sparta as a whole.
The Archaic Greek poets and historians along with the mythology passed down from one generation to the next, have sung laurels of the brave lives of the Spartan women lived for generations. What set these women apart from the other Greek women was their unmatched beauty and their formal education. Their earning came from the land holdings that they or their family owned through the government-funded land distribution programs. Landholding for women was unheard of back then.
The Spartan women were permitted to exercise outdoors unclothed, like their male counterparts. They gave a tough competition in athletic events. Strong women were seen fit to give birth to strong babies who would, in turn, become great warriors when they grow up.
Mixing of the opposite sexes in Sparta was common and allowed their women to exchange conversations about the then happenings around the world. In a world dominated by testosterone, their sharp wit and outspoken nature set them apart from the rest of the women around the world.
Truth be told,
“If you gave a Spartan woman an inch, she would take a mile.”
The Female Pharaohs
The ancient Egyptians believed in their women more than they did in their men. Time and again, their history is filled with instances where a woman was given power for the protection of patriarchy during unstable times.
When the heir of the kingdom would be too young to take the responsibility of the dominion, his mother, aunt or sister would take the position to safeguard and stabilize the regime. They served as placeholders until the next man could take the spot. Regardless, as long as they ruled, these formidable women held the status equivalent to a King’s.
The first Egyptian Queen was Queen Merneith of the first dynasty (3000–2890 BC), who took up the throne in her son’s place. Likewise, Queen Hatshepsut took up the role of the regent for her nephew in the eighteenth dynasty (1550–1295 BC). She ruled the kingdom for two decades — the longest any female to rule in the Egyptian land.
The cognitive sciences never fail to acknowledge that the female brain functions much different from a male’s. Because of their inclination toward’s emotional attachments and nuance instead of decisiveness, a female leader always has an upper hand during times of turmoil. Perhaps these qualities must have influenced the ancient Egyptians to bestow the responsibility of their land to someone who would take them forward without an agenda of their own.
The Amazon Warriors
As fierce as the mighty wind, the Scythian women fought wars, hunted wild animals, rode horses and used bows and arrows — just like men. Their tribe flourished from 900–200 BC. Their culture was no matriarchal per se — they were egalitarians.
The Scythian society revolved around horses. The warriors were distinguishable from a distance because of their formidable appearance on horses coupled with small bows. This enabled them to target enemies from great distances.
The Scythian women were well trained and powerful warriors who were equally if not more deadly than a man. Perhaps their fierce nature must have inspired Greek mythology and their relation to the ancient Amazons.
Unlike the traditional women of that era, the Scythian women enjoyed booze and smoked pot during the nights. They even got beautiful and detailed tattoos that covered their body. Interestingly, they could have been among the first women to wear trousers. These three features set them miles apart from the rest of the women of the world.
The greatest legacy these Scythian women warriors left is the fear and admiration they drew from contemporaries that persist even after the last Scythian warrior died.
These fiery women have always been with us in our dreams of equality. Sometimes their spirit is masked and sometimes even suppressed.
But at the moment, they’re blazing back into the culture around the world. And that time isn't far when ‘fight like a girl’ would be taken as a compliment as opposed to an idea of disgust.
Why Is History Not Repeating Itself?
These powerful and savage women from different corners of the ancient world call us out of the past. They have always been calling us and challenging us to give women the power they deserve — not necessarily political, but rather as women with a purpose to serve their own.
Both history and science stand testimony that distinguishes women from their fathers, husbands and sons in their ability to emotionally understand and socially connect to people. That is what made them different and that is what served as their binding factor with the nation.
If history repeats now, the soft nature of women would help harness connection with others, find common ground in most disputes, and finally take the finger off the trigger. Maybe, this would then force the world to collectively look for a nuanced solution.
This element of emotionality, the innate humane nature — isn’t that what the world needs right now?
Maybe the world really needs women to be their salvation again. History is already pointing us towards it.
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