There’s something about a strong, confident woman that puts people on edge. Perhaps the strength of these women forces them to reflect on their own weakness, or maybe it’s just good old fashioned hatin’, but whatever it is, women who are powerful and/or talented often find that they have to justify themselves against folks who want to diminish who they are. Intelligent women with high standards are snobs, an assertive woman is a bitch, a sexy woman is a slut. It doesn’t matter your credentials, your experience, your area of expertise, there’s a word or phrase out there that can knock you right off of your high horse and put you back in your place.
The sad thing is, it’s not always men perpetuating these judgements against women, it’s often women doing it against each other. When Hilary Clinton was running for President, the first woman EVER who had a real fighting chance, folks were more concerned about her lack of fashion sense rather than her political platform. Oh, and what about female athletes? Male athletes are revered and idolized while the women are put down, ignored, or overly sexualized (hello, Serena Williams). We never even get the chance to know, really know, the achievements of so many great women because we are so focused on the fluff.
This has been happening for years, though, so maybe we should be used to it. I mean, Cleopatra was the ruler of Egypt as a teenager, but most of us just know her as being a temptress, a Lolita who seduced Caesar and used her sexuality to get what she wanted. Because, she couldn’t have been, you know, intelligent, and used her brains to be a political success. Look, y’all, maybe we can’t change the world, and we sure can’t change history, but one thing we can do is educate ourselves about the REAL DEAL when it comes to women and women’s history, and make sure we are teaching our daughters (and sons, but especially daughters) the truth about the contribution of women to our world in order to ensure we get our place in history…right at the bottom, holding everything up.
In Cleopatra: A Life, Stacy Schiff digs into the history books to share with us who the true Cleopatra was. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by Cleopatra: A Life on book club day, September 27 at From Left to Write.