(Photograph by Kiana Bosman; Unsplash)
As a female writer, I owe a great deal to women writers who have gone before me. They were the pioneers who frequently used male pseudonyms in order to get published. No-one took women seriously as authors and the few who did write successfully owed their start in life to benevolent men who believed women should have some kind of education. The Brontë sisters are, of course, the leading example of this, having the education, time and financial security when they were girls to enable them to pursue their dreams of being writers. Nowadays, women writers are legion, as are the women who follow careers that once were only available to men.
A quotation I saw on social media a week ago set me to thinking more about this topic. It concerned how women are always expected to see the world through men’s eyes but men are never expected to see the world through theirs. There are too many women before me on the timeline to contemplate but I did try to picture them all, the millions and millions of souls who were never allowed to express themselves or reach their potential.
How many of them could have been writers, artists, scientists and scholars? Instead of which they ended up worn out with caring for children, cooking and washing and pandering to male egos, their only chance for debate a few snatched minutes gossiping in the marketplace. All those undeveloped minds, the wasted intellects, subjugated to menial tasks, poverty and neglect. Girls of every race, colour and creed were overlooked and denied education or advancement simply because of their gender. A handful of hormones determined how the world saw them.
All those life experiences and philosophies, the common sense and wisdom, of one half of humanity, all seen as secondary to the accepted doctrines of the other half. So much compassion and intuition marginalised and ridiculed. So much never brought to light or nurtured that could have steered humanity onto a more sensible course.
What might the world have been now had all those girls when growing up been granted as much freedom of expression as men, as much right to achieve their potential and explore their creative abilities? Would a female perspective that was given equal value to that of men have taught humanity to treat the Earth with more respect?
We will never know what we have lost.