Introduction to This Month’s Topic: The History of Women in Western Civilization

This was a class I wanted to take for a few reasons. One reason is that I love history and it feels like I have studied it all my life. I grew up with a thirst for it and devoured every book I could find that I could understand. I think that this passion for learning and history has served me well in my life and has been very enjoyable for me. However, I found that I felt over time that my knowledge was really very limited and as I looked at it from an education and a religious standpoint, I realized that I pretty much can give the basics on many of the individuals that have made history, but the majority are men. The exceptions in my mind can be classified as wealthy, white, powerful women such as Catherine the Great of Russia and Queen Elizabeth I of England... which were rare. Over the last year or so, I have tried to change that and have actively tried to look at the flip side of the coin so to speak. I have found the information a lot more challenging to come by and having anyone to discuss the information I do find with is difficult because the history of anyone besides men isn't taught in most standard classes so the discussion becomes a bit of a lecture or monologue.... which is no fun at all. So I saw this particular class as a lot of fun and a great resource towards gaining more knowledge, but also more guidance towards more resources for future study. I was hopeful that I can learn more not only about women and their struggles in culture, families and in creating a human history of their own, but also that I can develop a better understanding of the struggle for gender equality that is going on in my own lifetime. I also wanted to have a better understanding of how power and entitlement work between gender, class and race and how people are working towards changing the cultural biases that affect the under-privileged majority of people.

I found myself really interested in learning about how women's history is being compiled by historians and feminists today and how, as history is complied, what forces or parts of culture tend to decide which history is most important for the average student to learn about. I recognize that politics enters that equation as well so I understand that question must needs be open ended without a full solution to be had.

I think that anyone who approaches any of this information differently on a few levels. As our gender is intertwined in our mind and our thoughts without it being consciously there, each individual will have no choice but to either ignore or recognize that you will look at in the material based on your gender. However, I think that we are each much more likely to approach the material from a just as personal and unapproachable bias.... the bias of our own life experiences as well as current life circumstances. Our experiences, culture, family and our choices over time have helped each of us develop into a unique and amazing person and we cannot help but approach any topic with those biases in place and work to try and set them aside as we study and try to look at the topics addressed. I do not think that it is possible for any of us to do that completely- part of me at least has a hard time recognizing biases in myself and I assume others may have the same difficulty in self reflection and introspection. So I suspect that even when many of us appear to see the topic in the same 'light' and have the same viewpoint, we are getting there from very different paths and thoughts.

I recognize that the topics that I will address in the next several posts may be unknown to most and may also be on topics that are sensitive or cause negative emotions in yourself and others. I am not sharing them to cause any harm or anger; rather, I am sharing because I believe that the only way to change culture is to talk about it. From my writings, you will find that some of these topics were challenging for me and my emotions will hang off of some of my sentences and paragraphs. I hope that as readers, we can share our thoughts freely and discuss our feelings and concerns on the history and the topics that are discussed… many of which are still relevant to ourselves and women around the world today.

pictures from: http://www.citelighter.com/film-media/fashion/knowledgecards/womens-fashions-of-the-medieval-era, https://oregonheritage.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/oregon-womens-history-project/, https://oregonheritage.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/oregon-womens-history-project/, http://www.ora.tv/offthegrid/article/grid-history-women-history

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