You've no doubt heard scholars during Women's History Month lament the dearth of information out there on women over the years. Of course, there are some famous names we all recognize. Most people hear might about Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, Esther of the Bible, Gloria Steinem, Hildegard von Bingen, Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Thatcher, but let's face it. History is written by the conquerors, not the gender that has been oppressed by patriarchy for thousands of years.
In some countries women are lucky to be able to go to school, even in 2013. They may be traded for livestock or have acid thrown on their faces for disobeying male authority. They may even be forced to marry their rapist. Certainly we have been doing a lot of work without equal pay. Statistics show we actually do 80% of the labor but only own 20% of the world's assets. Men are still trying to tell us what to do with our bodies and we're called FemiNazis if we want equality. No wonder it is the moral imperative of our time to empower women across the globe!
So maybe one way to start doing that is embracing a somewhat new definition within the English language: Herstory. Here's my definition first published in my book, Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations.
Herstory.....Viewing what has come before through the lens of a female or woman’s perspective. No longer just considered a term of the feminist, society at large is beginning to understand what has transpired for the past thousands of years has been written, interpreted and told from a male-centered, patriarchal point of view, called his-story. Herstory is the other half of the equation, the missing pieces of the puzzle, told from the other gender. The threads of this rich tapestry of life had been stifled or obliterated by those who sought power and control, thereby subjugating and diminishing the female gender’s participation in the vast timeline of civilization. Herstory includes the richness of women’s roles in the past, including their art, traditions, culture, and the often excluded feminine face of deity. Undervalued in the past, women and men are coming into wholeness as they discover what had been obscured and swept under the sands of time.
Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American academic historian, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States.
Howard does speak about some of the unsung heroines of history in the United States, but I think it's about time we coined a phrase for achievements of women of the past, present and future. We have to recognize we have been seeing the world only through the eyes of men and as one of my colleagues, author, Tim Ward, says, until we see the world through the lens of the Feminine, we are all only looking through one eye.