Origins of Namelessness in Women
Journey's End

In many sources it has been referred to as the time of pre-history; the time before the classical era when the glory that was women was gradually obliterated by the emergence of a patriarchal society that strived to eliminate all traces of events that happened beyond their control. Women have learned to see themselves through men’s definitions, communicated to them since early childhood. They have learned to define themselves through social roles, myths, rituals and folklore; through the symbols of a culture and in the language used to express ideas of “the other.”

There is a way that the men speak to women that reminds me too much of Pa. They listen just long enough to issue instructions. They don’t even look at women when women are speaking. They look at the ground and bend their heads toward the ground. The women also do not “look in a man’s face” as they say. To “look in a man’s face” is a brazen thing to do. They look instead at his feet or his knees. And what can I say to this? Again it is our own behavior around Pa.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

The answer was staring me in the face the whole time and I refused to acknowledge it. To maintain control over an individual, you turn them into a cipher. You refuse to acknowledge their name, their identity, their very sense of humanity. To exert control over a group of people you remove their religion, their knowledge and culture, their sense of identity as a people.

Michel Foucault has distinguished gender as a socially constructed category separate from biological sex and which is the result of prevailing social norms and practices. He claimed that a culture can construct or produce gender differences through its various social discourses – from the way that people dress to the laws that govern them – in order to maintain existing power structures.

Theology is ultimately political. The way human communities deify the transcendent and determine the categories of good and evil have more to do with the power dynamics of the social systems which create the theologies than with the spontaneous revelation of truth from another quarter.

Merlin Stone. When God Was a Woman

Women have demanded the return of their identity and the right to be recognized for who they are. Such changes are slowly entrenching themselves in our society, with much opposition. It may take hundreds or thousands of years, but if women claim the opportunity to remember their heritage and learn again to respect their own worth, we can perhaps again look forward to a truly egalitarian society, where a name can be given equal prominence in the history books.

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Women of Ancient Greece
Women of Rome
Women of the Early Christian Era
The Story of the Goddess
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