Latin with a Feminist Consciousness
In order to do that, you are
going to have to go back and rethink a lot of things about the
history and culture you teach. A helpful guide in all this is
the historian Gerda Lerner. The introduction to her book The
Creation of Patriarchy contains some of her ideas about the
relationship of women to history:
- Women are and have been central,
not marginal, to the making of society and to the building of
- Women have been kept from contributing
to history-making, that is, the ordering and interpretation of
the past of humankind. They have also been systematically excluded
from the enterprise of creating symbol systems, philosophies,
science, and law.
- Men have explained the world
in their own terms so as to make themselves the center of discourse.
- Men are not the center of the
world, but men and women are.
- Women cannot be put into the
empty spaces of patriarchal thought and systems - in moving to
the center, they transform the system.
This last point is the most
important one for us to consider in our own teaching. Are we
just filling in some gaps, some empty spaces, some extra time,
with a look at women? Or do we grasp the fact that the whole
enterprise of understanding and teaching history is transformed
when women are moved to the center?
In other words, the problem
is not the past itself, but what we decide has been important
about the past, since history-making is an act of selection,
an act of deciding what is important. The past itself is not
male-centered. Women have never been excluded from life. They
have been involved in every human venture. What they have been
kept from is the writing of history, the act of deciding what
is important and what is not.