The Suppressed Histories Archives is an international women's history project seeking to uncover
the realities of female lives, and of peoples free, conquered, enslaved, decimated and resurgent.

Women’s Power: Study Guide

Questions for discussion ..... by Max Dashu

How have women been written out of history?

How does paying attention to women change how history is investigated and interpreted?

What about indigenous peoples? And what about common people in class-ranked societies, or conquered peoples who are enslaved or driven into subordinate castes?

What "non-historical" sources offer information on female experience in various cultures? Why are these sources disregarded?

Why are societies that accord women honor, liberty and open power seldom portrayed or discussed?

Why do so many anthropological experts deny the existence of egalitarian social systems? Why do historians spend so little time discussing the development and legal mechanics of male dominant systems?

How did all this happen? How did women come to be a dominated, culturally colonized  and demoralized group?

How did patriarchal codes develop? How do they relate to patterns of conquest, to slavery and class systems, and to racialized caste systems? How do they adapt in changing times?

What forms of violence have been used to enforce patriarchal and colonial supremacy?

What are the origins of domination? and how did it spread? How did early slavery, the taking of primarily female captives, degrade the status of women? What relation does accumulation of property and the creation of class sytems bear to male domination?

Consider divide and conquer, and also the spread of cultures which encode systems of domination. How did militarism and profiteering prevail over peace and cooperation?

What can we do to change these systems of domination? What role does culture play, and how is it related to the economic and political structures. Or, how do those shape new cultural formations…

How has racism distorted and censored the information available as "World History"?

Why is the history of most of the world usually reduced to a brief glimpse of the colonial era?

Why the omission of indigenous peoples from "history" and "philosophy"-- and the emphasis on them in "anthropology" and "ethnology"?

Why the assumption that these peoples represent less advanced "stages" in human development? That class-ranked and militarized societies are “complex” and superior to cooperative egalitarian ones?

Or the assumption that women's status in indigenous societies is lesser and powerless, when the reverse is more often true?

Why are peaceful and egalitarian societies not classified as the most advanced human cultures?

How do projections of “tribalism” distort the history of African and other colonized peoples? What part did the drawing of colonial boundaries play in creating modern ethnic conflicts?

How does our understanding of American Indian history change if it is reconceptualized in terms of countries defined by land, culture, and language?

European invasions of the Americas caused a cascade of effects: land seizure, destroyed economic and social infrastructure, waves of refugees fleeing westward over centuries, erased boundaries and heightened levels of conflict between Indian nations.  Why are these events not considered in discussions of European-borne diseases, when they undoubtedly inflated the massive mortality of Indian peoples?

How has imposition of patriarchal norms by conquerors changed the culture of indigenous peoples, and forwarded the cause of cultural colonization?

What role has religion played in subordination and internalized cultural colonization?

What are the ways that religious institutions disempower and exclude women, even while demanding their allegiance and support?

Why is it that today many academics insist that female divinity has no cultural significance whatsoever, when patriarchal theologians have urged the suppression of goddess veneration for centuries, even millennia?

How does religious bigotry correlate with patriarchy, with racism? With war?

What kinds of interaction took place, or still take place, between mother-right and male-dominated cultures?

How do men in mother-right cultures differ from men in dominance-based societies, in values, behaviors, and actions?

How does the treatment of same-sex-loving, gender-variant, and transgendered people differ in sex-egalitarian societies?

How do dominant patriarchal "norms" disempower old women, and how does their marginalization compare with female elders in egalitarian cultures? and how does isolation of the old harm other members of society?

What needs to be done now?

How do we overcome the retrograde media influences and all that divides us,
to recreate a just world, and restore peace and respect for all living beings?


More food for thought can be found online at:

See especially Racism, History and Lies

Women's Power

Priestesses, Power and Politics

Patriarchies (impressionistic grab-bag, not a full analysis)

Suppressed Histories Archives: real women, global vision

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