On Celebrating July 4th Independence Day
By Marivir Montebon
Celebrating freedom only makes sense when we acknowledge the things women do but are taken for granted or are unknown, or deliberately banished. We are not truly free, until more than half of the world’s population are freed from slavery, the regard of being second-class citizens, or being seen as sex objects.
I would like to key in important women in the course of history, who in their work and inspiration, have helped create a compassionate society and the consciousness that women deserve equal opportunity and respect.
Freedom is not served in a silver platter. It is fought and hard-earned, as it is now and thousands of years past.
The Black Slave Woman Struggled for the Right to Vote Too
Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree, 1797-1883), an abolitionist from New York, was the epitome of the struggle for women’s right to vote and public life at the time when records have it that American white women were fighting for their right to vote. It is to be understood that the black women’s emancipation was a unique struggle by itself.
For the black slave woman, she had to struggle to be freed from mainstream America’s enslavement, the black man’s own control, and to be in alliance with the white feminists who were also fighting for their rights.
Sojourner Truth’s best-known speech “Ain’t I a Woman” was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, citing equal rights of women at the time of the Civil War.
The Forgotten Queen
Queen Hatshepsut was the daughter of the great warrior Pharaoh Thutmose I and his queen, the Theban princess Ahmose. Her 21-year rule was peaceful and paved way for the flourishing of the arts, science, and trade in Egypt, in contrast to the incessant military campaigns of her father, and stepson after her.
Not much is said and given to her honor, as her stepson, her successor, had made sure nothing about her would be remembered as a successful female ruler and to continue with the male succession tradition.
As pharaoh, Hatshepsut had successful building projects, especially around Thebes. Her greatest legacy was the enormous memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri, considered one of the architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. Her reign made Egypt a bastion for trading expeditions that brought back vast riches–including ivory, ebony, gold, leopard skins and incense–to Egypt.
Hatshepsut was the third woman to become pharaoh in 3,000 years of ancient Egypt. She was the first to attain the full power of the position. Cleopatra would rule in the same way some 14 centuries later.
Using a Male Pen Name
George Eliot was Mary Ann Evans (1819 – 1880) in real life. She was an English novelist, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.
Seven novels to the name of George Eliot had been respected and well-read, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876).
Evans said she had to use the male pen name to ensure that her works would be taken seriously. She wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances, as well as to be judged separately as an editor and critic. She had to shield herself from the scandal of her relationship with a married man, George Henry Lewes.
Evans wrote with realism and psychological insight.