The Great Hippo wrote:You'll also find that a lot of the most radical women suffragists still thought that women had a 'proper place', a 'proper role', etc. Of course you're right; radical women always opposed male patriarchy (Olympe de Gouges comes to mind), but these were rare exceptions to the rule - women throughout history have long accepted and reinforced patriarchy and patriarchal notions. Because if they didn't, they'd find out - like Olympe de Gouges - that there are Consequencestm.
The Dreyfus Affair split France between the Dreyfusard and the anti-Dreyfusard (largely, Catholic women). It was a massive political scandal, which had ordinary (not radical) women fighting with men over the dinner table and in public. It was thought that the Women's Suffrage movement came about in Britain because of middle class women with too much time on their hands, but it was actually lower class, working women who prompted the change. Ordinary women have been plenty capable of making themselves noticed.
The Great Hippo wrote:You point at instances where women have acquired some degree of rights (the Roman empire is a good one; women also enjoyed certain unusual privileges in Ancient Greece - under Sparta, I think? - where they were actually capable of holding property) and define this as a struggle between two genders for power, but what you're leaving out is that all the power a minority attains is ultimately granted to them through the 'benevolence' of the majority. Women had the rights you mention under these cultures because male lawmakers decided to give those rights to them.
Women are hardly minorities, and I doubt we would call Spartan lawmakers benevolent, not with the way they happily oppressed an entire population into serfdom. Women have always resisted forms of control (this is why wherever we find patriarchal societies, we find popular stories of women resisting... Antigone is the obvious one. I can find others if you'd like).
The Great Hippo wrote:I challenge you to find one ancient civilization where women had fair and legal representation in the government body - in short, access to the fundamental right of self determination - rather than a male stand-in... Because until you do, I don't know what else to call an unbroken progression of governments created by males, run by males, and staffed by males busily passing laws that affect females besides 'a story of consistent male dominance'.
It's because it isn't consistent male dominance... I'm suggesting that male power has surged and ebbed, not that it hasn't always been on top. To give an example, early Mesopotamian culture put Goddesses at the centre of the Pantheon, and associated them with agriculture and water. It was thought that as men were originally the hunters and women were the gatherers, the early settlements based on farming relied heavily on women. As men started to farm, and developed irrigation, the central Goddesses switched gender and became male (Nashat & Tucker, Women in the Middle East and North Africa: 13-15). Much much later, under the Ottoman Empire, women had marital rights that were upheld by the courts, where they were allowed to represent themselves. Husbands and fathers could not make use of women's property without consent, and women could accumulate real estate and other wealth(Ibid.,71-72). I'm not suggesting there was equality, but that women have been suppressed to greater and lesser extents over time. This is because women have always had agency--not been helpless victims--able to assert themselves and take advantage of leverage despite the efforts of men to suppress their will.