The Queen of My Self

This article was written by a brilliant colleague, who I very much admire. She founded the Suppressed Histories Archives, an archive of hundreds of thousands of images of women of power throughout the ages and across cultures. The piece is divided into three parts.

Women’s Power
By Max Dashu,

What does that mean? Women who openly display their power, knowledge, and skill, receiving public recognition and honor. But also females who manage to wield power in societies that try to limit it or decree female submission; and where their leadership is stigmatized and their creativity disdained. Also, women who resist and overthrow oppressive traditions and regimes. Who break The Rules in defiance of unjust legal and religious “authorities.” Who pursue their vision in spite of the personal cost.

Women have determined the course of events and the forms of human culture. We originated, founded, governed, prophesied, created great art, fought for our rights, and for our peoples. These are the women edited out of history, their stories omitted, distorted, and replaced with an endless litany of men (and the occasional queen or meddling concubine). Our ignorance of these women is greatly compounded by the omission of information on societies that accorded females power in public life, diplomacy, religion, medicine, the arts as well as family structure and inheritance. Both racism and sexism are implicated in these silences and gaps.

We need a remedial history that reconstructs the female dimensions of human experience and achievement, that recovers the distorted and obliterated past of Africa, the Americas, and all other regions neglected by the standard textbooks and mass media. This will be a provisional history, because all the facts are not in yet, and previous interpretations are being reevaluated for gender, race, and colonial bias. More importantly, the indigenous oral histories have only barely begun to be integrated into mainstream narratives.

Women have often been relegated to the footnotes of history, and even those are highly selective. As Sandra Cisneros wrote of her search for Latina sheros, “We are the footnotes of the footnotes.” Yet the heritages of women of color, especially the indigenous cultures, supply the most dramatic examples in recent history of female power openly embraced and honored. But even Europe looks different when we look at the common women and include places like Bulgaria, Estonia, Corsica, or Iberian Galicia.

Women’s history demands a global perspective. There’s far more to it than Queen Elizabeth I or Susan B. Anthony. We need to refocus historical attention from the school of “famous women” (often royal females) to encompass broader groupings of women with power: clan mothers and female elders; priestesses, diviners, medicine women and healers; market women, weavers, and other female arts and professions. These “female spheres of power,” as I call them, vary greatly from culture to culture. Some of them, particularly the spiritual callings, retain aspects of women’s self-determination, even in societies that insist on formal subordination of female to male in private and public space.

Part 2 of Women’s Power tomorrow.

* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to

Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.


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