BORGES, José Carlos. LAPOLLI, Édis Mafra. AMARAL, Melissa Ribeiro do. The woman and her historical conceptions. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 06, Vol. 09, pp. 05-21. June 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link: https://www.nucleodoconhecimento.com.br/history/historical-conceptions
Over the years the woman had different conceptions within the story, with a lot of hard work and dedication to women earned her due respect, but in the present day gender inequality is still evident. This bibliographical research article raises reflections on the role of women within the different societies of each era, until we reach the profile of the current woman, responsible for commanding families, companies, universities, cities and even countries. Creating a vision through the empowerment of the female figure and its important participation in the construction of today’s society.
Keywords: Women, gender inequality, achievements.
Throughout human history, men and women have held distinct roles within the family and society. For several centuries at different times and in most societies, women were discarded from the important decisions of social life and were seen as fragile sex.
Time has passed and women have gradually gained space within society, through their work, their values and especially their actions. But it was not always so, for the current woman to demonstrate her real value, there were important figures who have earned respect and space within the society of her time. It is worth mentioning that women have gained space today, however, there is still a lot of progress to obtain a more egalitarian space, especially in the labor market.
In a 2018 study conducted by the ILO (International Labour Organization) entitled “Social and Employment Perspectives in the World: Trends for Women 2018”, it pointed out that women are less likely to participate in the labor market than men and are more likely to be unemployed in most countries of the world.
Despite the gender barriers imposed by society over time and space, there have been many women who have stood out over the centuries, becoming leaders or reference within their society.
2. THE WOMAN OF PREHISTORY
Throughout the Paleolithic period women occupied the central role of society, individuals were hunter-gatherers and there was no need for strength, culture was cooperative, partnership, where men and women lived harmoniously. The division of labor between the sexes existed, but without inequality. The woman represented the power to give and nurture, because in this period man did not know his function in procreation, power was centered on women, because it was believed that reproduction was a divine privilege, and for this reason, often the woman was worshipped as a deity.
There are a large number of sculptures with female forms made in the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods that were found by archaeologists, such as the Venus of Willendorf (Figure 01) and the Venus of Lasseul (Figure 02). Men and women related for spontaneous and simple reasons, there was no transmission of inheritance or power, and there were also no disputes over territories or wars, and sexual freedom was enormous. (PAGLIA, 1992; EISLER, 2007; MURARO, 2018).
Figure 1: Venus of Willendorf
Figure 02: Venus de Laussel, estatua of the Prehistoric Age
When hunting for large animals became necessary and man dominated agriculture, male supremacy and competitiveness among groups of individuals began. Women were still adored but there has already begun to be social and sexual stratification. As soon as the man discovers his role in reproduction begins to control female sexuality. The marriage begins to exist, as does property and inheritance. Thus the first villages, cities and empires are formed and society becomes patriarchal where the law of the strongest prevails (MURARO, 2018).
According to Amaral (2019):
Observing the history of humanity one can understand the path that women have taken to lose the status of divinity, worshipped in primitive societies, for a being who depends on male approval for everything. As it turns out, women’s dependence on male power has been losing strength in recent centuries, but it still remains an obstacle for women to reacquire their power and society to become egalitarian again.
Over the years these societies evolved, until the cradle of great civilizations emerged (Sumérica, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman among others), despite following a patriarchal model, women were worshipped by all, either by the figures of the priestesses, warriors or even by female representations through gods.
3. THE WOMAN IN THE ANCIENT AGE
With the Ancient Age, through the expansion of the Hebrew religion, women began to lose space within society and marriages became central institutions for life, that is, the woman would be useful if she were part of a family. Moreover, religion centralized worship on the figure of man, also known as pater. And women should follow and obey the male figure.
Only in the 1st century to.C. that laws have begun to ensure greater freedom and participation of women in public life, much of this assigned process is the basis of Spartan society. Although Athenian society occupies a prominent place in the history of democracy, women’s participation was null and void, because women were educated to serve the home and family.
On the other hand, Spartan society was an extremely military society and for this reason women occupied prominent places in public decisions. Spartan women also occupied a prominent place, as they were responsible for giving rise to Spartan soldiers. In the same period, however, in a place of totally different customs, highlighted the imposing female figure, Queen Cleopatra.
Cleopatra Thea Filopator was born in the city of Alexandria in 69 bc.C. was the last queen of the Ptolymy dynasty, was popularly known for unconventional attitudes and her love affairs, including on this list the great emperor Julius Caesar.
Figure 2: Cleopatra figure, represented by actress Elizabeth Taylor
The daughter of Ptolomy Auletes received a strong name meaning Thea “goddess” and Filopator “loved by her father“. She was a woman with a very intense personality, a skilled businessman, a military strategist and spoke six languages.
The figure of Queen Cleopatra was popularized through the film industry, in one of the most imposing works of American cinema, the film Cleopatra of 1963, played by charismatic actress Elizabeth Taylor.
4. THE WOMAN AND THE MIDDLE AGE
The Middle Ages was considered by many historians as the Dark Ages, a time of great religious persecution, various diseases and attacks among peoples, but it was at this time that women gained access to much of the professions and also to the right to property, but subdued as we can highlight in the excerpt from the book MALLEUS MALEFICARUM:
[..] it should be noted that there was a failure in the formation of the first woman, because she was created from a curved rib, that is, a rib of the breast, whose curvature is, so to speak, contrary to the righteousness of man. And as, by virtue of this failure, the woman is imperfect animal, always disappoints and mind (KREMER, SPRENGER 1991, pag. 116).
The women of this period were very devalued, because society was all centered on the figure of man, but with wars, diseases and persecutions the life expectancy of this period became very low. As a result of these facts, women became widows early, so they had to take over as head of the family.
However, the participation of women during the Middle Ages was even more concise through prominent women who studied at universities and who participated in the political life of the time, examples such as Hilda of Whitby who founded several monasteries and convents throughout Europe, of the Duchess of Aquitaine who taught and ruled the fiefdom with her husband, and one of the greatest examples in the history of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc is one of the most illustrious figures in French history, born in the Middle Ages, in a very troubled time and without much room for manifestation of female thought. This brave figure broke with the paradigms imposed by society, wore men’s clothing and possessed a strong personality.
Figure 3 : Representation of canonized Joan of Arc.
The story of Joan of Arc echoed in every corner of the world, a 17-year-old girl who led French troops in their first fight in the Hundred Years’ War (conflict between France and England between 1337 and 1453), and who served as an example for many other civilizations.
Despite the various conquests in the year 1431, at the age of 19, Joana was burned alive in a public square accused of heresy and witchcraft After the conquests, Joan had become very popular and loved by the people, even more than the king himself, this fact culminated in her death. Soon after his conviction, the Catholic Church began a process of review of the process that culminated in his death, and in 1456 Joan of Arc was found not guilty by Pope Callisto III, and in 1909 his beatification was authorized, being canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. He is currently considered one of the most influential figures in world history and religion.
5. THE WOMAN OF THE MODERN AGE
The transition between the Middle Ages and the Modern Age caused women to begin to gain space in mercantilist society. One of the women who stood out most in modern society was Queen Elizabeth.
Elizabeth I was born in Greenwich in 1533, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, became known in history as Elizabeth “the virgin queen” because she never married, and was the fifth and last monarch in the Tudor line of succession. After a troubled coronation, Elizabeth reigned for many years, and together with her counselors instituted england’s so-called golden age.
Figure 4: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (Virgin Queen)
Among the achievements of the virgin queen we can highlight the establishment of the English Protestant church, the economic growth and unification of England, and the great popular acceptance of the queen after years of crisis. It was also during his reign that he highlighted renowned artistic figures such as Sir Willian Shakespeare.
At this time due to the intensification of trade, and with the fall of Feudalism, there was a marked flow of migration and urbanization, thus making women an important workforce for industry.
6. THE WOMAN AND THE CONTEMPORARY AGE
Throughout history women have held different roles within society, breaking paradigms and gender prejudices, becoming increasingly accepted within today’s society, as are the examples of some illustrious women of Brazilian and even worldwide society; examples such as: Anita Garibaldi, Princess Isabel, Antonieta de Barros, among others.
Like Joan of Arc, the figure of Anita is admired by all and is considered the heroine of both worlds, as she was present in battles in both the American continent and the European continent. Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro (Anita) was born in the municipality of Laguna, Santa Catarina, where she met General Giuseppe Garibaldi at the age of 18, thus abandoning her husband to accompany the Italian revolutionary.
The book by Anita Garibaldi by the author Paulo Markun defines the figure of Anita: “This woman is brunette like all the creoles of the tropics, of simple, agitated and vivacious personality, with a well-designed physiognomy and melancholy countenance, but burning eyes and manly breast ” (MARKUN, 2008, p.24).
Figure 5: Portrait of Anita Garibaldi
Anita participated in several battles and risked her life several times, bringing ammunition to the Republican warriors, caring for the wounded and even being part of the fight. After their conquests the Garibaldi couple was persecuted by French, Spanish and Austrian armies, seeking refuge for a few months in San Marino, until Anita died due to a strong fever and the birth of her fifth daughter, who died along with her mother.
The bravery of Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro is known worldwide, the “heroine of both worlds” has several monuments in her honor, both in Italy and Brazil.
Another important personality stands out in Brazilian society, the figure of Isabel Cristina Leopoldina Augusta Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga de Bragança e Bourbon, popularly known as Princesa Isabel or Isabel do Brasil, heiress and regent of the Second Brazilian Empire, daughter of Dom Pedro II and empress Dona Teresa Cristina de Bourbon-Duas Sicilies.
Elizabeth a liberal woman, a defender of politicians and artists, joined the abolitionist parties because she was opposed to the regime of slavery and defender of women’s suffrage. He financed the abolitionist movements until he obtained the support of part of the population of the time, abolishing brazil’s slavery once and for all with the creation of the Golden Law.
Figura 6 : Princesa Isabel
Princess Elizabeth died in France in 1921, at the age of 75. In 2011, at the request of the Brazilian royalists’ group, The Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro Dom Orani João Tempesta opened a process of beatification, which was forwarded to the archdiocese of Paris, France.
Another imposing woman who was highlighted during the Contemporary Age was Antonieta de Barros, an illustrious figure of Santa Catarina society and recognized for her achievements throughout Brazil. Educator, writer, journalist and politics, she dedicated her life to combating illiteracy and advocating the granting of scholarships for higher education courses to needy students.
Figure 7: Portrait of Antoinette de Barros.
She was the first woman to be elected in the Legislative Assembly of Santa Catarina and the first black congresswoman in Brazil, developed work focused on educational issues, female status and racial prejudice.
In addition to these achievements, she dedicated part of her life as an educator and director of the Complementary School of the Lauro Muller School Group, the Santa Catarina Normal School and the Dias Velho College. She also wrote for several newspapers, published several articles and was the founder of the newspaper A Semana.
A black woman, poor and orphaned by a father, with great dedication and love, fought against gender discrimination both genderand racial, making one of the most influential women in the state of Santa Catarina.
7. THE PROFILE OF WOMEN TODAY
After centuries of struggle and hard work, women have managed to overcome some barriers of gender differentiation by becoming successful professionals. Recently gaining greater participation in social, professional and political spaces. But even though she has advanced a lot, and has won important steps, women still face gender bias and have to overcome numerous internal and external barriers (AMARAL, 2019). Today’s women are educators, heads of companies, presidents of nations that challenge the barriers that appear, fulfilling the double journey, professional and family, going over gender bias, facing the glass ceiling and, in particular, overcoming the lack of self-confidence.
According to Amaral (2019, p. 113):
[…] to be able to insert themselves in the business environment dominated by men, these women had attitude, using very feminine characteristics such as calm, patience and persistence, marking position, showing a lot of work, acquiring self-confidence, facing their internal fears, seeking to empower themselves to face the barriers to entrepreneurship.
The women of the 21st century acquired a new profile through the appropriation of knowledge, especially from the 1960s and 1970s with feminist movements, gaining greater space in society, with emphasis on higher education. The feminist movement started at the end of the 19th century was essential for women to achieve a position in social, personal and political spaces.
To empower and face the barriers that still exist women need to go through a cultural and mainly behavioral change, empower themselves, and overcome internal fears. As she empowerherselfs she can impose herself in situations where she was silenced, to insert herself in environments where she was previously excluded, having attitude and facing obstacles, always seeking balance in the various aspects of life (AMARAL, 2019).
A good example was British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who commanded the United Kingdom in the middle of the Cold War from 1979 to 1990, perhaps one of the most important imposing women on the contemporary world stage. She became known as the Iron Lady, due to her aggressive and anti-communist politics; it created measures to stabilise the British economy, which was going through a troubled time, with high inflation rates, high unemployment and a huge oil crisis. Loved by some and opposed by others, Margaret Thatcher never hid her admiration for capitalist practices, vehemently fighting the expansion of socialism and trade unionism through her conservative neoliberal policy. Among his most striking quotes, we can highlight phrases such as: “The problem with communism is that one day the money of others ends”. And the phrase used in his speech after the terrorist attack of the group, IRA (Irish Republican Army). “Greed is a good.”
A few years passed and the whole world began to accept on the political scene several female figures, including women who became globally influential, such as former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, elected two consecutive terms, of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, head of government of Germany: Angela Dorothea Merkel and Queen of England Elizabeth II, among other prominent female figures.
Examples of great women, not only the political area, in the global social and corporate scene there are also prominent women, such as the presenter Oprah Winfrey, considered by Forbes magazine in 2017, as the richest woman in the world, with an estimated net worth of 2.4 billion dollars. Another important woman we can’t help but mention is young Pakistani Malala Yousafzay, who at the age of 17 became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Malala survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, and thereby strengthened her fight for girls’ education and the fight against child labor in Pakistan.
8. FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
Since the beginning of humanity, the female figure and gender equality have presented different conceptions through time and space. Through much struggle and suffering women are gaining more and more space in society. Even though women are the majority among the world population, it is still difficult to enter social, political and economic spaces.
It can be observed that even facing numerous barriers, several women stood out in the history of humanity. These women were undoubtedly differentiated human beings with intellectual capacity and above average emotional strength to achieve this feat, each at the time in which they lived. Even with so many examples of women who have exceled in the past and stand out today, a significant portion lives on the margins of this context, the vast majority of women living in the 21st century still face violence, prejudice, discrimination and difficulty to excel both in the professional and personal areas. According to data from the 2000 Commission on the Women (UN), one in three women have suffered some kind of aggression, both physical and moral or sexual worldwide, and in Brazil every five minutes a woman is assaulted, alarming data that portrayed a reality not far from many.
In the labor market unfortunately it is no different, despite having the same intellectual conditions as man, and being, in most cases, more educated, women still face gender inequality especially with regard to male obstruction, wage differences, double journey and prejudice. According to ILO (International Labour Organization) in its report “Social and Employment Perspectives in the World: Trends for Women 2018”, the overall rate of women’s participation in the workforce is 48.5% in 2018, 26.5% below the male rate.
Women go a much harder path than men to succeed and stand out. In order to insert themselves in the business or social environment dominated by men, women had to empower themselves, seeking to develop self-confidence, have attitude and use essentially feminine characteristics such as persistence, patience and care, working and studying more than men and facing internal fears.
Despite all the difficulty, and the impositions imposed by men that resulted in gender inequality, women were an essential part of history, developing their role masterfully, confronting prejudice and the barriers of each time and place. Over the years the historical woman has created a concrete foundation for today’s woman, serving as a foundation for the woman of the 21st century to compete side by side with the male figure, despite the double journey, the daily prejudices faced, family problems and the internal barrier that is difficult to overcome: the lack of self-confidence.
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 Management and Tutoring Specialist at EAD.
 PhD in Engineering and Knowledge Management.
 Master in Engineering and Knowledge Management.
Sent: April, 2020.
Approved: June, 2020.