Lynn Voedisch: Making strides…back to the past

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Women have had it rough through most of Western history. With no property rights and no
chance to earn a living, women through the Middle Ages to just recently were little more than
chattel. They cleaned house, cooked, and birthed babies, and got little in return. Some were in
arranged marriages with no love binding the couple. Some live like that now.

In our time you may see something addressed to Mrs. John Smith. That’s just a reminder of our
unhappy past; the woman was just an adjunct of Mr. Smith.

But there was a time in the far distant past when women were are free as they are now. Ancient
Egyptian women were the freest civilized women on earth during the 4,000-year history of the
Mid-Eastern land. The were free to own land, marry, divorce, and live independent lives. The
priestesses, most of whom were virgins, had a high rank in society.

There even were a couple female pharaohs, although only one had the confidence to call
herself that by name. That was Hatshepsut, who was regent to a young boy pharaoh. No one
knows the circumstances, but one day, she stepped up and said that she was the monarch.
Statues were made of her in the traditional male dress—even wearing the fake beard seen on
so many male statues. Later she feminized her image. After than she was never heard from
again, her statues smashed and used as rubble and landfill for later architectural constructions.

There’s a lot of argument about whether the young regent grew up and dumped Hatsepshut or if
the priests rebelled. She may simply have gotten sick and died. What is certain is that the males
of the kingdom didn’t want to remember a female king. Some things never change.

Pharaoh-dom aside, Egyptian women luxuriated in linen gowns, fine jewelry, and amazingly
complex cuisine. And this was just the middle class. Of course, there were slaves of all
conquered nations who saw none of this grandeur, but the average Egyptian was inured to that.
(Slaves of all races were so common in history, it’s hard to find a society that didn’t rely on
them.)

My novel “The God’s Wife,” published by Story Plant, tells the story of an ancient Egyptian girl,
16 years old, who becomes named God’s Wife of Amun, the highest rank for a woman in their
society. She is considered second only to the Pharaoh in power (and he happens to be her
father).

Rather than being spoiled, she’s constantly pursued by men who would have her to share her
power. And in a fantastic twist, she shares the soul of a 21st century woman who is dancing the
role of Aida in a dance version of the popular opera. They share much together, learning about
each other’s worlds. But eventually one has to join the other; how this happens is the climax of
the novel.

In all, “The God’s Wife” is a look at how women were different and yet surprisingly the same
across a gap of thousands of years.

Today, we aren’t always moving forward. Some notable women have been treated badly in the
current era. There are many countries where women are nothing more than slaves. We try to
move past that and make a better world. The best way is by learning how women once lived and how they once thrived. There is always room for change and we hope daily that we can advance it.

Lynn Voedisch is the author of three novels, Excited Light, The God’s Wife, and Dateline:
Atlantis, the last two of which were published by The Story Plant. The e-book edition of The
God’s Wife is available for $2.99 for the entire month of September 2017.

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