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January 29, 2020

What being an Archaeologist for 9 years taught me about Female Empowerment.

Thirteen years ago, I became an archaeologist.

You know—Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft. 

I wanted to travel the world and explore ancient tombs looking for treasure. And I also had a deep yearning to connect with women from the ancient past.

I knew I was experiencing subtle and not-so-subtle bias and discrimination as a woman, but I also had a suspicion that women hadn’t always been treated as second-class citizens. And so, there I was at the age of 18, taking my first university class in Feminist Archaeology, and that’s when it happened—the aha moment.

The moment when I realised that women have been oppressed for over 2,000 years, but prior to that, they were not only equal but revered.

Although I’d read a lot of New Age books about women’s power, their accounts of women in the ancient past were wrong or overgeneralized. I quickly became obsessed with knowing the real truth, which led me to write research papers and get a Ph.D.

Here’s what I discovered:

1. Patriarchy is responsible for the suppression of women. And Western, organised society is built upon patriarchy. The key themes of patriarchy are hierarchy, dominance, and control.

During the fourth century AD, we saw the full development of the patriarchal paradigm. The church, wealthy landowners, and merchants wanted to keep themselves in power. This resulted in the total obliteration of female/nature worshiping religions and the disempowerment of women having a say. 

2. Women, prior to this, had spiritual, economic, and political power. We have written records of warrior queens in Britain (around 2,000 years ago) such as Boudica and Cartimandua, who held just as much respect and prestige as their warrior husbands. 

Scrolls from Ancient Egypt dating back 2,000 years also suggest that there was a time when female wisdom was the foundation of religious belief.  

3. Women were written out of history. During my years at university, I read hundreds of archaeological books. Many of them were male-centric, discussing the evolution of men and mankind. 

I found myself asking, “Where are the women?” And when women were present in narratives of the past, it was usually implied that they were the ones doing domestic duties (with no archaeological evidence to back this up).

In the last decade, more of an effort has been made to bring women back into history but, even so, the one-sidedness reflected the bias that still operates against women even today.

The anger I felt about this injustice became my fuel, but I realised that rewriting women back into history wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to help women in the modern world rewrite their own stories, share their voice, and take up leading roles in today’s economic, political, and spiritual stage. 

It led me to begin mentoring women to decondition from patriarchy, create inner confidence, and play bigger.

Because it’s only when a woman makes a conscious choice to release herself from the past and forge a new future that she can change her destiny.  

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Sarah Coxon  |  Contribution: 445

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