The Problem with Special Women's Issues
In a brave effort to do what all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t do, this magazine is attempting to re-assemble and present an accurate account of women’s participation in the history of the church.
But are special issues the way to do that? Is there not perhaps some better way to give women the real place they’ve had in history, noticing the noteworthy ones, including the experiences of women as part of the whole fabric of historical reporting?
To the interested observer, particularly to women who are aware of the “normal” way history is done (by ignoring women), giving women their due is long overdue. It seems a great idea to right the wrongs that for so long have excluded females from the pages not only of history, but of most nonfiction for the general reader. Women wonder what the problem is. Can’t we just do it right from now on?
But to the person who attempts to start “doing it right,” it’s not so easy. How do you locate information about women in history? Because so many of our source materials were written by men, preserved by men, interpreted and reported on by men, women have been sifted out at every level. Few remain in the narratives, and many are genuinely lost to the written record. We know, because we have clues, that women were influencing, participating in, and being uniquely and specifically affected by certain events and situations. But we do not have enough material, most of the time, to write a rich account, to do them justice, to draw conclusions we can support.
If we attempt to redress the inequity by over-emphasizing the participation and influence of a few women here and there, we perhaps overload the importance of those particular women and skew the account. So, in a very real sense, ...