1 Mia Jones December 8, 2020 Gender Inequality and Queens Through History Though often debated, the origins of sexism and gender inequality trace back thousands of years for humanity. The same story has been embedded in many old and new cultures, genders are assigned roles, and one is often superior to others. While there are exceptions, the majority of cultures participate in patriarchal societies in which males are the dominant sex. This also means that women are less likely to hold social, economic, or political power over men and must abide by laws defined by men. It is a tale old as time. Even when women hold powerful positions, there is almost always a prominent male figure looming over them and directing decision making. It's tempting to assume that this is the natural state of life. Only females can bear children, males are generally physically stronger than women, and even our evolutionary predecessors follow a similar structure. Whether it be seen on a smaller scale such as that of a nuclear family structure where men are the source of income and head of the household, women in these families are the caregivers and homemakers, tending to household chores and raising children, and need the company of a man to live (Beemer, 271). A larger-scale example can be seen with monarchies, the title queen was seen as the highest stature of power given to a woman, but the title of king was greater. Even if a queen were the absolute ruler of a nation, most of her strength and support would stem from an heir, which required a marriage with a man. This idea raises interesting questions for gender and sex; what does power mean for different genders, and how has it varied over the years? Additionally, has sexism died out because of historic marks left by those who fought for their rights? If so, what lingers? Studying
2 the most influential title given to a woman throughout history is a great place to start to answer these questions. As mentioned previously, that title is "Queen." Queens came in various forms throughout history, some sole rulers of their nation, other consorts. Some with significant influence and some arm candy. By analyzing Mary, Queen of Scots, Catherine the Great, and Empress Dowager Cixi, it is evident that despite being a woman living in a male-dominated society, it's possible to be an impeccable leader.