Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.
Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”
Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”
“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.
- Judges 4:1-10
One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
- Ruth 3:1-6
Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!”
When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.
- 1 Samuel 25:18-27
“For most of recorded history, women have been seen subordinate to men. But during the 18th century, the justice of this arrangement began to be openly challenged. Among the most prominent voices of dissent was that of the English radical Mary Wollstonecraft. …
“Wollstonecraft argues that if men and women are given the same education they will acquire the same good character and rational approach to life, because they have fundamentally similar brains and minds. Her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, published in 1792, was partly a response to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile (1762), which recommends that girls be educated differently to boys, and that they learn deference to them.
“Wollstonecraft’s demand that women be treated as equal citizens to men – with equal legal, social, and political rights – was still largely treated with derision in the late 18th century. But it did sow the seeds of the suffragette and feminist movements that were to flourish in the 19th and 20th centuries.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
For those that were wondering if I would ever get to the point of quoting a female philosopher, the quote above largely explains why it has taken this long. If there were others, they did not get published.
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) had a short life, but she made her point known and history has recorded her as an opponent who was not to be trifled with.
The world may have been, and in some corners still is, highly male-centric. Much of that comes from a combination of the sin nature of mankind, male and female, and the tendency of men to be larger and stronger, thus more effective bullies. The Bible refers to God as our Heavenly Father, and Jesus is male. Adam was created before Eve, but does that matter, outside the sin nature of trying to find an excuse to dominate rather than love, respect, and share in a God-given union?
Throughout the Bible, it has an abundance of strong women. Deborah led the Israelites as a judge. Naomi was wise, wishing to care for her daughter-in-law, Ruth. And Ruth was loyal and obedient. And having heard how her fool of a husband would not feed David’s army, although David provided protection for Nabal and the others in the area, Abigail took matters into her own hands. These are just a few. It is not a coincidence that Jesus appeared after His resurrection to the women first. The women had a job to do, and they were unafraid to be seen at the tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers.
Yet, the bully mentality prevails even now.
Rev. David Robertson recently dedicated an entire podcast, Quantum 163, to “I Am Woman.” He speaks of the Woke agenda that seeks to destroy the rights of women as they blur the line of gender. He even played a recording of several politicians who could not answer the question, “What is a woman?” If the word cannot be defined, how can those, who are women, going to keep the rights they have struggled to achieve?
Mary Wollstonecraft was not your typical subservient housewife of the 18th century. She was the daughter of farmers, and she became a schoolteacher. She went to France to observe the French Revolution and had a liaison with George Imlay, an American businessman and diplomat. She had a daughter from that liaison. When she returned, she joined a group of intellectuals, a few of which launched the Romantic Age of British literature. Among the group were William Godwin, Thomas Paine, and William Wordsworth. Many may have been Romantic writers, but they had a political edge in their writing. Again, Mary had an affair. This time with William Godwin, but in this instance William Godwin married her after she found that she was pregnant. Mary Wollstonecraft died eleven days after her second daughter was born.
Oh, to tie in the title, it is hard for Mary Wollstonecraft to roar much in such a short life. She authored a few works in that time, one published posthumously. The book mentioned above is well known as an excellent philosophy on gender equality. But the daughter that she had for eleven days before her death had a chance to roar for her.
The second Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) married the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. She became a novelist who wrote several novels, but one novel outshined the rest. It had two titles. One was The Modern Prometheus, but most know it by its other title, Frankenstein. “I am Woman, Hear me Roar”, indeed. Note: I am Woman was written and performed by Helen Reddy (1941-2020).
I am sure Mary Shelley read her mother’s works, and maybe Helen Reddy did as well.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.