Once a friend made me reflect on the irrefutable fact that humanity, over the centuries, has lost brilliant women, full of talent, political vocation and gifts that could have benefited the communities to which they belonged, because they were relegated to take care of children and household chores. History, as we know, is made up of males, written mostly by males and, unless a complex research work is done, it is sovereigns, heads of state, male political leaders who we study at school.
Women are a rarity, for the simple fact that in every corner of the globe they have been, without even too much effort to hide it, discriminated against, and it is no coincidence that what defines itself as the largest democracy in the world, namely the USA, has never had a female president, it is no coincidence that Italy has never had a female prime minister, that even France, which prides itself on its Enlightenment principles, has never elected a female president of the republic. And if Vjosa Osmani, newly elected President of the Republic of Kosovo at just 38 years ago is still news, even in a Europe that is really opening up to women in positions of power, especially in the North with, among all, Sanna Marin 34-year-old Finnish premier, means that there is still a lot of work to be done on the equality front. Having said that, it is impossible not to see in the re-election of Jacinda Ardern, our reference for many exemplary actions in New Zealand, including the management of the pandemic, or in the appointment of Ursula von der Leyen as head of the European Commission, some signs of improvement, and to celebrate the very steps forward, we take a few back to see who they are and who were the most powerful women in history , who paved the way for all the others.
The last queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt was celebrated several times by the cinema even today when a problem arose: Cleopatra was historically a black woman. In the vein of post-colonial cinema studies, this question is summed up with the English term whitewashingaka the Hollywood vice of having actresses, such as the iconic Liz Taylor, and Caucasian actors interpret roles of historically different ethnicities in order to make them more aesthetically appealing to the general public. But cinema issues aside, the Egyptian queen is known for the undisputed fascination in front of which personalities of the caliber of Julius Caesar and Marco Antonio fell, she was also a skilled statesman and a fine connoisseur of international relations, and managed to influence the policy of the Roman Empire in various circumstances. Thanks to Caesar’s support, she regained the throne after the civil war with her brother Ptolemy. Becoming mistress of Marcus Anthony, after the assassination of Caesar she managed to consolidate the dominion over the East, until her death: in 30 BC
Almost completely unknown, in a West that is very ego-related and rarely goes to study history that crosses its borders, Wu Zetian, also called Wu Zhao, or Wu-hou, was the only reigning empress in the two. millennia of life of the Chinese empire. Considered one of the most powerful women in the history of China, she was the only one to have founded her own dynasty, the Zhou dynasty . Originally a last-level concubine to the Tang dynasty emperors, Lei Wu managed to make a rapid social rise, becoming the favorite of Emperor Gao Zong, and ousting her rivals (including the legitimate wife of the ruler). She lowered taxes and promoted agricultural development, consolidating Buddhism as the state religion. You recently you have a new film dedicated to her,Detective Dee and the mystery of the phantom flame.
Elizabeth I of England
Daughter of Henry VIII and Anna Bolena, she ruled in a context rich in family conspiracies and international rivalries (first of all, the one with Spain). For refusing to marry for political convenience, she earned the nickname “Virgin Queen”. She was a fervent supporter of the Church of England and for this reason opposed Mary Queen of Scots, her cousin and Queen of Scotland, a symbol of English Catholicism (Elizabeth had her executed). Among her greatest political successes was the defeat of the Spanish Armada in English waters in 1588. Her reign also saw an unprecedented cultural flowering: William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon are just some of the intellectuals who lived in her. era of her. At least nine films have been dedicated to her, including the two Elizabeth andElizabeth: The Golden Age, con protagonista Cate Blanchett.
Catherine II of Russia
It is considered one of the greatest examples of enlightened despotism: extremely cultured, it did not hesitate to exercise power in an absolutist and despotic way. She married the Grand Duke and heir to the throne Pietro Fëdorovič with whom she soon disagreed, to the point of ordering a conspiracy to imprison him (the sovereign died in prison). She came to power, she ruled according to Enlightenment ideals, supporting legal reforms, education and administration. In foreign policy she is famous for having annexed a large part of Poland to her empire, mercilessly suppressing the nationalisms of that land. Last year a Caterina in a very very ironic sauce became the protagonist of the delicious series The Great, which declares itself as “an occasionally accurate story.” It can be said that the historical context of the series starring a highly inspired Elle Fanning is quite faithful, but within that sphere there are only many instances that make it rather a parody actualizing.
He was prime minister of Israel in a particularly complex period in the country’s history, following the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, and during the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict. Golda Meir was also among the leading figures. of the Zionist movement, for the creation of an Israeli state in Palestine. Many of her compare her, for her attitude and longevity to her power, to the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher. Her decisive attitude was also famous at home: the Israelis, according to a recurring joke, used to define her “the only real man in Israel”, and even David Ben-Gurion, former Israeli Prime Minister, used to refer to her as “the best man in government “. Despite this reputation, towards the end of her career, Golda Meir was able to maintain a maternal aura, which made her appear as “the grandmother of the Israeli people”. She is still considered one of the most important female figures of the 20th century.
The only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, elected for 3 consecutive terms. For her inflexible management of internal strikes and some international crises (including the siege of the Iranian embassy in London by 6 Arab terrorists in 1980) she has earned the nickname “Iron Lady” (the Lady of iron). Her work is not exempt from historiographical criticisms, such as that of racism and of not having favored the rise to power of other women. In the fourth season of The Crown series a Gillian Anderson who has rightly brought home an Emmy has given us back a Thatcher almost nemesis of Her Majesty, a woman difficult to digest, immovable, hard, divisive and yet loved. She is one of the most controversial figures in history, to whom we still look with many doubts and as many questions.
The Chancellor born and educated in East Germany has left a mark on the country’s history comparable to that of her predecessor and mentor Helmut Kohl. Like many compatriots, she was a member of the German Free Youth at a young age. Her political career continued at the same time as her studies. She graduated in Physics at the University of Lipisa before earning her doctorate with a thesis on quantum clinic. Abandoned the profession of physics, Merkel devoted herself only to politics. In 1990 she was elected to the Bundestag for the first time. A long rise that led her in 2005 to fill the role of chancellor. A job that she still holds today too if she should not be a candidate in the next elections since in November 2018 she lost the elections as secretary of her party. Angela Merkel, more than any member of the Commission, represented Europe and its governance. Merkel’s Germany represented the face of austerity, of rigor on public finances, of the hard line against countries in difficulty, effectively initiating that phase of questioning the European political and economic elites that only Mario Draghi was able to moderate with his quantitative easing.
What is Beyoncé doing here? She does what she does best, does Queen Bey, the only pop star to have made a video clip inside the Louvre and to have made Coachella Beychella. If this is not power.