Back to male chauvinism in Hammurabi’s days, Circa 1,760 BCE, when medical profession was out and out a male bastion, women could just be patients – at best, midwives who assisted delivery of kids!
Maybe the meagre rewards coupled with stringent punishments for men of medicine discouraged Babylonian men from taking to medical profession, as in about 450 B.C. Herodotus (a traveling trader and writer) says that “Babylon had no doctors. Instead, sick people were put out in the market place and anyone passing by could discuss the illness or injury and recommend a treatment he himself had devised, experienced or heard about.”!
This happens all over the world even today, eh?!
Around this time Greece had not lagged behind in prohibiting women from practising medicine although there were many goddesses in Greek Mythology – most of them mere wives of gods – just a few standing on their own, – like Gaia, Aphrodite, Venus etc., – yet bearing children of male gods!
In ancient Greece women and slaves were prohibited from practising medicine – errant women were punished with death – by being burnt on stakes as witches!
Heard of Agnodice or Agnodike – ?3rd century BC – who was probably the earliest historical, and likely apocryphal Greek woman of Athens, who, horrified by and unable to bear women patients dying miserably by refusing to be treated by male physicians, was prepared to risk her own death to save lives of myriads of women patients, disguised herself in men’s clothing, and attended the lectures of a physician named Hierophilus. Women refused her service until she told them that she was a woman. Afterwards, when she became very successful, the jealous male practitioners dragged her to the Areopagus, the high Court of Appeal for criminal and civil cases in Athens, and accused her of corrupting the morals of her patients. Upon her refuting this charge by making known her sex, she was immediately accused of having violated the existing law prohibiting women from practising medicine, and was sentenced to death! Luckily she was saved by a mass female uprising in her behalf by the very rich and influential wives of the chief persons in Athens, whom she had attended, who mass-marched to the court and threatened to take their own lives if she was killed. The judges relented because some of their own family members were her patients. Agnodice was let off and the impugned law prohibiting women practising medicine, was abolished; women were thereafter allowed to practice medicine but restricted to the treatment of women and children and to be paid a stipend for their service.
Ancient Egypt was not far behind in male chauvinism. Granted they had many goddesses all beside their gods – not many stood on their own! Same thing applied to their Empresses and Queens all beside their Emperors / Pharohs / Kings -[including the famous enchantress Cleopatra VII Philopator (69 – 30 B.C.E.) who, clung to her throne as the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greeks, by the charm she turned first on the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar and then on his successor Mark Antony but failed with Caesar’s legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus) as a rival to whom she planted, with the support of Antony, her own son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion, as the Roman Emperor! After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian’s forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed, according to tradition, killing herself by an asp bite on August 12, 30 B.C.E.
No doubt Egyptian Pharaohs installed statues of their better halves beside theirs but the ratio of man-to-woman-statue height was discriminantly telling! The four colossal statues of of Ramesses II the Great at the Great Temple at Abu Simbel measure 20 meters in height while his first queen Nefertari Merytmut’s midget of a statue, which stands beside the colossus, measures no higher than halfway up the legs of the pharaoh – barely 3 meters maybe!
Pop King Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time” also depicts Nefertari being dependent on the Pharaoh even to arrange entertainment for herself! When bored she hisses “ushshshsh!” to attract attention to her being bored and when her Pharaoh, immersed in his own cup of wine, ignores her ushshshsh, she has to request the Pharaoh to help her, saying, “I am bored! I want to be entertained! Can my Pharaoh find some way to entertain his queen?!”! Thereupon, the great pharoah’s handclap brings a row of three entertainers and when the queen finds the third magical song-and-dance entertainer (played by Michael and singing ” Do You Remember When We Fell In Love We Were Young And Innocent Then…..Remember The Times”) is her childhood friend and responds to his hand-kissing gesture by holding out her left hand with the palm facing downward for Michael to hand-kiss her knuckles and thereupon the jealous Pharaoh erupts like a volcano ordering the guards to arrest Michael, who magically eludes them and decides to “wait until dark” (as in the 1967 thriller movie led by the one and only Audrey Hepburn) and then sneaks into the chamber of the sorrowing queen suffering from pangs of separation from the childhood lover and gets a warm hug and a long lip-kiss!
Ancient Egypt did not have chastity belts!
Michael Jackson’s “Remember the time” uses the word “phone” twice – once in line 28, “We’d Stay On The Phone” and a second time in line 72, “On The Phone You And Me”. Did phones exist in ancient Egypt? Is this an example of poetic licence or the (Trio) lyricists (-Teddy Riley, Michael Jackson and Bernard Belle)’s inadvertent / deliberate goof? I have posted this question in http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index too! Can somebody tell me?
Of course ancient Egypt did have a few female doctors – Peseshet, Merit Ptah, and one named Cleopatra (not to be confused with Pharaoh Cleopatra VII Philopator) – but they all added up to just a handful – countable with your fingers!
More about them and other women doctors of yore in the pages to follow!