"Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History."
So said Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, lamenting the fact that so few women have been remembered through history without having first created some sort of scandal or stepped beyond their "place".
And so last weekend a bunch of misbehaving women went out to raise a ruckus.
This “misbehaviour” was a matter of rising to the occasion—making a noise and making a point. Being heard. Being taken seriously. Marching not just for women's rights, but also civil rights.
Ulrich also said that history “isn’t just what happens in the past,” but what we choose to remember.
Around 1440 B.C., long after a female pharaoh had become one with Osiris in the afterlife, her images were set upon—hacked at and thrown down.
The intention was to put this misbehaving woman back in her "place"—and remove her regality from history.
Just like the millions of women of 2017, Hatshepsut's "misbehaviour" was also rising to the occasion and doing what was necessary.
This newly-widowed queen was acting as temporary regent for her young step-son—the very junior King Thutmose III—when she stepped up and became a fully-fledged pharaoh.
In the past, Hatshepsut's audacious move was viewed as being driven by a taste for power. Today, however, we can see that the queen was likely doing was what necessary to protect a vulnerable young king.
Some think that the Hatshepsut "backlash" was a reaction against a woman being on the throne—an affront to "ma'at"—the Egyptian sense of harmony, tradition and doing what was right.
This could be true.
It might also be because Hatshepsut never actually replaced Thutmose. She never established her own regnal years and continued to use those of the rightful king. With Hatshepsut's reign being completely "inside" that of Thutmose III's, it was probably seen as illegitimate and had to be wiped from posterity. Images of Hatshepsut before she became "king" were largely left untouched.
This photo shows a statue reconstructed from several pieces—a victim of the Hatshepsut "backlash". It is currently at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities for their "Queens of the Nile" exhibition.
Read more about the famous (and sometimes "misbehaving") queens of the New Kingdom in the current issue of Nile Magazine. Enjoy your Nile time!