In a Word . . . women

For so long women were like ‘Indians’ in America before 1492 or Aborigines in Australia before 1770 – they didn’t exist!

 

When were women discovered? We know America was discovered in 1492, Australia in 1770, but there is no date for when women were discovered.

There is little evidence women existed in biblical times. I mean Jesus said “man does not live by bread alone”. Not a word about women. Or that “what God has put together let no man pull asunder”.

For so long women were like “Indians” in America before 1492 or Aborigines in Australia before 1770. They didn’t exist. Still, and a bit like the old Kerry woman and fairies, you too could be forgiven for thinking: “I don’t believe in them but I know they’re there.”

To help with such credence a US study published in 2015 found that 93 women are mentioned in the Bible, with just 49 named. They speak for a truly extraordinarily tiny 1.1 per cent of the time. So silent. Just 14,056 words out of the approximate 1.1 million in all of the Bible.

That’s women for ya. But not as we know them.

Eve, our onlie begetter, utters a tiny 74 words and look where they got us?

Somewhat better, Mary, the mother of Jesus, speaks 191 while Mary Magdalene trails at a mere 61. So, really, women in biblical times were like children in the Victorian era, they were seen (rarely) and not heard. That was then.

There were no women in Ireland in 1937 when the Constitution was approved in referendum. Which is why it tells us “the President shall hold office for seven years from the date upon which he enters upon his office”.

It determines an election be held in the event of “his death, resignation, or permanent incapacity” and that no Presidential powers “shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government”.

So, you might ask, what of the two Marys? Were the Robinson and McAleese presidencies constitutional? Did they actually exist?

We know there were no women in July 1969 when the moon-landing took place and Neil Armstrong proclaimed “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. And we know women didn’t exist in September 2012 when Pope Benedict XVI told a general audience in St Peter’s Square that “Sacred Scripture is an ongoing dialogue between God and man”.

So when were women discovered? Damned if I know.

Women from Old English wimman, wiman (plural wimmen), alteration of wifman (plural wifmen), a compound of wif (for “woman”) plus man (“human being”).

inaword@irishtimes.com

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