How many times have you walked through the local mall and seen the present day version of beauty in a woman? Did she wear makeup? Was she thin enough to see through her skin? Or was she a more voluptuous body type? More than likely she was a thin woman who had makeup on and dyed or highlighted hair. She holds a job and is equal in legal status to a man. In most countries today, women are viewed as equal to a man both as a provider and as a citizen of the country in which they reside. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case. Women in early recorded history were viewed as nurturers/caregivers and entertainers, while being considered inferior in status to a man.
In Paleolithic times the earth became known as Mother Earth because it provided for its inhabitants in much the same ways as the women of that era provided for their families. Women were the gatherers, healers, and nurturers of their villages. They were prided for having a large, round body (which was considered healthy and conducive to child-bearing i.e. fertility). The Venus of Willendorf, a stone mother earth idol, demonstrates this effectively with its swollen fertile body. This is vastly different from how health and beauty are perceived today, with a thinner, firmer body being identified with health and well-being.
Later in Babylon circa 1800-1750 BCE Ishtar the “Queen of Heaven” was worshipped as a fertility goddess. In the plaque shown on page 20 she is shown with a round, full face, large breasts, and round hips to prove her fertility. Here the fertility icon of the time is not shown with as bulbous of a body, but is still shown with overtly feminine endowments. When Ishtar is adopted by the Egyptians, and is renamed as Isis, she soon becomes overshadowed by her counterpart, the male god, Amon. In Egypt Isis is relegated back to a helpmate position instead of being the once powerful fertility goddess who reigned under her own power and might while known as Ishtar.
Even later in Minoan culture circa 1600 BCE the fertility priestess icon is shown with large bare breasts and a snake held up in her hand. The symbolism shows that the powerful and fertile priestess holds power over the fertility of the crops. Important here is the power that females are given in this culture that has yet to be overridden by male gods as in the case of Ishtar when she was adopted as Isis in Egypt.
Women were also viewed as entertainers as evidenced by the Egyptian tomb painting on page 57. They could be everything from a lute player to a dancing girl. Egypt wasn’t the only country to view their women as potential entertainment; India circa 2300-1750 BCE has cast bronze statues of the dancing girls of their country. These girls are shown nude but with multiple pieces of jewelry, their hair...