How men erased women from world religion for 800 years
She explores several cases of how women were once able to exploit the currency of sacred wisdom with surprising results.
Ninety seven per cent of all global deities were female; meaning that for the majority of human experience, man has worshipped at the shrine of the goddess, not the god.
Women were recognized for their wisdom, but this been largely forgotten.
Hughes sets out to find out why, by examining various cases such as that of Theodora, empress of Byzantium.
Though not high born, she started out as an erotic dancer, Theodora’s understanding of biblical wisdom enabled her to make sound judgments; she legislated furiously and founded safe houses for prostitutes, outlawed pimps and introduced penalties for rape.
Islam also acknowledged the important role of women in implementing God’s instruction. Hadiths, sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, urge women and men to seek knowledge.
They flourished in the early years of Islam, and in the 12th century in reaction to the crusades, when women preached in the great mosques of Damascus, Medina, Cairo and Jerusalem.
The story was similar in the East. The Asian matriarch Wu Zetian should be a household name today, her seventh century achievements were so remarkable.
She led the invasion of Korea and Tibet, reformed the administrative system, adopted Buddhism and adopted printing; 700 years before the Europeans.
But within decades of her death her memory had been eradicated and her memorial stone at Qianling in China’s Shanxi province remains blank.
This golden age for women’s sacred wisdom was short-lived.
All of these women have been forgotten because they were systematically written out of history by men in the 12th century when universities became centres of learning.
Divine Women started on BBC2 at 9pm (UK time), Wednesday 11 April.