The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The suppressed history of women writers

April 5, 2024/Midnight

Erie Pa., — Throughout history, women have quietly thrived in the world dominated by men – but through passionate writing, their voices were heard.

The first documented author in world history was a woman – a high priestess named Enheduanna. Though she may not have been the first ever writer found, she offered her unique first-person perspective and claimed her work as her own.

The priestess also wrote about femininity and the abuse she faced as a woman. During her retelling of the faced abuse, she writes that a goddess called Inanna came to save her.

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Though she inscribed her works with claimed authorship, some of today’s archaeologists argue that she did not write these works and instead a man did it for her. However, many state that she did – as the writing is far too personal to her royal life as a woman to be that of a man’s.

Around 1,000 years later, Greek poet Sappho is documented as the first woman poet.

Sappho, born in the Isle of Lesbos, became a controversial writer but a crucial figure in both women and LGBT history.

Many of Sappho’s work has been destroyed by the church, due to her passionate imagery of romantic and sexual attraction to women. What is known about her comes from one complete poem and few portions of others.

Sappho wrote as if love were the true meaning to life, that love is true beauty, and no one can deny its encapsulating powers: how it is through the goddesses we can feel such a gift. She writes through an adulation of femininity, describing nature’s beauty of flowers and life, all connecting it back to her passionate romance.

Though her work was demonized by religious officials of the 4th century – writers throughout time praised her work. She remains one of the greats in the poetry world, sitting side by side with Homer as “the poetess” and “the poet.”

Sappho is believed to be the “first feminist” and even more importantly – the first lesbian. Her home, the isle of the lesbos, created the label’s name and her name created the term “sapphic” – a term for all same sex female attraction.

While much of her may be destroyed, her impact remains and she as a woman and writer will continue to be admired.

Much longer after these two women, female writers continued to have their devoted work controlled by men. Many of them used pseudonyms, writing under the guise of men. Unable to claim their work with fair recognition, they pursued their passions quietly in the shadows of their male peers.

Another step forward in feminist history was Emily Dickinson’s focus of empowering women through written words and passionate voice.  She rejected the expected societal roles of women in the 1800s and challenged these ideas with her harsh honesty through poetry.

In the 1900s, black women began to make their voices heard as they shared their struggles due to the systemic oppression of black women.

Toni Morrison wrote novels focused on the black community, emphasizing the shared strength and hope found within it. Her most famous novels focus on the relationships of black women – the relationships with themselves and others.

Her novel The Bluest Eye encourages young black girls to admire their identity, to not long for what is expected of them in a whitewashed world. A lesson of self-love to young women being told they are less than white woman. This book’s meaning encourages a new generation to not be silenced, and to find the beauty that lies their culture and identity.

Her other famous novels, Sula and Beloved, focus on black women’s relationships with each other, their past, and their communities. Morrison utilizes her real connections and moments to let her voice be authentic.

Morrison and all the women writers of the Civil Rights Movement welcomed more voices to be heard where they had been silenced – breaking down the barrier holding black women back from moving history forward.

While women still struggle to be taken as seriously as their male peers in such careers – we have these women and their honest bravery to thank for allowing our written words to be heard.

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