because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Sometimes history -- and people in history -- are a lot more complicated than we realize. In-your-face women are no different. Theodora, for example, was the Empress in Byzantine Rome in the first half of the 6th Century CE, but before she married Emperor Justinian, she was an actress. In ancient Rome, that meant prostitute, more or less, as "actresses" typically put on sex shows of various types (Theodora's involved her nearly naked body, some barley and some geese). And when show audiences ran thin, the "actresses" entertained "clients" seeking sexual favors.

According to the records, Justinian fell for Theodora, but it was against the law for an Emperor to marry an "actress." So he got the law changed, to make it possible for Theodora to help him rule Rome. And help him rule, she did. She virtually single-handedly stopped Justinian and his government from running for the hills during the Nika revolt. She was instrumental in turning Constantinople into one of the finest cities in the world. And she increased women's rights related to divorce, property ownership and children, instituted the death penalty for rape, and outlawed the killing of a woman for adultery, making the Byzantine Empire much more hospitable for women than most of the rest of Europe and the Middle East at that time. In-your-faced-ness is often not as much about what a woman does as it is how she does it and ultimately not as much about where she starts out as how she finishes.

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