The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut as a Feminist Icon

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The Woman Who Would Be KingHatshepsut has been in my periphery as something amazing, something more for as long as I can remember. I remember little blurbs about her in books I saw as a child on Egyptian history. I saw her statue at the British Museum when I was only 18 years of age, and marvelled at the thought of a woman so powerful.

So when I saw given the opportunity to read this book, I leapt at it with both hands.

It should be noted though, that I am not an Egyptologist and when it comes to mythology I tend to lean toward the Greeks and Romans, for no reason in particular.

But the idea of a female Pharaoh? It appeals. Especially in a world where women are often still treated as second class citizens.

I of course, went into it with little understanding of Egyptian life, and therefore this book was definitely a breath of fresh air.

Kara Cooney cares about Hatshepsut, and the history of Egypt, something which is clear in the writing about this Queen. Half-historical and half-speculative fiction this book weaves a wonderful tale and characterization of the female Pharaoh from the beginning of her life, when she was a mere child, raised in Egyptian nurseries to taking up the mantle.

There are passages such as the one below, which enrich the display of power earned by one woman, with help from her own mother that drew me in.

Hatshepsut has the misfortune to be antiquity’s female leader who did everything right, a woman who would match her wit and energy to a task so seamlessly that she made no waves of discontent that have been recorded. For Hatshepsut, all that endured were remnants of her success, props for later kings who never had to give her the credit she deserved.

This passage, a reminder of what would have been left after her, perhaps those who were ungrateful of having “endured” a female ruler, but along with many others speak of how powerless women really were then. And perhaps those feelings are echoed, in some way how powerless women are today.

It is this book that showed me, in some small way, how far the world has come, but how much we have to learn from each other, from women from other regions, from other times.

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