This is what I want us to look at. It's an article from the Zanesville Time Recorder. I'm sure we're all subscribers.
The TR is the paper for Zanesville. If you're not a Buckeye, that name might not mean anything to you. Zanesville is a city named for Ebenezer Zane, the man who carved Zane's Trail through modern day Ohio. He gave his son a plot of land that eventually became Zanesville.
What caught my eye was the opening sentence in the article:
"Had Sarah McIntire lived "in this day of woman's rights, she would not have been relegated to obscurity," wrote Helene Louisa Sullivan in 1892."
You see that/? It's because of sexism, short version, that Mrs. McIntire was 'relegated to obscurity." Who was Sarah McIntyre? She was Ebenezer Zane's daughter. She married John McIntire. It was John who received the land that eventually became Zanesville.
What did Sarah do? According to the article, she was a heck of a homemaker. She was generous and kind. She did charitable work, which was hardly uncommon. A nasty rumor over the years is that Protestant Christians in America laughed at charity. Reality suggests otherwise of course. She also helped lay the groundwork for different projects and helped start a Methodist church in the region.
In fact, here is a nice summary of her at the end of the article:
Sarah "was a notable housewife, and a splendid cook," Sullivan wrote, and "having established themselves in their forest home, they dispensed hospitality with a liberal hand, all being welcome to their dinner table within the sound of their dinner horn."
After John died, Sarah remarried David Young, a minister, and later helped establish the first Methodist church in Zanesville. She funded the construction of both the Second Street and South Street M.E. churches in the city. "Sarah McIntire was truly an extraordinary woman,"
So what am I getting at? My point is, I'm sure Ms. Sarah was a fine person. And like so many in this world, a remarkable one in her own right. But why would she be remembered beyond any one of a million men or women who did similar things? Why assume it's only because of sexism (the backhanded assumption behind the statement 'in this day of woman's rights' is supposed to suggest) that she faded into obscurity? And then it dawned on me.
I don't think we realize just how Bigotry is the uber-narrative of history in our modern mindset. That is, Bigotry is the great mortal sin. It is the unforgivable, all defining sin. Bigotry is the template through which everything in history is explained. Bigotry is why everything we think is right can actually be wrong. This is because all of history is somehow the ones in charge who are necessarily bigoted corrupting the real truth and oppressing the ones who should be listened to.
We see it in - everything. The idea that all of history was corrupted by a global patriarchy dominated by men. We see it in America, where anything and everything is the result of colonialism and imperialism and racism. We see it in the gay rights movement, where the only reason we didn't realize how true homosexual normality is comes from ages of homophobic bigotry.
In fact, it's sort of an ideological 'get out of jail free' card for progressivism. Don't like something? Want something new? Want to change things? Just say they're the result of some form of bigotry. Sexism works since men and women have been around for ages. But any form of 'this group v. that group' of bigoted oppression will work.
There is no reason to think Ms. Sarah wouldn't have been obscure had things happened a hundred or two hundred years later. Typically we don't know about the spouse of people who accomplish notable things. Sometimes we do, based on circumstances. I learned about Martha Washington, Abigale Adams, and Eleanor Roosevelt. On the other hand I know little of Teddy Roosevelt's wife. I have little information about Catherine the Great's or Amelia Earhart's relationships because the focus is on what those women accomplished.
It reminds me of the movie Hidden Figures. I recall one of the morning news shows talking about the movie. One of the anchors said when she was in school she never heard of the black women portrayed in the movie. Cleary, the others on the broadcast concluded, this was due to our sexism and racism as a country.
No, it had nothing to do with sexism or racism. When I was in school and learned about the space program, I learned about the astronauts. The guys in the rockets. That's because if something went wrong, they died. So it was a brave thing to do. And on that level, the level of basic information that schools give, that was enough. I was only vaguely aware that anyone worked on the ground. Until the movie Apollo 13, in fact, I didn't think much of the ground crews since they were never the focus. And most of them were men. It had nothing to do with sexism or racism.
Yet that is how we frame things today, isn't it? That is the default template, the 'City of God' template, for our modern age. If Augustine's The City of God attempted to frame history as the history of the Earthly City and the City of God, the modern version frames it as the history of the long silent Oppressed finally overcoming the bigotry of past Oppressors. We can assume anything and everything was the result of oppressive bigotry. Therefore anything and everything can likely be wrong.
And it isn't new. Look at that date in the quote from the article. 1892. That's 130 years ago and already a woman was framing things as 'clearly the problem was male dominated sexism' before we even entered the 20th Century. Even if it had nothing to do with sexism, but merely the way the world works. That's a long time to believe anything and everything in the past is likely the result of the wrong people oppressing right-people.
As we see, it's a very powerful narrative. By default, anything we assume to be true might only be the result of some oppressive group corrupting everything and keeping the real truth down. Hence the speed with which people are willing to go to the mattresses over the cisgender bigoted idea that men or women exist or men can't have babies. Why would we ever think there were men and women and women had the babies? Why - Bigotry!
See how darn easy that is? Remember, not a few Christian scholars will readily concede latent sexism, patriarchal oppression, even racism and homophobic bigotry in the truth claims of the Bible (at which point logic suggests they can no longer be called the 'Holy' Scriptures). That's not just a Catholic thing. I've read scholars from all three major branches, to some degree or another, accept the premise. Nor is it some radical leftwing thing. Even conservatives will be caught shuffling feet or explaining away biblical teachings that run afoul of progressive dogmas, appealing to some 'they didn't know any better because ancient bigotry' version of the past.
What a powerful premise this is. If you don't think that model of history is a powerful force, just think about how quickly we're now fighting for the right to perform sex change procedures on minors since obviously everyone in the past was wrong about gender - because Bigotry!. And all this in barley over a decade. That's because for over a hundred years we have assumed anything we think is true might not be, because bigotry and oppression. Think on that.