This ordinary evening, Olya, head of the Feminist Workshop, decided to check her Facebook. What she found there was a week-old message from [the prominent Ukrainian civil activist and politician] Ulyana Suprun. Olya got invited to the discussion as part of the presentation of Jack Holland’s book “A Brief History of Misogyny”.

The voice in Olya’s head said, “Wha-at? Ulyana owns a publishing house? I got invited to discuss misogyny outside of the feminist environment? Why did I turn off the Facebook notifications and accidentally ignore her for a week?”

Despite her public speaking anxiety and fear of the unknown, Olya gladly accepted the invitation. It was for good reason, as she was joined by outstanding human rights defenders from friendly organizations who became her co-speakers. Besides, it is always great to discuss feminism at any given opportunity.

We will not recount the discussion with Martha Chumalo and Christina Kit, moderated by Marko Suprun. Instead, we will share a few facts from the book itself focusing on classical antiquity (and we highly recommend you to read the whole book):


  1. If a woman was raped in Ancient Greece, according to the Solon’s laws, her husband had to divorce her. Rape turned a woman into a social outcast, as it was she who was deemed guilty.
  2. A man was subjected to a fine for perpetrating rape, and for committing adultery with a married woman he faced the death penalty.
  3. In Athens, a father might sell his daughter into slavery if she had premarital sex.
  4. The sexual revolution of the 1960s when women started to take birth control and the first century when women were widely converting to Christianity have something in common: in both cases, women could decide if they wanted to have children. While Christianity condemned abortions, women weren’t expected to get married: Christianity values virginity + after the husband dying a woman wasn’t supposed to re-marry.
  5. In the 5th century Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria, killed the prominent ancient philosopher and scientist Hypatia of Alexandria. He incited the crowd to skin her alive and set her on fire (as she was a smart woman, and therefore, was guided by the devil). Still, Cyril wasn’t brought to justice, and later he was even canonized.
  6. In the year 431, the Council of Ephesus declared Mary, a Jewish peasant from Palestine, a Mother of God. It was truly a glorification of women. Perfect, if not for the caveat – she wasn’t a subject but an abstraction, and she got glorified because of her passivity and asexuality.