Hat and Hill

Two Women – 3500 Years -The Political Conundrum of Women Leadership

This is a comparative tale between two remarkable women leaders separated by about 3500 years: Maatkare Hatshepsut of Egypt and Hillary Rodham Clinton of the U.S. – Hat and Hill. Both women recognized as politically astute, highly intelligent, ambitious, and devoted to their beliefs.

Journeying back to 1470 B.C.E., we find a bold and impassioned woman decreeing herself King of Egypt. As one in only a handful of female pharaohs over a 3000 year period, Hat immortalized herself by claiming she was chosen by the God Amen-Ra and proceeded to rule progressively for over 20 years.

Hat’s story begins with the death of her father, Pharaoh Thutmose I. At age 13 and the only living royal-blood child, Hat was obligated to marry her step-brother from a secondary wife to legitimize continuation of Thutmose’s lineage. Poor of health, her husband Thutmose II died early into his reign leaving Hat with one living daughter, no sons, and a step-son begat via a concubine. Trained and educated since birth in the ways of royal affairs, Hat easily embraced the role of regent for the designated next pharaoh, her baby step-son/nephew, Thutmose III.

Flexing her muscles as a skilled states woman and active devotee of the Egyptian panoply of gods and goddesses, Hat honed her governing abilities for up to seven years. Then in a move that shunned tradition and surely must have shocked the ancient Egyptians, at the flourishing age of 24, Hat crowned herself Pharaoh of upper and lower Egypt. Oracular rituals performed at temples illuminated her elevation to King as marked by the God Amen-Ra. Although her dynastic achievements were monumental, in the years following her death the ensuing patriarchal order sanded her out of history.

Skipping ahead through the aeon, we arrive at a point where, remarkably, for the first time ever a female is a major party’s nominee for U.S. president. Although not born of royal blood, Hill did notably received her Juris Doctor from Yale. From a young age, Hill’s fervent political beliefs were channeled into health care and championing the rights of women, children, and the disenfranchised.

Like Hat, Hill performed duties as First Lady during her husband’s presidency. As a rather untraditional First Lady, Hill helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice and negotiate implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which facilitates adoption of special needs children. In 1995 at the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women, she boldly declared, that, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

Following the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attack, as a N.Y. senator Hill funded recovery efforts and aided in addressing health issues faced by first responders. As Madame Secretary, Hill believed in the power of showing up in person and set a travel record by visiting 112 countries. Worldwide she brought to light the importance of recognizing studies directly linking violence against women and gender inequality within a particular state to that state’s instability.

Under Hill’s direction, the State Department allocated funds to help people in 40 countries circumvent Internet use restrictions. She became the first senior American official to articulate a vision for making the Internet an integral part of foreign policy.

Back to antiquity where no technology censored or facilitated communication, leadership was judged under the light of a different bias. But by any standards, Hat’s 22 year sovereignty as a female King was unprecedented, stable, and extremely impressive. Once in office, perhaps to maintain continuity, she bent gender roles by wearing male garb, the pharaoh’s false beard, male kilts, and sometimes had herself depicted with no breasts.

Hat fostered international relations and reestablished trade networks, allowing an influx of luxury goods like olives, wines, timber, and more. Her expedition to the land of Punt forever fixed her in the minds of the people as her ships sailed back in triumphant, loaded with never-before-seen animals, plants, and prized Myrrh incense trees.

Pharaohs, including Hat, were elevated and judged through building projects. Hat erected four obelisks at Karnak, one still standing at 97 feet tall. Under her direction new goddess temples sprang up. She ushered in a new architecture style and an unparalleled use of stone. Her mortuary temple, Djeser-Djeseru (Holy of Holies), stands out as one of the most magnificent of ancient Egypt.

Both ladies survived a wandering husband, albeit during Hat’s time it was de rigeur, whereas Hill’s husband’s extra-marital affair nearly got him impeached.

Both women survived scandals and attacks. For Hat, gossip circulated around her being lovers with her royal architect, Senenmut, depicted in graffiti carvings on temple walls mocking the two of them in compromising positions.

In 2012 when the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked killing four Americans, Hill was accused of misrepresenting the event as a spontaneous riot inspired by a anti-Islam video, when in fact it appears to have been a pre-meditated offensive. An investigation was launched and Hill testified authentically before two committees. Finally, in an 800 page report released in June 2016 and costing an estimated $7M, no new evidence emerged against Hill, who had always accepted responsibility for security lapses, even though she had no direct role regarding consulate security before hand. Inadvertent findings from the report, however, revealed Hill used a private email server during her time as Madame Secretary and a new round of accusations ensued, leading to an FBI investigation. Certain congressmen focused on undermining Hill’s character while simultaneously refusing to engage in dialogue about what many considered more pressing issues than how Hill’s email went down.

Hill’s opponent for president is not surprisingly a white male, championing a certain dissatisfied populace longing to shed the cloak of tolerance. A populace at the edge of a shock wave turning their world from a paling patriarchal order to a full gendered-colored spectrum.

In a recent live “Times Talk” interview with Meryl Streep, the Oscar winning actor asserted that the “changing status of women is the most destabilizing event in human history.” Perhaps, there really is an event this time for when we gaze back at Hat’s legacy, we sadly see that approximately 20 years into her step-son’s reign, he ordered the name, images, and other Hat identifying artifacts either chiseled out of the stones or covered over. He erased his guiding step-mother completely from pharaoh history up until modern discoveries finally pieced the mystery back together.

So while there remains much explicit and implicit butting and braying against a woman becoming a U.S. president, we can rest assured that with the advancement of social media over the past 35 centuries, if Hill becomes president her imprint won’t be chiseled off the Internet and just perhaps other women will follow within our lifetimes.



Online Source:

  • Hillary Clinton from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton
    Times Talk, New York Times live interview with Meryl Streep conducted by Times’s chief classical music critic, Anthony Tommasini, Aug. 11, 2016.

Photos courtesy of:

  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Places of Peace and Power

One thought on “Hat and Hill”

  1. this is still so revelent! and even better in retro

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