Writing Women Back Into History
Can there be any doubt that women’s stories are the untold story of history? Although women were present throughout history, when we go to the history books, the heroes are men. The women were there, we know that. But somehow, their story was never told. And when the story was told, it was rarely in a positive light.
Take a look at George Orwell’s famous anti-totalitarianist “Animal Farm.” Allegorically, it refers to the Russian Revolution and its historical figures. Yet when we read Lenin, where is Mrs. Lenin’s story? Mrs. Trotsky? Mrs. Stalin? Nothing to say of the women who were standing on their own two feet, individuals without the “social protection / oppression /tyranny” of a marriage and children. I refer to independent Russian women, emancipated, strong, active, and who supported and opposed the Russian Revolution in equal measure, and often, to the full measure of their lives?
Of course, George Orwell is an enigma, a man ahead of his time. Despite his brilliance, he is a known anti-feminist. Some would even give him a free pass, writing off his misogyny as, “a product of his times.” Therefore it is fair to wonder, to ask, how would he portray nontraditional women, emancipated women, strong women, revolutionary women? Would they escape being relegated to the sidelines, marginalised, or worse, silenced?
Would Orwell give these women an authentic voice and a major role? Surely, such women would be the protagonists of their own story? By analysing George Orwel’s Animal Farm, I seek to answer how he portrayed revolutionary, emancipated Russian women.