‘History records male acts, written by males, and holds little interest for females as a result.’ Is this a fair comment?

YES: History is largely a male-centered discipline that has excluded female participation in all aspects, making it insignificant and irrelevant to women.

  1. Throughout much of its development, the discipline of history has largely focused on the exploits of powerful male leaders and authority figures while conveniently ignoring female leaders or unfairly demonizing them.

  2. Even when women historians write brilliant historical studies or books relating to them, they often focus on the domains traditionally associated with males, such as conflict and empire-building, making it less relevant to the concerns of women.

  3. The role of historians was traditionally limited to males, and its many canonical texts and documents would naturally reflect the concerns and beliefs of patriarchal societies, making their material less relevant or even antagonistic to the concerns of modern women or feminists.

NO: History may exhibit a male-centered bias in its various manifestations but its concerns are universal and relevant to both men and women.

  1. History has largely excluded women,  making it all the more important for contemporary women historians to study it and redress the male bias by writing and publishing research papers that interpret historical events and cultures from the female perspective.

  2. Increasingly, women historians today celebrate the role of women by revisiting the lives and accounts of women living in both distant and more recent historical periods, making their stories relevant to women today.

Author’s Note

Given the multiple levels embedded into the clause – ‘male acts, written by males and holds little interest for females’, it may not be possible for you to address all three issues concurrently within each paragraph.

Therefore, you might want to address each of these sub-clauses separately in your paragraphs. (assuming you choose to work on this question in the first place)

 This question is probably one of the most challenging essays in Paper 1 in the past 10 years.

 I would advise students to avoid this question – or any of a similar nature – at all costs and choose a more manageable question if you encounter it at the ‘A’ levels. You are sitting for a major examination after all and it is unwise to attempt a highly difficult question which may lead to a lower grades when there are more manageable questions that you can select and write on from the remaining 11 questions.