THE FATE OF EMPIRES and SEARCH FOR SURVIVAL Sir John Glubb
An increase in the influence of women in
public life has often been associated with na-
tional decline. The later Romans complained
that, although Rome ruled the world, women
ruled Rome. In the tenth century, a similar
tendency was observable in the Arab Empire,
the women demanding admission to the
professions hitherto monopolised by men.
‘What,’ wrote the contemporary historian,
Ibn Bessam, ‘have the professions of clerk,
tax-collector or preacher to do with women?
These occupations have always been limited
to men alone.’ Many women practised law,
while others obtained posts as university
professors. There was an agitation for the
appointment of female judges, which,
however, does not appear to have succeeded.
Soon after this period, government and
public order collapsed, and foreign invaders
overran the country. The resulting increase
in confusion and violence made it unsafe for
women to move unescorted in the streets,
with the result that this feminist movement