By Lisa Huberman
Inspired by true events, Egyptology tells the story of Cate, a scholar in her 30s who is struggling to maintain a relationship with her daughter Maddy after her former partner enters into a straight relationship and adopts an increasingly religious worldview. Throughout her journey, Cate draws inspiration from the spirit of her research subject, Egypt's female pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut.
In this monologue, Cate argues with the spirit of her research subject, Queen Hatshepsut, about why she doesn't want to include Hatshepsut's affair with her architect in the biography she is working on.
I don't want to highlight the affair with Senenmut because I don't want it to be a Hollywood story. They make films about male leaders that stick to the politics-- why can't women have stories in which their romantic lives aren't explored? You're so much more than that.
Men get to be brilliant, badass, and politically savvy. They get to have stories in which their spouses are just arm-candy. But with stories about female leaders, it's always the man who is either the key to their success or their Achilles heel. He takes over the entire story. You could argue that Cleopatra was the first of the Ptolemies to learn Egyptian or that Nefertiti acted as regent after her husband died, but that's not why anyone cares about them. In comparison, you're more like Hillary Clinton. You're not innately sexual. You're defined by your intelligence and your strength.
Cate takes offense when Charles, the husband of her former partner, makes sweeping generalizations about her research, and attempts to educate him about the difficulty in recognizing female historical figures for anything besides sex appeal.
Cleopatra wasn't Egyptian. She was Greek. Well, Macedonian. And she didn't look like Elizabeth Taylor.
We only remember her that way because she slept around a lot. It's not even fair to group her with ancient Egyptian history. She lived closer to our time than the time of the Pyramids. Even Queen Hatshepsut. They hadn't built pyramids for almost 1,000 years when she took the throne.
Hatshepsut ruled for nearly three decades in peace and prosperity. Cleopatra lost her empire to the Romans. If Hatshepsut was male, and was recognized for all her achievements, she would be honored as much as King Tut and Ramses. She'd be fucking Napoleon. Or at least Eisenhower. But those kinds of stories aren't interesting for women. You never see Hatshepsut portrayed in films starring Elizabeth Taylor. One of the major players has to be male in order for anyone to care.