April 30, 2014
Women Must Not Be Taxable!

Hortensia! Look what this incredible woman did in the Roman Forum before the triumvirs Mark Anthony, Octavian and Lepidus—three men whose hands were full of blood and whose names were the terror of the enemies of Rome. Hortensia bravely walked to the Roman Forum and confronted the three with no fear. It was 42 BC and Rome was about to become one of the greatest Empire of all times. At that time the triumvirs were at war with Brutus and Cassius—assassins of Julius Cesar—and desperately needed money. So they decided to impose a tax on the Roman 1,500 wealthiest women, a request as unheard as it could be in Ancient Rome. The three guys thought they could count on the women’s silence. Wrong. Not having any say in politics, the women were actually furious at being taxed. So, they sent Hortensia:

“You have already deprived us of our fathers, our sons, our husbands, and our brothers, whom you accused of having wronged you; if you take away our property also, you reduce us to a condition unbecoming our birth, our manners, our sex. Why should we pay taxes when we have no part in the honors, the commands, the state-craft, for which you contend against each other with such harmful results? ‘Because this is a time of war,’ do you say? When have there not been wars, and when have taxes ever been imposed on women, who are exempted by their sex among all mankind?”

Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus, were forced to soften their requests, and Hortensia passed in history for being the first woman to public challenge gender roles and men’s power in the very heart of men’s power, the Roman Forum.