Human history is obviously too enormous to be a single subject and has to be sliced into easier portions for consumption. Given its temporal nature, cut-off points at important moments of human history (Charlemagne’s becoming Roman emperor on Christmas Day 800AD, or the birth of Jesus, or the end of a dynasty etc) are obvious moments to begin or end a subject. Likewise, national or organisational cut-offs (religious movements, nation-states etc) make sense.
But trying to teach something like Women’s History, for example, seems slightly bonkers to me. It is true that much of the world’s history, particularly ancient history (which I prefer), is dominated by men. But that’s because that is what happened. Carving up historical episodes to suit a modern political agenda doesn’t alter what happened, and filtering history using identity politics means that especially interesting parts of history may be neglected for tedious moments because the protagonists lack the ‘right’ skin colour, gender and so forth.
I was surprised to read in Herodotus’ Histories (which, despite the odd sparkling gem, I do not recommend) about the female captain in the fleet that accompanied Xerxes, and was his particular favourite. Similarly, Edward Gibbon recalls the Empress Zenobia, who ruled the Palmyrene Empire before Aurelian defeated her. If you segregate these moments and individuals from the wider context then at best a misleading picture is painted.
Xerxes sought to complete his father’s (Darius) work and conquer Greece. To do so he amassed the largest army ever seen and a correspondingly enormous fleet. If you focus upon the female captain exclusively then you miss the big picture (and the world-changing Battle of Thermopylae).
In the 3rd century AD the Roman Empire was falling to pieces. There were multiple rival emperors to Aurelian, and it was eminently possible that the Dark Ages could have started a few centuries earlier than they did. One of these breakaway empires was the Palmyrene Empire which, for a time, was led by Zenobia. Aurelian managed to unify the empire by defeating all rivals, including Zenobia, but her story only makes sense in the wider context of a fragmented and failing Roman Empire.
Defining oneself by gender or skin colour is slightly bizarre. Should we not be judged by the content of our character rather than the colour of our skin, as a gentleman once suggested? It’s perverse to promulgate equality and neutrality when it comes to such matters in the modern world and then insist on looking at the past through a racial or sexual lens.