And this authority thing shows up in many who want to name "men" as over "women." The whole issue becomes central in translation debates. For example, people translating and theorizing translation of the Bible into English often try to presuppose a male dominance in the "authoritative" writings and the "original" languages. Fortunately, this doesn't go unnoticed. I'm glad Suzanne McCarthy challenges the notion of "an unbroken line of uniquely 'male authority' in the Bible narratives," especially as this notion gets cloaked in English translation of the Hellene and Hebrew words.
In a more recent post, McCarthy also raises the issue of "The Spoken Word." Orality is associated, in reading, with a thing children do. Although McCarthy doesn't tie the orality-literacy question to male dominance, I'd like us to play with this. Plato ostensibly (ironically) wrote against writing; but, as Eric A. Havelock shows, Plato saw dangers in the orality of the Greek poets. Ever since, so it seems, peoples have seen the originality of orality but the preferred "soundness" of literacy. Now, you should see (and if you're reading aloud, you should hear) how I'm playing. We want this notion of text as dominant, as (more) stable, as better and more meaningfully locked down. It's more "sound."
I believe textual and male dominance go hand in hand. But I'm not going to "say" much more on that here. Let this suffice for now. Richard Leo Enos has a wonderful article "The Archaeology of Women in Rhetoric," in which he sees, in the British Museum, artifacts of literate women. (Patricia A. Bizzell has a great follow-up article on "difference" entitled, "Feminist Methods of Research in the History of Rhetoric"). What I think is important to notice is how early, how primary, how powerful, literacy and women are. Orality and men do not necessarily dominate.
Take a "look" at this "Woman writing on a folding tablet Cyprus, 4th century BCE." And read silently or aloud in the Illiad a similar reference to something "written" long before Homer:
ILLIAD.6.169 γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά,
ILLIAD.6.169 which he inscribed in a folding tablet, enough to destroy life,
and just to continue with the word play, I must confess how I love but didn't coin "Nothing is Sound." That's the wonderful written title of an "album" by Switchfoot, who are wonderful to hear.(Get this: some Switchfoot listeners say this one has a "dark" sound. And we might agree: beauty is in the "ear" of the beholder.)