Patriarchal Societies: the Historical Evidence and Contemporary Direction

Topics: Gender role, Patriarchy, Woman Pages: 16 (6059 words) Published: November 25, 2012
Joelle Davis
John Duran
John Hicks
Morgan Plasse
Travis Rogers
Eric Thomason


“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” ― Cheris Kramarae


Since the first records of complex civilizations, male dominance in human culture has molded itself into global societies and has forced women into lives of subordination and inequality. Historically, men have stood as the primary political figures and leaders, while women have been inclined to take on supportive and more household-oriented roles. This same structure of societies and governments has made its way into nearly every inhabited geographic area, and where has attached itself since the first immigration periods (?). So from what root did this idealism mysteriously stem? Scientific research points that in times far preceding the birth of complex societies, Neanderthals wandered the Earth in a much different fashion. Evidence derived from fossils and uncovered leftovers seem (noun/verb disagreement: “Evidence … seems”) to encourage the thought that people lived much more of an egalitarian lifestyle 30,000 years ago. Women, quite possibly, may have helped to hunt as well as nurse children, while men at times may have stayed behind to harvest crops. Though males were the primary hunters, the flexibility that may have been cast on gender roles is polar opposite to what would develop as humans became more advanced. There is a lot of argument and confusion on the topic of patriarchal origins, and what may have happened between this time of suspected weak gender roles and the time of male dominance. Whether or not the answer will ever be clear, its (usage: its or it’s) important to understand how long it has taken for our world to considered (infinitive) women to be equal. In our nation itself, there was a time in which when an 18 year old boy with no political experience and little to no real world knowledge could stand next to a wise, middle aged, female professional and cast a vote, while she could not. This did not come to an end until 1920, approximately 3,600 years after the creation of the first set of societal laws in Babylonian times. As we will discuss, patriarchal systems of family and societal life led from early Mesopotamia to all regions of the world over thousands of years. Though present today in almost every nation, the extent of patriarchal influences have diminished (noun/verb) over time and the freedom and rights of women have become more evident.


The first evidence of patriarchal societies lies as far back in time as the emergence of man’s first complex societies around 3,000 BC. Cities in the West Asian land of Mesopotamia, such as Ur and Uruk of the Sumer region, existed as what are considered the oldest settlements, and were built with the first sophisticated infrastructures and governing domains. The first concepts of patriarchies developed in these cities, and became tightly woven into the structure of future cultures. One of the first sets of law to govern the people of Mesopotamia was written during the era of Babylonia, which began around 2000 BC. Famously known as Hammurabi’s code, the stone-scribed document listed policies and regulations for its people to abide by. These heavily included the rights of women, which were undeniably much more constricted than those of men. The women of Mesopotamia had certain rights, which included the right to buy and sell goods, own property, and work outside of the house. However, the power of men to exist above and over them made these rights appear to be measly and minuscule. Husbands were able to sell their wives into slavery and legally commit adultery and have multiple wives. If women were to cheat on their husbands, they could be ordered to death as their punishment. Politically, men were the primary (if not, only) figures influencing all...
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