His 104 Prof. Steven Brownson
Role of Women 1500-Present Day
Early portrayal of the role of women was of domestic nature, dominated my men. Influenced by religion, culture, and world events, the role of women is ever-changing. In this paper I will look at the evolution of women; their role in society from historical periods to contemporary historical periods through out the world. I will highlight the fight for women’s rights and look at how future women benefited from it.
Early Mesopotamian Society
Women’s role in early society was much like slaves. They were seen as inferior or unequal to me. In Mesopotamia laws recognized men as heads of their household and entrusted all major family decisions to their judgment. Men even had the power to sell their wives and children into slavery to satisfy their debts. The laws prescribed death by drowning as the punishment for adulterous wives, as well as for their partners, while permitting men to engage in consensual sexual relations with concubines, slaves, or prostitutes without penalty. Women did influence Mesopotamian society inspite of their subordinate legal status. Some advised kings, wielded great power as high priestesses who managed enormous estates belonging to their temples they also worked as scribes, midwives, shopkeepers, brewers, bakers, tavern keepers, and textile manufactures. “During the second millennium B.C.E., however Mesopotamian men progressively tightened their control over the social and sexual behavior of women. To protect family
fortunes and guarantee the legitimacy of heirs, Mesopotamians insisted on the virginity of brides at marriage, and they forbade casual socializing between married women and men outside their family. By 1500 B.C.E. and probably even earlier, married women in Mesopotamian cities had begun to wear veils when they ventures beyond their own households in order to discourage the attention of men from other families. This concern to control women’s social and sexual behavior spread throughout much of southwest Asia and the Mediterranean basin, where it reinforced patriarchal society structures.”(Bentley, Ziegler, Streets, 2008).
Egyptian and Nubian people built patriarchal society that gave men authority; but women had a major influential role. Queen Hatshepsut took power as pharaoh, and served as a co-ruler with her stepson Tuthmosis III. Many Egyptians viewed her position as unsettling; however Nubian society had many women rulers. Some reigned by themselves and others with their husbands, they also were priestesses, had formal education and worked as scribes.
Women’s role in Arabian society was different from other countries. They could legally inherit property, divorce husbands on their own initiative, and engage in business ventures. Dowries went directly to the bride, and infanticide was outlawed.
The Quran portrayed women as honorable individuals, equal to men before Allah. It also reinforced male dominance. Women could only have one husband while men could take up to four wives. This society would later embrace customs such as the veiling of women. These and other influences reflected the strongly hierarchical and patriarchal societies of Mesopotamia, Persia, and eastern Mediterranean lands as Islam developed from a local faith to a large scale complex society.
“Medieval towns and cities offered fresh opportunities for women as well as men. Although few routes to public authority were open to women, in the larger towns and cities women worked alongside men as butchers, brewers, bakers, fishmongers, innkeepers, merchants, and occasionally physicians and pharmacists. Indeed, women dominated some occupations, particularly those involving textiles and decorative arts, such as sewing,...