Gender Inequality in the Ancient World
Topics: Mesopotamia, Gender, Ancient Near East, Ancient history, Ancient Greece, Athens / Pages: 8 (1787 words) / Published: Nov 30th, 2012

Francesca Succi
Dr. Brown
Western Civ I
18 September 2012

Gender Inequality in the Ancient World

Throughout history, women have been regarded as unequal and subordinate to men. In the male-dominated Western culture, the issue of women’s rights seems unending; even thousands of years after the first evidence of gender inequality, society has yet to even the playing field. Although it seems like our culture is progressive, we still share many qualities with the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Greece. Women were in no way equal to men during these ancient times; in fact, in some areas, they were considered subservient to men, with no rights or privileges. However, there were some areas of Ancient Greece that had a different model for social structure. The treatment of women in Mesopotamian culture differs greatly from that of Greek culture, as well as within Greece, between Lacedaemon and Athens; despite this, gender inequality was still present in each culture at some level. Of these three areas of the ancient world, Lacedaemon indisputably had the most progressive model for social structure, with Mesopotamia close behind. Athens, which seems like it would have the most liberal model for society, actually had the highest level of gender inequality.
In ancient times, there were several aspects of life that caused a divide between genders. First, and probably most obviously, women had various levels of responsibilities and several social roles within the different areas of the ancient world. In the most progressive social structure of Lacedaemon, women played an indispensable and essential part. Since the basis of their culture was to train and sustain an unconquerable army, this occupied most of the time for almost all men, who left many responsibilities that the women needed to take on. Girls learned from age seven not only how to cook and clean and be a good housewife, but also everything that was required to run an estate (Brown, Lecture, 2012). Young



Cited: Brophy, James M., Cole, Joshua., Epstein, Steven., Robertson, John. Perspectives from the Past: Primary Sources in Western Civilizations from the Ancient Near East through the Age of Absolutism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc. Print Brown, K.M. 2012. Lecture. York College of Pennsylvania. Radner, Karen. “gender structures and roles in ancient Mesopotamia.” Encyclopedia of Society and Culture in the Ancient World. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.  Sacks, David. “Sparta.” Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Sacks, David. “women in ancient Greece.” Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.

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