gender roles in Society

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Each society has binary oppositions as in masculine and feminine roles and the established values have little to do with nature and everything to do with culture. Moreover, the ideals and distinctions of masculine and feminine activities and behaviors are reinforced and redefined through powerful social norms of any particular period. In Medieval and early Modern Europe societies, gender roles were clearly defined by the strong prevailing social structure of the period and were constantly changing because of historical circumstances. For example, in the Greek ancient city of Sparta, masculinity as an ideal was strictly associated with the characteristics of being physically powerful, loyal warriors while femininity was related to marriage and procreation. In the High Middle Ages, France’s social structure deemed that a noble masculine role could include becoming either a member of the church or a knight whereas a noble female’s role primarily focused on learning a different set of domestic skills. By the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, social norms began to associate masculinity with professional skills and education while women were limited in these domains based upon their gender. With this framework in mind, this essay will examine and analyze gender roles beginning with Medieval Sparta through the early Modern Europe period and how masculine and feminine roles were continually being redefined because of historical circumstances.
Masculinity as an ideal in the Greek ancient city of Sparta was exclusively based upon boys growing up to be strong, obedient, and loyal warriors because Sparta was a warrior society. In the film documentary entitled The Spartans, Narrator Bettany Hughes explains how the boys of Sparta reached these lofty goals. She states that when boys reached the age of seven, they began agoge—a term meaning a type of military training—that the city-state controlled. The agoge taught boys survival and fieldcraft skills as a means to

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