Gender Roles Throughout History

Topics: Marriage, Gender, Gender role Pages: 6 (2275 words) Published: December 14, 2010
Part one

Gender roles of diverse cultures have differed immensely throughout history. The evolution of gender roles first began in the Paleolithic Age and then began to transform with the transformation of the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age. Women in Mesopotamia, India, Greece, China, and Rome were not treated as equals and viewed as inferior to men. Cultures like Egypt and Persia had similar laws for women and treated them with more respect out of any of the other cultures. The Paleolithic Age was responsible for the introductions of many vital aspects of our world today such as, technology, agriculture, and gender roles. The Paleolithic culture was based on a hunter and gatherer society, which had a great influence on the gender roles of males and females. For the most part, the men were responsible for the hunting, mainly due to their physical build. Genetically speaking, men are normally larger in size, stronger, and more aggressive in comparison to women. Despite the large size and strength differences, both males and females were treated with equality. Women contributed to the Paleolithic society by being responsible for the gathering of edible plants and berries. Although gathering plants and berries is considered to be less dangerous and fairly easy when being compared to hunting, gathering was considered to be one of the most important contributions to Paleolithic society. When men went off to hunt, there was no guarantee that they would always be able to bring back enough meat, if any, to feed the community. The plants and berries gathered by the women were responsible for feeding the community daily, especially when the men were unsuccessful in their hunting trip. Without the roles of both the women and men, the community would not have been able to survive. The Neolithic Age was the transformation and progression from the Paleolithic Age lifestyle. The transition of the different era’s influenced the gender roles of men and women, changing them based on the development of their new lifestyle. The main gender role difference between the Paleolithic Age and the Neolithic Age was male domination. Although men became much more dominant of the two genders, women were still treated with respect. Because of the size and strength advantage men had over women, men were responsible for most of the hard manual labor, while women were given roles more suited for their weaker and nurturing nature. Men started to realize that instead of hunting and killing animals, they should capture, domesticate, and breed the animals because it would be more beneficial to the community in the long run and provide a more stable lifestyle. The women also realized the importance of stability and collected seeds for an assortment of plants and fruits so they could invest their time in farming plants instead of gathering them. Because of the gathering role and responsibility women played in the past in the Paleolithic Age, women were very familiar with plants. Women understood how plants grew and the factors and environment needed in order to be successful in growing them, which is why women were responsible for the start of plant farming. Since communities did not have to relocate so often based on animal migration, and men and women did not have to spend several tiring hours searching for animals to hunt or food to gather, people had more time on their hands. This extra time allowed women to concentrate more on looking after their families and children, cooking, cleaning, and sewing. This led to men virtually being responsible for all the difficult labor. Unlike in the Paleolithic Age where men and women were equal and relied on each other for survival, men no longer needed to depend on women as much. Most of the responsibility for survival was placed on the men which is what ultimately led to their dominance. The religions and laws developed in Mesopotamia prevented women from asserting control in society....
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