October 5, 2014
History 1005: Essay 1
Hammurabi’s Code and Ben Zhao’s Instruction manual for Women, both establish similar gender norms about the female sex. One example of a gender norm established by the two is the emphasis of a women’s protection of her purity before marriage. For example Hammurabi’s code states “Again, there must be no marriage with a prostitute, since by reason of the abuse of her body. God could not accept her nuptial sacrifices.”(pg. 16). The code says that a women’s virginity is sacred and a gift given to God and her husband at marriage, it is her virtue and without it she has nothing of value. There is also a similar opinion given in Ben Zhao’s instructions that says “To guard carefully her chastity; to control circumspectly her behavior; in every motion to exhibit modesty; and to model each act on the best usage, this is womanly virtue” (Ben Zhao). He is essentially saying the same thing, a women’s chastity is what makes her respectable and gives her validity. However, while Both Hammurabi’s Code and Ben Zhao’s manual share similar gender norms, they also establish gender norms that are the opposite of each other, such as the behavior and role of women in society. For example Ben Zhao says “Let a woman modestly yield to others; 1et her respect others; let her put others first, herself last. Should she do something good, let her not mention it; should she do something bad let her not deny it. Let her bear disgrace; let her even endure when others speak or do evil to her.”(Ben Zhao). Ben Zhao believes that a women’s role is to please others, never themselves, to do good and receive nothing, but be punished and humiliated for wrong doing. However King Hammurabi thinks the opposite “If a women quarrel with her husband… the reasons for her prejudice must be presented. If she is guiltless… but he leaves and neglects her, then no guilt is attached to this women; she shall take her dowry and return to her father’s house”...
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