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Treatment of Women in Early Complex Societies

By poppapuh86 Nov 19, 2005 1273 Words
Treatment of Women

Dating all the way back to the days of pre history, the treatment of women has varied an awful lot. Women were as equal as men in pre history but eventually evolved into the men being ahead of women in all ways of life except taking care of the household, while the men were gone. The variation of treatment of women from pre history to the Mesopotamian society was a huge advantage for the men, in that they were higher then the women in all standards.

In pre history women and men were equal which meant the women's role was just as important as the men's role in the society. Since the prehistory was a time of hunting and gathering, there were no social distinctions on wealth and no accumulation of private property. All members of the Paleolithic group made contributions in the survival of the community. The men went on expeditions for large animals while the women stayed near the camp and gathered fruits, nuts, roots and plants for eating. The plant foods were essential to survival with a plentiful amount of calories in the plants they ate which sustained the men during their trips. When the men arrived back at the camp without any meat the group relied on the women to provide the camp with enough plant food for them to survive. Since there was detailed interdependence of the sexes from the food collection, the society probably did not encourage the domination of one sex over the other but, rather an equality of the sexes to survive.

The equality of men and women soon changed with the men ahead of the women. In Mesopotamian society a few women held positions as priestesses, scribes, shopkeepers and midwives. Women of Mesopotamia were also forced to maintain their virginity at the time of marriage and the men did not have an obligation to this rule. Women were also not allowed to socialize with married men from other families. Once the women were married, they were required to wear a veil over their face so they would not attract attention from other men. In Mesopotamia women were treated less fairly then the men which was a common theme throughout most early societies. The control of women's social and sexual behavior spread throughout southwest Asia and the Mediterranean, where it was reinforced in patriarchal social structures.

In the Aryan patriarchal society the social order was based on the gender distinctions. Men were dominating the society as priests, warriors and tribal chiefs. Aryans also recognized descent through the male line and not the female's. The women had some influence in the affairs among their family but had no part in public authority. Since the women had no priestly responsibilities, they rarely had formal education, which was mainly for the men. With these distinctions the patriarchal society was prominent in their society.

The issue of the unequal treatment of women affected the each society by the men taking advantage of their "rights" over the women. In some cases men could trade their wives to pay off debts or trade them away for slaves to do their work. Women were sometimes treated as property rather then human beings. Men had more freedom when it came to socializing with the opposite sex outside of their families then women. With the regulation of women being virgins at marriage, the men did not have to be which meant they were allowed to be with any female they wanted to until they fell in love. The females' line of descent also ended when they got married since the husbands took over even if the female was royal or noble. With these distinctions the patriarchal society was prominent in their society.

The issue of the unequal treatment of women affected the each society by the men taking advantage of their "rights" over the women. In some cases men could trade their wives to pay off debts or trade them away for slaves to do their work. Women were sometimes treated as property rather then human beings. Men had more freedom when it came to socializing with the opposite sex outside of their families then women. With the regulation of women being virgins at marriage, the men did not have to be which meant they were allowed to be with any female they wanted to until they fell in love. The females' line of descent also ended when they got married since the husbands took over even if the female was royal or noble. The course taken to resolve the treatment of women was the Lawbook of Manu, which dealt with social relationships and moral behavior, including sex and gender relationships. The lawbook reflected the Aryan society in which women were still under the guidance of principal of men, but the men were to treat women with honor and respect. It also specified that women s' most important duties were to bear children and maintain nourishing homes for the family. The action was chosen by Manu, founder of human race according to Indian mythology, to try and pull the society closer with loving relationships rather then men having sovereignty over the women. By having more of cohesiveness between the men and women, the civilians were able to maintain a well constructed patriarchal society with women having more respect and honor from the men.

The action was definitely justified and successful because South Asians, where the Lawbook of Manu was created, had the first tenements with individual houses of two and three stories and a dozen rooms, interior courtyards, own wells, built in brick ovens, private bathrooms, and toilets. With the huge upgrading in housing, the women were shown that they were respected more and were given more tools such, as the oven to make the food for the family and courtyards to do gardening around the house. This made life around the house easier and more enjoyable for women as they maintained a healthy household for the family. The future impact of the action was that women could become more and more important in public affairs by their evolution from disrespected females to respected and somewhat authoritative positions. This did not lead to women becoming just as equal as men. Men still were the head of the household and of public affairs, while women had some say in the public affairs but their view was not taken and they still were not as high as men in the society. Another option that was available was maintaining the disrespect of women and not supplying them with honor and respect.

The affect of the treatment of women does still have an affect in the world today because there has not been a female president or vice president in the U.S., but there are some female governors. Our nation's companies are mainly male dominant leaders with the females working under them. Although in England, Queen Elizabeth is the leader of their nation and has risen to power even though the world is still male dominant. Women are given the same rights as men today but they don't occupy as many leading positions as men.

I would have resolved the issue the same way as Manu did. By having the men respect and honor the females in the society, Manu created some what of equality among men and women and how they should treat one another. By the equality of treatment the society became fonder to one another and sustained a country of respect and parity, which has evolved around almost all societies in today's world.

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