the past, women have been generally regarded as inferior to men.
This can been seen through the way women were treated in society,
having little rights and freedom, and subjected to the whims and
fancy of their husbands. They were regarded as not only mentally
inferior to men but also physically inferior. In addition, they
were seen as evil and a master of seduction. In Greek mythology,
for instance, it was said that a woman named Pandora, brought disaster
and suffering to mankind by opening the forbidden box. Ancient Roman
law condemned women to be forever inferior to men.
Ancient Rome, the head of the family, the "pater familias", who
is the father of the family, owned everything and everyone in his
home. He had the legal right to punish any member of his household
with death, if he chose. He could sell his children into slavery,
if necessary, and, if he had two or more sons, he might as well
give one to a friend who had none. In contrast, the mother in the
Roman family had no legal rights and no involvement in the public
affairs of Rome. It was the role of the mother to look after the
children and, in poorer families, to do all of the domestic work
herself. She was allowed more freedom, however, than many of her
contemporaries in other lands. She could visit friends and go to
the Forum, the baths, the public libraries, the temples and the
shows at the amphitheater.
ancient Greece, the women were considered to be non-citizens of
the country. The women of Athens -- the wives and daughters of citizens
-- lived in comparative seclusion. They had separate rooms from
the men in their houses and they were not usually allowed to go
into the streets except under supervision. An Athenian wife was
considered a domestic manager and the bearer of children, and little
more. She had no legal status but was under the protection of her
husband. In ancient India, women at the start could own property
and was not bound by marriage. However, when Hinduism developed
in India around 500 BC, women had to obey their husbands, walk behind
them, could not own property and could not remarry. In both East
and West, male children were preferred over female children.
traditional Chinese society, a woman had no right to go to school,
of which only the men could, and had to serve her husband and her
husbands' parents, bear sons and do all the household chores. In
addition, a woman who committed adultery was strongly condemned
by the society and regarded as a disgrace to her family. The husband,
ironically, was allowed to have as many wives as he liked. The same
went for the Sumers of Mesopotamia, where the adulterous wife was
sentenced to death while the adulterous husband was spared.
enough to note is that, in ancient Egypt, women, however, had almost
as many rights as men. They could barter goods, own property, get
a divorce. Women were even allowed to succeed to the throne! Although,
in fact, the pharaoh owned all the land in ancient Egypt, landed
property was passed through families from mother to daughter. If
a woman should die before her husband, he lost the use of their
land -- which was instead inherited by a daughter and her husband.
So it seemed as if the women in actual fact, enjoyed a slightly
higher status than men! Even in the modern society, women are still
regarded as inferior in men. Note how even the english language
I would say that discrimination against women has been minimized
and women are having more rights and protection from the state.
For example, in China today, the ranking within the family has been
abolished with the creation of the new marriage law in 1950 and
the campaigns of the early 1950s, where women were granted full
equality with men in areas such as marriage, divorce, and property
ownership. During the 19th century, women were given more opportunities
in education and the professions. Women began to form organizations,
which demanded for more women rights and provided protection for
the women against the men. Examples of such organizations are 9
to 5 the National Association of Working Women, the International
Federation of Business and Professional Women, Women Library Workers,
the National Federation of Press Women, the International Association
of Women Police, and the Women in Sales Association.
with all these movements to ensure that the position of women in
society is raised, does it mean that all women have actually gained
the same status as men? Would there be a possibility that women's
status would one day exceed men's? Or is it a universal fact that
women will always be, in some way or another, inferior to men? Interesting
questions to ponder over, isn't it?
the 1980s, with so many women joining the work force, the "dress
for success" look by Louis Dell'Olio became popular.
models of women from the 11th dynasty Egyptian tomb of Meketre are
depicted weaving cloth.
Howard Shaw, left, and Carrie Chapman Catt, center, lead a woman-suffrage
demonstration in New York City in 1917.