Ever since the beginning of time, the position of women in society has been viewed as different from that of men. Indeed, women and men have been considered different in all life areas, including their physical, emotional, and mental abilities. In fact, over the centuries, men have always had dominion over women. Evidently, almost all ancient chronological accounts of events and records of occurrences point to the masculine domination over femininity in all societies worldwide. In the ancient times, women were generally considered subservient to their male counterparts. In addition, they were regarded as inferior in most ancient societies, and their intellectual abilities were viewed as slightly more than a child’s. Women have made vast progress in their positions and roles in our modern society. As opposed to the early days when they were viewed as reproductive machines intended to be subservient to males and caretakers of their husbands and children, they are now more independent. Indeed, the position of women has improved in society over centuries from the repression in the ancient Greece to the freedom and liberty in our contemporary society as well as the dramatic change in the social, political, and economic aspects.
How the Concept of Marriage has Changed
As a matter of fact, the position of women in the marriage institution has improved throughout the centuries. In the ancient times, women encountered a wide range of difficulties in their marriage life, unlike today when they have been empowered. Unlike the situation in our modern society, where marriage is regarded as a romanticized conception where women choose their marriage partner, being united in marriage to a person one loves dearly was something that never crossed the minds of the ancient women. A short story written by Rymer entitled the “Legend of Sabine Women” indicates that women in the ancient times were denied their right to choose their life partners.
Despite the fact that marriage was viewed as one of the major events and decisions that characterized a woman’s life just as it is in our modern society, females had no control over the event. Ancient cultures regarded women’s position in marriage as “objects” that fathers offered to the grooms. In fact, marriage was a transaction that happened between men, which was generally viewed as a “practical business transaction” as opposed to a love reunion. Rather than looking forward to the wedding day as happy and meaningful event, women dreaded the occasion. From the look of things, every person will agree that the situation has significantly changed with time. In newsprint that appeared in The Daily Journal, it was shown that women have moved from being treated as slaves to a better position in the society, although the position’s improvement is not complete. Today, women choose their marriage partners and others even opt to remain single. Indeed, females have not only been empowered to understand and working towards obtaining gender equality, but they have also been enabled to make their own choices in life. For instance, women can now control their reproductive system, which is something an ancient woman never thought conceived in her mind.
Improvement of Women’s Position in Property Ownership and Inheritance
True to say is that inheritance and property ownership has been another area that has greatly improved over time. In most societies that in the ancient times, the distribution of property and possession of inheritance was complicated and unfairly done across gender. For instance, should a woman have property, it would remain separate from the husband. However, the husband had full control over the property throughout his life and upon death; the control would be passed to his male children. In addition, in the case where a child died, the entire property would directly go to the father instead of being divided between him and the wife. The only way in which a woman would inherit property was if she divorced the husband without leaving him any child (Shapiro 67). On the other hand, the father’s property was to be inherited by the male children. In fact, wives were not entitled to inherit property from their husbands, nor did daughters inherit from their fathers. In fact, observing around one’s neighborhood clearly depicts how this issue has transformed where women not only own the property but also have the right to inherit anything from their fathers, husbands, and even brothers.
The Social Position of Women has Improved Significantly
Looking back at the ancient times, women were expected to stay in their respective homes performing household chores and bearing children. In fact, their social roles entailed cleaning, cooking, caring for the husband and children, and, if need be, weaving. In fact, her main social function was to supervise the house. It is important to note that even though they were mandated to supervise the household, their position and correlation in the same household was not equal to that of men. As such, women had lower social positions than their male counterparts, and their social life was intended to mirror that of a submissive and subservient female figure. In addition, working outdoors was out of bound as it was thought that it would create opportunities for “woman preys.” Consequently, women were confined to the houses while men carried out all their roles outside their homes, such as hunting, trading, and working on the farms.
Currently, looking at the social position of the modern woman, it is palpable that she can work outside her household, a situation that has made the concept of a woman’s social position to change dramatically over time. In fact, modern women play a vital role in the growth and development of the society and the economies by extension (The Daily Journal). In essence, they have even taken up professions that were initially considered as men’s fields, including engineering, medicine, and law, which adds weight to the notion that the social position of women has improved in society compared to the ancient times.
As it is palpable to the above discussion, the position of women has improved in society over centuries, from the repression of women in the ancient Greece to the freedom and liberty that they enjoy in our contemporary society. In fact, women’s position has seen dramatic change in the social, political, and economic aspects. However, every society has distinctive ways of looking at the earth’s domain encompassing women. Therefore, any attempt to study or examine the position of women in society through the lens of one society is bound to result in a misapprehension. By and large, one thing is evident in all civilizations; that the plight of women and their position in society has transformed over time.
Rymer Eric. Legend of Sabine Women: Sabine Women in Ancient Rome. Available at http://historylink101.com/2/Rome/roman-sabine-women.htm
Shapiro, Ann-Louise. Feminists Revision History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1994. Print.
The Daily Journal. Status of Women in Modern Society. 2011 print, Available at http://archives.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=151455