Gender roles in ancient Mesopotamia were clearly defined (teachmiddleeast.edu). Generally, men worked outside of the home and women stayed inside of the home while focusing on raising their children and keeping up with work that took place in the home. However, there were exceptions; we know of women who were “bartenders” and even women who were priestesses, but with limited responsibility. Due to the fact that some were from socially higher families and owned large amounts of property, those women were not allowed to marry. Women at the time were given much less freedom than men, however, women were more protected than men, which is seen in Hammurabi’s Code of Law, specifically in his 130th law:
Patriarchy is a word accustomed to describe the practice of a man being in control and in power. Illustrations such as men violence against women, imbalanced power relation between women and men. Patriarchy’s Men mostly tend to give commands and women must obey. Subsequently, Women have uneven limited rights comparing to men.
From prehistory to 1450 CE, in many different and complex civilizations, religion has influenced the gender roles of many societies. From prehistory to 600 BCE, in Mesopotamia, women could own property, maintain their dowry, and even trade. However, from 600 BCE to 600 CE, in Rome, women were completely under the control of their paterfamilias. Than, from 600 to 1450 CE, in the Byzantine Empire, women were constrained to their homes, and when they went out, they had to wear veils over their faces. Religion influenced the gender roles of many societies and civilizations from prehistory to 1450 CE.
The environment had a large part in shaping early human history and civilizations. The peoples of the Paleolithic era were generally hunter gatherer nomadic peoples that traveled out of Sub-Saharan Africa looking for better food supply and environments. The Neolithic Era gave rise to human settlement and the beginning of human civilization. The first civilizations settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers around the area that would later be called the Fertile Crescent because of its plentiful in cereal crops, water, and animals that could be domesticated. A civilization such as Mesopotamia highlighted the relationship between fertile lands and societies.
The role of women is a very important topic in "The Epic of Gilgamesh," and various women are chosen to represent various aspects of the mesopotamian conception of women.
For centuries, books, television shows, even beloved childhood movies have subtly reinforced the social construct of patriarchy. Classic movies such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty follow the typical story line of a damsel in distress, followed by a heroic man coming to her rescue. This conception of a male focused storyline is nothing new and is an aspect that constitutes patriarchy, which has existed since the advent of agriculture and has persisted throughout the centuries. In fact, patriarchy was a major theme that was reinforced in the first story ever recovered; The Epic of Gilgamesh was written as early as 2000 BC in Mesopotamia and is loosely based on the Sumerian king, Gilgamesh. The story tells of Gilgamesh’s adventures with his friend Enkidu as they conquer everything from other men to the Bull of Heaven. Throughout the story, patriarchy is heavily reinforced. Although the driving force behind patriarchy is personal attainment of security and status, a number of objectively undesirable events result such as the subjugation of women and societies that value control and dominance. The narrator reinforces different aspects of patriarchy in The Epic of Gilgamesh by portraying men in a good light and women in a bad one, focusing society around males, withholding agency from female females, normalizing violence, and creating the need for unequal relationships between men and women.
Now, it is hard to imagine a time where we did not live in a clearly male dominated world. Currently, this is still a prominent issue, whether it is the gender wage gap or gender role discrimination. Nevertheless, it goes further back to the dawn of civilization, and for the women at that time, the freedom women have would be shocking. To the surprise of us all though, there was a time in prehistory where the divide between genders was virtually non-existent. So, what was it that caused the divide? Was the divide itself a necessary evil of the growth of humanity? Ultimately, it is Neolithic period and the prior Paleolithic period that is necessary to understand, to fully comprehend the transformation of gender roles.
“Wo” is female and the “man” is male, indicating how women are made for men. She is physiologically, psychologically and biologically different from a man. Women in ancient civilizations were more dependent on men than they are today. For example, in ancient Greece, women were not considered as people by law and were not allowed to take part in the legal processes until they were represented by any of their male relative. However, in our modern day, women represent themselves without the need of a man, due to the women’s rights code. Yet after all these years, ancient civilizations seem to have profounding influence on modern-day societies. For instance, women in ancient Mesopotamian civilization were trained by their mothers to be a traditional wife, mother and housekeeper. Similarly, in the present-day Bangladesh, mothers train their daughters to be a better companion to their husbands and endure and do what they ask of them.
Throughout the history of our society, women have gained a certain respect and certain rights over time. Such simple aspects of life such as getting a job, voting, and even choosing who they would like to marry are things that women have fought for, for many years. At one point, these were all things that women in America and parts of Europe had no right to. Men as a whole had suppressed women and taken control of the society. Despite mass oppression in history, women have risen in society and now posses these natural rights.
Throughout history gender has played a defining role in the structure and function of civilizations all over the world. Women were usually deemed as inferior to men in most nations thus leading to a plethora of unfair treatment and social unrest. There were, however, various times in history when women actually stood up for their rights as human beings and spoke out against these atrocities. An example of this is the story of Abina, a young African woman who was unlawfully enslaved in 1876. She made the courageous decision to run away and speak out against her master in court despite insurmountable odds. A political and business world dominated by men led to her case being unjustly dismissed despite having proof to back up her grievances. Just like many other cases at this time, the fact that Abina was a woman worked against her. Quamina Eddoo, his lawyer William Melton, and the all-male jury condemned Abina from the beginning thus leading to her accusations against the accused as being dismissed. The case was doomed from the beginning because of the established societal norm that women were inferior to men. In almost every example of early colonization, the role of women has been greatly devalued and ignored as the male populace strived to be the most powerful and important figures in society.
If I knew nothing else about Mesopotamia, I could conclude from the Hammurabi code that it's an eye for an eye philosophy and they value the military. I would describe the economy of the region as stiff and the most wealth consists only at high classes. The distinct social groups mentioned in the code are slave, freed man, builder, merchant, common man, chieftain. The rights women enjoy were certain respects (but they were still treated like property) and the restrictions they were subject to we're their
Throughout the history of the world, gender roles have been ever evolving. In Peter N. Stearns’s Gender in World History book, the chapter “The Traditional Base: Civilizations and Patriarchy” attempts to shed light on the change in gender roles and how the establishment of civilizations effected the roles that each gender played in society. Stearns’s thesis is that “While civilizations developed, amid contact but also limitations of exchange, gender systems- relations between men and women, assignment of roles and definitions of the attributes of each sex- had been taking shape as well.” In the chapter, Stearns constructs a well-organized argument that is clear and concisely shows the affects that patriarchy had, during the classical
Women in The Epic Of Gilgamesh and Mesopotamian Society In the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender plays a very significant role, because while women were not the most powerful gods nor the strongest or wisest of all humans, they still had tremendous influence over others around them, and even today, over those who study and learn about the women of the time of Mesopotamia. Though the main characters of the story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, are male, women did not necessarily play a minor role. Throughout The Epic of Gilgamesh, the roles of women are mixed. Women are represented as harlots (Shamhat), as wise (Ninsun), and as gods (Ishtar). There is a substantial amount of gods which are represented as women and it could represent a society with multiple
Gossiping during the Ancient Mediterranean was a form of social control, which enforced social norms such as ethical sexual behaviors. Gossip is usually established from witnessing an action that is considered a deviation from the standard behaviors within a given society. Set restraints and values produce a power dynamic and allow individuals to claim their subjecthood; this socially constructed definition of subjecthood allows people to categorize themselves within the social and political hierarchy in order to make sense of who they are, such as their sexuality. The interdictions built and created an understanding of one’s subjecthood and were controlled by gossip. As a result, gossip defines what is acceptable within that society, the creation