“Women equals slaves and concubines,” was the mentality of patriarchal societies long ago. In today’s society men and women are viewed as equals; no sex is subordinate of the other, but during the early complex societies, there was an obvious split in which gender was more superior. Back then, authoritative figures/gods said that men were more important than women. The superiority of man over woman is constantly revealed in many of the historical documents. For example, man could ‘own’ plenty of women whilst a woman could not own a man; this speaks of an unfair preponderance that men had over women.
However heartless men may seem to sound at this point, they actually did try to show some effort in addressing the needs of women. Men tried to satisfy them and comply with their emotions to the best of their ability. Ancient cultures reinforced that women’s status was more subordinate to men’s status through the documents that depict the importance of men in the eyes of those the most highest in their society, how man’s preeminence was emphasized throughout the lands, and how it was up to the men to show some little respect, if any, to the women.
According to authoritative figures-such as gods, priests, noblemen, and other of the likes- men were more prominent to society than women. Look closely at Document 1 we can tell there weren’t even any female gods. The Gilgamesh Epic reads, “… their father, Anu; Their counselor, the warrior Bel; Their leader, Nimurta; Their champion the god Enlil. ” (doc. 1) All of the gods listed are male. Pleasing a god was an important objective when it came to everyday life; if you wanted your future to be prosperous, you would do everything you could to please the gods.
The question is what would please a god, or what would a god find pleasing? The lord [nobleman] Ptah-hotep advises his son, “If you are a wise man, bring up a son who shall be pleasing to Ptah [a god]. ” (doc. 2) From this we can already tell that the gods favored male offspring rather than daughters. However it wasn’t only to gods did sons seem more cherished; even kings/rulers from all over the land seemed to fancy songs more than daughters. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, once wrote about Persia in his book, The Histories, “Those who have the most sons receive an annual present from the king. (doc. 3) Why was it not ‘those who have the most daughters? ’ Sons were obviously much more valued than daughters. It wasn’t only that the sons were more favored by the early complex societies, but also that the men’s superiority over women was accentuated all throughout the lands from geographic to religious aspects. Document 1’s male gods already give an obvious emphasis on the argument that men were more superior to women. Even the construction of buildings/areas in cities and towns were influenced by how much higher men were than their counterparts. Document 4 shows a Mesopotamian Map in 1300 B.
C. E. ; in this map the city contains places such as: Hill of the Fifty Men, Qatnu’s Field, Field of Marduk, Field of the Ku-Ri-Li of the Baru-Priest, and Field Lu-Du-U. (doc. 4) All these places on the city are male dominated. Men also demonstrated their predominance in the way that they treated women like objects, or collectibles rather. Once again referring to Herodotus’ The Histories, “Every [Persian] man has a number of wives, and a greater number of concubines. ” (doc. 6) Women were objectified and even compared to concubines; men were undeniably thought of as higher beings than women.
As much as men probably believed they were all high and mighty, they still had some respect for women and at times even strived to address their needs and aspirations. When the nobleman, Ptah-hotep, advises his son in 2200 B. C. E. , he mentions to him how he should be good to his wife. Ptah-hotep says, “…love your wife without alloy. Fill her stomach, clothe her back… caress her, fulfill her desires… be not brutal… behold what she aspires, at what she aims, what she regards… display to her your love. ” (doc. ) Ptah-hotep who was a lord wanted his son to treat his son’s wife with respect; this supports men’s attempt to regard the needs of women. In 500 B. C. E. Confucius’ Analects was written; in it is a master who says, “Of all people, girls and servants are the most difficult to behave to. If you are familiar with them, they lose their humility. If you maintain a reserve towards them, they are discontented. ” (doc. 7)Detesting as it may sound; there is actually a kind of concerned tone in the master’s voice. It isn’t like the master was complaining just because, but rather he was complaining because he isn’t really able to perfectly satisfy.
Respect for women was not only a personal thing, but it was also inputted in law. Hammurabi’s Law Codes n 1780 B. C. E contains numerous laws that more or less helped maintain a stable community. Law code 137 states, “If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct [use] of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children… she may then marry the man of her heart. ” (doc. ) Some of women’s rights were protected; this shows us that although women had a lesser position in society, men tried to satisfy the needs of women. Early complex societies were very male dominant and looked up to all male figures such gods, lords, noblemen, priests, sons, etc. Women on the other hand were often objectified and compared to servants and concubines. Women were not treated with as much respect as the males were, but were still paid attention to by men who tried to show some effort when it came to addressing the women’s needs. For many years in the early years this is how societies lived. Could you have done the same?