Women With Authority In A Patriarchal World Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Women's Issues Type: Essay Paper: #62320228

Excerpt from Essay :

Women With Authority in a Patriarchal World

In the contemporary world, the cultural and literary spheres acknowledge female interests and activities. Females have overtly exerted their rights by demanding their due status in society, thereby being accepted as important societal members. But the scenario was vastly different about a hundred years ago. Females belonged at home, with the general society believing that raising children and taking care of domestic affairs sufficed as their emotional fulfillment. Between 1850 and 1900, societies were chiefly patriarchal and dependent women had to fight to enjoy equal social status. They were governed completely by a male-fashioned society, and had to be the image of the era's feminine ideal.[footnoteRef:1] In this paper, female authority within patriarchal societies will be addressed, with particular emphasis on the many restrictions when it came to them exerting power and what effective strategies they applied. [1: Pamela, Balanza. "The Role of Women in the 19th and 20th Centuries." Aglaun. 2014. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.]

Women with Authority

Balanza emphatically asserts that throughout the course of history, females remained perpetual victims of societal ideals, depicted as mentally and physically the 'weaker' of the two sexes and subservient to males in every way.[footnoteRef:2] Society imposed specific norms and principles for females to abide by. They simply had to adhere to societal standards and, consequently, enjoyed limited opportunities. Further, their societal significance was curtailed. The ideal twentieth-century female was required to reach standards and maintain roles that are, perhaps, disagreeable and insulting as of today, but that era was vastly different from our present world. The period from 1750 to 1800 saw males and females living in distinct spheres. The basis for the above ideology was the definition of innate male and female characteristics. Females' suitability to domestic life and its becoming their "sphere" was on account of the fact that they were deemed to be physically weaker but morally stronger than males. Clearly, female societal contribution was restricted and governed completely by male authority.[footnoteRef:3] [2: Pamela, Balanza] [3: Pamela, Balanza]

Additionally, Balanza indicates that females were chiefly required to get married and participate in their spouse's business.[footnoteRef:4] Female participation in the political, economic and legal domains was prohibited; these were considered solely male spheres. In short, females were barred from participating in the public domain. Consequently, they received inferior education and no outside knowledge, since the external world was a man's world. As males felt threatened and challenged by female attainment of knowledge and expertise, patriarchal society ensured females never grew to be at par with men in the intellectual domain and fiercely opposed...


Domestic life represented the cultural manifestation of female life. Social visits and activities, fashion, household furnishings, religious engagement, charities and etiquette all outlined a world wherein females could exert authority and illustrate their 'soft' skills.[footnoteRef:5] [4: Pamela, Balanza] [5: Pamela, Balanza]

It is a regrettable fact that, prior to the 1900s, the only legal identity held by females was that of their spouses. Owing to their perceived physical weakness, they were barred from labor-intensive workplaces and whilst their male counterparts had various career avenues open to them, females were confined to home-related paid jobs. They managed the household, performing domestic tasks and routine errands, raising children, and overseeing their cooks, maids and other servants. They were even, on occasion, forbidden to leave the house without their husband's approval. They lacked any appreciable economic and social status. Society accepted matrimony and motherhood as their ideal occupations. Besides maintaining the right comportment and propriety, they had to possess a "lady's" qualities and have superior household management skills.[footnoteRef:6] [6: Pamela, Balanza]

Context in Different Societies

History World International claims that a majority of agrarian societies lowered female potential and status, at least with regard to contemporary Western standards as well as implied hunter and gatherer standards. With agrarian societies' development and prosperity with time, they grew more intricately organized, but female status dropped from its original level. Households came to be typically established on the basis of patriarchy, and the head of the family determined basic conditions and made important decisions. The rest of the household, particularly its female members, were required to be humbly subservient to this patriarchal domination. Typical patriarchy conditions first arose in the Mesopotamian society, in which marriage entailed an official, arranged agreement between the bride and bridegroom's family. The husband held power over his family the way he controlled his servants. However, initial Sumerians might have accorded females more freedom as compared to their descendants. The Sumerian religion believed female sexuality held immense power. Initial Sumerian laws afforded females key rights which meant males couldn't treat them as downright"property." Nevertheless, Sumerian law meted out death sentences to married adulteresses but treated adultery on the husband's part much more leniently, which is a typical patriarchal double standard. Post-Sumerian Mesopotamian civilizations started stressing on the significance of female virginity at the time of marriage, mandating veiling of respectable ladies in public for underscoring their modesty. The above changes indicated a steady narrowing of female freedom and status in society. Throughout, a considerable share of the Mesopotamian civilization's law (including the code of Hammurabi) was reserved for instructions for females, ensuring particular fundamental protections but explicitly stressing their inferiority and restrictions.[footnoteRef:7] [7: History World International. "Women in patriarchal societies." 1992. Web. 5 Dec. 2016. ]

Patriarchy conditions differed between agrarian societies as well. The Egyptians accorded its elite females more credit: the society has seen several powerful women adorning its throne. Akhenaton's wife Nefertiti apparently had a central role in the era's religious conflicts. Some agrarian civilizations accorded females significance by tracing their lineage from mothers and not fathers (e.g., Jewish societies). Still, these societies considered females inferior (Jews, for instance, demanded for separate male and female worship). Thus, despite variety's importance,…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Balanza, Pamela. "The Role of Women in the 19th and 20th Centuries." Aglaun. 2014. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

Bobby, Chippy Susan. "Resisting Patriarchy-A Study of the Women in The God of Small Things." Language in India 12.10 (2012).

History World International. "Women in patriarchal societies." 1992. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.

Moghadam, Valentine M. "Patriarchy in transition: Women and the changing family in the Middle East." Journal of Comparative Family Studies (2004): 137-162.

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