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Patriarchy In India, China, Greece And Rome

1165 words - 5 pages

Most classical society’s political and social organization revolved around the idea of patriarchy, a male dominated social system. This system exacerbated the inherit difference between men and woman and assigned gender roles based on these observations. Men were generally regarded as superior to woman therefore given greater religious and political roles as well as more legal rights. As the natural inverse, women were subordinated and seen as week; their main roles reproductive and domestic. Information about patriarchy in the classical era, though abundant, was, for the most part, written by men, therefore history does not give us an accurate depiction of women’s viewpoints. Four societies of the classical era, India, China, Greece, and Rome, adopted a patriarchal system, however, due to many factors, each developed identifiable characteristics.
Because they did not have a traditional role in government, women had work their way around the system to gain any type of political leverage. Empress Lu violated every cultural and social norm by retaining power as a regent throughout the reins of her son, grandson and adopted grandson. Tradidtionaly regents ruled from behind the scenes while the emperor himself was unable to make decisions, usualy due to age or heath complications, however Empress Lu eradicated any competitors for the thrown. As the end of her reign was nearing, she expected her nephews to succeed her. Even as the first empress, not unfamiliar with disrupting tradition, she left the emperorship to the next male in her bloodline (Doc. 5) not a female. Though Empress Lu defied all expectations of women, her power as an Empress was still undisputed due to the Mandate of Heaven, an idea originating in the Shang dynasty. It dictated that the Emperor currently in power was chosen by the gods and his loss of power dignified that the gods had retracted the Mandate from him. Because of China‘s dynastic system, one person, the emperor, had total control of the state. The only method for gaining political influence for women was to have direct control on the emperor’s decisions or make decisions for him. There was only one person in control, so women who attempted to gain political leverage did so alone, as in the end only one person would have total power. In Rome women also had no official political power. They were not barred from speaking at forums, debates centered around political and social affairs. Instead they spread their opinions though a network of women, some of whose husbands had political power. By working together women were able to voice their opinions and influence men (Doc. 9). In the 3rd century BCE women demonstrated to request an end to the Oppian Law, a law that limited the amount of gold a woman could carry with her and prohibited her from buying certain extravagant items. Women blocked all routes to the forum and with the passing days their numbers grew. Their protests did not seice until the law was lifted (Doc. 10)....

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