Ancient Gender Roles

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Gender roles have played major roles in societies throughout history. Recently the idea of gender roles has become an area of contention for feminist and progressive activist as the modern world advances. To understand present gender norms it is necessary to apprehend the past. Ancient civilizations constructed guidelines on how women should present themselves, and even today the remnants of these expectations continues to be evident in our society.
It is obvious in the time of Hammurabi that women were expected to be subservient to men. It was understand that women were “servants” in their husbands (Hammurabi 15). Even in Ancient Asia the ideal women was seen as someone who needed an upright “character in order to serve her husband” (Zhao
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Even though certain traits, actions, ideas are not legally enforced; there are some degree of expectations our society has for women. For example, even in Ban Zhao’s China women were expected to be elegant, beautiful and feminine (4). In America, the same norms are expected for women to be generically beautiful. This shows that, while there is no legal punishment that will be suffered from breaking conformity there are societal punishments women are more inclined to endure if they choose to stray from convention.
The act of making certain behavior for genders laws, Hammurabi’s Code creates a patriarchal society based on legality. Males legally are dominant and possess more power. For example, legally if a man wanted to separate from his wife, he may have done so legally (Hammurabi 15.) However, if a woman wanted to separate from a man, she must have had first obtained his permission (15). In a modern society, these types of laws would be entirely too restrictive; they would quell millions of women’s potential. While having established societal gender roles represses some, the scope of the affected doesn’t
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While Hammurabi’s text mainly focused on the legal specifics and the rights of women, Zhao’s focused mainly on what is to be expected of a proper lady at the time. Through analyzing the language in either text, it can be inferred that women did not enjoy the same rights as men. Arguably women and men in America are still influenced by gender role expectations. Women are still generally seen as caregivers and are thought to be feminine, while men are seen to be providers and are thought to be masculine. In some ways this inspires a Social Darwinism type society where the men and women who epitomize their role are seen to be successful; it is completely subjective whether this be harmful to a community. Personally I enjoy what is comfortable and I do not take issue with the expectations of my society. I enjoy playing sports and other activities deemed as “manly,” but I can understand how others make take issue with the

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