The ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greek and Rome civilization all treated their women differently yet equally, leaving women to uphold an inferior status to men. Predominately, men were placed above women in terms of independence, control and overall freedom. Men lived in the world being able to be active in public life and free to do as they pleased, while the role of women were assigned from birth to become homemakers, wives and mothers drawing a line of separation between gender roles in the social structure.
The women of ancient Mesopotamia had strictly defined roles. They had no individuality; they were viewed as wives to their husbands and or daughters to their fathers until married, in which marriages were arranged. Only the women that were born into royalty or married to a man with power were allowed to have their distinct identities, yet they were still unequal to men. For instance, if there were eligible male heirs they were not able to inherit their husband’s estate. The upkeep of their homes and families were 1st priority, so if they were allowed to work outside of the home it was a job in which they created and was a part of their everyday wifely duties, such as being midwives. Child bearing was one of the primary qualities women possessed, so with child bearing came midwives, who were also allowed to create medicine to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Outside of their household duties they had little impact on their society, so they were not allowed to hold positions in the government.
Unlike women of ancient Mesopotamia and other civilizations, the women in ancient Egypt were considered equal to man according to the law. Although they had equal rights under the law, they were still generally considered lower than men in Ancient Egyptian society. Men were classified by the jobs they held and their incomes, while women were classified by the names of their husbands or fathers, still setting them apart in the social hierarchy. Equality of the laws allowed women the right and opportunity to own businesses, own property and also borrow money. “The daily life of an Egyptian woman was a lot less strenuous and though their main role was still to produce children, they could actually own their own property” (Lecture 1, 2). Because Egypt was less strict on the women, certain Egyptian women were able to be influential to their society, dominated mostly by men. The opportunities were presented a lot less but women were able to get a chance at becoming a ruler of the country. One of the first women to do so, holding the rank as a pharaoh was Hatshepsut in about 1500 B.C.E. Differentiating from the women of Mesopotamia, the women of Egypt could go outside of the home to work and gain wealth and inherit a third of their husband’s estates if death was to come upon him. Overall the Egyptian women were granted more freedom but were still looked upon as baby makers and wives. They were considered ready for marriage once they have their first menstrual. Marriage was very important and private to the Egyptians so not many were arranged one would typically persuade the families to grant the idea of marriage.
In ancient Greece, the roles between men and women were very direct. Men were to go out and work, while the women stayed home and care for their children, they had no influences in anything pass their household. Once woman became married in ancient Greece she was under full control of her husband and used only for child bearing to extend the growth of their family. When it came to actual sexual relations the men would use slaves, prostitues and teenage boys for sexual pleasure. Social life of women were viewed as submissiveness, they were restricted from any event outside of the home. The women of ancient Greece had no voice, the men were superior figures in society.