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DBQ Open Response THESIS: The societies of classical and preclassical cultures upheld the fundamental belief of the

inferiority of women, granted some economic freedoms, and limited womens marital rights, particularly where divorce proceedings were concerned. Classical/preclassical societies widely believed in womens inferiority, and evidence of this overall attitude can be seen in document five from Han China written by a female Confucian who held a favorable position as imperial historian and who may have desired to solidify her position by recording things that exemplified Confucian idealswhich states that the proper relationship between men and women can only be attained through the wifes complete subservience towards her husband and the husbands complete authority over the wife. Likewise, document six from classical Indias Rig Vedas, from Manu, the father of humanity, who was probably ascribed demigod status as such and who was legendary in a very patriarchal society and therefore had to represent Indian ideals, states that if a woman disrespects her husband, she will be deserted for 3 months and deprived of personal property. This shows that women often were subject to much harsher punishments for smaller offenses. Document 8, from the Analects of Confucius, who may have had previous irritating encounters with his servants and who probably remembered the matters indignantly, further shows the perceived inferiority of women in society as it classes girls and servants together, by stating that of all people, girls and servants are the most difficult to manage. Similarly, document 9, from Persia, describes the common practice of boys under five living with their mothers and never seeing their fathers, the purpose being to spare the father grief should the boy die early. This document shows womens inferiority in classical societies in two ways: firstly, more importance was placed on mens welfare and emotional health than on the womens, and secondly, this practice was not put into use for girls, because in classical societies an infant girls death tended to be less of a tragedy in any case, while a sons death meant the loss of the familys successor. Document 4, from Rome, ties in with the idea of womens inferiority by showing perceived ideals for a womans conduct as relating to this inferiority. Dignity, modesty, and humility are valued as traits that display submission to men. Overall, women were seen as inferior in society, and all aspects of daily life required them to acknowledge their lesser status. An additional document that could support the thesis, and especially the evidence presented in document eight, would be a Han China painting depicting a Chinese servant girl conversing freely with an obviously indignant higher-class man. The mans indignant expression would show that he believed the servant girl was not practicing humility as an inferior woman and member of the lower class. Despite the many limitations set by society on women, there were certain activities women were encouraged to take part in and even praised for dominating, most notably financial and economic matters that affected the family. For example, document two, from the Hebrew Book of Proverbs, describes an admirable woman in society, who seems to largely control all economic activities in her household. She is praised in the document for being industrious, trading well, and making wise financial decisions. This worthy wife makes cloth out of wool/flax and sells these garments to merchants, secures provisions like merchant ships, plants a vineyard out of her savings, and makes successful dealings. Societies could grant freedoms like this to women and could have high tolerance and even admiration for these activities as well. Another example of economic rights and freedoms given to

women can be seen in document six, from India, which states that if a husband does not provide for his wife before leaving on a journey, she can blamelessly make a living for herself without disobeying any society restrictions. Women who were allowed to work undoubtedly achieved financial independence of their husbands to some degree, and could probably pursue other economic activities with this independence as well, which their husbands would not be able to discourage because they would be away from home. Finally, document three, from Plutarchs Moralia, describes the complementary aspect of every decision, stating that although the husband naturally makes the final choice, each activity should be carried out with complete agreement of husband and wife. These activities most likely included financial activities that affected the household, and especially finance-savvy women in those societies were probably unofficial financial advisors to their husbands and possessed much influence in the course of a familys economic affairs. Some women may have even been encouraged by their husbands to solely oversee these affairs. An additional document that could support this would be a financial record or receipt with a womans name on it prominently or at least in a position such as cosigner. A document like this would show that women could be actively involved in economic matters as well as men. Society often limited a womans marital rights particularly in the area of divorce proceedings. Evidence of this can be seen in document 1, from the Christian Bibles Deuteronomy, which solely describes men writing bills of divorce and sending their wives away, without any mention of a woman being able to object to being sent away or to initiate a divorce and carry through with it entirely independent of her husbands approval. It can be inferred from this that only men were given the right to decide a divorces outcomes, and that women most likely had an insignificant, if only in-name part in carrying out a divorce. Document 7, from the Code of Hammurabi, states that if a woman wishes for a divorce and neglects her husband, the husband must agree to release his wife in order for the divorce to proceed; if he does not, she must be a servant in his household. However, society did allow women some rights. Document 7 also states that if a woman wishes for a divorce because her husband is not congenial to her, and she is not convicted of any wrongdoing, she can take her dowry and blamelessly leave her husband. This shows that, if guiltless, women were entitled to some marital rights. However, document 6, from India, states that a husband must endure with a wife who hates him for one year, and then he can stop cohabitation with her and deprive her of personal property. It can be inferred that if a woman lived with a husband who hated her, she could divorce him and without much consequence to him, but if a man lived with a wife who hated him, he could divorce her and deprive her of property. This shows the inequality between men and women, and how men were often more favorably positioned in terms of the law, especially laws concerning marital matters. An additional document that could support this would be a bill of divorce which would state only the mans reasons for wishing a divorce and a minimal amount of information about the womans perspective of the matter. It can be clearly seen that classical and preclassical societies believed in the fundamental inferiority of women, granted and even encouraged the pursuit of economic activities, and placed less emphasis and importance on a womans marital rights as opposed to a mans. The overall attitudes towards women reflected societal ideas of their inferiority, with a few general rights and freedoms granted.