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Foundations: Gender Questions

1. What part did women play in trade, business, or commercial activity?

2. What influence did a womans education have in determining job opportunities during this time period?

3. How would you characterize the difference in opportunities for elite and non-elite women?

4. How did women fit into the bureaucracy of these kingdoms or empires? Did this influence their political or legal rights?

Foundations Document 1

North Africa
Egyptian women seem to have enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man - at least in theory. This notion is reflected in Egyptian art and historical inscriptions. It is uncertain why these rights existed for the woman in Egypt but no where else in the ancient world. It may well be that such rights were ultimately related to the theoretical role of the king in Egyptian society. If the pharaoh was the personification of Egypt, and he represented the corporate personality of the Egyptian state, then men and women might not have been seen in their familiar relationships, but rather, only in regard to this royal center of society. Since Egyptian national identity would have derived from all people sharing a common relationship with the king, then in this relationship, which all men and women shared equally, they were--in a sense--equal to each other. This is not to say that Egypt was an egalitarian society. It was not. Legal distinctions in Egypt were apparently based much more upon differences in the social classes, rather than differences in gender. Rights and privileges were not uniform from one class to another, but within the given classes, it seems that equal economic and legal rights were, for the most part, accorded to both men and women. Most of the textual and archaeological evidence for the role of women that survives from prior to the New Kingdom pertains to the elite, not the common folk. WOMEN'S LEGAL RIGHTS: The Egyptian woman's rights extended to all the legally defined areas of society. From the bulk of the legal documents, we know that women could manage and dispose of private property, including: land, portable goods, servants, slaves, livestock, and money (when it existed), as well as financial instruments (i.e., endowments and annuities). A woman could administer all her property independently and according to her free will. She could appear as a contracting partner in a marriage contract or a divorce contract; she could execute testaments; she could free slaves; she could make adoptions. She was entitled to sue at law. This amount of freedom was at variance with that of the Greek woman of Egypt who required a designated male to represent her in all legal contracts and proceedings. This male was her husband, father or brother. WOMEN'S PROPERTY RIGHTS: Under Egyptian property law, a woman had claim to one-third of all the community property in her marriage. When a woman brought her own private property to a marriage (e.g., as a dowry), this apparently remained hers, although the husband often had the free use of it. However, in the event of divorce her property had to be returned to her, in addition to any divorce settlement that might be stipulated in the original marriage contract. A wife was entitled to inherit one-third of that community property on the death of her husband, while the other twothirds was divided among the children, followed up by the brothers and sisters of the deceased. If there were no children, and the husband did not wish his brothers and sisters to receive two-thirds of the community property, he could legally adopt his wife as his child and heir and bequeath all the property to her. Even if he had other children, he could still adopt his wife, so that, as his one of his legal offspring, she would receive some of the two-thirds share, in addition to her normal one-third share of the community property. WOMEN IN CONTRACTS: Women in Egypt were consistently concluding contracts, including: marriage and divorce settlements, engagements of wet-nurses, purchases of property, even arrangements for self-enslavement. Self-enslavement in Egypt was actually a form of indentured servitude. Although self-enslavement appears to have been illegal in Egypt, it was practiced by both men and women. To get around the illegality, the servitude was stipulated only for a limited number of years, although it was usually said to be "99 years."

Under self-enslavement, women often technically received a salary for their labor. Two reasons for which a woman might be forced into such an arrangement are: (1) as payment to a creditor to satisfy bad debts; (2) to be assured of one's provisions and financial security, for which a person might even pay a monthly fee, as though they were receiving a service. However, this fee would equal the salary that the provider had to pay for her labor; thus, no "money" would be exchanged. Since this service was a legal institution, then a contract was drawn up stipulating the conditions and the responsibilities of the involved parties. WOMEN BEFORE THE BAR: Egyptian women had the right to bring lawsuits against anyone in open court, and there was no gender-based bias against them, and we have many cases of women winning their claims. A good example of this fact is found in the Inscription of Mes. This inscription is the actual court record of a long and drawn- out private land dispute which occurred in the New Kingdom. Significantly, the inscription shows us four things: (1) women could manage property, and they could inherit trusteeship of property; (2) women could institute litigation (and appeal to the court of the vizier); (3) women were awarded legal decisions (and had decisions reversed on appeal); (4) women acted as witnesses before a court of law. FEMALE LITERACY: It is uncertain, generally, how literate the Egyptian woman was in any period. Baines and Eyre suggest very low figures for the percentage of the literate in the Egypt population, only about 1% in the Old Kingdom. Other Egyptologists would dispute these estimates, seeing instead an amount at about 5-10% of the population. In any event, it is certain that the rate of literacy of Egyptian women was well behind that of men from the Old Kingdom through the Late Period. Lower class women, certainly were illiterate; middle class women and the wives of professional men, perhaps less so. The upper class probably had a higher rate of literate women. In the Old and Middle Kingdoms, middle and upper class women are occasionally found in the textual and archaeological record with administrative titles that are indicative of a literate ability. In the New Kingdom the frequency at which these titles occur declines significantly, suggesting an erosion in the rate of female literacy at that time. Many royal princesses at court had private tutors. Since royal princesses would have been educated, it then seems likely that the daughters of the royal courtiers were similarly educated. In the inscriptions, we occasionally do find titles of female scribes among the middle class from the Middle Kingdom. The only example of a female physician in Egypt occurs in the Old Kingdom. WOMEN IN PUBLIC: The Egyptian woman in general was free to go about in public; she worked out in the fields and in estate workshops. However, it was perhaps unsafe for an Egyptian woman to venture far from her town alone. Ramesses III boasts in one inscription, "I enabled the woman of Egypt to go her own way, her journeys being extended where she wanted, without any person assaulting her on the road." A different view of the traveling women is found in the Instructions of Any, "Be on your guard against a woman from abroad, who is not known in town, do not have sex with her." WOMEN'S OCCUPATIONS: In general, the work of the upper and middle class woman was limited to the home and the family. This was not due to her customary role as mother and bearer of children, as well as the public role of the Egyptian husbands and sons who functioned as the executors of the mortuary cults of their deceased parents. As far as occupations go, in the textual sources upper class woman are occasionally described as holding an office, and thus they might have executed real jobs.

In Wente's publication of Egyptian letters, he notes that of 353 letters known from Egypt, only 13 provide evidence of women functioning with varying degrees of administrative authority. Women functioned as middle class housekeepers, servants, fieldhands, and all manner of skilled workers inside the household and in estate-workshops. African Women Leaders One of the great African warrior queens of the ancient world was Majaji, who led the Lovedu tribe which was part of the Kushite Empire during the Kushite's centuries long war with Rome. The empire ended in 350 C.E. when the Kushite stronghold of Meroe fell to repeated Roman assaults. Majaji led her warriors in battle armed with a shield and spear and is believed to have died on the walls of Meroe. The Egyptian warrior queens included Ahotep, the seven Cleopatras and Arsinoe II & III, all of who descended from the royal house of Kush. They ruled Egypt and led their armies and navies through Roman times. A succession of Ethiopian Queens and military leaders known as Candace were also descended from the Kush. The first Candace, leading an army mounted on war elephants, turned back Alexander's invasion of Ethiopia in 332 BCE. In 30 BCE Candace Amanirenas defeated an invasion by Patronius, the Roman governor of Egypt and sacked the city of Cyrene. Hatshepsut: A Ruler in Ancient Egypt Hatshepsut is often considered the first woman ruler of ancient Egypt. She was born during the 15th century BC, the daughter of Tuthmose I and Ashmes, who were of royal lineage. She was one of three children who survived the childhood deaths of her brothers. Even though her father Tuthmose I had a son by a commoner Moutnofrit, Tuthmose II, Hatshepsut ruled as a result of her political acumen and personal capability. Tuthmose II died early of cancer after claiming authority for three or four years. Hatshepsut was able to garner enough support among the key elements within Eygptian society to take control as pharaoh. Her rule lasted approximately 15 years. Her death is reported to have occurred in 1458 BCE. Although there were no wars during her reign, she proved her sovereignty by ordering expeditions to the land of Punt, in present-day Somalia, in search of the ivory, animals, spices, gold and aromatic trees that Egyptians coveted. These expeditions are well documented in the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the walls of her temple. With these inscriptions are included incised representations of the journey, including humorous images of the Puntites and their queen, at whom the Egyptians no doubt looked while restraining a giggle; the queen has folds of fat hanging over her knees and elbows, her back is crooked and she has an acquiline nose. To the short, thin Egyptians she was probably quite a sight. During Hatshepsut's rule she constructed many monuments and works of art unrivaled by any other queen to come in Egypt. She erected an enormous temple in the Valley of the Kings near a large plateau at Deir-el-Bahri just adjacent to the Nile River from Thebes.

Foundations Document 2

West Asia
In general, women's rights in Mesopotamia were not equal to those of men. But in early periods women were free to go out to the marketplaces, buy and sell, attend to legal matters for their absent men, own their own property, borrow and lend, and engage in business for themselves. High status women, such as priestesses and members of royal families, might learn to read and write and be given considerable administrative authority. Numerous powerful goddesses were worshiped; in some city states they were the primary deities. Women's position varied between city-states and changed over time. There was an enormous gap between the rights of high and low status women (almost half the population in the late Babylonian period were slaves), and female power and freedom sharply diminished during the Assyrian era. The first evidence of laws requiring the public veiling of elite women come from this period. Temple of the Goddess Bau: Lagash, ca, 2350 B.C. Administration of this temple was in the hands of Queen Shagshag. She exercised legal and economic authority over the whole domain of temple, employing about 1000 and 1200 persons year round. She also was the chief priestess. Tablets show that her domestic staff consisted of:

150 slave women: spinners, woolworkers, brewers, millers, and kitchen workers. One female singer, several musicians. 6 women who ground grain for feeding pigs. 15 cooks, and 27 other slaves doing menial work. Brewery: 40 men and 6 females. One wet nurse, one nursemaid. Personal servants for her children and herself. One hairdresser

Enheduanna. Daughter of King Sargon of Akkad. High-priestess of Moon-God temple. Ur. ca. 2300 B.C. Enheduanna is the first known female poet in history. Her poems of praise to gods and goddesses were highly popular in her time. After her father's death, the new ruler of Ur removed her from her position as high-priestess. She wrote of this injustice: "Me who once sat triumphant, he has driven out of the sanctuary. Like a swallow he made me fly from the window, My life is consumed. He stripped me of the crown appropriate for the high priesthood. He gave me dagger and sword - 'it becomes you,' he said to me." Enheduanna appealed to the goddess Inanna to redress her injuries: "It was in your service that I first entered the holy temple, I, Enheduanna, the highest priestess. I carried the ritual basket, I chanted your praise. Now I have been cast out to the place of lepers. Day comes and the brightness is hidden around me. Shadows cover the light, drape it in sandstorms. My beautiful mouth knows only confusion. Even my sex is dust." Erishti-Aya: Letters to King Zimri-Lim of the city-state of Mari, Akkadian Dynasty 1750 B.C.

Zimri-Lim was king of Mari in northern Mesopotamia during the time of Hammurabi. Elite women in Mari held relatively equal status with men. They stood in for the king when he was absent, and ruled in city-states that had been conquered. Zimri-Lim had eight daughters. Two had become priestesses dedicated to certain gods. They became cloistered, like nuns. One, Erishti-Aya, wrote letters home complaining of her life. "Now the daughters of your house...are receiving their rations of grain, clothing, and good beer. But even though I alone am the woman who prays for you, I am not provisioned... Last year you sent me two female slaves and one of those slaves had to go and die! Now you have brought me two more female slaves and of these one slave had to go and die!" To her mother Erishti-Aya wrote: "I am a king's daughter! You are a king's wife! Even disregarding the tablets with which your husband and you made me entered the cloister, they (the temple officials) treat well soldiers taken as booty. You, then treat me well!"...."My rations of grain and clothing, with which my father keeps me alive, they once gave me, so let them give me them no lest I starve." Letter from Assyrian business woman to her merchant husband. ca. 1900 B.C. "One heavy cloth to Ashur-Malik I gave previously for his caravan trip. But the silver from it he has not yet brought me. ....When you send the purse, include some wool. Wool in the city is costly."

Foundations Document 3 West Asia

Laws in the Hammurabi Code concerning Marriage and the Family


108 "If a [woman wine-seller] does not accept [grain] according to gross weight in payment of drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink is less than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into the water." (This refers to a practice known as a trial by ordeal. It was believed that the Euphrates River would act as judge of people accused of various crimes. If, when thrown into the river, the accused person floated, she or he was considered innocent. But if they sank, the river had found them guilty.) 109 "If conspirators meet in the house of a woman wine-seller, and these conspirators are not captured and delivered to the court, the wine-seller shall be put to death." 110 "If a 'sister of a god' [nun] open a tavern, or enter a tavern to drink, then shall this woman be burned to death." 129 If a man's wife be surprised (in flagrante delicto) with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves. 131 "If the husband of a married lady has accused her but she is not caught lying with another man, she shall take an oath by the life of a god and return to her house." 134 If any one be captured in war and there is not sustenance in his house, if then his wife go to another house this woman shall be held blameless. 135 If a man be taken prisoner in war and there be no sustenance in his house and his wife go to another house and bear children; and if later her husband return and come to his home: then this wife shall return to her husband, but the children follow their father. 136 If any one leave his house, run away, and then his wife go to another house, if then he return, and wishes to take his wife back: because he fled from his home and ran away, the wife of this runaway shall not return to her husband. 137 If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart. 138 If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go. 139 If there was no purchase price he shall give her one mina of gold as a gift of release. 140 If he be a freed man he shall give her one-third of a mina of gold. 141 If a man's wife, who lives in his house, wishes to leave it, plunges into debt, tries to ruin her house, neglects her husband, and is judicially convicted: if her husband offer her release, she may go on her way, and he gives her nothing as a gift of release. If her husband does not wish to release her, and if he take another wife, she shall remain as servant in her husband's house. 142 If a woman quarrel with her husband, and say: "You are not congenial to me," the reasons for her prejudice must be presented. If she is guiltless, and there is no fault on her part, but he leaves and neglects her, then no guilt attaches to this woman, she shall take her dowry and go back to her father's house. 148 If a man take a wife, and she be seized by disease, if he then desire to take a second wife he shall not put away his wife, who has been attacked by disease, but he shall keep her in the house which he has built and support her so long as she lives.

West Asia Women's Rights in Ancient Jewish Society


The Jews, or Hebrews, were unique among ancient societies. They had once wor shipped many gods and goddesses. But they tossed them all out in favor of monotheism, or the belief in one god-a male god. The earliest Hebrews were nomads or semi-nomads who raised cattle, sheep, and goats and farmed on a seasonal basis. The tribes were comprised of pa triarchal families, but evidence of the opposite ex ists in the Old Testament, suggesting that earlier tribal formation may have been matrilineal and matrilocal . Even with evidence of earlier matriarchal traditions, the predominant family structure in Hebrew society, as was the case in neighboring cultures, was patriar chal. There are differences in opinion regarding the status and rights of women during the earliest periods of Jewish society. Some believe that the status of women during this time was high and that they fully partici pated in their communities. Others see Hebrew women as excessively dominated by men and their status inferior in all aspects. Even the Old Testament offers conflicting views of women's status and rights. It's full of stories about great and powerful women who were venerated for their actions. Rachel and Leah are called "builders of Israel" in the Book of Ruth. Deborah was an esteemed female judge and led her people into battle. Esther, who didn't let on that she was Jewish when she mar ried the Persian king Ahasueras, put her own life at risk to save the lives of the Jews living in Persia, whom her husband had sentenced to death. Women are clearly venerated in the Book of Proverbs and are worshipped in the Song of Solomon. But a woman takes the blame for the fall of humankind right off the bat, and there are many other passages that paint women in far from favorable light. Even the stories of respected or heroic women pale when compared to the accounts of many others who were clearly in servile or submissive roles. Specific strictures against women can be found throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament once believed to be the work of Moses. They include the following: - The burning to death of prostitutes (while their customers went free) -Not allowing women to inherit from their husbands, or daughters from their fa thers, except in situations where there were no male heirs - Not allowing women to divorce their husbands (although men had this right) If read chronologically, the Old Testament reveals the same old story. Jewish women started out strong (if you don't count Eve), but their status and rights diminished over time. Alchemy: Mary the Jewess (Example: Typical or Unusual?) Also known as Maria or Miriam, Mary the Jewess worked as an alchemist in Alexandria during the first century C.E. In the course of her work, she invented such devices as the tribikos, perhaps the first distillation mechanism; the kerotakis, an ap paratus for creating metal alloys; and a prototype for the autoclave, fashioned from copper tubing made from sheet metal. Mary the Jewess is also credited with developing many of the foundations of modem chemistry. Perhaps her best-known invention, however, is the double boiler, or bain marie (named after her in some accounts, after the Virgin Mary in others). This sim ple device, which gently heats substances by suspending them over hot water, became a staple in virtually every laboratory and kitchen and remains so today.

Foundations Document 4

East Asia
Family: For both the rich and the poor, the family was all important. The oldest male was the head of the family. If one member of a family did something wrong, the entire family was in disgrace. In the nobles, marriages were arranged to strength or to create a union between two clans or families. The young obeyed their parents without question. This was an important part of ancestor worship. Even a wealthy noble with many servants might patch his father's robe with his own hands. Children looked forward to the day when they would be parents, and their children would honor them. The role of the woman was to be gentle, calm, respectful, and to obey her husband.

Han (~200 BCE to 200 CE)


Public Schools: One of the Han emperors (Han Wudi), ~100 CE, agreed with Confucius that education was the key to good government. He started a system of public schools, for boys only, taught by Confucian teachers. The teachings of Confucius were nationally honored. Schools were set up in each province. There was a major school, called the Grand School, in the capital. In the beginning, only 50 students were allowed to study at the Grand School. In less than 100 years, enrollment at the Grand School was over 30,000 students. The rich lived in comfortable, large houses with many rooms and fireplaces. Each home was built around a central courtyard. They had elaborately carved furniture and painted stucco walls with floral designs. Other walls were left bare to display paintings or bronze mirrors. Dinner was elaborate. Boys were tutored in science, math, literature, art, religion, and music. Some studied in their homes, and some at the home of their tutor. They wore belted robes with long sleeves lined with silk. When it was cold, they wore warm fur coats, made of squirrel and fox skins and leather slippers. Life in the Country: Country folk were farmers. They lived in one or two story mud houses with tiled or thatched roofs. Extended families lived in one house to allow them to work their fields together. They still did not own their farms, but farms were larger in size, because families had learned to team up. They went to bed at dark and got up at dawn. They dressed in simple clothes. Both men and women wore shirts and pants made of scratchy cloth, and sandals made of straw. They stuffed their clothes with paper and cloth, to stay warm in the winter. They steamed much of their food over boiling water on stoves. In the south, they ate rice, steamed dumplings, and fish, flavored with garlic and onions. In the north, they ate much the same, only they ate wheat instead of rice. During the early periods of the Han Dynasty Confucianism prevailed and a strong patriarchy existed. Within the philosophy of Confucianism, women were considered subordinate to men and were encouraged to not be seen or heard publicly. Instead, the duty of women was to obey her father, or if married to maintain the home and obey her husband, and if he died to her duty was to obey her sons. Moreover, women were supposed to do neither good nor bad things, instead they were only supposed to focus on cooking and sewing. For all of these reasons, women rarely became well-known writers. The only women that are known for writing during this period are Pan Chao who helped her brother write a complete history of the Han Dynasty and Ts'ai Wen-chi, a young girl who was taken prisoner by barbarians, married, and had children, to finally return and write a poem called "The Songs of Chagrin and Indignation" So as seen in the case of the Han Dynasty, accomplished women were rare, because of the philosophical limitations of Confucianism.

Confucian Inspired Sayings


"A woman's duty is not to control or take charge." "Woman's greatest duty is to produce a son." "A woman ruler is like a hen crowing." "A husband can marry twice, but his wife must never remarry." We should not be too familiar with the lower orders or with women." "The woman with no talent is the one who has merit." "Disorder is not sent down by Heaven, it is produced by women." "Those who cannot be taught, cannot be instructed. These are women and eunuchs." "Women's nature is passive." "A woman should look on her husband as if he were Heaven itself, and never weary of thinking how she may yield to him."

Foundations Document 5

East Asia: Japan


The History of women in ancient Japan is filled with missing parts. In the Nara and Heian periods, we are fortunate to have a well-developed, thriving, literate community of women both surrounding the court of the emperor as well as in the lesser courts of regional governors. But, we are limited entirely to the upper classes, their lives, and their values. The experience and values of women and women's communities for the vast majority of ancient Japanese is simply unavailable to us; we cannot even guess the nature of women's communities and the roles that women played in rural and village communities and economies. In the first mention of Japan in Chinese historythe Chinese called Japan, "Wa"there is a fairly brief discussion of Japanese women. The Chinese writers claim that there is no social distinction between men and women and remarks that there have even been women rulers in Japan. The history also claims that women served as religious shamans and regularly participated in ceremonials. Its difficult, however, to know if this is true. First, the Chinese are attempting in their description of "Wa" to define the Japanese as backwardand hence less civilizedthan the Chinese? For instance, in the same history, the writers claim that the Japanese also practice polygyny, or the marriage of more than one wife. Nobility, they claim, marry upwards of five women while commoners typically have two or three wives. Besides this, all evidence we have indicates that the individual clans, or uji , were ruled by men. The Shinto religion provides some clues to early Japanese society, but they are fleeting. Because so much foreign material, particularly South Asian and Chinese religious practices, have accumulated on top of Shinto, its difficult to sort out original Shinto from its hybrid descendants. The cult of Amaterasu, the creator goddess, suggests that Shinto before Buddhism was a strongly matriarchal religion in a strongly patriarchal culture. While most religions, including Hebraism and Chinese religions, have their origins in goddess religions, Shinto is one of the few religions in a patriarchal culture that did not abandon the overall form of a matriarchal religion. This suggests that female shamanism was highly likely in Japan before the advent of Buddhism, although there is no physical evidence for it. In the early centuries AD, the Japanese ruling classes became powerful enough to build large tomb-mounds, called tumuli (kofun). The best picture we have of early Japanese life is afforded by the small clay figurines, called haniwa that were deposited in these tumuli. Their nature or purpose is unknown. Are they magic? Departing gifts? Needless to say, they provide a valuable picture of early Japanese life, particularly the haniwa of houses. The figurines also represent men and women, and the earliest haniwa do not make a clear distinction between men and women. However, as haniwa artists developed their art, the human figurines became more differentiated and far more male figurines are produced than female figurines. The male figurines are highly differentiatedmany of them represent clear occupations, such as farmer, hunters, or farmers. The female haniwa, however, tend to remain undifferentiated, which implies that in the early Japanese imagination, women do not occupy a range of economic activities. This was probably not the reality. In all cultures, women occupy a huge variety of economic functions but are often culturally imagined as occupying a small range of occupations or existing outside the economic sphere. The development of haniwa suggest that the early Japanese did not strongly differentiate men from women in the earliest AD centuries, but slowly developed a cultural imagination that configured men in a variety of concrete social functions while limiting women to abstract or socially non-representational roles. By the Nara period, writing in Japan had become common in the upper classes, but writing and literature was largely in Chinese and dominated by men. In the early eighth century, the emperor's court ordered a series of fudoki, or geographical descriptions, to be drawn up describing each region. These fudoki give us a tremendous picture of the overall layout of early Japan, but contain little or nothing about everyday life or about women. The only pictures we have, however, of Japanese not in the upper classes are from these fudoki

and the portrait they draw implies that economic functions were divided among everyday Japanese according to gender but that the family was more or less egalitarian. Court life, however, seemed a different matter. While the Chinese histories talk about an Empress Himiko in the second century A.D., the only comparable figure in the Nara period or slightly before was Empress Suiko (reigned 592-628 A.D.) a few decades before the Nara period. Even so, she handed the business of running the government over to her son, Prince Mumayado, who took the title Shotoku. Still, she made important decisions, such as declaring war against Silla, a kingdom in Korea. While we know little of early Shinto and women's roles in the religion, the introduction of Buddhism certainly introduced a pervasive and dramatic gender inequality in religious life. In the Buddhism imported from China, women were deeply mistrusted; many Buddhists believed that salvation was out of the question for women. The Buddhist monastic communities were entirely male and Buddhist monks only accepted males as their students. The only Buddhist life available to women was that of seclusion as a nun; such a life, however, deprived the female aspirant of the human community that is the cornerstone of Buddhist life and philosophy. Literary activity in the late Yamato and Nara periods is overwhelmingly dominated by men. Even though the late Heian and medieval Japanese collections of poetry would be significantly represented, if not dominated outright, by women. However, through most of Japanese literary history, the "feminine" collections of poetry were considered the great literature of Japan.

Foundations Document 6

Austronesia Gender
The affairs of a village were probably run informally by the respective chiefs along the lines of an extended family. Activities such as warfare, canoe building, navigation and fishing were practiced by the males. Women on the other hand, were responsible for taking care of the young children, maintaining the household and working in the garden. Another important female occupation was the production of woven mat which were used to fashion mattresses, blankets, hats and other articles. The Chamorros did not marry relatives and that they were monogamous. It was also apparent that while the men may have been the warriors and navigators, the women were the heads of the household and were quick to assert their prerogatives. The important and powerful role exercised by women in the traditional Chamorro society has been summarized as follows. Females, in particular elder women in the clan, who were married and mothers were powerful in all spheres of the traditional society. Through matrilineal kinship system, women exercised control over family life, property and inheritance. They assumed a central role and possessed strong bargaining powers in their marriages. Their esteem status was also reflected in rituals, legends and ceremonial events.

Foundations Document 7

South Asia
Eight Strict Rules for Buddhist Nuns Now let us consider the Eight Strict Rules. The first condition stipulates that a Senior Nun, even with a hundred years of Higher Ordination, should worship and pay obeisance to a young monk who has obtained Senior Ordination on that very day. The Chullavagga says that this was the practice with other non Buddhist contemporary religious orders by way of justification. Are we to believe that the Buddha took precedents from the existing malpractices of the Indians, especially when they were unfair and inhuman? The Upasampada is sacrosanct and highly revered in the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Buddha. Monks have to walk behind their elders in Senior Ordination even when using a road. They have to honour and worship the monk senior in Upasampada-higher ordination. The first strict rule violates this sanctity of the Senior Ordination and goes against the very grain of the monastic life. Therefore we are justified in doubting such an enactment by the Buddha. This is a desecration of the sanctity of Senior Ordination and homage to one's superiors in the Order. Any sensible person will agree that this is so. This condition violates the Chattari Sangaha Vastu- the four virtues advocated by the Buddha in social relationships. Samanatmata (Equality) is the fourth of these virtues. The first strict condition violates it. According to this condition a monk cannot honour or show respect or pay obeisance to a Nun, however virtuous or saintly she may be. Even if she is an Arahat she will have to worship novice monks who have not attained to any of the paths and fruits that lead to Nirvana. Monks even very junior in Upasampada need not pay her the honour due to her Arahatship. That this requirement was not enacted by the Buddha is borne out by the fact that the Buddha honoured Prajapati Gotami at the time she visited him to seek permission to pass away to Nirvana. The Buddha rose from his seat, and escorted her up to the doorway or gate of the monastery. It is unlikely that He will set a bad example by violating the first strict rule which He enacted. The Buddha's behaviour in this instance shows that He was not aware that He has to set an example by adhering to the first Strict Rule. There can be little doubt that the First Council Elders were unsympathetic to women. They censured Ven. Ananda for pleading with the Buddha to inaugurate the Order of Nuns. They censured him for allowing women to see the dead body of the Buddha before men could pay their respects. They censured him for trampling on the Buddha's robe while stitching up a torn part. They were foolish enough to believe that the gods would have held the robe if there was nobody to hold it in the correct position for sewing. At the time of the First Council there were Arahat Nuns highly proficient in the Vinaya, None of them were admitted or consulted when adopting the Eight Strict Rules as enactions of the Buddha. Therefore it could be presumed that the Eight Strict Rules were drawn up and accepted behind the backs of the Arahat Nun disciples of the Buddha.

Foundations Document 8 South Asia


FEMALE INFANTICIDE Female infanticide arose from the general Vedic attitude towards women. The large dowries prescribed by the Vedas meant that a girl was seen as a burden. The woman who gave birth to a daughter was ashamed, and much stigma attached to a lady who only gave birth to daughters. Hence infanticide arose as a convenient way of getting rid of the "burden." Aryan texts sanction this custom: Hence they reject a female child when born, and take up a male. CHILD-MARRIAGE Child marriage of daughters 5-6 years old was common due to the custom of dowry and to avoid scandals. Hindu Law books prescribe that the best partner for a man in one-third his age. Thus a man 18 year old should marry a girl 6 years old. "A man, aged thirty years, shall marry a maiden of twelve who pleases him, or a man of twenty-four a girl of eight years of age; if (the performance of) his duties would otherwise be impeded, he must marry sooner." This was meant to prevent any scandals. Narada states that some of the defects to be avoided in brides are if they already had a relationship with another man or have their minds set on another, they should not be selected BURNING OF WOMEN This is often related to dowry, when the brides family cannot pay up to the amount demanded by the in-laws. Often the in-laws make demands in excess of those made at the time of marriage. When the deadline specified runs out, the bride is burned in often gruesome fashions. A Hindu-Aryan husband could at any time accuse his wife of infidelity. In case the wife protests her innocence, the council of village elders would then order an ordeal by fire. The accused wife would be required to pass through a blazing flame. Not just death, but any signs of burns would be taken as a sign of guilt and the wife would then have to undergo the penalty for infidelity [EB 8:986 `ordeal]. Adultery carries the death sentence in Aryan law, so either way she would have to pay with her life for her husbands or elders mere suspicions. "Let these women, whose husbands are worthy and are living, enter the house with ghee (applied) as corrylium ( to their eyes). Let these wives first step into the pyre, tearless without any affliction and well adorned." Jauhar refers to the practice of the mass burning of all the wives and daughters in an entire town/district to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemies. Often the husbands forced their unwilling spouses, sometimes the women practiced it themselves, encouraged by the elders. It is merely a variant of Sati, since it occurred in anticipation of the womens widowhood. Witch-Burning The burning of witches during the Vedic Dark Ages of Indian History ( 1500 BC - 500 BC) and the later Puranic Dark Ages ( 100 AD-1000 AD) makes the European Medieval ecclesiastical witch-hunts pale in comparison. PUNISHMENT OF WOMEN The wife could suffer seriously cruel punishment for very minor offences. Amputation of Ears and Noses Aryan husbands cut off the ears and nose of their wives if they left the house without their prior permission. The Pancatantra mentions one such story [Pancatantra p.54, I.7th story "The Weavers Wife"]. The weaver cut off his wifes nose because she did not respond and he considered her unfaithful. The Ramayana and Lord Rama practiced the cutting off of womens noses for minor

offences, thereby providing divine sanction for the custom. Shurpanakha was a Dravidian lady ( referred to as Rakshis or female demons by the Aryans) who fell in love with Rama. She proposed to him, but he directed her to his brother Laxman. He cut off her ears and nose for this crime, and Ram condoned this act. [Alld Chmbrs 1036] Death Penalty The death penalty was prescribed for Aryan women guilty of infidelity. The Manu Smrti, the most authoritative Indo-Aryan lawbook, states "When a woman, proud of her relations [or abilities] deceives her husband ( with another man), then the king should [ensure that] she be torn apart by dogs in place much frequented by people" "And the evil man should be burnt in a bed of red-hot iron" VIII.371. "If a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or (her own) excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many. RESTRICTIONS ON WOMEN No Property Women and Sudras can, in the Aryan-Vaishnava system, have no property: A wife, a son, and a slave, these three are declared to have no property; the wealth which they earn is (acquired) for him to whom they belong. A Brahmana may confidently seize the goods of (his) Sudra (slave); for, as that (slave) can have no property, his master may take his possessions. Dress and Veiling Aryan women had to wear a face-veil when going out. Sanskrit literature mentions the The practice of using veils by women, particularly in well-to-do families, was in vogue. Prabhakaravardhanas daughter Rajyasri put on a veil when she met her husband, the Maukhari Grahavarman of Kanauj, for eh first time. It is known from Vacaspati Misra (9C AD) that women in good families observed the purdah system and did not appear in public without veils ... However, Dhoyi, the author of the 12 C poetical work the Pavanaduta, relates that the women of Vijayapura (in Bengal) did not observe the purdah system "Harshas [1099-1101] [Lohara dynasty] coins [depict] a half cross-legged goddess [and] a veil appears on the head" "Many of the female figures on the gold coins, like the sculpture and literature of the [Gupta] age, do reflect a somewhat new idea of feminine beauty which we now call classical [thinner and more slender]" Dowry The Vedas prescribe that a dowry be given by the brides family to the groom. The Rig Veda states that cows and gifts given by the father of the bride to the daughter accompanied the brides procession . Kakshivat says he became rich by the father-in-law giving him 10 chariots and maids and 1060 cows during the marriage ceremony. The ancient custom of kanyadan, where the father presented his daughter with jewelry and clothes at the time of her marriage, and vardakshina where the father presented the groom with kith and kind are, in essence the dowry system.

Staying Alone It may be thought that only the absence of the husband could temporarily alleviate the condition of Aryan women. Alas, even then she was under constant suspicion. To prevent nightly intrigues, she cannot even sleep alone: "whilst her husband is absent, she shall sleep with one of her female relatives and not alone"

Going Out and Education Women and Sudras were declared to be unfit for study of their own sacred texts: "And as women, Sudras and the inferior members of the twice-borne classes were unfitted for hearing the Veda, and were infatuated in desiring the blessings, arising from the ceremonies, the muni, with a vision to their felicity, in his kindness composed the narrative called the Mahabharata." No Divorce, divorce was not permitted. No Remarriage: even if the wife ran away from the harsh husband, she could never get remarried as long as she is in the confines of Hindu tradition. Buddhism and Jainism Buddhism and Jainism were both protest movements against the Vedic Vaishnava system. However, they did not lead to any major changes in the status of women. This was due to the emphasis placed by these religions on asceticism. Thus, although Sati was opposed by these reformers, yet women were considered as hurdles on the path to liberation. The Buddha was very strict in his insistence on asceticism. He left his home and wife to become attain nirvana and considered women a hindrance to that goal: "Buddha is said to have induced his disciples not to look at a woman or even talk to her" Dravidian Shaivism Dravidian women enjoyed much greater freedom than their Aryan counterparts. History of Womens Status There were exceptions to the rule, even during the Vedic Dark Ages following the collapse of the Indus civilization. Eastern India (Purvadesha), including Bengal, with its majority Mon-Khmer population, was only slightly Aryanized. The Shakti cult (mothergoddess) predominated (75 % of all the idolatrous population is sill Shaktis), and women here had a much higher degree of freedom. Thus for instance they were not required to wear the veil. Shakti (or Tantric) cults involved the worship of women, and the acceptance of their supremacy. Needless to say, the Shakti cult was only limited to Bengal and Assam. The Dravidian women were also freer. Malabar was a center of the Tantric form of the Shiva-Shakti cult, and matriarchal customs still prevail. Till recently, polyandry existed.

Foundations Document 9 Hindu Caste and the Status of Women in Mauryan and Gupta India
Region: India Time Period: ca320 B.C.E 480 C.E. Source: Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Shaver. Women n World History, Volume 1, Readings from Prehistory to 1500. (New York: M.E. Sharpe Armonk, 1995.) pp. 48-49. As the Hindu caste system, developing complexity over time, became Indias most distinctive social characteristic, womens status was entwined in its strictures. The priests forbade women to learn- or even hear- the sacred verses of the Vedas and excluded them from sacrifices. Thenceforth the practice of Hindu Sanskrit rites was reserved for male Brahmans, though women might emotionally worship the god Vishnu through pure love. Hindu religious beliefs grew in continuing interaction with non-Aryan cultures, a process that provided another avenue for womens religions expression. Among the reform movements that arose in response to the Brahmans were Buddhists [who] opposed the Brahman priesthood, the caste system, and animal sacrifices. Stressing self-education and self-discipline, they accepted men and women of all castes as well as outcastes as candidates for spiritual enlightenment. The classic cultural age of India occurred in the 700 years between 300 B.C.E and 400 C.E., spanning the eras of the Maurya and Gupta empires. During this classic period, the versions of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana known today emerged, as did a codification of Hindu legal concepts about women, called the Laws of Manu. Compiled between 200 and 400 C.E. from traditional social practices, these laws express the Brahman males ideal of female subservience.

Foundations Document 10 Female Property Rights in Mauryan and Gupta India: The Laws of Manu
Region: India Time Period: ca320 B.C.E 480 C.E. Source: Welty. Paul T. The Human Expression. Vol. 1. Lippincott Publishers. pp. 163-164 FEMALE PROPERTY RIGHT A wife, a son, and a slave, these three are declared to have no property; the wealth which they earn is acquired for him to whom they belong. What was given before the nuptial fire, what was given on the bridal procession, what was given in token of love, and what was received from her brother, mother, or father, that is called the six-fold property of a woman. Such property, as well as a gift subsequent and what was given to her by her affectionate husband, shall go to her offspring, even if she dies in the lifetime of her husband. But when the mother has died, all the uterine brothers and the uterine sisters shall equally divide the mothers estate. MARRIAGE AND ITS DUTIES To be mothers were women created, and to be fathers men; religious rites, therefore, are ordained in the Vedas to be performed by the husband together with the wife. No sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart from their husbands; if a wife obeys her husband, she will for that reason alone be exalted in heaven. By violating her duty towards her husband, a wife is disgraced in this world, after death she enters the womb of a jackal, and is tormented by diseases as punishment for her sin. Let the husband employ his wife in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping everything clean, in the fulfillment of religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils. Drinking spirituous liquor, associating with wicked people, separation from the husband, rambling abroad, sleeping at unseasonable hours, and dwelling in other mens houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women. Offspring, religious rites, faithful service, highest conjugal happiness and heavenly bliss for the ancestors and oneself, depend on ones wife alone. Let mutual fidelity continue until death,. may be considered as the summary of the highest law for husband and wife Divorce For one year let a husband bear with a wife who hates him; but after a year let him deprive her of her property and cease to cohabit with her. But she who shows aversion towards a mad or outcaste husband, a eunuch, one destitute of manly strength, or one afflicted with such diseases as punish crimes, shall neither be cast off nor be deprived of her property. A barren wife may be superseded in the eighth year, she whose children all die in the tenth, she who bears only daughters in the eleventh, but she who is quarrelsome without delay. But a sick wife, who is kind to her husband and virtuous in her conduct, may be superseded only with her own consent and must never be disgraced.

Foundations Document 11

Europe
Greece The Greek society was strongly patriarchal, and a women's place was in the home, and she had no voice in politics. A Greek women's duties were to cook, clean, spin and weave, supervising slaves and domestic task, but her main role was childbearing, The Greek male looked upon the female as baby making machines to bare him male children to survive the family; marriage was to insure the legitimacy of their children. A Greek woman was the property of her father or husband, which ever state she was in. Throughout the Greek women's entire life, she would be depended upon men. She was thought to be emotional, senseless, and much weaker than the men. Her marriage was arranged by the father and the bride's dowry was agreed upon arrangement. If a woman was poor, she would less likely to be married, and single woman were dishonored. The Greek men indulged in adultery while the women were expected to ignore his extra martial affairs. But Greek women were expected to be faithful and virtuous. Girls also learned to read, write and do simple arithmetic so they could manage the household. They almost never received education after childhood.
The study of several women in antiquity reveals that at least some women were literate. From as early as the seventh century before Christ, women wrote beautiful poetry. The quality of the lyric poetess Sappho of Lesbos, made ancient authors in the sixth century proclaim her as the tenth muse. In addition to women who wrote poetry, there were several who have come down to us as philosophers. Among the disciples of Pythagoras and Plato we find several women. As a whole, however, the main role of women in Greek antiquity, but also in Christian or Byzantine Hellenism, was to be wives and mothers, bearers of legitimate children. They lacked political rights, could not vote in political assemblies, and they could not hold office. But whether in ancient Greece or in the Byzantine Empire women could exert influence through men, husbands, sons or lovers. That women in the history of Hellenism were kept in oriental seclusion is totally inaccurate. A variety of sources, such as literature, philosophy, history, legal and law court orations confirm that women could leave their houses to visit relatives and friends, to work in the fields, to draw water, attend weddings, work as market-traders and craftswomen, midwives, wet-nurses and even physicians. Again, whether in pre-Christian or Christian Hellenism down to the present day, women have played a prominent role in the public religious life, some of whom were designed as priestesses. In Christian Byzantine women were ordained to the rank of deacon and were greatly engaged in philanthropic activity, the main subject of this article. Theodora used her personal wealth to build the Reformatory, in which she gathered 500 wretched girls, who had sought refuge in the Capital to find work, and had ended up in houses of prostitution. Girls who have been exploited by greediness and lascivious desires of some unscrupulous men found affection, protection, home and food in the philanthropic establishments of Theodora. There, they were prepared to be able to face the difficulties of life, either as wives and mothers or as nuns and social workers.

Phokylides of Miletus, Satire on Women, c. 440 BCE


The tribe of women is of these four kinds---that of a dog, that of a bee, that of a burly sow, and that of a longmaned mare. This last is manageable, quick, fond of gadding about, fine of figure; the sow kind is neither good nor bad; that of the dog is difficult and snarling; but the bee-like woman is a good housekeeper, and knows how to work. This desirable marriage, pray to obtain, dear friend.

Hipponax, On Women, c. 580 BCE


Two happy days a woman brings a man: the first, when he marries her; the second, when he bears her to the grave.

Medea (Greek play), Medea was the wife of Jason (of Jason and the Argonauts)
Women of Corinth, I have come out of the house, so that you will not hold anything against me. I know that many people215 are standoffish, some in the privacy of home and others in the public sphere. Some people, because they are shy, have acquired the ill repute of indifference. There is no justice in people's perception: there are some who, before they know a person inside out,220 hate him on sight, even if they have never been wronged by him. An outsider in particular must conform to the city. A native too: I do not condone self-absorbed people who through insensitivity irritate their neighbors. But for me this unexpected disaster225 has wrecked my life. I am cast adrift. I have lost all pleasure in living and I want to die, my friends. The man who was everything to me, try to understand this, has turned out to be the vilest man alive, my own husband. Of all creatures that have life and reason230 we women are the sorriest lot: first we must at a great expenditure of money buy a husband and even take on a master over our body: this evil is more galling than the first. Here is the most challenging contest, whether we will get a bad man235 or a good one. Besides, divorce is unsavory for a woman and it is not possible to say no to one's husband. And when she comes into new customs and rules a woman must be a prophet of what she could never learn at home: how best to deal with her marriage partner;240 and if we get it worked out well and a husband shares our life with us, and he bears the yoke without violence, life is to be envied. Otherwise we are better off dead. But the man, when he is bored with things at home he can go out to ease the weariness of his heart. 245 But we have just one person to look to. They say that we live a life free of danger at home while they face battle with the spear. How wrong they are. I would rather stand three times250 in the line of battle than once bear a child. But the same story does not apply to you and me. You have this city and your father's home, enjoyment of life, and the companionship of friends, but, alone and without a city, I am abused 255 by my husband, carried off as plunder from a foreign land, I have no mother, no brother, no relative to offer me a safe haven from this disaster. I ask you this one small favor: if some way or means can be found260 to make my husband pay for this abuse [and the father of the bride and the bride herself] keep it silent. For a woman in all other things is full of fear and a coward when it comes to looking on deeds of valor and the sword but when she is wronged in her marriage265 there is no heart more bloodthirsty.

Foundations Document 12 Europe Rome


Roman would usually get up early and work a six hour day. This of course was only the case for working men. Women stayed at home. Even the task of queuing for the tokens which granted a family its monthly grain dole was done by the men of the house. A famous line of Cicero, which very well describes the status of Roman women, reads as follows; 'Our ancestors, in their wisdom, considered that all women, because of their innate weakness, should be under the control of guardians.' A woman's guardian would inevitably be a man. Normally, it would be first the father and then her husband, but, in case of the early death of her father or husband, it could also be a male relative appointed in the man's will or even by a state official. Until the end of the Roman republic there were only the six vestal virgins who were free from such guardianship. Then, after the reign of Augustus, guardianship was no longer applied to women, whose father and husband had died and who had already borne three children (3 children for freeborn women, 4 for freedwomen). Girls enjoyed a similar, if not the same education as boys in early childhood. Beyond primary education it was generally only daughters of aristocratic families who continued their education. Though such training was not one of rhetoric or law such as the young men of patrician families would learn. Women were rather taught in the fineries Greek and Latin literature as well as how to play a lyre, to dance and sing. It was usual for marriages to be arranged. The size of the dowry was estimated to befit the social standing of the prospective bridegroom. It was the Roman custom to arranging marriages for girls when they were still very young. She would then need to wait until she became an adult until the marriage could take place. Being betrothed for such a lengthy time generally meant for girls to lead a very retired life. For to be seen as flirting, or even simply being in contact with other boys or could be seen as a breech in the marriage arrangements. With marriage the Roman woman gained considerable freedom. The early Romans did enact stringent controls over their women, though they were not as a strict as the Greeks, who virtually imprisoned their wives at home. But the Roman attraction to family and social life led to a more relaxed was most likely the reason for this more liberal approach towards the weaker sex. A Roman wife was generally understood as her husband's companion and helper. She was next to him at banquets and parties (which would have been a scandal in ancient Greece) and shared his authority over the children, slaves and the household. In many households it would be the wife who would oversee the slaves. Nobody required Roman wives to live secluded lives. They could freely receive visitors, leave the house, visit other households, or leave to go shopping. Marked differences did exist in the rules for the sexes. In early republican times, women were not to drink wine, but grape juice. This was later relaxed. But the Roman woman would not recline at a dinner party, as her husband would do, but stay sitting upright. She also did not join in any drinking parties. Women in Roman times, though discriminated against, could well be seen as the most liberated in the world of that time. And they were well capable of standing up for themselves. One of the most contentious pieces of Roman legislation was the Oppian Law, brought in after the defeat by Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC with the object of reducing spending on luxury goods.

Whereby no women could possess more than half an ounce of gold, or wear a dress dyed in a variety of colors, or ride in a horse-drawn carriage in a city or town or within a mile of it except on holy days. Neither modesty nor the persuasion of their husbands could keep the women indoors. They blocked the streets and entrances to the forum, arguing that at a time of prosperity, when men's personal fortunes were increasing daily, women too should be restored to their former splendors. The number of protesting women increased day by day, as they came in from the town and outlying districts. They even grew so bold as to waylay and interrogate consuls, praetors and other officials. Meanwhile in the senate there was a prolonged and impassioned debate, during which Cato the Elder spoke against the motion of repealing the Oppian law. The next day an even greater crowd of women poured out of their houses in to the streets and mass-picketed all the entrances to the homes of the two tribunes who had announced that they were vetoing their colleagues proposal. The women wouldn't let up until the tribunes agreed to withdraw the veto. There was no doubt that the tribunes would vote for the motion: the law was duly rescinded, twenty years after it had first been passed. In such a restricted world, in which also a large part of work was done by slaves anyhow, there were few (free) women working. One knows of a few women doctors, secretaries, teachers and hairdressers, tailor, silk merchant or market saleswoman. But these were indeed a rarity. There were however some female gladiators. The historian and poet Martial makes mention of them and a relief in the British Museum depicts women fighting in the arena. From this relief one also concludes that women gladiators did not wear helmets. Celts Children took their mother's name and daughters inherited her possessions. Virginity was not highly valued; twice the dowry was given for a woman previously married or with children. Abortion and choice or change of mate was a woman's right. Both sexes loved jewelry: brooches decorated with gold filigree, cuttlefish shell, garnets, lapis, and other stones; buckles of gold filigree and stones; pins and linked pins with animal-style decoration; necklaces of amber, granulation and chip carving. They wore torques, pendants, bracelets, pins and necklaces. The women sometimes sewed little bells on the fringed ends of their tunics. The elaborate intertwining of their artwork was a guard against the evil eye or curses. Celtic women painted their fingernails, reddened their cheeks with roan, and darkened their eyebrows with berry juice. They wore their hair long and braided or piled up on the head. Their usual dress was a sleeved tunic tucked into a large, gathered, belted skirt or simply an ankle-length tunic with a belt.