Beautiful, elegant, enchanting creatures who over the centuries and thousands of years ago have been seen as inferior, second-rate, and subjective to men. Though women in our time, certainly have more freedom as compared to previous years, many would wonder why they were ever seen so lowly by society. The deeper context behind the reasoning of this goes far back to ancient views, followed by psychological biases and assumptions also ignited in context to the different interpretation of biblical scripture in which case be seen as both a cause of the societal views and a contribution to the feminist movement.
We begin by examining the Ancient views of women being as lowly, incapable, second-rate humans especially in the Greco-Roman perception. Denoted by Dartmouth Scholars Doster and White whom wrote in the The Darthmouth Apologia that “In general, the Greco-Romans viewed women as intellectually and morally incompetent; as Gilliam Clark wrote in her survey Women in the Ancient World ‘Women are seen as more emotional than men… more gullible, more likely to yield control of their reactions than men [were]’.
This comes to show that because women are more emotional and more down to earth than men, and society has categorized that as weak, being that these are typical traits of people whom are not the fighters or warriors. Bringing that into bigger context, these are typical traits of the victims of a bullies and that is only logically perceived as a weakness even though this stereo-type is undoubtedly untrue. In that for-say, women were compared to being like children and wild animals in that they had to tamed by their male relatives in order to become proper members of society (Doster, White).
This of-course an unfair depiction of who they really are. Women are matured and sophisticated in that most could even argue that they upheld more societal standards than men and it is only by their humbleness that they accepted this selfish view bestowed upon them by the men of society. Perhaps rooting even further back, it was because of traditional views and those who upheld the law first that brought about this perception. Because the Greek and Roman Society tended to view the world as opposites, they thought of women as the opposite of men.
In that they were seen as what men were not and because society runned by men see themselves as hierarchical beings, they was the corresponding low views of women (Doster, White). By this, there is an plausible explanation on how women are depicted in the way that they are subordinate to men because if they are seen as the opposite of men who ran the society, then of course they would be viewed as inferior creatures that are weak and helpless.
This traditional view also accounts for the fact that in history, women were the nurturing, caring half of the family while men were seen as more aggressive, and the “hunters” of the household. Contrary to modern views, this was the typical household in which highly accounts for the fact that because the men were he ones who were the more aggressive half, they are seen as stronger, thus superior to women. Next, the physical attributes of women also accounts for the psychological perception and assumptions of them being inferior to men. Scholar Haeberle wrote in The Sex Atlas that:
Only women can bear and nurse children, and, on the average, men are bigger, stronger, and faster than women. Adult male also contain a higher amount of androgen than adult female bodies. However, people are never content with observing these simple facts; they always jump to conclusions about their psychological meaning. By that, it is scientifically proven that men are in fact stronger than women and that they are physical more capable beings. Though this is true, Haeberle pointed out that people jump to biased conclusions that women are weaker and inferior to men when they are not.
This comes to show that bias and jumping to conclusions presents itself as a fallacy and strong case of why women were depicted as inferior all throughout history because it is in our tendency to make huge and absolute an issue that is merely presenting a slight disadvantage. Haeberle clearly points out the role in sex that women have in society saying that “Just as the grain harvest belonged to the farmer who had sowed it, and not the field. At any rate, in the entire reproduction process the female was little more than a passive receptacle.
She only nourished life, but did not create it. The true creator was male. ” Like that grain of the farmer and field, the egg simply nourished the sperm, it did not produce it and though the sperm needs an egg to produce a embryo just as a farmer needs a field to nourish the seed, the harvest in that sense ultimately belongs to the farmer because the field was only there to nourish the seed, the farmer was the only who planted it, the male was the one who produced the sperm and it conclusive that of course, the offspring would belong to the male.
Just by this, it is indicative the importance and dominant role men have in the reproduction process and being that they own the offspring, women often feel insubordinate and inferior to men because they do not own anything. Their partner or father are the ones making the money and supporting their living, their role is simply to nourish and maintain the household, they own no property which plays a vital role in why they accepted the bestowed view of inferiority placed upon them because most would view themselves as such. Lastly, Religion plays a vital cause as to why women were depicted as inferior beings that had to subject to men.
Haeberle also argued that women held the burden of the original sin going on to say “The Ten Commandments listed wives as a man’s possessions… Christianity excluded women from the priesthood and other church offices. At the same time, they were also expected to remain subservient to men at home. ” Women were seen as nothing more than a man’s property in many Old Testament text. The Bible in many ways refers to the people as men and brother, often times readers would have to assume that the bible means people people but in many ways, this comes to show the dominance men would have over women.
Also quoting that passages in scripture would often emphasize submission to men’s authority (directly referring to the wife) can be interpreted as demeaning to women and would further the mindset that they are inferior beings. Sarah Lancaster wrote in her book Women and the Authority of Scripture: Second-wave feminist recognized, as first wave feminist had before them, that the Bible was a major barrier to accomplishing this purpose. In fact, the Bible could rightly be charged with having provided resources for women’s oppression for millenia.
Subtle exclusions as well as outright prohibitions against women’s full participation in society and religion help shape the attitudes, expectations, and practices that kept women in a subordinate position to men. Much early feminist work focused on pointing out the ways the Bible set up, reinforced, and was used to justify women’s inferior status. (Lancaster 13). Women knew and did feel the bible as demeaning their status being that it may have just been one of the primary cause of their oppression.
The bible has such a strong impact on people worldviews that it can and is easily misinterpreted by both ends of the spectrum. There are so many things the bible can denote on the status of women as the typical housewife and nurturer to their children. Men previously had the perception of being the dominant beings and reading passages from the bible that have even the slight indication of this will concurrently lead to a stronger justification that they are truly dominant based on this assumption that the bible was rooting for them when in the bible is rooting for a dominant sex.
There are countless arguments and interpretations that actually denotes that the bible praises the importance of women. As MacArthur would argue: From cover to cover, the Bible exhalts women. In fact, it often seems to go out of the way to pay homage to them, to ennoble their roles in society and family, to acknowledge the importance of [their] influence, and to exhalt the virtures of women who were particularly godly examples. From the very 1st chapter, we are taught that women, like men, bear the stamp of God’s own image (Genesis 1:27 5:1-2)–men and women were created equal.
It is very apparent that though the bible may emphasize the role of men (as some may say), the bible also emphasize the importance of women. They are seen more than just a man’s property but as the beautiful, elegant creation that they are. From the beginning, women were given an equal position to men and they were neither seen as superior nor inferior but as equals. This argument brings on to further show how the bible could easily be misinterpreted in that the bible is seen as encouraging and demeaning to the status of women and their move to equality.
Thus They “are also set apart for special honor”(MacArthur). which would depict that they are indeed special and praised for their excellence above men, which shows that the bible exhalts women over men in other ‘special’ ways. MacArthur goes on to further exlplain: Whenever the Bible explicitly talks about the marks of an excellent women, the stress is always on feminine virtue. The most significant women in scripture were influential not because of their careers, but because of their characters.
The message that these women collectively give is not about ‘gender equality’, it’s about true feminine excellence. And that is always exemplified in moral and scriptural qualities rather than by social standing, wealth, or physical appearance. Women has their own special role and what them special is not by the attributes comparable to men but by the attributes that they excel in. Women have such high levels of dignity and character that is perceived to be invaluable and incomparable to physical strength and job descriptions. They are beautiful from the inside out.
Instead of viewing them as passive creatures to allow men to take hold of them, they are humbled creations that is what makes them so special and unique in that they would choose to humble themselves to men and allow men to consider themselves as the superior beings. Though the bible is easily interpreted to being both demeaning and encouraging the status of women, either way it plays a vital role to the feminist movement. “Naturally, as Christians began to influence Western Society, the status of women was dramatically improved…
That’s always been the trend. Wherever the gospel has spread, the social, legal, and spiritual status of women has, as a rule, been elevated” (MacArthur). This emphasizes the notion that the bible actually calls out for equality rather than suppression. However, contrary to what MacArthur might say, Christenization has not always promoted the status of women but this quote comes to show the impact it had on the changing role of women in society. It ignited a spark to the feminist movement and does play a key role to its success.
As Doster had argued “It was the Christian teaching embodied in the early church community that provided the catalyst and foundation for a revolution in the rights and dignity of women. ” Though some people might depict the bible to be demeaning to women, it initiated the feminist movement and revolution none the less because it eventually came to the point where women could not take the suppression any longer. The basis of the bible rooting this believe was transformed to their benefit of an outcry and in that sense led to them aving more rights. Lancaster revealed that: Many feminist recognized the deep ambiguity of the bible itself… As necessary as it was to bring to light the ways that the Bible has been harmful to women’s well-being, it was necessary to acknowledge how it had given us a vison of the way things ought to be.
The problem for feminist who wanted to reform the tradition rather than leave it behind, was to discern how to use this double-messaged text so that it supported, rather than defeated their concerns. Lancaster 13) Women were able to change the depiction of the skimpy passages of the bible that would come to hurt their movement into something that ex-halted it. By this, it played a vital role in their liberation and movement as they would go on to further argue that the bible encouraged and enthralled them as equal to men and because of that, they should receive equal opportunities that men would receive.
Arguing for the perception and by a different interpretation of the bible and being that it is such impact on the perceptions of people, their rights and freedom gradually increased and no matter what the bible is perceived to be, it is a cause of their success in that women used and believed in its benefit for them. For that reason, the Bible has a major impact and plays as a vital cause of women’s inferiority no matter how it is perceived but also depicts to be the solution to it.
In conclusion, Women were depicted to be inferior to men because of Ancient beliefs, physical attributes that led to biased conclusions, and different perception and misunderstood interpretation of the biblical scriptures which in part also played vital role to the feminist movement. There are many true statements in regards to women not being as strong, physical-able, and more vulnerable than men but it is by their amazing characters that they were set asde to play a different but equally as important role in society.
The notion that people often come to conclusions and often look at the outside capabilities instead what really matters, the inside, led to this perception. Women are stronger in terms character and feelings than men and they are clever to change perceptions of many through a more logical interpretation of the bible that comes to serve to their benefit. They are humbled creatures that were simply disregarded and undermined by men of their amazing capabilities and they have certainly proved the men wrong.
Courtney from Study Moose
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