Full Gender Equality in Ancient Greece
Classic Writers like Xenephon asserted that, it is more decent
if the woman remains at home than if she runs around outside; however, it is more of a disgrace for a man to stay at home than to be abroad, getting on with his buisness (Xenephon. Econ. 7)
This is more or less a view presented by the modern media of the ideal wife. To what extent could women work outside the household? Were women legally and socially equal to men? Do the historical writings, necessarily reflect the reaility of the social position of women.
Let us go back in history to analyse the origins of the Greek Civilisation but more importantly emphatize with the Ancient Greek Women.
Goddesses and Queens do not necessarily reflect the social position of Women. However, in Minoan and Mycenean cultures we find women in almost every aspect of society.
|Their clothes had perfect weaving, exposing the breasts and bare neck and shoulders, and a short-sleeved bodice open to the waist. They preferred a long bell emboidered flounced skirt, that used to shine with every step she made. They also wore a small apron, fastened with leather laces. Outside, some women used to wear laced sandals, some of which had heel guards and tick soles.|
A fresco from east wing of palace of Knossos, shows three Cretan girls participating in a bull dance, wearing only a skirt and rich ornaments. Those who participated had to seize the bull by the horns and vault over its back. In our perspective, such entertainments is more male trended
A fresco fragment from the West wing of the palace of Knossos, shows a Cretan Priestess. She has a 'sacred' bow on her head, for what she is thought to be a priestess.
Education in Sparta was intended so that each citizen, who was a soldier, had to become omoioi, that is equal. Sparta was a union of equals, and every citizen received military education. Boys had their heads shaved at the age of seven, and by the age of 12 they wore a single garment and slept on a straw pallet. At the age of 20 they supervised the younger boys. Girls, from evidence received similar education. Parthenoi, that is virgins, were protected under the goddess Artomi's. The major role of married women was to produce children to the city. Although one can expect that women were treated badly, and experienced continuous pregnancy, there are several other sources that show women's freedom and role in the society. Women's labour to bring children was very respected, and Sparta was criticised for that, and for letting women taking part in the administration of the State. Aristole argued that Sparta had a weak administration, because half of the people that is women lived in lax.
Women as Primary Producers in Economy
Women did not only work in agriculture, but they used to take their products to the city market. One can imagine that in those days agriculture was very important for the city needs, and women's work was vital to the economy.
In a world where medicine was becoming important, it is surprising to find that women also worked as midwives. The doctors gained information about the female body, either from reason, or from the observations of these midwives. In this sense, their work was as important as that of a doctor, because they used to do the job, a doctor normally does.