What was the most free and independent society for women in pre-modern times?

Oct 2015
955
Norway
I think most will agree women haven't had more freedom, independence and posibilities than in the modern-day western world. But what society scored best on those areas in the past? I'm of course speaking of the female population in general, not just royals and other elites.
 
Aug 2019
103
Netherlands
I think most will agree women haven't had more freedom, independence and posibilities than in the modern-day western world. But what society scored best on those areas in the past? I'm of course speaking of the female population in general, not just royals and other elites.
I guess some tribes of the nowadays nordic countries were quite liberal towards women and had specific laws to punish rape, sometimes very harsh. Graves of female warriors were found too. I think the roots of modern day feminism has some relation with these cultures.
 
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Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,410
Albuquerque, NM
Among the several human cultural sets, Matriarchy is actually pretty common. Several of the aboriginal American tribal groups were Matriarchal, e.g., Apache/Navajo and the Confederated tribes of New England spring to mind. The Great Mother Goddess can be found liberally sprinkled at the heart of many cultures, esp. during those periods when our species shifted from nomadic/semi-nomadic to settled agriculturists. Isis is a wonderful example of a female Goddess who persisted under different names right up until the present, e.g. St. Mary. The number of strong national leaders who were female is also quite long existing from female "Pharaohs" to Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, and in modern times, Thatcher. So you see, we humans have a long, long history of women who stepped outside the sort of "traditional gender roles" common in the West since probably around the 5th century CE.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,580
Dispargum
I would also say Native American women were quite powerful, at least in some times and places. Within Indian families, power and prestige went to the parent who provided the most food. Men hunted. Among the more settled eastern woodland tribes, agriculture was quite advanced and usually performed by women. When the hunting was good, the husband/father could have more prestige, but when the hunting was bad the family ate more garden crops, and the wife/mother had more power and prestige within the family.

Among the Germanic barbarians, women probably had more status and prestige before those tribes migrated into the Roman Empire. After migration the barbarians became Romanized, and Rome had always been a patriarchal society. This is not to say that the pre-migration barbarians were matriarchal. I'm only saying that patriarchal and matriarchal are opposite extremes on a broad spectrum with most societies falling somewhere in between the two extremes.
 
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Aug 2019
103
Netherlands
I would also say Native American women were quite powerful, at least in some times and places. Within Indian families, power and prestige went to the parent who provided the most food. Men hunted. Among the more settled eastern woodland tribes, agriculture was quite advanced and usually performed by women. When the hunting was good, the husband/father could have more prestige, but when the hunting was bad the family ate more garden crops, and the wife/mother had more power and prestige within the family.

Among the Germanic barbarians, women probably had more status and prestige before those tribes migrated into the Roman Empire. After migration the barbarians became Romanized, and Rome had always been a patriarchal society. This is not to say that the pre-migration barbarians were matriarchal. I'm only saying that patriarchal and matriarchal are opposite extremes on a broad spectrum with most societies falling somewhere in between the two extremes.
I think romans had less influence on germanic society's in that aspect. I think it is the rising christian religion who's to blame.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,580
Dispargum
I think romans had less influence on germanic society's in that aspect. I think it is the rising christian religion who's to blame.
How much of Christianity's patriarchy came from Judaism and how much came from Rome? A little of both.
 

Isleifson

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,074
Lorraine tudesque
Just check the average age of marriage. The relation between an 40 years old and a 16 years old is not going to be like the relation between a 27 and 24 years old.


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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,886
Blachernai
I think romans had less influence on germanic society's in that aspect. I think it is the rising christian religion who's to blame.
Christiantiy at least introduced an acceptable path (holy virginity) into a society that previously had only one option for women: marriage.
 
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