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Legal Status of Women.doc

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Regina Höschele

Lecture 6 (10/23/12): Legal Status of Women - Life expectancy of men in antiquity is about 45 years, women's average was 35 - Can't take these figures as solid fact because it is quite a hard thing to determine - Infant mortality rate was very high, 30 - 40 percent died within the first year - Modern reconstruction, there are no ancient sources for these figures - 50 percent of children died before the age of 10 - in Rome the infant mortality rate was 25 percent and the child mortality rate was also 50 percent - In Roman Egypt a woman would have to give birth to 5 - 6 children to maintain the population - It was not a crime to expose a child at birth, it is not known how many children were exposed but it is not likely to be all that many - Selling the child was another option for the family - Exposure was far more likely for female children than male ones - Aristotle once said there should be a law that prohibits the raising of disabled children - Very high mortality rate for women of childbearing age - Girls were often less well nourished than male children - Female children were educated on how to run a household and household activities - Illiteracy was much more common among females, though high class Roman women were commonly educated - Menstruation would have begun at 13 - 15, this is when a woman would be married off - Men would have a longer education and not have been considered a legal adult until later in life - In Sparta the minimum age to marry was actually 18 - Women, almost across the board, were not legal adults, always under the guardianship of a male family member - Augustus made it so that Roman women who have 3 children had their own guardianship, 4 children for freewomen - Very defined separation of house and state in ancient Greece - Xenophon creates a woman who is a reflection of what is considered a perfect wife - The metaphor of the yoke is often used with marriage, both positive and negative connotations - In this case it is positive, have marriage to properly manage the house and bear legitimate children - Children were considered a form of old age insurance and they could run the estates and take care of their parents when the parents were old - Gender roles, women belonged in the indoors and men outside, this combined to create the perfect household unit - The indoor activities are not devalued, they are considered equally as essential to life - Separate the natures by physical ability and courage - Oikos: The house, is considered a miniature state, the city can only run if the households within it are well run - In Ancient Athens there is very strict sexual segregation, separate women's quarters to the male section of the house - These quarters were often in the back of the house and upstairs, as far away from others as is possible to get - The only women found at symposium would be courtesans and musicians, low life's - The richer you were as a woman the more confined you were because there were people to do the outdoor chores for you - There would be female friendships but they would not be meeting up a parties - They would not be allowed to interact with non-relative males - The poorer women were not segregated because the house wouldn't have been big enough and the women would have to work - Wet nurses, midwives, market women, artists, etc. were women but only the lower class had professions - Widows could remarry, especially if they were of childbearing age, they were not expected to remain loyal to their dead husband - The age difference made it more likely that young women would be widowed - Marriage was an economic contract, not based in love - A widowed young woman would be a catch because they would know how to manage a household and probably had proven themselves fertile - Univira: A woman (in Rome) who married one man and didn't remarry even after his death - Pater Familias: The male head of house in Rome, they held full power over his children and grand children right until his death - He had the ability to punish even adult children and sometimes even with death - Kyrios: A woman's guardian in Greek society - The Greek guardian of women would be the father until she was given over to the husbands family - In Rome marriage Without Manus would have the woman remain under the guardianship of her family as long as she spent at least 3 days a year in her fathers house - A slave master had full control over the body of a slave - Men could sleep around because there is no threat to legitimate children if he does - The Dowry, money or property given to the woman on her marriage to insure her financial security, the Dowry followed the woman - In Sparta things were much different - These views written by non-Spartans at a much later date so they may not be true - Boys were raised by their mothers until they were 7, then they would go and train in the barracks until they were 30 - They married, on average, at 25, meaning there was a period where the man was not living with his wife - Women performed athletics, maybe in the nude, and in choirs - A Spartan could share his wife, it was not adultery and was used to produce heirs for other men - Sparta is a very community based culture with not as big ties to the household - In Sparta the marriage age difference was smaller, women were 18 and men 25 - The marriage ceremony i
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