Women Early Modern Period Essay

1466 words - 6 pages

The main characteristics of the role of women in Europe changed for the worst during this period. To what extent do you agree with this view of the role and position of women in the Early Modern period?

During the Early Modern period changes involving society and religion began taking place, creating a society that was beneficial to elderly men, whilst restricting women in most aspects of their lives, including life partners and even their ability to become financially independent. This all leads to the conclusion that their role in society ultimately changed for the worst during this period. Although some evidence does point to the fact that men sometimes experienced oppression and a ...view middle of the document...

Women that were seen as dishonourable mainly became prostitutes until their thirties at which they could find a husband. This shows that women were blamed for being attacked and raped, which shows the way society favoured men. However brothels were opened up to try and prevent men from attacking women which does suggest that the role of women did improve slightly because instead of random attacks on women it was a consensual act in a brothel, although this still meant that women were being used for men’s pleasure it prevented the sexual assaults on other women. Although previously it was thought that sex was embarrassing for women mainly during the Victorian era, it became a common belief that during this time that women were desperate for sex and constantly wanted it and led to the belief that a woman’s uterus was ‘hungry’ and wanted to be filled with a child. This way of thinking could have led to an increase in sexually motivated attacks on women. Overall the sexuality of women did change for the worse during this period, but it could be argued that it changed for the worse for men also as they were punished for being homosexual, in Florence 17,000 men were arrested for sodomy between 1432 and 1502 but out of the 17,000 only 3,000 were actually convicted for sodomy. However as time progressed some facilities were put in place that would reduce the amount of violence directed towards respectable women.

Religion was extremely important to most people that lived in the Early Modern period, and has to be looked at to see whether the role of women changed for the worst as a result of the church and its teachings. During the Early Modern period, women were depicted as unstable and it was believed they would easily revert back to the sin of Eve. The way to prevent this was a strong husband that would essentially control their lives, highlighting the fact that men had all of the power in society. Religion was a way to justify the unfair treatment of women and to strip the independence of them, even preventing them from choosing their life partner. Both Catholic and Protestant authorities urged total parental control over sexuality and choice of partner. Although this is evidence for the role of women getting worse, it also got worse for men, which could highlight stronger religious control instead of intentionally restricting women. This patriarchal system was intended to be a positive thing but this stemmed from the misogynistic and gerontocratic belief that older men knew more and should be in control of their children until they got their own family. So although it did get worse for men it doesn’t change the fact that the role of women did change for the worse during this period. One way women could live relatively free from the patriarchy would be to join a convent which were groups of religious women that lived together and were led by an Abbess which was female. Many convents became famous for their liturgy, music, art and poetry, the...

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