Monday, April 19, 2010

A Woman's Status in Ancient Rome

Women in Ancient Rome did not have too many rights. Their husbands could divorce them if they remained childless or didn't please them. A husband could even kill his wife if he thought she'd been unfaithful. Women, on the other hand, could only divorce husbands if he joined the military, became a prisoner of war, or deserted her (in which case her husband would probably divorce her anyway.)

Girls had no choice as to who they married. They were usually married to men whose parents wanted to form an alliance with her family. Men were often twenty, while girls were twelve. Not a choice age to marry. But do you know why boys were always much older than the girls they married? It's because of maturity. A twelve year old girl is far more mature than a twelve year old boy.

Women didn't have too many rights, but they were powerful in another way. Women had a great deal of power through their husbands. This theology was used when women were not allowed to vote in the United States and Canada. They were supposed to be able to persuade their husbands to pick the right candidate to vote for. I'm sure some women did that, but not all. In Roman times, this could have been true.

Not all women worked just in the home, however. Some had jobs outside of the home. A few women worked as acrobats or as dancers. These jobs were not considered respectable, however, so there weren't many women in those jobs. Other women worked as hairdressers or midwives. Some women just helped out in the family farm or shop.

Roman women were not so bad off, actually, compared to some modern societies' treatment of women. They weren't allowed to sit too near to the stage when watching a play, because they might run away with one of the actors. They couldn't do all the things men could. Still, life was probably not so bad.

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