Gender Roles in Ancient Egypt, Rome, and India

Last Updated: 10 Jan 2022
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Prompt: Gender is not sex: gender has to do with the roles and expectations commonly ascribed to men and women, and these can vary from one society to another. Write an essay that explores similarities and differences in gender norms in ancient Egypt, Rome, and India. Gender roles vary from place to place. There is not a set standard that applies to every place all over the world. Men are usually of higher position than women but not always. In this paper I will tell you specifically about the gender roles, mostly of women, in India, Egypt, and Rome.

In India, the women are controlled almost completely by the men in their families. They also have to pay a lot of respect to the men in their culture in general. The women must follow the commands of her father first, after him her husband, and lastly her son. Although she must obey these men the restrictions do not end there. After a woman’s husband dies she does not have independence and she is not allowed to remarry. In the movie Paheli there were very good examples of what the culture would be like among the gender roles in India.

The newlywed, Lachchi, must her veil removed by her husband, Kishen. She is not even allowed to do this herself. While Lachchi and Kishen are on the way to Kishen’s house, Lachchi has some children go and fetch her berries from a nearby tree, Kishen scolds her and takes possession of the berries and does not let her ingest them. One part of Paheli that strikes me as interesting is the section where the men give the women colorful bangles. In this society the men spoil the women but they place such harsh restrictions on them.

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It states directly in the textbook, “A virtuous wife should constantly serve her husband like a god, even if he behaves badly, freely indulges his lust, and is devoid of any good qualities. ” This is saying that he can do whatever he wants, cheat on his wife with whomever he pleases, and if he has nothing going for him or does nothing right. On the other hand, the husband is able to do whatever he wants. He should be “born again” by impregnating his wife. Also, the husband should not keep her in check by force but instead, by filling her time with activities that benefit both of them such as cooking and cleaning.

While men get possession of all the land and they have the rights and abilities to go to work the women did not have these as life options. The women that were brought to India as slaves were used as dancers and musicians but occasionally they were used to act as military guards. In Egypt, The gender roles are not as strict as they are in India. The women are able to have higher positions and there is more availability of activities they can do. Although women did not have many restrictions, one that was withheld for a long time was that a woman should not withhold a position that governs a kingdom or have effective power.

Actually it was said “A people who place women in charge of their affairs will never prosper” and “Men perish if they obey women. ” This was later defied and a woman called “mother of Khalil” was placed in a higher up position. Another way that a woman could acquire a higher up status would be by being the mother of a prince. Men are usually the bread winners of the families and the women do close to nothing because they do not have to. Concubines, who were usually slaves, could earn themselves a decent living if they were intelligent enough or picked the right man and created a decent relationship with him.

In Rome, The gender roles run differently than any other place. The women have the rights to do much of the same things as men. There are different aspects to the roles often from house to house though. In one instance, the house was divided into two and the men slept upstairs while the women slept downstairs. Although this seems odd it is actually very considerate because the husband was sparing his wife the trouble of having to always go downstairs to tend to her child.

Elite Roman women were socially and politically significant and often highly visible individuals. This proves that although in many cultures women could never be equal to men, in the Roman culture they could come very close. In many other cultures that we talked about it was alright for the men to carryout affairs. In the Roman culture it was said that “women of Rome, all were expected to be fertile and virtuous mothers…ideologies of masculinity bound men, who were to be serious, strong, and dedicated to their families, the gods, and their state. This is the society that sounds perfect to me. It seems like everything would just work together and there would not be much conflict. In these summaries of little aspects of gender roles we have seen many differences. I have not covered all of them but you can only imagine what kinds of other things are happening in the world that segregate the men from the women. Egypt, India, and Rome all differ and that is alright because what would the world be like if everything worked in perfectly the same order.

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Gender Roles in Ancient Egypt, Rome, and India. (2017, Apr 09). Retrieved from

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