A Comparison of the Status of Women in Classical Athens and Early Christianity
Since the beginning of time the treatment of women has improved dramatically. In the earliest of times women were mere slaves to men. Today women are near equals in almost all fields. In 411 B.C., when Lysistrata was written, men had many stunning advantages to that of their female counterparts. Although women's rights between 30 and 100 A.D., the time of the New Testament, were still not what they are today, the treatment of women was far better. Overall, the equality of women in the New Testament exceeds that of the women in Lysistrata in three major ways: physical mobility, society's view of women's nature, and women's public legal rights.
Albeit in Lysistrata the women were shown as revolutionaries rising up against the men, women in classical Greece were never like that. Aristophanes created the play as a comedy, showing how the world might be in the times of the Peloponesian war if women tried to do something. It was the women's job to stay home and tend to the house, and never leave, unlike they did in the play, the women were shown as revolutionaries rising up against the men, women in classical Greece were never like that.
The activities of women in Classical Athens were confined to "bearing children, spinning and weaving, and maybe managing the domestic arrangements. No wandering in the beautiful streets for them." The suppression of women went so far as to divide the house into separate areas for males and females. While the women stayed home, the men were usually out fighting, and when they weren't fighting, they were entertaining their friends and having sexual favors performed by courtesans.
The rights of women in early Christianity were a far cry from today, although they were much better off than their Athenian counterparts. In the Christian church, women were treated as equals. The first evidence of this is when the woman with hemorrhages touches Jesus' clothing and he says that her faith has made her well (Mark 5:34). This shows that both sexes are treated equally in that eyes of god even though at this time the hemorrhages that the woman was having was a symbol of uncleanness, and that good things can happen to both if they have enough "faith."
The rights of women are also extended in the New Testament when the rights of husband and wife are shown as equals. It is stated that each should show affection to their partner, and that each partner controls their mate's body (I Corinthians 7:3-4). This shows that each person should be equal in the marriage, unlike in Lysistrata where the man did whatever he wanted to whomever he wanted while the woman slaved at home .
Women were also considered to be more "enpowered" in the times of the New Testament. This is displayed when the women nearly monopolize the practice of speaking in tongues, or even speaking at all (I Corinthians 14:36). Speaking in tongues was thought to be much like talking from the angels, which was considered to special talent.
Overall the women of early Christianity had a better quality of life than those in classical Athens. They were not only allowed to leave the house more, but they were also treated more as equals in society's view of women, and their public rights.