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Throughout most of history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men Wifehood and motherhood were regarded as womens most significant professions In the 20th century however women in most nations won the right to vote and increased their educational and job opportunities Perhaps most important they fought for and to a large degree accomplished a reevaluation of traditional views of their role in society Early Attitudes Toward Women Since early times women have been uniquely viewed as a creative source of human life Historically however they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil In Greek mythology for example it was a woman Pandora who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind Early Roman law described women as children forever inferior to men Early Christian theology perpetuated these views St Jerome a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church said Woman is the gate of the devil the path of wickedness the sting of the serpent in a word a perilous object Thomas Aquinas the 13th-century Christian theologian said that woman was created to be mans helpmeet but her unique role is in conception since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men The attitude toward women in the East was at first more favorable In ancient India for example women were not deprived of property rights or individual freedoms by marriage But Hinduism which evolved in India after about 500 BC required obedience of women toward men Women had to walk behind their husbands Women could not own property and widows could not remarry In both East and West male children were preferred over female children Nevertheless when they were allowed personal and intellectual freedom women made significant achievements During the Middle Ages nuns played a key role in the religious life of Europe Aristocratic
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