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Compare the role of women in different belief systems—Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, and Hinduism Chris B Block
1 to 2, student(s) will
research their assigned topic using their textbook, the Internet, and other outside sources (books, magazines, etc).
write a detailed, but concise response to the topic. Use of lists is encouraged. Make sure you include the relevant facts and how they are connected, significant, etc. Important themes, people and terms will be defined as links within the article.
try to link your page to related pages created by other groups.
make sure into include pictures, videos and other forms of media to help a variety of different learners.
this assignment should help you with the final exam as the acorn book defines which questions can and cannot be asked.
remember to include the
5 themes of AP
world as the question could be manipulated into these theme.
Although Buddhism rarely achieved prominence in the Indian subcontinent, the emergence of Buddhism, especially under Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire, signalled
the rise of the status of women in Indian society
. It must be remembered that India's chief religion, Hinduism, antagonised women and placed utmost importance on the classification and stratification of individuals. The establishment of a Buddhist leader, therefore, elevated the status of women.
Mahayana Buddhism in China
Similarly to Buddhism's impact on Indian women, Buddhism's impact on Chinese women was an ameliorating one that – more than anything –
elevated the status of women
. Buddhism allowed women to escape the boundaries imposed upon the female gender by giving women opportunities to leave their domestic responsibilities for a monastic life. In any case, Buddhism, unlike Confucianism, was a mere religion – it was a spiritual medium for the well-being of the soul that really
did not have any direct bearing upon the status of women
Since Christianity did not exist as an actual religion before the exploits of Paul of Tarsus and his thirteen epistles of the New Testament, it is difficult to analyse a belief system's influence upon Western European women before the first century C.E. – after all, classical civilisations in Europe largely entertained polytheisms told for entertainment. However, before the emergence of Christianity, it is evident that
the status of women was decidedly lower than that of men
. The existence of social norms such as the
ensured that women were largely responsible for private, domestic affairs.
However, with the rise of Christianity, especially within the later life of the Western Roman Empire,
a resultant rise in the status of women is apparent
. This is perhaps because Christianity does not dictate upon the ethos of a particular society, unlike Confucianism or Hinduism. Christianity furthermore allowed women to follow monastic lives that defied previously upheld societal norms.
(Note: This rise in stature is certainly discontinued as Christianity seizes the whole of Europe, as the rise of feudalism and the Catholic Church fuel the reciprocated fall of the female gender. This is exemplified by the numerous witch hunts undertaken by the Holy Inquisition.)
After China had been able to assume a cohesive, unified empire through the Han Dynasty, the Chinese government based itself upon Confucian morals. As Confucianism preached that a society should be rightfully patriarchal and considered women of secondary status,
women in Chinese society was also entitled to privileges decidedly lesser than that of men
. For example, only sons could inherit property in the household. However, the notion that all women were subservient to men in Confucian China is utterly false, for the measure of influence that one could exert into society depended much more upon one's social status than one's gender. Aristocratic women, for example, could still be educated and be influential in society, as exemplified by numerous Chinese female scholars.
Pre-Hindu India is largely idenitifiable as the Indus Valley civilisation that rested upon the Indus River. In this largely unknown civilisation, it has been suggested by the slight archaeological evidence that has been obtained that
there existed near-equality between the male and female genders
. However, with the rise of Hinduism and the establishment of the Hindu caste system, Indian society assumed a more patriarchal structure. An example of this inequality is the Hindu practise of
, where widows were expected to throw themselves on the burning funeral pyres of their husbands. Women also could not attain
, the highest state of being that meant the liberation of the self from the caste system.
Attitude towards women
Buddhism did not (for the most part) affect the status of women
Buddhism was more geared towards the spiritual enhancement of the
and thus did not leave a great imprint on societal structure
The monastic nature of Buddhism allowed women to enter convents and separate themselves from their normal domestic lives
Similarly to Buddhism, Christianity allowed women to partake in Christian practises
The monastic nature of Christianity also allowed women to become nuns and thus remove themselves from a domestic lifestyle
Largely worsened the status of women in Chinese society
Only sons could inherit property
However, the benefits one possessed depended much more upon social status than gender
For example, aristocratic women could be educated
There nevertheless was the presence of certain influential women, such as Empress Wu of the Han Dynasty
The Indus Valley civilisation treated both genders with near-equality
Hinduism worsened the status of women in India after its introduction
The caste system worked in cohesion with this sense of patriarchy
Women could not attain moksha - liberation from the caste system through social mobility
Women also were expected to partake in rituals such as
A continuation of this wiki page – into the post-Classical Era – is on:
Cracking the AP World History Exam, 2006-2007 Edition (College Test Prep)
. Princeton: Princeton Review, 2006.
Kaplan SAT Subject Test World History, 2008-2009 Edition (Kaplan Sat Subject Test. World History)
. Grand Rapids: Kaplan, 2008.
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