Keeping the Remote and Just Changing the Channel.
In the beginning of the middle ages things seemed to turn around for women in terms of equality. There were trades available for women to work in. In a marriage the wife was allowed to personally inherit her husbands finances, if he should pass away. Women had full rights to their own children, and there children could not be taken away from anyone included authority figures. The new unified belief in Christianity had a lot to do with the new found gender equality advances in the first years of the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, as time went on members of society began to be uncomfortable with these new ideas when it came to the role of women. That insecurity brought forth a movement to stop these new practices by trying to associate them with Biblical references.
It is very interesting how many different levels women survived through in terms of how they were viewed and treated. The more unbelievable part of these different levels of female struggle was the contradictions surrounding everything that played a part in the demonetization of women. In the middle ages, societies conclusion to the unsettling feeling of change resorted in associated women with the demonic and sinful references in the Bible.
At the time Christian beliefs were egalitarian, and they understood and respected the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary was a symbol of the importance and goodness of women, and there useful existence in life. Even still, the Christian views didn’t apply when it pertained to the treatment of women. Theologians desperately scrambled together in order to create a way around the new Christian beliefs while still incorporating the truths in the Bible. Their justification was a weak one at best, which is probably why their specific plan failed to maintain in society.
Instead of Mary used as the symbol of a women, society picked Eve as the main representation of all women. They tried to make society view women as evil people who seduced men in order to gain evil authority.
The new ideas of theologians was completely different from the new teachings of Christ. Women were now viewed as beings that needed to be watched closely, instead of honored as the bearer of children. As years progressed, women became to act out against the new tyrannical ideas attached to them. Some women began to behave in ways that were not part of the new social structure. Those actions were hardly outlandish, but they were still considered to be almost evil. If a women went out of the box in terms of societies understanding of appropriate female behavior, they were labeled as women who could be demonically possessed.
In the later part of the middle ages, society progressed on the sustainability of structured female behaviors by executing the, “Witch Trials.” Of course there were also men convicted of witchcraft, but when you hear the female to male ratio: you can only interpret the acts as focusing on the punishment of females. More than two hundred thousand people were put to death during the witch trials; four out of five of those people were women(Films Media Group 1999).
The biggest contradiction in the middle ages pertaining to gender codes, was the complete absence of the newly presented ideals of Christianity. It was as if the society in the middle ages knew that the Christian egalitarian beliefs were still practiced, but ignored putting them into practice. It was as if Christianity was something ingrained. There only argument in justifying not practicing some Christian beliefs was to recognize the different sins of women in the Bible. Of course, that is completely unorthodox because women and men both sin numerous time throughout the Bible.
Throughout history, there have been many tactics used to try to conform the idea of women as dangerous beings if given too much freedom and authority. The ideas in the middle ages of women being evil beings failed to conform their ideas and principals.
As time went on there would be more plans and tactics tested out in society to try to keep the freedom and rights of women a unachievable idea. Many of those future tactics would work for a time, and then fail. Even today, there was probably tactics used to instill female stereotypes that you observed today and didn’t even know it.
Source: Films on Demand, Films Media Group. 1999. Digital Films.