I am currently reading Rosalind Miles's The Women's History of the World. It is really interesting and shows how much more freedom and opportunity women had in civilisations before the Christian era. When the Gods were Goddesses and women chose their own husbands - the plural is deliberate. It seems to have been when the world went over to monotheistic religions that things changed. Women then became chattels - subject throughout their lives to male control and decree. Segregated from society for one week in four and regarded as animals to be controlled rather than sentient human beings.
I was intrigued to read the origin of the term faggot when applied to homosexuals. Male homosexuals were burnt at the base of the fire which burned witches - i.e. used as faggots in the other sense of the word, to get the fire going. What a wonderful thing is prejudice. Especially when you consider that in ancient Greece homosexuality was the norm and women were only there for procreation and not pleasure. Though the Greeks were better in their treatment of women than later civilisations - boys and girls being regarded as equal and educated to the same standard.
Seems as though in the Middle Ages in Europe the safest role for women who wanted a long and peaceful life was to enter a nunnery. They lived a lot longer - were not subject to any rule apart from that of their order and could rise to the post of Abbess. The only alternative was marriage - and constant child bearing before an early death.