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What is/was the historical incentive to exclude women from government, education and other areas of decision making in societies worldwide?

My Question To You:

It is clear that institutions, governments and legal systems have been dominated by men for thousands of years. In turn, women have been persecuted and cast as temptresses/witches/distraction throughout the ages. (NB Some witch hunts and claims of witchcraft did also affect men and some were killed, however 95% of deaths were women).

But why is this?
Why would women be un-allowed/excluded?
Why does/would sexism/anti-feminism exist?
How does sexism serve the elite?

Are women a threat to men?
Are women more powerful than men?

I have read much to do with religious founding and texts that speak against women, but not very much on the invested interest or original incentive to exclude women.

Some say that, as child bearers, women were given the role as primary care givers, thus meaning that their role was in the home. - If this is the case, why were women, as primary care givers - a very important role-, not given as many rights as men to make important social decisions (ie. not given right to vote, not legally owner of their property, their children or themselves)?

Personally, I have a non-essentialist view which means that I believe that, despite our reproductive organs being different, woman and men are equal in our minds and our capacity to be and feel all things. For instance, I do not believe that men are innately aggressive or women innately nurturing. It is my belief that these traits predominantly recur in both men and women through the constructs of our society, and the impact on personality, identity and therefore gender identity. Thus, I do not believe that women necessarily 'chose' their role in history.

I am trying to understand the reason for this historical positioning of women and I would love to hear your thoughts on why women have been excluded.

Thank you!

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    Apr 6 2013: Well, I'm not even sure it's true, I wasn't around 100 or 1,000 years ago to see what life was really like. Wouldn't one have to think that 1,000 years ago every individual's life was different, that some women were more fulfilled in the bigger social life than others.

    If women's life was in the home, I would say she made very important social decisions, i.e. the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

    It might have something to do with men having larger, more muscular bodies than women. Thus they might be better equipped to go out in the world and "hunt," and the woman stay home and nurture.

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