In early Middle Ages in the Orient, monogamy was the official marriage status, yet practically polygamy reigned there and only official wives enjoyed all the rights, but only if the bride-to-be was a virgin. Virginity was an assurance of the fact that all the born children belonged to the husband.
Celtic women had equal rights with men from the juridical point of view. In Ireland, women could administrate her dowry and marriage was freely accepted by her. However, medieval times impose a new type men - women relationship - the chivalrous love of the 11th -14th century's knights and troubadours. In the case of people who were poor, girls were sent to work as well as boys, and girls were being taught different kind of professions from a very early age. Many lived out of their own pocket, which was always emptier than men's, although both categories worked as much. Thus, marriage appeared to women as a desirable solution.
Women's emancipation movement started only in the 18th century, together with the spread of freedom and equality ideas of the illuminist philosophers. Between the 16th -18th century, married women lived in a strict isolated domestic environment. Marriages were concluded only within the same social group, the spirit of cast was everywhere. Women were given very little, if any, religious and spiritual education.
Renaissance brought about the spirit of the atheism, which dominated the illuminist period. Many French writers such as Montesquieu, Diderot, and Condorcet asked for the woman to be educated and freed from the masculine authority, even given the right to participate in the country's political affairs. According to the Civil code, woman owed her husband obedience and only the unmarried woman could enjoy any civil rights. The married woman was considered to be her husband's personal property, together with his other material goods. The women's emancipation movement would begin re-flourishing in the 19th century in Scandinavia, Finland, the Anglo-Saxon countries, the Germanic countries, which were all rather far from the misogynic, oriental and Mediterranean influence. In Sweden in 1863 women were given the right to vote for local elections. Finland took Sweden's example in 1906 and Norway in 1907.
In 1915 Danish women obtained complete political status, and the Swedish women did the same in 1921. In America women fought a similar fight with the women in Europe. Thus, the American feminist movement started together with the anti-slavery movement, together with the war of secession. In England, the first feminist petition presented by Mary Smith to the House of Commons dates back to 1832. As a reward for their services during the war, English women got the right of suffrage in 1918, and in 1928 got the right of universal suffrage. Women did not have the right to public official jobs or to administrate their own fortune. The two codes provided man's privilege to heritage. Around the half of the 19th century, there was civil inequality between men and women, women economically depending on men, unavailable professions for women as well as women's total lack of participation in the political life.
Today, the greatest influence on such differences comes from the way in which society perceive gender differences, with general scale concepts, by the social construction of the gender. Men possess certain attributes, can be superior in many domains, can work better in certain social situations and organizations, and the other way round. In history and also in the contemporary life of most cultures throughout the world, men have more power and privileges than women, both in their public and private life. The courses of life are also highly affected by other conditions than the gender, such as social class, race, sexual orientation and psychic ability. Patriarchy is the general term employed for describing a society in which there is an unequal distribution of rights, privileges, and power between men and women.
In our contemporary society, there still are many differences between the way men and women are treated. These inequalities are less based on official doctrines and more on the unofficial attitudes and values towards a better life for both men and women. Especially in the mass-media, women's image tends to be demeaned, the woman's bodies are used as images to promote certain products and ideologies, to attract customers and tourists, and so on.