The Egyptians believed that joy and happiness were legitimate goals of life and regarded home and family as the major source of delight.
Ancient Egyptian society was sex-positive, and premarital sex was entirely acceptable. Love and emotional support were considered to be important parts of relations. Egyptians loved and respected children as people and not just as potential workers and care-takers.
The lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
– William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Egypt treated its women better than any of the other major civilizations of the ancient world. In fact, women in ancient Egypt enjoyed many freedoms that would take thousands of years for women to enjoy again.
Women were regarded as totally equal to men as far as the law was concerned. They could own property, borrow money, sign contracts, initiate divorce, appear in court as a witness, etc. Of course, they were also equally subject to whatever responsibilities normally accompanied those rights. Women could even become Pharaoh in special circumstances.
The takeover of Abramic religions has had a disastrous impact on Egyptian society – Islam has been particularly horrible to the position of women. Consider the following comparison between the average life of Ancient Egyptian women and present-day Egyptian women:
In Ancient Egypt, man and women shared all activities including festivals, religious ceremonies and daily life. In modern Egypt, men and women live segregated lives.
In the ancient world, Egyptian women wore simple liberal clothes, nudity was permitted and female servant girls, dancers and acrobats went around totally or semi-nude for their jobs. Nowadays, thanks to the Abramic religious misogyny, women are forced to wear very conservative clothes.
Thousands of years ago, in Egypt, privileges were not uniform from one class to another, but within the given classes equal rights between genders. In present-day Egypt, the mantra of “Allah favoured men over women” is the order of the day. Modern Egypt is a patriarchal society dominated by men.
In Ancient Egypt, male polygamy was common in nobility, but unusual in lower classes. Interestingly however, women were partners in divorce settlements. Today, male polygamy is widely spread in all social classes. And only men can divorce, Muslim women have no right to divorce their partner.
Women could manage and own private property, including: land, portable goods, servants, slaves and livestock in Ancient Egypt. And unlike women in most other ancient civilizations, the Egyptian women seems to have enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as men. They were regarded as totally equal to men as far as the law was concerned, and could conclude any kind of legal settlement in court. Nowadays, women receive half the financial rights of men, and the manipulation of the strict inheritance laws are not permitted.
Sexuality and romance were open, and considered to be an important part of life, references to sex and love poems were freely written in literature. Contrary to Ancient Egypt, in modern Egypt, sex is a taboo – transgressions may lead under law to severe penalties. Love is viewed as a weakness and is considered bad conduct for unmarried women.
This was a great read! Thanks for the post and the comparisons between ancient and modern Egypt.