Odds and Ends
Keep your hands to yourself
16 12, 11:15pm
I'd hate to burst the postmodern neoromantic bubble you seem to live in, but I suggest you start studying some actual history and archeology, and not Hollywood and whatever else you seem to be on.
There was no such thing as "gender equality" in any early european society, including the scandinavian tribes.
Male and female roles were clearly defined, and quite practical: Man is the provider, Woman the home-maker. Different, but equally important roles in any "non-technological" society, and as far as laws and customs were concerned this was clearly reflected in them.
Women could not inherit, the closest male living relative did.
They could not bring their grievances to the Things themselves, but needed their husband or male relative to do so.
While they were most definitely, and quite often "combatants" , they were not allowed the use of saex and sword. Valkyries are spear-carriers for a reason..
Speaking of Valkyries.. They served in Odinns' Hall. That does *not* make them servants. They were "valiant" women who in the afterlife continued to perform their role: Home Making. Serving guests ( the status of the deceased warriors) was an important high profile job with a very distinct pecking order, which you did *not* delegate to servants. Unless you really wanted to offend them, of course.
And of servants.. There was a clear distinction in rights between (either gender) Freemen, Housebonded ( also free , but beholden by oath or economics), Servants/Thralls ( "slaves" due to judiciary reasons ), and Slaves ( spoils of war/conquest ). With rights diminishing in that order, and slaves having the status of livestock. Debt, or oathbreaking could land you into Thralldom, especially if you made the wrong enemies, and *could* be for a specified time, but quite often wasn't. Slaves were indeed treated as livestock, with the distinction that maltreatment of livestock heavily reflected on the perceived ability of the owner to run his Household ( and those dependent on him) in a proper manner. As you generally would find in any society that kept slaves. Which was pretty much *all* of them at the time.
The above is a common theme in the societies that did not get Romanised. The Celts, Picts, Angles, Saxons, Goths of various denomination, Huns, Frysians, Allemanni, etc. All have roughly the same distinctions between gender, staus and rights. Partly because of common cultural ancestry, and partly because , like it or not, we're still basically apes, and our basic instinct is still primed towards the dominant-male led tribal structure, with a male *and* female pecking order rubbing shoulders.
The ingress of Christian culture and customs *did* indeed change the "rights landscape" for genders (and status-privilege), because ultimately that social structure is based on the mores of the city state of Athens. You should read up on them.. Very succesful, brilliant in many ways, and ultimately extremely inbred and ...warped... in many, many ways. Oh, and incidentally, the attitude towards, and the rights of women in that society make the attitudes of ISIS/Daesh look positively liberal..
Even then the shift in rights did not happen overnight, and in fact, the "old rights and customs" stayed in force for centuries after the Christianisation of Europe. We know this simply because the *very much religious* writers of documents were incessantly complaining about people not adhering to their, sorry GOD's , Sets of Rules.
The first real universal shift in gender rights needed a full-blown near-depopulation of western Europe, coupled with the resultant, and very, very human flight into Religion for "rescue" : the aftermath of the Black Plague. But this didn't happen until the 15th century, with "resurgences" coinciding with both religious fanaticism *and* resurgences of interest in the "Classics" about every other century, the latest being the Victorian Romantics. Even then the shifts weren't universal across Europe, or even western Europe, and in most parts a quite pragmatic compromise between the Old Customs, Real Life, and whatever-the-Priest-sez was maintained. The focal points were mostly limited to the vicinity of Rome ( = Italy) , the territories of the religion-besotted Spanish and Portuguese monarchies that hadn't revolted (yet). And good old Britain, where Religion was part of Politics.
The very worst excesses of both religious fanaticism and the infatuation with the Greek Role Model can in fact be found in the US, whose cultural roots are based in both Puritanism and neo-Classicism, and the opportunity to form "communities" divorced from the mitigating effects of Other Opinions.
In fact some of the most iconic US-american communities are there, because even in a Europe torn apart by the religious wars known as the Reformation, they were considered to be "Too Far Out There" and a menace to society. Including the Pilgrims/Founding Fathers (they might have had fond memories of Leiden, the feeling was *not* reciprocal, as quite a lot of historic documents show... ).
In fact, there has not been a place and time in history where the social and legal position of women was as low since the Greek Athens era as in the late 19th/early 20th century United States of America. And even while the laws there have changed, *society*, especially the (upper) middle class that drive societal Mores, has not. Which may explain the ... militancy.. of US american based feminism.
And the need to romanticise a historical culture based on completely needs and values, regardless of what the historical facts have to say about it.