Role of Women in the Paleolithic and Modern Period

10 October 2016

Role of Women in the Paleolithic and Modern Period * Women of the Paleolithic and Modern periods both have role models that have different meanings such as their role in society and their body image; however the way the males have treated these women showed little respect. During the Paleolithic period a sculpture was carved from using simple carving tools to create a masterpiece that is known today as the Venus of Willendorf.

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The Venus of Willendorf has suggested to archeologists that the sculpture was to have been an image of fertility, which is how their existence survived for so many years. Looking at the sculpture also indicates that the Paleolithic women were more on the obese side. The question is though, what exactly was the Paleolithic woman’s place in this culture and how does it compare to the modern symbolism of Barbie? * The Barbie doll celebrated its 40th birthday in 1999, but what has this toy done to the culture of the young girls who play with her in today’s society?

Over the past 40 years the society has seen the ups and downs from the effects of Barbie. Barbie has given our children positive motivation to become something better in life. She has also shown us the negative impact on our children’s lives as well, from dieting issues to self-esteem. Today, women can be seen as someone who should be put on a pedestal or in a store front window, but what does this do to the women of the society? It has been said that Venus of Willendorf was suggested to show fertility and sign of being a Goddess, but what exactly does Barbie suggest showing the children who play with her?

The experts have put together what they think the role the Paleolithic women held, according to Venus of Willendorf. According to Rice (1981), the Paleolithic women “were thought of primarily as mothers or baby makers” (p. 402). The sculpture showed the archeologists in many different ways just how the Paleolithic women had a place in society. The archeologists were able to discover traces of red ocher pigment on the sculpture, meaning menstrual blood or surrogate (Seshardri, 2012). The breasts and rounded stomach, suggested the belief of nurture and that the women stayed pregnant.

There is a lot of detail of the vulva, proving that this was the main focus of the women. These features can easily be described as women that are childbearing. It has been suggested that women played a very important and dominate role in the Paleolithic era, more so than women of today (Rice, 1981). The number of figurines of women that were found in the archeological digs outnumbered the amount of men figurines, which led to speculations about the part that the women played to society.

The Paleolithic women have also been known as Earth Mother or Mother Goddess and the Stone-Age people have believed in her as a universal idol. In modern society there are also idols in the form of figurines, just as there was in the Paleolithic society. Barbie is one of the idols in today’s society that many women have looked up to. The body shape of Barbie has not suggested that she is a childbearing figure, but it has suggested she is not lazy. In the modern society women are not just child bearing, but women had to run households, raise children, and had to go and get jobs of their own.

Times have changed since the Paleolithic era and women have had to be empowered. Barbie has served as a role model to a lot of women of the times, as she has played many different roles in the past 40 plus years. Barbie has been a doctor, a vet, a teacher, an astronaut, and even a pop star. These different roles are what have inspired women; if you can imagine it then you can become it. In, 1992 President Barbie was created which led the way for the feminist that shape the future political leaders (Zaslow &Schoenberg, 2012).

The United States had the first female run for office in 2008, only 16 years after President Barbie was introduced to the young women of America. This is only the beginning of what the women of today’s society are going to do as a political leader. Venus of Willendorf was a role model for the perfect female form for her obesity; however today women have strived to have the “Barbie” look. “In the, Stone Age fat was beautiful because it meant vitality and fertility” (Paige, 2004, p. 4).

There were many different body shapes of woman from the Paleolithic period, but there is only one that really stood out and served as a role model for their village. Venus of Willendorf is sculpted in a way that clearly shows her obesity and why she is the role model for the Paleolithic period. She was sculpted with a large stomach that overhangs a fat roll that extends around the middle, a flat butt and large thighs that are pressed together on her knees. This is one of the earliest signs of obesity in women and they still struggle with this in the modern society.

In today’s society everyone has imagined to have that perfect body. Many experts have suggested that Barbie is a root cause for many problems with women today when it comes to their weight and self-esteem. When workout Barbie was introduced she came with a scale and the scale read 110 pounds. Women see this weight has something they have to obtain, much of the body potions are unattainable and women push themselves to try and achieve these. Women have even undergone surgery to get the “Barbie” look. The self-esteem can affected as well and women have negative thoughts on their body.

With “both lowered body esteemed and wanting a thinner body are indicators of body dissatisfaction” (Dittmar, Halliwell, & Ive, 2006, p. 290) could lead to eating disorders. The Venus of Willendorf and Barbie have both played different roles in their periods, but there is one thing that they stood for that is the same. The Paleolithic women suggested to have been in the background in their society. The experts say this because of what the Venus of Willendorf has showed them. The sculpture showed signs that the women were timid because of the withered arms that were drawn to the side.

Since there was a masked face over the head of the sculpture, this showed that the women could not speak for themselves and had no identity as an individual (Paige, 2004). The women were regarded as an anonymous sexual object rather than an individual; it is her body and what it represented that was important to the men. Women of the modern period have faced some the same challenges as those of the Paleolithic period. Granted women have come a long way since the Paleolithic period, but it is still a man’s world. Barbie has showed women that you always should have on make-up and look your best.

Women have had this drilled in their heads at a very young age and continue to make sure that they look their best through their adult age. Since Barbie is so thin and the women do this as well, women feel as though they are seen as sexual objects. Women of the modern period feel as though they still have something to prove despite how far they have come since the Paleolithic period. Is there really a difference in the women of the Paleolithic and Modern periods? The women of the Paleolithic period knew who they were and they place in society.

They were the childbearing and the sexual object for the men, otherwise known as the Goddess of their time. The women of the modern period are still trying to find themselves. They have an idol that comes with many different outfits and careers, that are unhealthy, and a sexual object. Women today are lot and have trouble findings themselves. One thing that can be said that can be learned from the Paleolithic women is that, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Having the perfect body is not all that it is cracked up to be, it is about believing and being true to yourself.

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