I am afraid this post will (if ever) only be read by women readers. And this is a pity. In fact, I wonder why for so many centuries men could have wished to have a wife at their side which was hardly more than their slave, instead of choosing a friend with whom they could have shared thoughts, experiences, feelings, thus enhancing the meaning of life.
I guess that, in spite of many passages in various religious texts which hardly support such a negative role of women, one just thought of women as lower beings and hence thought that one 'needed' them in order to satisfy practical needs (such as reproduction), but that only men were fit as companions in one's spiritual and intellectual development. That's a pity, since one missed the chance to take advantage of the many women one had around oneself (mother, sisters, wife, daughters…).
Similarly, it is a pity that reflections on the role of women are mostly been undertaken by women alone and read by women alone, so that "gender studies" has become almost a "private club" for women intellectuals. I can't understand why men generally do not feel the challenge of re-thinking their relationships towards women.
(in the photo: the rape of the Sabine women, Florence.)