I mentioned before that "Old, Bold and Won't Be Told" is the title of a book given to me by the 'Memsahib' for Christmas. The author, Yvonne Moran, explores the social and historical background that lies behind Will's characterisation of older women in his plays. So far - so esoteric, but it started me thinking about the difference between the development of women in Christianised European society compared to their counterparts in Islam.
My views are tentative because I simply lack the knowledge to be definitive but I suspect that one important factor was the ability of Muslim men to have several wives at a time. My theory is that this makes mixed-sex socialising exceedingly difficult and led to a society in which men socialised only with other men. This in turn re-enforced the male attitude of treating women as a sort of sub-species whose views and opinions were not so much ignored as never heard!
Of course, as Ms. Moran points out, in the Early Modern period in Europe women were treated by many (most?) men as inferior but this had to be upheld against a one-to-one relationship in which the human personality of the woman could be ignored but not excluded. Socialising was mixed sex and thus the views of women were at least given an airing. The fact that in the upper classes the women at least enjoyed the basics of an education in that they could read, write and play musical instruments all of which would have given them a more substantial base for their opinions.
What I found interesting in Ms. Moran's book is the fact that in this Early Modern period it was older women who were considered a threat by men, particularly so if they were widowed. They were thought likely to have voracious sexual appetites and to be a subversive influence by voicing opinions out loud without the restraining hand of a husband. Of course, in the 16th century the standing of women took a giant leap forward when two of them became queens of England, and one of them, arguably, became one of the very greatest of English monarchs. After that it was impossible for men to stop the inexorable rise and rise of female emancipation. No wonder the worst sort of Islamists hate education for girls.