“Skirting” Society: How Women in Late Antique Persia Used Religious Pluralism to Subvert Gender Boundaries
Ruth, Lindsay Marie
Late Antique Persia from the 3rd through 9th century AD was a center of religious plurality and change. Persia was a thriving center of a number of religions such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and, after the 7th century, Islam. Each religion came with its own set of rules and regulations, but especially notable were the various ones for women to abide: religious laws regarding marriage, divorce, childbearing, and sexuality. Within this era of religious development, changing ruling classes, and warfare, women were able to use engagement with their own and other religious communities to challenge and subvert the gender boundaries and societal roles assigned to them by their belief systems. This thesis demonstrates how women were able to employ the dynamics of religious pluralism in order to assert their autonomy in opposition to social norms. While in some cases the interactions between the religions of Late Antiquity caused or resulted from violence, in many cases it allowed women to navigate their societies beyond their assigned roles as caregivers and passive recipients.