So, let's say you'd RP as a husband who would expect his wife to be obedient to him... Would your character still love his wife? Any thoughts on how to combine love with that sexist attitude we're discussing?
I mean, if a man loves a woman and spends a lot of time with her, then he's bound to notice that she is, most probably, as intelligent as he is. How do you rationalize the idea that she needs to obey you, then?
If you do a research on an era you want to set your RP in, you will find sources that tell you what the society's view was on women's demeanor, purpose and education - and these men and women that lived in that society would be subjected to that view their whole life, they would take it as the standard to live by and most would not question it, because it worked for their parents, their parents and their parents, then it must work for them too. Women were not encouraged
to be intelligent, to have interests in politics or business, many times they were taught to read, but were not particularly encouraged to read for leisure or study, they were not encouraged to express opinions (they were not encouraged to have any in the first place).
One more thing to consider is that in the past times people were a lot more obedient (to their parents, to the crown) than we are today and their senses of honor and obligation was much higher. Father's word was law and if father said you will marry Miss XY, then you married Miss XY. Love was a frivolous affair of an undisciplined mind and was not particularly considered when marriage contract was drafted. Marriage was used to further family's interests and to provide children to protect the family property for the next generation. Couples didn't marry because they fell in love, they married because their family found an advantageous match. Since divorce didn't exist unless you were Henry VIII, all couples had to somehow
make do with what they were thrown into. Obviously, when you spend years with someone working on establishing yourself, your family, you do realize that the person is a partner and feelings do grow (unless the other person is completely incompatible), but the vast majority of couples didn't start with love for one another and many didn't end with it.
She needs to obey, because as Caehlim very deftly pointed out, she is made that way. Because Western society was predominantly patriarchal and that simply means that men rule and women follow. Being a woman, she had to obey her parents, then her husband. A lot of widows didn't remarry, because the status gave them a lot of freedom that they would otherwise lose. If they had means to support themselves, then they could live out as dowagers, especially if they had enough money and/or already mature enough sons to take care of family business.
Sexism doesn't come into play and definitely doesn't hinder a man from loving a woman. Just because he thinks she's inferior doesn't mean he can't find something he'll like about her.
A wild comparison: pet owners. Pet owners take care of their pets - feed them, house them, clothe them if necessary, generally provide for them, but the truth is, they are still pets, they are animals. When hard pressed, some of these pet owners will still tell you that they are inferior to humans, because they are animals. Does that mean the pet owners don't love their pets? No.
But... how could the men not notice that women were just as mature and intelligent individuals as they were? And if they did notice it, then how could they still believe that they had any right to command them?
Come to think about it, how could the *women* not notice that the men weren't smarter than them? Why would they agree to be ordered around?
This... is actually so crazy an idea that I'm tempted to turn it into an RP someway
Anyway, I can't imagine how could men believe that allowing women to make decisions would be bad to them. How would that even work? A woman is allowed to make decisions for herself... and what, she goes crazy, or something?
The right to command women came from the law, also, in a religious matrimonial ceremony the wife promised her husband obedience (trivia: Diana, Princess of Wales was the first in British royalty to not promise obedience to her husband at the altar). Most importantly, the women were brought up that way - they were tirelessly curbed to be docile and to submit to the men in their life.
It might have been believed that if a woman was allowed to make decisions for herself, they would be irrational, as women were seen as emotional and incapable of thinking rationally, and it would lead to her slow destruction.
You can't look at this from the viewpoint of 21st century on Elliquiy. You have to do a research into the particular eras and look at the issue of women from the point of view of that time. I am quite certain that if you walked up to a man in 1890 in London and told him that in 100 years women will have equal rights, wear pants, will be educated, AT UNIVERSITIES, will work, for equal pay (on the paper, at least), will be able to own property, vote and be elected and that divorce would be commonplace, he would marvel at how the world is still functioning when you turn it on its head.