Though, Japan valued men over women, women played an important role in the society of medieval Japan. They were the backbone that protected and cared for their family. Throughout these times, Japanese women were mothers, entertainers, and even warriors. The amount of freedom a woman received depended greatly on a her social class.
SAMURAI WOMEN Samurai women were trained to fight as a samurai does. They at times fought alongside men in battle, though this was quite rare. The ideal samurai woman was docile, humble, and submissive to a man. It might seem to be a strange idea that a woman that was sure to hardly ever fight in a battle, be taught to fight. Well, the main purpose in this was so that the Samurai women could defend their homes and children in times of dire need.
HIGH-RANKING WOMEN Women of high class had the littlest amount of freedom in medieval Japan. Women of high status in Japan could not escape marriage. the purpose of marriage between two families was to create an alliance, which would make sure the safety of the clan was in good hands. Families always tried to choose the man of another family that would increase their social status and affluence. The only way that they could remain single was if they became a monk or a nun in Buddhism. Though, after a woman did this her social ranking became significantly lower and she was from then on perceived as a deceitful and amoral woman.
GEISHA WOMEN The idea of a geisha is severely misinterpreted. The term geisha is usually understood to be a glorified mistress of a man of high status, in colloquial terms, a whore. This is definitely not factual. Geishas were actually amongst the most respected women in Japanese society. As young girls geishas are actually called maikoas. Before becoming a geisha, a maikoa learns how to converse with men, perform traditional dances to perfection, and sing and play stringed instruments.
Geishas were of great use to daimyos. Sometimes, geishas were sent to spy on or assassinate other territorial landlords. Although, any daimyo could easily sense that a geisha was sent to kill him; he had no defense against her. This was attributed to the fact that she was so respectable. The only way he could prevent himself from being killed was to have someone kill her before she could him.
LOW-RANKING WOMEN Women of low class typical had jobs cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children of wealthier families. These women also farmed alongside other men and had the freedom to use the money that they earned as they wished, to pay taxes, provide their children with clothing. Whatever was necessary could be taken care of. Women of low-class had more freedom when it came to marriage and had say in whatever many she ended up marrying.
IN GENERAL All women had certain duties that they were expected to fulfill. They were made only to serve their father, husband, and son throughout her lifetime. Women followed this simple rule: As a young girl, she obeyed her father; upon marriage, she obeys her husband; and when widowed, she must then obey her son. As soon as a woman married she was assumed to bear her husband a son. If a women became widowed, she could never marry again. This was a liberty that only men possessed.
Samurai women weren’t the only ones that fought. All Japanese women had to partake in some sort of fighting during their life. They were required to protect their homes during wartime, while their husbands were away. Without Japanese women this well-rounded structure, typical of Japanese society, would be difficult to upkeep.