Oppression = the inappropiate use of authority (or power) to cause distress
Let's do some analysis, shall we?
In those old day (in almost all races), people are in general, divided into "nobles" and "serf", with the former exerting authority to the latter. Obviously, the latter don't have what we call "authority", so by definition they can't cause any oppression. To begin with, it is obvious that NOT all men are "nobles" and NOT all women are "serf", but men of both classes seemed to have more authorities than their womenfolk.
Does this mean that women were more oppressed?
Think about it clearly, having authority is merely a neccesary condition, but not sufficient condition, according to our definition. To prove that women were more oppressed, one need to prove that men tended to use authority inappropiately compared to women.
However, it may be reasonable for men in both classes to have slightly more power than their womenfolks. This is because of the fact that in many parts of the world the society had what we call "chivalry" or its variants (e.g. Keen, 1984), which oppose male aggression towards females, but not the other way round. Therefore, it may be that if men and women were given equal power, the latter will be more likely to inappropiately use their authorities to aggress. Thus, to balance to amount of aggression experienced by either gender, it may be reasonable to give men in both classes slightly more power than their female counterparts.
Apart from the issue of inter-gender aggression, we all know that women have access to various tools for emotional manipulation when it comes to indirect aggression, such as spreading rumors or manipulating people into aggressing on their behalf (e.g. Bjorkqvist, 1994; Osterman et al., 1998) and that men are far less likely to do so, and this is quite likely to have some biological basis, since those results are cross-cultural. This means that even if women had slightly less direct power than their male counterpart, it may be to a certain extent fair and thus may not constitute what we call "oppression".
Lastly, one should compare the life of noble men and women in those days. Noble men in those days had to go to work. Was it something pleasant? Probably not. After all, you need to face the demanding bosses and various tasks that sprung up from nowhere in workplace, and we all know that people mostly consider work to be something they want to get away from. In comparison, noble women didn't have to work, instead they lives were probably better than their husbands in some aspects.
To prove that serf women suffered more oppression than their male counterpart, we need to prove that the maltreatment exerted on these women from "nobles" are greater. Nonetheless, it had been very consistently found that cross-culturally, both men and women in positions of power tend to treat males more harshly than females, even if the severity of misbehavior is the same (Daly & Tonry, 1997; Mustard, 2001), and this is true even in childhood (Lambert et al., 1971), implying a biological basis.
This implies that it was likely the case that both "noble" men and women tended to exert more oppression on serf men than on serf women. If this is true, that it logically follows that serf women could not have suffer more oppression than their male counterparts in those days, in fact the converse would probably be true.
You may tell me that many women in those days were sexually restricted. However, I seriously doubt if you would call this "oppression" if you compare it to being subject to painful death in the battlefield or having to work in dirty and dangerous environments to financially support one's wife.
If it is the case that men created a system in which they suffer more (as a whole, since NOT all men are kings, obviously), how can this constitute "oppression"? Moreover, were rulers treated that nicely? Of course the majority of them led very extravagant life, they also had opportunities to fulfil their ambitions (only a few of them did so though), but these came with a burden: intense stress. Well, just imagine how you would feel if you are constantly told that your decisions can affect the lives of hundreds or thousands, and women seem to have idealized these positions too much.
As you can see, I used a lot of "may" and "probably" in this article. Well, obviously because these are merely my speculation, so do those feminist theories. First, we all know that those old societies won't give us any objective statistics and subjective observation is just unreliable since women are just so much better at claiming victim status than men (statistically speaking, of course!). Therefore, is it reasonable to suggest that one of the genders (be it male or female) were more oppressed in those old days?
I suspect not.
One last thing, although feminists claim that women are more oppressed in some parts of the world, I am not willing to give help to these "oppressed women", since I seriously doubt if feminists are telling us the truth. Such doubt is not without reasons, considering the fact that feminists have already done a lot of things in which they deliberately distort the truth using their political power. With this in mind, I am not very motivated to give these "oppressed" women help, at least not via feminists.
Are feminists truly helpful for impoverished women?
Once again, I suspect not.
Bjorkqvist, K. (1994). Sex differences in physical, verbal, and indirect aggression: A review of recent research, Sex roles, 30(3-4), 177-188.
Daly, K, & Tonry, M. (1997). Gender, Race, and Sentencing. Crime & Justice, 22, 201-252.
Lambert, W. E., Yackley, A., & Hein, R. N. (1971). Child training values of English Canadian and French Canadian parents. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 3(3), 217-236.Keen, M. (1984). Chivalry. USA: Yale University Press.
Osterman, K., Bjorkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K. M. J., Kaukiainen, A., Landau, S. F., Fraczek, A., Caprara, G. V. (1998). Cross-cultural evidence of female indirect aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 24(1), 1-8.
Mustard, D. (2001). Racial, Ethic, and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Courts. Journal of Law and Economics, 44(1), 285-314.