How Women Gain Power and Standing
In all of this, it is possible for an exceptional woman to gain some power, albeit through the men in her life.
The simplest way is, as always, through sex appeal. The church teaches sex is a sin, and paganism that men have more important things to do than idle with women, but neither one can stamp out lust and sex. Sex is a fact of life, as it always has been. A woman with youth and beauty on her side can gain some influence, no matter her social class.
The other way a woman can gain standing is by representing the interests of her husband or father. In the upper and middle classes, there are many examples of woman essentially running the affairs of a husband or father who is dead, absent, or infirm. A competent lady in such a position can control a wide range of noble estates outright; a competent townswoman likewise with a business. Women like this are a tiny minority, but have a taste of the power that men can achieve.
The final way a woman can gain power in the world is, of course, through her sons. Everyone loves their mother, and an influential mother of strong sons can easily become a power behind the throne.