Women have been discriminated against since literally the beginning of time. In Genesis 2, during the Bible's creation story, we are taught that woman (Eve) is created from man (Adam)'s rib. That kind of stinks because according to this account, we couldn't even have our own creation story. Adam just had to be there, breathing over us the whole time. What also stinks is that women are assigned the responsibility of human sin. Eve was tempted by the snake to eat from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, and she ate it then offered some to Adam. And you know what he did? He ate the fruit too. Maybe he was thinking happy wife, happy life, or maybe he was simply susceptible to sin, just like Eve (and honestly every human being ever).
You don't have to believe in God or the Bible to realize that there's some pretty sketchy stuff going on in Genesis 2. the Bible, many people believe, is a social document, because it has been used to define the rules and mores of Western societies for hundreds of years. It has also been used for other things, such as excusing discrimination and sexism on the grounds that "God said so." God said a lot of things, but I'm guessing that putting women down was not one of them.
Before woman is created in Genesis 2, we get a little peek into God's head, which is kind of fun. He says he is going to make a helper, (Hebrew etzer) for Adam, and that she will become woman. He also said that she is to be the object of man's desires and that she should serve her husband, which is a little questionable on God's part, but don't give up on Him quite yet.
Because according to the rest of the Bible, in chapters like 2 Kings and Isiah, etzer does not mean helper in the sense of servant or slave. Rather, etzer is associated with protection during battle or hardship. It is associated with guidance and leadership and advice. It is associated with loving support and kindness and always standing behind someone you love.
Clearly the founders of our nation didn't take a theology course because they didn't realize that women aren't meant to be discriminated against. They didn't realize that "etzer" was actually the most powerful role out there. Women aren't meant to serve men, they are meant to be their equal. They are meant to protect them during their trials, set them straight in their ways, and love them with their whole heart. Nothing about those connotations sounds weak or demeaning.
My theology professor a couple of weeks ago, when we covered this lesson, was also keen on reminding us that, in Ancient Near Eastern cultures, the ability of women to reproduce was considered something divine. Nowadays, women are looked down upon for getting pregnant and their reproduction has become a highly politicized issue. Although we often forget because the leaders of society and politics are primarily male, behind every one of them is a woman who gave birth to and raised him, and probably a wife who helps him get through life.
So before we go off and carry around the idea that women are less then men, we should remember that women are quite literally the cornerstone of the universe. If there weren't any women, there wouldn't even be a universe. I mean that literally, because of reproduction and what not, but also figuratively. Women have something about them that is simultaneously loving, strong, and divine. Without them, the world would be a very different place.