I'm so totally duplicating this from my blog, but thought I'd share it here because it is A VERY interesting article I came across and I think more people should read it.. :)
Hugh Boyd who came as an envoy to the Kandyan Court in 1782 writes,
The Cingalese women exhibit a striking contrast to those of all other Oriental Nations in some of the most prominent and distinctive features of their character. Instead of that lazy apathy, insipid modesty and sour austerity, which have characterized the sex throughout the Asiatick world, in every period of its history, in this island they possess that active sensibility, winning bashfulness and amicable ease, for which the women of modern Europe are peculiarly famed. The Cingalese women are not merely the slaves and mistresses, but in many respects the companions and friends of their husbands; for though the men be authorized by law to hold their daughters in tyrannical subjection, yet their sociable and placable dispositions, soften the rigor of their domestic policy. And polygamy being unknown and divorce permitted among the Cingalese, the men have none of that constitutional jealousy, which has given birth to the voluptuous and unmanly despotism that is practiced over the weaker sex in the most enlightened nations, and sanctioned by the various religions of Asia. The Cingalese neither keep their women in confinement nor impose on them any humiliating restraints.
More on the article The Position of Women in Buddhism here