“Who Runs the World? Girls!”
Thursday April 6, 2017 || Douglass Hall || 9:40–11:00am
On this day, in class, we began with a quiz, like we normally do. I’m finding that my issue on quizzes is that while reading the module, I focus on the wrong pieces of information. Although it gets frustrating, I’m still trying my hardest. After the quiz, we discussed more about our previous module about Odysseus and his errors as a leader. We discussed that he lacked the trust and attentiveness to keep his men safe and resorted to petty killings by letting his anger and jealousy get the best of him. Nonetheless, he still reigned as a successful leader in history.
Friday April 7, 2017 || Founder Library || 10:30am-11:30am
I am so excited to start this module! Beyonce is literally my spirit animal (lol). She’s so sure of herself, and even embraces an alter ego, Sasha Fierce. With that being said, I am also excited to revisit Plutarch, as the module on Life of Antony was one of my favorite modules because we were introduced to female influence on leadership in the ancient world. In this module we will examine The Virtues of Women, which are all examples (27 antecdotes) of when women held power or leadership or influenced powerful leaders. I have a feeling that we will encounter more of how one perceives a leader in terms of gender. (And that’s a debate I don’t mind tackling again).
In Step One, the first “Listening for Leadership” explains that Plutarch was nervous that readers wouldn’t take his work on women seriously. This might be because women in leadership are not as praised as men. Men walk a fine line between being pro-women and a radical feminist guy who man-bashes. There is some sort of stigma that exists that keeps men and women seperate from one another and to support the other gender can mean that you aren’t “man enough” or “woman enough”. Also, for some reason, people take our nurturing qualities as weakness (But Plutarch also showed a different aspect to how women lead through Cleopatra’s sexuality and poise). However, our feminine qualities in regards to leadership is usually a turn off for people, so I can see Plutarch’s apprehension. But Plutarch’s apprehension tells readers everywhere that no matter how much times are changing, we can’t seem to shake the prevailing stereotypes that women are not meant to be seen in leadership. Going into the reading, what I really appreciated was how it began with Plutarch declaring to silence the belief that women are to be seen and not heard that is reinforced by Thucydides. He sets the record straight that great people should not be judged by their achievements in terms of their gender’s standards, but instead like pieces of art. Regardless of gender, just put two people side by side and let them be admired for their contributions and who they are.
Saturday April 8th, 2017 || 7th Flats || 4:00pm-5:30pm
In step two, Plutarch supports his previous claim that women are just as successful as men (if not more) and contribute just as much to the societies in which they belong. He introduces the reader to all types of women in ancient history in Virtues of Women. It began with the Trojan women. These women decided to burn the boats of all the Trojan men to show them the necessity of building a fatherland. Although one can debate that their actions were drastic they took a leadership role. They saw what was the best thing for everyone at the moment, foresaw what needed to be done (creating a fatherland), and in the uncertainty of their husbands responses, they rushed to them with love and kisses, and the men were grateful. Here, women did what thy did best to protect their men, and it dictated everything that was to come.
The second of the women that stood out to me was the women of Chios. After they had been given an oracle by the god, the Chians were told to leave the city. The men decided to call it truce and leave with only one cloak and one shirt, but the women encouraged them, instead, to stop being “cowards”. They encouraged them to not leave their arms and to say that their spear is their cloak and the shield as their shirt. In this case, the women taught courage. As we know, courage always equated to “manliness” so it was empowering to see women being acknowledged for their contributions in building the warriors that fight these vicious battles. Often times women are devalued to their chores that they are expected to do at the house, and the children that they’re expected to rear into perfectly, law-abiding citizens. It is very rare in which women are given the benefit of the doubt that we can actually persuade men to do the right things.
Sunday, April 9th, 2017 || 7th Flats || 3:00pm-4:30pm
in step two, Plutarch began with introducing women by giving examples of their strength as a unit. Now, in step three, he acknowledged women as individuals and emphasized their leadership individually. One woman who stood out to me them most was the wife os Pythes. In her story, she is powerful because she taught humility, wisdom, and compassion. Her husband, who found immense pleasure in wealth and riches. To teach her husband a lesson of humility she summoned some of the most trustworthy goldsmiths to create food out of gold and presented in to Pythes when he demanded food implying that this is what he had mad out of his life. Just riches and nothing else, so maybe he should literally live off of these riches. We later see Pythes kill and dismember the body of a son who Xeres requested to watch over Pythes in his old age. Because of pride and greed, he did not accept the request, and was spiteful and killed him instead. Pythes obviously valued his wife and her capabilites because he left the whole government to her to run as he stepped down, and she ran it excellently. I loved this story because the very compassion and poise that women are often called out on negatively was the very thing that led her to lead the nation. I just found this scenario ironic because although she was such an asset to her people and helped her husband to lead them, she is still only referred to as “the wife of Pythes”. I think that this is an example of the way in which women were given an identity by their husbands. Despite all of her contributions, she isn’t even referred to independently which was extremely ironic to me. Nonetheless, I love the story.
Monday April 10, 2017 || Howard University Information- Lab || 4:30–6:00pm
What I also loved about this module is that not only did it adress women in a way that they arent normally addressed (as leaders) but it provided examples of “bad” male leadership so support the claim that all male leaders are not good ones and all women are not doormats. In step four, we analyzed the vices of male leadership. In “listening for leadership” we were asked to go back to Virtues of Women and analyze the men in those examples. How did they display “bad” leadership? and what are the recurring types of men in these examples. For the examples that I just gave, the men were persuasive by women, which expresses the level of reassurance that was expected of women for men. Often times the woman is referred to as the damsel in distress waiting for a man to rescue her, but in my first example, for instance, the women were the ones to save the men from destruction by burning the boats and forcing their men to do what was best for them. the men were saved by the women in this scenario. In the very last scenario about Pythes’ wife, it showed that men are not always as level headed as people try to make them out to be. For example, even in presidential elections, people may prefer a man over a woman because a woman is too emotional, which can impair her judgements and disrupt the “level-headedness”. Here, the wife of Pythes actually had to keep her husband level headed. She forced him to see that his greed and immense pleasure in riches would lead to his demise. She even took over for her husband as he deemed unfit to continue to rule. The pattern that I see in the men is they are easily persuaded or influenced by women. This brings me back to how Mark Antony was an appendage to Cleopatra because of her extreme femininity in the Life of Antony. I truly believe that a man is only as good as the woman who he loves. And Plutarch did an amazing job showing that these women are phenomenal and play a huge part in male leadership.
Tuesday, Aprill 11, 2017 || 7th Flats || 9:40–11:00am
on this day I did not go to class, my allergies were going haywire and I didn’t get any sleep the night before, nonetheless I was certain to have a friend of mine tell me what went on in class, and share notes with me.
Tuesday April 11, 2017 || Founder’s Library ||6:00pm-7:30pm
In step five of the module, the title is “How ‘Manly’ Does a Woman Leader Have to be?”. This automatically brought up so many questions that I have. in the “listening for leadership” section, we were asked, what the major claim was in “Plutarch’s Manly Woman”. The major claim was that times are changing and there can now be a mutulaity in a relationship between men and women when it comes to eroticism and spiritual love. Women can now be more erotic towards their men without it seeming less feminine. In my opinion, I do still believe that women should be wholesome and respectful generally, but I do not think that is expressed in the way that they love their men. Alone, they can have whatever kind of relationship they want. I think this play a big role in how Plutarch views characters like Cleopatra because Cleopatra literally used her erotics to have Mark Antony tied around her little finger. Her words and actions seduced him to the point where he listened to her for leadership advice.
Just reflecting on this module, I’m glad that this was a part of our course. I consider myself a womanist in the sense that I am all for the success of ALL women. I’ts unfortunate that even in the 21st century women can’t be cut enough slack for our contributions to the manly jobs that people hold so dear. Modules like these make me hopeful that we can still educate our young girls through catchy module names (that they’re familiar with) to boost their self-concept as young women. It is also necessary that men help to perpetuate these positive images of women in leadership to create the equality that womanists and feminists all over the world aim to achieve. Overall, great, module!