Who Runs the World? Girls!

Classroom Discussion (04/06/17) — Class | 04/06/17 | 9:40–11:00 am

As per usual Thursday class schedule, we began with a quiz on the module for the week. This week’s module, entitled “Meeting the New Boss,” dealt with The Odyssey from the perspective of leadership.

After the quiz, we began a discussion to conclude the module.

Classroom Discussion (04/11/17) — Class | 04/11/17 | 9:40–11:00 am

We began class with a discussion on the new module for the week, “Who Runs the World? Girls!” In this discourse, we evaluated the role of civility in leadership and its significance. As a class, we discerned that civility in leadership is most effective when it strikes a balance of strong convictions with tolerant views. Then, Dr. Sandridge posed the question — “Is it possible to have good character with bad beliefs?” I would argue that it is not possible. Without good beliefs, your character will have nothing beneficial to reflect through application of yourself. Thus, one must have good beliefs to have good, moral character.

Part I — HSL | 04/07/17 | 2:00–4:00 pm

Plutarch is worried that readers will not take his stories about women seriously because there was a commonly held view amongst men during this time that women are largely inferior to men. Some men even thought women to be minimally more intelligent than children.

Plutarch begins his opening dialogue by referencing Thucydides, and his view on women. Thucydides believes that the best woman is one who is silent in the public sphere and held permanently indoors. Plutarch does not agree with these notions. He asserts that the best woman is one who is known by many not for her form, but for her fame.

Judging from this dialogue, Plutarch maintains a very close relationship with Clea. Seeing as he tells her all these things about how he feels women should act and be perceived, which highly contrast the common notions of the time, Plutarch is demonstrating a high level of trust with her.

Plutarch argues that the only way to compare the “value” of a woman to that of a man is to place the accounts/details of her life side by side with that of a man and truly determine the similarities/differences between the two. He suggests that this should be done with all of the “classic” tales of folklore that everyone knows and recites.

Part II — HSL | 04/09/17 | 7:00–10:00 pm

In Plutarch’s Virtues of Women, there are several portions that demonstrate women from different ethnicities and societies acting in conjunction with one another. Here are a few examples of this, along with context to these stories.

In the first example, the women of Troy are deliberating on whether they should settle with the men on the land that they had just sailed to after the Trojan War. After giving it some thought, the women decided that ir would be best for them to settle here, for they could start a new society with families and settlements, rather than spend more time exploring the seas searching for a more suiting place to settle. With this in mind, the women burned all of the Trojan ships and ran in-land to meet their husbands. When the men saw what was happening, they ran to the sea in an attempt to save their ships. Once the men reached the women, the women embraced the men through kissing out of fear that the men would be angry/resentful towards them. The Trojan men, after coming to the realization that the land they had discovered wasn’t so bad after all, came to accept and understand the decision made by the women, and start a settlement with the Latins.

This story illustrates the influence of women in the lives of men. The fact that the men quickly forgave the women for their deed of burning all of their ships to the sea shows that the men were more concerned with pleasing the women/keeping them happy than scolding them for this feat.

In the next example, the women of Phocis were given a voice in council during deliberation on the decision that, should the men lose in battle, they should be burned and killed. The men of Phocis all voted in approval of this. After the vote, one man in the counsel stood and stated that the women should participate in this vote too. After being informed of this, the women of the Phocis assembled and deliberated on a decision. They quickly came to agree with the men and approve the plan. After all agreed, the men went to war and declared victory.

This example illustrates the empowerment of women in the ancient world. The story of the women of Phocis is a rare occurrence of women being allowed power of the same magnitude as men. In the ancient world, it was a common notion that one could earn glory in two places — on the battlefield (fighting) and in the assembly (speaking). Thus, for these women to be given the power to deliberate and decided upon whether the men should follow through with this plan shows that the men really valued their women and their opinions. Additionally, it shows the bravery and trust of the women to approve the plan.

In the fourth example given by Plutarch, the women of Argos are undermanned and must fill-in to fight back against Cleomenes and the Spartans who plan to invade the city. The Argonne women took up arms and fought the Spartans, driving them back from their city gates. In this manner, the women saved the city. This again ties back to the notion that, in the ancient world, one could gain glory either on the battlefield or in the assembly. For these women to step up and fight to defend their home, a role typically expected of a man in ancient times, just shows how valuable and worthy they are to their society. A statue of Ares, the god of war, was erected in honor of the Argonne women and their fearless deeds.

In the fifth story, the Persian women are illustrated chastising their men for their act of cowardice in running back in retreat to their city. When they see their men retreating back to the city gates, the women run out and confront the men by lifting up their garments and stating that if they are truly cowards surely the men can go back into the place on a woman from which they originally came through birth. This act embarrassed/energized the Persian men, making them stop their retreat and re-attack the enemy. With a new sense of motivation, the Persian men defeated the enemy forces handily. This is one example of women in the ancient world using their physical femininity to persuade men to act in a way in which they desire.

In the next story, Plutarch describes the situation of the Celtic women, and how they came to be the essential peacemakers in a disagreement turned civil war between factions of Celtic peoples. When a civil war broke out between differing Celtic peoples, the women stood in-between the conflict and acted as a soothing guide to a peaceful resolution. They accomplished this by effectively communicating with both sides and resolving the problem through mediation. This was so effective that the men continued to consult with the women on the issues of peace and war even after the end of the civil war. This is an illustration of how much the men in Celtic society valued the voices and consultation of their women. This also illustrates the calming, peacemaking qualities of women that are often suppressed/missing in men who desire to solve their problems through physical conflict.

Part IV — Room | 04/12/17 | 9:30–11:30 pm

In Plutarch’s Virtues of Women, the men play secondary roles in the stories telling of women’s triumphs in the ancient world; however, the men’s roles still have significance nonetheless. Typically in these stories, it is the downfalls of the men that cause the women to need to step up and do something to resolve these situations. However, that’s not to say that all men in these stories are bad. In the case of Story II, for example, the man who stood up and stated that the women should have a say in the deliberation process is not a bad man. He stood up and declared that the women deserve equal say in the decision as men. What makes him good, in m opinion, is his willingness to stand up for the rights of women, although it is contradictory of this time to do such things.

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