Manipulation, Lies, and Power
Ordo Sororitatis Satanicae
51

Nice piece. I agree in the essentials. From the hetaerae of Classical Greece to the courtesans of Renaissance salons in France and Italy, the option of selling sex along with renaissance-woman-style talents in the areas of music, philosophy, politics offered to male clients by way of professional companionship has always afforded women a path to a kind of independence and power. The cost, though, is never being able to wield that power or enjoy that independence openly, without or in the absence of men. So it turns out not a far cry from the original legal status accorded women in Classical Athens: literally none at all, lower even than male children. Women had to represented by kyrioi (literally “lords/masters”) in all legal matters, including disposition of wealth, which could not legally be considered as owned by women but merely held in trust by a kyrios. When a woman’s husband died, her oldest male offspring became her kyrios, and all property and legal matters devolved upon him. So when we see Medea in Euripides’ play of that name — brought from a foreign land to Corinth as Jason’s bride, using her magic to help the Argonauts achieve their mission but, in the Corinthian context, stigmatizing her as not only a woman, not only a non-Greek foreigner, but a witch to boot — pushed by Jason’s abandonment of her so he can marry instead a Corinthian princess to the extreme of actually killing her own children, we realize that we should pity her rather than fully condemn her for her heinous act. She has inflicted on the man who betrayed her the only true damage she is permitted by the mores of Greek society to inflict: injurying his progeny. Witness also the role of Cassandra, captured Trojan prophetess, in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon: she slays her captor-king off-stage in what was presented as an ultimate betrayal, since he brought her into his home to be kept there in material wealth and comfort, though she was a captive and a spoil of war. Extreme patriarchy pushes women into the shadows, leaving them only the dubious powers of manipulation, deceit, betrayal as tit for tat. Not coincidentally, the one time women were permitted in Classical Athens to provide their own testimony in a court of law was in matters of sexual infidelity and malfeasance in the home or oikos, the one domain left exclusively in the hands of females. As to the dark doings in that invisible, cloistered world, women were actually considered experts and allowed to have their say. In the sun-lit, public world outside of the home, however, they were considered beneath children as to competence and power. If a woman didn’t care for that social role, she could throw caution to the wind and embark on a career as a hetaera (“companion”). Was that empowerment per se? Only as much as the patriarchy would permit.

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