What are women without men? Truly, it is probably hard to imagine a world where there are no men to perform all the backbreaking labor and make all the unfazed decisions needed to run a society smoothly. The men were outside, making a living, while the women stay at home, tend to the children and maintain the household. This has been the long-time standard until women started to feel that they can do more than that. Given that train of thought, it has come to this era in which women can go toe-to-toe with men in almost every field of expertise. This is what these two stories exemplify – the unexpected power of women. Along with this central focus on feminism, we shall look into how men can become immature when it comes to war and sex.
Men exert their power through displays of physical capabilities, but upon reading Lysistrata and The Odyssey, the power which only women possess is showcased – their sexuality. And despite how basic it may sound, it provokes the most instinctual behaviors especially for men. In Lysistrata, the women use the act of abstinence from sexual activities with their husbands as a means of achieving peace between Athens and Sparta. It may sound like a really shallow propaganda and would seem futile however, the men who are now suddenly deprived of a particular need and find it difficult to maintain a clear view of what they wanted (which is to settle things through war). This eventually leads to the men succumbing to one of their most primitive instincts (sexual desire) and shows their immaturity by being fazed by the so-called shallow women’s propaganda.
In the Odyssey we also find Penelope as a great symbol of feminine power. It is amazing how she somewhat maintained her position in Ithaca (the city where Odysseus ruled) for the duration of Odysseus’ journey. What’s interesting is that instead of Penelope just getting killed and some random noble becoming king, suitors line up to woo her and possibly win her love and hand in marriage. It would have been a “manlier” story given that, but here we find another great symbol of the power of women’s sexuality and how it can be an actual weapon used against men.
In the current era, it is true that the women are given much more opportunities and are respected. At times, they even excel in some fields previously dominated by men. However, one thing that I, personally find unsettling is that women are being sent into a world which is centered on men. In order to achieve greatness, women must obtain a certain level of masculinity or obtain skillsets which men naturally excel in. If suddenly, a woman’s emotional self emerges when at work (which comes naturally to them) it will be frowned upon by her colleagues and superiors. It is saddening that women have to deny and suppress an essential part of their being just to survive and be treated “equally”. These texts try to prove that a woman can also bring out a man’s weakness through means other than war and violence. These texts show the real power of women and how big of an impact they can make despite being in a world dominated by men. These texts show that men can also become “immature” and submissive – through means attracting their most primitive instincts.
Aristophanes. "Lysistrata." n.d. Vancouver Island University. 26 March 2013
Homer. "The Odyssey." n.d. The Literature Network. 26 March 2013
Whittaker, Helen. "Gender Roles In The Odyssey." n.d. GVSD.org. 26 March 2013