Thursday, January 23, 2020
Male Dominance Over Women Traced Back to Roman Times :: Exploratory Essays Research Papers
Male Dominance Traced Back to Roman Times Women are enigmatic. Their complexity is evident in their very anatomy; at least it was according to Plato. Therefore, as what is alien is often feared and what is feared is often subject to aggression, perhaps the men of Rome attempted to dominate women in every facet of life because they feared the possibility of women usurping power. Gender, as suggested by Women's Life in Greece and Rome and "Elite Male Identity in the Roman Empire," is not anatomy but power. Yet how can one be more powerful than an unknown entity? Men can only hope to dominate a species they do not even understand through carefully crafted treatises on anatomy, laws, education, and the unbreakable chains of culture and tradition. Plato boldly states that women are simply underdeveloped men. He does this through the argument that blood creates heat in the body and heat sustains and strengthens the body; so, because women lose blood through regular menstruation, women are cold and therefore weak. Moreover, women are created through a "deficiency of heat" in conception (qtd. in Lefkowitz et al. 228). Plato asserts that because "all concoction works by means of heat" and "some of the body's parts are 'principles'" (qtd. in Lefkowitz et al. 229), a lack of heat will affect concoction which will, in turn, affect a principle body part. This is crucial to the development of the body as "once a principle has been 'moved' (i.e. changed), many of the parts which cohere with it must of necessity change as well" (qtd. in Lefkowitz et al. 229). Therefore, no heat in concoction, or conception, creates a woman, and a woman, subsequently, has no heat in her body. Plato reinforces his theory of heat's effect on the body with o bservations of other body parts. For example, humans go bald on the front part of their head only because, "the brain is there" (qtd. in Lefkowitz et al. 229), and the brain's fluid absorbs the very little heat necessary for hair to exist. Women cannot go bald, on the other hand, because they are incapable of creating the most heated substance that the body can produce: "seminal secretions" (qtd. in Lefkowitz et al. 229). This argument makes logical sense within its own confines, and Plato is able to successfully defend his assertion that "a woman is as it were an infertile male" (qtd.