The Society of Women and Children
By: Darlene Roland
In Book V of Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes what he believes to be the perfect society of women and children held in the city of his fashioning. In this society, the men and women become near equals. The women are allowed to carry the same roles as the men do: they exercise naked along with the men, fight along side the men, and even hold government positions in order to change the perception of the society to set them free from their more submissive role. Every woman belongs to every man and specific processes were enforced to prevent weaker people from breeding, justified by the noble lie of there being iron, bronze, silver, and gold people. There were no individual family units; instead, the children were raised by the city and regarded every person as a grandparent, a parent, or a sibling. Socrates puts an emphasis on women’s rights and child-raising that could only exist in a society in the nature of the Republic.
“One must mind his own business according to nature… could it be that a woman doesn’t differ in her nature than a man?” asks Socrates. It’s agreed upon that women are generally weaker than men, yet there are some women who do stand out as being stronger or wiser than a man, and they should not be discriminated against based on their sex. Socrates wishes to develop a society based on the genuine nature of people rather than on things such as their gender. If a woman is considered to be very wise and strong, there is no reason she should not be a guardian and wear nothing but virtue, or be an auxiliary and fight amongst the men in battle. This could change the social structure drastically and possibly de-feminize women in general; perhaps the reason why they were kept suppressed in Ancient Greek society and in other cultures was because their nature was given to them by the social structure itself to make them more appealing to men. Would men have the same kind of desire for a strong...
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