Table of Contents
The Role of Women in The Ideal Society
Level: B.A. 1st year Subject: Major Eng (Eng. 311)
1. Socrates compares men and women to male and female watchdogs. In what ways does this analogy help him advance the discussion? How does framing the issue of difference in another context illuminate assumptions about the social roles of men and women? Is the analogy appropriate? Why or why not?
Ans: Socrates compares men and women to male and female watchdogs in terms of the issues of sharing occupations. According to him, female watchdogs ought to watch as well as ought to hunt with male watchdogs. Both of them share their occupations. Female watchdogs are not kept indoors in the kennels on the ground that breeding and rearing the puppies disables them for anything else, and there is not the reservation of the hard work and all the care of the flocks in the male watchdog’s part.
This analogy helps him to advance the discussions because he is raising the issue of the role of women is socially constructed, they are not simply bounded by society. If we follow nature, certainly male and female have equal occupations regardless of biological differences. Biological differences are natural whereas gender roles are culturally constituted. The analogy intends that male and female should share in everything.
There is a certain level of illumination in the assumptions about the social roles of men and women. As the female watchdogs are not restricted in another context for the social roles, women should not be restricted within the domestic four wall cage. They should also get a chance to out of the closed space and work hard and care what they have to. Therefore, the analogy makes the appropriate hit and to the point.
2. The Socratic dialogue differs significantly from the traditional thesis-driven argumentative essay. In what ways does it differ? What are the advantages of dialogue as a genre? What are its limitations?
Ans: The Socratic dialogue significantly from the traditional thesis-driven argumentative essay because, in Socratic dialogue, we see the conversation between two or more people as a feature subject, or resolution of a problem, whereas it lacks in the latter. In the same way, Socratic style of irony is a noteworthy part of his dialogue. In his conversation, he feigns as if he does not know anything, and tries to brainstorm the other speaker with a series of resolutions. The traditional thesis-driven argumentative essays are somewhat boring because they are lengthy in structure. Thought here is the appropriate use of logs (principle of reason, and judgments), there is a lack of dramatic situation.
The advantages of dialogue as a genre are as follows:
Philosophical ideas are advanced, discussed, and criticized in the context of a conversation or debate involving two or more persons.
Essay access to the exploration of a subject, or resolutions of the problem.
Audience/ readers are driven close with interesting dialogues,
Through dialogue, there is the emergence of third thought
Thought this is the important genre, the authenticity of the dialogue is questioned. In the name of dialogue, there is the danger of severe dispute. When one professes to be ignorant and seeks assistance from the one who knows, instead of knowing the conversation, a debate can no longer reach to the level of conclusion.
3. Socrates makes a distinction between “discussion” and “contention.” What is this distinction? Do you consider this dialogue a form of discussion or contention? Why?
Ans: Discussion is the action or process of examining an issue about a detailed written treatment of a topic. By discussion, he means that analysis of various forms of arguments, and examination of the subject matter in the genre of dialogue, whereas, Contention is the urging of contradiction in reliance on the mere sound of the word, dealing with one another by assertion, and not by scientific argument. A heated agreement is a contention. While dealing with contradictory arguments, we seem quite against of our will. According to Socrates, when we insist that what are not the same natures ought to have the same pursuits, we cling to the verbal point most bravely and contentiously, but we do not inquire sameness and differences.
This dialogue is a form of discussion because participants in the dialogue are examination the subject of their argument-the role of women in ideal society and analyzing various forms and facets of the arguments.
Understanding and Interpretation:
1. One of the questions Socrates and Glaucon attempt to answer is the extent to which women’s and men’s differences are the result of nature or learning. What does Socrates mean by “natural talent” and “natural aptitudes?” Is he implying that the differences are innate or socially constructed?
Ans: Women’s and men’s difference are the result of nature and learning both. In the debate, we see women are naturally weaker than men, but Socrates makes us clear that through appropriate training and education, women can also reach to the level of men thereby becoming the guardian of the ideal society. By “natural talent,” he means the ability of the mind which is well served by the bodily powers. Naturally, a talented person finds out much for himself in the subject which he has studied. In the same way “natural aptitudes”, are the natural ability, skill, and propensity of men and women who naturally participate in all occupations. By this, he is implying that the differences are socially constructed rather than innate.
2. Socrates suggests that perhaps the nature of women’s and men’s differences, rather than the fact of difference itself, is the key. This difference, he says, is that “the female conceives and the male begets.” To what extent does this difference influence the accepted division of labor in society? Should reproductive functions determine one’s fitness in other avenues of life? What seems to be Socrates’ answer to this question? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Ans: Nature and men’s differences influence the accepted division of labor in society to a greater extent. Since the difference between women and men are socially constructed, the nature of women and men is not the same, but different. The biological construction of male and female sex is biased with a socially constructed gender role. On the basis of nature of women and men, women are lowly paid, whereas, men are highly paid. There is the division of work between men and women. Division of work life, this work for male and that work for female has become the hallmark of the division of labor in society. Though women can equally share outdoor works with men, their hard work is minimized with low wage rate.
Although both men and women are expected to work, there is a fairly strict division of labor. Women do all the cooking, and most of the domestic tasks, whereas men goes for earning. Women would be distracted by the demands of home and family in ways that a man is not. According to Hindu theology, wives are subservient to their husbands. They are under the control of male all the time form their child age to senility—with father, husband and son. Homes are under the control of the oldest male relative, and women go to live in their husband’s house when they marry. When women commit some offense which requires correction, they are parents punish their children.
According to Socrates, if we find either the male or female sex excelling the other in any art like music, and Gymnastic, or other pursuits, the difference is not simply that “female conceives and male begets.” In most of the cases, reproductive functions do not determine one’s fitness in other avenues of life. The nature of men and women are different, but now we say that these different natures should do the same things, seeing that they have widely difference natures. Of course, Reproductive functions are not the cause of weakness, rather weakness is a discourse created by the society to control women. I agree with the Socrates on the point that he presents equitable role type in his construction of idea the l society regardless of his thinking of women’s weaker nature than men.
Writing and Discussion:
1. During their discussion, Socrates and Glaucon explore the question of differences in men’s and women’s education and the fitness of women for combat. What are the implications of their discussion for these questions? What are your views?
Ans: Socrates and Glaucon’s exploration of the question of difference in men’s and women’s education and the fitness of women for combat implies that biological role type of women does not bound women from any type of social role. They can conceive the children as a part of nature, but they can work outdoor with their will. Female can be fit in every social role including combat provided that they should be fostered with the education, learning, instructions, and trainings. Ladies people are not naturally inferior, but society makes them so.
2. In what sense does Plato think that women are not equals of men?
Ans: Plato thinks that women are not equals of men in the sense of physical nature. According to him, women are naturally weaker then men. Through Plato believes that women’s flourishment based on their nature, he does not take idea wholesale, he discounted the role of women in his republic in the sense of physicality. He believes that women should be trained in order to make her strong like men. In this case, he takes male in the first position, and gives women secondary status.
3. In Plato’s ideal society, women would flourish based on their nature rather than their sex. Discuss.
Ans: Plato’s ideal society would flourish based on their nature rather than their sex. Sex is biological whereas nature is gifted. For example, one women is by nature fit for medicine, whereas another not; one musical, another unmusical; one is fit for the republic, another not. There is an only biological difference of male and female regarding sex, but in terms of nature, there is no distinction. He sees “naturally talent” and “naturally aptitudes” as the basic feature for the selection of the citizens for his republic. A naturally talented person is one whose mind is well served by bodily powers whereas; natural aptitudes’ are equally distributed in both male and female. Therefore, both of the sexes participate in all occupations bu they should be naturally qualified.
4. Plato believes encouraging men and women to pursue that in which they are able to excel, based on nature and not gender, will positively contribute to a thriving, flourishing society. Do you think female writers like De Beauvoir and Kate Millet would agree with him? (Read the essay “Woman as Other” in this book to answer this question.)
Ans: Plato believes that men and women are able to excel each other on the basis of nature, and not gender because for him, nature is not biased and prejudiced. Improvization is always a part of human nature. As Plato believes, women can improvise themselves to the position of men through training. He even sees the possibility of learning music, gymnastic, and moreover the art of warfare. These all designations are possible only through nature.
Gender is not biological rather it is socially constructed. The biological sex is not the same as the social construction of gender. Nature does not see differences, whereas gender always sees the differences in terms of the male/ female binary hierarchy. Thought, there is some reservation regarding the Plato’s depiction of nature, his reliance on the nature positively contribute to a thriving, and flourishing society that gives equal status both to men and women.
Female writers like De Beauvoir and Kate Millet partly agree with Plato in terms of Plato’s dismantlement of gender role. But they disagree on the point of Plato that on the basis of nature women are inferior and weak then men. In Beauvoir’s essay, “Women as Other”, she sees the male politics of othering women. She criticizes the male nature that essentializes female nature. Under the patriarchal structure, women are dubbed as “ the slavery of half of humanity.” She thinks that women is not born but made.
She is against of women’s identity determined by physiological, psychological, or economic fores. For Beauvoir, natural condition is beyond the possibility of change. In truth, however, nature of htings is no more immutably given. She even despises the Aristotelian notion of female nature– “the female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities.” He essentializes female nature as “affilicted with a natural defectiveness”, and he is strongly aversed by Beauvoir and other female writer.
Millet sees that women have been consistently denied in the past, and continually deprived form gaining education, economic the education is a deliberate design to make them inferior through repression in freedom of expression, and sexual mores. She sees the continual male attempt of systematic program and exclusion from the opportunity in the male history. Therefore, Millet defies Othering of women by appealing for a revolution against male sexual politics.
According to her, the revolution would bring about different changes like the end of sexual repression, reexamination of sex roles, the establishment of unisex conditions, end of sex roles and sex status of women, end of patriarchy and male supremacist ethic, attitude, experience, and ideology. It would recover woman from her chattel status (dependent status). They can even think of bi-sex track by ending the enforced hetero-sexuality. Finally, she points out the abolishment of any definition of sexuality based on a male society that suppressed women.