Gender Stereotypes In Lysistrata By Aristophanes

In the playwright Lysistrata, written by Aristophanes, Lysistrata is a comedy play that is about the woman’s goal to put an end to the Peloponnesian War between the Greek city states. Lysistrata attempts to end the Peloponnesian War by organizing a sex strike in order to get the men’s attention. The women in Lysistrata, both challenge and reinforce stereotypes because they are traditional and hard to break.

In an attempt to start an uprising, Lysistrata calls on her fellow women citizens to help her reach her goal. She organizes a meeting with the towns women; however, the meeting doesn’t turn out the way she hoped. Kalonike and Lysistrata arrive and they see that no other women are there and Lysistrata becomes visibly upset. Kalonike proclaiming, “They’ come. It’s hard for women to leave the house. I dare say some are getting their husbands – up, or waking the slaves, or putting a baby to sleep, or maybe washing and feeding their little ones”. This statement can be analyzed to show the gender stereotypes towards women in the city during ancient Greek. This leads to the discussion of what would the men do without having the dependability on women to take care of the most important stuff going on in the family’s life. After hearing Kalonike’s response, Lysistrata began to think and wonder what the men even do. Lysistrata says, “So delicate that Greece’s whole salvation depends entirely on the female sex”. This confirms to the audience that the men really do not do anything compared to how much work the women do. Overall, this shows that the men have placed a threshold on what the women can and can’t do.

Not only have the women been giving into stereotypes, but they also have been challenging the so-called stereotypes of women. The women of the city were not seen as someone who could have authority to rule a city. The women managed to successfully take over Akropolis. Lysistrata talks about what she plans to do when she has a conversation with the Commissioner. Lysistrata states, “We aimed to seize the treasury, and block your funds for warfare”. This can be analyzed to show that her plan was to cut the source to the funding for the warfare. It can also go to show how much effort she is willing to put in for her plan. As she continues to discuss her thoughts with the Commissioner, he attempts to put her back into her stereotypical role of just being a housewife. Commissioner says, “What gives you women the right to take control of war and peace”. This can be shown that he wants to assert the dominance of men and how he does not see women being able to control a city. This specific scene can be used for demonstrating that the stereotype is being reinforced, as well as being used to show where the stereotype is being challenged. Overall, this whole encounter can be used to show that the women are actually breaking the stereotype and putting the work in which they want to see change.

Not only do the women become independent sexually, they actually end up returning to the stereotype that they’ll return to their man. After the peace agreement was reached, the sex strike was put on termination. “Well, now our other business is complete, you Spartans can escort these women home. Let every man and wife stand reunited”. To analyze this quote, you’d find that Athenian has possibly had enough time away from his significant. This goes to show that the men truly cared about getting sex from their wives. Towards the end of the play, the celebration gets underway to mark the new time in the era. The Leader states, “Come, bind your hair up neatly for a further dance. Prepare to move with feet like deer, and clap your hands to keep it in time”. This quote shows how the people changed throughout the play from being annoyed with one another to being hand in hand. The stereotype does in fact come back full swing sort of, the men get their housewives back after they decide to stop the Peloponnesian War.

During the Greek society, women were far less superior on the rank compared to the men. Throughout the play, Aristophanes tries to show the audience that women are actual intelligent creatures and the men should listen to the more often. Myrrhine says, “No, never – unless you men must stop the war and make peace”. After I read that quote, it is easy to see that the women keep telling the men to end the war but the men are too afraid to let their pride and tradition of not backing down to break. One think that I thought was fascinating was the fact that women were trying to break through the set stereotypes that were holding them back and somehow found themselves right back into the housewife stereotype. It is crazy how something can come back full circle even after all the blood, sweat, and tears that were put in.

By the end of the play, the women have experienced a great deal of pain of watching their loved ones keep going back into war. This pain was what started all the talk about peace because all of the women in the city wanted to be at peace with their family. Herald talks to Kinesias about what the women are doing about their plan. Herald says, “Our wives won’t let us touch their bushy plants until we all, by common accord, decide to make a peace that binds the whole of Greece”. After analyzing that specific quote, I can tell that the men fighting are beginning to get annoyed with their wives and the women’s plan is surely taking effect. Because change is hard to do and the women were asking the men to break their tradition of not stopping war to lose, the women had to make the incentive for the peace big. Which was why they started a period of abstinence towards their husbands.

Throughout the entirety of the play, the women have been challenged with the gender stereotypes that they should not be able to do more than the typical housewife. The women were faced with problems of everyday life with the men. It took the whole play for the women to achieve their ultimate goal, peace.  

16 December 2021
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