Lysistrata and the Feminist Views of the Play
Feminism is defined as the belief that women and men are, and have been treated differently by society, and that women have frequently and systematically been unable to participate fully in all social arenas and institutions. It is also described as a desire to change that situation. In the play Lysistrata, women have absolutely no political rights. There is a war going on and one woman wants to put and end to it. It is my opinion the character Lysistrata can be viewed as a modern day feminist. She takes charge in the self-titled play and claims that war shall be the concern of Women!
It is too important a matter to be left to men, for women are it s real victims. Lysistrata wants to end the long war for it is taking a toll against the wives of the soldiers and the whole of Greece. The means by which Lysistrata wants to end the war may not be done in a traditional feminist manner, but it is effective and it does what the definition of feminism states, and that is to create change. The problem is how can she address the issue of peace when at the time, women, according to the character Calonice just sit around all dolled up in silk robes, looking pretty in our sheer gowns and evening slippers.
Lysistrata suggests the women do just that so her peace plan can work. She tells the women to take a strike against sex as a means of ending the war. This ties into the theme of Lysistrata being a modern day feminist and relating to our own times. The first strike did not occur until the 1800 s, but the first successful strike that resulted in the strikers favor happened in the 1900 s, and here is Lysistrata suggesting an all-female strike against sex all the way back in ancient times. The play Lysistrata is a feminist tale that takes place in a time before there was a term and definition for feminism.
It is a story in which women come and stand together for one common cause and belief and do what it takes to achieve peace and stability; a common cause anyone would be in support of. The scene in which the women go against the men with their pales of water can be seen as a mass demonstration and protest to get their point across. The modern political term would be lobbying, and that is what the women are doing. They are lobbying for peace by way of violence and sex strike. I bring up lobbying because it is a way of expressing views no matter how radical they may be.
Lobbyists also purposely create violent demonstrations to get their positions recognized. This happens in the play Lysistrata. The women trade shots back and forth with the men creating a violent atmosphere. They taunt and even get into the occasional tussle so their views can be expressed. When the policemen try to attack the women they beat them off and Lysistrata tells the Magistrate Didn t you know that women are filled with passion? Passion, without it there would not have been a feminist movement.
The same passion that drives these women drives feminist today. As I wrote before, women had no rights. Lysistrata always knew what was going on politically, her husband just wouldn t let her speak her mind. She wanted to do what was best for the woman. She talks about how women should be allowed to enjoy their youth, the burdens they must bear as a result of war both mentally and physically. That is partially what feminism is about, not only seeking change, but also doing what is in the best interest for women.
Lysistrata states in one scene of the play I am a woman, it is true, but I have a mind; I m not badly off in native wit, and by listening to my father and my elders, I ve had a decent schooling. In other words, Lysistrata is saying, yes I am a woman, but I am educated and can make wise, if not even wiser decisions then any man. Women had absolutely no rights and respect when it came to politics. If they wanted to express their views they were either told to shut up or threatened to do so.
Lysistrata is trying to show what all feminists believe, which is that women are just as capable of doing what men can. Lysistrata did exactly what the definition of feminism states. She addressed the fact that the women of her time were treated differently by society, and that the women were not able to participate in the political arena. Lysistrata had a desire to change all of that. Her desire was to be heard and to put an end to the war and the suffering of her fellow women. That in fact happened and peace was and happiness was achieved throughout Greece.