The Portrayal of Gender Issues in Lysistrata by Aristophanes

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Lysistrata is a bawdy play written by the comic playwright from ancient Athens, Aristophanes. This age-old comedy details the quest of one Athenian woman’s crusade to put an end to the incessant Peloponnesian War. As a method of non-violent resistance, Lysistrata, along with other women who hail from Athens and other warring states, capitalize on their sexuality. In a male-dominated society, the deprival of sexual privileges by these women render their husbands and lovers powerless. In an attempt for peace, a comical yet crucial battle of the sexes erupts. It is evident that emphasis is not placed solely on the influence of sex and sexuality, but rather the gender issues in Classical society and the conceptualization of masculinity and femininity. The complexity surrounding the argument as to whether or not Lysistrata is a useful source for women’s history relies heavily upon the authors application of such ideas. After a qualitative analysis of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, Lysistrata and her co-conspirators appear to be dramatizations and not realistic imitations of women in classical Greece, rendering the source highly problematic and unreliable.
Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is a political remark. In Athens, Greece, around 411 BC, women were not independent. Patriarchal domination was inconceivable in a time where there appeared to be insufficient social transformations or civic manifestations, in regards to the treatment or views towards women, in which were set forth by men. Midway through the play there is a confrontation between Lysistrata and the Magistrate.
LYSISTRATA. You stupid fool! We were quite prepared to warn you; you refused to hear advice. Then disaster. Throughout the city ‘All our boys are gone!’ you crie...

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...ale counterparts are uncharacteristic of the stereotypical role that women served and their masculine-like actions are not representative of a woman’s role in ancient Greece. Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is inconceivable and it appears that the author ignored many issues in light of comedic attributes. However, the play, filled with misogynistic undertones, will remain a war-comic. There is no pro-feminist movement occurring within the confines of the play or in classical Greece. The female protagonist is an example of the dangers of role reversal that Katherine French and Allyson Poska highlight in Women and Gender in the Western Past and the false identification or hope that Lysistrata presents. A play noted for its entertainment value should not be used as a source for women’s history. Lysistrata is theatrically entertaining in value and should remain as such.

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