Plato’s Republic: Proto-traditional Feminism and Modern Feminism Essay

Plato’s Republic: Proto-traditional Feminism and Modern Feminism Essay

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In book five of Plato’s Republic, Socrates argues that in the ideal city of Kallipolis, both men and women will serve as guardians and auxiliaries. Consequently, Plato appears to endorse feminist ideologies. Firs,t I will define proto-traditional feminism, and modern feminism. I will then argue that Plato presents Socrates, and thereby himself, as an advocate for feminism. However, I will show that Plato is only a feminist under the proto-traditional definition of feminism. He fails to fit the modern definition of feminism, as this definition is contingent on equality and equity. Furthermore, I will consider the objection that Plato cannot be a feminist due to his motivation for equality. Although Plato endorses some feminist ideologies, his motivation behind his endorsement of these ideologies does not come from the belief that women should be equated to men, but that everyone must play their role in Kallipolis. I will then consider the differences between the traditional definition and modern definition of feminism to show that Plato is indeed a feminist. His motivations behind his endorsements are irrelevant to his advocacy for equality between men and women.
I will first develop the term I call Proto-traditional feminism that combines protofeminism and traditional feminism. Protofeminism is a term that says any person that advocates for treating women equally to men prior to the establishment of feminism in the 20th century is a protofeminist (Oxford Dictionary, 2014). Traditional feminism is a term that means, to demand that everyone should have the same rights and liberties regardless of their gender (Oxford Dictionary, 2014). Thus a proto-traditional feminist is someone who advocated for, and encouraged others to advocate...

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...hat he does not endorse equity for women who are weaker than men, but the proto-traditional feminist would not reject him. All in all, Plato presents several forward-thinking pro feminist ideologies that promote equality between men and women. Nevertheless, Plato does not endorse equity, and so he would not be considered a modern feminist. Yet, his role in promoting women in non-stereotypical roles and advocating for equality between sexes, regardless of his motivations, is pro (proto-traditional) feminism.

(1) "Definition of Feminism in English:." Feminism: Definition of Feminism in Oxford Dictionary (British & World English). N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
(2) Brown, Eric. "Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic." Stanford University. Stanford University, 01 Apr. 2003. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.

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