Eve Browning Cole's Women Slaves and Love of Toil

Eve Browning Cole's Women Slaves and Love of Toil

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Eve Browning Cole's Women Slaves and Love of Toil




Cole's article is not to attack Aristotle on his views of where a woman should be placed within the social and political order, in accordance to the Classic Greek period. Her intrigue is within "surveying some central values of that particular social and political institution," (Sterba 79). At first she begins with Aristotle's view on gender and class in ethics. Making a definite point among the social/political class, ancient Greek women and slaves were only allowed their male citizens to think for them. Being dependent on men silences the women and slaves without a voice to speak out, for the women work while the men socialize with others, the men assume that the women do not need a voice. According to Aristotle, even a woman's virtue is to be subservient to all males. As a part of common life the woman is considered the pack horse and the mother to raise the children, for the men. With all the work that women put into their specific households, some education and training would mature from the experience. It was thought again by Aristotle within; Deliberation, Education, and Emancipation, that woman did not possess the aptitude for practical reasoning. For whomever possessed practical reasoning carried with them authority on their decisions and the action pending. From these three classic Greek examples of how women were considered mentally and treated physically, the author Cole provides a progressive outlook of how women could have gained social and political power in a society of male dominant figures.
In Cole's discussion of Aristotle's beliefs of gender and class of free and non free citizens, she is emphasizing those men posses practical reasoning. In having these virtues, males are allowed to make any and all decisions for his slaves, wives, and children, because it was said none of them have the ability to make choices themselves, so Aristotle thought. He remains stubborn in the notion that classic Greek males did these acts because the pressure of excellence. "The well-being of the state depends on their achieving their own specific excellence, but that excellence or virtue is defined in relation to the male who direct them and whose interests they serve," (Sterba 80). I think Aristotle to be correct, because of certain kinds of social pressures, you are only to serve the culture to which you honor traditions.

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To maintain excellence within the family, a woman's silence is thought to be ideal. This is the first progressive step Cole has taken is expunging the truth of social and political pressure of this cultural ideology.
The second step is Cole's exposure of Aristotle's collective view of women, is represented by the social society and how it demanded that women work. "In the Rhetoric, Aristotle describes women's virtues as being twofold: "... In body, beauty and stature; in soul, self-command and an industry that is not sordid," (Sterba 80). Better translated to mean, women take great joy in hard work and have self-command, a basic Greek virtue. Why is Aristotle saying that women love to be slaves of hard work, but then contradicts himself to say that women show great initiative? According to ancient times, women and hard work have been imbedded in the classic Greek ideology. As mentioned before that man's job is to show off the families/households excellence, well that excellence is being produced in the foreground by a woman or a slave. No man of this time period would be as eager to admit that what all is done to make his family succeed is his wife and slaves.
Women understandably do not have freewill to work outside the home or to converse with others in the town square, like most males. Cole's account of Euripides, Trojan Women, "Hardworking and productive of a large number of children, she deprives herself of female companionship in order to more efficiently serve "his property," (Sterba 81). If this was the case today, and in some instances it is, there could be grounds for emotional abuse from a spouse. If all you have is "his property" then you have nothing except for your children, and work to tend to. This appears hard for women to work through to progressively change the social order between men and women.
Women within Cole's article still reflect a chance of emergence from the male dominated culture of Ancient Greek lifestyle. First, to demonstrate is Aristotle's 3 syllogisms:
1) Women and slaves suffer from a deficiency in respect of practical reason:
2) Practical reasoning is the result of education; Therefore
3) Women and slaves should be educated.
He leaves the statement open to discussion, and I agree with Cole that Aristotle was unable to conform to society standards regarding the intelligence within a woman. As he carries on to describe females as a mutilated male, he is trying to find grounds to discredit women from ever gaining practical reasoning. With this argument Cole disagrees with Aristotle's claim that practical reasoning enables males to certain privileges and derogates the female. She contradicts him by speaking of simple tasks that require thought process and decision making skills, do that not seem like practical reasoning.
Another reason I agree with Cole, regarding Aristotle's choice of conclusions to the syllogisms, is the economic standpoint of his moral philosophy. Women are the providers for their families. "It is their virtuous labor which provides the workfree open space in which democratic political life is lived by citizen males, and free women even provide those citizen males themselves through their reproductive labor," (Serba 85). Women believed themselves to be of a greater good, because of the economic power that they had over the man. Though it may never be spoke outside of the family homestead, I believe women to be more intellectual than let be known.
By the words spoken by Aristotle, women were portrayed as slaves, but with more freedom than slaves. He concluded by saying that women had no practical reasoning because of their genetic make-up, however whoever is the head of the household while the man is away, has the practical reasoning to deal with economic income, chores, raising of children, and making decisions as to what is best for the household. These tasks were all undertaken by women, and I would have to assume that some women held a superior knowledge to men, of what practical reasoning did for an excellence in a life. In conclusion, the male is like the spokesperson of the family, meaning that he must look good at all times when going out and socializing. The woman stands in the background maintaining the spokesperson, for she does not want shame to come down to her and her family. Together, men and women work towards excellence for their families, with additional regard to the women's efforts.
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