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International Journal of Social Inquiry

Yıl 2008 , Cilt 1 , Sayı 1

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The degradation of athenian women in the phallicratic polis

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International Journal of Social Inquiry 1
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The rise of hoplite-democracy and the virtual imprisonment of respectable women in the oikos (household) and the more extreme exploitation of all other women for male convenience and pleasure was no paradox of the Athenian conception of freedom. The increase in the power and wealth of Athens implied (in the male-dominated politics of the day) that respectable women, i.e., those who might bear legitimate heirs, had to be kept under close supervision, lest this all-important function be compromised, thereby jeopardizing the all the gains Athens had procured since the victory at Marathon. Self-consciously Athenians related hoplite democracy to their remarkable and sudden success. Equally, they appreciated their vulnerability, individually and politically, to domestic uncertainty. Their remedy was not merely to sequester their wives and daughters, but to degrade women generally. This process was more than an expression of male arbitrariness or an adolescent desire to have women serve male needs, cheerfully, instantly, obediently and without complication. It was seen as essential to the survival of Athens as a political entity. The Phallicratic Polis has twin foundations: (1) the need to deliver effective martial valor at the behest of the polis; (2) the need to secure domestic order, so that the oikos, the most important under-lying social unit of the polis, could protect family succession and property, and ultimately the polis itself.

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