Food for Thought

By Chelvi Murugiah

“Woman once made equal to man becomes his superior.”—Socrates

I cannot claim for certain that this quote is by Socrates. (Born 469 BC died 399 BC Greek philosopher and logician.)  Assuming that the quote is his, I can’t help but wonder, “Are we seeing factual evidence of the very people, amongst other worldly intellectuals and philosophers, influencing gender inequality in their communities as early as the BC era?” Many of us know Socrates method of argumentation, so let’s try and figure him out using his style, termed today as Socrates questioning.

What was the Greek economy like in the BC era? Were communities clearly defined by gender? Did the Greek Gods dominate the lifestyle of the society and the roles they played within? What was Socrates implying with this quote and to whom? Ever wonder if Socrates could be wrong? After all, the fact remains he was only human. In sheer curiosity, “What are superior women like?” Does the quote imply that women are known to be a “threat” to men when equal? What reference can be made to “equal” in this context?

Literature states that Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth and their morality, to what extent I’m unsure. Little is known of his life except for what is recorded by his students, including Plato. He is described as short and ugly, and he himself would make jokes about his appearance. His wife was the angry Xanthippe. Apparently, he made many enemies due to his non-conforming ‘strange’ character. Ironically, Socrates met his end at the hands of his fellow countrymen who found him guilty of impiety and sentenced him to death by drinking poison.

What seems unique and strange is that it is possible to reflect on this quote in the present 21st century. Nations around the world continue to be confronted with gender discrimination issues, from child marriages, sexual harassment, to rape, abortions, domestic violence and divorce. Men caught for rape have mindsets that are astoundingly unsound, they perceive women deserve it. Does the society question why these men think the way they do, towards women? The solutions might be lying right in there.  If women educated themselves and became self dependent financially, does that make them superior to men?

There seems to be too many wise men out there and not enough room for wise women.  Thus, laws are ‘man-made’, medical procedures are ‘man-made’ to manage a woman’s reproductive system, religions give preference to men more than women, along with admonitions on being dutiful and obedient.  Most world governments and corporations are led by men. Wars are called for by men and the list goes on…

In the 21st century, women, either individually or through non-governmental organisations, continue to rally for equal rights and equal salary. Why? Well, there is a saying, “Only winners write history.”

Every day we are conditioned in a multitude of ways to being that ‘ideal’ man or woman.  In my opinion, it’s tough on both genders.  As a mother of two sons, I hope I have brought my beloved sons up, through my daily actions to see women as equal to men.  We create our own realities and this message goes out to you Socrates, “This one time, I am of the opinion your quote is emotive and loaded.”  I’m sensing your ‘angry’ wife had a lot to do with it.

Ideas that are old, deep, and different to the default mindset are definitely worth exploring.

Chelvi can be contacted at:

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