Founding father of femmo-bolshevism
Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-09
Looking at Hoyden About Town’s call for nominations for "Femmo-Bolshie" blogging excellence, I couldn’t help thinking about whether they should award a posthumous gong to the at-first-oxymoronic "Father of Femmo-Bolshies", Aristophanes.
Back in the time of, and good mates with, Plato, Aristophanes was an award-winning comic poet (a bit like a cross between Shaun Micallef and Benny Hill) who wrote about the fundamental aims and arguments of femmo-bolshies with quite a lot of sympathy.
A strong advocate of peace, in "Lysistrata" the women go on a sex-strike to force the men to peace negotiations. Eventually, peace talks occur, with all the males suffering from severe lumbar flexion induced by extreme priapism.
His strongest claim to being the original femo-bolshy, however, is "The Assemblywomen", (also known as The Congresswomen, Ecclesiazusae, Ekklesiazousai or Ἐκκλησιάζουσαι), in which the women dress up as men (shades of Monty Python’s stoning scene in "Life of Brian"), practice speaking like men (avoiding oath’s like "Heavens to Betsy"), turn up to the town meeting, explain why women are better at running communities than men, then pass a law that a new, female led, communist Athens will provide for everyone’s essential needs.
Aristophanes, as both bard and bawd, lets rip in the second act which is a farce on the effects of positive discrimination in favor of the aged – "even your private parts are public property", so before two young things can have it off, they must first satisfy the carnal desires of anyone older and uglier that happens to be about. You can guess when some crones throw a "pickle" to a younger, more nubile woman, so her needs will be met, the script is using ancient Athenian slang rather than suggesting a food fight!
The third act is a more philosophical discussion between two men, wondering about the incentives to work in a socialist state that guarantees they will be fed, clothed and housed, and some hypocrisy at wanting to keep private goods while accepting free food.
While Aristophanes is satirizing the rule of "wise old men" outlined in Plato’s "The Republic", his arguments about women’s fitness to rule because of their more nurturing personalities is little different from those of today’s feminists, and are fairly watertight, especially in our modern times of militaristic US hegemony.
So, while the Hoyden’s awards are for bloggers, and Aristophanes has been dead for millenia, I wonder if he shouldn’t get at least some recognition for services to femo-bolshevism.
- Feminists might be less enamored with "Thesmophoriazusae" (sometimes called "Euripides and the Women") which depicts "Secret Women’s Business" as an excuse for lots of drinking, but is more about putting Euripides, known for being a smarty-pants, in a sticky situation as he tries to wiggle out of being caught in drag at the festival.
- Aristophanes appears as a major speaker in Plato’s "The Symposium", an exploration of the nature of love. Aristophanes unexpectedly avoids a bawdy comedic interpretation of love, but instead gives perhaps the most abstract exploration, discussing the "wholeness" lovers feel.
- My preferred translation of Ekklesiazousai is by Richard Lattimore. I cannot tell you the publisher or year as someone has borrowed my copy.