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The Question of Gender Stratification in Lysistrata

On the surface, the play Lysistrata could seem to be a light-hearted comedy about a group of females who choose to refuse sex to the Greek males in order to end the Peloponnesian war. Nevertheless, inside of this humor there exists a harmful, hidden transcript: by refusing sex to the men and demanding the end of the war, the women are difficult the pre-current patriarchal power structures in approaches that have been unheard of in Ancient Greece. In order to keep their hegemony, the guys attempt to assert their dominance by any signifies they can, like, in a really animalistic manner, demonstrating that they smell significantly worse than females and by taking off their clothing to show off their masculinity. All through the play, the guys and women of Greece fight for energy, and Aristophanes conveys this energy struggle by employing the sense of smell, by demonstrating that the variations between genders are totally fictional, and by use of the image of the “woman on best.”

The guys want to show off the way that they smell undesirable in order to assert their dominance more than ladies in the Choral Debate on pages 66-68. However, the females reveal that they smell just as negative so that they can keep the energy they have currently seized by refusing to have sex. The men’s leader says, “a man’s gotta smell like a man from the word go,” (67). The guys wish to separate themselves from the women because they feel threatened by the power that Lysistrata and the other females have seized by refusing to have sex. Nonetheless, the difference in smell amongst genders does not exist. On page 48 when the women from Sparta arrive, Lysistrata and Kalonike comment on how badly they smell, saying that they are “From Dungstown.” In addition, after the guys take off their clothing to reveal their smell, the women respond by saying, “a woman’s got to smell like a woman” (67) and they take off their clothes to reveal their smell as effectively. In a extremely animalistic manner the two genders try to grapple for energy and dominance by demonstrating the way that they smell. So, it becomes clear that guys and girls are not differentiated from every single other by their stench, due to the fact they each attempt to use this smell to establish their dominance. Regardless of the truth that the men wish for their gender to give them the appropriate to rule more than women, they are unable to accomplish this simply because there are no gendered variations in the way men and females smell in Lysistrata.

The way that males and women do not smell diverse, and the way that they take off their clothes to reveal comical bodysuits alternatively of nudity, demonstrates the way Aristophanes portrays gender and gendered power structures as fictional.[1] The men’s leader says, “Let’s doff our shirts, ‘cause a man’s gotta smell like a man from the word go and shouldn’t be all wrapped up like souvlaki” (67). The way the he says that they have to smell “from the word go,” signifies that the men feel they have to often be prepared to assert their patriarchal dominance. Nevertheless, this dominance and the gender binary is fictitious and is produced by culture, a truth that Aristophanes draws attention to by getting the ladies wear extremely similar bodysuits. The women’s leader says, “Let’s also take off our tunics a woman’s gotta smell like a woman, mad adequate to bite!” (67). Right here the females use really similar language as the guys did when they took off there clothing, and they use extremely aggressive language in order to preserve the power that they have gained by refusing to have sex with the guys. The humorous aspect of this is that they are both trying to establish their dominance by displaying their naked bodies and their stenches. This exemplifies the protected, releasing nature of humor. Nonetheless, there is also a unsafe, hidden transcript: each genders are revealing the very same issue to each other—the exact same odors and bodies, which threatens the gender binary. In this way Aristophanes challenges the patriarchal energy structures of Greece by suggesting that the two genders are a lot more comparable to every other than cultural and gender roles want them to be.

The men in the chorus feel threatened by the idea of ladies actually and figuratively “on leading,” and they are so hyperaware of this threat to their power that they can “smell” (66) this “tyranny” from a distance. At the beginning of the choral debate, the men announce that, “I believe I smell a lot larger problems in this, a definite whiff of Hippias’ tyranny” (66). Jeffrey Henderson states, “there is an allusion right here to the ‘equestrian’ position in sexual intercourse (woman on prime)” (221). The image of the woman on leading comes up all through the function, and was a more taboo sex position throughout this time.[2] This image has numerous implications in the context of this operate. Initial, the allusion to a taboo sex position suggests that what the ladies are doing—seizing power by refusing to have sex at all—is in itself a taboo act. Second, the image of the lady on best conjures up the idea of women figuratively on leading of the energy structures of Ancient Greece. So, this predominant image suggests that not only are girls attempting to seize power, but that they may really be attempting to flip the power structures upside down and dismantle the patriarchy completely. The males are so suspicious of these actions and the threat of the woman on best to their beloved patriarchy that they can smell these power-hungry women from far away. Thus, we see that the characters’ senses of smell and the image of the lady on top are profoundly connected to the energy structures.

When Lysistrata and the Greek ladies refused to have sex with the Greek males until they end the Peloponnesian war, they ignite a energy struggle that is portrayed in the play by means of the sense of smell, the examination of the fallacy of the gender binary, and the image of the lady on best. The males want to show off their masculine, smelly bodies in order to assert their dominance. Even so, the women contend that their bodies are just as smelly and are not very various from those of the guys. This, of course, reveals that gender and gendered power structures are fictional and imposed by society. In addition to the examination of gender, there are also numerous references to the image of “the lady on leading.” The men in the play feel threatened by this sex position simply because they are wary of women getting on top of the energy structure of Greece, and they want to sustain their hegemony. Though it is unclear in the end whether or not guys or girls come out on prime in the end, Aristophanes effectively portrays the way that both genders vie for power despite the reality that gender is fictional.

[1] The concept that the bodysuits show that gender is fictional was discussed in class and is not my original notion. [two] The idea that this was a taboo sex act was discussed in class.
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