In this dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, who was Plato’s older brother and also one of Socrates’ students, they discuss a utopian society. For a philosopher born and raised in an ancient society, he surely put women on a higher pedestal than others would in this time period. For example, he acknowledges that although women and men have different natures, both sexes have the same capabilities. In his utopia, women and men will be educated and trained alongside each other and can take on the same guardian roles as the other sex. For example, he states “Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian; they differ only in their comparative strength and weakness.” That doesn’t mean that a woman is weaker than man. Rather, I believe Socrates means that one woman can be weak in a certain area while another woman is strong in that area of expertise, which would give that female an advantage. However there is one section of the excerpt that I was skeptical of.
“And can you mention any pursuit of mankind in which the male sex has not all these gifts and qualities in a higher degree than the female? Need I waste time in the art of weaving, and the management of pancakes and preserves, in which womankind does really appear to be great..”
Although I believe Socrates was attempting to compliment a woman on her capabilities, these “strengths” he listed are very cliché of what people expect of females. Cooking and clothes making aren’t the only things that woman are “naturally” strong at.