Years ago, back in the Stone Age, back when we believed in boys and girls, I presented a paper to my college classic philosophy class. It was for a kind of colloquium and several of us were presenting different views of Plato and feminism. I don’t remember a word that I wrote but remember that I presented Plato as a forward looking feminist when compared to his culture and contemporaries. I argued that we do best to measure history by contemporaneous standards and not by ours.
I don’t remember what I wrote but all these years later, I remember that the woman presenting a rebuttal to me titled her paper ‘Why Plato Is A Pompous Ass.’ Her argument was easy. She didn’t care how forward thinking Plato was: when you consider women as property that can be bought and sold then you’re on the wrong side of the fence. (Especially interesting now when Saudi Arabia has granted women the ‘right’ to drive.)
She brought down the house and I think I got a few boos. We were in the Women’s Center, after all. But I still remember thinking about how good her paper was. Mine was good, too. But the fact is that there is no real answer to the question. It’s important to see all sides. If you do then you’ll often see that the people on the other side aren’t animals or idiots or Satanists trying to over throw the world order. They are very likely hard working and thinking people with a world view that leads them in this direction. In other words, they are mostly just like you and me.
And isn’t that the start of real dialog and understanding?
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