Alexandria Samuel

Mar 5, 2020

7 min read


Week 8 Session One Assignment One

Plutarch’s concern that readers would not take his stories about women seriously tells us that the prevailing ancient attitudes toward women in the public sphere was very sexist. Although women were revered and respected for some things, they were certainly not seen as equal to men, especially when it came to positions in a public forum. We saw this last week in our reading of Lysistrata. Yes, it was a comedy, but Aristophanes depiction of Greek society was a reflection of the typical attitudes and ideas about women in that day.

Plutarch makes the methodological statement “And actually it is not possible to learn better the similarity and the difference between the virtues of men and of women from any other source than by putting lives beside lives and actions beside actions, like great works of art, and considering whether the magnificence of Semiramis has the same character and pattern as that of Sesostris, or the intelligence of Tanaquil the same as that of Servius the king, or the high spirit of Porcia the same as that of Brutus, or that of Pelopidas the same as Timocleia’s, when compared with due regard to the most important points of identity and influence.”

This statement is in regard to how he aims to look at information to prove his thesis, organize his collection and select his material.

If I were tasked with testing the hypothesis that a “man’s virtue and a woman’s virtue are one and the same”, I would look first to ancient literary sources. As someone who tries to look at the world through an afro centric lens, I would look first to Africa. Since my summer trip to Egypt, I try to tie everything back to my roots. Too often, black people are taken out of the equation in the discussion about worldly contributions, specifically the idea of feminism. During my trip I was blessed to study under Dr. Watkins, who gave us a lecture about the relationship between men and women in Africa, more specifically Egypt. We learned that many African societies were matriarchal. Women were very respected and revered. Specifically, in Ancient Kemet (Egypt) women served as pharaohs. Even in the periods were male pharaohs, women were always depicted in literature and in art as powerful and as leaders right beside the men. In order to test the hypothesis, I would look deeper into ancient African civilizations and how men and women coexisted. I would also at historical representations of men and women across the world throughout time. A more modern example of a woman who is often overlooked is Mahalia Jackson. We can credit Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech to her. Why? It was Mahalia Jackson that was sitting behind King and emphatically told him “Tell them about the dream Martin”. Similar to the story about the women that founded Rome, Mahalia Jackson sparked a legendary moment that ended up being a very large part of history. Women are often the catalyst for things that men get credit for. I would try and look up stories of great men and find the women in their life. I would attempt to get their recounts of what happened and perhaps uncover hidden figures, like Kathryn Johnson from the famous movie of the same name, Hidden Figures.

I would conduct experiments between goups of people from all ages and backgrounds. I would put together a group of men and women from say, California, ages 20–30. I would ask them to perform a task and choose a leader. In another group with the same demographics, I would ask them to do the same thing. I would conduct these experiments with different age ranges from different demographics all over. The groups would be region, age, and culture based. After the groups performed their task I would ask them how they thought each leader did and compare the answers to see if it mattered whether or not it was a man or woman. This experiment would help me to see how modern day people view the difference between leaders on the basis of sex.

I would organize my own account of the virtues of women on a historical timeline. I would use examples from my research and note both fictional stories and historical information about the actions and attitudes of women.

In the case of the Trojan Women they display the virtuous quality of bravery. They display this bravery by taking the initiative to burn down the ships. They knew what they wanted and they decided to take action to get it without asking for permission from their male counterparts. They knew it would upset their men so they used their bodies to coax them with kissed. Their memory lasts by the custom which still persists of Europeans who greet people with kisses. This tells us that the women’s actions were viewed as commemorative. This custom is in a way a memorial to their part in settling and creating one of the greatest ancient societies. The name Rome, of course is also a memorial of some sort to Roma, the leading woman who took charge in burning the ships.

Groups as leaders do not have all the same qualities as individual leaders. While individual leaders must be collaborative, they are the one that is solely responsible for whatever happens. For example, in a political campaign, the person running must have a team in place to help them in the race. However, if the campaign fails, people look to the person running to see what went wrong. Similarly, if the campaign succeeds, the person running gets the credit. Groups as leaders are collectively responsible for an outcome. To stay on the topic of politics, an example of this is the congressional black caucus. If they get a bill passed, then the credit all goes to the group. There is no single person that gets all the credit or all the blame. Although there might be more famous and prominent members of the group than others, the group is still tied to one another.

Week 8 Session Two Assignment One

In the story of Pieria, she told the man who loved her what she wanted in code almost. She said it in a way that he would understand and he did. This was her using her intellect. In this case the circumstance that allowed this women to succeed was the love that the man in charge had for her. I feel like this ability of hers to convince the man to end the war is similar to the collective use of the women’s coaxing ability to stop the men from being so upset about the ships. It seems like these stories relate a lot to how women can use their beauty and certain natural qualities to get their way in the world.

I did not have a chance to interview her, but I thought about my cousin who is very opinionated and has amazing ideas and things to say. She would definitely discuss things with her husband first, however if he disagreed she would go along with what she wanted to do. He absolutely adores her, so she could easily get him to calm down with really just a look and maybe a kiss and hug.

Leadership Groups Saturday February 29 around 12 pm

This week Ella helped her brother by sending him the links to summer courses he should take. She has been working her relationship with him by trying to be a better mentor to him. She feels that she can have a positive influence on him. She thinks that she had progress this week with him by actually connecting with him and doing more than just having a conversation. She actually sent him something that might help him.

I have worked on my leadership from last week by talking with my cousin and helping her with her essay. I had to stay up late with her to help her. It was straining on me because I had a full day at my internship and it was really hard to give her my full attention. I know that she has a lot going on at home and that sometimes she cannot mentally get up the energy to do her work in a timely manner. I decided to be patient with her.

I also worked on getting in contact with my other cousin by being persistent with asking my dad about finding out what her number is.

I had an informational interview with someone that works for Monumental Sports that really inspires me. She is the Community and Legal Affairs director. She encouraged me to follow my own path. I really needed someone to tell me that because I was feeling that I had to be on a certain journey and I was comparing myself to others. To hear a woman of her stature explain her story to me was truly a blessing. This meeting inspired me to ask for informational interviews with other people at the company. Next week I plan on asking my supervisor to help me get in contact with people in the Public Relations department. I think it is important that I take initiative for my own professional development.

I think this will take ondreia, bravery. I find it very difficult to ask for help. Perhaps I can look at the stories of Plutarch’s Virtues of Women for inspiration of bravery and taking the initiative to make a change in my own life. I cannot wait for opportunity to come to me and fall in my lap. One way I can do this is reach out to this man from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) who asked my dad to tell me to call him about an internship opportunity this summer. In this way I would be asking for mentorship in the form of the internship. I will practice ondreia by calling the man and hyping myself up to him. I have to promote myself in order to secure the opportunity.