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Male Chauvinism and Racism in the Play The Suppliants by Aeschylus

Male Chauvinism and Racism in the Play "The Suppliants" Free Essay

Male chauvinism refers to the acts that are aimed at establishing male dominance and showing male superiority over the female gender. Male chauvinists are people who believe that women have to be controlled and that they cannot make their own decisions. Therefore, it is a form of gender-based discrimination in which those who belong to the male gender see themselves as more important than their female counterparts and consider that women can only do what men dictate. Racism, on the other hand, can be described as the belief in the superiority of one race over other races. The Greek mythology through the play The Suppliants written by Aeschylus provides interesting facts about male chauvinism and racism, showing how females are treated in the society and how the men’s decisions are likely to influence women’s lives. This paper shall highlight some contemporary issues such as male chauvinism and racism reflected in the Greek mythology and found in the given play and study how these social phenomena affect various members of the society.

Male Chauvinism in the Drama and Its Relation to the Modern world

The drama in question revolves around twin brothers, Danaus and Aegyptus, who belong to the royal family. In the play, Danaus has fifty daughters and his brother Aegyptus has fifty sons. Supercilious King Aegyptus arranges for his sons to marry the daughters of his brother without their consent and against his brother’s will. Danaus does not agree with this undesirable arrangement and chooses to flee with his fifty daughters by buying a ship and running away to Argos. Since King Aegyptus feels that he does not need the consent of the young women to this marriage, he sets sail and sends a herald in pursuit of his brother’s daughters with the aim of forcing them into marriage. When they arrive in Argos, the herald with the approaching forces of King Aegyptus attempts to threaten the daughters of Danaus to leave with them by force. However, the merciful King of Argos, Pelasgus, protects the women and compels the herald to stop the use of force against the Danaides.

The exertion of physical force against women is a classic form of male chauvinism and gender discrimination in the modern society. Similar to the gender inequality as shown in the drama, our modern society is largely patriarchal, and a common belief is still prevailing in different cultures that the only people who have the right to make decisions as well as make choices are males. Men believe that the choices and decisions that they make are right regardless of their consequences to women. This means that the feelings of women do not matter. Aegyptus, despite the outright refusal of the Danaides to marry his sons, still follows them to Argos because he cannot accept this refusal, mainly due the fact that it is made by women.

In many societies, we still contend with the issue of male chauvinism which implies that women are expected to get married, stay at home and take care of their children and, at the same time, be submissive to their husbands. Women who decide to pursue their careers still face resistance from the society. Feminist movements across the globe have often focused on the idea that women must fight for gender equality and gender equity and dispel male dominance that has often been a stumbling block for the progress of women in the world.

Racism in the Drama and Its Topicality in Terms of Contemporary Social Problems

The issue of racism is shown in the drama when the Danaides and their father arrive at Argos seeking asylum. They are refugees who are running away from what they believe to be immoral. They are being forced to marry their cousins; this means that they are being exposed to incest, which is one of the oldest sins and immoral acts. Despite their dire need of fleeing away from Aegyptus and his sons, the King of Argos at first refuses to accommodate them since they are foreigners. King Pelasgus follows the belief that offering refuge for the Danaides may threaten his people’s safety in Argos. He, however, leaves his people to decide, and they take a noble decision to offer protection to the Danaides, and this comes as a great relief to the refugees. At the end of the play, the Danaides thank the Greek gods for salvation and remain safely behind the walls of the city. The favorable ending of the drama embodies democratic ideals as a powerful weapon against any kind of discrimination and racism in the society.

Nowadays, we often face the pressing problem of refugees who run away from their countries due to war and other social problems that make them feel unsafe at home. Countries like Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq are involved in political conflicts that threaten the lives of ordinary citizens who decide to flee from these battlegrounds and seek refuge in other neighboring countries. The refugees of the modern world are not strikingly different from the Danaides; they are both being persecuted.

Similar to the Pelasgus’s  reluctance to help the Danaides, some of the countries in our modern world have rejected refugees, and many have closed their borders refusing to accept refugees who are constantly increasing nowadays. Some countries have threatened to repatriate refugees back to their home countries due to a variety of reasons. Many governments introduced policies which restrict the admission of refugees into their countries similar to the political actions of King Pelasgus. This is quite unfair as it has made refugees vulnerable and exposed them to serious harm from various sources including the unfavorable elements of weather. One of the major reasons why countries refuse to accept refugees is the fear that some terrorists may disguise themselves as refugees and cause harm to the citizens. Therefore security is a primary concern as depicted in the play and as proved in the modern world.

Despite the rejection of refugees by some governments, the citizens of such countries as Germany and Italy have long been welcoming refugees and have never mistreated them or suspected them of ill designs against their countries’ safety. Comparable to the people of Argos, some countries have been kind to refugees and have treated them generously to save their lives and help them secure a better future.

In conclusion, the drama is instrumental in helping people understand some contemporary social issues. The problems of the modern world including the refugee issues, the problem of racism and gender inequality are well addressed in the play and reflect crucial moral duties of all the people around the world. Despite the fact that our modern society has found solutions to many of these problems, there are some challenging cases that still remain unsolved. Therefore, as people move towards a better future that is based on social equality and respect for humanity, the issues that are portrayed in the play and which are of concern in the modern world must be taken seriously.

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