The Power of Gender and Gender Manipulation

Huda Imam
November 29th 2013
                The Power of Gender & Gender Manipulation
The manipulation of gender for the purpose of gaining power and authority is prevalent in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, and Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters. This essay will focus on the way the women in Lysistrata successfully manipulate and exploit their gender by embracing their femininity in order to gain a position of power to bring change to political affairs. In relation to Lysistrata, this essay will also discuss how the character of Beatrice Rasponi in The Servant of Two Masters, effectively manipulates gender in order to achieve the liberty to travel and to be authorized to obtain the dowry from her late brother’s fiancée, Clarice. The act of women utilizing their sexual characteristics in order to gain power in Lysistrata, gives the audience the idea that women are by some means superior to men; this is comparable to Beatrice’s approach of disguising her female characteristics to obtain authority. However, by observing the overall plot of both comedies and the significance of cross dressing, it can be argued that although women are seen to manipulate gender to gain power and authority, both comedies essentially imply that women are naturally inferior to men.
Through the acknowledgement of their sexual characteristics, it can be observed that the women in Lysistrata, use their gender as an instrument by placing a restriction on sex: “As good as nude in those imported slips, / And – just slink by, with crotches nicely groomed, / The men will swell right up and want to boink, / But we won’t let them near us, we’ll refuse – / Trust me, they’ll make a treaty at a dash” (Aristophanes. lines 150-154). These women focus on enhancing their sexual desirability and establish a sex embargo to force their men into a vulnerable position, in order to bring an end to the ongoing war. It is examined in Judith Fletcher’s Performing Oaths In Classical Greek Drama that, “The...