Gendered Knowledge and the Impossibility of Love?

Plato, Alcibiades 127a-c

Socrates: Hey, Alcibiades, do you think that a man can agree with a woman about wool-working when he doesn’t know anything about it and she does?

Alcibiades: Not. At. All.

Soc. Yeah, that’s not right at all. For that’s a woman’s kind of learning.

Alc. Yup.

Soc. What about this: Can a woman agree with a man about being a soldier when she hasn’t learned anything about it?

Alc. Not. At. All.

Soc. So, perhaps you would say that that is a masculine kind a knowledge.

Alc. Yes I would.

Soc. So according to your argument there are women’s types of knowledge and men’s kinds of knowledge?

Alc. How wouldn’t there be?

Soc. So in these matters, then, there’s no agreement between women and men?

Alc. Nope.

Soc. And there’s no love, if love is truly agreement?

Alc. It does not seem so.

Soc. So, because they do their own thing, women are not loved by men?

Alk. I guess not.

Soc. And men aren’t loved by women, because they do their own thing?

Alk. Nope.


ΣΩ. Οἴει ἂν οὖν, ὦ Ἀλκιβιάδη, ἄνδρα γυναικὶ περὶ ταλασιουργίας δύνασθαι ὁμονοεῖν, τὸν μὴ ἐπιστάμενον τῇ ἐπισταμένῃ;

ΑΛΚ. Οὐ δῆτα.

ΣΩ. Οὐδέ γε δεῖ οὐδέν· γυναικεῖον γὰρ τοῦτό γε μάθημα.

ΑΛΚ. Ναί.

ΣΩ. Τί δέ; γυνὴ ἀνδρὶ περὶ ὁπλιτικῆς δύναιτ᾿ ἂν ὁμονοεῖν μὴ μαθοῦσα;

ΑΛΚ. Οὐ δῆτα.

ΣΩ. Ἀνδρεῖον γὰρ τοῦτο γε ἴσως αὖ φαίης ἂν εἶναι.

ΑΛΚ. Ἔγωγε.

ΣΩ. Ἔστιν ἄρα τὰ μὲν γυναικεῖα, τὰ δὲ ἀνδρεῖα μαθήματα κατὰ τὸν σὸν λόγον.

ΑΛΚ. Πῶς δ᾿ οὔ;

ΣΩ. Οὐκ ἄρα ἔν γε τούτοις ἐστὶν ὁμόνοια γυναιξὶ πρὸς ἄνδρας.

ΑΛΚ. Οὔ.

ΣΩ. Οὐδ᾿ ἄρα φιλία, εἴπερ ἡ φιλία ὁμόνοια ἦν.

ΑΛΚ. Οὐ φαίνεται.

ΣΩ. Ἧι ἄρα αἱ γυναῖκες τὰ αὑτῶν πράττουσιν, οὐ φιλοῦνται ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν.

ΑΛΚ. Οὐκ ἔοικεν.

ΣΩ. Οὐδ᾿ ἄρα οἱ ἄνδρες ὑπὸ τῶν γυναικῶν, ᾗ τὰ αὑτῶν.

ΑΛΚ. Οὔ.

Women working with wool, scenes on an Attic black-figure lekythos of the third quarter of the VI century B.C. in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Right, spinning; left, folding woven cloth. F. Chamoux, La civilisation grecque, Paris, 1963, fig. 143.
Black figure Lekythos, MET

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