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Musonius Rufus

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mbzirker
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Musonius Rufus

Throughout history equality has served to be one of the most desired qualities of a nation. Whether dealing with race, class, or gender, equality has always sought to be obtained. However it is of upmost importance that whoever is fighting for this equality to have pure and equal intent for all. Musonius Rufus fights for equal education amongst men and women in the topic of philosophy but then turns around and expresses a list that exemplifies the ideal life of a woman. Including that she must be “a good housekeeper” as well as “content with her lot and to work with her own hands.” He is encouraging women to study philosophy so that they can become better housewives to please their husbands, not so that they can live a wholesome life of their own. Fighting for equality must be pure in intent or else the argument is hypocritical in itself (Rufus 2).
Although Musonius did backlash on himself his argument did start strong and in the right direction. At first he looked at education alone, fighting for equal education amongst men and women. He touched on the topic of reasoning and how because men and women are both given the “gift of reason” and “natural inclination toward virtue” they are both equals and therefore should receive the same education in philosophy. By allowing them to have equal education Musonius believes that they are both now capable to achieve greatness because they have a better understanding of life.
This understanding of life that Musonius intends is achieved through equal education, yes. However, he does not intend there to be an equal quality of life. If he were fighting for an equal quality of life amongst men and women then he would not hint at the fact that a woman should just look pretty, be in the kitchen, and spare the emotions. It seems as though he did not understand that giving women a proper education would also allow them to realize where they do and don’t belong. Not all women want to be the typical housewives; some are even made to be doctors and scientists, much to Musonius’ dismay. The importance of having equal education is the proposing of an equal quality of life after the fact; if there is not hope for women to have a better life as well, the education they are given loses its’ meaning (Rufus 4).
For a woman to be portrayed as simply just a “pleaser” she is immediately degraded under men. Whether the intent was there or not to label a woman and lower her status, Musonius did so the moment he began to list his characteristics of the proper woman. This stereotypical list turned a woman from an equal to man with high potential to an obedient caretaker of his needs. Musonius had the intellect to understand the power of education therefore he should have also been able to comprehend the damages done when he marked women as solely housekeepers and turning his argument hypocritical.
Women should be viewed as equals to men without a doubt. However, this should not entail that women still hold the status and pressure to take care of their husbands or in some cases men in general. If Musonius wanted to keep a firm point then he should have abstained from classifying women into categories and what they should be doing with their lives. Equality can only be achieved when it is filled with pure intent.

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