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Word Count: 1,358
It can be safely assumed that most utopias are written as a form of critical commentary on the authors own society Thus it can hardly be surprising when a philosophers view of the perfect community differs radically from the community in which he himself lives However in many ways the author is a product of his own society and thus his work contains biases and preconceptions ingrained in him by his cultural context This dichotomy of similarities and differences is evident in the depiction of womens roles in both The Republic by Plato and Utopia by Thomas More Both Plato and More in their respective works assign to women a role that is much more progressive than the role held by women in their contemporary societies However even with this progressive view the differences between the roles assigned to men and those assigned to women clearly reflect the preconceptions regarding gender roles present in the authors societies as well as those of the authors themselves In Athenian society of the 3rd and 4th centuries BCE women led very sheltered cloistered lives Athens is viewed as the earliest model of democracy and yet fully half of its inhabitants all of the women were denied citizenship and thereby an participation in the governing of the city-state Within this context Platos depiction of the role of women in his utopia is startling To make his argument Plato first brings up the analogy of a watchdog He argues that one would not exempt a female watchdog from her work as a guardian simply because she gives birth to puppies Since Plato sees the upper-class the Guardians as the watchdogs of the state he similarly holds that female Guardians ought to be given the same responsibilities as men He argues that the only difference between men and women is a physiological one -- women are able to give birth Since in The Republic children are raised communally Plato does not
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