The state is the highest form of political community (polis) and intents for all men to achieve the telos. The household is subordinate to the political community because the number of subjects is lesser, and humans living together is for the mere preservation of life and daily needs. In Politics, Aristotle further develops the political relationship between the sexes in the context of this subordinate community. He continues to characterize the male rule in regard to superiority stating that the relation of the male to the female is that of natural superior to natural inferior, and that of ruler to ruled. This statement coincides with Aristotle’s concept of natural slaves which holds that some are born to rule and be ruled, thus, there is a necessary relationship of ruler and subject. Here Aristotle seems to confirms his approval of slavery and the subjection of women. He asserts that there are three relationships of household management, which are also examples of imperfect friendships: master/slave, father/son, and husband/wife. Each relationship falls under a specific political system. The ruling of a slave is tyrannical, a child monarchical, and a wife political.
Aristotle describes marital rule as an aristocracy and household rule is maintained through the division of roles. If a man is led to rule all things in the household it is because he is better, but if this is the case with a female, it is not on account of her virtue, but on the basis of wealth and power. He acknowledges that it is possible for women to hold rule in the household, but not probable or preferred. ?For the male,” Aristotle writes, ??is by nature fitter to command than the female, and the elder and full grown is superior to the younger and more immature. This argument is based on Aristotle’s claim that the woman possesses a deliberative faculty which lacks authority. Women are incapable of ruling because their emotions and irrational desires overcome their deliberative capacity. Such lack of restraint implies a deficiency in the female psyche.
A conclusion can be drawn that because of this inability, women are weak moral agents to Aristotle. In relation to the natural ruler and natural subject, Aristotle introduces the question of whether the two share the same virtues. Does every subject have virtues? Or share the same ones? Every subject partakes in moral virtues, but each only requires a measure of virtue necessary for the fulfillment of duty. For example, the temperance and courage of the male is not equivalent to that of the female. [The] courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeying. Aristotle’s remarks lend support to the interpretation that, by nature, women are morally and intellectually inferior to men. In Aristotle’s view, this natural hierarchy forms the foundation of the family and implies only the possibility of an imperfect friendship between the sexes.
Although women possess a complete deliberative capacity, as opposed to one that is undeveloped (as in the child), or nonexistent (as in the slave), they are less capable than men of carrying out decisions and standing by them. Consequently, they need male guidance. They should be governed by someone with a fully developed deliberative faculty, such as their husbands, who possess the authority necessary to make rational choices in both private and public affairs. Due to this intemperance, it seems to follow that equal male-female friendships are not possible. Because women are inferior in virtue, they will always be inferior in status; men and women will always be unequal partners. Furthermore, this implies that women are completely excluded from public affairs, and any authority they have exists within the household. In the most developed contemporary societies, men and women are constitutionally equal.
Nonetheless, women’s deliberations are all too often insufficiently recognized, as if they were less grounded, sensible, or prudent, even sometimes as having no authority at all. Today there is a strong push to continue equalizing the relation of the sexes and recognizing women in the public sphere. Men and women are still unclear about how they are to communicate and coexist in shared worlds. However, if there is any sexual desire in these exchanges, it is generally on the side of the male. Although there may be difficulty separating eros and philia, one ought not deny that friendships between men and women that are not based in eros are possible. Nonromantic relationships between men and women exist today. Yes, sexual inclinations are natural to human biology, but they are not everything humans are. Sexual orientation is also not binary. Even heterosexual men and women who are not sexually attracted to one another exist. The kind of friends individuals seek are specific to each individual.
Friendship could be possible among those who are similar or different from each other. Although there are biological differences between the sexes and each is socially conditioned to a gender role, friendship between men and women is not impossible. Because of this dissimilarity, however, exchanges with the other sex will be different and possibly less pleasurable than those with persons of the same sex. But it could compensate in other ways. By relegating gender to the background and entering an exchange simply as personalities, men and women can discover any similarities and differences between them as strictly personal, not sexual. Through meaningful conversation and time spent together, and any present passions put aside, men and women may meet as minds who care about the same things or seek the same goals. Same sex relationships could be lacking something found in one shared with another gender. In this sense, friendship between the sexes may make us more balanced, rounded individuals than we would be otherwise. The most obvious friendship between men and women is found in marriage. Marriages don’t just appear though.
Often, a lengthy friendship between members of the opposite sex will draw people into further intimacy and eventually toward marriage. Generally, the partners spend a meaningful amount of one-on-one time together often as simply platonic friends who grow to become lovers. Not only are they lovers, but best friends as well. In this way, marriage seems to fall under the category of perfect friendship. There are useful and pleasurable exchanges, but there is also a firm relationship built on mutual respect and admiration. Husband and wife must come together as equal partners for the good of their family, working to protect and preserve the marriage. The two share the common aim of union in marriage, serving one another and helping to better each other, and the procreation of children. As a team, spouses work together to decide how to best exercise their energy, time, and resources to achieve such goals. Same-sex friendship can provide an emotional bond that spouses cannot always offer. Obviously, same-sex friendships between women are possible. This seems to be common sense today. Friendships between numerous kinds of individuals exist everywhere. The stereotype that women simply like to gossip and that interactions between them lack depth is false.
The female exists in more than just the role of mother and/or wife. Women are capable intellectuals, and often, the most meaningful friendships appear to exist among them. Females band together to help one another, spend time with one another, and most importantly, lend emotional support to one another. Their power is clear, especially in today’s political climate. The truth is, for women, friends are necessary to survive in an unfriendly and oppressive environment.
Friends spend time together pursuing activities they enjoy. That is why some friends watch sports together or drink together, while others go shopping, or study together. Friends care about the same things, and are through whom each individual comes to know oneself better. Friendship is about the sharing of interests and values, and if an individual’s interests line up with someone of a different (or same) gender, who is to stop the two from entering in a relationship that may last a lifetime. Friendship should be sought out with members of the same sex, and with members of the opposite. Wherever friends can be found, one should embrace them.
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