The utopia of the feminine



Utopia is about the common good, about living together in a common world shared in love

Utopia is an ambivalent word, I-tops eu-tops, a “good place” and “nowhere”. Due to its unrealism, Utopia preserves its power as a dream, its realization would dissolve it in reality. Unlike linear and continuous space and time, those of Utopia are disruptive. Freed from the “corvee of being useful”, they thus constitute a “regulatory idea”, contrary to the alienation of society, everything that is suffering, injustice, evil, temporal. Therefore, “the further away, the more beautiful”. However, it is what sets the world in motion.

Greek thought, of which we are hybrid heirs, and Plato's utopian Republic, evoke solidarity, given our common condition as exposed, vulnerable, mortal beings. Therefore, in Utopia, it is the foundation of public life, the improvement of the soul and the origin of Laws. Referring to the myth of Cronus, in a time of abundance and peace, Plato explains why it is not men who should be entrusted with power, but the Laws, as they have the drive to corrupt even the best souls, running the risk of excessiveness and injustice.

Thus, laws are, utopically, a analogue of the perfection of the divine. The law, before being inscribed in the field of law, belongs to the field of moral feelings.

Its paradigmatic form is the Western idealization of the feminine, of unconditional love, generosity, care, the utopian reserve of non-aggressiveness, receptivity, non-violence and compassion. In this sense, Utopia concerns the common good, living together in a common world shared in love.

Not by chance, the Banquet Plato's work on Eros. In it, Socrates finds himself outside the register of schematizing dualisms that oppose male and female. Socrates, son of the midwife Fenareta, takes the place of his mother, becoming a midwife of ideas, in the manner of Hercules – the hero of excessive labors, winner of wild bulls, dragons and other feats – who also reverses roles of the convention.

In love with Ofale, Hercules lays down the weapons of a virile and courageous warrior, switching them to the loom and embroidering the wedding dress for her, at the same time that Ofale dresses up in Hercules' lion skin. And, in this utopia of the feminine, Socrates does not take the floor, but gives it to the legendary character of Diotima, the priestess of Mantinéia, preferring the Logos masculine the feminine mantic word, the one that houses the rational and extra-rational.

In this context, Walter Benjamin also places female “conversation” with male “dialogue”; men in general use words as if they were weapons with which they build a logical and rational world. His speech violates the feminine, exiles the sacred – whose guardian is the woman: “two men, one next to the other, are always turbulent […]. Words with the same meaning unite and affirm each other in their secret attraction, generating a soulless ambiguity, poorly concealed in its dialectic.”

Among women, on the contrary, “silence rises, majestically, over their speech. Language does not confine women’s souls […]: it revolves around them, touching them […]. The women who speak are possessed by a delirious language […] [the amorous delirium, the enthusiasm, en-theos, the divine that enters the human], they are silent, and what they hear are unspoken words. They bring their bodies closer, they dare to look at each other […]. Silence and voluptuousness – eternally separated in speech – came together and identified each other […]. The essence radiates.” For Walter Benjamin, women preserve the greatness of this experience banished from the modern world by the logical language and technical thought and its warlike developments.[I]

Remember also that the feminine, linked to non-violence, is in Lysistrata or the sex strike, the refusal of Greek women to procreate, in order to interrupt the masculine logic of war. As Massimo Cacciari noted: “It is in no way useful to make war, says Lysístrata – she who dissolves armies –, since, instead, one could be happy. Wouldn't peace as the last time, the golden age in which the wolf will live with the lamb and that only the gods could give us, be another ideology of deceiving soothsayers? Isn’t it up to us to make peace and eliminate the horrors of war?”[ii]

Love, and not violence, was further immortalized in the lyrical utopia of Sappho of Mytilene: “now bring to mind Anactória, the one who is absent,/ Her lovely walk I would like to see/ and the luminous shine of her face,/ the see the chariots and infantry armed in battle between the Lydians”.[iii] This is why the imagery associated with the feminine as non-violence and love constitutes the utopia of an androgynous society, in the reconciliation between the masculine and the feminine, made antagonistic in the long history of civilization under patriarchal rule.[iv] In this sense, “woman is man's future”: “Man's future is woman/She is the color of his soul/She is his rumor and his sound”.[v]

In this utopia, logos and myth are inseparable, masculine and feminine are confused. For if “logos is a sophist”, Eros is a “weaver of utopias”.

* Olgaria Matos She is a professor of philosophy at Unifesp and in the Department of Philosophy at USP. She is the author, among other books, of Philosophical palindromes: between myth and history (Unifesp) [].


[I] Cf. also Pierre Clastres and his analyzes of the so-called primitive tribes, in which women also refused to have children: “the woman is a being-for-life and the warrior man is a being-for-death” ( P. Clastres, “Misfortune of the Wild Warrior”, in Archeology of violence and other essays, translated by Carlos Eugênio Marcondes de Moura, São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1983, p.236). In modern history, remember Simone Weil, who goes to Spain in support of the Republicans in the civil war, but refuses to take up arms, and Joan of Arc, who exchanges her sword for the flag of France.

[ii] Cacciari, Massimo, 2017, West without Utopia, trans. Íris Fátima da Silva Uribe/Luis Uribe Miranda/ Flávio Quintale, p 79, ed Ayiné, B/Veneza, 2017, p. 79.

[iii] Anthology of Greek and Latin Poets, “Ode to Anactória”, trans.Giuliana Raguso, org Paulo Martins, Edusp., SP, 2010.

[iv] Herbert Marcuse. Cf. “Marxisme et Féminisme”, in Current, trans Jean-Marie Menière ed Alilée, Paris, 1976.

[v] Cf. Aragon, Le Fou d'Elsa, ed Gallimard, Paris, 2002, p. 196.

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