Defense of Clement of Alexandria – not a misogynist



I don’t know where that quote came from: I think it plays on ignorance of Church Fathers, but my understanding is a little closer to Wikipedia’s on him:

“Clement argues for the equality of sexes, on the grounds that salvation is extended to all of mankind equally.

Unusually, he suggests that Christ is neither male or female, and that God the Father has both male and female aspects: the eucharist is described as milk from the breast (Christ) of the Father.[

He is supportive of women playing an active role in the leadership of the church, and provides a list of women he considers inspirational, which includes both Biblical and Classical Greek figures. It has been suggested that Clement’s progressive views on gender as set out in the Paedagogus were influenced by Gnosticism”

He also argued for women in the priest hood – mind you, look at those dates:

http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/clement.asp


The nature of the Trinity as important a concept to hash out at the time as the nature of Quantum stuff was in the 20th century.

It took a while to “get it right”, and lots of churches had differing opinions or unclear language and did not make the cut.

The final battle of the Trinity was over the Nicene Creed.

There were several battling theories:

“This doctrine was formulated in the 4th century during the Christological debates between Arius and Athanasius. The several distinct branches of Arianism which sometimes conflicted with each other as well as with the pro-Nicene homoousian creed can be roughly broken down into the following classification:

Homoiousianism (from ὅμοιος, hómoios, “similar” – as opposed to homós, “same”) which maintained that the Son was “like in substance” but not necessarily to be identified with the essence of the Father.
Homoeanism (also from hómoios) which declared that the Son was similar to God the Father, without reference to substance or essence. Some supporters of Homoian formulae also supported one of the other descriptions. Other Homoians declared that God the father was so incomparable and ineffably transcendent that even the ideas of likeness, similarity or identity in substance or essence with the subordinate Son and the Holy Spirit were heretical and not justified by the Gospels. They held that the Father was like the Son in some sense but that even to speak of ousia was impertinent speculation.
Heteroousianism (including Anomoeanism) which held that God the Father and the Son were different in substance and/or attributes.”

But the winning formula was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homoousian

Quantum physics is going through the same type of battles today.

Context, my friend:
He wasn’t against women – it was about _vanity_

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02093.htm

Men get equally harsh treatment.

What he said above is same as saying, “Why do you have to be such a *MAN*?” or “Why do you have to be such a *WOMAN*?” Or telling a kid, “Don’t be so CHILDISH!”

In other words, don’t give in to the worst of your stereotype.

I don’t know why in modern times people assume that ancients were all brutish haters. You have to understand the context within which he said it to understand it. Taken out of context, it sounds awful of course.

“To such an extent, then, has luxury advanced, that not only are the female sex deranged about this frivolous pursuit, but men also are infected with the disease. For not being free of the love of finery, they are not in health; but inclining to voluptuousness, they become effeminate, cutting their hair in an ungentlemanlike and meretricious way, clothed in fine and transparent garments, chewing mastich, smelling of perfume.”

Vanity. That’s all he’s talking about.
—-
Fair enough.
My main readings on the ancients were the spiritual guys, not so much the law guys, stuff from the Philokalia – guarding the Intellect, Asceticism, Passions, Watchfulness, Discrimination, Hesychism, and stuff like that.

But the “Law Guys”? or the ones who were like the ministers of old (or Kellogg who invented breakfast cereal for this very purpose) – who seemed REALLY KEEN on making sure boys didn’t masturbate, otherwise they’d get lazy, not want to get married, the wife as “carrot on a stick” reward for holding back all those years.

Yeah – I’m not as well read on those guys.

Still though even the Wikipedia’s basic summary seems to cover my understanding of him just fine:

“The third book continues along a similar vein, condemning cosmetics on the grounds that it is our souls, not our bodies, that we should seek to beautify. Clement also opposes the dyeing of men’s hair and male depilation as effeminacy. He advises choosing one’s company carefully, to avoid being corrupted by immoral people, and while arguing that material wealth is no sin in itself, it is too likely to distract one from the infinitely more important spiritual wealth which is found in Christ The work finishes with selections of scripture supporting Clement’s argument, and following a prayer, the lyrics of a hymn”

I’ll re-read it myself but a cold reading without cognitive bias is, frankly, impossible for anybody; we carry our cultural baggage and assumptions with us when we read.

Within the context of vanity, it will be hard for me to try a re-interpretation that fits your set of assumptions. But I’ll try.
—-
I mean, look at how *early* he was writing: 180-210AD around there? That was EARLY in the Christian Church. Clement was a bit of a Gnostic himself; he ALMOST wasn’t accepted by later church fathers. His parents were Pagans, so he took his heritage in with him.

And, like many Converts, he had Convert-itis, which why he wrote at such length because HE was going to be THE AUTHORITY on all things Christian.

It happens. I’ll try to insert a modern re-interpretation of misogyny INTO the text… use a modern lens to view it with. It’s hard, because I’m too biased. But I’ll try.

Oh jeez. Talking about a slanted view. First page that shows up for “clement misogeny” was this: http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/womenfathers.html
Talking about picking and choosing to prove some point. Ugh. Ill go back to the text.

Rereading it from scratch. Has good beginning: And yes, I’m reading all the inbetween bits.

“Chapter 4. Men and Women Alike Under the Instructor’s Charge”

Ok. So far so good.

Chapter 5. All Who Walk According to Truth are Children of God.
Ok, He came up with the Peter Pan Never-grow-up concept in Christianity. Makes sense.

Chapter 6. The Name Children Does Not Imply Instruction in Elementary Principles

Ok, to be a child doesn’t mean to be “simple”. Got it. He expanded on the whole “childlike” thing.

lots of stuff about instruction, listening to teachers, etc, then:

Chapter 13. Virtue Rational, Sin Irrational

Nope. Nothing about women yet. It’s gonna be hard to hit your 90% mark man.

Book Two: Eating, Drinking, Expensive Stuff… ok. Don’t be an idiot at parties… Be Pleasant and laugh but don’t laugh like an idiot, On Filthy Speaking (cursing is idiotic),

Ah HAH! Found something:

Chapter 7. Directions for Those Who Live Together

NOW, he starts talking about women more in the context you’re speaking of.

Ok. He talks about “don’t be a party girl”:

“But if any necessity arises, commanding the presence of married women, let them be well clothed— without by raiment, within by modesty. But as for such as are unmarried, it is the extremest scandal for them to be present at a banquet of men, especially men under the influence of wine.”

Seems like protection of girls to me. Won’t get raped if you’re not around drunk men. Seems to me a lot of common sense. I’m TRYING to see what you saw. I’m looking

Ok FOUND IT: Misogyny Spotted.
YOU WERE RIGHT, Seedy, and I was wrong. There _is_ misogyny at the end of Book III, “Chapter 4. With Whom We are to Associate” and a few chapters following.

He talks about the public bathhouses, prostitutes, and telling women not to become whores and men to not frequent them, and “don’t hang around bad places”.

So yes. He is misogynistic against loose women. You were right and I was wrong. You’re wrong about the 90%, but yes, there’s some misogyny in the text.

“The baths are opened promiscuously to men and women; and there they strip for licentious indulgence (for from looking, men get to loving)”

It’s only in VERY VERY modern times, that we’ve BEGUN to understand “Rapists Rape, NOT Men”

The “look at how she was dressed, she was asking for it” is _still_ a common defense in rape cases.

A lot of feminist writing _still_ has the “men think with their penis” argument.

Is it a wrong way to look at men and women? Yes. But very common.

Plus, consider this:
Women get a detailed set of instructions because, implicitly: ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS.

I would consider that MISANDRY of the highest sort and frankly, I’d be offended at St Clement for that assumption if MODERN feminist culture didn’t _also_ have the same assumption.

To me, he was giving an anti-rape speech, nothing more. Quite modern if you ask me, although he didn’t tell them to gouge the eyes out and practice on grapes. [I went to an objectification of women seminar in 1990… that grape advice scarred me for life… and it was frankly a disgusting 1.5 hrs, showing horrendous images of women in the media, including a gang rape scene from some 80s movie that several people threw up at. A lot of good stuff in there (I learned a lot) but there was a lot of unnecessary bullshit in there too… and it made me stop wearing contact lenses.

Oh, you’ve convinced me that there’s misogyny in the text.

“The Model Maiden
Zeno the Cittiæan thought fit to represent the image of a young maid, and executed the statue thus: Let her face be clean, her eyebrows not let down, nor her eyelids open nor turned back. Let her neck not be stretched back, nor the members of her body be loose. But let the parts that hang from the body look as if they were well strung; let there be the keenness of a well-regulated mind for discourse, and retention of what has been rightly spoken; and let her attitudes and movements give no ground of hope to the licentious; but let there be the bloom of modesty, and an expression of firmness. But far from her be the wearisome trouble that comes from the shops of perfumers, and goldsmiths, and dealers in wool, and that which comes from the other shops where women, meretriciously dressed, pass whole days as if sitting in the stews.”

It’s the level of extreme detail he goes into that’s strange, undoubtedly to ancient ears as well as modern ears – the fashion advice and such.

That was misogynistic, and for that, I don’t fault you for the “Fuck You!” at the beginning.

I had to go through the ENTIRE TEXT to find it, mind you but yes, it’s in there. And when he gets started, he has a _lot_ to say.


Well, it’s a hard view to overcome.
“Anderson sees a fundamental problem in the notion of sexual consent as “a woman’s passive acquiescence to male sexual initiative”

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-rape/

From rape all the way to negotiated consent, you have prostitution:

I’m for legalized prostitution in a civilized culture, the danger is falling into the problems you find in countries that DON’T have protection-for-women and children enforcement, where girls are instead encouraged to become prostitutes at young ages in order to support the family.

Rape —> consent (marriage or a decent relationship at least) —> prostitution —> forced prostitution —> sexual slavery —> Rape

It’s a strange spectrum of rights vs protection. Keeping things at the consensual level seems to ‘make sense’.. but _how_ a society goes about it? Lots of strange ways.

Still, I don’t like the “rape assumption” in any case. I’m not a rapist, never would be a rapist. I don’t think that way. Of course, I might also be completely abnormal.

Oh I agree. I mean, I was raised by a mother who was a “working feminist” (she had a life, wasn’t a protestor or academic); wanted to be a policewoman in 1959 at graduation, when such a thing hardly existed outside of big cities – and she was raised in a rural area of NJ by a foster family… and she’s obviously shaped my outlook on women as equal to men in reality if not always recognized as equal by society [her paychecks were a testament]. She never became a police woman, although she LOVES True Crime drama and solving complicated mysteries]

But; she has lines. One of which she knows and apparently taught to me somehow, is that the “all men are rapists” is a bunch of bullshit, women don’t “ask for it” – even though she thinks that girl who dress slutty _are_ being rather stupid JUST IN CASE a rapist -happens- to be at a party they go to…

So, I never felt like a rapist, never thought all men were rapists… and so to me, the “EVERYTHING IS RAPE” is bullshit.

The spectrum I drew up there isn’t what I believe anyhow. It’s the blurry, illogical set of assumptions that I see as underlying the whole “everything either could’ve been rape but wasn’t, or it was rape.”

Getting beyond that culturally won’t be easy though. That chain-of-reasoning has been around for a very very long time.

==== not me ===========
I read through this whole thread…

I didn’t see anything philosophy-esque in this thread. Kenneth, good job discussing it sensibly.
===== me ==========

You’re welcome. I mean, it was a dramatic introduction; and since I had some personal stake (a few years experience as Eastern Orthodox SUPER CONVERT) – I personally see the meaning in the style of iconography and comprehend a lot of the ancient Christian stuff from an “I was once an insider’s” subjective point of view.

So, I saw the icon (beautiful iconography – some iconography is just… meh, they tried but this stuff is gorgeous to my eyes) – with the splattering of “woman hater” on it and I put my fighting gloves on:

I had to find out for myself. It was like fighting for an ex-wife’s Great-great [….] Grandfather’s reputation for me. He’s dead: can’t speak for himself.

I didn’t mind reading the entire text to ascertain proper context; I’m always ready to be wrong about something and Seedy did make some valid points, which I concede are valid and correct from his point of view.

But in the end, the context to me is a rape-protection context, which results in some cultural silliness (depending on the culture) but to me it’s the more civilized equivalent to, “Pack a gun, honey, ’cause you never know”


You make a valid point. To me, though, an overriding meta-position that I’m coming from is that, within any given society, within any given culture, there are extremes and then there is what is reasonable.

What is reasonable? Reasonable are the aspects of society that would be agreeable if we were put in that situation, raised with those assumptions, and felt a kindred spirit towards our fellow human.

Without the sense of kindred-feeling, though, much barbaric behavior is possible and happens.

Had Hitler had a kindred sense of fellowship towards others and considered those he exterminated his brethren, it’s likely his party would have been successful, as it would have stayed something that other cultures might consider reasonable.

And you’re right; I was being flippant when I said “cultural silliness”. I feel that Saint Clement was likely proper for his time and his culture and the efforts were successful not in the subjugation of women, but in their protection and freedom and rights. Ancient Christiandom was male dominated, as was the entire world it seems, yet there were many freedoms given to women that were absent from their Judaic past.

Yet, I don’t know enough about secular Roman and Greek culture of the time to compare. That’s a direction I should look into to compare. I’m sure somebody’s done the comparison already, and I just have to find it.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0209.htm here is the original text (English translation of course). It’s not long – it’s quite interesting really.

I don’t excuse fragmented quotes taken out of context when the full text is _available_. That’s laziness to me and inauthentic.

Oh but I do. I went over it with Seedy early. Start the thread at the beginning and follow through. I read the entire text, broke it down. I found where Seedy’s point of view has _some_ validity given Seedy’s own context/point of view, but overall, I believe he is mistaken, given the greater context within which Clement was speaking from within.

Supposedly it was: Clement of Alexandria, Pedagogues II, 33, 2 but I have yet to find the quote, except through a strange book called Eunichs of Heaven – and I don’t know where they got their translation from. I’m still looking for it.

If the reference is correct to the original, This is the quote out of context in the original Greek:
2.2.33.2 ἀνδραποδώδεις,
προσεπιθρύπτονται σπαταλῶσαι· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ψόφος οἰκεῖος ἀνδρὶ λογικῷ, ἔτι δὲ μᾶλλον
γυναικί, ᾗ καὶ τὸ συνειδέναι αὐτὴν ἑαυτῇ, ἥτις εἴη, μόνον αἰσχύνην φέρει. Ὀργὴ δέ,
φησίν, μεγάλη γυνὴ μέθυσος, οἱονεὶ χόλος θεοῦ οἰνομάχλη γυνή. ∆ιὰ τί; Ὅτι
ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς οὐ συγκαλύπτει. Ταχὺ γὰρ εἰς ἀταξίαν

Bing translator is useless. Google only marginally so. You know it’s about women and masks: – and I see a line that says “only bring shame” – with this *maybe* I can find something in one of the more modern translations. But the Eunuch book spreading a quote about Clement that I can’t find *anywhere else* yet in the same form, hardly seems an authoritative source to be splattered freely.

2.2.33.2 andrapododeis,
prosepithryptontai spatalosai; no gar psofos intimate men logikῷ, yet alone
Women ᾗ and syneidenai this eaftῇ, itis Lin, only bring shame. Wrath NOT,
fisin, big woman drunkard, quasi Hollow God oinomachli wife. Wherefore? That
This shame th masks. Tachyon gar in ataxian

Ok – I’m narrowing it down:
“But women, making a profession, forsooth, of aiming at the graceful, that their lips may not be rent apart by stretching them on broad drinking cups, and so widening the mouth, drinking in an unseemly way out of alabastra quite too narrow: in the mouth, throw back their heads and bare their necks indecently, as I think; and distending the throat in swallowing, gulp down the liquor as if to make bare all they can to their boon companions; and drawing hiccups like men, or rather like slaves, revel in luxurious riot. For nothing disgraceful is proper for man, who is endowed with reason; much less for woman to whom it brings modesty even to reflect of what nature she is.”

The last line “women to whom it brings modesty even to reflect of what nature she is”.

Ok. This appears to be the line in question.

Seems like a misogynistic statement. I’d need to compare a few more translations but while the OP seems to be an extreme translation (probably as the feminist writer was German and likely she was using this translation as her source material:

https://archive.org/details/clemensalexandri01clemuoft and I can’t read German… I don’t know if she went to the original text, but -most people don’t- – the harshness in the OP may be due to the translation she used, and the angle she was coming from.

In the text, he was talking about the dangers of getting drunk and acting stupid. All very good advice.

He talks about burping, acting stupid, how a drunk woman is even worse than a drunk man, because she _knows better_.

But then…. he says this:

“For nothing disgraceful is proper for man, who is endowed with reason; much less for woman to whom it brings modesty even to reflect of what nature she is.”

And… _that’s_ where he was being a jerk and misogynistic.

“It’s all Eve’s fault”, basically. Not a very nice thing to say, even in 190AD, although to be fair, he was very progressive regarding women, even by today’s standards. [he believed God is male and female, Christ is male and female, that women should be priests and such]
===

I can’t find that translation ANYWHERE except a single book:

http://books.google.com/…/Eunuchs_for_the_Kingdom_of…

Nobody else uses those words except her.

It’s very minor misogony. I don’t see it either. I can see where it *could* be translated as the OP shows it… but none of the other translations show it. I even found the ORIGINAL GREEK and it doesn’t seem as harsh as the OP.

http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/…/Clement…/Paedagogus.pdf Original Greek. That’s the man’s own words.

I don’t like people being quoted out of context. I don’t like when it happens to me and I don’t like when it happens to dead people who can’t defend their own words.

But I’m kind of happy. I never know what project I will embark on in my “free time”. This was my free time.

Tonight (I’ve been awake between 12am-7am my time) – I got to pretend to be a Translator of Ancient Texts and “Speaker For The Dead”… something I always wanted to do.

And tonight? I did it Another dream fulfilled

I’ll be honest; I didn’t fully understand Seedy’s entire OP. Hypatia was in an era where the Byzantine Empire was actively persecuting those who did not convert to Christianity.

But Clement of Alexander was 120 years earlier, in an entirely different generation.

It’s a loose connection to me. Very loose.

I was defending Clement and his words, but I did not address the OP regarding Women and Religion and Politics as a whole.

The original post implies that there is an attitude that is “built in” to Christianity itself that members of the “Religious Right” (or Republicans) in American Politics are following, and that it is hateful to women and that these people are bad people or stupid people.

It is blaming Clement of Alexandria. I don’t think the blame is fair.

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