Medea, Romance, and Gender Roles

(opinions on the play "Medea" by Euripides) 

I am a woman, a proudly feminine woman – and for that fact it can be assumed that I would automatically side with Medea, instead of Jason. It is natural that I understand Medea more than Jason, but I don’t think siding with one character and bullying another character helps. I think I understand both of them, but I hate to admit that do not really support Medea in this play. Feminists would probably hate me, but we are all entitled to our own opinion. The secret that nobody wants to talk about is that we all love gender roles. But in this day and age wherein women are more empowered, it frustrates me that feminine women are seen as inferior and weak (not only be men, but women as well), and so we feel the need to harden ourselves too like men to avoid this inferiority that is associated with women.

At first, while I was still reading the first parts of the play, I thought that the play was not about feminism, or which gender was oppressed, but about infidelity. However, I changed my mind near the end of the play. The truth for me is that we cannot get away with gender or gender issues. I’ve seen how men, even thousands of years ago, have stripped power away from women. In this play I’ve noticed how Creon and Jason wanted to banish Medea because they fear her. They do not have any respect for women; they see them as possessions, accessories, child bearers, and sex objects. And it is very obvious how the image of Medea was demonized because that kind of woman is what men fear. They want to keep women subjugated because they fear their tendency of being Medea-like. And yes, I definitely think that Jason is an asshole and a coward. He wanted glory more than anything else, and he just used Medea for his selfish desires. It’s obvious that he didn’t love Medea (or didn’t love her enough) but why did he still impregnate her? Is it for the purpose of keeping a talisman by his side to aid him in his conquests?

Women have different personalities, of course, but judging from my experiences, Medea was wrong in being the initiator. I’m really generalizing here. Our grandmothers’ frequent advice is that we should marry the man who loves us more than we love him. From my experiences, it turns out that granny is right. When I was in high school, I was really Medea-like for my long-term high school crush. I was obsessed. At first he did have little feelings for me, but I was so open about liking him that he was eventually freaked out and ended up liking another classmate and not caring about me at all. It was only recently that we talked and he admitted that he was afraid of my strong personality (I didn’t think of myself that way). And as I was growing up, I learned that men can like many girls – and admitting that they like you is not an assurance that they love you and they will never leave you. Medea is just like any other girls, naïve and a hopeless romantic. I can relate to her that way because there is also an aspect of my personality that can murder for love. Playing hard to get, or being pakipot, is really essential in testing a man because most of them may only want sex from a girl. I do not really understand the male psyche fully – but from my experiences, that’s who they are. The man who is persistent and respectful probably is the one who has pure intentions.

In the 1969 Italian movie of Medea that I have watched, Jason got Medea easily because she was like throwing herself on him already. She immediately went with the man who was a complete stranger and had sex immediately. It’s not that I am against Medea, or that I hate my own sex – but if she loved herself enough, she would protect herself and test Jason first because women are always the losers when men leave and they were left with fatherless children. Yes, it was not wrong of her to get what she wants for herself, but when it comes to the relationships between males and females, it is usually healthy when men are the aggressors and women are in the receptive role. When it’s the other way around, it does not usually work out and women always end up crying. But I cannot blame Medea for being wrathful and full of hatred. She had the right to be angry. No one would feel thankful when they are betrayed by the one they love the most. But these murders that she committed for revenge, instead of being empowering as a woman, looks very degrading to me. She went through all this mess just for the love of Jason who didn’t love her back anyway. Those actions were done because of desperation. And that kind of puts Jason in the pedestal. I wish I could tell Medea to know her true worth. Maybe that could have saved her from all the pain that she went through because of a man.

Literature 183


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