Article by: Dimitris Vagenas
Translation: Elina Papadochatzaki
All of us have accepted a sum of roles which under certain circumenstances they define our behavior. Many a times, this is necessary, since a doctor cannot not have certain duties, like a student who inside the school’s environment has specific rights and defined duties. Of course, the various roles do not originate only from the chosen profession and our capacity, but also from the gender, the age and our economical situation, in result many times they limit us and they do not let us behave as we want. Besides, since childhood we accept various messages about the gender in which we belong, from the colors in our room to the games that they give us to play with, we learn which behaviors are appropiate and which are not. However, how objective is the perception we have about the manhood and the femininity and how free are we to just choose the role and our behavior? Even if we consider that the choice is ours, this choice is indeed free and conscious? In order to answer that question, we will mention the ninth labor of Hercules, who was ordered to bring to Eurystheus the belt of Hippoliti, queen of the Amazons.
The Amazons were warriors and they consisted a closed society of women. They used men solely for reproduction, while they killed or abandoned their male children. They were very skilled in the archery and the spear and it is said that in order to use the bow better they had cut off their right breast. Although the belt was a necessary tool of their uniform as warriors and at the same time the symbol of power, Hippoliti accepted to give it to Hercules, however goddess Hera, transformed into an Amazon and she created a riot with the rest of the women so that they would attack him and his companions. Eventually Hippoliti was killed in the battle, the army of Amazons was defeated, and the belt was given to Eurystheus. Reading this myth, we can notice that Hippoliti had totally refused her feminine identity, by living in a society of bellicose women that is disgusted by men. Even if as a stereotype, the women are sensitive and tender, Hippoliti did not have any of those characteristics, succeeding to avoid the role that it was bestowed on her beacuse of her gender. However she was not ever truly free, since she had accepted the manly role and the stereotypes of men, like bravery and dynamism, she was forced to behave in a certain way, without having the right to fall in love or nurture a male child. Seemingly, she is disgusted by the male-dominated society and the oppressing male authority, but in reality she idolises them and she copies them. Therefore, she has denied a gender role which is concrete, to accept another which is fake. So, by giving to Hercules her belt, she quits from her fake identity and she lets go of all her invented men features.
The decision of the Amazons to not copy the standards of the gender in which they belong is respected, although the problem is that they cannot set their own criterias and to live according to their needs. Often enough we are driven to similar actions, by wearing a warrior’s belt through which we try to show to rest of the people who we are and how we should behave. Sometimes, this belt seems to be necessary, like in our workplace where our nature and duties are predetermined, yet it is strange to our deeper nature and it can hold us trapped in very specific rules. Hippoliti exchanged her belt for her life or- according to variation of the same myth- with the life of her sister, as it is defined by the mythological archetypes in order to win something you have to lose something else, however maybe we can succeed in letting go of our fake roles by paying a very small price and obtaining much more gains…
Huges, M. &Kroeler, C. J. (2007). Sociology: The Core. New York
Pitsouli, I.(2010), Hercules: The hero between us.