Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for... Xanthippe

"After thunder, comes rain"


Xanthippe was the wife of Socrates and in later reports, she was described as a terrible nag and extremely bad tempered (though it isn't clear if she was like this before she married Socrates or whether she became ill-tempered as a result! In earlier references to her, she is described as a devoted wife and mother.).

The quote above comes from a tale in which a furious Xanthippe threw the contents of a chamber-pot over Socrates after an argument. His response was, "After thunder, comes rain."

Her name became short-hand for a nagging, scolding person, especially a shrewish wife. Things like this always make me wonder whether, if the genders were reversed, the same negativity would be applied. A man who nags/scolds is probably referred to as decisive and giving clear instruction, yet a woman becomes a nag and a scold, with negative connotations.

What do others think? Do you still see a gender difference in the way strong women are described in comparison with strong men? Do you think it's generally the women who are portrayed negatively (the nagging wife rather than the husband who doesn't listen/act)? Let me know your views in the comments.

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