Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Democracy, Women and some ramblings

'Democracy' began in the city state of ancient Athens.  Adult males who had completed their military training got the vote, about 20% of the total population. 

Both  Plato and Aristotle saw democracy as an unjust system.  They complained that equal rights meant that the far more numerous poor were able to tyranise the rich.  Somehow modern man has been able to turn the tables so now the minority rich manipulate and tyranise the poor.

Women could not vote because they were not citizens of Athens.  They could not vote, inherit or own land.  Except in the State of Sparta they could not drink wine.  

  Good old 'philosopher' Aristotle believed that women were not intelligent enough to make important decisions.
Modern Greek men felt the same.  The general consensus was that a woman voter would be dangerous.   

...women were hysterical, illogical and unpredictable when they had their period and since the menstrual cycle of all Greek women did not coincide, 'when would the election vote be?

At the time, for many women of higher social class it was considered unladylike to vote.  Prominent actress Marika Kotopoulo did not want to vote because 'voting was only for ugly women and those that did not want to bear children'.
Thank you 'greekreporter.com'

I didn't really want to get into all that but reading up on women's rights in Greece found  these 'fascinating' notions and thought I might share them .

28th May 1952 
is the anniversary of the day all Greek women got the right to vote and be elected to Parliament .

In 1930 they were given the right to vote but only if they were over 30 and had finished grade school (primary school I assume).  Very few girls finished school back then. My mother in law went for three years but never completed her schooling. Her two sisters did one year at school and then went out to reap and sow, pick olives, make cheese and tend the livestock. Neighbour Vaso left school  after two years. Mother in law was sent out to shepherd the family goats.  Vaso was a child labourer in the fields and at age 10 was bringing in cash to help her family survive.  She often survived she said by eating mandarins during the day and eating a bowl of beans or artichokes at home in the evening, whatever her mother had managed to put together for their family of 11.

In 1953 the first female deputy was elected to the Greek Parliament

68 women were elected in 2015

In this parliament there are 54 women. Not many out of 300.

No woman has ever been elected PM but we did have an interim female Prime Minister in 2015. She was head of a caretaker government for one month.

Greek women have come a long way.  My two daughters could have grown-up to become a captain in the merchant navy, university professor, bus driver or  electrician.  Men and women get the same education, have the same opportunities and are mostly treated as equals.

As I have mentioned before, Vaso made sure all her children were well educated and had steady jobs. One of her daughters became a chief of police and the other a school teacher. Her granddaughters are university educated and one is now doing her doctorate at Oxford university in england. A huge change for women in two generations.

My mother in law was not so enlightened and would not let her daughter (my sister in law) continue on for high school education although the teachers tried their best to persuade  her that her daughter was bright and capable of  getting a good job and salary.  My sister in law was sent to a seamstress so she could learn to sew and mend for the family.

No longer, as my mother-in-law believed, is a woman born only to marry, bear male children and look after the men in the family. She has her own dreams and ambitions.  She is free.


  1. Ohhh I have lived this. My parents wouldn't let me go to university. A high school education was enough for a woman. I've managed to make a great life without it. But sometimes even now I feel the pangs of being denied the educations I so craved. Oh well. We make the best of the cards we are dealt

    1. I'm surprised Angela. I suppose they were new Australians back then and still kept the old ideas. What a pity. You do seem to have made the most of your life though inspite of the restrictions.

  2. Everyone should have the vote (unless they are communists/Marxists/Socialists; and that includes men).

    1. Ahaa......... well I guess I would rather restrict the communists than women in general. I know quite a few who vote communist here in greece. Very mild beliefs though and all actually seem to lean towards capitalism. How they call themselves communist with their big new cars, holiday homes and italian leather shoes I do not know.

  3. A lot of things have changed for the better in one lifetime. Interesting post once again.

    1. Thanks Rachel. Going to check out your blog.

  4. for the most part women teach the next generation. To stop their education so young holds them back. I am glad to live in this day and age, not all the things but for the most, I am happy to be here right now. We are extremely lucky to live in countries we do, where we are free.

    I am ready to vote next week. It is really important that everyone who has the vote does. Every woman should be there making sure their X is in the box. Women before us suffered and fought for us. The least we can do is put a mark in a box.

    On a different note, do you have russian olive trees there? is the fruit nice?

  5. Never heard of russian olive trees. I'll have to google. They are probably called something totally different here,